Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hidden Tears

(elephantjournal.com)
Who knows the sorrows hidden behind joyful smiles and the kisses blown across the miles? Who sees the sadness creep in when loneliness stalks the vulnerable? Who shares in the grief of the broken heart? Who understands the misunderstood? Who reaches out to the lost and the weary? Who watches over the miserable and sings over the barren? Who stands beside the confused and deluded? Who holds onto the desperate? Who speaks to lies and calls them powerless? Who, of Himself, sheds light into total darkness? Who alone, can turn over the dry, parched dirt left unattended and bring life from death?
If you’ve been overlooked, discarded, betrayed; if you’ve died at your own hand or the hand of another, grasp at hope; claw your way to clasp hands with life; cling to what you can’t yet see, but dare to believe.
Where is land more parched than in the valley of death?
May I be - “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” – Mark 1:3 (NIV)
May you see that:
I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. – John 12:24 (NIV)
And that:
Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6 (NLV)
Despair is sometimes along the path to wholeness; it need not be more than a side trail we get lost on for a moment. Lies are but temptations to look to the left or to the right, keep your eyes on the prize.
If someone tells you that God will meet you halfway, shake it off and know that He will meet you right where you’re at, before you move an inch to help yourself, He is there, reaching His hand out to you –


(turnbacktogod.com)
In Matthew 14 there’s a story I want you to look at closely and consider where you fit in.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:25-33 (NIV)

I trust that you'll see it, you'll hear His voice.   –More importantly, God trusts you.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

My Christmas Story


The Hammer
by Helen Williams more than a few years ago....
Since Mary and Joseph had been turned away from all the inns and told they could stay in a barn and that their child could sleep in the newly made manger when he was born, that’s where they found themselves the next morning. Their child had been born late in the night, a boy child. They named him Jesus. He lay quietly on a bed of hay in the manger. As Mary sat there watching him sleep, she couldn’t help but notice what a beautiful manger it was. Considering it was built to hold hay for the cows, she wondered why its maker took such care and put so much delicate work into it. Her husband, being a carpenter, might know. She called it to his attention and asked him why he thought the carpenter that built it would have made it so ornate.
‘Well, either he just takes a lot of pride in his work, no matter what he’s making, or he had nothing much else to do and decided to put all that detail there to keep himself busy. Or perhaps God told him that our child – His child, would lay there. Only the carpenter himself knows. And yes, he did a wonderful job on it. But we’ll probably never know who made it, dear.’
As he was answering Mary some straw from the hayloft sifted through the boards and they heard a rustling coming from above.
‘But then again,’ he whispered, ‘one never knows.’
He tiptoed around to the steps that led to the hayloft and as quietly as he could, climbed them. When he got to the top he boldly asked, ‘Who’s up here?’
He waited for an answer. At first there was silence. But when he saw the straw moving, he asked, ‘Shall I come see for myself?’
At that, the straw moved a lot and from it emerged an old man. He tried to stand, but lost his footing and sat down.
‘Hello, master. It is only I, the keeper of the animals. I mean you no harm. I sleep here alone. I’ll be on my way about with my chores now.’
He got up and hobbled to the top of the steps as Joseph descended. He came down slowly. By the time he reached the last step, Mary eagerly asked him if he knew who had made the beautiful manger.
He nodded his head. ‘It was I, ma’am.’
Mary noticed that even though he was on the ground now, he didn’t stand up straight. She complimented the craftsmanship he’d so skillfully used on the manger but had to ask, ‘Why did you make it so special? A manger is for animals to eat from. You made it look like a piece of furniture for a king’s house.’
‘Ah yes, ma’am. I did make furniture for the king’s palace, and he did like it to be perfect. I can still work as well as I used to, even though I’m all bent over now. So my work carries on. Though the only job I could get was here. You see ma’am, once you’ve worked for the king and been let go, no one wants you. I’m a reproach among men and they don’t even know why. The king didn’t like the way I look. When I was young and strong looking they liked to have me as the king’s carpenter. But as I’ve aged, time has not been so kind to me. The longer I live, the more bent over I stay. When the king dismissed me no one would even look at me. I felt as though he’d spit on me. All I managed to bring with me was that big ol’ hammer there.’
He pointed it out. ‘So now, you must know that God’s hand is upon me for me to make such a craft using such a big hammer. The other tools I use, I’ve made myself. They too are meager, but that big hammer was once in the king’s carpenter shop. I guess it’s rather special to me. I worked there a long time.’
As he rambled on, he came nearer to the baby and was straining his neck to see him. Joseph sat down behind Mary, putting his hand on her shoulder. They both smiled at the man. Mary asked, ‘Would you like to see our baby? Come closer. He seems to have awakened by your voice, but he’ll not cry.’
‘Why, his eyes are opened and he’s just a newborn. I’ve never seen the likes of him,’ he chuckled. ‘It looks as though he’s looking right up at me, almost as if he knows me. Cute little boy. What did you name him?’
Joseph spoke up, ‘His name is Jesus. Come closer. Would you like to hold him?’
‘Oh, you can’t trust my back. I don’t think I should.’ But there was a look of yearning in his eyes.
‘God’s hand is upon you, remember? You said so yourself. Pick him up and hold him close,’ Mary said.
The old man came closer and bent over to pick him up, praying he’d be able to hold the boy Jesus. As he stood up, he kept straightening himself to a standing position. At first he didn’t even realize he stood up straight, as he did in his youth. He smiled at the child and talked to him ever so quietly. He looked at Mary and said, ‘If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was trying to tell me that he knows me. Just the wishing of an old man…’ His voice trailed off.
Suddenly realizing he was standing tall, he exclaimed, ‘Why, little Jesus, if you could see me now! I’m standing again! It’s a miracle!’
He held the baby close to himself and began to dance around the room. Joseph smiled at Mary and she said, ‘It’s not the first one to happen in this barn.’
After returning the baby to the manger, the man said, ‘I’m blessed by the hand of God, indeed. I can’t repay God for the miracle He’s done in my, but I do want you to take my hammer with you when you go. I want you to teach this young child to be a good carpenter. As he grows, show him how to bring life to something as simple as a piece of wood. And tell him about me when he’s older. And tell him about the manger. And, I wish I could tell him myself. If you were going to be around for a while, I’d make him something to take with him, from me. But I’m sure you’ll be moving on shortly here. So take the hammer, please. The hammer reminded me of when I worked for the king. But my walk will remind everyone that I walk for the king, now.
His eyes gleamed with joy and delight.
Joseph accepted the hammer from the old man and promised that it would be Jesus’ to use as he grew, knowing that he’d have to be quite a little man to swing that hammer. It was a big one, indeed.
When Jesus was big enough to swing the hammer, the first thing he made was a manger for his donkey to eat from. He took time and care and lovingly made it after the pattern his mother had described so many times. When he’d completed his work, he called his mother to see it. He led her by the hand into the workshop where he and his father worked so diligently. She was proud of his work and her eyes filled with tears.
Jesus said, ‘Mother, if my donkey can come into the house, we can keep it there! It does look beautiful enough for a king’s house, doesn’t it?’
‘It sure does, my son. But the donkey stays outside. We’ll keep the manger forever. It will remind us how our heavenly Father wants us humbled before Him, so He can lift us up with His blessings. The manger you laid in was truly a blessing, to me, as well as to the old man. I wanted you to have the best, but God wanted you to be born in a barn. But in the midst of that barn, He let us know that He was there with us. Oh my Jesus, I love you.’ She hugged him tight.
As Jesus grew older, he grew in the wisdom of God and in love. He always showed his love, never esteeming himself more highly than others. He knew that it was better to give than to receive and he knew that he would give the ultimate display of love at the appointed time. He knew that when you lend, expect not to receive back what you’ve lent. And he always gave his best, which is why when a city boy came out to where Jesus lived, looking for the biggest and heaviest hammer he could find, Jesus gave him his.
The boy told him, ‘My father is the biggest man in the city and he has a big job to do. I told him that I would find just the right hammer for the job and I’ll keep looking until I do.’
Jesus stopped him and said, ‘Why did you promise to find this special hammer for your father?’
‘Wouldn’t you?’ the boy replied. ‘Besides,’ he added with a whisper, ‘if I do bring home the perfect hammer, he won’t send my mother and me away.’
Jesus told him, ‘Well, you’ll need a little help to carry my hammer. It’s very big; just right for that big job. I’ll help you carry it.’
They walked together for almost a mile. Pointing, the boy announced, ‘There’s my father. We live over there. He will be please. Would you like to meet him? Come on.’
The boy ran ahead of Jesus, calling to his father. Looking up, he saw them coming.
‘I’ve found the biggest and best hammer for you, Father!’
His father looked at Jesus and furrowed his brow. ‘Do I know you? You look so familiar. Your look says you know me.’
‘No,’ Jesus replied, ‘you don’t know me yet.’
He handed him the hammer and shook his other hand. After Jesus turned to walk away, the man looked at his hand, the one that held onto Jesus’, running his fingers over the palm as if he were feeling for something.
‘He was a big man, wasn’t he, Father? He sure had a big hammer, and he gave it to us, Father!’
Years later on a hill called Golgotha, Jesus saw that hammer again, and it was being used for a big job alright. After the soldier swing the last blow of the hammer, he looked at the man he was nailing to the cross. His eyes filled with horror as he recognized his face. He fell to his knees but quickly got back up before anyone would realize that his heart was being pierced. It seemed like forever as he looked into Jesus’ eyes, everything he’d ever done came up in his mind. He felt so helpless and he somehow knew why.
Jesus said to him, so quietly that no one else heard, ‘Now, you know me. And yes, I’ve always known you, and I love you.’
It was no coincidence that his marriage was mended from the day he received that.
It was no coincidence that his son was standing there beside him, also in a Roman soldier’s uniform.
He dropped the hammer and walked away from the cross, looking back only once. In his heart he grieved. But he knew that God knew of his grief when Jesus cried aloud from the cross in the air, ‘Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.’
He followed after the disciples – forgiven and alive for the first time in his life.

Have you yet to hold that hammer in your hand?
The house the King desires to live in is your heart.
What have you let Him build there – with His hammer?


Sunday, December 11, 2011

In The Choosing - Choose Well

There’s practical fear, a gift of God; that fear that protects us from impending danger.
There’s a reverent fear, such as the fear of the Lord.
Then there’s the fear the enemy uses to enslave us.

Today, via DVD, Charles Stanley taught from Isaiah 41:10-13* and said, "Fear doesn’t fit you, don’t put it on." He also said that we’re not to live in fear while we live around things that cause fear. When you hear bad news, take your mind off of what you fear and quickly refocus on this: “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)
We are defined by what we fear; absurd, but true. If you’re afraid of tight spaces, you’re claustrophobic. Arachnophobics fear spiders. And those who fear failure are usually called failures.
Are you afraid you won’t be able to find a new job or that the relationship you’re in won’t last? Are you afraid your children will get hurt? Sometimes we don’t even know what we’re afraid of.
Mr. Stanley listed six sources of the enslaving kind of fear the enemy brings: sin - its consequences; fears we’ve been taught (consciously or subconsciously); our imagination; ignorance of God’s Word; doubt – disregarding God’s promises; and poor self-image. We could talk quite a bit on each one.
But this is where communication with God is essential. We can ask Him anything, from what am I so afraid of, to where did this fear come from? And His answers may come more quickly than you think they will. What is He saying to you? Don’t seek what He’s telling someone else, seek Him, and seek His will for your life. I could take your fear and search the scriptures for what God says about it. But that’s exactly what He wants you to do. Then choose to believe what He says.
*Isaiah 41:10-13 (NIV) - So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Actively Waiting

No one is beyond the reach of God’s almighty hands, filled with grace and mercy. Nor is anyone’s self-righteousness great enough to pass from this world to the next without torment.


We all fall in that middle ground – the place where God reaches out to, with love beyond measure and limitless compassion, to give us His righteousness. By His kindness, He draws us to repentance – because at some point, we turned away from Him. Though most of us have tasted that sting of rejection, unlike us, He never turns away; He never gives up on us. As long as there’s breath in our lungs (both of which He’s provided for us,) He waits. He actively waits. While He waits for us, He calls to us. He reaches out to us. He sustains us. He blesses us. He protects us. He shows Himself to us all day long, even in our sleep. Though we ignore Him and refuse to acknowledge Him at every turn, still, He waits.

After a gardener plants his seed, he actively waits for his harvest – watering and fertilizing and hoeing and anticipating….
After a woman discovers she’s pregnant, she actively waits for her child’s arrival – providing nourishment, preparing herself for delivery, excitedly making preparations to care for the child, anticipating….
God has planted His seed in us. He actively waits for us to come to Him. With greater anticipation than the gardener or the mother, He waits.
He waits, simply, for us to return to Him.









Monday, December 5, 2011

Together?

How can we say we love God, and know in our heart we hate our brother?

We can’t. Plain and simple, if we harbor hatred in our heart, we don’t love God.
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” 1 John 4:20-21 (NIV)

Did someone come to mind as you read the opening line? Is there someone you secretly can’t stand? That you judge or are jealous of or cringe when you see?

If so, it’s past time to pray about it and forgive this person. Because God’s own Word says that you cannot love Him, while hating your brother or sister.
I’m not talking about hating a murderer or a rapist that denounces God with his every breath. We can talk about them at another time.

But right now, there’s a brother or sister in the faith that feels the strain of relationship with you and God is calling upon you to do something about it. He’s probably dealing with their heart, too, if it’s any consolation to you. Step out in faith, obey God and trust Him to do His part.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)

God is quite clear. To truly have intimate fellowship with Him, we must be at peace with and love our brothers and sisters. We’re to gather together

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Clinging to My ... Teddy


There are things in life we hang on to much too tightly; whether a child with his teddy - for comfort, security and friendship or a mother with her child - to love and protect them.

But even scripture tells us to let go. Luke 14:33 says, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” That can be a hard truth to digest.

What I cling to, for whatever reason, becomes used, damaged, controlled and eventually, useless. But when given up to God, He alone can set them free and heal them and multiply them and be glorified in them and through them.

I picture a child with a teddy bear that’s loved so much it goes everywhere the child goes, it gets dirty and loses an eye or gets an ear ripped off, needs to be re-stitched from time to time, the stuffing becomes flat and it’s fur gets dingy and faded from washings. The bear isn’t abused on purpose, but our human love has a way of wearing things out.

Why do we hold on so tightly? Do we really believe we need that teddy, that God won’t be our security? Do we believe our children need us more than they need God? Or that we can serve and protect them better than He can?

The bottom line is; what do we believe about God?

Do we believe God is Who He says He is and will do what He says He’ll do – or not?

This morning I asked myself that question and started to answer, “I do, but….” No. Either I do – or I don’t.

“Our greatest single difficulty in following God may come at this point of full surrender.” –Henry Blackaby, (Experiencing God workbook, page 158)


Monday, November 28, 2011

Just Look at that Filthy Gown!


What was at stake there? In the biblical account of the woman with the issue of blood, she could have risked her life just being in the crowd. According to tradition and law at the time, with a disease such as hers, she was unclean, and anything or anyone she touched became unclean, too. At the very least, she’d have to cry out ‘unclean’ as she approached like the lepers. If discovered, imagine the outburst from those she’d just made unclean.

Being the inquisitive person I am, I can’t help but wonder if anyone recognized her as the diseased woman or if they all focused on getting to Jesus. (How many other unclean people were in their midst?) All four gospels tell us she had this medical condition for twelve years. She’d spent all her living on physicians and none could heal her. Surely there had to be someone in the crowd she’d fear would recognize her. She was an outcast and had been for a long time. No wonder she cowered in fear when Jesus asked who touched Him; the fact that she was in the crowd was pointed out to everyone.

If we wrote this as a superhero cartoon, it might read: Filthy Monster meets the Spotless Lamb, doesn’t sound like the lamb has a chance. This unclean, or filthy, woman had to either presume that this Man of God would heal her, or that she would make Him unclean, too. She sought to reach out and touch the very opposite of what she was.

If detectives touch something at a crime scene, they risk contaminating evidence versus solving their ‘who-dunnit’. There’s risk involved until you know for sure and go for it. Matthew 9:21 tells us this woman was sure: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.

Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteousness is as filthy rags before a holy God. So dressed in our own righteousness, we wear filthy rags. And it’s in those wretched, filthy rags that the God of the universe invites us to reach out and touch perfection. Instead of us making Him unclean, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

Ponder this: If I reach out to Him, what's the worst/best thing that can happen?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chisel Marks

This interruption [from blogging] is brought to you by NaNoWriMo. That’s National Novel Writing Month for those who don’t know. We’re challenged to write (at least) 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November.  http://www.nanowrimo.org/


I first took up the challenge in November 2009 and was declared a winner, because I exceeded the 50,000 word goal. I think my novel was around 67,000 words when I put it down. I’ve not finished that story yet. Then last year I started another but didn’t make the mark, I stopped at around 25,000 words. This year I’ve started a novel I’ve titled: Chisel Marks. It’s a fictionalized version of my life. I’m altering the characters from my real life so no one will know who I’m really talking about, besides me. [Big grin!]


When they asked Michelangelo how he made his statue of David he is reported to have said, "It is easy. You just chip away the stone that doesn't look like David."

- Michelangelo

He also said: I saw an angel in the block of marble and I just chiseled 'til I set him free. – Michelangelo



(Did you know that Michelangelo was only 26 years old when he sculpted David?)

This is what God is doing in my life – chiseling away anything that doesn’t look like Him. I was made in His image, but I’ve been hiding behind lies and deceit, locked away in doctrine and false conceptions about God, my purpose and who I am in Christ. He’s ‘chiseling ‘til he sets me free!’

Who hasn’t asked themselves, Who Am I? Let the chiseling begin!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Power Agreement


Agreement is the place of power; one of the prominent statements in my notes from church this morning. Consequently: Disagreement is the place of powerlessness. No wonder the strategy of divide and conquer is so popular; it displaces agreement.


We are free to choose who we agree and disagree with. So why do we agree with the negative things and the lies in our lives? We’re in agreement with the father of lies; the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy.

We need to agree with Truth. Quoting Henry Blackaby, ‘Truth is not just a concept to study. Truth is a Person. Jesus did not say, “I will teach you the truth.” He said, “I am … the truth”’ (John 14:6)

We need to investigate what God’s Word says about us, about our lives and God’s will for us and come into agreement with it. This is where the secret to power and purposeful living come alive for us.

Do we agree with those we believe or do we believe those we agree with? There is a political movement in America now that has many people coming together. Many agree with those taking a stand, but don’t know really what they’re agreeing with because the beliefs within that movement vary. Some of what they say sounds very good, but some of what they’re saying sounds hateful, even sinful, to me. But there’s power in the agreement going on. Voices are louder; points of view are noted. I admire the coming together.

In Genesis 6:11 (AMP) we read about this kind of unity: ‘And the Lord said, Behold, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do, and now nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them.’

So why is the Christian voice not louder? Why is there so much disagreement within the body of Christ? The discord and distrust, the backbiting and bickering, the legalism and lies believed make our enemy mock us and laugh at us. Our own thoughts and words make his labors of evil easier to accomplish as we turn on one another.

Pick up your Bible today and find something to agree with God about. Do it again tomorrow and the next day. Make a habit of it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Peace


I miss my dad. He would have celebrated his 80th birthday today if he hadn’t already left this world for heaven. I wonder what he’s doing there. I wonder if he can see me. I wonder if he’s already seen the future revealed…

With my feet still planted here on Earth, I watch as my father-in-law takes strides, some great and some ugly, to live the way he wants to; the way he’s used to. The great things include his body healing. The ugly things include his violent demands to get his own way. I suppose we all want our own way in most circumstances. Some of us are demanders and others of us are submitters.

I’ll admit there are times it makes me feel incredibly selfish to want my own way. I can justify both sides of pretty much any argument (something which has frustrated my husband for years now). But for example:

It’s Christ-like to be selfless and give everything I am to others ~ VS ~ I have other people who depend on me, too, and giving all my energy and time to one person knowing others need me is too draining.

God will supply all my needs ~ VS ~ I don’t always want to be Wonder Woman and handle it all.

I can honor the present while God deals with the past in His own ways ~ VS ~ Sometimes I just don’t want to!

I’m being loving ~ VS ~ I’m being manipulated and used

The bottom line is seeking and accepting what God wants of me and submitting to Him, not to the confines of what man demands I think, say or do.

This is where I’ll actually find peace.

'Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.' –Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)



Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Mountain Won't Stop Me

Apparently learning the big lessons in life isn’t easy. The enemy has plans in place to fight you all the way. It’s normal to feel like a failure when you recognize your struggles seem to form a repetitive pattern in your life. I find myself asking if I’ll ever make it over this particular mountain. Then I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry, thinking that once I reach this pinnacle, the next one is liable to be an even bigger leap.

But some things I know. I know them because God has declared them to be. I don’t have the understanding yet that backs everything God has decreed, but one great thing I have going for me is that I’m determined not to give up; that what is before me is greater than what is behind me. When I come through this life, I will have ‘fought the good fight of faith’ and reached out for the wisdom and knowledge and understanding that we’ve been promised.

In Proverbs Solomon writes: ‘My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will understand the fear of the LORD, And find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;’ (Proverbs 2:1-6 NKJV)

Read all of Proverbs chapter two – it’s empowering to know what we’ve got coming to us. It makes the search and the struggles worth it. The worth of our lives isn’t based on our past and every battle we perceive we’ve already lost. We have to look forward to the ultimate goal. Like Paul, I too choose to ‘…press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:14 NKJV)

I want to be like Jesus. I want to love like Jesus – and I’m not giving up until I do. That’s my goal. I’m looking past all the earthly hindrances that try to stop me, because I AM God’s ezer, His image bearer, He perfects me, He completes me. I just need to stay in the game ‘being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;’ (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Little Revelation


‘Being’ love is easier than ‘doing’ love. When love makes up who we are, how can it be hard to love someone?

Food for thought, apply it somewhere if you can:

‘He came into my life disguised as a man with a past. Should I have been able to tell? Should I have recognized him? Now I see he wasn’t simply the man I thought he was. But then, it’s only revelation when you’re the one it’s revealed to.’

This short story has brought me one step closer to being a truly loving person.

Jesus said, ‘What you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me.’ (Matthew 25:31-46) Did He mean: when you love the least of these, you love Me? At this point in my life I add yet another layer of knowledge and wisdom to my repertoire as I apply this revelation to the disguised man that came into my life to expose God’s truth to me, though in reality, he doesn’t know God at all.

Who are ‘the least of these’? Perhaps they are the people we would be least likely to choose to rub elbows with, the ones we look away from when, suddenly, there they are right in front of us, without warning.

Might God choose to visit us in their skin?

Years ago, I heard God say to me, ‘Would you still love me if I was ugly?’ I heard this while looking at a poorly made wall hanging of Jesus with a flock of sheep. The person who made the hanging clearly took little pride in their work. The Jesus looked like a Star Trek alien, and not a pretty one.

Can I look beyond my reservations to see God in every human soul I encounter?

Do you hear me wrestle when I blog?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Intimacy

Everything I’m reading in my current studies relates to and resonates within me and shakes something up inside of me. In another book that I just finished, the author asks God to unsettle her. That's what I feel is happening to me, I'm being unsettled. I feel like God has just pulled the covers off me and proclaimed, 'Come on, get up. Get out of your sleepy [Christian] bed and follow me, stop laying there saying you're a Christian with your eyes closed and your body at rest.'

Some days it seems that in becoming a Christian, all I did was climb into bed with Jesus and find comfort there - but now there's work to be done and He's [more than gently] nudging me. And those aren't slippers next to the bed for me to slip on; they're leather sandals waiting for me to break them in...

Before I can do anything with God or allow Him to do something through me, it’s essential that I have ‘climbed into bed with Him…’ He requires an intimate relationship with His people. Before we can serve Him, we need to know Him. A few years ago I read a great definition for the word intimacy. I may have already mentioned it at some point – because I really love it: Intimacy = in-to-me-see. When I share intimately with someone, I’m allowing them to see into me. A truly intimate relationship requires them to allow me to see into them as well. That’s what God wants with us! He wants to share His heart and mind and purposes with us, intimately. Since He sees into us with or without our permission – vulnerability is completely void in this relationship. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I love how the psalmist declares God’s knowledge of him in Psalm 139:1-18 (NIV):

1 You have searched me, LORD,

and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue

you, LORD, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before,

and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand—

when I awake, I am still with you.

How can we not join the psalmist in crying out?.....

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? -Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tripping On Number One?

Which of the Ten Commandments do we break most frequently? Do you lie every day? Perhaps steal on a regular basis? Commit adultery, even if it’s ‘only in your mind’?

In Exodus 20 we read the commands God gave Moses. God wrote them Himself on stone tablets (Exodus 31:18). God begins with what might look like the obvious, but the first commandment is one we commonly break, without even thinking about it.

‘And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ –Exodus 20:1-3 and yes, I’m quoting the King James Version because it just sounds holier.

While reading Lysa Terkeurst’s Made to Crave this week, I’ve marked numerous quotes and even shared some on Facebook. I never realized how many verses in the Bible are, or can be, related to eating, quite fascinating, really. Think about it – the very first temptation Satan ever used on humans was food!

But at one point in the book she brings up the story of the rich young ruler that approaches Jesus saying he’s kept God commands since birth (quite a righteous man, isn’t he?) But he asks what more he needs to do to obtain eternal life. Many of you know the story, Jesus tells him to sell all he has and then to come follow Him. Many of us have been taught that this means God doesn’t want us to have money. Like Lysa, I don’t believe that for a minute. It was simply that his money came before his love for God, or he’d have been able to give it up and follow Jesus.

The ‘other gods’ we put before God are more than statues. Take a minute and ask God what you’re putting first, it may surprise you. I know it did me.





Friday, September 9, 2011

It Depends...

Two city girls driving down a country road saw a shirtless farm boy carrying two large buckets of water. His muscles brought on the giggles as they pulled over, calling out, “How heavy are those buckets?” Without looking up, he hollered back, “Depends on how far you have to carry ‘em.” Insulted, one girl approached him asking, “How far do you have to carry them?” Glancing her way he said, “Depends where I’m taking ‘em.” Intent on his attention she boldly asked, “Do you think I’m pretty?” He smiled, “Depends on how tired I am.” He put the buckets down and walked toward her with quick, long strides. She laughed coyly, and backed up toward her car till he was chasing her. Wide-eyed, she climbed in behind the safety of her door, and asked, “Are you crazy?” Tossing his head back with friendly laughter he replied, “Depends on how long it’s been since I’ve seen a pretty girl!” 

Depends….                                             

Am I a good person? …depends on who you’re comparing yourself to.

Is there a purgatory? …depends on which religion you’re asking.

Once I’m saved by grace, can I do anything I want? …depends on who’s doctrine you’re going by.

Will I go to heaven when I die? …depends on where your faith lies.   

That farm boy knows it and so do we, our questions wear more Depends than folks with bladder control issues. If you’re anything like me, one question leads to another. Answers that include the word ‘depends’ leave me frustrated. Aren’t there absolutes in this world? Again, we can say, “Depends on _____” and fill in the blank with any number of answers. I’d say; depends on whether or not you’re willing to accept the absolutes. Sometimes black is simply black and white is simply white. And sometimes we have to face things we’d rather not look at, believing it’s easier to hide in a ‘depends…’

Some of us believe we’re ‘not so bad’ – ‘basically good’ people. Good and bad are both relevant words, and words we interchange as time goes on. (Younger generations use the word ‘bad’ when referring to something they think is very good.)

Ponder this:                                                                

There are (at least) four verses in the Bible that make the point: “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 14:3; Psalm 53:3; Romans 3:10; Romans 3:12)

And First John, verses 7-10 tell us that: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (KJV)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Perception

Perception is everything. It’s responsible for life and death decisions and for unwinnable arguments and most likely for every war waged.

Years ago I spoke for a Christian women’s organization, my topic? Perception. You can tell me at every turn and show me in every manner you can think up – that you love me. But if I perceive the motive behind your words and actions is something other than love, I won’t believe you love me.

If I perceive something to be a myth or a lie it will be quite difficult, even next to impossible to convince me otherwise, even if you present me with evidence that backs an opposing view point.

I don’t say this to suggest that I’m close minded and shallow, but simply to point out that most of the people I know – and I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest that most people in general, think in like manner. The reasons we believe the things we believe vary as much as the infinite array of ideas we entertain.

But what do we do when we recognize that someone close to us has skewed perceptions? Do they necessarily see things incorrectly, or is that merely our perception?

What makes one viewpoint correct and opposing viewpoints incorrect?

As a Spirit-filled Christian, I fall back to where I perceive the lines of truth are drawn – in God’s Word.

Yet listening to the viewpoint of a teenager the other day, I had to agree when he pointed out that one can use scripture to argue most any point. Scripture can be twisted and taken out of context – and who’s to decide the correct context of God’s Word?

When I write a poem, perhaps I am actually the only one to know its true intent, because it came from my heart.

When God gave us His Word – it came from His heart. He alone can know the true intent behind every word He’s given us. Only His Spirit can impart His intent to us. When we invite His Spirit to live within us we have access to His heart and the very mind of Christ…. Have you tapped in lately?

Don’t believe you can perceive truth without Him. And though you pray or believe He exists doesn’t mean He resides within you – He has to be invited in and allowed to rule and reign on the throne of our heart. Though He created you and breathed life into you, the one thing God doesn’t possess until you choose to give it to Him, is you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Where Does The Time Go?

Time. What more precious gift can we give than that of quality time; love manifested?

Alone time is needed to cultivate inner strength and reliance on God. But when we’re not spending time alone with God, we’re giving our time to or for something or someone. Perhaps it would be a good idea to pick up a pen and diagram where and to whom our time goes. Who or what are we giving our time to? We may see that more of our time goes to petty things that will pass, rather than to those we truly love.

It’s a great idea to be sure to thank those who invest their time in us.

When my husband and I started dating we found ‘our song’. It’s Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. Next to God, spending time with Dave is my most favorite thing to do.   Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce

1 Peter 1:17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. (NIV)


Time For A Clock

Time to remember

Time to forget

Anticipation

Or lonely regret


Time that is wasted

Time on your hands

Time so elusive

Like hourglass sands


Time that stands still - as

Time marches on

Times of reflection

To ponder upon


Time heals all wounds -

A lie to our hearts

Time has no end

Nor a tangible start


Time has expired

Or we’ve too long to wait

Time can hold secrets

Delivered by fate



Time that you borrow -or

Time that you kill

Time is the order

God only, can fill.

~Helen Williams! 7/5/03