Saturday, March 29, 2014

Til Next Time

Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not [a]take care of You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’

Who is that?  As I look through my kitchen door, through my screened in porch. Someone, aimlessly walking around in the drizzling rain without a care in the world, in the back yard and into the cook house.  You never know around here so I kept watch.  They came onto the back porch wiping the rain from their arms and then removing their hat and shaking the rain from their head.

Danny isn't hear.  Do you want to call him?  He is over at the barn.  Yeah, I hear the saw.  I knew his face but could not remember his name.  Many people know Danny but this one was at least familiar.  Why don't you drive around the farm and go through the back side.  He is at the barn, I repeat.  I will just walk through the pasture.  I repeat.  Call him. It is muddy.  It is not hard to find.  He will be hear soon.  He has an appointment.  Things I was saying just don't ever seem to register with him now or in the past.  He leaves and I go about my work.

In a short while Danny returns with him following close behind.  I got to go get ready and leave, just have a seat. He sat down just like he was home and welcomed.  I am praying.  Lord don't let Danny leave me, I don't know what to say.  He sits on the porch.  You got any apples.  No, oh, you want an apple to eat sure.  You want a drink?  How about a coke.  No.  He sits on the porch waiting on Danny to get dressed for his appointment.  I feel lost.  I don't know what to do, making cookies.  Then it came to me.  You do unto the least of these you do unto me.  I say, do you want to come in.  No, I am fine.  How you been.  The conversations continues and so does the voice.  You do unto the least of these you do unto me.  He continues to smile and eat his apple.

This man was so unlike me.  He had limitations which is fine, so do I.  But I had a hard time relating to him.  I could shut him out and pretend he was not here or I could love him with the love of Jesus.  Where are you staying I ask as he is from out of town.  At the Days Inn.  I will stay here next time.  You do unto the least of these you do unto me.  I thought to myself, we can do that.

Danny came around the door, with ease.  I gotta go fella.  You come back now.  The young man following him around the corner.  Till next time.

I thought in many ways I am like this young man.  I have entered into the house of the Lord on the arms of Jesus.  I am so unlike them but the Father has taken me in, loved me and treated me like family because I am with Jesus.  I feel the love and acceptance.  The sense of belonging and importance because I am His.  I am fearless.  I have a smile on my face.  I don't have a care in the world because I am His.  I feel at home and welcome.  I maybe different but because of Jesus I belong and am loved.  I love you Jesus.  You loved me today.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One Way Love

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loveyou, that you also love one another.

The Lord has been teaching me much about love lately.  Love is the new law God has given us.  The law has no power to change a heart.  It is a set of rules.  It shows us our failure, our need for Jesus and out utter dependence on Him and His perfect life in our place.  Love increased the law while Jesus fulfilled the law for us.  A woman can stay married to a man all her life and not love him.  She can be loyal and never commit adultery and not love him.  She can not murder or steal and never love another person.  Love increased the law.

I have been reading a great book by Paul Miller, on love, A Loving Life.  It talks about the cost of love.  It talks about heseh love, love in the book of Ruth.  How suffering does not guarantee love but is the place where love is born.  It talks about how love is sacrificial, expecting nothing in return.  How loving is not desiring your own happiness or wanting your own way.  How it is dying to self.  It cares more for the other person than you do yourself.  It is painful.  It is suffering.  It is death to our flesh.  But it brings much life.  Life to others and yourself.  Joy to God.  I am learning this love.  The love Jesus has for me and now, He is giving me this love for others.

Many years ago someone came into my life.  They gave to me sacrificially.  They were there to teach me and support me.  I was indeed struggling.  I latched on to them like a drowning man does to another person who is trying to save them from drowning.  The only thing is, if there is not trust (love) both people can drown by the drowning person, also pulling the other person under with them.  This is what I did, in my mind, to my friend.  We both were drowning.

They decided I was too dependent on them and they broke the relationship off.  I was, too dependent on them.  I was not learning and growing because I was going to them to meet my needs and not to the Lord.  Their separation from me left me alone and scared.  I thought I had no one.  My family nor my friends knew of my real struggles.  I hardly knew them then, myself.

I think of the story of Joseph.  Joseph was a self righteous person.  His brothers took him from their father and left him for dead.  He was all alone.  He went through abuse and slavery.  God was teaching him to depend on Him.  Molding him and breaking him.  God brought Josephs brothers back into relationship with Joseph and Joseph had become a humble man.  He saw that, what seemed to have happen for bad, God had used for good.  God had work suffering into Josephs life to do good for Joseph and his dependence and relationship with God.  Joseph learned to love others, not himself.  I believe it is God honoring for there to be reconciliation in a relationship, but this does not always happen.  It takes at least two willing people.  Joseph had let his brothers go.  He had trusted God in bringing him to the place where he was in his life and in the ways God was using him. He saw Gods faithfulness, even though he had lost the things he thought he needed and was so dear to him, his family.  It was through loosing that Joseph had gained.  Through dying that he had found life.

My friend and my relationship has not been restored.  I have let them go to God.  I have forgiven them for leaving me and I hope they have forgiven me for depending on them as I did.  You must forgive another person, no matter if they have apologized or not, for them, but also for yourself.  Bitterness and anger grows out of a heart of unforgiveness.  You feel justified for your hard heart because you have been done wrong.

You can know sound theology in your head but if it doesn't impact you life, it is not what you are practically believing.  It does not make a difference in your life.  You can know all about the gospel and repentance but if you are not giving room for yourself and repentance for others in your life you are only words.  It has not gripped your heart.  We learn love, through suffering.

I struggled with knowing what love was, back then, in several relationships, friends, family. They were idols for me.  I have worked through these struggles with others and with the Lord.  I believe that is very God glorifying when we are able to stick with someone through the hard times and learn to love others, ourselves.  But this is not always possible and we have got to be willing to be ok with that.  To trust God in the midst of the loss. To know His love is true and faithful to us.  That He is still working even when we don't understand or see.   I was closed off to others or needing them too much, demanding from God actually, that someone else meet my needs.  You cannot love someone you need in such a way.  Only God can meet the deepest needs of our heart, for love and value and worth, for purpose.  I hope my relationship is restored one day with this friend.  My heart is open to that, but I do not need them.  I see where my relationship with them was keeping me from knowing and depending on God, as hard and lonely and scary as my life was at the time.  I know what true love is now.  They were not what I needed, God was.  Since that time I have found community.  I have learned to counsel my own heart. I have learned to be open and honest about my struggles.  I have grown.  I have been pursued by God in a most radical, jealous way.  He was after my heart and was not about to let me go to others for what only He could give me.  I had to lose my life to gain it.

Jesus is our example of what true love is.  No greater love is there, than to give your life for another person.  Jesus did this.  We are to pick up our cross and follow Him.  We are to identify with His suffering in order to know Him and the power of His resurrection.  Phil 3:10-11.  That power, is the power to be different, to love as He has loved us.  To be so surrendered, with His surrender that He actually loves through us.  It is a gift, all of mercy and grace, that God would bring us into this suffering and time of learning and teach us of this, one way love.  The Father, Son and Spirit, have such a love relationship, it spilled over to us.  We are to have this same love with the three Persons of God,  receiving their love and giving it away, expecting nothing in return.  There is no greater joy.  Jesus died for the joy set before Him.  We are that joy and He shares that love, that joy, with us.  Amazing love how can it be that He my God has died for me.  Now Lord, give me the grace to die for another person.  To love as I have never loved before, sacrificially.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jesus is our Life

 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

When you believe the gospel, the Word, which is Jesus, the word of God, it changes you.  The gospel, repentance and faith is not just the way to begin the Christian life, it is the way to continue in it.

The gospel says you are complete in Him.  It says you are sanctified and justified.  It says you are righteous with the righteousness of Christ.  It says that when the Father looks at you He does not see your sin but sees the perfect record of Christ, His life.  His life is now your life.  Jesus lives in you and you are in Him.  It is His life that lives through you.  You are not your own.  Apart from Him you can do nothing.  

The gospel says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  The old has passed away.  You are a new creature in Christ.  It is Christ in you.

You may say but you don't know my sin.  No I don't but the Lord does and He says it is forgiven and remembered no more.  The gospel says we are much worse than we can ever imagine, but we are so much more loved and accepted than we could ever hope for.  We are one with Christ.  You are secure in Him.  God cannot turn away from you or it would be turning away from Himself.  He turned away, rejected Christ, that He would never, ever turn away from you.  The Son took your place.  You are loved with a tenderness of love that is beyond anything you can imagine or hoped for.  Nothing can separate you from the Love of God.  You are eternally His.  His Spirit seals it.  His Son accomplished it.  The Father chose you before the beginning of time knowing all there is to know about you.  More than you can possibly ever know about yourself.  For every one look at your sin take 10 looks at Christ.  At the cross.

The word of God has power.  Jesus is the Word of God.  Open your bible and begin reading.  Pray the Spirit will illuminate a passage for you.  Sometimes I will go to and type in a word the Spirit puts on my heart or a question I might have, with a dominate word.  Then I go to that passage and read until something stands out to me or grips my heart.  I ask the Spirit to tell me what He is wanting to show me through this scripture.  How am I to change?  How it this passage of scripture showing me how to love God and to love others?  How it is to affect my relationship with God and others.  All of scripture points to the person of Jesus.  All of scripture points to loving God and others.
Listen, wait and be willing to hear what the Spirit has for you.  Allow Gods Word through the Spirit, to speak to your heart, to build up and encourage, to guide and to convict as well as to teach and counsel.  There is no circumstance, person, relationship, situation that the Word of God does not speak to.  Listen and wait.  Be still and Know who God is and who you are.  Let it cleanse you, heal you make you whole, it is Jesus, the very Word of God.  It is God breathed.

The Spirit is our counselor.  Jesus is our shepherd.  The Word of God is able to direct our paths and counsel our hearts through His Word.  It is able to bring us to repentance and faith. There is no circumstance in our lives that His Word does not and cannot speak to.  It is relevant for every day life.  It is alive and active.

Jesus is our life.  We try to find life apart from Him but He is our life.  He gives us the acceptance, love and value that we try to find in everything but Him.  He is the way, the truth and the life.  It is through His truth of who we are and through that personal relationship that we begin to lose ourselves and find ourselves in Him all at the same time.  It is through death that we find life.  It is through loosing that we gain.  It is through despairing of ourselves that we find who we really are and we find Him.  He finds us.  It is through weakness that we find His strength made perfect in us.  It is through being honest and vulnerable about who we are that we find change.  It is through being open about our sin, that we find repentance and the righteousness of Christ.  We lean and depend and trust Him when we have come to the end of our own resources, our own strengths, our own plans, our life.  He who losses His life for my sake shall find it.  

These are the truths of the gospel that are ours as a dearly beloved child of God.  Now all we have to do is believe it.  Then we will live out of it by leaning into Christ and allowing Him to live His life through us.  We love because He first loved us.

Monday, March 17, 2014

He did it for love

Give thanks to God, His love endures forever.

When my children were little, I use to say, "all I am doing is putting our fires".  I had not time nor did I know how to engage in their little hearts.  I didn't know how to understand their feelings and fears, who they really where and who they were to become. I didn't know how to work with Jesus in molding their little hearts toward Him.  All I knew what to tell them about Him.  You can know all about someone and not have a relationship with them... All I knew how to do and did do, was meet their physical needs.  Physical needs are important.  We are physical bodies.  But this is only impart of who we truly are.

Right now I have a choice to make.  I can sit down and write to you what I think the Lord is wanting me to say to you or I can go upstairs and go through my summer clothes.  Many times when I don't write the thoughts are lost.  I know the clothes will be there in an hour.  It is important to go through my clothes but it is also important that I write.  How do I decide what to do.  How do I make my decision.

What kind of life are we leading?  What are we investing in?  Are we just doing the physical things or are we investing in peoples lives.  Are we finding time to be quiet before the Lord.  Or is the urgent blocking out the important.

Do you ever compare your life to someone else?  Do you ever think, I wish I had their life.  They seem to have it all.  They are married to a good looking person, they have obedience kids, a good marriage and a good job.  And then become dissatisfied with what you have and think I deserve more.  I want to suggest to you if someone comes across, that they have everything they are either living in a fairy tale or see their lives through rose colored glasses, maybe in denial.  If people are vulnerable and honest, they will have to tell you they have struggles.  We are promised struggles, pain and suffering in this life and none of us are immune to them.  Either we have had them or we will have them.  Suffering is no respecter of persons.  This is a fallen world and God is about working in our hearts to free us from ourselves and make us more like Jesus and it is painful.  To love is painful at times.  There is much joy to be found in love but there is also suffering, a dying to self.  A giving up what I think I need and want, what I think is best and trusting God in the midst of what is really going on.

There is a third option to life.  It is one of thanksgiving, being thankful.  When I was sick I sat on my daughters back porch all upset over something.  I cannot even remember what now.  I said Lord I am going to sit here, in your presence and I am going to be thankful.  I really couldn't think of anything at the time so I started small.  Thank you for the air I breathe.  The birds and trees, the sun and the clouds.  My thanksgiving grew and so did my heart of thankfulness and gratitude.  Giving thanks changes our heart.  It changes the heart of others.  It gives us a desire to be more than we can be.

I write a note to my husband thanking him for providing for me and our family.  He could have left me many times and didn't.  You maybe a working woman and that is fine, but I could not have, did not.  I give a card seeing in others what they might not can see in themselves.  Making their life easier in some small way.  Keeping a prayer journal, where I can give thanks for those in my life and of God faithfulness.  I wake in the morning saying, "Lord give me some small way to let others know I care and your care". The list and the ideas go on for how to bless someone.  How to make their day... in other ways, might be a struggle.  This kind of love is not for approval but for blessing.  It is others centered because you are giving them the very love of Jesus.  It is for His glory.  It is only by Him that we can love in a selfless love, one for others and not ourselves.

When my kids were small I use to try to find things they were doing right instead of pointing out things they were doing wrong.  How do you see your life and those around you?  As a project.  My friend once said a woman looks at her new husband and says, I can work with this.  Are we loving each other right where they are.  The way Jesus loves us.  There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more and nothing we can do to make Him love us less.  Do those around you feel loved and like that love is not going to go away no matter what they do?  Til death do us part?  Do they feel valued and know your love for them is unconditional?  Are you thankful?  A thankful heart breaks away the chains of grumbling and complaining.  The self pity.  The blaming shifting and pointing fingers, the keeping the list of wrongs and throwing them back at someone and caring more for yourself than others.  It crumbles self centeredness.  Do you have to always win the fight and be right.  Or are you willing to listen and learn and repent and confess and forgive?  Or do you defend and excuse you way out of arguments?  Do you get in the middle as I have done so many times or do you allow others to work through their own relationships?

Learning to love is a life long project.  It is only through understanding the love the Lord has for us and receiving that love can we begin to give it away in radical, creative and daring ways.  Ready to risk it all for love.  He did.  Jesus did and the Father did in His plan to send His Son to die for us that nearly broke the Fathers heart.  He did it for you.  He did it for me.  He did it for love.

It is through giving up myself to love...that I have learned and found out who I really am.

Friday, March 14, 2014

"Fake It Til You Make It"

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

I know what my AA friends mean when they say "Fake it til you make it", but it has a sting for me. It reminds me of who I use to be, a "Fake".  I believe we must go in faith even when we don't feel like it.  When the feeling is not there to trust, we pray Lord I believe help my unbelief.  I believe.  I am not faking it I am trusting God to do in me what I cannot do.  I am leaning on Him to bring faith when I do not have it.

There are other words that remind me of the life I once lived of "faking it", sweet, nice.  This reminds me of a time when I was sweet and nice for all the wrong reasons.  I did it to get the approval of others.  For them to like me. To keep the peace. I didn't want anyone mad at me.  I didn't want conflict. I wanted them to like me.  I had an unquenchable thirst for love and I tried to feel it with others.   I did it for me.  I didn't know what it meant to love others more than me.  I didn't know how to love if it did not benefit me.  I was at the center of my world.

The bible does not tell us to be sweet and nice but to encourage one another and be kind, gentle with each other.  These words have entirely different meanings.  Sweet and nice are to please.  Being encouraging and kind and gentle are for the benefit of others. It is a gift of the Spirit.  There is no better way to build true relationships than through honesty and being encouraging and kind and gentle.  Paul, even when he was about to tell the church hard things, he began with encouragement.  He truly loved them.  I cannot tell someone a hard truth or correct them without much labor over prayer and anguish.  They must be build up first to hear the sometimes hard truth. It is the love of God that brings us to repentance.  It also is a gift.  I must be willing that they not be pleased with me.  I am more interested in their well being than mine.  I must go to them in love.  Loving them more than me.  It is the motive of my heart that God sees.  Out of our hearts flow what we are truly believing and what we do.

When someone says I have a gentleness I know this is from the Lord.  When they say I am an encourager I know apart from Him I am not.  I remember who I use to be without His love flowing through me to others. I try to just remember and move on, because it can actually make me sick, I was so selfish, self-centered.  But we have the gifts of the Spirit of Jesus and the Father living in us.  We can love with their love in and through us.  We can wait on God to change another person but pray for them with our whole hearts, trusting God to do what we cannot do, change a heart of man.  We can trust Him to change us. He is in the heart changing business.  It all has to begin as a turning to Him, a leaning and relying on Him.  It is a relationship.  A dependency we cannot come to on our own, but is a work of His Spirit.

When I wake up in the morning.  I say, "Good morning Lord, what are we going to do today".  How do you want me to love someone.  I don't desire anymore for someone to think how great I am but how great God is.  That He can change a self centered person, self righteous person to actually love them in ways that says, I really do care about you.  God cares.

When interruptions come into my day I know it is the Lord bringing people and circumstances He wants me involved in for some reason.  To love those people.  To seek opportunities to love them with the love of Christ, Father and Spirit.  I see it as Him directing me not to frustrate my plans or me but under His direction and leading.  There are not many things that are more joyful than Jesus using you to love someone with His love.  He says when you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me.  When we love others we are actually loving Him.  It is a giving and receiving of Jesus love through others.  It is an amazing thing.  It brings Him much glory because you know apart from Him you can do nothing of any value.  You have depended on Him to bring the plan of your day around and to others.  What an opportunity He has blessed us with actually being a partner with Him in loving others with His love.

On the cross, it is said, that He endured the cross for the joy set before Him.  I believe we are that joy.  That joy of giving and receiving His love to others.  I believe when we love another person, even sacrificially it brings Him great pleasure and joy.  When we do it trusting Him to work a miracle of love in another person, to actually be Jesus to them, He is pleased.  We already have the favor and pleasure of God because of what Jesus did on the cross for us but it pleases Him when we do things trusting in Him to do what we cannot do.  Love another person apart from Him.

Even as I sit here writing about the love of God, yet I struggle with wanting just one glass of wine, I tell myself.  I told my husband, I need you.  I need you to tell me that drinking is not good for me, my relationship with you and with the Lord.  He said, "what you are saying is true".  I am reminded of how self centered and selfish addiction is.  How it is nothing but thinking of yourself.  It is totally self consumed.  There is no love for others in it.  So I pray, rescue me Lord from myself.  Help me to die to my wants and desires for the sake of my well being and the sake of others.  My body is your temple.  Help me to honor it and care for it as you care for me.  It is the prayer of Jesus to the Father for me.  Just these simple acts of reaching out to others and to God brings me much peace tonight.  He is always the answer.  Love as I have loved you.  The Father loves you as much as He loves me, His very own Son.  For that He calls you daughter.  Build me up Jesus in you.  I don't want to be selfish or fake it anymore.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Once Again, The Rescue

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.

Yesterday was a particularly hard day.  Someone I had been meeting with and had fallen in love with, who was in so much pain and struggled beyond words, left the very help that they needed, on the long journey back home.  I prayed for their return.  I prayed for their safety.  I prayed they remembered my love for them and the love of God for them.  I prayed they remember His faithfulness to them.  I pray they can survive it all and that He, our God, rescues them.

Then it seemed I went through one rejection after the other one.  As soon as I would recover from one rejection there would come another.  I prayed, "Lord I set this person free.  I forgive them".  I know that no one knew rejection like you knew rejection.  You feel my pain.  I come to you for comfort.  I knew the words in my head but my heart was hurting and there was no rescue.

I thought about the smooth taste of the wine.  How it was my best friend.  How I would go there with her night after night for solace and care and comfort.  I wanted to drink.  As bad as I have wanted anything in a long time.  I wanted to go there with her and just cry and cry.  I wanted to drown my sorrows.  I longed for the things, the lies of the bottle,  that it was promising me.  There was no one around so I made a few calls.

One friend suggested I forgive my offenders even if they did not know they had offended me.  She said,  Jesus knows and feels your pain.  He knows the pain of rejection.  Go then and enjoy God and I did.  I went out and picked some flowers.  I took one step after another.  Put one foot in front of the other.  I got out my new pillows, blew off my screened in porch where I spend many hours with others and the Lord. I placed pictures of my family under the glass on the table, remembering each one.  I said Lord I just want to be with you and enjoy you.  I had some relief and forgot the pain for awhile...Then I had to sit down again and the pain was still there.  It was so great it felt unbearable.  I saw my sin of wanting the approval of man over the blessing and already approved of, by God.  My heart felt the weight of it all and I felt all alone and again, only the bottle seemed to make any sense. What do you do when things get no better?  When the pain just won't go away?  Where do you run?  Who will rescue you?

I could feel myself spiraling.  I text another friend and told them of my struggle.  She recommended I call a friend in AA. I did.  I told her all I wanted to do was to have one glass of wine and cry.  Of course I knew that over time one glass would not be enough.  It might not be today or one year later but there would come a time when one was not enough and it would take more and more to satisfy the unquenchable thirst of the pain, on the bottle.  The forgetting would need more.  The numbing of the pain would cry for more to be sedated.   My friend told me to remember what my life was like back then, with my friend, my glass of wine.  I remembered the isolation.  I remembered the chaos it brought into my life.  That my world use to be centered around 5:00.  That I would prearrange my day so I could get alone and have my wine all to myself.  I had no life.  My depression and my drinking was consuming my every bit of energy and mind that I had.  It sucked the life from me.  This is where the addict gets stuck.  They cannot more outside the walls of their pain.  It is comfortable for them.  It is a vicious cycle to wallow in the pain and yet numb or comfort them selves, deaden the pain within them.  I took a long walk with Sarah, my sons fiancĂ©', had dinner with them and then back to do a teaching webinar with Rick Thomas on counseling.  I was faced once again with the love and care of the counsel of Jesus.

It was like a light went on. My insanity became sane.  I didn't want to go back to that life, no life.  I wanted to be with people and live and love. I didn't want to deaden the pain or isolate any more.  I wanted to give of myself and not protect myself.  I wanted to be with my real friends and not the illusion that there could be another more comforting, more safe. I wanted to be healed.  I want to point others, sick to the Great Healer, the Great Physician.

 Love is risky.  We are going to feel pain and rejection and hurt.  We are going to hurt each other.  Sometimes it is hard to love.  It requires more of us than we want to give but give we must if we are going to survive.  If we are going to play this game of life and enjoy it to the fullest.  It is a risky business.  There are times it can take all and give nothing in return.  But there is a love that expects nothing in return.  He gives and gives and gives some more.  It is as Billy Grahams grandson writes, Tullian, a One Way Love.

I woke this morning 4:30 and the steady drops of rain hitting the metal gutters of my house gave me the effects of rain on a tin roof.  I sat on my screened in porch listening to the rain and just feeling the midst in the air.  I was in His presence and had a keen sense of His love for me.  It was like He said...even if you had drank last night I would still love you.  Even if you had spiraled in the pool of pain in your rejection and didn't come out, I would still love you.  Even if you were more concerned about the approval of man instead of my approval I would still love you.  The tears running down my cheeks now seemed to match those rain drops running off the roof.  I wiped my eyes and said but I want to love you back Lord.  I feel so inadequate to love you.  Help me to receive your love so I can give it back to you.  Help me to love others, as you are giving me this love which knows no bounds.  This love that expects nothing in return.  I want to love and be well.  I want to spend this day in your presence, honoring and glorifying you throughout my day.  I need you Lord.  Thank you for your rescue and deliverance.  Thank you for your mercy and grace.  I need you now.  Fill me with your Spirit.  Help me tell others about this unbelievable love you have for me and others.  Help me to love others with your One Way Love.  I seek you now...Once again I had been rescued.  I had been saved and I would tell about it and give Him the glory for what He has done for me.

Monday, March 10, 2014

You are but a vapor...

Yet you do not know [b]what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

My not so old computer, had a drink spilt on it and I was most concerned about all my pictures that were stored on it.  I just went to the drug store with the copy of the pictures and my camera cards to see what I could do.  The copy of the pictures did not work and I seem to be missing some of my cards.  I have not had a chance or the mental strength I need to figure all this out but immediately I began reviewing all the pictures I had taken in my mind from years back.  I remembered the kids riding the cow like a horse.  Mary Kathryn in her ballet costume.  Picture after picture ran through my head wondering if and what I may have lost.

Another thing that amazed me is how those years have flown by.  The older I get the faster it seems this life is happening.  I can plan my week, thinking about and through it with the Lord, what should I be intentional about, and then the week is gone.  I wake up Monday morning looking to the schedule I have laid out for the week and before I know it, it is Sunday again.  Have you heard the expression...time "Flies" when you are having fun.

I don't know if because somewhere in my mind I feel like I wasted so much of my life in either legalism or depression, but I feel like every moment is precious and it needs to count for something.  What I have come to realize that all this counts.  That all the suffering and even time spent doing the right thing with the wrong heart mattered to Him.  That all the years in depression mattered.  Even then I was in a journey with the Lord.  Even in the desert He was there and none of it is wasted.  I have come to see that He was with me all along.  That every moment is valuable to Him.  That He uses it for purpose and cause.  He had a plan and it all was part of that plan to bring me to a point of trusting Him and not in myself.  I don't live in regret anymore because He has taken it all to the cross.  He promises to redeem my past and for those I love who are called according to His purpose.  To use it all for good and He has and is.

So we maybe but a breath, a vapor but we too are important. So valuable He sent His only Son to get us, rescue us and bring us into His own.  We are valuable and all of life matters. Our lives are but a vapor, they are so short in the scheme of eternity.  A thousand years is like one day to the Lord.  We have but this one shot to trust Him in this life. This one shot at learning to live and walk by faith and not by sight.  It is fleeting.  It is but a moment.  May we live life to the fullest in laughter and silliness and cuteness, masterfully and with much wisdom that only He can impart.

There is no way to stress grace too much.  Our lives are all of grace.  If we think that it is an excuse to sin or to cause pain we don't understand grace.  We don't understand the Love of God for us.  It is amazing to me how patience He is with us.  He is bringing us to a place of life and enjoyment of Him and others.  Even in the hardest of time we can say "I trust you Lord".  What ever happens, whatever the outcome maybe, "I trust you".  The feelings may not be there at that time but He is able to bring us to a point of dependence and leaning on Him for the very breath we breathe, the life we live, the peace and joy we experience.  He is our very hope, Savior and Lord.  

Apart from Him our sorrows and suffering would leave us hopeless.  Our past would leave us in regret and depression.  It did me. We would be so fearful of tomorrow we could not go on.  But He rescues us and brings us out of the pit to understand what I cannot understand on my own.  We are to live in the present, in the moment.  We just have enough grace for when it is needed, when we need it.  It will not be there to make us feel good like we can conquer the world.  That would be self reliance.  We are not to live in the regret of yesterday or the fear of tomorrow but today in Love.  His love, today.  He will do in us the things we just cannot do on our own.  He will teach us to love in daring, bold, colorful, exciting and fearless ways.  We will be intentional in the lives of those around us and wait on Him to tell us what to say.  He is purposeful and deliberate.  We are to do it in faith trusting Him with the outcome. He is our reason for living.  He is life.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Music of the Gospel

About 25 years ago I became acutely aware that repentance and faith needed to become a part of my everyday life.  That it was not just to begin the Christian walk of life but it was to carry me through.

I was miserable.  I went to talk to a friend of my pastor relative who had helped other young women and my pastor and his wife,  had hopes she too could help me.  I sat with her for over an hour explaining what a hard life I had.  How I wanted what God wanted...a good marriage and good kids and no one was cooperating me with me.  I was wrung out and I wanted someone to make everyone else get with the program.

After this hour, or so, she told me I had sin in my heart.  Not with a lot of compassion but with a smile and I crumbled and crashed.  Quickly getting myself together I left.  As I drove home with tears streaming down my face I said Lord, help.  Her words of, you have bitterness, resentment and anger in your heart was in the back of my mind but what was in the forefront was who is going to help me.  There is no one to help me.  What am I going to do.  I came to the end of myself.  The sweet Spirit showed me how I was angry I was not getting my way and even though I thought my way was indeed Gods way, because it was a good thing, maybe it wasn't what he was up to at all.  I didn't know it then but He was getting my sweet surrender.  Not my way oh Lord, but yours.

Why do we think if what we want is a good thing that it is necessarily what God wants.  He may ultimately want that and He has given me a wonderful marriage and children since then, but He may not have done this.  Then what?  Would I trust Him still?  But the change had to come in and through Jesus not me.  The change was to me not my family.  I had to be humbled and broken and this was not just for this was to be a daily occurrence in my life.  Repentance.  Repentance is a turning from independence, looking and depending on me to a dependence and looking to Christ and His grace.  We think it is to change.  It is simply to change a direction from independence to dependence on God.  There we have opportunity to change because we are in the presence of God.  That is where we are changed.  We cannot change ourselves but we can cooperate with what God is doing in and through us.

Yesterday I split my medicine and I was drugged all over.  I was angry at God.  I lashed out at Him.  I would not recommend it but being honest before God is a good thing.  He can handle our anger.  I felt His gentle love caress my heart.  His soothingly love wipe my tears.  And I had hope.  I said Lord I cannot live like this.  I cannot function.  I know you will not leave me like this but rescue me.

Then I said...Lord if it is your will that I be this weak for the rest of my life I trust you.  If it takes this for me to be dependent on you so be it.  My heart was changed.  I did get strength but I may not have. The question was..."did I trust Him".

There was an argument in my family.  My natural response is to get into the middle. To fix and rescue.  I did at first.  Then I said a few words of life and love and I prayed.  Lord I lift them to you.  I don't know how this is to end but you have us all in a process of trusting you more. Of making us more like your Son.  I lift my loved ones to you.  I get out of the middle and I put you in the middle.  I trust you now.

Learning to live a life of repentance and faith has been a process for me.  The first time I confessed my sin was hard.  Now I know the way back home, like the Prodigal son and now it is easier for me.  I have been broken many times over and over again.  I want a teachable, pliable heart that listens to the direction and leading of the Spirit.  That drinks in the abundance of grace and mercy over and over. My conscience needs the constant rain and my heart needs the constant rain of the love of God to bring me to repentance.

There is no other place where there is true peace and joy but in a returning, a tuning toward and in the presence of God and His love and grace.  We do not stay there.  It is a stripping us of our independence and self reliance.  It is where we are one with our Savior and Lord.  It is a dance.  A love relationship.  It becomes stronger and stronger the more we follow into His steps and leading.  It is a beautiful thing when we hear the music of the gospel.

Now I begin my day in the deliberate surrender.  I say Lord I begin this day in sweet surrender and dependence on you.  I plan my day under your direction.  But I hold it loosely.  I expect interruptions.  I expect to be surprised by your grace and Love and He gently nudges me when I am going my own way and depending and leaning and relying on me and not Him.  It is a sweet aroma, fragrance of the gospel of Grace.  It is a learning to receive all He has for me in my day and being open to change it at any moment. It is waiting for the rescue.  Waiting for the peace.  It is being lead by His Spirit and not my own self will.  It is a flower after a long hard Winter.  It is a rest and peace beyond anything I can muster up.  It is a love...It is a way when I see no way.  It is a hope when I have lost all hope. It is a kindness and gentleness and wisdom when I have none.  It is from fear to freedom.  It is from independence to dependence on Him.   It is where His power is made perfect in my weakness.  It is an answer to all my questions.  It is Him.  It is the music of the gospel.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Physical Affects The Spiritual

For over two months now my doctor has been cutting back my old medicine of 17 years and putting me on a new one.  The old one just had too many side effects and it was taking more and more to keep the voices at bay.  My teeth are warn through the enamel on the bottom from the sawing motion of my lower jaw which we hope is a temporary side effect from the old med we hope will go away when stopped.  It can be permanent.

What this has meant is the overlapping of the medicines, the old and the new.  I have been severely sedated especially in the mornings.  After taking the med at bed time I was having about a 13 hour sleep and then drugged until they wore off during the afternoon, 16 to 18 hrs later.

I went on the internet today and realized the meds can be taken at two times during the day instead of just once at bed time.  So I pray and ask you to pray this helps.  I only lack one cut back of the old medicine and should be doing better.

The other day I had sat down with the Lord and made my little to do list for the day.  I had gotten through with it and it was about noon.  I had realized that I would become fearful or anxious when I didn't know what to do next.  I stopped this day and prayed.  Lord I know my value and worth does not depend on what I do.  That I am very valuable to you because of your love, Jesus love and death on the cross for me.  But at that moment I felt very vulnerable, insecure, fragile.  I felt lost.  I was not knowing who I was.  I was searching for some kind of significance or purpose.  I said whether I do another thing today I am valuable in you.  I can just sit here and enjoy you and be just as valuable as if I had accomplished something great.  I ended up having a very good day.

I read a book many years ago, Search for Significance.  I don't remember a lot of specifics about the book.  Just that it made a tremendous impact in my life.  Since then I have read and studied the implications of knowing who you are in Christ.  The importance of knowing Gods love for you in sending His Son and the masterful value of the plan of redemption for us Gods child.  Our inheritance   and what it means to us that Christ died for us.

We search for value and worth throughout our day in many ways.  We feel valuable if we have children that have pain free successful lives.  If we are married or have happy marriages.  If we are successful in our work.  If we have possessions, clean houses, look pretty or handsome.  If we are intelligent or know our theology or have a successful ministry.  If we are good at our hobbies and have lots of them.  If we have life all together, then we feel like we can fix others and disciple them and we will feel worthy when we get them to where we want them, through us.  We are just trying to fix ourselves.  We are trying to find life ourselves.

But to know that my value is in Christ and His death for me.  That I am loved, cherished and adored.  That nothing I can do can make Him love me any less or make Him love me any more.  To know that He even sees my failures and sins as opportunity for Him to be glorified in and through me.  That I might could speak more into someones life by a humble heart of asking forgiveness rather than getting it right.  That to forgive others for the wrong they have done us because nothing they can do to us is half as bad as that day on Calvary where I shamed, scorned, horrified, and humiliated Christ plus He suffered all my sin, shame, suffering and pain on that day for me.  How can I not ask for forgiveness if He has so graciously and mercifully forgiven me?  How can I not forgive others after what I did to Jesus?

When Christ was crucified on that cross He said it is finished.  That means that when the Father looks at me He sees me already like Jesus.  He sees Jesus perfect record and sacrifice.  He sees all my sins forgiven as far as from the east is to the west, past, present and future my sins are forgiven.  I am loved.  I believe not only that but that the Father chooses to forget my sins because they are paid for in full.  It is a debt I owe that Jesus has marked paid in full.  So I can have hope.  Hope for life and change in me and others.  No, there is not promises for a pain free life but He does promise none of it is wasted.  He promises to make me like His Son and give me an abundant life.

So I can live freely now.  I can smile on tomorrow and laugh throughout my day.

Not needing to succeed or accomplish or have acceptance or love from others to meet my needs but to give freely.  To have compassion for others.  To carry their burdens but not feel responsible for their change but give them truth and love.  You cannot have love without truth or truth without love.  You must have both.  But the big thing is we must have faith.  Faith that God is enough.  This is a growing, continuing faith.  We will not fully know it this side of heaven for God to completely meet our needs.  But this is one reason I am doing Lent.  Or why Jesus is doing it for me.  I am giving up, through grace, to cut out my need for something and looking to Him to meet that need.  We can do this through the physical and it actually affects us Spiritual.  I am finding out how being weak physically does effect us Spiritual because we rely on our own strength, even physical to cope instead of relying and depending on Him.  We are body, mind, soul and Spirit.  I don't understand it all but I know one part effects all other parts.  When we are sick in body and mind it affects our thinking and our hearts.  It affects us Spiritually.  This is why the Saints and Monks of old use to deprive their bodies to grow Spiritually.  We are to rely on Christ in it all.  But we have a weak faith but Jesus had a strong faith for us.  It is His faith we look to.  It is to Him.  We come with empty hands.  The question is what are we holding on to?  Many things I want to suggest.  He is prying our hands open and releasing them one by one and filling them with the Jesus inside us.  With faith.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

It Just Has To Be Enough

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I haven't done this, given up something for Lent in years. I decided I wanted to have this time to prepare for Easter so I would begin.

I was undecided about two things I wanted to give up. I just realized I have failed in them both. One, the smoking thing I was very conscience of the other eating sweets, I just popped a chocolate ball in my mouth without even thinking of Jesus.

But He met me today. He met me in realizing I still struggle with accepting He is sovereign over my life. That He has done me good in the life He has so graciously given me with all the pain and suffering combined and rolled into one and that I can trust Him. I don't have to figure my whole life out...why things happened the way they did. I can just have a child like trust and go forward and even rest. Rest in His finished work for me.

So as far as Lent...I think it is something Jesus is going to have to do for me. Not me do to show Him how much I love Him. Not me to get more of Him. I already have all of Him. He already loves me unconditionally and without flaw or blemish but perfect beauty. He knows how much I love Him and He has forgiven me my sin and given me eternal life in Him. He has even given me abundant life now. Not that I am living it all or understand it all. I am but a little child learning to toddle along with my first steps of faith, of really trusting in a loving God who sent His Son to die for me. Without reservation or hesitation or mistake. He did it both Father and Son did it willingly and even when I blow it He is not disappointed or sorry but using it all for good. I don't understand all this to the fullest measure. I don't know if we do in this life. But He is faithful and will finish the good work He has begun in me.

So tonight I begin Lent in repentance and faith. In humbly bringing my broken heart to Him and asking Him to fill me, heal me and show me more of Himself than I have ever known before of His grace and mercy this Lent Season. Anything that He chooses to free me of to be more like Him, to receive what He has for me I will gladly give. But tonight, this first day of Lent what I give to Him is my heart, my trust and my love as broken and fallen as it is. Just as I am I come without one plea but that Jesus has died for me. I just know it has to be enough.

These Pictures made me smile tonight.  Thanks for letting me share...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What Makes You Smile! :)

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.

What makes you smile?  Maybe a gentle answer, a touch, a kind word?  What if you don't get the things you think you need to make you happy?  Did you know it is impossible to love someone who you think you need to make you happy?  It is impossible to worship God for who He is when you are looking to other things to give you what only He can do?  Meet the deepest need of your heart.

This morning after 13 hours of sleep and still drugged I found myself beginning to slide into the spiral of self pity and disgust.  For weeks and weeks now my doctor has been taking me off my old medication and placing me on another one.  I slept until noon today and couldn't hardly walk when I got up so I had to lay down even longer until the medication had worn down.  My temper was short and I began to feel sorry for myself.  

A friend called and we talked.  She was a God send and His rescue for me.  It is not a long term solution to think of others worse than you for self pity.  It is deadly to compare yourself because you can always think of those who are worse than you or better than you.  What is life giving is to be thankful for what you do have.  To pray to God and to think on the things of heaven and what He has in store for you.  Who you are in Him.  The truths God has set before us in His word.

The reason comparing and thinking of those who maybe worse off, is no cure for the spiral of death, is because God has ordain and sovereignly place the suffering in your life to kill you. To kill your flesh so therefore your suffering is painful especially for you. Your cross to bare is designed for your personality, heart and life, to put you to death to have life in Him. To bring Him glory through you. What maybe suffering for one man, may not be suffering for another.  But it do not compare.  But give thanks.  Think on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure and lovely, commendable.  If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  

You may know all the right bible verses but until they have impacted the way you live, your heart it does not matter.  We are "to go to God" to do for us what we cannot do. To trust Him with where we are and what He is doing in our lives and the lives of others. We are human and life is hard but God is so very Good and He wants us to have His mind and know His goodness, mercy, grace and truth in our very heart of hearts.  He wants us to know peace and joy in Him and not our circumstances or other people.  The only way we know if we "believe" this is true "for us" is by the way it impacts our minds and hearts and life for Him and for others.

I went to see my dear friend Mary Kate, yesterday.  MK has been in a wheelchair all her life and has was born with cerebral palsy.  Her mind is good, very good but what is great is her smile.  Her dad said Mary Kate leads with a smile.

She loved the cotton candy and chocolate I took her.  It made us both smile.  She gave me chocolates and a dish scrubber I love.  But the greatest gift she gave me was her smile.

I have known Mary Kate most of her life and have never seen her without a smile.

This is how Mary Kate communicates to the world.  With her computer and head device.  She also has a machine that talks for her with her head device.

She goes to a trade and works every day through the week.  She is an amazing woman who looks on life with a smile.  Her family is amazing.  They talked about the whole world that opened up for them when they could communicate with MK through this device on her head and the talking machine. They were so very thankful.  She and I write on fb.  She is one of my best writing friends there.

To live a life of joy, peace and contentment our eyes must get off ourselves onto the things of God.  On to what He wants to do through us in the lives of others. How He wants us to enjoy Him and others.  Our lives becomes one of thankfulness and not of grumbling and complaining.  But when this does happen, remember the truth and go to him.  He is able to work miracles in our hearts when we cry out to Him and are honest with Him about where we are and what is going on in our hearts.  That is where He gets the glory in and through us because we are depending on Him and not ourselves.  Apart from Him we spiral.  In Him, we have life.

Let me leave you with some closing thoughts...what makes you smile?  I was in Walmart looking for Mary Kate some cotton candy and this older lady stepped in front of me and said "smile you are on Candid Camera".  I told her I was so upset I couldn't find candy for my friend.  But then I thought what is the everyday look on my face.  Overall positive emotions can add up to 7 years to your life they say. My husband said the other day to me "smile"!  Don't you think the Lord is telling me something lol.  I want to smile into tomorrow because I trust God and what He not only has done but is doing. God is bringing Himself glory through our suffering.  This is important to realize. I want to laugh more, have more joy and have a smile that leads my day, that leads my way! Smile! :)