Threatening God with Unemployment

I’m threatening God with unemployment. I’m telling Him He’s out of work–I’m going to take over for Him. I’m going to plan my days and fill out my life, I’m just not going to consult Him in how to do it. I know that in the business world, most take-overs of a major positions coincide with a training period to prepare the next holder to manage their new place well, but not in this case–this is spiritual.

What’s that, God? You don’t see the difference? What do You mean? Business has its own rules, but spirituality is personal. I can choose to employ You or not. That’s my choice. And this is what I want to do.

Cleaning You out–are You kidding?! I couldn’t do that–this place was and is my holding anyway!! No, You haven’t belonged here since the beginning of time. What, are we having an argument here? What’s the idea? I told You I own me and if You still want to argue with me, You can talk to my secretary or send me a memo–I don’t have time for this.

I have things to get done here. No, I’m not going to let You help me. I don’t want You to be a part of this at all–this is my business. What do you MEAN this is YOUR business; You created it. No, it is NOT on loan!! You better not come at me with that kind of junk.

I have a policy that I only deal with reasonable arguments…and since this obviously isn’t one, I don’t consider it worth having. Besides, there’s no way to win an irrational argument–they just don’t make any sense. And I’m not about to make a fool of myself.

A fool of yourself? What makes you think you’re not? What do you use to determine whether you are behaving wisely when you do not honor wisdom or walk in its ways?

Your problem is not with Me, My child; it is with you. You do not know which way you go or why you do what you do because You do not acknowledge Me. You fail in every true effort because you snub My name. You think you can win by doing so, but what have you to gain if you do?

I know you have some ideas, but I can’t think of anything that would be so worth your while. I am the only One that can be worth your while. I am the only One who is big enough and meaningful enough for you to relate to and make yourself a part of.

Don’t miss that. Don’t fail to cooperate with the truth. It stands before you only for your good. Where do you think you can get without Me? Wherever you go it must be completely apart from Me; somewhere with no hope of return…you know where I’m talking about, don’t you?

Wikipedia: Y is the twenty-fifth letter in the ISO basic Latin alphabet and represents either a vowel or a consonant in English.

Checking up on God keeps me busy!

Do you ever feel like that: Like God is making you run around and worry because you can’t find out what He’s doing? Yeah, been there, done that. Or, should I say–if I want to be honest–I am there, doing that.

I know, it’s horrible. I wish I could say that was in the past. But it’s not quite as simple as that. I’m not that done with this. I’m still wanting to play this out. I still think it will work for me…somehow. (I don’t have an example ready for you, yet I’m still gonna stick with it.)

I know that’s so convincing. Which makes me wonder why I do stick with it. What do I think I have to gain from this? Or is it that I’m afraid I don’t know how to do anything else? I think the fear one ranks highest today. I’m afraid I don’t have any other way to respond to life but to fear. (That sounds down-right scary, doesn’t it?)

So what do you do when fear has a hold on you like this? You live like fear is a messenger, telling you where peace is not abiding in your heart. You investigate that place and ask God why He can’t commune with you there. Is it because your beliefs about Him keep Him on the outside? Is it because your beliefs about yourself are so rooted in independence that you make Him unnecessary? If so, then this is your real problem; fear is only a symptom. Therefore, treat it accordingly. Put it before God and say, “I’m feeling fear because _______.” And if you don’t know how to fill in the blank, let Him fill it in–He knows better than you about this anyway.

There, stop trying to keep up with God and instead, let Him check-up on you from time to time. Let it be a regular thing. Remind yourself that if you let Him check you out you’ll have enough on your hands that you won’t have to worry if He’s doing a good job; you’ll know He’s doing a bigger job than you could do!

The service no one remembers–unless they choose to forget their own

I know that there is a pretty good chance that you have committed an act of service that no one noticed. I know that I have. I wish I could say the opposite, but this really miffs me. I would like everything that I do to be appreciated at least with some recognition.

I would like people to see with eyes of recognition. And if they fail to have those in the moment, I cling to the hope that at some point in their day it will finally “click” for them and they’ll realize what they failed to notice before. Then, they’ll come and thank me, or congratulate me on achieving such a lofty heart in my pursuit of godliness. (Whew! Yeah, that would be nice.)

One problem: people don’t do this. I don’t get this. Except, that I ask myself, how many times to I do this favor to others–recognizing, acknowledging, remembering their contribution? (Oh! Better not to ask!)

But, considering how much I desire to be served, how much I treasure my own happiness and well-being, you would think I would do everyone of these things. Except the fact that I expect the good things people do for me. I don’t expect them to do anything else. I’m that into my own benefit. And boy, do I forward it with everything I’ve got!

At the very least, I don’t appreciate the service I get, since that would be admitting it wasn’t deserved. At the very worst, I don’t serve others because I won’t acknowledge my true calling: to put my welfare aside to increase the welfare of others. (Sheesh! I need to apologize to myself for admitting this; either that, or I need to apologize to everyone I berate for exhibiting such me-like characteristics. Wow–so going to need grace for that one!)

But isn’t grace what this whole matter about. Ultimately the greatest service ever done is not remembered or acknowledged by most people. When Christ died to put to death the penalty of our sin, He didn’t do it for anyone but us. He asks for a thank you, but He doesn’t stop there. He ask for a surrendered life; a commitment to live like the greatest service ever forgotten was done for you. This means that you are in His debt to the extent that you don’t remember it and share its joys with others.

From now on we can’t mourn excessively over the services we’ve done without recognition–such pain doesn’t amount to much compared to this. We were served despite the fact that we who should have been servants weren’t. We were served despite the fact that the One who served us should not have served us at all. We were served not with the goal of doing a good deed, but with the goal of redeeming all of our misdeeds. Praise God!

What I can’t handle requires a reflexive-shoulder!

So, I’m searching for free today. I need some business cards and I’m not sure where to find them. I don’t want cheep–free, is really best for me. I would pay if I could, but this isn’t really a matter that I can substantiate with cash.

Do you have problems like these? Do you suffer living like a cheap-skate because nothing less will work–or is it, less is the only thing that will work? Do you get upset with yourself when you can’t offer more for what you need, when you can’t cover all your own costs. Do you grieve for the plans that die because you don’t have the means to support them?

I know where you’re coming from. I live there too. But, what do we do about it? I’m not really interested in why any of us–including myself–are here, I just want to find a solution. I want friends who can help me find a solution.

But, alas, there doesn’t seem to be one! Why do so many things have to hang on our shoulders when are shoulders are so slim? They’re not shaped like the shoulders of an ox or a plow horse–they work well with gym bags and pocketbooks, not heavy machinery that’s designed to move earth! I don’t care how mighty you are, the world is still not positively proportional to what you’re designed to handle.

That’s why we need Jesus. No part of this world was meant to be handled Jesus-less. No part of this world can be handled Jesus-less. Now, it may appear that we are bearing the load, but that is not the same thing as handling the load. Bearing implies being under a heavy load that just sits on us. We really are nothing but weight-bearers when this is the case. But handling implies that something can be manipulated, held-in-the-hand and made us of.

We often settle for bearing–despite the fact that our strength is of a very limited variety–when we could let God handle the situation so that it might be of some use to us! I count myself guilty in this. I like to pretend I’m a pack-animal for all the problems that come my way in this world, rather than admitting that the only things that should be resting on my shoulders are the hands of my Father. When He grips my shoulders I know what I’m made for and where I’m supposed to be. Worries go out the window because He’s there to convince me I’m okay because Calvary still stands to light my way through the darkness. Now, isn’t this more pleasant and prosperous than grunting and steaming under a load to which I don’t belong?

“These people make the same mistakes over and over again!” (Am I really responding this way, again?)

Sometimes it seems like there is nothing worse than making the same mistake more than once. Especially when I’m on the other side of a mistake–being the one needing to exercise more patience than I would like for the sake of loving the offending sinner.

But, I think my real problem here is not impatience or even a penchant to be disgruntled, but a case of spiritual amnesia. I have poor memory–there’s no other explanation. Surely if I had a good one, I would be full of grace. Thus, no grace, no memory. And to reverse that: No memory, no grace.

You see, I have a problem with exhibiting a good memory because I have a problem seeing grace–I can’t keep in mind what I don’t regularly see.

If grace was shown to me once a long time ago and it didn’t have on-going affects, then maybe it would be okay to forget it. But since grace is the blanket over me every day, I have no excuse. I’m obviously lifting up the blanket and peaking out–perhaps even throwing it back completely and forgetting my need to be covered.

And, if I’m not allowing myself to be completely and constantly covered with grace that is visible to me, how can I see grace as a reality that should apply to you too? Rather, I will resent you because you remind me of my need for grace and how little I’m seeing it (i.e. how little I’m wanting it).

I must want grace. Seeing my sin and my powerlessness to confront and eradicate it makes me want grace. Receiving grace makes me aware that there is a power at work over me and in me that I cannot personally account for. It does not deliver up glory from me, but lovingly bestows it on me. If I am aware of this, I can quit expecting you to be delivering up glory from yourself and allow God to lovingly bestow it on you through me. And, regardless of whether your consistent mistakes make me discouraged at your power to change, I trust God that He is the power that must both make you whole and me at peace with you.

Should I kneel and make you happy, Lord?

“Should I kneel for You tonight, Lord?” I ask, thinking this might make Him happier with me than if I stand or sit the way I’m inclined to do.

There would be nothing for Me to gain in that. He says.

At first what I hear confuses me and disappoints me a little. I thought I had found something that would really impress Him1 I thought this would be a way to push my prayer time to the next level; I could make it more productive than usual, more self-satisfying. If so, I would do whatever to take hold of the possibility.

But, I come back to His words again. No gain for Him? What does that mean? Why would He say that to me? Gosh! It sounds like He’s a little peeved with me. Could He be mad? Oh, if He is, what shall I do? What a way to ruin a prayer time, Elaine!

After I get over the wounded-pride response to His blunt words, I begin to question why I thought kneeling would be such a good idea. I thought it would please Him sure, but why did I think it would please Him? Was it because it would make me look good and holy, or because it would ultimately remind me that He alone is good and holy?

I don’t think I could say the latter. That’s certainly not where my heart was. You see, there are some sacrifices, some extra-mile type exercises that we attempt for God that do not please Him. Instead of the joy-filled response we expect to win, we encounter only a quiet sorrow. If we’ll listen, we’ll hear His heart:

Do you really want to please Me this way? He asks. After all that I’ve showed you of My grace, do you still think that you have to make yourself look perfect in front of me? Do you forget so easily where your hope rests? You do not have to work to secure My pleasure!

What would please Me more than for you to remember that My Son is the reason we celebrate relating together today? What higher desire could I have for you than that you would remember the One who wore your offense and forever cleansed your soul?

No, that is the thing of ultimate importance to Me concerning you. Therefore, you must quit trying to bless Me with sacrifices and self-promoting acts of religion. Don’t you understand that I don’t want what comes from the flesh?

I know that you can’t comprehend My desire for holiness. But, if you let Me, I will teach you what you must know. I will lead you in clothing yourself with Christ and dancing before Me. This will become your only dress, My child. These are My favorite colors and they can become your favorites too. When we do this together, you will be able to share in My joy. And in My eyes, you will be perfect.


Liaf Cipe–Epic Fail turned backwards

The Christian life is a continual reminder that I’m not good enough. I thought that was just a mental assent I made when I accepted Christ. I didn’t realize it is something I have to face every day. It is truth, it belongs to me.

But I resent it. I try to live as though I can fix this. As though it is not such a big deal. If I can believe that, I can believe that everything is okay or, at least, it will be after I’m able to make things right.

Yet, for some unfortunate reason, this doesn’t work. Evidently, I’m missing something. Something huge. So, what could it be?

I’m missing the fact that I accepted Christ because I saw that I wasn’t good enough and there was nothing else I could do about it. I reconciled myself–in action, though clearly not fully in heart–to the fact that I am blemished and defiled by sin and its affects. I didn’t accept it because I thought it was a pretty thought, but because it was true and I was being offered the antidote.

What I’m realizing now, though, is that the antidote not only saves me, it makes what I do for myself of no affect. It neutralizes my ambitions because they flow from a heart that cannot be trusted. It factors in grace because self-righteous living gives birth to no good thing.

On my own I’m powerless and with Christ I remain powerless in the flesh but mighty in the spirit–His Spirit. I turn away from trusting myself and relying on my own efforts to care for and support myself. God knows I use the wrong things to comfort myself and justify what I’m doing. I need to be broken free of sinful obsessions that are too natural for me to confront on my own. It is impossible for me to know how to “take myself down”–I’m not gifted in self-mortification.

I rely on Christ to do that. I rely on Him to adjust the seat of who I am from being nourished by the flesh to being nourished by the spirit. I rely on Him to make me of no account in the equation because I don’t advance myself in Christ. I rely on Him to relieve me from my discouragement that flows from a desire to deliver self from the jaws of death that I find at Calvary. I rely on Him to give me a new picture of what being me is supposed to entail. Ding, ding, ding! The game has timed out, leaving Christ with the only score on the board. Well, folks, it looks like Elaine’s loss is Christ’s gain! (Hallelujah.)

Will things ever get better for me when I have all this garbage to handle?

I have asked this question so many times. I have been confident that the answer is no; that God does not care about me so much as I would like Him to; that He is somehow too passive to deal with my pain as it should be handled.

But how should my pain be handled? I generally look upon my surroundings and wait for Him to do something grand. When I think He’s taking too long, I summon all my understanding of the matter and scream: “Get rid of what’s out there! Can’t you see it’s killing me inside?”

But lately, I’ve discovered something new. I been learning to draw near to God with an open heart. I come with a deeper concern than what’s going on outside. I come expecting Him to do something inside. I do this because that’s where the pain is; that’s where I really need Him to do something with me; that’s where His presence will make the grandest difference I know.

With grand expectations of a heart visit, I ask, “Would You please come inside? I’m hurting so much and I need You to handle me, Lord. Don’t skip over me to handle my problems, please, Lord; instead, skip over my problems to handle me. I am the one who needs you–I am the one that was made for You. I am the one who will rejoice to experience more of You. I am the one to whom You must draw near. I am the one You must pull close and reassure. I am the one You must quiet with Your love. I am the one who discovers who You really are and loves You more because of it. I am the one who thanks you because all of this is true and most of all You are true!”

Everything is not okay…and even so, I think I’ll be okay

What do you do when everything is not okay? How do you live life when it is no longer possible to pretend that’s your life is all right, that you know how to deal with the horrors you’re going through?

This might surprise you, but I don’t think we do anything in the common understanding of the word. Instead, we sit and watch. We ask God for a greater vision of what He’s doing and we trust Him to bring to pass what He reveals to us.

We use the time in front of us in a way that says “I’m letting God do what He’s doing with me. I’m not going to get in His way–though I’m surely going to be running His way a lot!” We recognize that we’re not going to come through this without His comfort. We believe that because He will give us His comfort, our entire test will become a blessing.

We don’t do this because we want to impress God. Neither do we do this because we hope our sheer willpower can make us more righteousness while we fight. We do this for such a higher reason: We do it so that we may not forfeit an opportunity to treasure the presence of God in moments He wants to redeem. We treat days and years and seasons of pain and pressure like missives written in code. We consider ourselves loaded down with grace not because we see so much good but because we know God does.

He knows where we are, and He may not move us, but He won’t let us mistake that He is right in our midst. Trials teach us to welcome Him in with greater abandon. The teach us that He defines our hope and that no one or no thing can cripple Him though they try to cripple us. We are safe in His arms. What ever wants access to us, to destroy us, must go through Him first.

Trials also bring out the sin in us; they impress us with the magnitude of what Christ did for us at the cross. They remind us that our greatest enemy has been vanquished. They encourage us that we are not beholden to our former orientations–we have been raised to live for Christ.

There is nothing to obsess over. There is only to walk the path He made ready. There is really nothing for us to settle, nothing for us to make right. God has done all that. He simply invites us to enjoy it, to come into the kingdom He has set up. After all, God allows trials in our lives because He wants to get us acquainted with what He can do, what He has done; He knows how handicapped we are when all we know is what we can do.


I am the worst thing to hit relationships since…(well, you get the idea!)

My plans for making relationships work don’t always work. Worse than that, sometimes I have the painful realization that I am the problem; I am the reason things don’t go as smoothly as I’d like. I somehow just don’t “gel” with other people as well as I’d like.


Do you ever have that problem–people and their problems turn out to be not your only problem?

(Yeah, it’s really a shame isn’t it? I mean, what a self-esteem reducer, right?)

It not only stinks to discover this about yourself, it is disconcerting that others see it too– and probably much clearer than you! The first thought that usually comes to mind after this revelation is: Why don’t I just quit relationships altogether? If I’m no good at them, I’m obviously not cut out for them. Right?

Wrong. You are designed for them, but since your design has been made backwards and crooked by sin, you are going to need a lot of adjustment before you work well in relationships. But, this is no cause for being discouraged. You have hope because God is rescuing your design as we speak!

It is impossible for God not to restore people who come, broken, to the cross. The matter is only waiting for your cry for help. No, not a call for back-up as you attack the problem yourself. Nor a solicitation of support that will keep in motion your preconceived notions about life. Instead, this is none other than a desperate willingness to change directions. It is choosing to look from us to Him and to receive all that He gives as grace.

Then, relationships aren’t so hard because you neither have to be perfect to hold them together or pretend you’re perfect to keep from admitting you’re not. The matter is settled: If this is going to work out, if we’re going to be any benefit to others at all, it’s definitely going to grace.

There’s no other explanation for how people can find it possible to be united with one another. You have that as a possibility, so do I, but we have to welcome in the One who makes Possible at home in us.