Friday, December 31, 2010

2011: Where are We Going?

Is it just me or does everyone else notice that the longer you live the faster the years go by? All thanks to God that I’m not among the crowd that faces massive credit card bills in January – but seriously? Another January already?
Either I’m too lazy or too busy – but I didn’t get the things done I planned to do last year!

A friend’s blog said that this coming year she plans to focus on being focused. Sounds like a good idea to me. I’ve never really been a goal-setter; it’s not how I was put together. I can laughingly call myself a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’ kind of girl, which is how I perceive my life, setting only a few goals in recent years. I can jokingly say that if you don’t have a goal, you don’t feel bad when you don’t reach it, sad but true. But if I never set the bar above where I am – how will I ever know what I can achieve?

I will concede that goals are valuable and sometimes needed to push us forward. I’ll admit that without being specific we can end up disappointed. For example, I want to win a lot of money. Here the phrase ‘a lot of money’ falls of deaf ears to a man that lives on two dollars a day. I want to lose weight. If I lose just one pound I’ve achieved this goal – but it’s hardly what I had in mind.

To set a goal, I need a vision. My vision might include where I want to be next January; how fit do I want to be? How financially secure do I want to be? How intimate with God and my friends and family do I want to be? Baby steps may be good in each area, but I might be capable of much, much more.

Part 2 coming tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Key to the Kingdom Part 6

England is a tremendous ocean away from everything I knew. But God’s divine appointments were many, and right away we found ourselves seated in a little missionary church. The congregation was comprised of military families and the local Brits.

So many of the ‘truths’ I’d learned were challenged. Having always been full of questions, I pursued those challenges by asking my questions and searching out the answers. I thought surely the wise women and men of God that were now in my life would grow weary of my questions. But they didn’t. They continued to point me into God’s Word with every question I asked. It was joked that on my tombstone it would say, ‘But wait, I have one more question!’ The most common response to my questions was, ‘Did you check in the Word?’ That frustrated me, because I wanted quick easy answers. But it taught me that every question I have is answered in the Bible.

Within five months after arriving in England, I sat crying in my seat on the back row of the church, asking Jesus to forgive me of my sins and come into my heart to live forever. But that couldn’t have happened until I believed that God truly loved me! That was the truth that the devil used so many lies to hide. That truth is the key to the kingdom of God. God’s Word says that nothing can separate us from the love of God.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35, 38-39 KJV

That means nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not the devil’s lies, not his weapons of choice, nothing we think, say or do…. Nothing! Selah, pause and think about that and take a look into God’s Word for yourself!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Key to the Kingdom Part 5

That night the door to the kingdom opened for me. Oddly, I didn’t just run right in.

But I got a glimpse of God’s kingdom, simply by peeking through the door. A hunger and a thirst began to stir within me in the following days, weeks and months. But don’t think that the enemy just rolled his eyes and gave up. He wasn’t going to let me go without a fight. But the battle wasn’t mine to fight alone. Jesus fought for me and with me. For God’s sake, He’d died for me, He wasn’t going to just let go of me now!

Life didn’t become perfect overnight. I was at a crossroad. What we see when we look at an iceberg is merely the tip of it, have you ever seen a photograph of the HUGE part that’s still under the water? What I experienced that night was just a tiny peek at God. It was all I could handle at the moment. I had no idea what else God had in store for me.

When you’re wandering around in the dark, you can hurt yourself a lot, bumping into all sorts of things you don’t know are there, and missing all the good things you can’t see. Though I had no clue, my look into ‘the Book’ was me allowing God to turn the light on for me so I could see. I tiptoed eagerly into the unknown.

But as if I hadn’t been feeling alone enough, behind the closed curtains of our home, trapped there with three very small children, miles from any other family; my military husband got four year orders to another country. Within months, we were in England, not able to afford a trip home to visit the whole time we were there....

More to come......

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Key to the Kingdom Part 4

Upon finding the verses, I began to read, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!” I rolled my eyes and wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I told the chaplain I planned to kill myself that night, and he wanted me to rejoice? What a loser! How dare he blow me off like that? Did he even know what these verses were going to say? Didn’t he think I was serious? Was there something more important than me on TV? Is this what chaplains got paid for? After pausing in frustration, I looked down to read again.

This is what I read. “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:4-8 KJV

No, I didn’t understand everything I’d just read, but as I read those words, a peace came over me. Like a warm blanket being wrapped around me, like a warm, thick oil was being poured over me, I relaxed. It was probably the first time I felt peaceful and relaxed in years. That peace mentioned in verse 7 - this had to be that kind of peace. With a deep sigh of resignation, I had to admit, ‘There must be something to this! This isn’t just a religious book. There’s something here I have to have.’

More to come.....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Key to the Kingdom Part 3

What do you do to make your fingernail polish last longer? You apply more than one coat. Fear is like that. The enemy applies coat after coat after coat. The thickest coat was applied the night I was raped. Details aren’t important to the story; suffice it to say that the devil thought he had me right where he wanted me, permanently crippled and dying. But what the enemy intended for my destruction, God used for His glory and my good.

After a few years of depression and even hysteria, medication, counseling, and finally a plan to kill myself to escape the fear of torment, God broke through. He got my attention and rescued me. What did He use to set me free? Not lightning bolts from heaven, not an angelic host singing in my ears, not a magical display of what He can do. He broke through my torment with the still small voice of His Word.

While contemplating suicide that night, I called a military chaplain. I guess that was my pathetic last cry for help. As I told him my plans and after confirming that there was a Bible somewhere in the house, he calmly told me to find it and read from the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verses 4-8. And he hung up. Either he was extremely confident in His God, or he was a fool. After pouting for at least an hour, I found the Bible and sat down on the floor against the living room couch. Not being familiar with God’s Word or how it was written, I had no idea where to find the book of Philippians. It was in fact a minor miracle that I even remembered what he had told me to read!

To be continued…..

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Key to the Kingdom Part 2

The devil’s weapons are not great, or gigantic or undefeatable at all. It seems though, that he has the ability to hold a huge magnifying glass before us, so that his threats seem insurmountable. What puny weapon did he wield over me? What was magnified out of proportion so that I shriveled and withdrew beneath it? I’ve seen the weapon, and it is no match for my King. The devil’s weapon of choice was fear. This could be a selah moment, stop and think about the enemy’s weapon of choice in your life. Have you identified it? For me, fear was a tiny word that made a huge impact in my life. Years ago, someone told me that the letters in the word fear stand for; false evidence appearing real - wise words to remember.

As I look back over the years, the fears that enveloped me were pathetic. I was afraid of things that can in no way ever hurt anyone. I, however, was deceptively convinced that they not only could, but would, hurt me. Logic was of no help, because logic would dictate freedom from the lies of the enemy. No, fear sometimes even defies logic. My point is not to share how to overcome fear, that’s another article for another time. It’s been taught before, and will be taught again. It was simply the devil’s weapon of choice in my life.

Of course, when unchallenged, fear grows. It creeps into any area of life it can plant roots and grow. As ridiculous as my fears were, they crippled me and consumed my life. The point of life became that of simply avoiding fear and fearful situations, not even recognizing the enemy behind the fear, or his plans to keep me from realizing that God truly loves me.

More to come......

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Key to the Kingdom Part 1

The Key to the Kingdom

Imagine the look on Cinderella’s face as she entered into the palace that very first time. Greater still, imagine the excitement in her heart as she married the prince and became part of the kingdom! Okay, so maybe her eyes weren’t exactly on the kingdom at that time, they were totally centered on her prince, her bridegroom.

When I first opened my heart to Jesus, I became a part of His kingdom. But my eyes were totally on Him. I keep my eyes on Him, now, but I realize in part, the tremendous impact of being His bride. I’ve not only entered this phenomenal kingdom, I am part of it!

As a child, I was surrounded with the cloak of religion. The churches I attended were beautiful, the atmosphere was reverent. The rules were many, and the spirit was binding. I learned many ‘facts’ -some even proved to be true. For example, Jesus was born to a virgin and laid in a manger. Jesus was crucified, taking the sin of the world upon Himself. While He walked on earth, He had disciples, He performed miracles, He taught the people who would hear Him. I learned about God’s unsurpassable power. He created the universe, our world and all that it contains. He is to be loved and feared, because He is in control.

As a young adult, I discovered the bottom line of truth. God loves me! That is the golden key to the kingdom. That key was within my grasp all along, but it was hidden from me. God didn’t hide it. God’s enemy hid it. But God did everything in His unsurpassable power to show me where it was. He surrounded me with His beauty. He provided divine appointments long the way. He gave me written instructions! He called me to Himself. What gigantic weapon did the enemy hold over me to keep me from seeing God’s purposes and intents and from embracing God’s love?

To be continued…..

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ezer Rejoicing Still

In the busyness of life we sometimes lose the sense of awe and wonder that constantly surround us. Here in the wonderful land of the Rockies – it’s actually possible to drive around and miss out on seeing the beauty of the mountains, simply because I’m focused on something internal.

If I can drive down the streets of Colorado Springs and not see the mountains – what am I missing in my own home?

Is it possible I focus on self and on the things in my own little world so much or so intently that I close my eyes to the grandeur of the love of God lighting my way through the people God’s placed in my life?

The love for me in my husband’s eyes is incredibly profound. So how is it I don’t see it in moments when I’m angry with him over something petty. I must be so focused on myself that I’m momentarily blinded to the love around me.

I rejoice in choice. I don’t always understand why I choose what I do – but I take great joy in choosing, because God trusts me enough to allow me to choose.

Today and everyday forward, I choose to find love in everyone – from the precious gift of my husband, to the lady standing on the corner by Wal-Mart clenching a sign that begs for money; from the treasure of my children and grandchildren, to the man that cuts me off in traffic only to slow down in front of me.

Today and everyday forward, I choose to rejoice in the love that God surrounds me with through the people He’s placed in my life – the good and the not-so-good, and the beauty He’s filled my world with – the mountains and the ant hills, the sunshine and the cloudy skies, wild flowers and weeds, gentle breezes and wind that blows me off my feet, waterfalls and mud puddles…’s all in perspective.

I choose to look for God’s perspective.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ezer Rejoicing V

What are you watching for?

Twenty-seven years ago, in a far away land – I gave my heart to Jesus. I taught my children from the Word of God –and learned from them.

One day when my children were young, a friend and I walked across Bentwaters AFB in England. We pushed our strollers to the shopping area for lunch. Every Friday at a certain time, a siren would sound. That was my signal to head back; my oldest was already on the school bus, heading home.

We strolled leisurely until I noticed school buses already on base. We checked the time, confused. They’d sounded the siren an hour later for some reason! My friend pushed both strollers as I took off running. When running in my heels proved to be too hard, I carried them in my hands, my feet breaking into thin ice covered puddles.

Arriving at home with frozen feet and out of breath, I pushed open the unlocked door calling for my six year old son. I searched the main level, he wasn’t there. I ran upstairs and checked his room, empty. At last I found him curled up on my bed, sobbing. He was looking up through the window at the cloudy skies.

My heart was crushed to pieces. I’d let him down. I scooped him into my arms, we cried together and he began to tell me his fear.

‘I thought Jesus came back and left me here without you.’ My broken heart was now stuck in my throat.

This sobering, eye-opening event is mine forever. There’s more – perhaps I’ll share that too someday.

Jesus is coming for a people that are watching and waiting for His sure return, preparing themselves for Him.

Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching: Luke 12:37 KJV

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ezer Rejoicing IV

The miracle in my last post brought me to the miracle in this post. You’ll recall that God supernaturally healed my toddler’s busted lip. It wasn’t an ‘over time’ healing – it was instant and complete.

In the early 80s I suffered ridiculously awful stomach pain. After too many scopes and humiliating tests - the docs told me I had irritable bowel syndrome. (Never thought I’d use the word bowel in a blog post!) I don’t know how anyone can even live a somewhat normal life with such a painful malady, I couldn’t. I must have wrestled with it for at least two or three years.

On our way to church one Sunday night, frustrated because I’d just missed another fun outing because of unquenchable pain, it dawned on me. God healed my baby’s mouth – maybe He’ll heal me too! It was an exciting thought, but did I dare hope for such instant relief?

Before the service started, I approached the pastor, asking him to pray for me to be rid of this horrible ailment. I stood there disappointed after he gently laid his hand on my head and uttered a thirty second prayer, at best. After mumbling to myself on the way back to my seat, ‘A lot of good that prayer will do,’ I noticed a queer feeling - the absence of pain. I marveled in shock for a moment before making my way back to tell my husband what just happened. I don’t recall his reaction, so he might not have been as thrilled as I was. But for me, this was a faith building block of magnificent proportions.

The pain the enemy meant as a stumbling block instantly became my stepping stone!

As phenomenal as the absence of pain was to me, the enemy of my soul still felt the need to lie to me about God’s healing in the upcoming days, weeks and months. But I sit here before you now, healed, whole and happy!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ezer Rejoicing III

Once upon a time I had a baby boy – this particular baby boy is now more than six feet tall. When I was a young mother of yesteryear I heard about this Jesus and that He not only loves me, but would bring healing into my life. A pretty tall order, thought the girl struggling to maintain her sanity.

But one day as Daddy was at work and his big brother and sister were playing, no doubt quietly, my toddler fell and bumped his face, busting his lip badly. Every mother recognizes the cries of her hurt child. It’s not at all like the ‘I’m tired’ cry, or the ‘I’m hungry’ cry. I cradled him in my arms, rocking him in the rocking chair, trying to no avail to put a cold, wet washcloth on his swollen, bloody mouth. No phone to call a friend or sister for consolation. Almost an hour’s drive from the military base where Daddy was at work with our only car, I listened to him cry with no apparent power to end his pain.

A light bulb burst with illumination in my mind! This praying stuff, try it – tiptoed through my thoughts. It couldn’t hurt. I mumbled a short, humble prayer. Before I even got to the amen, I opened my eyes to see my baby’s eyes smiling back at me. His loud, persistent cries were quieted. I slowly moved my hand off of his, which had been clenched to his face. He slowly moved his hands a revealed his perfect smile. No blood, no swollen lips, no evidence at all that it had just been busted. Oh my God – this works!

Oh yeah – the word of my testimony! This precious miracle led to the miracle in my next post!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ezer Rejoicing II

I’m really tired. It’s 3:33 in the morning and I haven’t gone to bed yet. So what does this ezer have to rejoice about? During the holidays some of us reflect upon what we have to be grateful for. Some are too busy to think. Some don’t even see their blessings – blind to what God has done for them. Some are oblivious to the love God lavishes on us, resisting Him at every turn. Whether it’s lies we’ve believed or simply the recognition of our unworthiness, we’re trying to hide from God –and from ourselves.

The revelations of God’s involvement in my little world were life changing. He pierced my heart with the knowledge that He loves me. He knew me, He knew everything I’d done, everything that had been done to me, and still He loves me. God loves ME! I cried and I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. God loves ME! I wasn’t abandoned trash, abused beyond usefulness. He spoke to my heart and showed me the power of the blood that flowed freely from His veins that incredible day on Calvary. It truly was enough to wash me clean and make me new again.

1 John 5:13 (KJV) These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

This verse gave me permission to believe Him. Different scriptures speak to each of our hearts with God’s own voice and give us the reassurance and confidence we need to believe He can overcome the wickedness of our hearts. Faith. He gives it to all of us. Mine came unannounced with three short, powerful words. God loves me. God love ME!