Friday, June 22, 2012

Prepared for the "suddenlies of God"

Several of you asked for my Penetcost musings.  So here they are.

Pentecost is one of the three great festivals of the church.  Christmas and Easter have pretty much been co-opted by the world but not Pentecost.  There is no giant dove that leaves eggs or gifts, no one dressed in a flame costume with whom to have your picture taken.  Now you may be a Christmas or an Easter Christian; as well you know this has rather a negative connotation.  Ah, but to be a Pentecost Christian-what would that mean? What does it mean to be a Pentecost Christian, to be Pentecostal in the best sense of that word?

I apologize if the word Pentecostal conjures up images of ladies with beehive hairdos or carefully, loudly enunciated "Thus saith the Lords."  To be truly Pentecostal means a whole lot more than that.  Read Acts 2 if you don't believe me.

To be a Pentecost Christian means to be prepared for "the suddenlies of God".  Indeed one of my YWAM teachers, a godly man named Ken McGreavy, exhorted people to pray, "Father, prepare us for the suddenlies of God."  For you see the "suddenlies of God" (suddenly the sound of a violent wind, suddenly there was with the angel, or how about this word from the prophet Micah suddenly the Lord your are seeking will come to His temple..), those kairos fullness of time moments are birthed in the heart of God long before some erstwhile disciple writes of them.  I believe we can hasten or hinder the suddenlies of God.

To be prepared for the suddenlies of God means that you are ready not just for that sweet gentle  Holy Spirit breeze which comforts and encourages.  You need to be prepared for a violent rushing wind which disturbs the status quo and shakes things loose.  Pentecost changes everything!  This is after-all the breath of Almighty God.  Timid disciples become brave proclaimers of good news.  Supernatural things inevitably accompany Pentecost Christians.  Indeed the writer of Acts later records a new name for the disciples, "those men who turned the world upside down."  That's not a comfortable gentle breeze but a Pentecost wind.  We need some of that.  We need some Pentecost Christians to turn the world upside down so it can be right  side up again!

Enough for today!  I will continue tomorrow...  Let me close with a Graham Cooke quote, "Never underestimate the power of God's passion for you.  Live life in a way that prepares you for God moments."  Be prepared for the suddenlies of God!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


So many people have commented on my Ash Wednesday meditation that I figured I should go ahead and put it on line.  So here goes...


I confess I am not a big fan of Lent.  I am more an Advent girl.  Advent seems somehow more hopeful and festive than this annual journey to the cross we call Lent.  However, in recent weeks I have begun developing a deep appreciation for Lent and its disciplines and particularly of the observance of this day, Ash Wednesday. 

There seems something almost sacramental in this ancient ritual.  There are visible means, ashes, coupled with the Word of God and while the rite does not offer us forgiveness of sins, we are marked with a cross-a reminder of the who and the how of our forgiveness.


I have learned a thing or two about ashes in the past few weeks. My brother and I walked through the home of our youth and found everything covered with soot and ash.  Indeed certain things did not survive the fire at all but were consumed.  This was both sobering and instructional as I was provided with an illustration of the Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 3:10-14.

"By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward."

A bumper sticker popular a few years ago reads, "The one who dies with the most toys wins."  That seems to be how we live these days but I want to tell you, all your toys will be turned to ash and the one who dies with the most toys still dies!  Fire will test the quality of your work, of your life and only what
 is done for Jesus, in Jesus,  and through Jesus will last. 

In the midst of sorting through the rubble of our childhood home and grieving the mother who taught me to love Jesus, I received a message from a former student now a thirty something mother of three.  She said, "Miss Kyle, remember who and whose you are."  I was thrilled that she remembered my saying that to her so many years ago, doubly thrilled because I was merely echoing my mother's words to a frightened teen-ager going off to college for the first time, me.  My mother's legacy was not the soot covered stuff that was in that house.  My mom lived with a view to eternity and so should we.

"Ashes to ashes; dust to dust; dust thou art and to dust thou shalt return."  It was my task to transport the box carrying my mother's remains to the church on the day of her memorial service.  As I set that beautiful box containing dust and ashes on the table I was weepy and so grateful that the Holy Spirit had awakened me that morning with the words of a song ringing in my heart and so I sang, "He makes beautiful things out of the dust; He makes beautiful things out of us." 

This is the promise of Isaiah 61.  He gives beauty for ashes.. So bring Him your ashes; the ashes of repentance or of dreams dried up or relationships burned-up... Bring Him your ashes and he will give you beauty instead.  Pretty good trade I would say.  Martin Luther said it this way,"God makes something out of nothing so if we remember that without Him we are nothing, he can make something out of us."
The box with my mother's remains had a cross on it.  Tonight in a ritual vaguely reminiscent of your baptism your received a cross upon your forehead.  Remember that part of the baptism rite?  "Receive the sign of the cross both upon the forehead and upon the breast in token that you have been redeemed by Christ the crucified." The cross, a reminder that God is always at work redemptively.  In the cross by, by the power of the cross the Apostle Paul writes, "For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality... (1 Corinthians 15:52-58)  Read it for yourself!

My mom perished in a fire in Phoenix, Arizona and these words are our own personal legend of the Phoenix.  Out of the ashes the Phoenix rises a new creation-even so shall we.

So this Lent, let's focus on the eternal and build a lasting legacy.  Let's bring Him our ashes and expect beauty instead.  Let's thank Him for the cross and allow the perishable to put on the imperishable. 

"Thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King

I just arrived home from a special Christ the King service in which I sang Bach for the first time in a long time. It made me nostalgic for my college days which were so enriched by the best of sacred music. I remember Dr. Gieschen's constant reminders that or voices were a gift and hence a responsibility! He reminded us often of the privileges of sharing the gospel in song!

Soon and very soon we are going to see the King and we will get to sing even more glorious music forever! I long for that day! And I am blessed as I consider how many old friends will be singing with me! Thanks Tom Gieschen! I know you are already up there directing some choir; your hands moving at the impulse of His love!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Word

As I write, the associate pastor of my church is jamming on his guitar and singing his heart out to the Lord.  I love my church.  It is a church that follows a weekly lectionary and this week's lessons really got under my skin.

The gospel lesson appointed for this week, the umpteenth week after Pentecost, is Matthew 13.  You may recognize this as "The Parable of the Sower,"  at least that's what the subtitle in my Bible says.  So here's my question; why do we call this the parable of the sower and then spend so much time thinking and talking about the quality of the soil?  The vast majority of sermons and teachings I have heard or read on these verses exhort and admonish us to remove the rocks or watch out for the thorns.

I think that misses the point.  I think the point is the sower sows lavishly in all kinds of soil and stuff generally springs up.  God is generous.  He sows lavishly and He wants us to do the same, to share His grace and His word abundantly without becoming soil inspectors.

The importance of this is emphasized in this week's OT lesson Isaiah 55 where the prophet reminds us that God's word "will accomplish what I [God] desires and achieve the purpose for which I [God] sent it."  He further promises that "instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of the briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the Lord's renown."  So maybe we should quit with the soil inspecting and just rejoice in the liberality of God.  As we liberally slather on the sunscreen during this hot July, let's apply the Word of God just as liberally and see what  He will do.

Friday, June 24, 2011


So, I am reading through the book of Joshua because it is assigned summer reading for Charlotte United Christian Academy and I am on staff there.  What started as a duty has become an adventure, a treasure hunt as the Holy Spirit shows me all kinds of cool stuff.  I love how He does that!

For example the other day I was in Joshua 6 and I read, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands..."  I got stuck on the word "see" rendered in KJV as "behold".  It is a word used often in the Scriptures and one which I used to think of as sort of just a precursor, an interjection of sorts; designed to get our attention but not really significant other than that.

Now, I believe that single word was key for Joshua and for us.  It is a spiritual imperative!  God invites us to see into the spiritual realm.  He gives Joshua the outcome of the battle before He gives him the battle plan.

"See" is an invitation and an exhortation to step out of fear and into faith; to step out of old mindsets and opinions and embrace God's vision.  If we don't see what God sees we will never be who He wants us to be.

As a young woman I wrote a song that says, "One thing I would Lord that is that you would make me the woman you've envisioned me to be."  That is still my prayer!  Open our eyes Lord so that we can walk into our destiny.  After all seeing is believing!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Passion for His Presence

I had a truly fabulous day yesterday due mostly to the amount of time I spent in the word.  I got on my ipad (Thank you to the friends who purchased it for me!) and looked up one of my teachers from my DTS in Scotland.  I was dismayed to learn that Ken McGreavy recently went on to be with Jesus but so grateful for his archived teachings available through the wonders of modern technology.

I listened to a teaching on Mark 2, the story of the friends who dig the hole in the roof.  You know the one?  Ken was talking about the magnetism of the presence of Jesus.  The crowds that inevitably surround Him testify to that.  He also spoke of the disruption of the presence of Jesus;  the hole in the roof, the offended people certainly testify of that.

I got to thinking how much I love the magnetism of Jesus.  I love the touchy feely sense of His presence during worship.  I am not so much in love with the disruption of His presence.  Yet both are necessary if we are to be made whole.  He did not come so things could remain the same and I think there is a whole lot of shaking going on just now.

Ken closed by saying while he loves all the talk of having  a passion for the presence of Jesus, he wants to remind us that God has a passion for our presence; THE CROSS testifies to that.

Stir up within us your passion and presence. Disrupt us Lord!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Freedom Isn't Free

It has been a while since I've posted.  There has been a lot going on and frankly I have been in a bit of a funk.  So maybe I can blog my way out of the doldrums. 

So yesterday was Memorial Day and such days of unbridled patriotism make me think of my dad who has been with Jesus for over a year now.  I think of watching him in parades and of the salutes from NCO's as we went into the PX.  I think of the nightmares he had when he came home from Vietnam, all unmentioned by him.  He shared little until many years later when my little brother became a Marine too and even then he would not share everything.  His private horrors were unknown.

I watched the HBO series The Pacific with my brother over Christmas vacation.  Those men and countless more men and women suffered hell so that you and I could be free!

All of this led me to dive into Galatians this morning.  Jesus literally suffered hell so that we can walk in freedom.  So today and everyday from now on I want to live in a way that says I appreciate the cost of freedom, the freedom I enjoy as a citizen of the USA but most especially the freedom I have as a citizen of God's kingdom.  "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened agian by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1