Living Logos

Occasionally words will dart through my brain and I may not necessarily know the definition but it may seem to fit the occasion. This happens frequently and on one occasion I distinctly remember getting it wrong. The word was lucid. By definition I thought the word lucid meant unclear, confused, not quite coherent. By definition that is the precise antithesis (or opposite) of lucid.

alphabet-close-up-game-695571I have long had a love of words. Written ones, spoken ones, even my thoughts and imaginations are verbose. For most of my life words have meant something to me. I can distinctly remember being no more than 4 or 5 years old, sitting on the floor of the public library; I sat with my legs folded and a book larger than my lap opened in front of me. I sounded out words and read that book all by myself, cover to faded cover. I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment and the new world that opened before my very eyes. In those moments I had been transported to Paris, France, and the adventures of a tiny little girl. Those words had come alive and transported me to a different place.

When I was in the 4th grade I remember teacher would read aloud to us everyday after lunch. I loved those times everyday, I can still picture her seated in front of the chalkboard, her perfectly scripted cursive writing as her backdrop, chapter book in hand, and her soothing voice like a Mother’s lullaby singing over a newborn would read tales of adventure and fourth grade fun.

Words, they mean much to me and have served as a medium in which to express myself on the regular. Recently I encountered several words I had questions about that caused me to give pause, write them down, find their origins, and define them.

Words like accoutrements, antiquated, assiduously, bedlam, bon vivant, catchword, ruminate, and serendipitous.

The Greek word for “word” is Logos.

John 1 (ESV) says,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

And then verse 14…

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

And the Logos, the Word was made flesh. Talk about words coming alive. The very same Word, or Logos that became flesh is the very same Word that is alive today. That very same Word possesses a greater power and is not just a dead text on a page. He is alive and active and He loves you and me without limits and deliberately.

The book of John begins with the Word and ends with word. The last Chapter of John is 21 and these verses speak volumes (pun completely intended.)

“This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:24-25)

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Running This Race of Life

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

A recent podcast by author and speaker Andy Andrews told the story of a long jumper named Bob Beamon. According to Andrews, Bob Beamon was just an average long jumper, as far as world champion competitors are concerned at least. In the 1968  Olympics, held in Mexico City, Beamon broke the Olympic and World records by – get this – almost 2 feet! Twenty-one and two-thirds inches to be exact!

Can you even imagine? Olympic records are broken by fractions of seconds or inches, not by feet! How did this young athlete break the record by such an extreme?

As the story goes, a fellow competitor, who usually out-jumped Beamon, came up and whispered an encouragement in Bob’s ear just before he started the run to jump. He said, “Give ’em 2 inches on the front…take 2 feet when you land.” And Bob did just that!

Often in our lives we face challenges. Not insurmountable challenges, but challenges that  overwhelm us and leave us feeling defeated. Perhaps we can learn something from this record-breaking athlete.

1. Prepare as if it all depends on you. Olympic athletes train diligently for months and years. Are we living our life as if we are in training for the purpose for which God has put us here? Are you growing in the Word, in faith, in prayer, in service to God and men, in love? Are you growing in your talents, skills, and field of expertise?

2. Live fully. Immerse yourself in this race of life. Bob was in the race. He competed with varying degrees of success. Today we often view challenges as win or lose. I’ve heard kids’ coaches say “second place is first loser.” But that’s a lie. Second place to Bob Beamon in that Olympic event could have broken a previous world record; Bob just broke it by more. We must quit viewing life’s challenges as “all-or-nothing” and should instead take the advice of Hebrews 12:1-4:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

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We must choose to run this race with purpose and endurance without giving up.

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3. Listen to uplifting words. Surround yourself with people who speak God’s Word and grace and truth into your life. We must choose not to listen to the negativity and ill-will  of the worldly society, nor even the pessimism and humanistic tendencies of well-meaning church friends. The words spoken into Bob’s ears spurred him to go beyond what he had ever dreamed possible. That is what God’s words of truth and grace do to our hearts.

4. Run the race believing that you can do it. We are capable of so much more than we believe we are. But we have an enemy that whispers lies into our ears. He tells us we are failures, that our desperate situation will never change, that we have sinned too much, that we’re dreaming too big, or, more subtly, he tells us just to give up, it’s useless. But I say – Believe God! He has a plan for you; it will succeed. For with God nothing is impossible! (Matthew 19:26)

Bob_Beamon_1968bThis week as you face the “im”possibilities of life, take a moment to recall Bob Beamon. If no one is around to speak those words of encouragement to you – speak them to yourself! Do as the psalmist David did – encourage yourself. Speak scripture to yourself. Play praise and worship music. Tell yourself the truth of God, don’t repeat the lies of the enemy even in your mind.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

 

Check out pictures of Bob’s famous jump here.

 

 

 

Candy Basket

My Boss carried a basket of candy toward me. “You get one for doing a good deed.” She wanted me to know that I had earned a piece of candy. She encouraged me to take a piece of my choosing.

Meanwhile my coworkers wandered up and a few asked for a piece of candy too. She grinned, nodded, and said something about me taking two pieces then. I turned around to continue with my work and another coworker wandered up the hallway.

My Boss held out the candy basket toward her.

“Do you want a piece of candy?”

The coworker paused at the basket and moved her fingers over the candies.

“How much?” She said. My boss looked a tad puzzled and responded, “One.”

My coworker clearly meant something else, “No How much? Like how much does it cost?”

My Boss laughed, “Ooh nothing!! They’re free!”

Immediately I thought about that basket of candy was a representation of salvation. My coworker fully expected a dollar amount in relation to that candy but the candy wasn’t for sale. She couldn’t earn it, she couldn’t purchase it, she could only receive it and receive it she did.

Ephesians 2:8  (ESV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

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What Does a “Christian” Marriage Look Like?

 Part 2

Today, as we continue our look at the hopes and reality of a Christian marriage, prompted by a look at the married couple in the movie Overcomer, we have a singular focus:

Prayer.

One really sweet thing about the movie Overcomer is how it portrays the couple praying together. We see them as people who pray for their own heart and for each other, but also as intercessors for others God brings into their lives. The example set by the movie in this regard is both encouraging and a realisitic example of how to live – if a couple takes the personal initiative and follows the prompting of the Spirit to live this way.

Prayer is a paradox. It is at once an elementary thing, simply talking to God, yet, at the same time it can feel extremely complicated. Any 3-year-old can offer a genuine prayer on behalf of one they love, while we mature, educated, Christian adults often stammer and stall when trying to voice a prayer. At some point in our life, most of us have dreaded praying out loud, probably because of a fear that others listening will think we’re not doing it correctly. But even in our personal prayer life, in those unspoken heart prayers, we may struggle. We may feel at a loss for what to even pray. Our desperation, fear, and need may leave us without words. We may grow weary and give up while waiting for the Father’s timing of His answer. We may pray words in doubt and worry, rather than in faith. We may feel as I’ve often heard others express, that “my prayers didn’t seem to be getting past the ceiling.” The good thing is that they don’t have to get past the ceiling! God is not “up there.” His Holy Spirit is in your heart. He hears.

In the early years of my marriage I felt awkward praying out loud with my husband. I’d been raised a Christian, but prayer had always been private. I struggled to know how to open up to that deep intimacy with God and my husband together. I guess I worried that my husband would see the real, sinful, selfish me if he heard my earnest prayers to the Father, because folks I just get real and talk with God. None of the thees and thous and have-your-own-ways. I just talk like it is my real, fleshly daddy I’m talking to. I have been known to ask God to straighten that person out, to tell the Father how mad I am at someone, or even to gripe about my disappointments with my husband! Not the kind of talk that I wanted my young love to hear. Therefore, I would typically allow him as “the spiritual leader” – at least that was my excuse – to pray first and then I would rubber stamp it with a “me too Lord” kind of prayer.

But through the years as my husband has gotten to know the real me and not just the facade I put up so he would want to marry me, I have opened up in praying aloud with him. And what a blessing it is! He hears my heart’s desire poured out to the Father and joins me in agreement. He is strengthened by hearing what I pray for him as he heads out to work or faces a tough decision or struggles with change. I’ve learned to pray for him just like I pray for myself, and he encourages me when he does the same. We’ve prayed through many a family crisis with tears pouring. We’ve prayed and fasted together for spiritual changes in our children, and we’ve seen God move dramatically. We’ve prayed joyful, laughter-through-tears prayers of celebration and rejoicing. We’ve faithfully interceded side by side for our church body and leaders, our friends and family, and many, many sick, grieiving, hurting, broken lives that are dear to us. Our prayer life has become a rich, valuable facet of our marriage. I treasure it so much that I didn’t even grouch at him this week when he woke me up at 5:20 before going to work to pray over some things going on around us.

arabic-belief-black-and-white-1487953Below are a few concepts to keep in mind about praying with your spouse and 4 powerful portions of scripture that have been the foundation of my belief in prayer as a key component of a healthy marriage.

1 – Intercede for your spouse. Pray for him on your own. In depth. Specifically. Pray scripture. I daily pray Proverbs 3 for my Sweetie. (Praying scripture is a powerful way to pray for your husband, because God’s word will accomplish what He desires and achieve His purposes! Isaiah 55:10-11) Pray for his work, his walk with the Lord, your home, his health, his success, his friendships, and anything else you can think of.

2 – Pray in all situations. Pray when you’re worried, in doubt, sick, fearful, needing answers, seeking the Father to act on your behalf or when you’ve sinned and need to come clean and be forgiven. But also pray when you’re happy, thankful, praising Him, and celebrating His goodness. And especially when you are trying to forgive your spouse.

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 NIV

3 – Intercede together for others. There is no better feeling than praying together for God to move and then seeing Him act! You celebrate together and can’t quit talking and reveling in the mighty acts He performed that you got to be a part of together. It is much harder to be selfish and see your spouse as an enemy if you have experienced tangible answers from the Lord to your humble prayers.

Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” Matthew 18:16-20 NASB

4 – God’s power and presence are multiplied in your marriage when you pray together. God’s ways are not ours. For some reason there is added power through agreement in prayer. And the bonus as we see in the verse above is that He will be “in their midst” – in the middle of you two as a couple. But His presence isn’t there just to keep us from being a meany as a spouse, Ecclesiastes reminds us of the practicality of including God in our marriages.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NASB

5 –  Pray when you don’t have the words. At some time in your life, you have been so broken hearted or confused or desperate that you simply had no words to pray. If you haven’t experienced this yet, you will at some point. My first experience with this came through a heart-rending, emotional circumstance with one of my children. My deep grief overwhelmed me. All I could do in my prayers was to call out to Him, “Lord!” My husband was in the same place. When we needed to pray the most – nothing. Looking back on this I learned 2 things.

First, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we can’t pray or don’t know what to say. Romans 8:26-27 tells us,

“…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”

We don’t have to have human words. We have a translator for those heart prayers that can’t be adequately expressed.

Secondly, we need a community of believers around us. The Christian man and wife are not a self-sustaining island. We are a unit. But we are members of a greater unit – the body of Christ. As such, we need to have our close community who is willing to know us and pray for and with us. (James 5:13-18) I’ll never forget at that crucial point in our life when I couldn’t pray, I went to a ladies meeting where a godly woman prayed a prayer over our family that I didn’t even like. It was one of those whatever-it-takes kind of prayers. Scary! But that prayer of a righteous woman was powerful and effective and was the turning point in our situation. So I encourage you, wife, have your people to pray with. Husband, have yours as well.

Prayer is powerful and effective, not only in the life of an individual Christian, but also for a couple and a family. Our enemy wants to keep us from the work of prayer to make us ineffective as a family unit. Remember his goal – to kill, steal, and destroy. Your emeny is seeking to destroy your marriage, your home, your kids, and the image of Christ your marriage presents to the world. Besides having our Creator in our marriage acting on our behalf when we pray, another benefit of praying together is that we are strengthened as individuals, as Christians, as husband and wife, and we are woven together with God, that third strand to our rope of marriage that makes it strong!

Take time to pray together today. You can’t take the risk of not praying together.

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Construction Zone: Remodeling

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Remodeling.

A word that strikes fear and dread in many.

The closest I’ve ever come to remodeling was having our deck replaced. The constant pounding and sawing outside my kitchen window was overwhelming, but at least it wasn’t sawdust and noise and workers inside my house every day. Nevertheless I chose escape. I loaded up my writing work each morning for weeks and headed off to my other office: Panera Bread. After nearly a month my deck was finished, I’d gotten my writing project completed, and I had a new family, my Panera family. Love you Nola, Tyler, Taylor and Debbie!

God is constantly remodeling our lives. From the moment we turn to Him as our Savior, He actually starts rescuing and remaking us. Rescuing us from our selfish sinful nature and remaking our inner woman. As with physical remodeling, this spiritual remodeling is time-consuming and painful. It is ongoing throughout our life. It can be a process from which we wish to escape. But if we stick with Him and trust Him we will find a brand new us in the end.

Tearing out old sins and habits takes time and effort. Patching up the wounds and hurts from the past is necessary. Finding the faulty wiring built on old lies is crucial. Our Father does this process over time for the health of our spiritual and emotional lives. He digs in places where we would rather not have Him dig. He cleans out closets of things we would rather not turn loose of. We are sometimes left feeling stripped bare of the paint and cosmetic trappings the we have hidden behind for so long.

So how do we embrace this constant remodeling throughout our lives without seeking escape?

  1. Accept that this remodeling will come from time to time throughout your life.
  2. Remind yourself that you have the Master Architect working on you.
  3. Trust that He loves and adores you, and that is why He has chosen to update and improve the rotten, warped, and worn out places in your heart and soul.
  4. He is remaking us for His glory and for our good. We may not like going through the process, but we will love the renovation when it’s over. We will see that it really was for our good, and we will be thankful for the improvements.

As you face struggles this week that seem to tear out those old timbers, be grateful that he is remaking you into a beautiful structure for His glory! Pray and seek His face when you don’t understand. Stay in His Word. And most of all, Trust Him.

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He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5