Thursday, October 31, 2013

All the Difference ~ Guest Blog


“But with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:19)

In our years at the farm, taking the highway to our former hometown was a regular route. I think I could almost have driven it in the dark, even though there were many curves, ups and downs, a river bridge, and a couple of places where the pavement separated into a “Y.”

One spring, I noticed a triangular lot at one of the “Ys” being leveled and fenced. Soon after a manufactured home was anchored at the back of the property. It seemed no matter how often I drove by, no matter what time of day, a middle-aged woman would have her shovel and wheelbarrow, planting rows of saplings.

In only a few months to my surprise, the trees grew tall, and the trunks thickened--much faster than any I had seen before. I stopped by one day to compliment the lady on her success. She said she had found the secret to growing. To each portion of rich soil, she mixed in equal portions of bone meal and blood meal. “The blood really makes the difference.” I sort of cringed inside knowing that it came from slaughtered animals.

In a day when offering slaughtered animals’ blood had become tiresome religious duty, God planted a tree in rocky soil. The men He used to place it there did not expect it to grow. But as God would have it, when His Son was nailed on that Tree of Death, it supernaturally transformed into a Tree of Life. The place where the tired religious or the wayward rebellious can come and be implanted with a forgiven forever new life. Jesus’ blood made all the difference.

I wonder when someone is becoming acquainted with me ... is the difference that Jesus’ blood has made visible? I know I can talk Jesus’ talk. I can wear the smile and give the hugs. But inside, is His love that is greater than all my sins bleeding through? So much so that others sense it without me saying so? Can others see that my heart is under His control of "Peace, be still"? To those who know me, am I noticeably growing in grace? Rooting ever more deeply into a devotion to this One who brought me to His Tree of Life. Who carved my name into His Family Tree. That One Whose precious blood makes all the difference for me.

~ martha langley

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"O, Lord, Show me the Way ... "

                          Love the idea of going to the River to pray since Jesus is the River of Life.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Love Awakens Love

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails....”   (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

When my children were small I remember wishing that I could just place them in a glass dome so that nothing could ever harm them.  But then I realized they would also miss all the joys of living. They would miss love.

I remember the first time I studied the Scripture passage about love in an easier to understand text.  When I read it over, I thought, I have not loved anyone.  I found out how self-serving I was.  How sensitive I was.  Keeping record of wrongs others had done to me.  I had been loving out of my need, not as an overflow to others.

It hurts when you love and then others don’t love you back as you expect.  A husband may not be as attentive as you think you need.  A wife may be consumed with her children.  Teenagers may be in rebellion.  You may long for someone to be in your life to love you.  You may have lost someone you loved dearly.  Working through that sense of lost love is going to be extremely painful.  Where do you run with that pain?  Who but Christ can fill that void?  But if the love you receive from someone has been lost, and without it you absolutely cannot function, then that relationship has been a god to you. Confess it to Christ and to someone else, and ask for a repentant heart.  If God holds that place, run to Him.

When God’s love began to awaken my heart from its deep sleep of being stoic, in denial, and hardness, I began to experience what real love was all about.  My grandchildren hugging me and saying they love me awakens my heart.  I remember my elderly dad reaching for my hand, how that awakened love in me.  When I know I am wrong and a friend listens and doesn’t preach but prays for me, it awakens my heart.

I am very fortunate to have prayer support, friends, and family who have been there through the years for me.  In addition to that, in the last few years I have begun reuniting with family and friends I had not been close to for years.  How my life has expanded with opening our hearts to each other!  The richness and fullness they have brought to me was unexpected, but I am oh, so thankful for them all.  They have loved me unconditionally, believed in me, mentored me, and even become my soul mates.  I have been awakened to love.

We need the whole body of Christ and even unbelievers in our lives.  To love us and to teach us to love.  So that we may love them.  Christ knows how much we want and need love.  He loved us and wanted our love so much He was willing to die to get us.  He knows how it feels to want to be loved. God put this love and need for love in our hearts.  Only He can meet this need.  No one person, no matter how wonderful that person is, will ever meet your need for love as completely as Christ.  Without Him there will always be a void.  It is the fullness of His love in our hearts which spills over to everyone in our lives.  You will love with the same amazing love by which you are loved.  You will enjoy and love people more than you can imagine.  All kinds of people.  Not just those like you.

Father, Son, Spirit, release Your love from our hearts so that we can love You and others with Your unfathomable love.  May it take our breath away and dry our tears.  We are fulfilled in You.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Where is Our Comfort?

"You can be sure that the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with His comfort through Christ."  (2 Corinthians 1:5)

I remember a difficult week in dealing with my mental disorder.  I called on family, friends, and my doctor for help, for support, and for prayer.  It was really hard with the racing thoughts that were darting through my brain.  I grew so weary.

I was remembering when my granddaughter was here.  We would lie down together at night.  I would tell her the story of Cinderella, and then we would pray.  She would fall fast asleep.  Have you ever tried to slip out of bed without waking a little one?  Out of a high bed?  As I rolled over there was nothing beneath me but the floor.  I hit hard on my left hand.  It broke my wrist in three places.

Sometimes now, just out of the blue, that wrist will ache deep inside the bone.  It reminds me of a deeper ache inside my soul.  An ache I have for the gospel and all it means.  For love, acceptance, and forgiveness.  I long for rest, righteousness, and peace of mind.  I long to be whole.  I long for God in a deeper way.

I am so very thankful for my mental illness.  I think how self sufficient I was before.  How God has used it in my life, and in others' lives.  Now my depravity is ever before me making me cling to and depend on God.  I am poor in body but also in spirit.  But oh, so rich!  I so want God to be glorified in me.  We are such a beautiful story of His grace.

Out of this deep longing and ache blossoms an abundance of comfort.  From Him to me, and then to others.  It is given, not only to be kept, it must move out as a wind from a storm.  His love for us is so extravagant.  So bountiful.  So very beautiful.  It is it beyond my ability to describe, just experience.

This sometimes comes after very hard times of striving, guilty conscience, trying to measure up, wrestling with God about where I am, and what He has allowed in my life.  Maybe even self pity, questioning, and silence from Him.  Where is He?  What is He thinking?  Why can't I sense His presence?  Am I doing something wrong?

Then, in comes the gospel:  "I went to the cross for you.  I did it all.  It is finished."

Christ cannot be restrained, predicted, or tamed as a Lion. Where did this King of kings come from?  This mighty warrior who is bold but gentle as a lamb.  Just a breath from Him can make the earth quake and the dark sky in a storm turn light as day.  He always was and always will be.

Thank you Lord for using even the hardest things in our lives to show us Your love for us.  You give us unexplainable comfort which we cannot find on our own.  

(Note:  Further reading:  2 Corinthians 1)
Note:  I'll post another one of Deb's writings soon ... but had another thought to add to yesterday's  "Sanctuary."

I talked yesterday about seeing a problem looming before me like Mt. Everest. But that the "mountain" became hardly visible once it was placed in God's hands.

Then last night, I thought about another mountain ... Jesus transformed Mt. Calvary from the Place of the Skull and Death, into a Monument of God-love and God-Forgiveness and ETERNAL LIFE! WOW!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sanctuary ~ Guest Blog


                                    “...Only He should be feared; only He should be held in awe ...
                                                 He will be a sanctuary....”
(Isaiah 8:13-14)

With two young sons and another on the way, my husband and I moved to a plateau area in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. The boys' paternal grandparents were not happy about us living farther from them, but they were excited about the region's camping parks. Camping, fishing, and hunting had been their mainstay of family recreation.

At one point during our first exploration, the curving, narrow highway edged a high peak on one side and a seemingly bottomless crevasse on the other. "Son," my father-in-law said, "you could drop a child off the top here, and he would be grown before he hit the ground." We all laughed. But there is something formidable, something awe-striking, about a great mountain.

Some years ago, a financial challenge loomed before me like a Mt. Everest. How could this happen? Why now? How can we fix this? Wrestling with that how evolved into utter frustration. Then a gripping fear. The pain of thinking there would be no legacy for our children's children seemed unbearable. I started to live in looking backward. Placed the blame on someone else. Angry bitterness to set in.

But that was not where God would let me live. One morning as I sat with my writing tablet, I drew a picture of a mountain. Seems foolish now, but I think I was so caught in my unbelief, that I was trying to prove to God that this problem was just too big. Impossible. Inescapable.

With gracious kindness, my Father then allowed me to visualize my mountain placed in His hand. There it was almost too small to see. Suddenly my faith reignited. Was not the God who spoke the mountains into existence the same One who could speak to them to move? The mountain I needed removed wasn't my financial loss, it was my unbelief. As I gave myself into trust, He moved me into His sanctuary--His rest and peace.

You may have your own mountain: An estranged son or daughter. A difficult marriage. The aftermath from divorce. Financial loss. Health issues. A long-time friend turned enemy. A cherished dream looking dead end. A bleak-looking future. (Maybe you have a mountain range of problems.) Please remember that God doesn't want you to live in the sadness or the hopelessness. There is sanctuary--a helping, healing sanctuary--in your Father's presence, trusting in Him. Don't delay naming that mountain(s) and placing it in your Father's loving, powerful hand.

Father God, YOU ARE OUR SANCTUARY. Nothing in this life is bigger than Your love for us and Your power to help us. Thank You for Your ever-kind heart to hear us and to restore us to Your peace that passes understanding. ~ martha langley

Monday, October 21, 2013

Man's Best Friend

"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  (John 15:13)

As a little girl, I loved to visit my friend Jeanette.  She was older than I and, to me, oh, so beautiful.  She had dark hair and dark eyes.  I was several years younger with a boy haircut called a ducktail, blue and white checkered glasses, and knobby knees.  I could go into her bedroom and open her big, deep dresser drawer full of nothing but paper dolls, and play for hours.

For many years I had been so very busy with children, my husband's occupation, and my illness, that I let many family members and friends go.  I do  have a few close friends who have hung onto me throughout the process.

But in visits home to see my dad before he died, I got in touch with family I didn't know, and friends I had not seen for years.  I loved spending time with them and with my dad.  Along with those new friends, I also have friends with whom I take off my mask.  I tell them my innermost thoughts and struggles.  I feel that nothing can separate us.

Are we willing to let someone take the mask off with us?  For us to take it off with them?  We can face the fear of rejection with a smile because we are totally accepted in Christ.  It does take wisdom to know which person we allow in.  Those whom we enter into their world and suffer, rejoice, and limp with them.  It can be uncomfortable.  We may want to rescue them and fix their world.  And we also want to be loved and accepted by them.  Even corrected when necessary, with the grace of our Savior.  Or we may just need someone to listen and care.

These friendships point to the greatest of all relationships.  The friendship of Jesus Christ.  I can lay my heart and mind bare before Him.  He is my very best friend.  No matter what I tell Him He will not reject, leave, or stop loving me.  He is closer than a brother.

Christ is jealous for me and is relentless to have my whole heart.  Not part given to Him and part to some idol such as in an adulterous relationship (like the woman at the well).

Christ opens His deep drawer full of His endless, eternal riches, and I just drown myself in the sea of His grace.  Sometimes we just listen to the silence, remembering His love for me.  The rest of the world grows dim.

Lord, sometimes we fail each other.  Your love never fails.  You were the sacrifice we could never be.  Only through spending time with You can we know selfless love. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Update on Deborah!

Hello!

I just visited with Deborah.  She wants all of you to know what happened about six weeks ago.  She had a psychotic episode.  This means that her brain needs rest from the computer/phone/ipad  to repair. 

One of our grandsons recently received a concussion.  His treatment was a dark room and no technology.  According to a specialist, any kind of electronic/digital technology is very taxing on the brain.  But Deborah has made a turn recently, and is doing better.  What this means for you is that it may still be another few or several weeks before Deborah returns here. She is very thankful for your prayers and friendship.

I've told Deb that I can still share writings with you that she wrote before the blog began.  And she says she has been hard-copy journaling and will have much to write to you about later. 

Since I share a devotion from Deborah each Monday on the Whispers of God site, you can also scroll through older pages if you like, and find her writings there:.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Whispers-of-God/196450807031815

Thanks and Blessings!
Martha Langley

Can You See the Glory? -- Guest Post

                    “...[We]  are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory 
                        which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”   (1 Corinthians 3 18, emphasis)

Do you think of yourself in the context of “ever increasing glory”?  I may have that sense when life is going well. That sort of feels like a glory.  But when life is difficult, or I feel like it's not coming together right, or I'm recounting something un-Christlike, it's hard for me to see an ever increasing glory.

So thinking through that verse, I tried to see if I recognized an ever increasing glory in Jesus.  I know He is always the same and has all glory, but I wanted to look into a few chapters of His story:  First remembering what He did in the beginning--speaking the Universe into being.  Amazing splendor and glory.  Fashioning a wonderfully complex man with His own hands from clay. WOW! 

But then having to wear a human frame of skin, that doesn’t seem so glorious. Nor was walking among diseased and depraved humanity.  Then taking on Himself their sins and in His grave suffering, enduring their rants against Him.  Yet even troubles and trials and the greatest test of suffering ever given anyone--these were still works of glory.  

But there's more.  The Resurrection.  The Ascension.  His love and life working through thousands of years of believers.  John, falling as if dead at the appearance of the Eternity Future Jesus of The Revelation.  As King, ruling unruly Earth with peace for a thousand years.  Sending Satan and his God-hating armies reeling with a word.  He creates a new heaven and a new Earth which eye has not seen nor ear heard.  At last His blood-bought family, finally gathered in one place, billions worship and adore Him.  I see it...the ever increasing glory of Jesus' story.

So why should I allow what seems impossible or irreparable in my life story to make me doubt that our Father is good for His promise to make me like Jesus with ever increasing glory?  For those who love Him, He promised He is working all things for good and for His glory.  The question is, "Do I dare to believe what He said, or do I settle for what I see or feel?"

Don’t measure yourself.  Don’t compare.  Don’t doubt or dread, or think that this tough time or this wilderness is pointless.  Accept the God interruptions and re-directions.  The God surprises.  Straight paths, or stop signs. Great works, or fall-on-our-face fumbles.  Trust Him that He is transforming us with ever increasing glory.  ~ martha langley

Monday, October 14, 2013

He Really Does Care

 (Note:  I know you are missing Deborah's personal comments.  She's taking a rest and has asked me to post for her.  Hope you are enjoying some of her writings published via the Whispers of God email list long before this blog began.  Please pray for Deborah as she rests, and pray that she can soon return to you.  Blessings!  ml)

“You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.  
You have recorded each one in your book.” 
  (Psalms 56:8) 
     
Life does come with struggles.  I always thought I had kept a close tab on the forgiveness list.  You know, someone hurts my family (or me) in some way and I automatically forgive them.  He who is forgiven much loves much.  Jesus forgives me so much, how can I not forgive others?  Sometimes, though, hurts rise to the surface unexpectedly.  When I get angry again at another time, I might throw up past offenses.  Or just out of the blue a past hurt will suddenly come to mind and feel relived.  It is the Spirit wanting me to deal with these things.

Someone may not have any idea that he has hurt you.  But it’s something you struggle with every day. Maybe something that happened long ago.  It may not mean that you have not forgiven.  Forgiveness is a process.  But believe it or not, the unforgiveness can keep you in bondage.  If you want to live in the freedom of the gospel you must give forgiveness even when it is not deserved.

St. John of the Cross says, “I tell you acting in love when others are not acting in love toward you--this is of the highest value to your soul.  It is worth more than all the other acts of faith you may have done, no matter how great they may appear.”

The other morning getting ready for church, I really had to pray to get there.  For some reason I don’t understand, it is just hard for me to leave home at times.  Probably a control issue.  Wanting comfort. Security apart from God.  Anyway, it was a huge struggle.  I do have praying friends and professional help with my disorder and I am doing very well.  Still, sometimes it is just hard.

I even thought about the death of my mother.  I had been with her for weeks, but was not there when she died.  I have carried a lot of guilt because of that, even knowing my mother would not want that.

My pastor said that after the death of Lazarus, Jesus was so angry at sin and sickness and death, He quaked.  God tremors.  He is angry at the effects we suffer because of sin and sickness and death.  I thought of the rage of a volcano as it erupts.  It hit me. God is angry at my illness, not at me.  I had felt guilt, shame, and humiliation at times over it.  I didn't even realize it at the time.  But to hear God is for me, that He is angry at all the illness’ effects on me, knowing He is with me and the love God has for me, this has made a huge impact. 

Christ died on the cross for our freedom.  That our conscience would be clear and we would be free from guilt.  Free to follow Him.  He became mortal.  He humbled Himself even to the cross. One reason that He suffered was to identify with our suffering. There is nothing we will ever go through that He does not know exactly how we feel.  He is full of compassion for us.  Nothing we go through is wasted.  We are not in the second plan for our lives. We are in His perfect plan.  God is still in control.  You can trust Him.  He is making things right and in Heaven they will be perfect.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Breaking Through ~ Guest Post

Powerfully Breaking Through

"Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us...."
(2 Peter 1:3-4)

It was amazing to watch my granddaughter stretching, toning, and toughening her little-girl frame for her gymnastics class. But when she was hurting from injury, or when, in gymnastic competition, I saw tears flowing because of a misstep, or fall, or receiving seemingly unjust scores, I could not wait until that moment afterward to break through the crowd, grab her into my arms, reassure her how much she is loved, and take her home.

Long ago, before the foundations of the world, God looked into Eternity Future. He saw there the objects of His love, struggling with their limitations. Exhausting themselves to prove their worth. Empty of peace. His heart longed to break through to them, grab them into His arms, and take them Home. Even though He knew some would not listen. Some would not believe that He had come, in love, to save them. Still, with incredible, beyond description compassion, "the lamb slain before the foundation of the world" became reality.

And for those of us who would come to love that Lamb, although the world would make us face injuries, injustices, and tears, God made certain that we would be reassured of His love for us. That He would in every way possible, break through to us.

In times of worship, His bigger-than-the-Universe presence breaks through, melting flesh away like wax. Heaven's Bridegroom sings His love song over us, making us realize our greatest need is more of Him.

In times in God's Word, His wisdom breaks through, imparting and implanting fresh understanding, soul deep. Sweet peace. Rest.

Jesus' own heartbeat echoes within ours as He walks through the day with us. We don't have to see the path beneath, or know the next turn, or the end of the road. The fear of obstacles, stumbles, or falls, is broken by His masterful, but tender grip.

Even in times of much work at hand, God's Spirit empowers the daunting, (and more than we know) the impossible. He exchanges weariness for a lightened load. Sacrifice wears a smile. Jesus' greater-than-all-our-sins grace breaks through for others. We hold no stones. Ministry pours out like a fragrant, healing balm. Without force we speak His truths. Nothing remains as "mine."  All is His.

In all these times and all these ways, God, in love, breaks through to us. He takes us up into His arms, reassures us, and holds us close. And one day, one glorious day, He'll even take us Home with Him.

Father God, help us to remember in the darkest times, the deepest struggles, when we feel we have nothing left to give, or even to live for, You are there, and You will faithfully break through to us with Your love, Your peace, and Your rest. 
~  martha langley

Thursday, October 10, 2013

THIS I KNOW

"That you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ." (Ephesians 3: 17-19)

One day some of the family were having a little argument. We loaded up in the car. As I rounded a curve we came face to face with a bright blue jeep. I saw the young man driving. He seemed to be looking right at me, but he was on my side of the road. I thought: He sees me and will get over. Well he didn't. I quickly ran off the road to my right. Thank You, Lord, there was nothing there.

We sat for a few seconds and caught our breath. As we went on our way my grandson said: "Gosh, when you come that close it really makes you think. We shouldn't ever argue." In a moment of almost losing our lives, my grandson caught the value of life.

What would this world look like for those whose hope is in Christ if we valued each day as if it were our last? Would I give up striving to do better? To be better? Could my eyes be on Jesus and His love for me instead of my sin? Could I not go with the wind of my circumstances or failures? Then rely on my loving heavenly Father to do what I can not do? Would I love with abandonment? Would I know His rest?

Rest can mean body, soul and spirit. I see this as a journey. I have asked the Lord, by His Spirit, to work this in my heart and my life to the fullest measure. I admit to you, there are times I grit my teeth and tighten my shoulders. I used to go to bed for days when my life felt like it was falling apart. I wondered at times if God noticed at all. We can even act like everything is all right, but it just has to come out somewhere. One thing is new. When I go out of His rest, I am aware of it now. I know to whom I must go, and what I am to believe.

The single most important thing to know is that God loves you. There are no conditions to His love. No thing or no one can separate you from His love. Christ met all the conditions for us. Your sins are forgiven. Because of the Spirit of God in our hearts by faith, we may be able to comprehend the love of God. It is beyond our imagination.

Knowing this comes by experience. When this truth is realized, you are changed, and keep on changing. His desires are your desires. Your priority is to be with the only One who can love you perfectly. But you just have to go sing the song to someone else. You will spread this good news to other captives. It is contagious. Wherever it seems this life takes you, God is in control, and He is there. He is your rest.

Lord, I want to rest in you. I want to give up the striving to do what I can't do. It is in Your love that I want to hide myself. Give me the faith to trust You more.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Solitude

"And He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

For someone who deals with mental illness, learning to seek solitude can be a very difficult thing. Since there is a struggle with high highs and low lows, isolation can be hard for me. But I have found that there is a huge difference between isolation and solitude. When I seek isolation I am running away from people and from life. When I seek solitude I have a purpose. I am seeking the Person of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I am seeking life.

Many years ago when I began a pilgrimage to seek God’s face through solitude, my mind would not stop. I had come from a very busy life and I was very independent. When I attempted to be still, things I needed to be doing would begin spinning around in my thoughts. Then I would have guilt feelings, even at times, fear and shame. I could not get my focus away from me. I could not stop the thoughts.

Now, after years of the Spirit working with me, I am more familiar with surrounding myself with the love of God. I do not go into meditation thinking about what an awful sinner I am. My first action is to just quiet myself. Many times I look at nature--the things God has made--and meditate on who He is. To me, this is like seeing a painting and learning about the artist. Or reading a book and learning about the way the author thinks.

When I seek solitude, it may take me a little while to settle down, so I love resting in God's love as I listen to music. My preference is soaking or classical music. I am just being still. I begin to think on who I am and God's undying love for me. Sometimes I hear His still, small voice telling me that He loves me so. That I am a child of the King, and He is my Abba Father. I am His and He is mine. How I long for intimacy with Him. I know He is the one calling me there.

I also do simple things like breathing deeply and releasing. I receive the Spirit who is telling me, “I love you and you love me.” I can do that because I know I was created in God’s image and He does not give Himself anything but good gifts. As I am open and honest, He loosens my control of my life--people, possessions or problems. My heart is yielded in the love of the Father. Our personalities are magnificent together--set free! Jesus lives His life and love through me.

I believe we are the result of a love relationship between Father, Son, and Spirit. We are an overflow of that love relationship and celebration. We are each special to God. No one child can reveal Him in the very same way. Only Jesus reveals God completely. We each relate to God in fellowship in our own unique way.

I have four children and four grandchildren. I used to say, “I think if I had a hundred they would all be different, and that I would have a different relationship with each one of them.” Each one is so very special to me no matter what the situation.

I think we are much the same way to the Father. He loves for us to be in communion, to fellowship, and just sit enjoying Him in the quiet. Somehow in the solitude, I am lifted up by Jesus, up by His side in the heavenlies. I am brought into worship. There He is glorified, and I am fulfilled and satisfied. The love and the power of the cross from Father, Son, and Spirit are given to me. My gaze is on Him and how beautiful and glorious He is.

Sometimes I may feel nothing and hear nothing. But as I meditate over and over on one simple truth, He always gives me something from His Word. Then as I look for Him to show up and speak to me all throughout my day, He surprises me. I cannot put Him in a box. God wants to reveal Himself to me more than I want Him. But He will choose where and when. He is personal. Many times my physical and mental state is such that I resist seeking solitude. Sometimes, though, knowing that I am resisting drives me there even more.

Often, I find my heart longs for God as nothing else. I have realized from where my true sense of life comes. I understand for Whom and what I am longing. When my strength seems to be gone, there is no where else to run. There is no one else to whom I can run because God is my solitude.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hunger for Intimacy

Hunger for Intimacy:  Why do butterflies fly?

Why wouldn't God come to us in the most intimate of ways
when His greatest sovereign plan of all time made provision for it?

Why do butterflies hunger to fly?
Why do stars hunger to hang in the sky?
Why do flowers hunger to bloom?
Why do babies cry and mothers meet their need?
Why do we become hungry within our bellies?
                          
God is reminding us of a greater hunger.  All these things are Him alluring us to the need only He can meet:  The hunger of our soul.  The longing of our hearts.  Our craving for intimacy.  We may try to fill this need in many ways.  But it is only when our great desire for God (the desire which He planted within us) meets with His desire for us that our need for intimacy is met.  This happens through the Spirit.  The same Spirit who lives in God the Father, lives in the Son, and lives in us.

Why does part of our heart run for freedom from Him instead of running for freedom in Him?  Why do we love Him so imperfectly?  Why, as we are caught in this snare, does He persistently love us, the imperfect, so perfectly?  Why?  

Because of His son, Jesus.  Because God gave the perfect One to love the imperfect ones, perfectly.  Why?  For His glory, so that we might share in this wondrous love that each person of the Godhead shares.  God's perfect love has won, will win, and is winning the battle for our hearts and our affections.  He meets the hunger of our souls and hearts completely.  He is relentless.  At times you may be so filled with His love that you feel overwhelmed.  Nothing satisfies as fully as resting in His wondrous love for us.

Why do butterflies fly with air beneath their wings?
Why do the stars hang in the sky as from a string?
Why do flowers bloom before our very eyes?
Why do mothers feed their young from their very own bodies?
Why do we hunger for God's love?

Because God placed a hunger for His perfect love within our hearts.  The same love the Father has for the Son, He has for us.  His love has won, will win, and is winning.  Because of a great battle that was fought at the cross, His love won for you and for me, quenching this thirst for an endless intimacy ...

God's heart cries out, "Don't be afraid.  I will not reject you.  You may suffer but you are safe.  Your heart is safe with me.  Come close to me. You are mine. There is none like you.  Come be one with me as I, the Spirit, and my Son are one."

And so we are one.  As the sky has no end, let us explore the endless possibilities of this intimacy.  Let us be ruined by Him.  Captured by Him.  Let us let His perfect love invade us today.  Now.  This very moment, for His glorious love ... Intimacy.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we ponder the things of You day and night.  We long to grow in knowing You more.  O Spirit, work in our hearts to rid us of our independence and control.  Please, Lord, increase our trust in You and not ourselves.  Then give us Your strength, Your peace, Your joy, Yourself, in our weakness.  
~deborah ford

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Is Anything Worth That? -- Guest Post

A friend who lived close by in my early Jesus years would say such insightful things, it seemed sort of uncanny at the time. Her childhood had been tough. A dad who was legalistic and abusive. Finding Jesus’ love had been quite a journey through rebellion and its consequences. But it was these experiences which I think prepared her heart to lavish Jesus’ love and truth on others. I remember her setting out a meal like a banquet, using the best china and silver and crystal. Her guests? Women from the low-income housing unit. She treated them like royalty and taught them the Bible in the most everyday way, lining up toys or household objects for her props.

I also remember my friend calling to say that she must give a certain possession away, because she realized she had taken ownership. Whenever she felt that, it was her signal to let something go. I didn’t understand then that she was being jealous for her love for Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but when I feel convicted to give over someone or something that’s become a part of me--something I think I have a right to have--it’s like tearing out a piece of my heart. If it has to be done, I just want God to deliver--painlessly. You know, Fix-it--N.O.W.

But Jesus cast aside His royal rights to blood purchase me something far better than a fix-it life: a Faith-it life. Faith won’t allow me to justify any Jesus substitutes. Faith will disagree that I can handle it myself. Faith makes me humbly ask God to change my heart.

Then somehow by God’s grace, at just the right moment when it can only be of His doing, God moves that thing out, and graciously, tenderly moves Himself in to that vacated space. There, He sets up a royal banquet table where we have the sweetest, most satisfying fellowship. And I find myself wondering why I thought something else felt worth keeping between us.


“...Lay aside every hindrance and the sin which so easily entangles us....”   (Hebrews 12:1) 


 ~ martha langley

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

I'm Scared, God

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."  (Romans 5:1-2)

Over the years I have gained and lost a lot of weight.  The other day as I was getting dressed, I bent down and saw a small but much defined, hard muscle in my leg.  I had not noticed it before.  It seemed so firmly attached to the bone in my leg that it would not move. This was a picture of faith to me.  The child of God is attached to God by faith.

This started me in a thought process about faith and grace.  In so many ways I feel I am just beginning to understand what it means to walk by faith.  Paul says we are to continue in the Christian life in the same way we began it.  That is, by faith.  For me to do this, God first had to come in and shatter my image of what I thought life ought to be.

One person coming out of denial that his faith was, in part, him believing in himself, said that he felt like he was in a dark room.  He couldn't see.  He kept bumping into something. 

When you have always thought you knew the right thing to do and then you find out you don't, it is a very scary place.

It takes time to learn to walk by faith.  Trusting in God, not in man.  Not trusting in yourself.  Being led by the Spirit while having the law written on your heart is so different than following a set of rules just to get it right.  You see with new eyes.  Scripture reaches your heart.  You have a new love.  You begin to step out in the unknown, in faith. 

Even though you may begin in fear you didn't know you had, faith is a much better place than remaining in self reliance.  There you feel like it all depends on you, so you don't need God.  I know I have been there and still wrestle with that at times.  But in true faith you find a new freedom.   A new strength in your weakness.  A boldness out of fear.

I remember when I was a little girl.  My parents gave me a necklace with a small glass pendant encasing a tiny mustard seed.  God tells us if we have the faith of a mustard seed it can move mountains.  I think that mountain for me is my rock-hard heart which I sometimes fall back into.  But the Spirit convicts me, changes me, and I walk in faith again.

God is the giver of our faith.  Not only can we ask for faith, but ask for conviction of sin and a change-of-heart repentance.  This same faith and grace we walk by is also how we enter into God's remarkable, breath-taking presence.  If you are struggling, unable to see past your sin, it could be you need to know the love of the Father in a deeper way.  Grace allows us to know we are fully loved, totally accepted, secure, and forgiven.  It allows us to see our need for God.

For me the small sound of a bird, the sun on my face, or a gentle breeze can escort me into God's presence.  You can enjoy His warmth as He wraps His arms around you and reassures you of His love.  The Spirit can use anything to bring us there.  He can even take a proud heart and make it willing to enter.

Lord, You are the giver of grace and our faith.  We seek to know You as our loving Father who longs to give His children good gifts.  We have your Spirit living inside and through us.  Help us to lean into You today and not stand on our own.  Let us learn to rest in Your presence as children who are loved by their loving, heavenly Father.  It is in You we seek this.