Saturday, 15 November 2014

Love Covers


When I was young and growing up,
there was always a comforter
on the end of my bed.

I remember one in particular.
It was white, and all over it
were pictures of beautiful ladies
dressed in Cinderella gowns.


Some nights before going to sleep,
I would stand on my bed
and drape the comforter
around my shoulders.

Pretending to be one of them,
I would parade elegantly
around the edges of my bed,
as elegantly as I could 
on a saggy bed 
with a comforter 
winding about my feet.


For a few minutes
my bedroom became a palace
and I was a princess,
the daughter of a king.
With my old pyjamas covered
I had no problem feeling
beautiful, important and special.

God has been in the clothing business
since the beginning of time.


In fact all clothing stores,
closets, hangers, washers, dryers, ironing boards
can trace their origin back to the Garden of Eden.

When Adam and Eve sinned,
they knew, for the very first time,
the feeling of guilt and shame.
And what did they do?
They hid and tried to cover themselves
with fig leaves.

God says in Psalm 139, 
we are fearfully and wonderfully made,
yet why is it,
we think we're not?

Our world today is suffering.
Everywhere,
there are people 
who are trying to “dress” themselves.

How does society value people?
Turn on your TV.
Who gets recognition?
The “beautiful”.

Look at all the makeover shows;
What Not To Wear
Ten Years Younger,
Biggest Loser.

Notice the magazine racks by the checkout.



We could go on down the line 
with how our culture places value on people 
and the many other factors 
that influence how we see ourselves. 
Possessions, wealth, and fame. 

What do we end up with? 
People who step on the treadmill of performance 
and strive to be good enough 
yet never quite get there,
dressing themselves
in “fig” leaves. 

But fig leaves 
don’t cover very well 
and they won’t last.

God’s acceptance and value of us 
has nothing to do with
how beautiful we are on the outside, 
whether we’re wrinkle free, 
trim and fit, 
how much money we make 
or how educated we are. 

God’s love for us is unconditional.

When Adam and Eve sinned,
what did God do? 

Genesis 3:21 tells us... 
the Lord God made clothes from animal skins 
for the man and his wife and
He dressed them.

He did what every parent 
has done for their child since. 

He dressed them. 

Love provides.
Love covers.


How do we know God cares? 
He does the same for us.

How often do we fail Him 
and fall short of what He asks of us? 
Like Eve we “eat the fruit”, 
we disobey. 
We say the wrong thing, 
act the wrong way 
and then in our guilt 
we try to justify our actions.

Out comes the needle and thread 
and we start sewing fig leaves together. 
We try to cover ourselves 
with excuses and good deeds.

But just as God went looking for Adam and Eve, 
He comes looking for us.
But this time,
it’s not an animal skin 
He has over His arm. 
It’s a robe of righteousness,
an eternal covering of purity.


Fine linen.

And we can hear Him say,
Come close,
those fig leaves won’t do.
Be still.
Let me dress you.

As we humble ourselves
in surrender and obedience, 
He covers us.

There is a story I read many years ago
that is forever
etched on my memory.

It was told by a missionary to China...

It was Christmas Eve and a young Chinese woman
was out visiting some friends. 
She was about due to have a baby. 
On her way home she got caught in a storm.

As she was trying to make her way in the blinding snow
she realized she was going in labour. 
She took shelter under a train trestle. 
During the night she gave birth to a baby boy.

The missionary who was living in the area, 
got up the next morning 
and felt very strongly to go for a walk. 
Even though things needed to be done for Christmas dinner 
she couldn’t put off the urgency to go for a walk.

While walking over the trestle 
she heard the cry of a baby. 
She found the baby alive and well, 
but the mother had perished in the cold. 
During the night she had removed all of her garments 
and covered them around the infant. 
The missionary brought the baby boy into her home 
and raised him as her son.

Many times down through the years 
she told him of his mother’s sacrifice. 

When he reached a certain age 
he told her he would like to visit his mother’s grave. 
It was winter but she agreed. 
When they arrived she walked a little ways away
to give him some privacy.

As he stood there he began to speak,
“Mother how cold were you on that night?” 
And as he was speaking 
he removed his outer coat. 
“Were you this cold mother?” he asked. 
He took off his shirt, 
his pants, 
boots 
and socks. 
With tears running down his face 
he covered her grave with the clothing.

The mother had given her life 
so her son could live 
and the Lord Jesus Christ
has done the same for us.

He took off robes of Heavenly majesty 
to be born in a stable.

At the age of thirty-three, 
He took off earthly garments 
and laid down His life 
to clothe and cover us 
with 
Himself.

Our worth has nothing to do with imagination,
as my Cinderella robe,
but it has everything
to do with 
truth.

When we invite Jesus into our heart,
He wraps us in His love.


His robe of righteousness 
becomes ours and we 
never have to worry
about measuring up.

Just as I covered my old pyjamas,
He covers all our sin 
and we become 
a child 
of the King.

  This old hymn says it perfectly,
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
faultless to stand 
before His throne.

Thank you Father.






Monday, 13 October 2014

Just One Day

I call them sticky burr verses.
You know the ones.
They stick fast to your soul. 
Make you feel uncomfortable. 
Reminding you what you should be doing.


This was one of them.

But exhort one another daily, 
while it is called Today; 
lest any of you be hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin
Hebrews 3:13.

And through it,
 He said to me,

We can't do it alone.
Life is hard,
A few days of trouble.

Encourage each other.
To-day.

This is why we come together.




Lunch or tea.
Bible study.
A Sunday service. 
We were never meant to go it alone. 
We need each other.

Our hearts get hard
in just 
one 
day.

Even our children, 
these blessings 
that God has so graciously given us 
can take tremendous time and energy,
stretch us to despair. 




I was speaking with a young momma one day. 
I love her honesty.

These children just bring out the worst in me; 
a part I never knew was there before. 
I was giving my son a fork 
and he didn't like the one I had given him, 
so I had to go and get another 
and with gritted teeth 
I felt like cracking it in half...


Momma, its okay.
When you're sleep deprived 
and it's been three years 
since you've had a minute to call your own.
It's okay. 

But I also want to say, 
be watchful, 
because Satan can slip in his deceitfulness 
and start with his lies.

See, you're not really a good mother, 
you don't even like these kids. 
Why bother reading your Bible? 
You'll only get a minute 
and then you'll have to stop. 
You're too tired to pray. 
It's too much work for you to get out to church. 
You're not going to get anything 
out of that Bible study, 
stay home...

How long 
does it take 
for this to happen?



Just 
ONE 
day.

This is why we 
need 
to come together. 
This is why we need 
another momma soldier, 
who's been there, 
to get down in the trench of motherhood, 
put an arm around the struggling one 
and say,

God wants you to know, 
you're doin' a great job 
and you're a great mom. 
It won't always be like this. 
He hears your sighs. 
Turn them into prayers, 
just point them heavenward.

Your words 
help to lift 
the burden of mother guilt 
from her weary shoulders, 
which already carry too much, 
and together you head for the Well.


We need encouragement 
every day, 
because our hearts 
get cranky and crusty 
and that gentle word of encouragement 
just drops in some living water 
and we find the strength 
to lift our heads 
and look to Jesus one more time 
and say, 
Yes, we can do this.

Then there are husbands, 
this gift from God 
that teaches so much about grace 
and gives us opportunity 
after opportunity 
to get the forgiveness process right. 
How many times 
does Jesus say 
we need to forgive? 
Seventy times seven? 




490? 

Did you mean that for one day Lord?

It's early morning, 
and he sleeps 
through the 4:30 to 6 am 
rocking of the babe 
with the fever, 
who only wants Momma, 
who has to leave for work in just an hour. 

Then, 
when evening comes, 
when Momma is looking for help with dirty dishes 
and some good back and forth conversation, 
he watches the men on the TV, catching fish.


And Satan starts with his lies again.

This man 
who has this tall order to love you 
as Christ loved the church.
He’s not measuring up,
you deserve better.

The root of resentment starts to grow, 
twining around the heart, 
squeezing out the thankfulness 
and the promise made to God, 
for better or worse.

How long does it take 
all this to happen?


Just 
ONE 
day.

Once again 
we need a sister soldier 
to climb down in the trench 
and give the wounded one a hug 
and whisper words of truth. 

You never LOSE by loving.

Jesus poured out His soul unto death 
and 
you 
NEVER 
lose by loving.

You help her to find her armour, 
put it back on 
and in the heat of battle 
you share Jesus, 
cool living water.


Together 
you find your way back to the Well.
At the Well, 
hearts stay soft and tender. 
At the Well, 
you feel loved. 
When you're loved, 
you have what it takes 
to end the day with forgiveness, 
a clean slate 
because 
love 
keeps no record of wrongs.


And we never get to 491.

As you read these words, 
maybe you feel you are a sister soldier 
with not much to give. 
It's here in this place called spirituality 
that Satan roars the loudest.

It’s here he tells his biggest lies, 
telling us that we are of no value to Jesus 
and to the Kingdom of God, 
that the little we have 
is not gonna do anything for anyone.

It causes us to take out the measuring stick
 and we measure ourselves by others.


We listen to his deceit.

You can't pray.  
You can't sing like sister so and so.
You don't know the Bible very well. 
You have nothing to give.

And our Heavenly Father, 
in His infinite wisdom and grace, 
has to step in and say,

Give me the stick, 
you're gonna hurt yourself.


There are no measuring sticks in my Kingdom. 
You are accepted in the Beloved.

I love you 
as much as I love my Son.

You are my workmanship 
created in Christ Jesus 
and my Son 
is the 
Author
and 
Finisher 
of your faith.

It's His story.

It's here 
in this place of being loved, 
this place of freedom, 
that we realize, 
He has given so much. 
Grace on top of grace. 
And then we want to do the same.

God doesn't waste anything. 
Whatever we go through, 
He can use to strengthen others.

Every trial we've proved him through 
can be turned into bread 
to feed a hungry sister.



If He has been our comfort, 
we have something to give. 
It's just about loving, 
about being real with each other.
Caring enough to share 
what Jesus has done for you.

It's then, 
we take another look 
at our little fish 'n brewis lunch, 
and give thanks 
and say, 
Here Lord. 
All that I have 
and all that I am 
is Yours. 
Do whatever You will.

And when we reach out
and put it back
in the hands of
Jesus,
He
can feed a multitude
in just
ONE
day.


Monday, 22 September 2014

Minute To Win It

A minute to win it.
That's what the brother said.

He wanted to share Jesus,
so he chose his words
with care.

Tasted them
before they passed his tongue.

Paul said it in his letter,
Let your speech
be always with grace,
seasoned
with salt.

It reminds me of Premium crackers.
I always liked the salted ones best.



It's the same with words,
The salty ones are better.

Words sprinkled with grace,
seasoned with love,
covered in mercy,
giving life
and hope.

The Master,
I love His Words.
He never wasted any. 
Not one.
Every. One. Counted.


They thought to catch Him one day.

So they brought her,
before Him
guilty in the morning light.

The words God gave Moses,
the words of the law, 
said she had to be 
stoned.

They're thinking,
He says He's God.
Will He go against His own law?

So they ask Him, 
What do you say Master?

He stoops 
and writes His Words,
on the ground.



To the merciful He will show mercy.

He wants to show mercy to them all.
So He needs to slow this down.

They ask again,
What do YOU say?

He stands
and gives them 
some salty, grace words.

Whoever is without sin,
can throw the first stone.

His words 
stop them.




And then,
the only sinless one
stoops 
to write some more.

They need time to think.

We don't pick up stones,
when we know our own sin.

For all have sinned 
and come short 
of the glory of God.

The oldest leaves first.




Years of living
should 
make a soul wise.

One by one 
they remember 
something they've done 
and slip away.

Standing again He asks her,
Is there anyone left to condemn you?

No Lord.

Neither do I, 
go and sin no more.

Words have power.

Some 
cause you to 
stop 
and think.


 I wrote these words in my Bible 
many years ago.
The author is unknown to me.

I saw no likeness to Him 
in you today,
And since I shall not pass your way again,
It matters not 
that yesterday His light shone in you.
Or that tomorrow, 
you may want to make amends,
I passed your way today.

The
only
WORDS
that
MATTER
are
the
ones
I
live
A Voskamp

Help me Father
to speak salty, grace words, 
seasoned
with love 
and mercy.

I may only have a 
moment 
to win it.