Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Rich Young Ruler and Grace

For sometime now, I can't get the true story, of the Rich Young Ruler off my mind.  I have read sermons and talked to friends.  I took from different parts of scripture and their meanings to try to find meaning to this one.

At first glance at this story, where the young man ask Jesus what must he do to inherit heaven, it appears Jesus is telling him he must do more.  He must earn heaven.  The young man says he kept all the laws... but he knew there was a void in his life, or he would not have been asking.  He knew there was more to it than keeping the laws and he knew Jesus could help him.

The story says that Jesus loved him.  He told the young man to sell all he had and give it to the poor.  Jesus was showing the young ruler how short he came to the perfection the law demands.  That the only one who gave it all, died on a tree and that was Jesus.  Jesus was pointing the young ruler to Himself in many ways.  He was the perfect life the young man could not keep that he needed to go to heaven and he could not and had not attained it.  Jesus knew what he had done was good in keeping the laws of God but his heart was far from Him. Jesus knew His treasure was not in Jesus but in His riches. That he did not love Jesus nor people.   Jesus told the disciples how utterly impossible it was for a rich man to enter heaven.  This is because the religious thought if you were rich it was because you deserved it and meant you were blessed by God.  The young man was faced with both..he didn't deserve it and him keeping the law would not send him to heaven.  Jesus then said with God all things are possible.

He knew Gods judgement but He didn't know His grace.  He lived by religion not faith.

His treasure was what he found comfort, his identity and security in. Maybe even pleasure and joy.  It was not in selling all he had and giving to the poor that was going to save him.  It was in loving and trusting that Jesus paid for His sin.  When he saw this love that God had for him in sending His Son maybe he would indeed love Jesus and want to serve others more than himself.  Maybe he wouldn't leave Jesus and others in sadness.  Maybe he wouldn't walk away.  Maybe he would accept the forgiveness of Jesus and the life He had given Him and he would be changed.  I think the young ruler felt rejected rather than loved by Jesus because he did not know him.   He was looking to measure up and he knew he didn't.

When we are His, we have a life of surrender over and over to Him, the things we go to find life instead of Him.

I wondered why this story kept coming to my mind.  I saw today from many of my friends that grace is real.  That we do not deserve this gift of salvation of grace.  I have known this for the last twenty years and to read scripture or to live contrary to this grace by faith is for my heart to be far away from God.  Today I saw I am the Rich Young Ruler.  I have not wanted to let go of the good things in my life in order to follow Jesus.  My heart has not fully been His as I cling to my comfort and security of what seems familiar and secure.  I think I have been right and that I deserve a better life than what God has given me.  That I do not deserve to suffer.  I have not lived in the forgiveness of Jesus but when confronted with my sin from God and others I run away.  I focused on  myself more than what I can do for others. I did not want to risk being hurt and in a situation that I could not control.   I was consumed with fear of rejection, guilt and shame seeking life in many things, good things, other than in Jesus.

I have been fearful of change and to change.  

When you understand the gospel your heart is secure in Jesus.  I worshiped Him, went to church, studied His word, even experienced the presence of God by His Spirit but my heart was far away.  To live in such fear is not admitting that Jesus can be trusted with you, your life and others.  In mental illness these fears are so magnified that you cannot ignore them.  I believe this is the only way I could see my lack of love for God and others because I can be such a good girl.  Even my mental health has not humbled me but good friends, good teaching and the Spirit of God.

Is grace really real and is Jesus enough?

 I praise Him that He has not left me alone.  That my friends have not left me alone, even though I walked away sad and alone.  To be honest I have not worked through all these truths.  I know them in my head but my heart has not experience it, so would you pray for me?  I am still looking at me to fulfill the law of God.  I don't think Jesus left the Young Ruler alone either.

I see it now.  Just that quick.  I see Him

Monday, August 24, 2015

My mom was Jesus to me.

Something my daughter said to me this morning, made these thoughts run through my heart and mind about my own mom.  My mom won't hear these thoughts, I am having about her now, because she has gone home, really home, to be with Jesus.  Maybe one day I will tell her, or maybe she just already knows.

I remember as a child, being so angry with her, I sat on our back porch steps blessing her out.  I found out years later, in confessing this to her that she was watching me from a nearby window.

I remember the day my dad had to shoot my dog.  I rode off from the house crying my heart out only to return to my mom and hearing her is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

I remember a man being at our house.  My mom thought he was going to hurt me in some way.  She took a shot gun and ran him off.

I remember her telling me she wanted to be my friend like my girlfriends mom.  I said I need you to be my mom.

I remember not going home, like I should and her standing at the doorway waving goodbye with tears in her eyes, never demanding anything of me.

I remember taking money from her once and telling her years later, only to hear she knew it.

I remember writing her letters and leaving them under my bed.  She never mentioned them to me but they were always gone when I would return.

I remember how she always knew what was going on inside me even when I didn't share.

I remember when she was sick and I stayed with her for nights and days until I was exhausted.  I left my mom and her response still is with me.  They would not take her off life support but my sister says that is when my mom died inside.  My counselors said I kept her hanging on and it was a good thing I left her for her.

There have been years I have grieved and regretted so much with my mom and how I loved her.  But one thing I know, even though imperfect she did know I loved her.

I remember the chocolate cakes and pies she would have when I returned home from school.  How we watched soap operas and how I would warm my feet in the mornings for school over the floor furnace as she made breakfast.

I remember her trying to curl my hair with bobby pins and the hats and gloves I would wear.  Then years later when I was the one who did her hair.

I remember her becoming my best friend.  She found such pleasure in my success and pain in my defeats, although I really don't think she ever saw them.  I was always a success to her.

She was so beautiful to me.  I remember how she always looked her best.  Hand bags and purses to match.

I remember tasting the wines at the local grocery store and going home and cooking steaks with dad, laughing all the way.

I remember praying and reading scripture with her and talking about Jesus love for her.

I remember as she would play games with the kids and loved them being home and how they would laugh together.

I remember the holidays and the bowl games that we all shared.

I remember the talks we would have about her childhood and eating biscuits and syrup because their were nothing else.  How the state tried to take my grandmothers children from her because she had no money.

I remember my moms strength but her humility and her weakness.

I remember her funeral, when there were many stories about what my mom had done for others and no one ever knew.

My mom was Jesus to me.  She was the first taste I had at unconditional love.  She didn't teach me much about the bible she lived it.  She raised me to be in church, to love God and love others.  She was the most sacrificial person I have ever known.  I hated it when she suffered and loved it when she would laugh.  She was the most influential person in my life in giving me a love for Jesus that keeps me pressing on and sharing His love for me.  I know Him because I knew her.  I know His forgiveness because she thought there was nothing to forgive.  She just loved me.

So as the tears flow and stream down my cheeks, I don't even really know why I wrote this but for you and for me and for my own children.   For the love of my mom to keep making a difference in friends and parents lives.  Our children are who we live in front of them.  My mom did not know theology but she knew Jesus.  She knew love and she knew me and loved me at my worse.  So men, hang on to your wife,  Moms hang on to your kids, Friends hang on to each other, God is not done.  Keep hope and love and charity alive in your lives.  There will come a day when we will all share and rejoice over each other and Gods love for us.  All suffering and pain and tears will be gone.  But until that day, may we be Jesus to those we love and in our everydays...Thank you for giving me my mom Lord, to love me and give me somethings that nothing can take away.  The love of a mother.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tell me Jesus, your grace is enough

2 Cor. 12:8-9
 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 
9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.I have a very analytical mind.  Yet to be analytical, I did not understand what this meant, but I felt in my heart it was wrong.  I just did not know why...

My emotions were caring me away.  I was over analyzing.  The meds had been cut back because I was doing so well.  I was careless with my supplements missing some and running out of others.  The depression grew as weeks had gone by.  I would not up my meds but would handle this.  The messages that hovered over my conscience from the world and even the uneducated church, pressed in the feelings of guilt and condemnation.  

Without me even realizing these beliefs were dictating my world and my mind.If I just understood my sin more.  If my circumstances got better, then I would not struggle but they are great and I do and I am struggling, bad.  I fall into self pity.  I am self absorbed.  My fears run wild. If only my mind were more fixed on Jesus and others, things would be ok. If I were closer and trusted Him more,  I would be healed.  If I got out daily, made myself walk, eat right, stayed in touch with friends and talked to family, made myself go to church that I love, then...I knew all the answers.  

I cried out to God for a rescue and he did over and over, but for me only to plumb again and again.  I made myself do what I could not do, depending on the power of Christ in the Spirit.  I was vulnerable to the wise and disciplined my mind and even encouraged others.  I would sense a little relief for awhile but nothing lasting.I didn't want to dump on my friends.  They had their own struggles.  No one wants to hear from a sad person when they themselves are sad.  So I bottled it up and put a lid on it to only explode in due time.  I wanted to shout, how are you?  Fine?  Great.  I am not fine.. but I knew there was nothing this would solved. I wondered, do people even know how to handle me?   I knew there were those who really suffered and had a great attitude, what was wrong with me?  Why can't I.  I would beat myself up and spiral again, of course.  

Comparing to feel better about yourself is never a good idea.  You will always come up short.I began to be grateful for the breath from my lungs, the sense of smell from my nose, the taste of my mouth, and ears that hear.  For the trees and the clouds that gathered above their heads.  I broke and called my doc.  I upped my meds.  I ordered my supplements and I prayed.  There was the pull to self medicate with a glass of wine but that would only make me fall deeper into this pit, I already could not crawl out.So I can't analyze, fix or cure my way out of this.  I may struggle with depression my whole like.  

But is God good?  Yes!  I may suffer from rejection and acceptance and fear of man but can I trust Jesus is enough.  Yes.  That even in my mess, He loves me and covers me.  Can He be sufficient for me even in my brokenness?  Can His grace be all I need or want?  Tell me Jesus, show me how.I ask myself what is God doing?  He is teaching to deal with rejection and that His acceptance is all I need.  To please Him is my hearts desire. I do please Him by trusting in Jesus.  I do please Him, being in Christ.  He is teaching me not to harden my heart or run from pain but let Him comfort me.  He is teaching me to not let my emotions drive my actions or my faith.  That He commands emotions that are good and a blessing to be, to be joyful and grateful and have hope. I am to let my emotions drive me to Him. To drink in the goodness of Him and His Word.   My circumstances good or bad do not control my peace and joy but my relationship in trusting Him does.  That I may have depression the rest of my life but He is with me through and in it all.  I am learning to embrace my weakness and fully receive this life God has for me to know and depend on Him.

I was able to tell my doctor that I was doing really well, when he called.  I explained Jesus and the means of Grace that He had given me. My peace flowed from within like a river.  I have had a good teacher and friends and family who love and care for me.  God really is our Rescuer and Redeemer.  We really do have all we need for life and godliness.  His grace truly is enough.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

I just wantta be me!

Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

I just wantta be me, how about you?  Are you confused, floundering, feel as you are wasting your time or too busy to breathe, much less be used by God?

Who are you?  Do you know who you really are?  Do you like yourself?  Do you know God likes you too?

Grab a cup of coffee.  Pretend you are at the farm, Ford Farms, on my porch with me.  Sit back and lets talk.  Lets talk about you and God and who you want to be.

Not too long ago a friend, her name is Julie,  told me, in the most kindest of words, I am not happy with who I am.  I have been thinking a lot about this statement, she made to me.  At first I put myself down...I am not lovable.  Poor me, no body is there for me.  No one loves me.  Look what a mess I am.  The whispers of my seared consciousness poured through my mind.  They say the most beautiful of women, when they look in the mirror, she sees flaws.  I spiraled and felt angry at others and felt sorry for myself.  My self righteousness in pity grew.  This was not of God, but from the enemy.  Satan was trying to strip me of my faith.  Of believing God has been faithful to me and that He is good and loving.  That He is for me and on my side.  That He is always at work in me, making me more like His Son, Jesus.  That people have been there for me in more ways than I can count.  I am dearly and unconditionally loved by more people than I can count.  They encourage me and pray for me and have been a better friend than I will ever be.

Tim Keller said something like this...humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.  I was consumed with self.  But God did an amazing thing and I want to tell you about it.

In grade school, I always wanted to be the most liked and maybe I was, by the titles I held.  Someone on fb said recently, we can't all be the queen but you can sit on the curb and wave as I pass by.  I have always wanted to be queen.  I have wanted to lead a huge ministry and speak to hundreds, ok thousands of women, in a football stadium. I wanted to write books and sign autographs at a Christian book store and speak in churches.  I had convinced myself that this was for Gods glory,  but it was not.  I can see this now.  I loved the stage and wanted to be the center of it.  Very humbling for the Spirit to show me such things this morning as I sit in the quiet with Him.  My friends voted me as their queen, but the most fun thing they did for me was vote me for cheerleader.  I love to cheer people on.  That is who I am.

Over the years, I have done many of these things, I wanted to do.  I was not happy in these things. I did it to be loved and accepted by others.  It is not my gift.  I am an encourager and for the first time in my life, I am comfortable with the gifts the Lord has given me.  I have a place and a purpose in the kingdom and it is tailored for me and the building up of His body.  I am not a leader and I am not a follower of man.  I am an encourager of him.  I see the uniqueness and beauty of this gift, as are all of Gods gifts.  I cannot handle the limelight or the spotlight.  I am too proud of a person.  Those who are first shall be last and those who are last shall be first.  I don't think I am either.  I just want to be with Him.  I have had a life to make me dependent and not self reliant and this is where I want to be.  God knows this about me.  He has given me this desire and he is pleased in it for me and His glory.  He likes me and you, "alot."

You are unique and special.  You are created in the image of God.  You are His most prized of all the creation.  You are created to reflect His glory and be in His likeness.  ONE DAY YOU WILL BE ON DISPLAY FOR ALL OF HEAVEN TO SEE, JUST HOW HE HAS LOVED YOU AND HOW GREAT AND CREATIVE HE IS.  You have purpose and He has a plan.  Are you all in?

So the first time in my life, I have seen my whole life, as God getting me into a position of serving and usefulness in the kingdom.  I am comfortable with who I am and I am enjoying living that out.  It is my special place.  I encourage leaders, men and their wives,  those with brain disorders,  to the lady at walmart that has worked all night.  The mom who has struggled to have strength and mind to go on.  The husband, who is beaten down by this world.  I am an encourager.  God has taken me out of the prison of what I thought was my comfort and security into a place that I am secure in Him and comfortable in risk taking, I could jump for joy.  I just want to giggle.

So, I want to encourage you.  You have a special gift.  It is who you are created to be.  God has been preparing you for the good works he prepared before time, now lets walk in them. Talk to a friend.  Pray about it.   Find out what your gifting is.  I am so happy to be here.  I see the weakness in people and this is where I seek to build them up in the faith.  I see their strengths and help them see them too.  I know who they are in Christ and try to assist God in moving them to a place of freedom.  My heart seeks out the lowly and the depressed and those who just can't go on, to those who just need an encouraging word.

We all are meant to be an encourager.  I am not alone in this. Encouragement is God breathed.  It is the very breath of God to another.   Encouragement changes people, not people evaluation and critique.  It can be, that one of the hardest places to encourage, is in our own homes and family.  We  give the same encouragement we see we are given by Jesus.  We are not to motivate by fear or guilt but by encouragement.  Seek to encourage those in your life today, wherever you are or whomever you come in contact with.  You can learn and grow in becoming an encourager.  It comes easier for some than for others.  I began, out of a lack rather than a fullness.  I needed encouragement, so I encouraged.  Now I am doing it out of my fullness, out of my giftedness, out of grace.  I have learned much from my friend Brenda.  She gives little, special gifts and notes especially with others in mind.  I love doing this.  She always encourages me.

So my word to you today, Gods word I believe is... learn to love who you are.  Not your flaws, but see how God has used your weakness to gift you.  Serve Him and others with the joy within your soul, that tickles you pink.  Jesus came to serve, not to be served.  It will be one of the most fun times of your life.  You will join hands with Jesus and the Spirit in serving and loving others.  In helping them be the most they can be.  In helping them find out who they really are, redeemed. I am not saying we don't want to continually change but we are finding our deepest longings in Gods world. We don't earn Gods love by working for Him but He gives us work to do because He loves us.  This is where we are happiest, in enjoying Him and giving Him all the credit due Him.  We are in the brilliance of Christ.  His glow shines through us, His glory.  It is in the fullness of Him that we are most joyful and most letting Him live through us.  It may not be a life you chose, but it is a life better than that.  Much better.  I have been at the very top, as a wife of the nations most success coach, at one time,  to the bottom, behind locked doors of a mental hospital.  Neither was who I am designed to be. It is not my identity.  It was just part of my journey, to become who I am, a christian, a wife, a mother, a friend and an encourager.  I am my parents daughter.  I am a child of the King, sent out to encourage the world.  Now,  I just wanta be me.  Christ came to give us life and life abundant.  What motivates, encourages and sustains me is Gods love for me, shown in Jesus.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Better than I deserve

It is dark, dark as night.  The lightening burst forth as to fracture the sky with no limits and no bounds.  Sounds of thunder, came as a domino fall and the winds blew.  Suddenly rain breezes through my way and it sprinkles upon my face as I sit in the moment. Even the trees and it's leaves clap at the performance around and about them.  Not wanting to miss this of creation responding to itself, responding to God.  If I could but take this moment in and not let it go, but it would, but slip through my existence and experience as the rain might through my fingers.  It was being in the present, in the presence of God Himself as His Spirit blew where it will.  I breathed in, Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me, and I exhale, Father, Spirit and again and again.  Time in silent prayer that moves me and my soul.

I reflect in a glance the happenings of the week.  It began so normal, well for someone not normal.  I planned my days with easy and excitement of what was to unfold and what the days were to hold.  Time with friends, near and far, old and new.  There was plenty of room for God to bring in what He may, but what He brought, caught me off guard, again.  Then it began to unravel.

The circumstances seemed too hard this time.  I could not breathe.  I was weak and lifeless and His words came to mind.  Be anxious for nothing but in thanksgiving make your request known to your Father who loves you and I did.  I went through the list like a well rehearsed song.  Listing the request off my mind, the struggle in the relationship, the concern over the child, the fear of relapse and even physical pain that had been like a constant dull ache.  Oh and there were other circumstances I could not control, that came as a surprise.  I don't want to stuff these matters, but give them to you, God.  I had a desperate grief of sin and the effects of it, of the disconnect of us all.  All I could do was groan inside for redemption with the world.

You tell me, you will take my anxious thoughts and worries and my burdens will be light.  I need a Rescuer and a Savior.  I need someone, God, only God, who can change this troubled heart and He did.  Throughout that day over and over, the repeat of the same, again and again.  Does He tire of me?  Why can't my faith last?  Why does the peace wash over me like a river going out to sea?

Day after day, the tears poured, that I hadn't shed in years.  The lowering of the meds helped me feel the anxiousness of my weary soul and body. It allowed the tears to come.  I was tired. Tired of my own sinful ways.  I was tired of trying to fix things and make my life work. Tired of trying to let others fix me.  Tired of not measuring up and failing.   Tired of fighting the enemy and trying to stay well.  Was it really all up to me.  If I turned loose, could I really trust God with it all.  What if I didn't resonate with what He might do?  Would it be all for nothing?  My efforts?  My plans?  Had I been this much of a controller?  It came to me, he who tries to save his life will lose it, but he who looses his life for my sake, will find it.

Days later, as schedules had gotten interrupted and changed, I began to get a glimpse of His faithfulness in it all.  Where days earlier, there seemed to be nothing but rejection and no one around and the pain of it all and now blessing of community, family and friends, loving me in ways, I know I do not deserve.  Even my prayers of change in me, I could see creeping into reality unexpectedly through relationships and time spent over meals and coming together with conversation and laughter and questions and even a few answers, with those I love.  The very things that use to drain me were now giving me strength.   I was being loved and I was loving.  The hard stuff was brought into perspective and just days before swallowed me.  Gods mystery and greatness and goodness and gratitude came from within me in those moments, witnessing the storm, that could not have been predicted by me.  The plans God had were not my own, but better.  He broke it all down and took it and built it all back again into a week of suffering and joy and His glory.  It was worth it all.  If the gospel wouldn't pass through my mind so quickly.  If the faith I have wouldn't turn into His faithfulness, not mine.  Things would not be the same.  The same as tonight, here, with Him and this heart of mine that sings with joy of my God and all He has for me, all He is.  I love my life and all those in it.  Repentance brings joy.  Where does this love come from except from the very heart of God, never to grow cold again.  But will it?  Will I have to go here again and again.  It is like the labor of a child birth, a suffering and resting in great anticipation of the birth only to come when this life is done.  But for now, it is a resting.  As I listen to the sounds of the night, I don't want to close my eyes for fear of missing it.  This moment here and now do not leave me.  Do not pass me by. May I linger?   No regrets or guilt or shame, but absolute delight in the Lord and Him in me.  If only I could hold on to the moment.  But He is holding on to me, through the storm.  Then there is stillness and the storm has passed once again.  It has purpose and meaning and so do I.  He has called me to it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Prisoners of our own making

This morning I have been reading, reading scripture, waiting and listening as the Spirit brings the Word of God to my soul. I was reading and meditating on Matt 14:22-32. There is so much there.  May this not be just a study, but time in the very presence of God, where His words take hold of my life.  May they change me, mold me and give me faith, to trust Him more. To give Him control of the people in my life, my circumstances.  To explore new things and love in new and daring ways, I have never done before.

Jesus calls us away, out from doing and serving, to solitude
Jesus has sent us out away, from the crowds
He is praying
He sends us to pray
He draws near to us
He puts a desire in our hearts for Him and to obey Him
We hear His voice.
He wants us to leave our comfort
He give us courage to move forward
We are to anticipate great things in Him through us
He desires that we come to Him
He wants us to trust Him
We respond
Many obstacles will be in our way.
We will experience fear and unbelief, but He is bigger
He wants us to know, He is with us in the storm
That, He will never leave us
He will lead us
He calls us to step out in faith
To keep our eyes on Him.
We cannot do this in our own strength.
We wil fall and fail and become fearful
We call out to Him in our desperation
We are circumstance and people focused
He wants us to depend on Him
He will rescue us
He hears our cry
He will reach out and grab us
He will calm the storm
He will come to where we are
We see more clear,  who He is
We worship Him

His name will be worshiped and made great to many.
He is faithful even when we are not, but He does want us to grow in our faith and trusting Him.
Lack of faith holds us back from living in freedom and obedience, but it does not hold God back from coming where we are and being glorified and worshiped, from loving us.
I see Jesus calls us out to obedience. But it is in obedience that we come to Him. It is not two separate acts, obedience and return to the Lord. It is one, a coming and obeying in faith. The purpose of our obedience is that He would be known and glorified and praised. Even when we cannot step out in faith, as we think we should, He is in control.   He will remain faithful to us and to Himself. He will rescue us and draw near to us. He will calm the illusions of the things that keep us in prison to our fear and unbelief. The Father sent Jesus to come to where we are and save us. Now we can come and return to Him. There will be a battle, but if we are still, He fights for us.
 I have learned this morning obedience is a returning to God. It takes an intimate, honesty between Him and me. I believe God is calling me to a transformation, about many things, that have been a pattern for so long. I am so thankful and humbled, that He has begun this in me, to see Him more clearly. To love more humbly and courageously. To not be so defensive and self protecting.  It is out of His love for me and His desire to be praised. This is where I am most content and He is most glorified in me.

Peter had just witnessed and been a part of Jesus feeding thousands with a young boys, small lunch of a little bread and a few fish.  He had just seen Jesus walk on water, but yet he doubted what God could do, in and through him.  Jesus had Peter on a journey, of not trusting in himself but in what God could do.  Sometimes all we can do is to take a few steps to freedom.  But it is a beginning.  We do have a choice whether to stay confined to our small, controlled world or to take risks and see what Jesus will do.