Sep 16, 2012

New Site

Hello loyal readers. I have made the leap and gotten a dedicated domain name for The Art of Pursuit.

All new posts will now be posted at

If you are a follower, you'll want to re-follow on the new site to continue to receive regular updates.

See you there!

Dare to Dance

Another day, another week, another choice to walk in trust or selfishness.

I spent the afternoon cleaning up cables and equipment at the church. One of the more common tasks of an Audio/Visual team leader. I could have had help if I had wanted, but today I didn't want. There was much to talk to God about and my heart was heavy. So I turned my worship music on loud in the empty sanctuary as started to coil, and arrange, and gaff.

Before long I was singing along. Singing to God with an audience of sixteen red rows of theater seats...

"You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust." *

Then I couldn't sit still any longer. I got up and started to dance.  Those sixteen rows of red seats wouldn't mind.

"...You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us!" *

There's a reason the Psalms command us to dance. It's freeing. When you discard all inhibitions in praise and pour your strength into worship. When all the unspoken prayer from the heart is lavished like incense on the Saviour's feet.  You can't dance and be dismal. And you can't dance halfheartedly - not when it's just you and God.

I danced my yearning for God, my desire for His pleasure. Then I danced His victory. My God IS victorious and it was time my enemies knew it. Visibly. I danced on the grave of my self will. I danced the dance of those made whole by the mercy of God. I don't know if it was pretty (that wasn't the point), it was simply  all I had. I danced until my strength was gone, my face was sweaty, and I could smile again.

I danced until I got victory. 

Take a minute one of these days and dance before God in your prayer closet. King David did it. The Israelites did it when God parted the Red Sea. Pour out your praise like sweet perfume at His feet. 

*From the song "Beautiful Things" by Gungor

Sep 15, 2012

Blessed Are They Who Mourn...

"Blessed (enviably happy) are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
If I were to write this verse, it would read, "Blessed are the eternally happy for they shall be...well...eternally happy." For what do the happy need?  But Jesus didn't say that the happy were blessed. Instead, He took a moment in time to correct a grave error in our understanding. He commanded blessing on an unexpected group of people. "Blessed are they who mourn..."

I never envy people in mourning and I would laugh at the idea of anyone envying my own sorrow. I envy those who are happy, excited, reveling in their circumstance. I pity those who have lost something.

So why are the mournful to be envied?  Not for their sorrow alone. There is a sorrow that is a "worldly sorrow". A morose spirit that sinks into depression and despair. We can tend to cling to our sorrow and never let it go. We can sorrow for sorrow's sake until it becomes an addiction. But it is those who mourn who have the opportunity to be comforted.

"...for they will be comforted." Not might not possibly. They will be comforted. "  Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, and will have mercy on His afflicted." (Isaiah 49:13) The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Comfort. He is the Consolation in times of sadness, in seasons of loss, when there is no happiness to be readily obtained from our circumstance.  And He is always ready and available to comfort us. For this reason the heavens sing and the earth rejoices. The mountains break into song because the Lord is the consolation of His people.

Could it be that the comfort gained far outweighs the loss? Could it be that the consolation fills the void to overflowing - to the point that we are better off after the whole process than before?

This comfort is the mighty hand of God reaching down to dry the tears of His hurting child.  God could show us His power by withholding all painful situations from us. But He shows His LOVE when He comforts us. He reveals the sweetest side of Himself when the great Lord of Heaven and earth comes - not to pull us immediately out of a hard situation - but to gather us close to Himself and walk through the situation with us. He demonstrates His deep, affectionate kindness when He slows His pace to match our stride and supports our weak and stumbling journey through the rough places. He is the Companion in our sorrow...the kindest, most gentle companion ever known.

Blessed are they that mourn, for they know - more than anyone - the Father Love of God. They have felt a facet of His nature that no one else would know. They know what it is to be held close to their God.

Sep 13, 2012

A Day In Psalms

I have made it a habit over the past several years to read Psalms and Proverbs through every month. This means 5 Psalms a day to get through in 30 days. So today I started on Psalm 13, then counted out 30 and read Psalm 43, then Psalm 73, and so on. It's quite a nice system.

The Psalms always seem to follow a common theme, and, more often then not, they tend to be exactly what I need to hear for the day. Today was no exception.  The week has been a bit frustrating, there are several confusing questions that God has yet to answer, I'm waiting on some direction, and then to top it all off I had some discouraging situations arise.

I came home - tired and lonely - and determined to try to get some answers.  I grabbed my Bible and a flashlight and ran to my hidden spot in the backyard where I could cry if I needed.  Opening to Psalm 13 I read:

"O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me."

Oh, how I could relate to David's distress! But the last part got under my skin. WHY suddenly is David breaking out in joyful songs. What happened in the middle of writing that Psalm that change his entire outlook?  I am envious. But a bit confused too...

I moved on to chapter 43:

For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?
Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

There it was again. David, like myself, was searching for answers...for guidance. Suffering because he felt as though God had deserted him. Am I not in the same place. Don't I feel as thought God has maybe forgotten that I am still in need of answers?  But, again, David changes his mood midstream and begins to praise. What happened? I wish I could go back in time to be there, right in that room, listening to David's agony, but then finding out the source of his transformation into joy and trust. It was getting under my skin now...

I cried a few tears of frustration (10 minutes worth or so) then pushed aside my struggle to read on. Psalm 73:

Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men.
Therefore pride serves as their necklace...

Ah, again I could relate. I had envied, today, the people that could do whatever they wanted. Enjoy life, have fun. Those who did not have the burden of obedience. Yes, I am ashamed, I was envious of those who could have fun without worrying about righteousness or wisdom.  I was sick of struggle...of fire...of trouble and pain and self-sacrifice and laying aside my will all the time. I wanted to do my thing my way if God wasn't going to give me my answers...or at least that's how I felt until I read further.

When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.
Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.
Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.
As a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image.
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.

The truth hit my brain like a shaft of light. David's questions were all answered. Not by whining and complaining or getting frustrated, but by turning his eyes from the question to look at the Solution. Suddenly all the questions - when put in an eternal perspective - were taken care of.  "It is good for me to draw near to God." THERE. That is how David was able to change his attitude. He took his questions and problems, gathered them up, carried them to the Throne Room and handed them to His God. "My heart and flesh fail..." He knew it. I know it. God knows it. "...but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever..." I don't understand how He does it, it's a great mystery. But somehow, when David drew close to God, He changed his outlook. He changed his attitude. He took the worries that were piled up like mountains around David, and He diminished them until it was like David didn't even remember what he was fretting over. Intriguing.

I tried it. I drew near to God...then nearer...nearer...then even more near. I spent time there. I didn't hurry away, I just sat and considered HIM. His character. His nature. The things He's done. The things He has said. Oh, yes, I did ask my questions - or, at least, I tried. I started to whine and it just seemed out of place next to His grandeur. The problems were too little to catch my attention now. I was enthralled. I couldn't keep my mind on the problem long enough to fret over it. I kept getting distracted by the beauty of Christ. I didn't WANT discouragement any more. I wanted God. I wanted joy, and adoration, and love, and trust, and to glory in His unending faithfulness. I wanted to sing and then maybe dance a little. I wanted to praise and worship and bow down and cry, "Holy!" with all the angels. That's what I wanted. So that's what I did.

I don't remember where I left my worries. I must have dropped them somewhere in the Presence of God. I don't have time to stop to search for them now...