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The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

Category: influence

Gift of Bravery

But I’m afraid.

Oh, but why?!
It’s fear, you know, that gives these giants (my enemies) all their strength.

Destroy the fear, destroy the giant.
They’re made of paper anyway…

– – –

I cross rocky hillside to a favorite old spot. The boulder sits just where it did last time, warmed by the mountain sun.
Some things never change.

Years change though. And ages.
And I’m here both to ponder and to give thanks.

It’s strange how much birthday wishes can move a soul. (or is it?)
I give thanks for them. And for the friends that gave them, and for the promises they have claimed over this little life.

But even more, today I’m thankful for one thing:

For blue-green eyes more than a fist full of years my junior, brave enough to stand up to me and say they expected more, better, higher, from me their friend.

And I reel and wince, and then I melt. Because I know they speak the truth.

For a little voice, rarely heard, barely raised in the babble that broke my stressed-out reasoning into pieces.
That broke me into pieces–

“In brokenness we find blessings.”

And I stop and stare, and then smile. Because I know they speak the truth.

For another, strong and quiet, warning me of my own fearful power to destroy while I treck across western plains.
Half “I’m right here with you,” half “you have absolutely no excuse.”

And I realize, I need more of this. I crave more of this.
I might need it more than the rest of the world put together.
I need to be pushed, challenged, reminded.
And not just by my critics.

I need it from my friends.

I need more brave friends.

These three? they’re keepers.
And they’ve given me the best of the best this birthday.

thanks guys.

Only One

I’ve learned something about love.

It feels the pain of strangers.

Somewhat overwhelmingly so, at times.
Or maybe it is that it knows no strangers.

Under a tiny sliver of moon in the sultry south I sit on a red-brick retaining wall, and ponder:
This joy that’s mine, this peace, this hope

These become torture, when I recognize in the eyes of a stranger the fingerprints of pain, and I can’t do anything about it. Because as quickly as they come, they go…
And there are hundreds of them, and there’s one of me.

Only one.

And I can only be in one place at one time.
(ruthless limitation.)

But then I remember:
There’s just one of me, but then, there are the footprints.

They can’t go where I’ve not gone,
but they can stay after I leave.

Jesus, let me leave only prints You could claim as Your own…

– – –

I have only one life to live.

And that one, I intend to give away.

Why We Live

Identity determines purpose.

In other words, who you are determines what you will do.

*  *  *  *  *

I have a question for you. A question still ringing in my ears from a secret spot on a sunny hillside at Sweetwater…

Can you tell me, in 10 words or less, why you’re alive?
I mean, are you living today for a reason, or are you just breathing, working, studying…?

Let me tell you a little secret:
Identity determines purpose.
Satisfaction is the fulfillment of that purpose.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by some deep, beautiful people…
You know what we’ve been learning of late?

Just living isn’t enough.

Let me gently remind you who you are.

You’re the King’s son. The King’s daughter…
You’re the broken little lamb that the Shepherd keeps charging into the briers to rescue.
(That’s His blood on the thorns, not yours.)
You’re the pinnacle of God’s creativity.
Yes, you.

And you were created to identify with God. And for God to identify with.
And you’ve been broken, and bruised, and horribly disobedient.
But you’ve been redeemed.

That’s who you are.

So now: Your purpose… Your motto. 10 words or less?
Choose them carefully. Because in the end, they’ll be the reason why you breathe, work, studyLive.

Can I tell you why I live? Why I love, preach, blog, breathe?
Why I want to finish Nurse Practitioner and spend 6 months of 12 in a dark land?

“To Make Men Free.”

Just a Pebble…

Some day when every wrong is made right, I will understand the true weight of today. For now, let’s just say it was one of the best days of my entire life…

I step out, zipped and buttoned. Black wool and cashmere reach earthward almost to my knees. The very air is alive with vigor, somewhat like my insides… I go to meet my God in a beautiful field, on a beautiful farm, this beautiful morning of mornings.

I sit on sandstone at the spot where two friends of mine became one months ago, and read…
And my journal, this spiral bound book with my handwriting in it, this book that records the secrets of my broken-hearted moments, this book my Nana gave me, it opens my eyes to the goodness of my God.

Every moment I have lived, every mercy I have tasted, every tear I have shed, every battle I have fought, every dream turned to ashes, was for today.


Without them, the new dreams springing up would have nothing to root in; to feed on. Because of them, I love my God more than I love anything else in this great wide world. And I love all that is (are!) His…

Hours pass and I wander around the pond; ponder why my heart is here today anyway

It was just a pebble.

Just a friend who doesn’t even know it happened. But just because they love Jesus, because they love what is high and holy and pure, and just because I was blessed to catch a glimpse of it when I was momentarily unsure of what to do with my sword, just because of that; them…..

Some day when every wrong is made right, I will understand the true weight of today.

Mean time, I will never again underestimate the power of influence…
Even if it does seem like just a pebble

“Throw a pebble into a lake, and a wave is formed, and another…
until they reach the very shore. So with our influence. 
Beyond our knowledge or control it tells upon others 
in blessing or in cursing…
If by our example, we aid others in the development of 
good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn 
they exert the same influence upon others, 
and they upon still others. 
Thus by our unconscious influence many may be blessed.”
Signs of the Times, Oct 21, 1903

Grace is Power…

Just four young adults and a veteran Toyota Corolla sporting new snow tires… 
That was us a few weeks ago. The trip was originally planned for 6, but God had other ideas. 

It was a trip like none other. We sorely missed having our parents along, but even in that I see the hand of Providence. He wanted this trip to be different. and different it was.

Our world is changing. I mean, the world of 4 young people from the edge of nowhere who love to work together, pray together, play together, serve together, sing together… And cry on each other’s shoulders. 

We hear the tread of armies. Constantly.

And we see the gleams of a golden morning…

All at once we are noting in the world around us things that we’ve never perceived before. 

Some things that not that long ago had little or no influence on our personal lives are fast becoming our reasons for living.

I have no way to explain it, other than the fact that we’ve been captivated by Grace.

In all my years I cannot remember another time when the four of us have jumped into the car after a day on the slopes with young friends, pulled off our helmets (hair to the four winds) and had nothing to talk about all the way down the mountain but Jesus… 

He is so irresistible. And every time I turned around, I was looking into the face of another long-time friend and seeing the same thing written there. (for the first time)

I can’t remember another time when one moment, I could be speeding down an icy road on a sled, surrounded by shouts of laughter and high spirits, and the next moment be on my back looking up at the blue sky saying “My Jesus, I love You…” (And the next moment be speeding down the icy hill again.)

I have never seen so much of Jesus in His children… Everywhere I turned, I caught another glimpse of His face. 

Our world is changing…
Or maybe not.
Maybe we’re just tasting more of His grace… And He’s changing the things we love, and the things we live for. Maybe that’s why we don’t pray for happiness, but for usefulness. Why we gladly exchange fun times for the pursuit of His glory…

I never imagined that broken pieces could be this happy… 

Grace is power. 
What it touches, changes. 

Eternal Weight of Glory, serving You is joy unspeakable!
Please keep us in Your hand…


Isaiah 65
Once again the click of black dress shoes on the floor breaks the silence in my office just before midnight. 
Once again the bag goes on the floor, the Blackberry on the desk, and the boarding passes folded in my coat pocket go in the wire trash can in the corner. All is well… 
And once again I first drift off to sleep, and then wake up again, exceedingly happy… 
Because I have seen salvation come… 
I have watched cheeks first pale, then glow. 
I have watched empty eyes fill with tears of hope. 
I have watched faces turn to the sun like flowers on a spring morning.
Ahh yes, this is happiness.
And the fact that it is my happiness, is a gift of grace undeserved…
“Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart…” Isaiah 65:14
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil… [Jn. 17]

Clean Hands

Isaiah 33
Once again, they have no fear of fire… Because it burns in their hearts already. 
(see Isaiah 24)
And because it does, their eyes are single, 
and their hands are clean. 
Stop for a minute. 
Look at your hands.
Are they clean enough to hold what is holy?
Are they strong enough to fight unselfishly?  (even if it means fighting to their own loss)
Are they pure enough for God to call them trustworthy? And to trust to them the gentlest of His children?
If not, why not?
Are they benevolent? 
Are they scarred?
Or are they soft from years of self-service? Are they marred by self-interest? Are they strong to accomplish that which will serve them well, even if at the eternal expense of another?
Or worse, are they stained with blood from touching what is not theirs?

Just think about it.
I only ask because He asked me…

Power to do Good…

Isaiah 9
Call it affability, appeal, popularity, or “social power”… God calls it our responsibility.
It goes by the common name– “Influence” —and it’s yours. 
I feel really badly for the elders and prophets who misused it. (v.14-17) Abuse of this gift always comes with a high price…
But here’s some good news: 
“If by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn, they exert the same influence upon others, and they upon still others. Thus by our unconscious influence thousands may be blessed.” (COL 339) 

The Weight of a Smile

Ask any one of my best friends. They’ll all tell you the same thing…

I love smiles.

In other words, I don’t take them for granted. Smile once when I really need one, and I’ll never, never forget.
I imagine I’m not the only one…

I was just reading today in Christ’s Object Lessons, and I landed on the power of the smile… Did you know that “Kindly affections, [&] generous impulses…are precious talents, and lay their possessor under a weighty responsibility.”?? “All are to be used in God’s service.”*

Kindly affections and generous impulses?? Hmmm… And they’re not just to be distributed to those we know and love. For “the love that gives kindness to only a few is not love, but selfishness.”*

I don’t know about you, but I live in a world that’s starving for kindness.

Don’t let God ever hear you say your talents are small… If you have a smile, you have a weighty responsibility.

Remember that, and smile at a stranger today…

*(COL 352)

The Ultimate Self-Sacrifice…

Ok, get this…
The greatest prophet that ever lived finds himself confined to the solitude of a dungeon cell in Herod’s impregnable fortress… Yet, notwithstanding the darkness, the damp, his bodily suffering, his loneliness, his uncertainty, it is his heart that is pained most of all. And this time, it’s not because his followers have forgotten him, but rather because they haven’t…
I just read in Desire of Ages this morning that John the Baptist was pained because his disciples’ affection for him was slowing them up from receiving Jesus… It’s as if he would rather dispense with their love and die friendless than steal influence from the One he was about to give his life for… Oh, he was not always without questions of his own, but his loyalty never wavered…
That’s the ultimate self-sacrifice…
And how can I do any less? Oh Jesus, let me never accept affections that should be Yours…