Pride is Deceitful; Look up.

Pride is fundamentally fueled by lies—

the lie that I am more important than I am

more powerful than I am

more intelligent than I am;

it deceives our hearts.

Humility brings truth

clarity

understanding.

True humility recognizes our place in relation to God’s place.

Humility brings wisdom that starts with the fear of the Lord.

Jesus, at the center of it all.

And I’m looking toward it,

I’m looking through it,

that lens of perspective informing every aspect of my life

like the sun—

by it I see all,

not like an artificial, flashing, fading, light bulb on its way out,

but fresh, anew, bright, and true

Light captivates.

By gazing at the Savior, pride dwindles here.

~~~

“The pride of your heart has deceived you,
    you who live in the clefts of the rock,
    in your lofty dwelling,
who say in your heart,
    ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?'”

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When your heart beats in tandem with a stranger’s from afar

This is not a political statement. If I have time, I will write more legal/political analysis of the recent executive order on travel/refugee ban, but this is not that. I wrote this Sunday night when my heart was feeling so heavy.

~~~

“Why I’m Crying”

I’m thinking about those who had a plane ticket for today,

finally to depart for the promise land.

Not yet. Maybe later. Maybe not.

I’m thinking about those who received the stamp of approval last week

that they would be settling here in the United States.

I’m thinking about their smiles,

the hugs they shared in celebration at the good news—

but now tears.

Hold on, I care. He cares

I’m thinking about the ones who have never heard the love of Jesus

being turned away by a “Christian nation.”

My heart beats for you.

My heart bleeds for you.

I want it to.

If only they could know, the Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed.

And He himself was once a refugee too.

~~~

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” – Psalm 9:9

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:4

Edit: I realize I didn’t explicitly acknowledge many of the specific factors that make life in a refugee camp (and life in a war zone) so hard. Yes, I’m moved thinking about the hunger and cold and other dire circumstances refugees face—more than anything. That’s why it must be all-the-more difficult and tragic for refugees who have been approved for resettlement to now hear that such hope is delayed, in some cases indefinitely.

 

Future Grace

Have you ever anticipated a person hurting you long before it ever happened? Have you ever anticipated the upcoming need to forgive that person? Jesus did—while we were unborn, while we were still sinners—then He died.

So this is for those—strangers, “enemies,” and the close-to-my-heart ones—who will hurt me someday. In Christ, I’m trying to forgive you today.

~~~

Future grace, I’ll give

‘cause

future grace, I’ll get,

bearing with you today;

tomorrow’s been forgiven

by yesterday’s blood

that every gives me power

to love as I am loved.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all else put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:12-14

Those Puritans had it goin’ on

“Help me to hold out a little longer

until that happy hour of deliverance comes

for I cannot lift my soul to thee

if thou of thy goodness bring me not nigh.”

– From “Need of Grace” in The Valley of Vision

I love reading and praying the prayers of saints who have gone before me. The Psalms, for example. Another one of my favorite books is The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. The beautiful language of the prayers illuminates truth to my soul and inspires me to pray and write deeply. The Puritans had faults—no doubt. But the writers of these prayers also had the Spirit. For anyone, but especially for my fellow Christian writers, I highly recommend you get this book.

What books (or articles) do you recommend on Christian art, poetry, or prayer?

(I also just got Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth by Walter Brueggemann, but I haven’t read as many of the prayers yet.)

“A Thousand Worries”

For every drop of trust, I hold a thousand worries
I have a thousand wants, a thousand needs
I bring to You
while making my own plans to get them done.
Thinking the peace comes from the thing received, achieved,
rather than You,
my flimsy patience begs me hasten,
encouraging my DIY plans to control my own fate.
But fate proves a heavy load
for my fragile hands, which now,
I see, hold a thousand worries once more.

So I come again, Lord,
making known my request.
You’re not just my backup plan;
You’re my peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:6-7

2017: Listen

“Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” – James 1:19

In addition to setting some specific goals each year, for the past couple years I have also chosen a theme/word for the year. Last year my word was “share,” and this year my word is “listen.” I hate to admit it, but the truth is I’m a pretty bad listener. So there is a very literal aspect to my theme word because I do want to become a “better” listener this year. (Side note: I hate all the “betters” that New Year’s resolutions often entail because they are so difficult to measurably achieve). Still, I think of my theme words more broadly. Listening is an integral part of loving and empathizing with others. Listening involves humbly receiving criticism. Listening is inherently other-focused, and I think that’s the hardest part for me because I’m so self-focused. Additionally, I want to listen to God. I believe the primary communication tool God uses is His Word, the Bible. And similar to how I don’t want distraction to detract from my listening in conversations with others, I don’t want distraction to infiltrate my time in the Word.

I want to hear the pins drop in Scripture, and I welcome the truth to change me.

So 2017, I’m pleased to meet you. And I’m excited to hear what you’ll teach me.

~~~

My New Year’s Prayer

Faithful Father,

I know You are good.

I see You are good.

I hear “You are good.”

I feel You are good.

I sing “You are good.”

Quiet my heart with Your grace

Still my mind with Your peace

Close my lips with Your power

that I might listen

that all the praise that flows from my mouth reflect the truth of knowing You

Teach me to love with my ears first

Teach me humility from my ears,

receptive to correction,

open to wisdom

And Lord, I pray that the more I listen to You

the more I read Your Truth

the more I seek You

that my ears will grow accustomed to the sound

ringing more and more beautifully

that I resemble You more,

You who always hears my prayers

Lord, make my words a product of listening

make my thoughts entirely unoriginal and fully originating in You

This year I begin with open ears, an open heart, and an open Book.