Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tara Rye
Taken from Passport to Praise, p. 35

Present God
They pitched a tent
You sent a Son

In the tent You go
To sit and watch Your people grow
Present God
Holy One
Smelling offerings fragrant to You
Dining on conversations
Listening to heartbeats that cry
Knowing the difference
Between the insincere and the contrite

Where are the ones
Born to sing Your songs?
Remembering You
In the inner courts?

Once upon a time
You resided
In the Most Holy Place
Now You choose
To dwell in hearts
Among the human race

For Your sake
You blot out transgressions
And remember our sins
No more
A serious business
Father and Son
As the Holy Spirit

Rise up Holy Spirit
Reside in us we sing
The earth is firmly
Give praise and Glory
To the King

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Hard Questions

Jesus asked hard questions to help the person recognize what resided in his or her heart. He still does today. One Sunday after church, I curled up in my favorite recliner to enjoy an afternoon nap. During my sleep, it was as if I was watching a movie of me. Sadly, each scene depicted a moment where I spoke with either a critical spirit or in a snippy tone. As I awoke, I heard this question in my heart. "Can you say that your words of late are more critical than encouraging?" I knew the answer, but held on to it for a bit. I thought I might ask my family in the car on the way to our afternoon events.

A soon as the family settled in, I asked my question. "Do I encourage you or am I more critical?" I honestly was not concerned about this question. I am an encourager by nature and as far as I could remember I had never failed a hard question on my spiritual walk with my family. But on this day, there was a long pause. It was long enough for me to tear up and feel like I might get sick. It was long enough for me to realize that I robbed my family of one of the most important character traits I own-- the gift to lift up. I live to encourage. It is something I work hard to do, but I failed. Somehow, God gave me the ability to pull it together to walk into the retirement party, but that night I wept myself to sleep as I grieved over my sin.

On Monday morning, my grief remained fresh. I asked God to cleanse me and change me. As I prayed, it occurred to me that I had forgotten the privilege, responsibility, and power of the spoken word. The idea came to me to fast speaking for one day. Yes, you heard me! I fasted speaking in order to remember the privilege, responsibility and power of my words. I wrote out what I was doing on a piece of paper and as each family member woke up I shared what I was doing and why. I did not do this to self impose punishment on myself and I most definitely did not do it to punish my family. I did it to draw nearer to God and let Him do a work in me.

My son, Grant, worried that if I died, he would not hear my voice again. My daughter worried that the day would not be fun. We had a shopping trip planned. I text her after shopping, "Was it fun?" She text back, "YES!" My Greg humbled me. He joined me! While he was home, he chose to use sign language and join me in my silence. It is amazing how much you can communicate when you do not have words!

The thing that astounded me more than anything was that I heard God so clearly. It became for me a day of rejoicing and great celebration. God gave me three one thousand word devotionals for a seminary assignment in three hours Typically, I can write at most two in a day. My heart soared at the clarity of my mind. It did not have to fight the clutter of my words.

I have never thought of fasting my words. I know that monks do. I just didn't realize that part of the reason I allowed a critical spirit to come out of me came from the fact that I preferred to hear my own voice. Fasting helped me to listen and truly focus on the other. I no longer felt the need to speak.

What hard question might you need to ask yourself and then your family? Do not shy of the power of a hard question and what might be revealed. Embrace what is discovered and give it to God. He will use it to help you draw near to Him.