We bring Our Sacrifice of . . .

“We bring our sacrifice of … innocence lost.
~ We would offer You more, but we can’t.
We bring our sacrifice of … deep anger.
~ We would offer You other, but we must grieve unmentioned horrors.
We bring our sacrifice of … crush expectations.
~ We would offer You better, but we must fall back on cruel realities.
We bring our sacrifice of … social brokenness.
~ We would offer You healthier, but we’ve been reduced to awkwardness.

We bring our sacrifice of … mistrust toward You.
~ We would offer You the spectacular, but even You didn’t step in.

So, if we continue our walk with You, don’t:

Recoil when we do,
Cry out when we do,
Look away when we do,
Limp when we do,
Hide in ‘safe corners’ when we do.

For from these contorted linens
we must dress ourselves
And from these confusing effects
we search for an offering.

We bring our sacrifice of … dissociation.
~ We would offer You wholeness, but frightening fractures dog us.
We bring our sacrifice of … silence.
~ We would offer You anthems, but our names were lost with our voice.
We bring our sacrifice of … suspicion.
~ We would offer You a child’s embrace, but fear still seizes that child just as accusations still echo.
We bring our sacrifice of … illnesses.
~ We would offer You stature and might, but the toxin has left atrophy and illness.
We bring our sacrifice of … confusion.
~ We would offer You wit and imagination, but sleep comes hard and waking is for vigilance—if only to stumble on another fixation.

This is our praise, offered to One who must have
lost so much in his incarnation—including the praise of angels—
to take on the embodiment of:
disfigurement, isolation, scorn, rebuke, suspicion …

…and brokenness of a kind close enough
to understand this kind of praise

AMEN”

Andrew Schmutzer, The Long Journey Home: Understanding and Ministering to the Sexually Abused, 388-89

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Prayer for the Day: The Valley of Vision

LORD, HIGH AND HOLY, MEEK AND LOWLY,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high
that the broken heart is the healed heart
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision
Lord, in the day time stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

The Valley of Visionxv.

Prayer for 2013

“I Launch My Bark on the Unknown Waters of This Year”, From Valley of Vision

“O Lord, I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year:
With Thee, O Father as my harbour,
Thee, O Son, at my helm,
Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.
Guide me to heaven:
With my loins girt,
My lamp burning,
My ear open to Thy calls,
My heart full of love,
My soul free.

Give me:
Thy grace to sanctify me,
Thy comforts to cheer,
Thy wisdom to teach,
Thy right hand to guide,
Thy counsel to instruct,
Thy law to judge,
Thy presence to stabilize.

May:
Thy fear be my awe,
Thy triumphs my joy.

Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed:
In Thy presence,
In Thy service,
To Thy glory.

Give me a grace that:
Precedes,
Follows,
Guides,
Sustains,
Sanctifies,
Aids every hour,.

That I may not be one moment apart from Thee, but may rely on Thy Spirit:
To supply every thought,
Speak in every word,
Direct every step,
Prosper every work,
Build up every mote of faith.

And give me a desire:
To show forth Thy praise;
Testify Thy love,
And advance Thy kingdom.
Amen.”

Are you holding your breath?

I listened to a message by Ben Patterson recently that encouraged me to trust Christ to “build His church.” I’ve been humbled by the fact that, as hard as I try, I cannot build it. I want to develop a greater dependence on God for the growth of His church, and I think it has much to do with my prayer life. John MacArthur describes it like this in his book Alone with God:

For Christians prayer is like breathing. You don’t have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and forces you to breathe. That’s why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when you’re born into the family of God, you enter into a spiritual atmosphere wherein God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on your life. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer. Only then can we survive in the darkness of the world.

Unfortunately many believers hold their spiritual breaths for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive. But such restricting of their spiritual intake is caused by sinful desires. The fact is, every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths to be fully functional.

Because ours is such a free and prosperous society, it is easier for Christians to feel secure by presuming on instead of depending on God’s grace. Too many believers become satisfied with physical blessings and have little desire for spiritual blessings. Having become so dependent on their physical resources, they feel little need for spiritual resources. When programs, methods, and money produce impressive results, there is an inclination to confuse human success with divine blessing. Christians can actually behave like practical humanists, living as if God were not necessary. When that happens, passionate longing for God and yearning for His help will be missing—along with His empowerment. Because of this great and common danger, Paul urged believers to “pray at all times” (Eph. 6:18) and to “devote yourselves to prayer” (Col. 4:2). Continual, persistent, incessant prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of dependence on God.