Monthly Archives: May 2013

Eternity in the Human Heart

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
~ Ecclesiastes 3:11

My favorite painting is Johannes Vermeer’s, the Girl with the Pearl Earring. I have seen it twice, once in Amsterdam and recently in San Francisco, and both times I glimpsed a little bit of heaven. Before my eyes, this girl seems to be a real person who has eternity set within her heart. This masterpiece beckons me to try and comprehend another place and time.

Though not considered a masterpiece at the time of it completion, this simple painting of a girl wearing a pearl earring is beautiful and has become even larger than life. Heaven becomes larger than life in my mind as I try to imagine what it will look like and be like. I can paint all kinds of pictures in my mind, but none of them are masterpieces.

I cannot really fathom what heaven will be like, but this painting reminds me that heaven is about real people with real lives…people who lived long ago, who are alive now and who are yet to be born. Heaven is as much about today as it is about eternity. Here on earth we see and experience the beauty of masterpieces, but in heaven we will see and experience eternity with the Master!

Has God set eternity in your heart?

For God so loves us…

He Loves Me
That God should love me is more wonderful
Than that I so imperfectly love him.
My reason is mortality, and dim
Senses; his — oh, insupportable —
Is that he sees me. Even when I pull
Dark thoughts about my head, each vein and limb
Delights him, though remembrance in him, grim
With my worst crimes, should prove me horrible.

And he has terrors that he can release.
But when he looks he loves me; which is why
I wonder; and my wonder must increase
Till more of it shall slay me. Yet I live,
I live; and he has never ceased to give
This glance at me that sweetens the whole sky.
~by Mark Van Doren

May these words  give you a glimpse of the depths of the Father’s love for you and me .

Changes and Stages

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. ~ Romans 12: 1-2, the Message

The power of transformation lies ultimately within God’s hands. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, you and I share with our words and our deeds the maturity God is developing within us. I was reminded of this at a Saturday matinee performance of Pygmalion, as I watched changes take place in stages upon the stage.

Hoping to win a bet with Colonel Pickering, Professor Higgins teaches Eliza Doolittle to speak and act as a proper English lady…a My Fair Lady! Eliza embraces her opportunity for change and is changed from the inside out. But, will Colonel Pickering and Professor Higgins stop focusing on their bet and embrace what is best for Eliza?

Through the years, the proper ending of the play has been debated. There have been many opinions on the best way to bring closure to the relationship between Eliza, Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering. In my opinion, the final question to be answered is: Will these men allow Eliza’s transformation bring out the best in them?

Stage by stage, will you and I allow God’s transforming presence bring out the best in us so that we develop a well-formed maturity?

“Send me”

Recently, I couldn’t help paying attention to the two words, “send me.” Some of the questions I felt God inviting me to ponder were: Where am I being sent to? What am I being sent to do? How do I prepare my heart, soul, mind and strength to be sent?

As I made the half hour drive home one day, I thought of the prophets being sent out to speak to God on behalf of the people or being sent to tell the people what God was speaking to them.   However, before they could fulfill their call they had to respond to God’s invitation.

Perhaps the most clearly stated response came from Isaiah when he saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.
Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph[b] touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”   ~Isaiah 6:4-8

Have you responded like Isaiah? Where is God sending you?


It is the very nature of love to give. If we truly love people we will want for them more than we are capable of giving them. For the intercessor this loving desire leads to prayer in their behalf. Prayer is a way to bring God into the lives of others so that He will do for them what they cannot do for themselves. ~Alvin VanderGriend, Praying God’s Heart

Lately, I have found myself thinking about some of the people who prayed me long before I realized how much I needed to be loved. To the many intercessors in my life, thank you for the gift of both love and prayer.

Who are the intercessors in your life?


Praying boldly…

While finishing the writing portion of my sermon prep, I took time to recalibrate my prayer life around the reality of these two verses:

1John 5:14 ~ And this is the boldness we have in him,
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Hebrews 7:24-25 ~ Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him,
because he always lives to intercede for them.

Jesus hears our prayers and lives to intercede for us. Moreover, faith isn’t measured by how God answers our prayers but by belief in Jesus who is able to save those who boldly come to the Father through the Son.

I think I will start simplifying my prayers by being more specific with my requests. I have decided that often I am too polite. Jesus understands the boldness we have in him, so why not pray bold prayers?

What keeps you from praying boldly?

Noticed by the Father

While continuing on my sermon prep pilgrimage, I came across this story in Brennan Mannings book The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.  Just as I sensed an invitation to understand the depths of the Father’s love for me, I hope you will also.

“Shortly after I was ordained, I took a graduate course at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.  The professor was an old Dutchman who told the following story: 

‘I am one of thirteen children.  One day when I was playing in the street of our hometown in Holland, I got thirsty and came into the pantry of our house for a glass of water.  It was around noon and my father had just come home from work to have lunch.  He was sitting at the kitchen table having a glass of beer with a neighbor.  A door separated the kitchen from the pantry and  my father didn’t know I was there.  The neighbor said to my father.  ‘Joe, there’s something I’ve wanted to ask you for a long time, but if it’s too personal, just forget I ever asked.’

“‘What is your question?”  

“‘Well, you have thirteen children.  Out of all of them, is there one that is your favorite, one you love more than all the others?’”

The professor continued the story:  “I had my ear pressed against the door hoping against hope it would be me.  “That’s easy,’ my father said.  ‘Sure there’s one I love more than all the others.  That’s Mary, the 12 year old.  She just got braces on her teeth and feels so awkward and embarrassed that she won’t go out of the house anymore.  Oh, but you asked about my favorite.  That’s my 23 year old, Peter.  His fiancee just broke their engagement, and he is desolate.  But the one I really love the most is little Michael.  He’s totally uncoordinated and terrible in any sport he tries to play.  The other kids on the street make fun of him.  But of course, the apple of my eye is Susan.  Only twenty-four, living in her own apartment and developing a drinking problem.  I cry for Susan.  But I guess of all the kids…” and my father went on mentioning each of his thirteen children by name.”

The professor ended his story, saying:  “What I learned was that the one my father loved most was the one who needed him the most at that time.  And that’s the way the Father of Jesus is:  He loves those most who need Him most, who rely on Him, depend upon Him and trust Him in everything.  Little He cares whether you’ve been as pure as St. John or as sinful as the prostitute in Simon the Pharisee’s house.  All that matters is trust.  It seems to me that learning how to trust God defines the meaning of Christian living.  God doesn’t wait until we have our moral life in order before He starts loving us.”  ~Brennan Manning, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, pp. 27-28

What does it mean to you that you have not escaped being noticed by the Father of Jesus?

Yet he could not escape notice…

Mark 7:24-30: The Syrophoenician Woman’s Faith
24 From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice…

Preparing to preach is always a process, but with this passage of Scripture, it has been been more like a pilgrimage. I keep stumbling over this last phrase of verse 24: Yet he could not escape notice…

I am beginning to wonder if that isn’t the point of the passage. Stumbling around, until like the Syrophoenician woman I find myself on bended knee before Jesus.

“Lord, by grace alone, I am here.”
“Lord, make my loved ones, joyful in hope, patient in affliction
and faithful in prayer (Rom. 12:12).”
“Yes Lord, but I will keep asking, for you have not escaped my notice!”

What do you think?
How are you praying for your loved ones?

More than they’ll ever know…

Each time I hear the song below I pause prayerfully to remember those who have been more than a friend to me…

More than You’ll Ever Know
By Watermark, Nathan and Christy Nockels

Something brought you to my mind today
I thought about the funny ways you make me laugh
And yet I feel like it’s okay to cry with you
Something about just being with you
When I leave I feel like I’ve been near God
And that’s the way it ought to be…

‘Cause you’ve been more than a friend to me
You fight off my enemies
‘Cause you’ve spoken the Truth over my life
And you’ll never know what it means to me
Just to know you’ve been on your knees for me
Oh, you have blessed my life
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah
More than you’ll ever know, yeah, yeah, yeah

You had faith, when I had none
You prayed God would bring me a brand new song
When I didn’t think I could find the strength to sing
And all the while I’m hoping that I’ll
Do the kind of praying for you that you’ve done for me
And that’s the way it ought to be…

You have carried me
You have taken upon a burden that wasn’t your own
And may the blessing return to you
A hundredfold, oh yeah…
A hundredfold, oh yeah…

Perhaps in some way today, like me you will want to make sure they know that they do indeed mean…more than they’ll ever know…