Praise God for our blind spots

If the whole body were an eye…

 

 

All my life I have despised my blind spots! I can’t tell you how often I’ve ranted and railed at the God of the universe telling Him blind spots are a very, very bad thing for Him to allow in His children. Why, O Lord, why do you show my blind spots to everyone in the world but me? What kind of a sense does it make?

This morning in the wee hours, God finally answered my decades-old question. I now see His purpose, His plan, and His providential provision in my blind spots.  I still hate them.  I want them all to be removed, but I finally understand their use in the kingdom of God.

My epiphany came as two seemingly unrelated events converged in my life. The first one is the ongoing debate between N.T. Wright and John Piper on Paul’s perspective of justification. The second is my initial attempt to serve as a Critique Partner for a fellow author.

But before I describe the convergence of doctrinal debate with manuscript critique, I must step back to clarify the truth—or rather the lack thereof—in my repeated rant toward God. It is true that I have cried out “Why do you permit everyone but me to see my blind spots?” in the kind of Davidic hyperbole that fits so well in a lament.  However, it is not true that God shows my blind spots to everyone.  He does not show anyone’s blind spots to everyone.  If He did, we could have no false teaching in the church, no congregation would follow a leader who strays, and each of us would be corrected immediately whenever we step out of line.

Perhaps I should instead cry out, “Why, O Lord, why don’t you show everyone my blind spots so I never have to worry or wonder whether I’ve got something right?” Fortunately, this time I don’t have to spend decades waiting for the answer because it’s the same for both questions: Our blind spots are God’s tools to refine our relationships with each other and with Him.

I begin with the premise that all human beings (with the single exception of the Incarnate Lord Himself) have blind spots throughout our lives, and we must acknowledge that fact before they can be removed.  Our blind spots remind us that we are totally dependent members of His body. No one, not Peter, not Paul, not John the beloved had or has a corner on the Truth. Together we have the mind of Christ, but alone we are just neurons randomly firing across synapses.

1 Corinthians 12 tells us plainly how gross we become when we choose to live in isolation with our blind spots rather than seek the unity Christ provided through His intercession in John 17.  Imagine what it would be like if someday your foot suddenly says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of your body.” And then your ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of your body.”  Next your eye says to the hand, “I have no need of you”; and your head says to the feet, “I have no need of you.”

There is a reason we find disembodied body parts horrifying, and we should keep that image in mind whenever we feel inclined to distance ourselves from other members in the body of Christ.

That brings me back to the Wright/Piper debate on justification, but that is the subject of my next post.

Prayer requests for In His Hand

This post is made up entirely of prayer requests for the work of In His Hand.
  • I need wisdom and guidance as I work on a prayer project for the ministry in our community.  As most of you know, I am really quite good at imagining God-sized projects. I am not so good at working out the practical steps along the way. I need to stay focused, and I especially need to conquer in my life-long battle with procrastination.  I welcome your quick inquires about my progress via email (or even via comment on the blog, if you dare!).  During my time with Campus Life (late 70s, early 80s) I heard Ron Hutchcraft say “Accountability is the key to Christian growth.” It was true then; it’s true now.  And being accountable to you will help me to move forward with a project that has no external deadlines or pressure. Unfortunately (for a chronic procrastinator) I am free to work at my own pace.
  • Please ask God to prosper my work on the website too.  Yesterday I realized how the Lord brought me to a place where I am even contemplating building a website without professional assistance.  It is an unexpected blessing from my adventure in cyberspace.  The things I was told I must do to publish held no appeal until I thought how I could use the knowledge I gained to promote In His Hand rather than my novel.  It’s both a comfort and an encouragement to know that when I was forced into the wilderness of the World Wide Web, God already had a plan for me to use the experience for ministry.
  • Once the website is up and running, and we begin to build a network of people who are interested in a plan for natural, God-glorifying healthcare, we will quickly need a new board of directors. Those of us who hold the positions now are ready to relinquish them at a moment’s notice. With the possible exception of Eric, we were all out of our comfort zones.  We did what we had to do to make the vision of In His Hand legal under our federal bureaucracy, but now we need people who know how to carry that vision into really.   Ask the Lord to raise up leaders for In His Hand. (Be sure to let me know if anyone comes to mind for the task, or if you are willing to volunteer, just tell me.)
  • And speaking of our federal bureaucracy—thanks to the 2006 Pension Protection Act, In His Hand lost its tax-exempt status.  We had no employees and no income, so we didn’t realize that we still had to file with the IRS.   Since the IRS didn’t notify us until it was too late to correct our oversight, we had to reapply. We are now waiting to hear that we have been reinstated.  Pray that our re-application is approved quickly and without further complications.

That’s it for now.  Once again, as I did so many times during my thirty months in Texas, I thank my God at every remembrance of you all. It is an immeasurable blessing to know I can turn to you whenever I need prayer support.

Grammas’ Guide to Talking to God Together

For the past several weeks I’ve neglected Grammas’ Guide to the Universe while I explored cyberspace.  I’ve learned about blogging, using social media, and building websites, and soon I will use that knowledge to promote In His Hand Ministries. But today I am compelled to write.

My cancer treatments in Texas from January 2009 to July 2011 held many valuable lessons, some I understand well, some I still wonder about. But one lesson was unmistakably clear. God called me to write, and I am only at peace when I do what He called me to do.

My burden today tells me that God wants me to write about prayer until He lifts that burden. Writing, however, is no more than a tool to accomplish a far greater goal. God isn’t just calling me to write about prayer, He is calling me to pray with you. He is calling all His children to talk to Him together.

I am primarily addressing my family, friends, neighbors—the women and men who already support In His Hand Ministries, the people I can meet face to face throughout the week to seek the Lord’s direction for His work in our community.  But I made a wonderful discovery in cyberspace: God uses Twitter to connect intercessors around the world. That means that so friends I can only meet electronically are welcome to continue reading.

Building In His Hand’s website gave me a much-needed review of our six ministries. Together Gramma’s House, Wisdom Walk, Hurt Not the Earth, First Love, Perfect in One, and Mountain by Mountain weave a tapestry to cover our lives. On paper IHH succeeds in describing a community where the church is faithful in all things.

But it’s a long, long way from describing our ministries to seeing them manifest in reality.

Our vision is totally audacious:

  • In His Hand envisions the local church working together in the unity of our faith to show the world the love of God for His children. We see all our routine activities of daily living transformed by that love so that even eating and drinking glorify God.

Our mission is absolutely colossal:

  • In His Hand exists to promote the spiritual well-being and physical health of everyone in the local community by aiding individuals, families, and voluntary associations to develop, establish, and network any resource, business, ministry, or cooperative organization that contributes to that goal.

I feel overwhelmed by the scope of the ministry until I remember that our Lord specializes in the impossible.  The impossible is simply His normal part in each assignment He gives. Our part is to obey, do the possible, and trust Him for all else. And our trust begins in prayer.

This post is an open invitation for you to join Grammas’ Guide to Talking to God Together. If you look at the menu under “Talking with God” you will see that I’ve already started collecting resources for a community adventure in prayer. I will add create a page just for books, links, videos etc. that you want to recommend as well.

My the next post will offer specific requests so we can immediately begin to pray in one accord. If there is anything you want me to add, tell me, and I’ll be happy to do it.

I look forward to watching the Lord move among in power and love as we learn to take every opportunity to meet together at His throne of grace.

 

 

Watching #shadowyconservativegroups trend is #myguiltypleasure

My philosophy of government has been libertarian since 1992 when I first read Leonard E. Read’s The Elements of Libertarian Leadership. So on May 30, when I saw #shadowyconservativegroups flash by in my Twitter home stream with libertarian sentiments attached, I was intrigued.  I typed the hashtag into TweetChat, and I watched it trend with guilty pleasure until only retweets filled the screen.

The pleasure comes because so many individuals seem to understand that personal responsibility and limited government are required elements of liberty. The guilt comes because I know that tweeting against the way President Obama and Congress are expanding socialism in our country is not the way to recover our lost liberties.

I wrote about why I think libertarian-atheist is an oxymoron during my short association with examiner.com. Sometime soon, I will post the gist of those articles here on Grammas’ Guide. But for now I will start with the a priori statement: Liberty—spiritual, emotional, political—is totally dependent on our Creator. We will have civil liberty only when Christians realize that our collective goal cannot be to reform the government. It must be to radically obey God.

Of course if we are obedient to our high calling in Jesus Christ, we can be sure that hearts will be transformed. And since everyone in government has a heart, we might even see our government transformed as well. But that’s just an agreeable consequence of our faithfulness. It is not a primary goal for the Christian.

For thirty-five years I’ve been convinced that the secret to seeing the Church triumphant is distilled for us in our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

He made provision for our unity, and that unity is His means for displaying His glory. God wants our unity to be a witness to the world that the Father sent the Son and loves us as He loves His Son. How it must break the heart of God to see His children still caught in the same trap that divided the Corinthians into Paulites, Apolloites, and Cephasites. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) If we want to live in liberty, we must learn to come together by His Spirit. We must stop dividing His body and destroying our witness because of our political philosophies, pet doctrines, or worship styles.  

I will probably smile guiltily again whenever I see conservatives  playing hashtags games on Twitter.  But I will also pray with Christ that we will be one as He is one with His Father.  I will pray that Christian conservatives & Christian liberals, Christian independents & Christian party loyalists, Christian libertarians & Christian socialists will all join our Lord in His prayer that we will be made perfect in one.

When that happens we can be certain that, no matter what is going on in Washington, the Lord will keep us in perfect peace because our minds will be fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)

Tweet at the throne of grace, for the glory of God in cyberspace

I’ve lost count of the many saints from the past and present who contributed to my spiritual growth. I’m glad that the Lord keeps meticulous records, and I hope that somewhere in eternity He will bring them all to my mind, so that I may thank each one face to face.

Certainly A.W. Tozer is first at the top of my list because The Knowledge of the Holy showed me the face of God.  Paul Brand and Phillip Yancey come second because Fearfully and Wonderfully Made and In His Image provided deep lessons about the body of Christ.  K.P. Yohannan enlarged my heart for missions with The Road to Reality and his other books.

However, prayer is the subject most near and dear to my heart, because it is in communion with God that we truly learn of His character, His compassion for His children, and His concern for the lost and dying world. I have a vast collection of books on prayer, and each author contributed something precious to my communication with the Lord. But the works of two authors, Andrew Murray and E.M. Bounds, especially revealed the riches available for me at the throne of grace.

Andrew Murray alone inspired the #AMHTI page in Grammas’ Guide just because his Helps to Intercession is a useful tool. On that page you can find all thirty-one entries appropriately shortened to fit in a tweet, with a link to the full text.  I also posted his introduction to “Helps”.

Grammas’ Twitter Intercession Project (TIP) will begin each day of the month with the appropriately numbered tweet, and follow wherever the Spirit of the Lord leads. If you believe in the power of united prayer, join me in intercession for our world, our nation, our families, and ourselves. Just follow the instructions on Grammas’ #AMHTI page, and in one accord we can all tweet at the throne of grace for the glory of God in cyberspace.

Praise the Lord that prayer is not limited to Twitter or the WorldWideWeb. Our Father hears His children crying out to Him throughout all the material and spiritual realms. If you don’t have a profile on Twitter, and if you seldom use the internet, you can still be part of this TIP. Just get a copy of Helps to Intercession and pray.

And someday perhaps the Lord will show us the fruit of this labor of love.

Gramma fights on her knees

In the sixth chapter of his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul uses a soldier dressed for battle to teach a very important spiritual lesson.  During his lifetime, Roman legions patrolled the empire, so Paul knew wherever believers gathered the image would be familiar to all who heard his letter read.

Today the Roman soldier is ubiquitous in Sunday School material far beyond the lands where the Caesars once reigned. And he still makes an effective teaching aid on a poster with his armor labeled from Ephesians 6:13-17.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

There is even a plastic version of the full armor of God available as a child’s costume. However, the day I saw seven-year-old Tim use the sword of the Spirit to pound on the shield of faith held by four-year-old Nathan, I knew something was missing in their lesson on spiritual warfare.

Unfortunately, the same thing is too often true for adults as well. Too often we isolate those four verses as though simply describing the armor accurately can keep us safe. And I think that like Tim and Nathan we might even use the armor fighting our allies instead of our enemy.

Very early in my walk with the Lord, I memorized all the pieces of the full armor of God. I knew that rema, not logos was the Greek word for “word” in the passage. I understood from that fine distinction that I was to have precise portions of scripture hidden in my heart and ready to apply as needed.

However, it was much later that I finally realized that the battle I was preparing to fight took place on my knees.  Ephesians 6:18 tells us exactly what to do once we have our armor in place:

praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —

If we move back in the passage to verses 10-12, we see that Paul had reached a conclusion of some kind when he introduces the concept of spiritual warfare:

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

One day as I was reading my Bible, I had one of those utterly transcendent moments of enlightenment: FINALLY! Finally, my sisters, I made the connection between Paul’s warning about the spiritual nature of our battle and everything he had said from Ephesians 5:22 to 6:10. He tells us that our battle is not with our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, employees, employers or any of the other people who are most likely to annoy or disappoint us in life. He tells us that we must live armed and praying so that we are always warring against God’s enemies and not against God’s children. He tells us that the evil day we must withstand is any day that saints allow the enemy to disturb the unity of the body of Christ.

And that is why Gramma must constantly fight on her knees.

Good homemakers spend time on their knees

If you already know how to build the spiritual foundation for a good home, you realized immediately that the title of this post contains a metonym for prayer and not a command to keep your floors clean.

Good homemakers pray!

It has been over ten years ago since we first began to share a mission and a vision for the homemaking ministry we eventually called Gramma’s House.  Our mission is to help make every home a holy, happy, healthy haven of hospitality.  Our vision sees homemaking  first among honorable careers, and sees communities where it is economically feasible for women to choose to work in their homes.

From the moment we first shared our vision up to the present, everyone involved has agreed that prayer lays the foundation for ministry and builds it every step of the way. Yet it is usually much easier to get women to together to cook, to clean, to garden, to sew, or to study than it is to get them together just to pray.

The women who support Gramma’s House with their time and their talents also support the ministry with their prayer.  Just because a woman is reluctant to pray aloud, in the company of others, it doesn’t mean that she never prays.  Some prayer warriors are shy by nature. And I am certain that God abundantly blesses all faithful closet prayers.

But I am also certain that if we want to receive all the riches that our Father in heaven wants to pour out daily into our lives, we must be willing to talk to Him freely and openly together at any time, in any circumstance, with anyone.

Think about the way Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus:

And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (John 11:41, 42 NKJV)

In this account (John 11:1-16) we have clear evidence that Jesus was in constant communication with His Father even if His disciples didn’t realize it.  They are confused about the whole situation, but Jesus, in silent communion with His Father, knows that Lazarus is dead. He also knows that the death will display the glory of the Son of God, but He still does not make it obvious to His disciples that He is talking with His Father.

Then, standing at the tomb with many Jews watching and listening, Jesus not only makes His conversation with His Father public, He openly acknowledges that He chose His words for the benefit of His audience.  From our Lord’s own example here, we know that when He told us to pray secretly in our closets He did not mean that we should never let anyone hear us talk to God. Christ shows us that a voice raised in prayer for all to hear can bring glory to the Lord in a very special way.

The typical attitude Christians have about talking to God together seems rather bizarre if we imagine natural children assuming the same attitude toward their own beloved father. Imagine a happy family of children. Imagine that each child will talk freely to the father about everything and anything as long as no one else is in the room.

Now imagine that another sibling comes in, and immediately they both begin to act as though their father is no longer present. They talk to each other about how much they love their father. More brothers and sisters join them, and they sing songs about their father’s goodness toward the family. They even discuss the things they plan to ask their father and agree that they will all make the same requests. But as long as there are two children in the room, no one will speak to him out loud. Well, maybe one of them will speak to the father aloud, but when they are all together, it has to be done at a clearly prescribed times.

The cause of this strange behavior among the spiritual children of God is not that we are socially challenged, and it has very little to do with shyness. If we feel anxiety, apprehension, and even panic in a situation where it should be natural for any child to speak openly to her Father, the cause can be traced to our enemy. Our adversary understands the power God has made available to His children when they talk to Him together.

That is why my next post will be “Good homemakers fight on their knees.”