Past the brazen altars…

Some thoughts as I worshipped this Sunday:

“Take me past the outer courts, into the Holy Place, past the brazen alters…Lord, I want to see your face.” (Take me in by Petra and Kutless)

Past the brazen alters? Wait, can I just walk past them? I’ve been through the outer courts, on the outside hoping to meet God.  All along, even without knowing, I desired that Holy Place.  To see the place where God dwells, to sense his presence.  And since the brazen altars are on my route, they must be part of my journey there. But what do you offer at an altar?

Clearly, in reading through the Old Testament, you often read of goats, sheep, oxen, doves, etc being continually offered daily. Sometimes these offerings were in the thousands! (King Solomon’s dedication of the temple 1 Kings 8:63)  The outer courts were reserved for Gentiles and women. The men would enter in to present the sacrifices to the priests.  Access to the Lord’s presence was very restricted….until Jesus came and ripped open the curtain to the temple.  Though Jesus paid the final, complete sacrifice, I still keep seeing this word ‘sacrifice’ through my reading.

“Let us offer, through, Jesus a sacrifice of praise….”

“offer your bodies as living sacrifices…”

“Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God”

“a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God…”

What do I offer? I confess….often my life has that noticeable stench like rotten tomatoes surrounded by fruit flies.  Lord, make it smell sweet!  Take the striving, doing, pushing, and replace it with your beauty. Take the pressure, the worry, the trying to be good enough, and replace it with your sweet smelling presence. As I spend time in your fragrant presence, may it rub off on me.

To just be…in you. To be in you…..while canning, freezing greens, making bread, writing lesson plans, collaborating with co-teachers, and doing laundry. To just be, not do. To just be..with people. To smell of you when talking with those you created.

“So, I give my life, a sacrifice of praise. Father, take my heart, every part today.” (Wickham)

A life change…every two pages.

You know those books you read that make you rethink your whole life every two pages?  Those kind that make you feel like nothing you do is even close to what you should be doing? That you’re not even a follower of Jesus?  That if your life didn’t change every time you picked up that book, you would be like the person in the book of James who looked in a mirror, saw the mess she was, and just forgot about it. 

172

That’s how I feel when I read anything by K.P. Yohannan or his wife Gisela.  They are part of my favorite organization in the world Gospel for Asia.  I love how they use native missionaries to give gifts of livestock, sewing machines, and a number of other employments to people in villages all across Asia.  They also created schools for children who otherwise would be left to the streets or sent to work. And most importantly….Jesus and the hope of forgiveness from sin is offered to all. 

Reading books from someone who has seen it, been there, experienced another side of life always challenges your core actions, thoughts and living.  I remember how  every couple pages, I turned to my husband and said, “I’m not even saved!” (meaning not following Jesus).

In K.P.’s book, “The Road to Reality”, he literally challenged my reality. “Measured against eternity-nothing of this world makes much difference at all. A hundred years from now, it is unlikely that even one person in the world will remember what we looked like in this world.”  

 

The following is a list of realizations:

If my heart does not grieve over the millions of people who have never heard the name of Jesus…

If my day is not filled with prayer whispers to Heaven for my brothers and sisters here and abroad….

If my finances and time do not reflect HIS kingdom instead of my own……

If I harbor any coveting, pride, jealousy, unforgiveness or anger…..

If I can look at another picture of a thirsty child, a broken man, a widow, a loveless woman and have my heart not break for their pain and eternal outcome…….

Then my heart does not reflect the heart of my Savior. 

 

003

Reading through Scripture and through K.P’s book it is evident of the power of prayer if we would just admit our inadequacy and rely on HIS sufficiency. People are healed, bread/fish are multiplied, and villages are transformed. “No man is greater than his prayer life” (Leonard Ravenhill)

Now to be honest…..(which if I wasn’t, there wouldn’t be any point to reading this) I haven’t fulfilled that list yet.  Yes, I do pray more ( I find that the shower 🙂 is a perfect time to get some regular time in), and yes my heart does weep with those who weep (especially in Iraq, Israel, Asia, and here in my town). And yes, I do think about needs vs. wants, especially keeping in mind how many true needs there are around the world. 

Gisela writes in “Broken for a Purpose”: “The secret of overcoming is through dying-to die to the right of recognition, honor, position, respect and so on.” “If I understand this truth…I will learn to view my trials, disappointments, persecutions and victories as opportunities for the Holy Spirit to build and mold my life. Then, even during the most difficult and painful times in my life that strip me of all that I thought I was, I will be able to say, ‘Yes, Lord.’ trusting Him, knowing He is bringing me at that moment one step closer to look like Him.”  Broken for a purpose….his purpose… to look like Him. 

 

To beat with the same heart beat, to weep for the things God weeps for, to see as He does, and to pray as He wishes. “stamp eternity on both my eyes” “Break my heart again with what breaks your heart”

                                       049

This is a life-long process made by a series of small steps….every two pages. 🙂 

 

 

The language of love

You know the story….guy wins over girl through gifts, or love notes, or long walks in the park. Then after they get married and have been married a year….reality sets in. “You never give me gifts anymore. When can we spend time together? Remember, when you used to write me notes? Yah, those were the days…”

IMG_3296

Now, it’s not that either person has stopped loving the other, or that they stopped caring. It’s just that we don’t know how, at least not in a way our loved one will receive it.

This summer I read “The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Now, of course, I started thinking through the people I know and analyzing their language. 🙂 My siblings? Definitely quality time, just like my parents. 🙂 Big surprise, I know. 

So, in case you haven’t heard them, here they are:
1. Quality time: spending intentional time with someone, or even just being together in a project.
2. Physical Touch: hugs, a pat on the back, a high five for a good job, holding hands/
3. Acts of Service: taking out the trash, washing the dishes, helping someone carry something
4. Words of Affirmation: encouragement, verbally affirming their good qualities, appreciative words, notes.
5. Gifts: small gifts to let them know you were thinking of them, flowers generally fit this.

 

When people date, they generally do all of these things to earn their partner’s love and affection. But often, after time, we switch out of overload and back into our natural language.

The trick is to figure out what really blesses the other person and what they receive the most. My mom is a prime example of quality time. (Mom, you know it so don’t deny it). You could give her a gift every week or give her a quick hug when you see her each time (which, by the way, is her secondary language), but after a while you’ll start to hear her complain…..”sometime we should hang out again! Sometime, we’ll have to catch up. How’s this going? Just letting you know I’m thinking of you.” You get the picture. 🙂 That’s why she’s easy to birthday shop for….either a coffee date or thrift store shopping date.

I’m pretty blessed as Jesse’s languages are very similar to mine. Quality Time is his primary, with physical touch and affirming words coming second.

And if you’ve known me for any length of time, you should know mine. Guesses anyone?
Yep, quality time and words of affirmation. No surprise there.

The difficulty comes when our definitions of quality time differ. My choice of quality time (a walk in the neighborhood or a game) is different than his (eating dinner together, or chilling in the living room). Way easier to navigate than some of the examples I read about in the book.

It’s interesting how you don’t realize them until you start to miss them. I didn’t realize how strong words were to me until I heard negative words and upset words. Then it crushed me as what someone says to me is a big deal unless I train myself not to care…..as much.

Now, disclaimer alert! I’m not blind enough to assume that all people fit into neat boxes.  One of my dear friends told me recently she’s not sure which languages are hers.  As unique as people are, they may have a unique type of language that’s all their own.

So, we sometimes use this phrase around our house (and they talked about it in the book too).
“How’s your love tank doing? How can I help to fill it?” Sometimes it’s nothing as it was just a rough day at school, but sometimes it’s something as simple as cleaning the dirty dishes out of the sink.

IMG_3366

Love really is a choice. A choice to learn how to love the other person in their own way.