Sunday, April 22, 2012

Prove Yourself, God!

A thought that enters into many conversations in various forms comes out in a question that begs: Why doesn’t God prove Himself if He’s real?

If I stand beside a nonbeliever and compare what I have with what they have, looking for who has the most ‘blessings’ – I won’t necessarily see that I have more with my natural eyes. But natural eyes are all the nonbeliever has to see with.

If God always showed the world how He blesses the believer, nonbelievers would find it easier to want those blessings, too, and accept that He is. But God doesn’t want any of us seeking Him simply because of what He can give us.

If I say I prosper more because I’m a Christian, and a nonbeliever sees that his bank account puts mine to shame, he’s likely to say that he prefers his prosperity over mine.

If I go into a third world country and expect God to provide me with a large house with clean running water, grand furnishings and more food supplies than I could distribute, many might believe it’s my God providing for me and seek after that same God. But would they be seeking Him, or merely what He has to give?

God wants us to love Him, to seek after Him – for who He is, not just for what He can provide for us.

Old movies show a king or millionaire making himself out to be a commoner to find the love of his life who will love him for who he is, not for the riches he has. Why would God want any less?

Seek His heart – not His hand.

"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Agreeing with God; we don’t do it as much as we think we do.

Our minds are filled with all sorts of contradictions. If asked we might tell a friend that yes, we love ourselves, but it’s evident that in some areas of our life we don’t take care of ourselves. And we take care of the things we love – to the best of our ability. We might insist we have a good self-image, when in reality we have lies rolling around in our head that drag us down and cause us to doubt ourselves or our worth. We might declare in song that we are fearfully and wonderfully made – but then berate ourselves for how much weight we’ve gained or how lifeless our hair is or how badly our face is broken out again. We’re not even in agreement with ourselves, how much less with the Word of God?

God Word does tell us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made – (Psalm 139, I’ve included the entire psalm at the end of this blog post.)

His Word also declares that nothing can separate us from His love. Yet there are many times we feel unloved or even unlovable.

He says He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, yet how often do we feel alone and lonely, as if our last friend has fallen off the face of the earth.

When we’re filled with these contradictions – we’re like the instrument in the symphony that never been tuned, tearing up the whole song. Being in harmony with God brings His peace into our lives in an overwhelming manner. To be in harmony, we must be in agreement, not fighting God at every turn. Something inside of us wants to be right all the time, stirring up arguments that didn’t even exist. That’s ego, which can be a good thing sometimes, but without balance, there won’t be harmony. Without harmony, there won’t be peace. And thinking we can find peace without God is total dysfunction. It’s like insisting on finishing a puzzle when you know the missing piece has already been digested by the dog.

Psalm 139 (NKJV)
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.
13 For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18 If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.
19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
20 For they speak against You wickedly;
Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate them, O Lord, who hate You?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Monday, April 16, 2012

...In That Private Place - Warning: Gross Content May Be Offensive

“Sometimes interruptions save our lives.” –Pastor Mark Cowart 

Here’s a bit of an interruption in our series of thoughts, to bring you a message from our sponsor. 

I’ll caution you again now, though the title should have given you a heads up; this contains a gross analogy.

A seemingly minor event that occurred on Saturday was stopping for lunch. I wasn’t hungry, but I kept my husband in pleasant company while he ate. Across the room I noticed a man about my age, helping what might have been his mother, walk step by step toward the ladies room. He held her hands, walking backward in front of her. They stole my heart.

But, I challenged, he’s not going to want to go in with her. I approached them, asking if they’d like some help. He didn’t plan to go in with her, so I don’t know how she planned to make it through the ladies room to the handicapped stall by herself. As he let go of her hands, I took them and led her through the ladies room and into the larger stall in the back. She trusted me like I was her own daughter. Perhaps because she had no choice, but she didn’t seem to find my help odd, assistance was a necessity. I now entered her ‘private space’ and helped her with her private matters. She clearly had no bladder control, and wore a pad. She removed the soaked and smelly thing and handed it to me, like one would hand off a book to read. I disposed of it and continued to help her; I opened her purse and held it so she could get what she needed. I helped her get redressed and then to the sink to wash up, eventually turning her back over to her son, blessing them as we parted ways.

I couldn’t get the scenario out of my mind all weekend. As I pondered, I asked God why I couldn’t shake it, was there more to it? There certainly was. I caution you again; this is a very gross analogy.

Each step of the way had meaning.

Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteousness is as filthy rags before God. So, anything we do to achieve righteousness in or of ourselves, is as if we’re handing Him filthy rags. I’ve been taught that the phrase ‘filthy rags’ there refers to soiled feminine products. That’s pretty gross in my book – and that’s what our own righteousness looks like to God? No wonder we need grace!

I approached the woman, uninvited.
God approaches us, before we realize we have need of Him, long before we invite Him into our lives.

I offered my help. She couldn’t do this without assistance.
God offers His help. We can do anything without Him.

I took her into a private place.
God takes us to a private place.

I took her shameful, filthy ‘rag’ – which she handed me with no self-consciousness or hesitation, and permanently disposed of it.
God takes everything we give Him – our sin, our shame and our own self-righteousness, our worries, our doubts, our fears, our confusion. We need to give them to Him without hesitation, for only He can dispose of them permanently.

I helped her wash up.
God washes us clean, using His own blood to remove the stains of sin.

I led her back out into the restaurant after meeting her needs, returning her to her son, blessing them both.
God leads us back out to into the world, after meeting our needs in that private place where it’s just Him and us, forgiving our sin and empowering us to live, not as the world lives, but amidst this world and it’s sorrows and tribulations, with His blessings and assurance.

Though I left this lovely lady, God goes forever with us, always willing to go with us to our private places – and empowering us in our everyday lives.

Do you see additional points to ponder?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Real Me - Part 3

So I was pondering so many thoughts at once, I had to find a word picture to describe how overwhelmed I felt. Word pictures help me sort things out and remember things. I could see myself in a house that I was attempting to build. Materials had been provided for me, but my skills as a builder were sorely lacking. I’d no sooner put a beam up over here, and a wall began to fall over there. I ran to brace the wall and something else gave way. I was basically running around trying to save the work I’d already done instead of being able to build more.
Scripture indicates that when we build His house, He’ll build ours. (Read the book of Haggai, it’s only two chapter long.) Just as this verse rolled through my brain, it struck me, I’m actually building God’s house. I am His temple, His dwelling place! But I don’t remember it being so hard to concentrate and put the pieces in place when I was younger. I hate “chalking things up to getting older” – that line is getting, well, yes, old. But what’s changed? Why is it getting harder to multitask and get on with the building of the building?
My mortar is missing! It occurred to me that the mortar that holds all my materials together is praise – and worship. And though I do praise God for all the blessings in my life, and I worship Him for being God – I don’t do it as  often or as joyfully as I did when I used to sing. Singing allowed praise and worship to roll from my tongue as easily and nearly as often as I drew breath.
But, I seldom sing anymore. That’s what’s changed. That might be what’s missing.
That knocked the wind out of my sails.
To be continued….

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Real Me - Part 2

The other night at church the speaker (Ivan Tait) said that we can make God say anything. By that, we can prove to ourselves that God is okay with something we want Him to be okay with…. Ivan told us not to look for deception. There will always be a scripture we can take out of context, and loving friends that will agree with what our mind and our flesh cry out for. This hit home for me with a resounding clamor of an iron hammer on a God-sized bell. No wonder peace seems just out of reach.
Ivan also said that Satan will find the candy that we like and provide it for us…. I won’t repeat his whole sermon here, but he also pointed out that morality is just an educated choice to avoid consequences; that unbelief is spiritual abortion; and that doubt and unbelief are often veiled as “being practical”.
That “being practical” thing reverberated with the clang of the hammer on the bell again. There are things that God has spoken or that I/we have dreamed about that my practicality says to be humored by, but don’t expect them. Ewww-that means I’m now admitting to the doubt and unbelief that holds me back.
I need to kill every idol in my heart. I heard something about that last night, too – but I’m not sure if it was the speaker, or one of the times God interrupted him in my heart. But before I can kill the idols, I have to identify them. That means looking for them so I can call them out.
The devil, called the accuser of the brethren for a reason, accuses, confuses, distorts and condemns us in attempts to disqualify us, to make us ineligible for heaven. He even goes so far as to accuse God’s own Word, to try to disqualify its effect in our lives. God breaks the pointing fingers in our minds. And yowza, when we start agreeing with the enemy, some of those fingers are our own…
To be continued……

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Real Me

“This doesn’t bother the real me. This is just an illusion.”
God showed me this the last month; that all the struggles I wrestle with over my father-in-law aren’t bothering the real me at all. But Satan wants me to believe that they bother me to the point of bringing me down and shattering the thoughts in my own head. He wants me to believe that this one man will bring me down, push me over the edge, and tempt me to run away. He also wants me to believe that it’s okay with God if we find alternate living arrangements for this old man.
While reading I came upon a statement, “He knows this isn’t who I am.” God knows who I am far better than I know who I am. For me it’s about discovery, for God it’s about revelation.
This isn’t who I am – but I’ve been duped into believing it is. Yesterday I played with my granddaughter in the wonderful world of Hot Wheels. There was a play piece that you put a Hot Wheels car (or other toy) into, behind the door to a cylinder that could be rotated with the turn of a handle. It didn’t even turn all the way around. But while turned, our view of the car was distorted; we couldn’t see all of it. There were plastic bars hiding it from us. Instead of seeing the pretty yellow sports car we’d been chasing across the room, we now saw a yellow “something” hidden by the bars. When turned back, the car could be released to race another day. My point to ponder right now is that I am the same whether my view of myself is distorted or not. I’m turning around, to be released to live another day.
To be continued….. but ponder, perhaps: Are you seeing/being the real you?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Trouble Trusting God?

Is the problem with trusting God that you feel He’s let you down?

If I’ve failed you, I hope you would come to me about it. Offenses divide us, driving a wedge between us. God deserves no less. Talk with Him about it. Let Him shine His light on the matter.

Today I learned the definition of the word prodigal: one reckless in their spending. I presume that means in their spending of money, but how are you spending your life?

At the appointed time – Christ came into the world as a newborn.

At the appointed time, He was crucified.

And again, at the appointed time, He rose from the grave.

At the appointed time – we all meet Jesus. When I meet someone new, I choose whether to carry on with them in relationship or not. God allows us that same choice with Him. But at the appointed time, every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess Him as Lord. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Lord, I offer up a prayer for all the prodigals, for those straddling the fence and for those of us who are weak or hurting.

Lord, You’ve not lost hope –

You’ve not lost faith –

You see us as we are

You love us as we are

You’re not able to doubt

You’re creating and recreating Your image in us

You never lose sight of us

You know, Lord, that we’ll not walk so far away that Your arm cannot reach us

Nothing takes You by surprise, nothing

You’re not willing that any should perish

Thank You for peace that melts even the stiffest shoulders

and the hardest of hearts, the pain-filled, the frightened and the angry

Thank You for grace

Thank You for love that never ends

For the one praying for the lost –

The enemy will try to deceive you with words that there is something required on your part for the salvation of your loved ones. Treasure in your heart the knowledge that it is by grace that we are saved, and by grace alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9) The salvation of your loved ones is not a reward for anything you do or don’t accomplish in this life.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Betrayed By a Kiss?

The point of all this is to get us pondering. I promise, I won’t insist on the glory of “the final word” on any point.
The other night Dave took me to see The Thorn, an Easter-time production portraying biblical themes leading up to the brutal crucifixion and glorious resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It was superbly done. The makeup was phenomenal, and the set, the music, the pyrotechnics and special effects were all incredible.
Of course, many points set my mind a-pondering. For instance: Judas, did he actually want to betray Christ? This thought never occurred to me, perhaps I’m the odd man out – but did you ever consider that he didn’t?
At this point in the storyline, our narrator, Thomas the Disciple, makes an appeal for his friend Judas, pointing out that he was his best friend, he always made sure that in their travels they had a place to eat, food to eat, etc. After all, he was in charge of their money. He asks how it could be that Judas would betray the Master? Perhaps, he draws us into his point to ponder; perhaps Jesus wasn’t moving things along fast enough for Judas. Like in so many of our lives when we think God should have moved already, and like when Sarah tried to “help God out” by providing her handmaid to Abraham through which a child could be born of natural means, versus the child of promise. Was Judas forcing Jesus’ hand? Surely he didn’t believe that Jesus would allow Himself to be arrested, beaten and killed! If he led the soldiers to Jesus, he’d force Jesus to show His hand and usher in His kingdom, which they’d all been waiting on. This is a possibility, rather than assuming he’d plan to betray Jesus all along, or rather than thinking he was all about those measly thirty pieces of silver.
But God had a different plan; a better plan. To our carnal eyes it may look like there should have been an easier way. But this was God’s way, and He provides freedom for us all through that cross.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)

Is there something going on in your life right now that you’re hoping and expecting God to do something about? His way may not turn out to be the way you expect. His way is better, though….for your good and His glory.