Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On River's Bank

Swimming in cool, rushing waters, . . .

I move gracefully toward a goal, feeling the freedom of flowing currents, knowing power over depth.  My arms move effortlessly, without fatigue or pain.  My legs are straight behind me giving me strength.  My head stays above the flood; my eyes focus on destiny.

Such describes my dreams of rivers. 

Yet, much irony lies in those dreams.  In my real life, I cannot swim and have a deep respect for bodies of water.  I do not like water in my eyes or ears.  And two near-drowning incidents have left their marks on my mind.

Still, I love rivers.  Particularly those mountain streams that move with life and air and sky and wind.

I easily remember special places where such rivers live.  There is an old country store with a grist mill in the North Georgia mountains, and behind that store is a wooden walkway where one can watch the turning of the wheel and trout swim in the currents.  The rushing waters cascade with perfect harmony.  Their music echos in my soul.  It is a God-created tonic.  I have stood there several times drinking its peace.  

Yet, greater still is drinking in the peace of another river.  It is that "river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells" (Psalm 46:4, NIV).  It is a river I do not fear, even in my real life.  It is a river more pure than any other river.  It is a real river of relief.  It is a river that thunders with praise of divine power.  It is a river for tasting, drinking, wading, and plunging, and for walking of its banks.

It is my river.  And, it is your river.  

To be honest with you, friends, I need a drink from that river.  I need to stand on its bank and wade into its effervescence.  To be affected by its persuasive authority.  To be guided into its healing falls. 

For, all channels that rill from its presence make glad the sacred places of my life.  All streams from its Source make glad the scarred places in my heart. 

"Glad" in original Hebrew means to rejoice or cheer up. 

So, placing my own heart-spin on Psalm 46:4, I perceive that river as the Holy Spirit and paraphrase the following: 

When my heart is in need, when my life feels broken, when I reach my endpoint, I can fall on my face and seek my Creator of rivers.  He will send His Holy Spirit to fill my emptiness and heal my hurts.  His sacred presence will change my mourning into dancing, my pain to praise, my endpoint to a new point.  

The past several months have been a tiring swim.  I am slightly stretched.  I miss my home and my familiar surroundings.  Our church is suffering need.  Physically, my health is daily challenging.  And, other needs unspoken now, press and weigh.  Yet, like David,  "I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13, NIV). 

In the New King James Version, that scripture reads, "I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living."  And verse 14 ends the psalm with some of the most encouraging words in scripture:  "Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!"

Sometimes we have to wait to wade, to venture out into and drink His living water.  We sit on the bank so thirsty and fatigued, yet so hopeful because of faith's vision.  

Turning to the Word in those dry, dessertlike seasons is our refuge.  Because. . .  

We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you (2 Corinthians 4:7-12). 

My suffering does not compare to Paul's or so many others; yet, it is working my death and His life in me.  I guess what I'm saying, dear friend, is that His grace is enough.  And, though sometimes it seems all we have, we stand unshaken because it really is all we need.  And, I believe.  No, I know future glory will reveal that truth in all of us. 

Unyielding, I vision His water!  Unshaken, I proclaim that God is in control!  Unmoved, I stand by grace!   

On His River's Bank,  


Saturday, April 17, 2010


Like crumbled crackers, broken words are scattered into thousands of dusty pieces.  Only God can take their dry, brittle, breaking moments and reshape them for His glory.  With His handling, fatally spoken words and broken promises will no longer be death letters.      

A hot pink brush I bought at the beauty supply store was wrapped in plastic, printed with promising words.  They were clear:  the brush would soften skin.  "May even use on hands and elbows."  I bought the barlike scrubber, took it home, unwrapped it, and placed it by my bathroom sink.

I wanted softer hands, so before walking away, I could not resist an immediate trial.  I soaped up with silky expectations and began to scrub. 

"Owww!"  I gasped, startled.  The very touch of its harsh nature against my sensitive knuckles hurt!  I tried again, with a much gentler touch.  No way!  Its sandpaper texture was hopelessly painful.  My hands were quickly reddened even by light scrubbing. 

I wondered if I had picked up the wrong package.  No, I absolutely remembered the writing on the wrapper.   

The words were a broken promise, and all I could do was feel regret.  I could not change the nature of the scrubber's gritty, pink sand.  It was what it was.  Disappointed, I placed the pumice in a container with my pedicure brushes. 

Disappointment is the natural product of broken promises.  The broken words on the wrapper of the pink pumice only cost me a little pain and $1.10.  It was a simple, frivilous experience.  But other broken words, sincere-seeming, heart-spoken letters of promise, cost so much more.  Their pain is real and deep; they are complex and drastic.

We have all known the deep pain of failed letters.  We have all experienced life's climatic changes of broken words.  Words undone.  The unravelling of language delcared with assurance.  Such seasons cast clouds over our souls.  They wound to our spirit's core.  Our hearts are cut by their vanity and meaningless shards. Their faithless nature rocks our world and our faith in those who spoke them, and it can threaten our faith in God. 

As a pastor's wife, I have seen many suffer with the sting from promises failed.  Words spoken were first apples of gold.  Their eventual intangibility turned them rotten and bitter.  The spouse who promised to never cheat again; the repentant father who drank again; the children who said they would never do drugs again; the mother who promised she wouldn't leave anymore; the parents who pledged prayer with their children but were always too busy; the boss who said he would understand missed days but never did; the insurance company who said they would pay medical costs but blamed someone for not reading a clause; the family who in great disbelief realized the hopeless words of a doctor who had said everything would be OK; the teenager who married to honor her parents and later dealt with deep betrayal of her new husband.  And, you can think of so many you know who are victims of words unfitly spoken.

Words unfitly spoken are the opposite of those Solomon spoke, when in Proverbs he said words fitly spoken are like "apples of gold in pictures of silver" (Proverbs 25:11).  Appropriate words are beauty.  As perfect and ripe as the most lucious apples in the most exquistie setting is the language of love.  Fit words are appealing, and their appeal is appetizing.  Their taste is sweet.  Their gift, comforting and nourishing.

Yet, "unfit" words are unhealthy, unappetizing, inappropriate, and incompetent.  They, contrary to golden apple in pictures of silver, are rotten fruit in a moldy basket.  They are voices of vice, meant for destruction.  Sour.  Bitter.  Unedible.  Indigestible.  Such is a picture of broken promises, or malicious daggers.     

Perhaps you have encountered the dagger of unfit words.  Someone you held in esteem told you something that created a chasm in your relationship, or someone misled you, either intentionally or not intentionally, which brought a sea of grief to your life. 

I have encountered unfit words.  Plainly, it is pain at its worst.  It bruises the soul and scars the heart.  It creates bondage and breeds rejection.  YET, touched with God's healing balm, the worst wounding words become beauty.  Like a sweet butterfly, they join enjoy transformation from a stale, embryonic state to winged life.  The ugly, vile, vain language no longer holds captive but is captured by the Creator and remade into God's glory.

Transformation is possible, friend!  It is God's gift for all His wounded warriors.  In many points of dark crises of my soul, God has spoken light into my nightmares.  Illuminated with Jesus' love, I have had to cling to shimmers of hope until Christ casts His cross in my waters and healed me.  Each time, it was a marvellous miracle in my life!  It still is.  I am comforted so much to know God hears every spoken word and wayward thought.  I can, with promise, share the joy of God's grace that is only found in a healing Jesus.  And, I will forever praise Him for His pure words that were and are a curing, comforting balm.

If you have received unfit words, please now receive the following unbreakable promises.  Set their purity and holiness and perfect fit above your painful memories.
  • The "words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6).
  • "All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal" (Psalm 119:160).
  • "The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful" (Proverbs 22:12).
  • "So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
  • "'My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,' says the LORD" (Isaiah 59:21). 
  • "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Matthew 24:35).
  • "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (John 15:7).
Dear friend, God is faithful, loving, merciful, and healing.  He loves you with zeal and passion.  He covers you with that love because you are His child.  His very own.  And He watches over you and yours.

Take heart this very day and give all broken words to Him.  Jesus will speak to every letter the enemy has lodged in your soul.  He will reach into that secret place of your spirit and pick up all broken promises.   He will handle them.  Reshape them.  Breathe on them.  Give them new purpose.

With His handling, fatally spoken words and broken promises will no longer be death letters.  They will be language of life and living.  What once caused refluxive bitterness will become promise and peace.

God heals. . . . He's reaching now toward your worst word wounds.   

Glorifying His Transforming Power,

List your own scripture that edifies God's word in your life.  Meditate on its reassuring truth and be prepared to use it during temptations and discouraging times. 

All scripture is from the NIV.
Definitions from

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Tiny yellow wings flapped in my pint-sized hands.  The chick's little feet felt sticky and scratchy, as she pranced around on my palm, trying to dig her baby claws into new ground.   I wanted to caress her, and I wanted to let her go.  I wanted to stroke her fuzzy coat, and I wanted to give her back to the old chicken farmer.  As a child, I was always intimidated by what I did not know, and forty years ago, a special visit with my grandfather to see one of his farmer friends was my first time to hold a baby chick and my first look into a chicken house.

The woods of North Georgia are full of chicken houses and chicken farmers.  And except for their undeniable, diffusive, distinctive smell, chicken houses were an enigma to me until that warm day when I rode with my grandpa in his beat-up pick-up to visit a friend who had bunches of new chicks.

It was a bumpy, breezy ride of expectation and intimidation.  I was going to hold a baby chicken!  The anticipation seemed beyond bearable, as I sat in that old Ford that smelled two parts vinyl, one part oil, and one part Brylcreem.  I wondered how it would feel to have cotton fluff rub against my hand.  And I wondered if my fear of God's sweet creatures would deprive me of the possibility of loving one little bird.

Papa and I got out and greeted the kind, rugged gentlemen.  He showed us one of his chicken houses, which was flooded with waves of golden color and sounds of peeps that echoed from the tin roof.  The farmer took one of the maizey wee ones in his giant, sun-damaged hands, and we all walked down to a grassy spot and stood.

My chance to hold the chirping chick had arrived.  I stiffened my arms and reached, as she was given to my care.  War was on the minute her soft, wee self was placed in my palm.  I tried to not be afraid, but all I could think of was the strangeness of her twiglike feet and razor beak.  My grandfather's patriarchal voice kept saying, "That little chicken can't hurt you, Andrea. Let her walk around in your hand.  Dont' be scared." 

But, I was "scared."  And the tiny yellow being grasped my awed heart.  She was not happy and wanted out, so the old chicken farmer reached over me and gently took her back, while freedom and guilt covered me like a cold rain.

I left in disappointment.  So much for fear-blinding love.  My ten-year old heart felt failure.  You might say I did not earn my Easter wings. 

Today, forty years after my visit to the chicken farm, I have Easter wings; yet, they are not earned.  They are not able to be earned.  They are not earthly symbols.  They are divine substance.  They are truth.  They are real.

My Easter wings are freedom, love, hope, faith, peace, mercy, and more.  I received them through grace, God's unmerited favor.  Jesus earned them for me. He paid for my wings, my eternal freedom.  With His own life's blood, I am redeemed.  I was purchased with such a high price, though I am such an unworthy one.

Jesus paid for my Easter wings with thirty-nine flogs from the cruel cat of nine tails; a crown of thorns that ever so painfully pierced through His submitted scalp; many abusive voices of prejudice, ridicule, and violence against His innocence; soldiers' saliva on His divine face; bruising blows that beat His humble body beyond identity; a heavy, half-mile walk of stones, spit, and dreaded death; six hours of unimaginable pain from six-inch nails, profuse blood loss, and slow suffocation; and six hours of dark chasm between Himself and His Father that finally ended in Christ's sacrificial death, as He cried, "It is finished" (John 19:30, NIV).

Christ's completed His sacrifice, then, hope was realized and fulfilled, when three days after Jesus' divine offering, our destiny was forever changed.

Divine life and light poured from heavenly dimension into Christ's cavelike tomb and into His mortal body.

With power and victory and truth, Jesus rose from death to forever defeat its hold on us. 

Now, failure no longer means failed, fear no longer means defeat, sin no longer means sure condemnation, and dying no longer means death!

Because of Jesus' life, His blood offering, His sacrifice, His obedience to the Father, and His victory over death, I have Easter wings. 

"Wings" are a way of flight or ascent, and my Easter wings are my source for soaring with Jesus.  Abundant life now.  Victory forever.  And one special, God-chosen day, my Easter wings will fly me home and right into His arms.

Praying for you, dear friend, as you soar with Christ through Easter and the week ahead,

Sources:,, and wikipedia.