Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Unacceptable

 
 
One thing I know is that there is no one perfect.  
 
Not me. Not you.
 
It is always easy to point a finger or say harsh words instead of having a heart of compassion and lifting up another when they are down.
 
Jesus is the only perfect One and He said "let him without sin cast the first stone."   
 
He said to take the plank out of your own eye before pointing out the speck in another's.
 
He went first to those in the most desperate need... the outcasts of society... the diseased, the broken, the homeless, those with foul habits and filthy language, those that lived socially incorrect lives...people that most of us would avoid.   
 
You know.... those sinners.
 
He wasn't offended by them.   He is not offended by you.
 
He loved them.   He loves us.  
 
He never said "well I hope you have learned your lesson because hey you are unacceptable the way you are".
 
He just said "come to Me, all that are weary and heavy laden." 
 
He said "let the little children come".    
 
He didn't say "clean up your act and make yourself acceptable first."     
 
He knew there was nothing we could do about it.
 
Because He loves us so much, He made a choice to do something about the unacceptable and unpresentable condition in which we are born. 
 
He went to bat for me and you and mine and yours.
 
He laid it all down...  He gave it all up.
 
Nothing was too much for Him to do for us.  
 
Nothing.    
 
Because we needed everything He had to give. 
 
Every scornful accusation He endured.
 
Every breath  He breathed.
 
Every lash of the whip.
 
Every blow to His body.
 
Every bruise.
 
Every thorn.
 
Every 9 inch nail.
 
Every disgusting dark despicable sin,  He became.
 
Every disease.
 
Every last drop of  innocent blood drained from His  body.
 
He willingly did what we needed Him to do.
 
To make us acceptable before God.  
 
Because we are unacceptable otherwise.
 
All He asks from us is that we believe Him and believe in Him....that we have faith in Him.... that we follow Him.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dark Garden

 
 
 
Gardens are amazing places... they are places of color and beauty, perfumes.   A delight to the eyes, ears and nose... they are a place of refuge and peace. It doesn't surprise me that God created a wonderful  garden for Himself and placed within it his most beautiful creations.

The Garden of Eden was full of life. The tree of life stood in the center of it. It must have been lush and new like spring all the time... no brown leaves, no dead undergrowth... just color and life unceasingly.     It must have been a place that God treasured and held close... a place where He could come and spend time with His creation and take delight in what He had made.

But, you know the story. Adam & Eve in the garden, and they blew it. Ate the fruit... invited evil into their innocent lives... and into God's garden.

Of course, the minute they heard God calling, they ran and tried to hide. They tried to find a place within the trees to get away from Him. They tried to find a dark spot in this Garden of life where God could not see.     
 
Silly humans.
 
In the presence of God, there is no hiding place. He sees through all the shadows and barriers we attempt to put between Him and ourselves.

God should have been angry. I mean... I would be a little upset if someone came in and messed up something I had put so much of myself and my time and energy into creating.     I can just imagine God... standing there with His hands on His hips...  beside Himself with disappointment.  (He can do that, you know...stand beside Himself... there are 3 of Him).  (grins)
 
Anyway... picture Him finding Adam & Eve in their useless effort to evade Him.   What were they thinking?     

The two guilty culprits just look at each other and hang their heads low.   Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the snake, and the snake is left holding the bag. 
 
What it boils down to is this:   Satan lied.   Eve believed his lie over God's truth.  Adam took her advice and they blew it for all of us.
 
These guys had an intimate personal relationship with God and traded that for a lie, a faulty knowledge of good and evil.
 
Sounds like something I might do... or have done.  And you?

Of course, God had to do something. He couldn't leave it like that. So He confronted the snake. Told him that there would be enmity between him and the woman... that her seed would crush him.   (A promise of victory!)
 
Enmity... enemies are adversaries, opponents, rivals, combatants.
 
Satan and woman are enemy combatants.   That means we just plain don't like each other. That also means that woman has a unique position with respect to satan.   Women  know  who their enemy is.   I guess nowadays we call this "women's intuition". 

It wasn't till after they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden that Adam named his wife Eve. He called her that because she would be the mother of all living.
 
Eve.... her name means life. Life is always the adversary of death. Each of us has something of Eve within us.   So... something within us is forever at war against satan. You may choose to turn and run... or close your eyes; but the conflict will still be there.    You will never be able to get away from it.

So... here we are... banished from the Garden of Eden... the garden of life.
 
Let's fast forward a few thousand years to another garden... the garden of Gethsemane.  A vast difference is visible between this garden and the Garden of Eden.
 
If you will notice, in Gethsemane the setting is night or dark. After the Passover feast, or the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
 
Jesus had just finished telling His disciples that His time was short.    He also had broken the news that one of them would betray Him.
 
Their hearts were heavy with sorrow and denial of their friend and Master's words.      Jesus told them that they should pray so they would not fall into temptation... and He went off to pray by Himself.
 
But.. the disciples were exhausted by sadness.   Although they were in the company of the Light of the World,  all they could see was that  they were in a dark garden, and they fell asleep. They fell into the temptation of darkness... closing out their Lord.
 
They slept... closed their eyes and ears, while their Lord prayed. They could not see or hear what He was doing.
 
Have you ever been exhausted by sorrow and the knife wound of  brokenness?  Ever been at a point where all you wanted to do was crawl in bed and pull the covers over... close your eyes and sleep so that the pain would go away? I know I have.
 
The thing is... when you are in a dark place.. and you close your eyes... no light can get in.
 
I remember when I was a little girl and my family traveled to Israel. I got to run and skip beneath the ancient olive trees along the stone path through the garden of Gethsemane!   I remember the longing I felt in my heart while I was there. Even as a little girl, God had a plan for me. I stood in the garden with my brother and sisters and looked out across to Golgotha and felt a stirring in my heart that is hard to describe. 
 
God knew my future. He knew that my brother and  a sister would both die as young adults. Even then, He knew the heartache to come in my spirit.  He knew the broken path I would walk and the tears that would fall.      He knew I would close my eyes and heart to Him during that dark time of  stark pain.
 
I shut Him out when I needed Him most.  I chose darkness over His light.
 
At the very time when we should be keeping all of our senses open to what God is trying to do, we shut them down so that we won't be hurt.
 
It is a choice.   Like Adam and Eve, we choose darkness. We can be saved and standing in the light and we will put on shades, close the blinds... pull the drapes... eagerly crawl down into a lightless lifeless pit of our own making.     While Jesus is lifting us up before the Father and praying blessings on us, we are shutting ourselves off to the very thing He wants to accomplish in our lives.

Another difference between the garden of Gethsemane and Eden is that there is now a tomb or a grave in the garden.
 
If you will remember, there was no death in the garden of Eden. It was a garden of  life.
 
After His crucifixion and death, Jesus was laid in the garden tomb. His body was anointed and wrapped in grave clothes. A stone was rolled over the opening to the tomb. Guards were set in place to keep anyone from disturbing the tomb.
 
The world wanted to keep Him dead and hidden. After all, He was a pretty controversial guy and it would just be better for everyone if He was gone and forgotten. Things would quiet down in a few days and people would forget all about this man that claimed  He was the Light of the World... the Son of God.
 
God had another plan! Jesus burst forth from the tomb a victorious Savior and King! He opened the tomb and shook off the grave clothes and knocked the guards out cold with His resurrection explosion!   They never knew what hit them... He is the light of the world!

My mom used to wake me up in the morning... knocking on my door and singing "Rise & Shine!"     Man! that was annoying...  I didn’t want to wake up.    I would pull the covers over even tighter and try to go back to sleep.

God has given us  life!  Our lives are like gardens... they contain much beauty in them. Through Jesus they should be gardens of life and growth... light ...  blossoms...a delicious aroma to Jesus.

What is your garden like? Is it light or dark? Are there blooms or tombs in your garden? Are you closing your eyes and putting on shades... refusing to allow the light in?
 
Or have you lit a few candles... letting in just enough light so you will be safe, just enough Jesus to get you to Heaven, but not enough to change your life?
 
Have you buried things deep? Rolled the stone over? Have you carefully dressed your sin or your problem in grave clothes and set up a guard around it to keep it from the light? 
 
Are you annoyed by His voice calling to you to rise and shine?
 
Is it a relationship, an attitude, an addiction?   You may be lost in sin and need to ask Jesus to forgive you and be your Savior. Or you may be straying from Him on a dark path while He patiently waits for you to turn back.   Calling for you to rise and shine for Him.

You can not hide from Him. Even in a dark pit with your eyes closed, He still sees and knows everything about you.  He wants to shine His light into your life and roll away the stone from the tomb in your heart so that your life will be forever changed.
 
Let  Him shine in your heart.   You will never regret it.
 
 
In Him was life and the life was the Light of men.      John 1: 4

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Little Things


Thanksgiving.
 
This year I decided to  make a list.   Thanksgiving is on the 28th, so I will list 28 blessings.  
 
Let's start with the little things.
 
 
1.  Fresh water.     So many people in the world have to work  hard just to get a drink of fresh water.    All I do is turn it on...   which brings me to
 
2.  Indoor plumbing.    Praise God that I live in an area of the world where indoor plumbing is considered commonplace, when in fact it is a huge blessing and accomplishment of engineering.
 
3.  Hot water!!!!!!!!   Need I say more?    Who in their right mind is not thankful for hot water?
 
4.  Public toilets.    In fact, I have come to appreciate public toilets much more than I ever did in the past.    When  your only option is a foul smelling steaming hot port-a-john in the desert, and you are thankful it is there, you develop a new appreciation for the little things.
 
5.   Oxygen.    The air I breathe.     Yes, I am thankful for clean air.
 
6.   Green.    The color green is an ointment for dry parched eyes.   Green as in trees, grass, shrubbery and my living/dining room walls.
 
7.   Clouds.    Clouds are the temporary pieces of art in the sky that give a boost to our imaginations and send our thoughts wandering.
 
8.     The Sun, Moon and Stars!    Incredible provision and beauty all rolled into this universe we call home.    Light for our days and nights... and the stuff of dreams and visions, the Hubble telescope and Star Trek.
 
9.  Dirt.   Oh my goodness!  What would we do without dirt?     We are made from dust.    Our fruits and vegetables are grown in the dirt.   Dirt provides the basis for every building block...mud, bricks, stone, concrete.    A mud hut shelter is better than no shelter at all. 
 
10. Reliable Transportation.    My feet work fine, but an automobile is nice.   It gets me where I want or need to be.    There are many options for transportation:  Scooters, skateboards, bicycles, roller skates, buses, taxis, boats, airplanes, motorcycles,  etc.    Who knows?  Maybe one day we will really have a transporter beam.    Hope so!  Beam me up Scotty!
 
11.   Fire.    Warmth, light, comfort, beauty and danger all rolled into one.   Love fire!
 
12.  Music.   The international language that reaches into our hearts and connects us all.   Rhythm, lyric, motion, emotion.   Music sets the backdrop of our entertainment and  our lives.    It is in us and around us.
 
13.  Dance.      I love to dance and I love to watch others dance.   Dance is an instinct.   Our bodies sway to the music naturally.   Unhindered dance is so beautiful when in praise of God.  It is our gift to Him.
 
14.  Wind.     A cool breeze is so refreshing on a hot summer day.. and in the fall it scatters the leaves in a dance through the air. High winds are scary exciting and exhilarating!   It would be nice if they weren't so destructive.  
 
15.  Electricity.   'Nuff said?   Of course not.   Without electricity, we would be using candles and kerosene lanterns.   Without electricity, there would be no television, no blowing fans, no typewriters, computers, dishwashers, washers and dryers.   I would not be able to "blow" dry my hair or flat iron it, which to me would be a catastrophe.   Oh!  I almost forgot refrigerators and air conditioners and one of the neatest inventions of the modern world:  wipe warmers for baby wipes.     Electricity is very important to me.
 
16.  Facebook.     I love Facebook.  It has allowed me to keep in touch with family and friends as I traveled.   It is a source of great fun.
 
17.  Clothing. I am so glad that God created clothing for Adam and Eve.   Otherwise, we would all still be running around stark naked and that could prove disastrous.   Clothing is not optional.  
 
18.   Medicine.    From bandaids and antibiotic ointment to aspirin and cough drops.   From Pepto to prescriptions and from first aid to professional care, I am thankful for modern medicine.
 
19.  Plastic.   Plastic bowls, cups, plastic containers, plastic wrap.    Plastic is amazing.   Just imagine a world without plastic.   It is a part of almost everything we use today.  
 
20.  Ice.    It keeps our cold stuff cold.   Yay!  I like lots of ice in my drinks.     I think that has something to do with being from the South.    You go most places in the world and ask for a cold drink and you might have 3 little bits of ice in your glass.     When you ask for more ice, they look at you like you're nuts.     Gimmee lots of ice.
 
21.  Art.   Color and dimension.   Imagination and presentation.   Art is integrated into every aspect of our lives from our clothing to our kitchen utensils, the decorations on our walls and floors, our furniture, our media, and our worship.    Artists give us a glimpse into sights and sounds, places and cultures, ideas and realities.   Learn to appreciate art.
 
22.  Humor.   Without a sense of humor, the human race would be in pretty bad shape.   Well, we are in pretty bad shape anyway.    Just imagine what we would be without humor.     If you can cause another person to smile and laugh, do so.      Smiles are precious.   Laughter is contagious.  
 
23.   Manners.     Lately, I have really come to appreciate manners.   I think it is because so few people are even conscious that their conduct is lacking them.   Yes ma'am.  No ma'am.  Please.  Thank you.  You're welcome.  Excuse me.   May I?    Yes,  manners are very important and show that you are intelligent and considerate of others.  I like manners.
 
24.   Shelter.   A roof over your head is nice.   It keeps the rain off, the cold or the heat out and provides a place to put all your stuff.
 
25.    Stuff.    I have a lot of stuff.    Some of it is important to me and some of it is just stuff.    But I am thankful for all of it.   I have clothes and furniture and electronics and gizmos and gadgets, souvenirs, photographs of family, keepsakes, just all kinds of stuff.  
 
26.   Diet Coke.    Yes, I know it is bad for me.   It is one of my many downfalls.   Gotta have my Diet Coke (with lots of ice!).
 
27.  Paper.    I love paper.. a fresh clean tablet or notebook.. a place to put ink and thoughts.
 
28.  Containers.   I don't know why.   I have this thing about containers.   Bowls, Vases, Baskets, Boxes, Trunks, Shelves, Chests.    It is just another one of those things, but I have found it is a common delight. Where would we put our stuff if we don't have containers?   Most of all, Christians are containers.    We contain the Holy Spirit within us.    Other people like containers too.   Don't you?    
 
Well, those are the little things.   None of them are little to me.  
 
The big things are too many to list but I will give you the top few.
 
Let's begin with Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit, The Cross, salvation, the relationship with my Savior, the love and provision from Him. 
 
Let's add family.    Wow!   I have such a rich heritage of family.   Thankful is too small a word for what family has done for me.   What a blessing to know all of your grandparents and to be loved by them.    Uncles, Aunts, Cousins!   Multitudes of them.    Literally. 
 
Parents are a big thing.   My parents in particular.   All I can say is thank you God for my parents.  You chose them for me and Your choice is perfect.
 
Then there are siblings.    Can I just say that there is nothing like having a brother and sisters?    The relationship with them is like nothing else.   I can share anything with them, trust them with everything.
 
A son and a daughter.  They are gifts from my Holy Father and I love them with all my heart.    Then I must add their mates, my son in law and daughter in law.    They have become treasures in our lives.   I have a sneaking suspicion that God had a hand in those choices too.     Go God!    My children! 
 
Grandbabies!   From the oldest to the tiniest newborns, I am so blessed with grandchildren.   I will get mushy about it if need be.  They make me all silly... and then I start talking funny.
 
Friends... can't leave them out.   I am one of the fortunate being graced with good friends.
 
There ya go.    Blessings abound in my life.    I am thankful year round.... not just limited to a holiday.   
 
Gracious Holy Father, thank you for all this and more.    I ask continued blessings for my family and friends and for myself.   In Jesus name, amen.
 
 
 
 
 
 









Friday, November 1, 2013

If You Get to Choose, Choose Love

"Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend." lyrics from "We Can Work It Out" by The Beatles

In Canton today, I found these lyrics on a home decoration and, being a die hard Beatles fan, just had to purchase it. The young lady that checked me out had not a clue that the words were lyrics to a song, so with my out of key voice, I sang her a few lines.... She was probably glad when she got rid of this crazy customer.

Every now and then a song will get something right, you think? This is one of those. Life is short. No time for fussing and fighting.

If you get to choose, choose love (that one is from me)...............


WE CAN WORK IT OUT
Try to see it my way,
Do i have to keep on talking till i can't go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Think of what you're saying.
You can get it wrong and still you think that it's alright.
Think of what i'm saying,
We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.
Life is very short, and there's no time
For fussing and fighting, my friend.
I have always thought that it's a crime,
So i will ask you once again.
Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if i am right or i am wrong.
While you see it your way
There's a chance that we may fall apart before too long.
We can work it out,
We can work it out.

By the way, I told the young lady cashier that she would probably be selling more of this particular item to crazy people my age. She just smiled and shook her head. Gotta love  the Beatles... and must have compassion on those that just don't know..

Monday, September 16, 2013

Fluff & Substance




Truth is... it's all fluff.
 
All that stuff that you want to do or have or be?     It's Fluff.

Truth is...  we are human.  
 
Even when we try to do right, we do wrong.  

Truth is... there is nothing we can do about it.    Nothing at all.
 
We are fluff stuffed.    We are heavy and weighted down by the accumulation of it.
 
It is the soft and compliant filling of our lives that suffocates our vision, holds us down, and takes the place of our real need.  
 
No matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we watch "Dr. Phil", read "Dear Abby", knock the dust off our Bible or listen to a preacher or read our daily devotional..... 
 
None of it matters until we get real with ourselves and get bare faced, nothing held back, eyeball to eyeball, gut wrenching, heart wrecking honest with God.   Until we get sick to death of the fluff and are ready to trade it for something of substance.    Ready to take Him up on His offer.
 
If you will expose your innermost to Him, which He already knows and sees anyway, then He will come near.
 
He is the Substance of life.    He is the Forgiver of sin.   The Redeemer of souls.   

He doesn't need your list.  He already knows everything that is on the list and everything that isn't.   He knows what is buried so deep that even you are not sure how to go about finding it.
 
He only wants your heart.     Yeah... that heart.   The heart that you tried to hide behind all the fluff and stuff.
 
The heart that has given up the struggle with pride and self.    The heart that gives in to His love. 
 
The repentant heart.     It is what He wants in trade.

A wake up call for the dead... the broken... the burdened and despairing.     Can you hear it?!
 
He will take your unsatisfied longings and fill  you with purpose.   Your shame bartered for His forgiveness.    You can exchange your broken parts for His wholeness.     Your heaviness, your unfulfilled dreams can be traded for resting peacefully in His love.
 
He will take your stuffing and fill you with the real and lasting substance of Him.
 
 
 
"Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.   Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-30)




Monday, August 19, 2013

Intercessor

 


 
Holy Father...
 
Precious God of all creation...
 
Thank  You.
 
Thank you that I can come BOLDLY into Your throne room. 
 
Unannounced.
 
Yet not unexpected.
 
Thank You that I do not have to do battle in order to enter Your presence. 
 
You anticipate my entrance and look forward to our conversation.  You welcome me with open arms.
 
Thank You for Your Son, Jesus... Lamb of God, King of Kings, Savior, Friend.
 
Father, God... I come before You, knowing and believing  through  your Word, that I can present my petitions and be heard.  Knowing that when I ask, I am forgiven.     Knowing that Jesus intercedes for me.  
 
He is not an earthly advocate that would only know the facts of my situation yet have no understanding or compassion for the intimate personal longings and desires of my heart.
 
He is not a prosecutor, pointing out my faults and weaknesses.
 
He is my personal representative in Your presence.  With the Holy Spirit, He knows my heart, my soul,  my situation, my wants and needs and dreams.  He even knows the thoughts and dreams that I have no words to express.  He requests blessings on my life that I would never even imagine.   Blessings that are Your will for me.
 
My advocate before You is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.   He is the Living Water and the express Image of You.  The Lamb that was slain.  He is Your one and only begotten Son, and He is my Savior and Redeemer, my High Priest sitting at Your right hand.  
 
I am covered by the blood of His sacrifice.  Forgiven of sin.   Saved and redeemed.  Born again.  Because of Your love.    Because of Him.
 
You see and know my past, my present and my future.   You understand my innermost.   Yet for His sake,  and because of the blood of His sacrifice, You hear my pleas and look lovingly on me as though I have committed  no crime, no sin.
 
My flesh is shamed by Your holiness, yet my spirit leaps for joy because of Your love and forgiveness.
 
For His sake, You answer my prayers and provide my needs.   You provide more than my heart can ever imagine to desire.  You correct and instruct me.    For His sake, You have compassion on me and have promised good to me.
 
For His sake, You offer me life abundant.  Life everlasting.
 
How can I ever thank You?  How can I ever love You or praise You enough?
 
Still, I offer praise.
 
In Jesus' righteous and holy name I pray, Amen.
 
 
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:16)
 
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses   For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings, which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  (Romans 8: 26-27)
 
Who is he who condemns?   It is Christ who died and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.  (Romans 8: 34)
 
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  (Romans 8:1)
 
But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.   Therefore, He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.   (Hebrews 7: 24-25)
 
Now this is the main point of the things we are saying:   We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.  (Hebrews 8: 1-2)
 
   
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Inciting Rebellion




I stumbled over this one today, like tripping over a kid's toy laying in the floor.    It was waiting for me.

I  know it's there, but all of a sudden I am tumbling head first.   It's going to be painful and I know it.   I can already feel the bruised knees, hands... maybe even my head.    No... I'm not gonna like this one bit.      There is gonna be pain.    A lot of pain.

This time it isn't a toy in the floor or a shoe I left laying or a rug that was out of place.   I didn't stumble over an inanimate object.

No, this time, it is words.     Living Words.   Words that hit me like a ton of bricks.   Words that pierce my heart and make me sick in my soul. 

To be more specific, these are the words that bruised and pierced my ego, my heart and my conscience:

 "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."  (Romans 6:14)

Sin.  Shall NOT.  Have.  Dominion.

This makes me think of Gandalf the Grey standing on the narrow bridge with his wizard's staff of light and authority.  With every shred of power he possesses, he commands the fiery and fearsome Balrog  in a bold and dangerous voice  "You... shall.... NOT.... pass!"

It was a long and powerful battle.  Gandalf stood his ground and the demonic Balrog fell, carrying the wizard with him in a struggle to the death.      Gandalf overcame.  He survived and grew stronger and wiser.  

This is Dominion:    rule, control, authority, sovereign, supreme power, supreme rule, supreme authority, territory.

Sum it up in this word:   Lordship.

Ouch.

A bruise is forming as I write.    Pain is kicking in and I don't think a bottle of aspirin will salve the hurt away.


I am God's territory. Under His grace.  I belong to Him... not part and parcel, but in whole.

The deal for my life, my spirit and my future was made on the Cross.    It was purchased by holy blood.  He is the Master.

If He owns me and I am under His grace,  this territory should have a wall of protection around it to keep out sin.  It should be a wall that I maintain carefully to be sure there are no weak areas.   There should be lights on the perimeter shining into the darkness.   Lights for my protection and to show others that this territory... this person...  is part of the Kingdom and they are invited.

Sin should not be a welcome visitor, much less a permanent guest.

According to the Word, since I am no longer under the ownership, lordship or supreme authority of sin, then it should not be a part of my life.   

In fact, the only way it can be a part of my life is if I give it authority over me.    If I permit it.   If I tolerate it.   If I want it there.   If I excuse it.

According to the Word, I am dead to sin.   I should  consider myself dead to sin.   It has no power  or hold over me.  

Because of Jesus' sacrifice and the salvation I so eagerly asked for and received, I am dead to the power of sin to condemn me.

But is sin dead to me?    

No.

Sin knows my owner.   Sin knows Whose I am.    Yet it unceasingly plots and plans to  retake this blood bought territory.   It wants to infiltrate and invade my life once more and to discredit my Lord by luring me into wrong choices and actions.

It creeps around and sneaks in through the back doorways, the weakened points in this territory's walls. It slithers past the shadow of the lights that I have let burn out.    Sometimes it boldly raises its head and  gleefully attacks.


At those times, I should stand firm like Gandalf and forbid it to have entry.   I should remember I am clad in God's armor of light and have been given the sword of the spirit.    After all, I am under the authority of God's grace.    He is powerful.     Sin can not exist in His presence.      I should simply remind the snake of my  Master and of Jesus' authority.   Tell him whose property he has crept into.

However, sometimes in a completely insane act of rebellion, I intentionally open the gates of the Kingdom and invite the trespasser and liar into this territory.   I give the liar and murderer illegitimate lordship over an area of my life.   Did I say intentionally?

Yeah... that would be me.  The Rebel.

Who am I in rebellion against?   I can't be in rebellion against sin, because God's Word says that sin shall not have dominion over me.   Why would I rebel against something that has no power or control over me?   What would be the purpose?

So if I am rebelling, then I am rebelling against God?  Against His authority?   Conspiring with sin against the Almighty?     In collusion with evil?   A traitor to the King?    Because I want to?

Like I said, I knew this was going to be painful.     I don't want to believe that I could be so inconsiderate of His love.  His sacrifice.   His grace.     

It may be a struggle.   A battle against a foe more evil and fearsome than the Balrog.    But I know that through the grace of God's  power and might, I will overcome because Jesus overcame.   I will grow stronger in grace and more wise because of Him.

I am so thankful that my heavenly Father is forgiving of His rebellious children.   Thankful for His grace.     















Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jonah? Again?






The story of Jonah came to life for me way back in 1998.   

You know... the guy that got swallowed by the whale?

No... I wasn't being swallowed up by a whale.    But I was being swallowed up by the problems of life.

God used His story of Jonah to get my attention.    He brought His Word to life in my mind and spirit through Jonah and made me understand that if He could save Jonah from the inside of the belly of a fish... from that horrible pit of a prison from where there was no escape.... then He could do anything in my life.  

Anything.

Miracles became more than an imaginary image in my head.   They were real and could happen for me.    God did a miracle in my life during that time.    He brought me out of the pit and set me on solid ground.  His ground.

I've been in a pit or two since then, but never without knowing that He would bring me out.

Now... in 2013, a little over 14 years later, He points me to Jonah once again.

This time, these are some of the things I have learned:

1.  Go where He says go even if it doesn't make sense to me.
2.  Preach to whom He says preach even if they don't want to hear.
3.  My opinion of the 'lost' does not matter.  (Jonah didn't like those he was sent to warn)
4.  Everyone needs Him.    Every.  One.   So love every one because He loves.  
5.  God has pity and compassion on whom He will have pity and compassion on... even the most blatant and worst sinner.    It is not up to me to decide.
6.  I am no better and no more deserving of His mercy than anyone else.
7.  Trust Him and do what He asks me to do.... even if I don't understand or agree with Him.
8.  Agree anyway.... avoid the storm and the pit.

It's some pretty basic stuff.  

Not complicated at all.



Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thank You Jesus!

Nick Wallenda walked across the Grand Canyon on a 2" wire tonight.    He did it on live television before a TV audience of millions upon millions.

Before he walked, the tv crew showed us his weeks of preparation for the event.   He shared his family with us and their enthusiastic support of his desire to perform.

There was a lot of preparation... a lot of hard and physical work and planning.   It all culminated in one thing.   

The walk.

On a 2" wire with no net, no tether, with nothing holding him there except his physical ability and his faith.

He walked across a 1500 foot chasm from one solid rock to another.     His family and friends holding their breath as they silently cheered him on.

I held my breath too.

As he walked, he began to praise Jesus.   "Thank You Jesus... Thank You Jesus."    "Praise You Lord."    "You are King of Kings.... Thank you Jesus!"    

It was a continuous prayer of praise and supplication as he walked that narrow wire.   He prayed... and I lifted my hands and prayed right along with him.

As the cameras took in every angle and view, I could not help but compare his balancing act to my walk with Christ.

Jesus told us  "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."    

Wallenda walked a straight and narrow path before millions.    He never took his eyes off of that wire and he never stopped focusing on one step at a time.      He took into consideration the winds that blew against him.   He acknowledged the depth of the canyon below.  

He knew it was perilous, yet still he concentrated on his walk.   He focused on his goal.  

I am to be so focused and concentrated on the goal set before me.   I am to practice my faith.   I am to keep to that straight and narrow path laid out for me knowing that one misstep can cause me to fall.

As the path becomes vague, I can become tired and my attention wants to wander away from it distracted by the wind, so I must gather my thoughts and give my fears and needs to God in prayer... in praise... in supplication. 

Thank You Jesus!   Thank you for bringing Mr. Wallenda safely to the other side.    Thank You because I know that You will also bring Your child safely through that narrow gate so that I may celebrate my walk with You.

"For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it."  Matthew 7: 14

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Speak

There is a place inside of me that longs to be a 'giant' of faith.

I want to feed and furnish that 'giant'  place and starve my flesh that says "I'll do it tomorrow... next time... later."

Do it Now!  
Be Tenacious!
Be Steadfast!

Feed that 'giant of longing' daily.   God will use the giant.

"You say 'But He has not answered."  He has.  He is so near to you that His silence is the answer.   His silence is big with terrific meaning that you cannot understand yet, but presently you will."  (Oswald Chambers)

2:00 a.m.

I finally get out of bed trying to talk with God and something inside me says "on your face before Him."

On the floor, face down... mind rambling... still trying to talk with Him.

"Shhhh.." 

but..

"Shhhh."

Finally, my mind quiets for a split second.

I think (or does God say it?)  "Holy Spirit."

and I am surprised as though I had forgotten He was there.

"Holy Spirit."

and then.... "Remember who you are."

Lord, speak through me.

''for it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."  (Matthew 10: 20)

While He Prayed

His friends were sleeping while He prayed.      

He knew their hearts were hurting and their minds were troubled.  They did not understand what He was doing.  How could they?

In the upper room after the feast of Passover, He had shared with them what would come.  Yet they still could not comprehend the final outcome of His life, His mission. 

They had all boldly and courageously proclaimed that they would never let Him die alone.. not without them.

In the fog of their understanding, His words of life and resurrection seemed to have slipped past them unnoticed.

In the garden, He had asked them to pray as they waited for Him.   "Pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

Yet, in exhaustion from their sorrow at the dreadful words of His portending death, they fell into  the temptation of sleep.

While He prayed for them in that dark night, they slept.   While He pled with the Father to remove the cup of wrath, they slept.   As He prayed obedience  "Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done" they slept.

He had simply asked them to pray.   To pray so that they did not fall.   

What has He asked the church, us, me.. to do?   Do we sleep while He keeps His bride lifted up before the Father?

He knows our hearts are hurting.  He knows when we are filled to overflowing with joy!   He knows what we need to make it through the day.   He provides our everything.

He asks us to pray... to avoid the temptation of dark sleep..to remember His words of life....to wake up!    He hopes for our obedience... for our prayer of  "Nevertheless, not my will but Yours be done Lord" 

"The great need of the Church in this and all ages is men of such commanding faith, of such unsullied holiness, of such marked spiritual vigor and consuming zeal, that they will work spiritual revolutions through their mighty praying."  (E.M. Bounds)
















Friday, May 17, 2013

What Do I Do With This Cross

I was wandering around my home trying to figure out what to do with this cross.   My daughter had given me a beautiful wood and metal cross at Christmas.   Christmas had come and gone... several months ago.  

It was way past time to find the perfect spot for it in my home.

I carried it around with me to every room.   I tried it in an empty corner... or on a wall next to a picture.  After about 30  minutes of going in circles in my house holding this beautiful cross in my hands, I finally found the perfect spot.

Yes, the cross has become a decoration.   They are so beautiful!   We hang them on our walls, set them on our tables as a centerpiece, wear them around our necks, on our wrists, on our feet.   They sparkle and shine as jewelry.   They are painted and decorated gloriously!

For quite a while, this has bothered me.    The symbol of Jesus' sacrifice...  the cross which is an instrument of torture and death has been turned into a decoration, an ornament.

I cringe to see a cross necklace around the neck of someone and hear foul language slip from their lips or see unholy actions in their day to day lives.

Profane..  that's what it is....  blasphemous.   

What is that old saying?  "Point a finger at someone and three fingers are pointing back at you."

The question of what to do with The Cross is asked.   Jesus said
"take up your cross and follow Me".      

He didn't say 'take up His cross'.  He said 'take up yours'.   Mine.  My cross.  

Some of us may have a hard time figuring out just what is our cross actually anyway?  Some of us think that our cross is the life that we live, the joy and hardships we go through along the way.  I've heard people say "Oh, it's just my cross to bear" when something goes wrong in their life. 

Think about it.   Jesus' entire life and ministry was  His cross.   His earthly ministry culminated in His death.

It's what He was put here to do.

I have come to determine that my cross is not the life I live.   My cross is the life of Jesus in me.  My cross is the ministry of lifting up and encouraging others as I walk with Jesus.

My cross is not what has gone wrong.  It is the only thing that is right.

It is what I was put here to do.

That is the mission that He has entrusted to me.  Yet it is not my mission.  It is His.

Sometimes it is not easy to be encouraging.  It is not easy to be like Jesus.   Especially when I am not " feeling " it.   Especially when I think that I am the one that needs to be lifted up and encouraged.

Those are the times that I am trying to live 'my' life.  I want to be put on display, praised, to be the center of attention, a decoration in the perfect spot that pleases the eye and enhances.   I, me, my, mine.

In my thinking, that attitude is just as bad as wearing a beautiful diamond cross around my neck and blaspheming God with my words and actions. 

The "me" attitude profanes what Jesus did for me.   I might as well trample on Him with my perfectly pedicured flip flopped feet that are decorated with those pretty little rhinestone crosses.

Jesus had times when he was not "feeling" it.   The night before His crucifixion he prayed "take this cup from me".... but then He said  "nevertheless."


Nevertheless.   That is an entire lifetime right there.  An entire mission or ministry.  Nevertheless.
It didn't matter how Jesus felt at that time.  What  mattered is that He chose to do the will of the Father regardless of what it cost Him.

I confess... it seems I have more of  the "me" life in me than I do of Jesus.   If I am filled with me, there is no room for Jesus. 

I want to have a "nevertheless" life.  A life where Jesus is the center of attention, the beautiful decoration and the focal point; what people see when they look my direction. A life where it doesn't matter what I want but I count the cost and say "Nevertheless, not my will... not my life... not my idea or desire... but Yours, Lord."

Now that's the perfect spot for my cross. 

"...for you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."  (Colossians 3:3)


"Oh the wonderful cross.  Oh the wonderful cross.
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live."

Precious and beautiful holy Father, please help me to stay hidden in You and live the life of nevertheless... crucified with You.   Amen.