March 14th, 2004



The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (14 March, "Yielding")

This lenten examination continues by God's grace. Even when I haven't been deliberate about it, He has been and brings my mind and heart round to the piercing question of whose I am. That's a question He's answered for me. I am His. The examination is nothing more or less than His way of reminding me of His answer and teaching me to live in it as my own. The distance on the path ahead does not seem so far, and His company along the way makes the travelling joyous.

How now, to yield to Him fully? A part of this is as simple and challenging as not yielding to anything else. Clearing the stumbling blocks and distractions leaves so many empty spaces, which can be fearful. What to do with the quiet, where the hushed voices in my life might again speak? There has to be Someone to trust if I am to take the risk.

And there is.

God woke me earlier than I'd planned today, earlier than is sensible without Him. But He changes what is sensible, and I was able to pray, more than I have in some time with just He and I. It felt like being myself.

Off to work and worship in a few moments, the usual Sunday gig. Since I was away for two Sundays a couple of weeks back, our intern covered most of my duties in my stead. His wife emailed me about their experience: "We were both so exhausted from trying to keep up with all you do, we had to go to sleep early! :) I am not sure how you do it every Sunday, thank you." My job is really a lot easier when you have a routine and all the little bits of info that are in my head, but I appreciated the gratitude nonetheless.

Smiling over nothing in particular. Looking forward to the day.
  • Current Music
    Rufus Wainwright

Fear not

Today's sermon blew my doors off. It was God's message and God's message to me. It's still sinking in and seeping through me, so it's difficult to summarize. For Lent, John is preaching on idolatry and what lies beneath it in our hearts. Some notes from this morning (the text was Isaiah 41:1-20):
Where do you find idolatry (v.1-7)?
  1. Where you're afraid—facing an uncertain future and formidable obstacles
    • This means it is at center stage of our lives
    • Where is my life—my future—on the line? What keeps me up at night?
  2. Where you must come through
    • Stay strong; be successful and survive
    • Idols are only as good as your performance
How can you tell?
  • Anxiety
  • Pride
  • Self-loathing
  • When the above are present, look underneath them for the idol
How do you overcome this?
  1. Seeing the futility (v. 7, also ch. 40-55)—worshipping an idol is just dumb
  2. Trust in God's strength (v. 8-14)
    • Who is doing the work?
    • You have rest.
What is the result? (v. 15-16)
  • God makes a worm (small, inconsequential, non-threatening) into a threshing sledge (formidable, powerful, useful in the harvest)
  • We are redeemed, and we are redeemed to be used in His work, the harvest.
This doesn't do the sermon justice; I'm hoping to have it converted to MP3 and posted on the church website soon.

Read something this afternoon that made me sad, but in that way of longing for something good. There are things I want from God, and that's a far better thing than going after them in my own strength and asking Him to bless my efforts down the road.

He asks me to ask. And He redeems.
  • Current Music
    Michael Oldfield, "The Source of Secrets"