Sunday, April 24, 2011

Mark 4

Oh, Mark 4, how I love thee!!

It is so powerful that the story of Jesus' calming the storm follows the parable of the sewer directly. It's a parable in and of itself! Christ takes the time to explain the parable of the seeds to the disciples, they receive His word, and yet when the storm came, they lost sight of very word. It's a lesson in faith. Every bit of it. It's important for us to remember that THE WORD IS ALIVE. Jesus is a VERB! To listen only (or even to read only) is simply not what it's about. It's letting His words take root inside of us and grow. Much like Jesus' slumber on the boat, we all too often leave our Bibles at rest on our night stands, wait until our need is dire, then seek its pages, begging questions . But, it is His voice that calmed the storm. When we arm ourselves with the Living word, we are armed with the voice that calms the wind and waves. "Who can this be that even the wind and the waves obey Him? Are we listening? Seek His word. He tells us exactly who He is!! The question becomes, do we believe Him?

This reminds me of one of my all time favorite quotes: "Instead of telling God how big your storm is. Try telling your storm how big your God is." =)

Friday, December 24, 2010

God's Beautiful Reminder Through Ms. Arwen

The Lord has blessed me with one of the most glorious Christmas breaks thus far. I've been productive, gotten to relax, and I've overwhelmingly felt His favor and witnessed His blessings in my life. All the while, however, I've been battling a recurring sin that He has been working hard with me to purge my life of. I've managed to keep that monster at bay for quite a while, but it reared its ugly head again yesterday. I immediately became overwhelmed with disappointment and fear. I heard Satan whispering that I had single-handedly ensured a loss of God's favor and ignited His disappointment. I vehemently know this to be such a lie! I was still shaken by it, though. I immediately thought of my dear friend with whom I had discussed God's anger with that very night. She was convinced that God was angry at her. After reassuring her of His Love and relaying a clear message from Him of just how much He wanted for her, I had praised and thanked Him for the gift of His Love and overwhelming forgiveness. So, I was truly shocked at myself for feeling so fearful and unsettled. I fell asleep in prayerful tears...

Little, did I know, He would remind me of who He is with the help of my cat, Arwen that very night...

Alright, as any good English teacher would, I'll start with a little exposition and set the scene. At Sylvan last week, the sisters I had been working with brought me a beautiful gift - a box of truffles ornately wrapped in a red and gold package and topped with a gorgeous bow and a glittery golden bell. Oh, that accursed bell! Then, over this past week, I thoroughly cleaned my apartment and decorated for Christmas as much as I could. I can never do as much as I'd like to because I have one mischievous little kitty cat whose curiosity and need for play leave little hope for the survival of dangling or otherwise strategically placed shiny objects. I did, however hang my stocking from my bar and place a Santa novelty and the wrapped box of truffles on the bar as well. Now, to her credit, Arwen did well for a few days. She left the decorations alone for the most part (only knocking my stocking down ever so often). BUT, yesterday, she discovered the bell.

Quite a few times throughout the day, I had had to get her down off of the counter where she was studying the truffle package and timidly pawing at its bow. She had done little harm, though and generally jumped down immediately if I even feigned a disciplining walk in her direction. Thus, as any good Grinch would do, she simply waited until I went to sleep to begin her reign of Christmas terror. However, this is also when God began his work.

The first time I woke up to the sound of claws on glittered paper and the ringing of the bell it was midnight. I began by clapping and yelling "Arwen, get down!" from my bed. When that worked to no avail, I did get up and walk into the living room. She immediately jumped down, rolled on her back in surrender, and meowed a sweet little meow. I went back to bed.

The next time, it was 2:00 am. I got up and was a bit more stern in my vocal inflection. I stomped into the living room groggily. She cowered down onto the counter below the bar and meowed. I actually had to physically remove her form the counter this time. In my exhaustion, though, I left the gift where it was and simply went back to bed.

I heard the bell hit the counter again at 3:00 am, and this time I was furious. I was tired physically, and tired of having to get out of bed to deal with her. I suppose my anger was palpable, because the moment I reached the threshold, she had bolted off of the counter and into the bedroom. I walked over, put the bell back into its place on the bow, turned around and got right back into bed. She accompanied me this time, curling up in her spot beside me and apparently going back to sleep as well.

4:40 am wrought an entirely different truth, though. I heard the bell hit the kitchen floor this time. I was DONE! I shot out of bed, anger coursing through my veins. I did not even acknowledge the cat, I simply walked in, picked up the bell, placed it back in the bow, moved the gift into my closet, disdainfully got back in bed, tossed around to get comfortable, and breathed deeply trying to calm my emotions enough to allow me to fall back asleep.

It was within those moments that God spoke to my heart.

I saw myself in Arwen - the sinner constantly drawn back into her sin by the pure temptation of it - no matter how many times I had been chased away from it by my loving parent.

I also saw how frustrating it is to watch someone you love just continue to go back and do the same wrong over and over again with you having to discipline them over and over again. It became almost impossible for me to not get angry even though I know it's simply in her nature. I was awed. It's in our very nature to sin and in our selfishness that we do so, often repeatedly. How amazing it became to me how He handles us with such patient mercy.

Through all of my getting up and lying down, my frustration, my anger, my disappointment, He was playing out for me a scene in response to the growing shadow of His disappointment in my mind. As fearful as I was at the anger of God over my sin, He reminded me and made me so exponentially thankful that His Love and temperament are constant. He does not react with growing temper at every recurrence of our sin, as I did with Arwen's. For, "God is love" (1 John 4:8). He is "good, ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy ...full of compassion, and gracious..." (Psalm 86:5,15). "He has not dealt with us according to our sins...for as the heavens are far above the earth, so great is His mercy" (Psalm 103:10,11). "Many a time He turned His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath"(Psalm 78:38). Praise Him that His ways are not our ways!!

He loves us, and He wants good for us. We must trust in His Love and Mercy - the highest of which He exemplified by sending His one and only son to die for the very sins we suffer such fear and shame over. Why would Jesus die if God were simply going to remain in His anger over our every sin?? No, beloveds! "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him" (Romans 5:8-9). Instead of leaving us in disgust to the consequences of our sin, He came toward us. He entered into our world. He took the penalty of our sin and bore our death, Himself.

"Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace [we] have been saved" (Ephesians 2:3-5).

Let us never forget! Do not let yourself run in shame or hide in fear of His reactions to our sin. He showed us that. Instead, beloveds, draw close to He who first drew close to us. He wants to free you from the fetters of guilt, not bind you up in them. Trust in who He is no matter what lies you hear whispered through the darkness. He is LOVE. Period.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Writing Myself into Being

Well, readers, I am officially back. It seems that even the balancing act I was doing with my crummy old lap top on the box fan to prevent it overheating and shutting down became futile. The computer went completely dead a few weeks before school got out. So, it truly has been a long while since I have posted. I have so missed having this outlet. I praise God for my beautiful mother who saw fit to bless me when she found out that I was without a computer in the midst of a great need. She went so far above and beyond with this gift, and I have prayed in all thanksgiving and humility on her behalf since that day. I am still in awe of her generosity. I love her so much! So, here I am: I am back and back with such passion. I have so much to update, so much to say, but I would have you hear all day if I let it all out in one epic post. So, I'll speak what's on my heart today. Life is after all a series of minutes. So, what is God doing in my life, in my heart this minute? He is inspiring me! He is setting my pen to dancing.

For anyone who has known me a while, even at a young age, you know that reading and writing have always been two things I have loved to do. Well, let's stop and correct that gross generalization with this caveat: I have always loved them but spent a large amount of time NOT partaking in them. I find it so interesting that it was during my time as a prodigal child that I set these passions aside. Satan knows what powers we have inside us to use for God's kingdom, and he does everything he can to stifle their use. So, I don't find the timeline coincidental, especially not after the revelations the Lord has given me this past week in regards to my passion for reading and writing.Those revelations are the heart of this post:

I am currently partaking in the Abydos Writing Institute. It is a 3 week institute for teachers at which we learn the new role of writing in education and become equipped with many wonderful tools in the advancement of writing in our classroom. I'm not going to sit here and pretend as though I was as excited last week about this endeavor as I can wholeheartedly say I am now. To say that I whined and complained about having to give up 3 weeks of my summer to spend 7:00 am to 4:00 pm with a room full of bitter educators learning how to do things I so pridefully believed I already knew how to do would be an understatement. I was most upset because I truly couldn't see how the Lord could possibly use something like this. Then, a very wise friend reminded me that my work with my students is its own blessed missionary field and that if even one child benefited from what I would learn in this course, then His kingdom was assuredly being served. So, I sucked it up, prayed, and awoke the morning of day one with an incredibly joyful spirit. I went in to the day excited to see what He would bring my way and anxious to discover what He had to teach me through it all. I entered the library at Baines Middle School and found my way to a table. I would soon see that the others at the table I had chosen took bitterness to a new level. I had never heard so many foul words and witnessed such spirits of discontent. I had to laugh when I heard the Lord say to me: "See, that's what you sounded like yesterday. Not cute is it?" No, Lord, it most certainly was not! As our three facilitators made their way before the 42 Abydos trainees, I readied to listen with as much attention as I could muster. They said nothing. Instead, they wrote on the post-it board, "We're writing. Won't you join us?" They than sat down and started writing. I had heard about this introduction from Kendra (who took the institute last summer). So, I immediately got out my journal and pencil and started writing. There were sighs, moans, complaints, but eventually the writing mode fell upon the room and all was silent except for the sounds of lead upon our papers. I swear the spirit of the Lord descended upon me during that time. It was during those moments when I felt my passion re-awaken. I wrote and wrote. Throughout the day, I learned so many new tools and opinions about writing and the writing process. I also re-discovered some old notes I had begun for my novel, and I felt my pen take off as I started drafting character sketches and an opening paragraph. It was all so intriguing. I went home that day totally ready for day two, for I knew the Lord would have much to teach me through This. I was so anxious to see what all it could be.

Day two was the first day they gave us a full hour to just free write. I was excited, but I was stuck. I found myself staring at the computer screen for at least fifteen minutes of that hour. They had said we could revisit something we had previously written, but we were to be creating a reflexive piece for publishing in the class anthology. So, my novel did not fit this category. I would have to choose something else. So, I opened up Internet explorer and found my way to my blog. I couldn't think what was more reflexive than a journal. I saved them as word files and started reading back through them. Hmmm...I edited some....stared some more...edited a little more...stared...Then, the hour was up. Oh, no! I had not written a thing! As we gathered to utilize our first grouping strategy I was going to have nothing to read. So, I quickly chose a blog post, printed it, and made my way to the table. I had ended up printing "Passions." I read it. It was nothing special. We moved on. I didn't realize then that this was in fact all a part of God's plan for this week...

Day three, we started the day with another hour to write. I was so worried. Was I going to stare at another blank screen this whole hour? The "Passions" piece was not something I would want to publish. What was I going to do? I had no ideas. Oy! I took a deep breath...We had been taught the previous day the pre-writing strategy of Free Association. So, instead of allowing myself to sit and stare blankly as before, I decided to give it a whirl. I recalled the definition of reflexive writing: "Writing that is an extension of self, written by self for self." So, I typed the line, "If writing is self, and self is me, then surely I must write to be." I began my free association from that point, looping every line together. Soon, there were less pauses in between lines. I was typing quickly and without ceasing. It all eventually molded itself into a poem (the only genre of writing that is wholly reflexive - SCORE!). When the hour was up, I quickly added a title to my poem, hit print, and made my way to my group for our next debriefing. I listened as woman after woman poured her soul out through their writing. It amazed me! It also made me nervous that perhaps my silly poem would not serve its duty amongst such outpourings of self. Hmmm...I would ponder on it and find something new to write about the next day. The day continued, we learned so much more, and God remained hard at work behind the scenes.

Day four was much the same. I was learning so much that I knew would benefit my kids so much. I praised the Lord for this opportunity! I was also learning so much about myself as a writer. I never imagined that. I also never imagined that was a part of God's purpose for me being here as well. As we read aloud again in group time, I continued to be amazed at these women's stories and so overjoyed and humbled at the resounding theme of God's hand at work in each and every one of them. All bitterness had ceased in all of us and all 41 women sang out songs of God's saving power, His healing power, His deliverance, His peace, His blessings. It went on and on. All I had was my poem. My small poem about the power of words. Silly me, haven't I learned of God by now that He makes all small things grand?!

Day five is when it all came to a glorious head. We each had a one on one conference on our reflexive pieces with one of the facilitators. As I sat down with Carrie, I expressed how I had 4 pieces of writing in front of me and not a clue as to which to submit. I told her about how different my main piece was from all of these other powerful narratives. So, she asked to see only it. She asked if anyone had read it aloud to me so I could see if it sounded the way I meant for it to from the mouths of someone else. She had me close my eyes and listen. I was to let my heart decide if it was right. As I heard my words, something inside me knew. I just had to use this piece. So, it was done. I had decided. Ok, off to my next group to utilize the "Summary and Synonym" strategy. As we went around the table, I heard a story of a conqueror of breast cancer; Synonym: Faith, a story of the pain of a debilitating syndrome; Synonym: Strength, a letter a recent newlywed wrote to her miscarried child in Heaven; Synonym: Peace. We all shared, and I was so happy to be among fellow Christians. I shared last. I began by disclaiming that it was "just a poem." I knew this was the piece I was to use, but I still lacked confidence. When I was done, I expected to receive synonyms like "words," "writing," "self." I was s shocked when all of the women at my table came up with the same synonym for my piece (something that had not happened with any of the other pieces). It was as though I felt God open up the chest in which He had been storing His lesson for me as all of the women resounded the word, "Passion" around the table. "Passion?!" That's what they got from my poem. The title of that old blog of mine from day one! LOL! They all said that all week they had seen and now heard my passion for words and writing. Oe woman even wrote for her summary of my piece "God has blessed you with the gift and love for writing, and you are using that passion to change lives." Was I? I never imagined so. God would humble me and reveal to me why she had written those words to me very shortly. As we dispersed from the table for break, I remained at the table and heard God speak into my soul everything he had been awaiting to reveal to me through all of this. He said this:

"Linsey, did you hear her? That is exactly why you are here, beloved. I first had you revisit your blog about passions so that you would be reminded of the truth you once received from Peter and John: you are your passions, and I have placed them there to be used gloriously. You are here to rediscover your passion for writing. The one I gave to you. The one that has been dormant. I brought you here to be reminded of it. You needed to be reminded of what your writing has already done to serve me: look at those blogs. I wrote those with you, and look at how your family has already been touched by them. I blessed you with that computer, so you could no longer be held back or rest upon excuses. You have seen what writing can do for the spirit in all of these women, and you have witnessed me in each one of them. I inspired you with something different. Do you think you wrote that poem? No, darling, I did. Hear it from my perspective. I had you listen with your own ears this morning. It tells exactly what I seek to do with you, beloved. Go, use these tools, use this rekindled spirit. You write your spirit onto pages. You fought me once. You even tried to fight me on it this time, but do you see now beloved? I'm going to use this passion you set aside when last you ran away. I told you long ago I wasn't done piecing you back together. This is a piece that had long been missing. I'm going to use it. I'm going to use you. I just needed to get you to put your pen to the page again first."

I was awed.

So, this is it. He finally took His gentle nudging I ignored and excused away and instead pushed me full force into the midst of this "Abydos" institute where I literally do nothing but write and learn. I will never get over how much I truly love how He works. I don't know what will come of my writing or how it will be used, but there is little room now for me to doubt that it will be. Whether it be through my novel (the medieval epic of A King, the son he sacrifices to save his people, and the group of unlikely renegades who save him in return), the bloggings of my spirit and its place with the Lord, the Bible studies for which I've had notes on a shelf for months, or even the future student these tools will inspire to discover his/her own passion for writing, I know now that He has facilitated every moment of this writing institute and that it is destined to change much for me, for my student, and for my readers. I am so excited to see what He does. It seems that first line should have read: "If writing is self and self is He, then surely I must write to please."

In case anyone is curious to see the poem that re-started it all. It is written below, and be sure to do as He said and hear it from His perspective and not from mine, for He authored it.

"Writing Myself into Being"

If writing is self, and self is me, then surely I must write to be.
The spirit within is expelled as my hands write me onto pages of past and presence.
I am captivated by the eyes of words as they stare back at their creator.
In their deep hollow, I see my reflection.
Reflections of the power those words dispelled.
Reflections of the joy with which I set them into being.
The Lord set my pen to dancing. I set the page on fire.
More and more, my words collide with vast expanses of blank space.
The more I seek them. The less I find them.
Rest. "Be still," He says, "and know that I am God."
Oh, words, do not be still.
Move words.
Move hearts. Move minds. Move all.
Fling wide the door to my soul,
The door guarded by words that filter death and live on.
Live on words.
Remember me.
Through you, I am that I am.
If writing is self, and self is me, then surely I must write to be.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ónen i-Estel Edain.Ú-chebin Estel anim

It's been a week since I began the process of attempting to "practice His presence" - to think of Him in every moment, consider Him in every thought, action, decision, feeling, and motive. I finished the book this week, and I can speak without hyperbole when I say that it completely changed my life. I've read many books that lit fires under me and greatly affected my view on and walk with the Lord, but none have had the profound effect on me that this one did. It was like all of the questions I'd been struggling through, all of the fears, all of the shortcomings, all of the struggles were all accounted for and beautifully revealed through the lines of each page. By far the biggest thing it did was give me confidence in my faith.

I am a person who far too easily loses confidence in my place with God, because I have felt like such a wretched failure to Him until recent years. I spent so much time running away from Him on purpose. I spent so much time lost, so much time in a grasp of Satan that causes me to shudder in fear and shame when I recall it. I never want to go back to that place. I pray so often for the Lord to never let me forget the way it felt during that time. I swore that I would never turn my back on Him again. As a result, I am very hard on myself where my time and relationship with Him are concerned. I launch into a state of guilt and sadness when I miss a quiet time, fail to do my bible study homework for a day, and especially when I see shadows of old demons lurking within my thoughts and actions. Things became especially hard for me as my work picked up throughout the year. I have such a passion for my kids that I throw myself into them in a way that commands my time, my mind, and my labor. I have felt many times throughout the school year that I have been somehow sacrificing God's time for my kids' time or visa-versa. I know this not to be true, because I know that my work with my kids IS His work, but I still felt as though I was not being as faithful as I should be when I would come home exhausted at 9:00 or 10:00 at night, knowing 3:30 am was just around the corner and choose to pray as I fell asleep instead of meditate, or forgo a night of study homework. I would always beat myself up for it the next day - wake up begging His forgiveness, seeking a way to find Him again - grabbing for Him in desperation, fearing I would fall all the way away if I let go even the slightest bit. It's become quite obvious to me that I don't fully trust myself yet. I grew especially distressed when I came to a state in my prayer life where during meditation, my mind would wander severely. I would even sometimes be praying aloud when it would drift, and I would soon realize I had stopped talking. Oh, I was so ashamed of myself! I kept begging God not to lose faith in me as I was in myself, to search my soul and know that I still longed for Him, to re-focus me. I would think of Him all day, but it was always in thoughts like, "Oh, He's so disappointed in me. I must make time for Him tonight. Why could I not speak to Him? Oh, Lord, I'm so sorry!" I was just crying out constantly in my head. I didn't even feel connected at Bible study...or so I thought.

As my previous post explained, that's where this book comes into play. God had reverberated words throughout my soul during that time in the Dust of the Rabbi, even though it has taken until now for the sound to reach my ears. He then placed Practicing His Presence in my hands, and the words I have heard from Him through it bring tears to my eyes every time I think on them.

First, He removed my guilt by allowing me to see FULLY that my work IS His work and that as long as I am going about every second of my work out of love and devotion to Him, as long as I am practicing His presence in every minute - I am as connected to Him as if I had just spent hours in prayer. It was explained in the book this way: "My set times of prayer are not different from other times of the day. Although I do retire to pray (because it is the direction of my superior,) I do not need such retirement nor do I ask for it because my greatest business does not divert me from God." Please don't misunderstand. None of this is to say that quiet time with Him is somehow unnecessary. It was just such a comfort to me to know that on the days when His work gets the very last breath of my spirit, and I perchance to miss my opportunity with Him, I need not destroy myself with guilt over it, because I can be confident in the fact that we were together in prayer in every moment.

Secondly, the issue of my wandering mind was specifically addressed. In fact, there was an entire chapter on it called, "Recalling the Wandering Mind." AHHH! How can you not LOVE His ways?!?! The chapter gave specific ways to avoid this issue but more so offered the all-important caveat to not let yourself be "troubled or disquieted" by the occurrence. I see now the benefit of practicing His presence in this case as well, as the more your mind becomes accustomed to recalling the Lord, the more your mind is likely to wander there than elsewhere. =)

God even saw fit to answer a question for me in this book that has literally plagued my mind and spirit for as long as I can recall. I struggle so much with trusting myself that I often don't trust my discernment. As I listen, especially during times of decision making, I often second guess WHO I am hearing. Is it God? Is it me? Is it Satan? I have gotten so much advice on the topic over the years and had begun to try and adopt the truth that where ever the peace was, God was. My problem was that my lack of confidence shook my foundation enough that I never found true peace in any decision. Here is what He had for me on this topic: "We are not always sure whether we have guessed His answer correctly...It is really not necessary to be sure that our answer is right, for the answer is not the great thing - He is! God is infinitely more important than His advice or His gifts. Indeed, He, Himself is the greatest gift...we ought to make a great difference between acts of understanding and those of His will. Actions we take in response to our own mental understanding are of comparatively little value. Actions we take in response to the deep impressions of our heart are of all value. Our only business is to love and delight ourselves in God, and the shortest way to God is by continual exercise of love and doing all things for His sake, never stopping to question why or how." Wow! That's all I can say! Amen!

Lastly and most incredibly, this book has allowed me to come to a place where I am no longer destroyed by my shortcomings. Praise Him for that! This experience is one of great difficulty. I knew it would be a constant struggle, something I would fail at throughout its beginning, and I have certainly failed many times a day thus far. I have found what a waste it is to spend time grovelling over such things, though. God knows we are human. He knows we are helplessly flawed. I have thus adopted a simple line of prayer from Brother Lawrence. "God, I know that I have failed, and I shall never do otherwise if you leave me to myself. Stay with me now." In His presence, there IS NO FAILURE!!

I'm going to keep this up. I truly want this to become a way of being for me. The experience thus far has been incredible, and I have felt days of peace and connections to Him I never imagined were possible. Everything is so clear, and it's true, when you're working out of love and devotion to Him in EVERY THOUGHT, everything goes as He has planned and thus goes perfectly. I have had a week of the best days I can recall in a long while. I have not had a full successful day, hour, nor even series of minutes perfectly in His presence yet, but the results have been beautiful nonetheless.

Our God is AMAZING!! He has saved my life again. My favorite truth about Him will always be that He not only saves us from evil - He just as often saves us from ourselves.


One last thing before I depart for the night. I know I'm hopelessly long-winded. Sorry! I just had to share this.

I was so enamored by a statement Marty made on Sunday. He spoke to he fact that we are God's POEM! As a person who adores writing poetry, I thought I would end this post by sharing one of my original ones. This poem is the one I actually wrote to perform at the Poetry Slam we had for our freshmen this year, but I thought it would be appropriate for tonight, as I truly saw that once again the written word revealed so much more to me than that which is spoken. That's just what this poem is about. =)

"The Pen is Mightier than the Sword" by Linsey McCoun

Some old strokes on a page.
Chivalrous in essence, form, and practice.
Noble is the hand whose sharpened pen dubs lines like knights in the grand corridors of lined pages.
For, yes it is true what they say:
The word is alive.
Courageous, just, and merciful - the written word sits on the throne of authorial authority.
Timelessly it rules over the articulation of thought, the flowing of feeling, the knowledge of right and good -

But woe to those who express self with speech!
Guard well your words, my brothers, for when pens are sheathed, the spoken word springs forth as a double edged sword from the mouths of baser, less inspired men.
They sharpen their tongues and aim their words like deadly arrows.

It is only the shield of the page that holds them at bay.

Reckless words pierce fast and deep, but armed with those that have been carefully written - no weapon forged against you will prevail.

Never has a poem sacrificed it's poet, but those who wield the spoken sword can surely die upon it.

So, taste not the poison that lingers on lips. Instead, drink from the fountain that flows from fingertips.

Stay silent. Listen.
Let the written word reveal to you all that is hidden.
For even our savior spoke only to say, "For it is written."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Practicing His Presence

I sit at my computer tonight VERY contemplative....

I was recently let to borrow a book called Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence & Frank Laubach. Once again, the Lord proves His faithfulness and the glorious fact that He talks to us in so many wonderful ways. This time - He was speaking to me through the repetition of recent words and ideas.

In the most recent Bible study I completed (In the Dust of the Rabbi - which is incredible by the way), the concept was discussed that in order to whole-heartedly be one of the Lord's disciples - His Talmid - once must truly give themselves completely over to Him in every thought, action, word, moment, etc. The faces in our Bible study class went almost immediately to stunned. We discussed how seemingly impossible that idea seems, especially in today's bustling society. But, the fact remained that it was a concept that was also so beautiful, so thrilling! It became something I thought a lot about throughout the weeks following. I pondered a lot the beautiful effect something like that could have on the spirit but how difficult it would be. I wondered if I even had the capacity to even attempt it - if ANYONE did.

That's when the book was placed in my hands by one of the people I count as being the most instrumental in my faith as I know it - my wonderful aunt/sister, Carolyn. She too had just completed the Rabbi study and was excited to hand me this book that had given her a spiritual nudge as large as the one it would soon give me. In God's perfect form, the book spoke exactly to this concept I had wondered so hard on of late. The book is made up of several diary entries made by 2 men, living in very different time periods, but who both experienced God in every moment of their life. I was intrigued from page one. In the book, you hear of the effect this practice had on the men and of the process of actually living it out. Oh, and a process it most certainly must be. It was something they started out doing for 30 minutes a day and extending over and over again until their days were filled with nothing but thoughts of God - every action, every decision filtered through the Lord. Can you imagine?!They even discuss how they would practice allowing the Lord to guide their hands as they shaved and ate. Such devotion! How beautiful! As I read, I grew more and more intrigued. I was still afraid though. I mean, both of the men were devoutly religious, living in monasteries and practicing their faith seamlessly. Surely, I could not do this - Not me: the one too busy, too tired, to thinly stretched, too unworthy. Then, I came to the most important and powerful portion of the book thus far...

I started to notice that the men would sometimes fail. That they would point out moments in their days when they lost track of God in their thoughts, but they always came right back when first they realized it...and God was always right there. They would mention their "business," their "responsibilities," their "illness and exhaustion." They were just like me, and they succeeded! So, what am I so afraid of?! Why do I always allow myself to forget who He is - who I am in Him? Why do I run away in shame when I miss a quiet time or skip a night of bible study homework? Why do I worry over the world? See, here is the beautiful part - the most brilliant revelation in this book thus far: whenever God is the center of your being, of your every thought, everything else just falls into perfect place. Your decisions are His decisions. Your words are His words. Your actions are His actions. WOW! A concept I've always known with my head but never explored with my heart! Why?

Why indeed, Linsey? WHY do you forget that "there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5)? The disciples woke up and fell asleep with, ate with, walked with, talked with, cried with the Lord Jesus each and every day. Jesus was man as we are not only to rescue us from our sins but to show us that we CAN do all things through Him. He was flesh and blood just like we are, and He overcame the world. We claim that the world gets in our way. We claim "busy," "weak willed," "tired," "forgetful." Lord, help our unbelief! Christ spent every moment in God's presence. He met Him in prayer and meditation at every free instance when His work was not being done. Please don't misunderstand - God's work is God's work, and may He bless us every moment that we're doing it. My point is, why can't our every moment be God's work? It already is. We just foolishly live as though it's not - as though we have control. We know better! Oh, how I long for that kind of faith, that kind of obedience, that kind of CLOSENESS! I'm the only thing standing in my way. My daddy is waiting!

I have to remember, we all worry. We all feel guilty, but these men have truly opened my soul to the beautiful notion that if we live every moment in the truth that it is God's and allow Him to guide us in it, then we will have nothing to worry over, nothing to fear, and certainly no failure. Satan devises so many ways to separate us from God. We must draw close to God! NO MORE FOOTHOLDS!!! There may be times that we fail as far as the world is concerned, but in His presence we are always victorious! We just have to keep our eyes, ears, minds, hearts, and souls on Him. We've already learned that His presence brings love. His presence brings protection. His presence brings security. His presence brings grace and mercy. His presence is everything! Oh, how I long to pratice it!

I am stepping out in faith here - I'm going to try and practice that kind of closeness with God. I'm going to take this one day at a time, one moment at a time. I know I'll fail, but I'm going to get back up every time. No more living in defeat. It's time to practice letting the Holy spirit run free in me. I'm going to try and make every moment His. It will be all be about listening and doing. I'm not so prideful that I believe I'm going to be able to do this on my own. It's going to take a lot of accountability on my part, on the part of my trusted friends, and all the strength of Christ that is in me. I pray you will all join me on this journey!

"As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work" (John 9:4).

I'm so, so scared, but I just keep hearing Mrs. Claire Brunson saying "No fear - just jump in!"

So, here we go beloveds...


Monday, April 19, 2010


As I sat in church yesterday, I could feel the Lord start turning those wheels in my mind and spirit. I was very contemplative and struck by the sermon. I was awed by God's way, as once again, in perfect form, He put things in place, placed words on my spirit, roused words from my study, words from my life, and words from the pulpit - tying them all together in perfect revelation.

Marty discussed oxymorons and paradoxes in his sermon yesterday. Besides finding this humorous as an English teacher who recently covered these concepts in class, I also found joy once again in a truth I have always believed in. It's the first thing that comes to mind when my students ask that age old question, "Ugh! Ms. McCoun, why do we have to know this?" I believe whole-heartedly that we have literature and use it as a means for discovering the use of figurative language and literary devices as a means for understanding those concepts when they are used in the Word of God. The Lord speaks to us in oxymorons, paradoxes, similes, metaphors, symbols, and images. We must analyze tone and diction, details and syntax. All of it adds such a depth and breadth to the Word of God. It's all His way of expressing to us concepts that are so far beyond our capacity for understanding. He gives us these tools! What a glorious God we have! However, it's also a very dangerous thing in that it is a place where the devil finds many advocates. As with most literature, the use of such devices leaves the work up for much "interpretation." Satan loves to distort the Word of God to a point of unrecognizability and lack of understanding ("When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart." -Matthew 13:19). Praise God for the Holy Spirit and the sword of our Savior that helps guide us in this understanding and battle against the devil's confusion.

Confusion...oxymorons and paradoxes. How interesting and beautiful that it was these devices Marty chose to utilize in his teaching. Two devices used to develop and express a relationship between two things that are seemingly contradictory. Marty revealed to us a paradox that he stated has plagued society as a burning question for decades: If God seeks to bring and be good to the world, why then does He allow evil to exist? Well, beloveds, probably the most glorious portion of the definition of a paradox that cannot be ignored is the word "seemingly" - the tiny word that makes all the difference. Paradoxes are only "seemingly" contradictory! Their beauty and effect lies in the fact that while their is little sense to be made in the initial statement - the contradiction is always reconciled in the end by everything else within the work - sometimes even by a single other line. In keeping with that definition, even the paradox Marty presented has a reconciliation - our Savior.

Why does God allow evil to exist? Let me begin by saying (at the risk of much backlash) that I am actually of the opinion that evil does not exist as something that was "created" - as something we could attribute with a God-breathed existence. I believe that much like darkness is only the absence of light and cold the absence of heat that evil is merely the absence of God. Evil is the nothingness that exists outside of the goodness of the Lord. Satan is described in scripture as the "Evil One." Refer even to my reference above from Matthew. He does evil in removing the word from the hearts of men. Look to Ezekiel at the very description of the Evil One's fall: "Through your widespread trade, you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings" (Ezekiel 28:16-17). God cast him away. Satan is evil, because Satan exists away from the Lord. Satan is the only thing that is the essence of true evil, because he is the only thing that can no longer be in the presence of God. God did not "create" evil. Evil is simply that which God is not. That is why I daily thank God for who He is. I believe wholheartedly that He created us for good, to be close to Him, to love Him, to allow Him to love us. We are all good who are reconciled to Christ, but as we seek to do good, Satan tempts our sinful natures to turn away from Him. Paul presents perfectly an explanation of this in Romans 7:

"We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.

Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

(Romans 7:14-20)

Satan is the "the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2). Satan steals His words from us, because in the presence of His living word, evil cannot exist. Satan tempts us away from obedience, because in His commandments, evil cannot exist. Satan lies to us, because in His truth, evil cannot exist. Satan blinds us, because to see God is to see that his evil DOES NOT EXIST!

Believe me, we are blind who believe that God does not ALWAYS have our best interest in mind. Even when He has allowed us to be touched by evil, it was always under His control. For, Satan must receive permission from Him to even touch you. Many are turned off and bothered by the idea that God would allow that. Well, I say to you, as you have seen from Paul's words: evil is always right there. In the very essence of free will, there is always the possibility that we turn away and find ourselves "away" from Him, stumbling into evil. As Marty pointed out, though, Ephesians 1:11-12 tells us that we all have a purpose - we were chosen by him, "having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory." He only asks that we obey Him. Keep our eyes fixed on Him. Do not let ourselves turn toward evil. For "when we live under the authority of Him and seek to obey, the enemy may oppose us and even oppress us, but he cannot thwart the fulfillment of God's plans for our lives. Any permission he receives to oppose us will only be issued for the greater victory of God" (Moore). When our will is tied to that of our Father, we remain in Him, sheltered by the shadow of His wings, kept safe from evil. Think of it: when He gives permission, He says to the Evil one, "Bring it on! Do your Worst!" Darlings, find joy!!! For, when we remain in Him, never straying, never absent, always with Him, any evil that comes against us has to go through Him first!!

So, it may be a paradox, a confusing, nonsensical idea that God would despise evil and yet allow us to coexist with it. Ahhhhh, but Praise Him for the blessed reconciliation of that paradox: Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here is how Paul concludes his thoughts from Romans 7: "For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:21-25)." He that knew no sin, became sin. In his death, Christ became separated from God because of our sins. After his burial and three days in the grave he rose from the dead and now is seated at the right hand of the father. Making intercession for us. Reconciling to us all that there is no evil in the world strong enough to separate us from the Love of God.

"For, I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

"For though we live in the world we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

"In the same way count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:11-14).

"For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).

"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Amen and be blessed, beloveds!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Good eve, fair nobles!

In Bible study recently, I was given some very fresh insights on the story of the Last Supper. The text I was studying discussed the true meticulous importance of the preparation of the room for that Supper. Everything in and around that Passover meal is symbolic. The most captivating portion of what I read expressed the fact that it was no mere coincidence (as though coincidence existed) that Jesus charged Peter and John with the task of preparing that feast. They were chosen specifically for that task. As they prepaperd and no doubt sighed their way through the painstaking preparation, they did not realize the true scope of what they were doing. The most important part of their role was the preparing of the sacrificial lamb. No doubt, they soon came face to face with the realization of that symbolism, as very soon after that meal, Christ would lay down His body and pour out His blood for us all - quite literally becoming the 3rd cup in the tradition, the cup of REDEMPTION. Those two men's roles were so important, even though at that time they didn't realize it. They would go on to though - oh, would they ever! This was by far my favorite fact learned on this day of study - Peter and John are the only two of the twelve who are ever recorded as having referred to Jesus as the lamb (1 Peter 1 and Revelation 5). WOW!

It caused me to think: How often do we all step half-heartedly into a charge from our Lord and Savior, not realizing the true glory that our obedience is accomplishing for Him? Ephesians 2:10 is clear: "...we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." He made us with the passions and abilities we have for a reason. We are His Living Stones - chiseled ever away at in preparation to fit into the perfect erecting of His temple. This led me further into a spirit of pondering. As this is true, and as I am walking with the Lord, it must be the case that the things that kindle a fire in me - the things that make me shiver with excitement, bring a smile to my face, and that I am genuinely happy and good at doing must have been placed there by the Lord for some purpose. Now, my whole mission of late is to truly find myself daily walking in obedience and fulfillment of my purpose and destiny. So, I truly had a lot to consider. It made me curious. I started searching myself, identifying my spiritual gifts, my stengths and weaknesses, my passions. I could see the need for so many of them as labor for God's Kingdom, but one kept coming to the forefront of my mind as one that I just could not figure out. I thought of Peter and John. I knew that there MUST be a reason for this love that I harbor. It's a passion I have had for as long as I can remember, a passion that I have actually been somewhat self-convicting over, as there were many times I felt for sure there was no way it served any purpose for God's will. After much prayer and contemplation...I see how wrong that is. I most certainly have this passion for a strong purpose - and that purpose is to define me and serve as a constant reminder of who I am in Christ.

Ok, here goes: Ha ha! I have to laugh at myself. Something you know about me if you know me at all is that I have an absolute passion for all things Medieval. I love the Renaissance era. I love anything remotely associated to that era. I love knights. I love swords. I love castles. I love fantasy. I love wizards. I love dragons. I love Kings. I love squires. I love the langauge - OH, how I LOVE the language! I even can't help but write in the language when I write for pleasure. I am OBSESSED with any and everything that evokes those qualities. Take Lord of the Rings for example. To call my love for LOTR an obsession would be a vast understatement. I watch the trilogy every weekend. LOL! I have read the books multiple times. I collect the toys and paint the models. I am enthralled by Aragorn's role in the story. In fact, I usually skip the scenes with Frodo, Sam, and the Creature Gollum making their way through the dark of Mordor to cast the ring of power into the fires of Mt. Doom. What I love is the "return of the king" aspect of the story. I love the battles and the valiance. My heart jumps in Two Towers when the Rohirrim show up at the battle of Helm's Deep. I love Gandalf and the role he plays. OOOHHH! I'm excited even discussing it!! I also watch "Legend of the Seeker" every Saturday. It's a Fantasy TV series about the True Seeker who, traveling with a wizard, a mord sith, and a confessor, and wielding the Sword of Truth, makes his way through the Midlands battling all who stand in his way of finding the Stone of Tears and defeating the keeper of the underworld. I adore it! Even my house is decorated to accentuate my passion - I have a mini suit of armor in my bedroom if that tells you anything. LOL! This passion has lent me to be considered somewhat of a nerd. My colleagues pick on me about it all the time. I must admit I even pick on myself over it. But let me tell you why God PICKED ME for it:

- I am a conqueror - (Romans 8:29-39)

- I am a rescued damsel in distress - (Psalm 107:13 - "Then they
cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.")

- I am a warrior - (Judges 6:12 - "...The LORD is with you, Mighty Warrior!")

- I am a princess - (Psalm 45:11, 13 - "The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord; All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold.")

- I am a fool - (1 Corinthians 1:27 - "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.")

- I am a sword bearer - (Ephesians 6:17 - "Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.") - The Word is Alive, and it cuts like a sword through the darkness !

- I am clothed in armor - (Ephesians 6:10-17)

- I love Medieval language because I love the language of the Bible. I love reading the original KJV! I teach English because I love to study theme, symbolism, figurative language - all things one must fully understand in order to interpret the Bible in its rich fullness.

- I love fantasy, because it's one of the childlike parts of me that anchors my child-like faith. The things of Heaven are so far beyond the scope of our understanding (just read Revelation of you doubt me on that one). I believe there's a part of Heaven infused in those of us who have great imaginations. =)

- I love "The Return of the King" - Do I really even need to explain that one? =)

- I love battles between good and evil where light always prevails

- I love to watch the rugged fulfill their destinies

I could go on and on! See! Every part of my passion is representative of some part of my role in God's Kingdom. Beloveds, we ARE our passions! No matter how trivial, how nerdy, how silly, how seemingly misunderstood - they are all useful to the Lord! Lord, I pray that your help me cultivate the strength that is in me - help me become a true Knight of Heaven. I am already your Lady. =)