Saturday, December 26, 2009
Recently, I heard an episode of "Down Gilead Lane" on the radio where they told the story of Jesus' birth through the eyes of a 14 year old girl...Mary's perspective. I encourage you to check out this link and go listen to the show. If you aren't interested in the whole episode, then just go near the end of the program and listen to the story the 14 year old female character writes about how Mary must of have felt. It is well worth you time. If you are a softie like me, you might grab a few tissues...you'll need them. Go to this web site http://www.cbhministries.org/dgl/home.php click on "episodes" and look for FROM MARY WITH LOVE.
No matter what perspective you look at Jesus' birth, I hope you will look at it and consider it's importance. God chose to take 76 generations (through Mary's linage) of people to bring his son into the picture so that we might have eternal life and enjoy restored fellowship with our creator. God is patient and is waiting for all of his children to return to Him; however, he won't wait forever. What are you doing today to claim that promised forgiveness and restored fellowship with God? If you have claimed it for yourself, what are you doing to help others claim it? What are you doing to live out your faith and belief in God?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
I watched this happen to my mother after her parents died when I was a teenager. I couldn't understand the magnitude of her loss and the sadness that prevailed even though the rest of us tried so hard to make things cheerful for her.
Eight years ago, when my own mother passed away in November, I finally understood the depth of sadness she must have felt. My first holiday celebrations were basically ritualistic and void of any feelings. My family and I were consoled by friends and included in their celebrations or we broke tradition and did something totally different. Friends tried hard to make things better and joyous but I remember how empty it all seemed.
After that life changing event, I found myself trying to duplicate certain food dishes or experiences in an effort to reconnect with my mother and "home". I remember the year my daughter was born, and she was too young to travel 1,300 miles to see family. That Christmas, was the saddest Christmas of my whole life, even sadder than when my mother died. You see my husband and I waited 17 years to conceive this child (our oldest is adopted but loved as much as if he were born to us). I was sad because I had the best gift in the world and I couldn't share her with my family. Even more heart breaking, my daughter would never know her "Me-ma".
Recently, during our annual visit back to where my husband and I grew up, we visited with more than 80 relatives over a two week period. For my husband's mother, it was an especially sad Thanksgiving, as her sister had unexpectedly died just 7 weeks before. Her whole family would be gathering for Thanksgiving. For the siblings, husband and children who came and tried to "carry on as normal" it must have been difficult. It was comforting I'm sure for them to be with family, but painful at the same time. So many memories, so much fresh pain still lingering in their hearts. To top it all off, the woman who had died, would have celebrated her birthday that same weekend.
The death of a loved one changes you forever. Even knowing that those who have passed on before us are in heaven and we will see them some day, it is still difficult to move forward. It's like life just grabs you and drags you along. I can't imagine not knowing Jesus Christ and having the assurance of seeing them again.
A result of my recent maturity is knowing that my comfort is no longer found in the assurance I'll see my mother and other dead relatives again, it comes from knowing that Jesus is my brother, Lord and Savior - family. That home is heaven, not here on earth. My longing is not to see my loved ones who have passed on, but rather to see Jesus face to face for the first time. That is my longing.
Friends, family is valuable and an important gift from God, but our desire should always be to know intimately, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the heart of God. If you have never really taken time to get to know Jesus, it's never to late. Spend some time with him today.
"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High." Psalm 9:1-2
Saturday, December 5, 2009
As much as I enjoyed renewing family ties, I was equally blessed by the reception I received from our neighbors and friends upon our return. Hugs were longer and tighter. Smiles were brighter. Appreciation was expressed repeatedly. My daughter is still begging to see her best friend again and again. My son's anticipation of seeing his "girlfriend" keeps mounting.
Home really is where your heart is. It's here in West Virginia and it's in Oklahoma too. My "Big Toe" buddies were surprised to hear me say "back in my home town" (referring to my WV home) when were were sitting in the town I grew up in. That place is where my family lives, but it isn't my "home" anymore. My heart is wherever God wants it to be. Where my heart is there my treasure will be also. My heart and home is right where I am (which ever state that may be in).
Thank you God for giving me such a wonderful gift of renewed relationships with family, friends and neighbors. May I never take any of them for granted or ignore them. Thank you for touching other lives through my presence in this world. May you continue to use me to touch others for you in spite of my sinful self. Thank you for helping me discern the value of relationships and for strengthening them through your bond of love.
Matthew 6:21 (NIV)
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Monday, November 23, 2009
And know everything about me.
You know when I sleep and when I’m awake.
You even know what I am thinking when I think you are far away.
You even look for me and check out the direction I am going when I am busy or even when I am just resting.
You know all of the secret things about me and the way I do things.
Even before I can say a word,
You know what I’m going to say and why I’m going to say it!
You care so much about me that you completely encircle me
and bubble me with your protection.
This knowledge is too much for me to comprehend.
How could I ever deserve such love?
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Or where can run to that I might avoid your presence?
If I went to outer space, you are there!
If I lived in the belly of the earth, you are there!
Even when I go to school or face my tormentors,
Your hand is there to lead me and protect me.
If I say the anguish and pain in my stomach shall kill me
And the torment of surviving stressful situations shall destroy me,
Even the pain and torment is not a match for your awesome love for me;
Anguish and stress are dissolved by your power.
For you made my inward parts,
You carefully designed me in my mother’s womb.
I will PRAISE YOU for I am uniquely and wonderfully made!
Everything you make is awesome, somehow my soul knows this.
I was not a surprise to you when I was being formed in the secret place.
Every detail of my body and life were intricately designed by you.
You saw me before I was formed and placed me in your special book.
There you planned my life before I was even born.
Oh God, your thoughts are so special to me.
There are so many!
Counting them would be like counting the grains of sand.
Even in reality, you are with me, not just in my thoughts.
Oh how I wish you would rescue me from the anxiety that tears at my stomach.
Oh nausea and pain depart from me forever!
They seek to destroy my life and steal my confidence.
Together they seek to steal the joy of my salvation.
I hate those who come against you oh Lord.
They are my enemies.
Search me O God, and know my heart!
Test me and know my thoughts!
Let me know if there is anything I do that grieves you.
Lead me into a life of everlasting joy, peace and love with you.
Have you allowed a situation in your life to rule you? Do you fall victim to your tormentors when they strike at you? There is a way to overcome ANYTHING that may seek to destroy you. When you claim the power of Jesus Christ, you have at your disposal the most powerful force in all creation! If you know this Jesus Christ personally, then stop living defeated and begin claiming the power intrusted to you. If you don't know know Jesus Christ personally, then all you need to do is seek him with all of your heart, begin a conversation with him and believe he wants to be your savior and friend. Then invite him into your heart to live forever with you. If you need more information, then send me an email and I'd be happy to tell you more about knowing this God of the universe who designed you before you were born.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I knew it was missing for a couple of days, but was not able to find it anywhere. I had resolved to accept the fact that the piece was missing and probably was missing when I bought it (used).
My, now four year old, daughter was looking at the puzzle and said, "Oh Mommy, one piece is missing." I said "Yes, I know." She began looking for the missing piece. She insisted that the piece was in this soft sided box I keep school stuff in and was looking through it to find the piece.
I tried to convince her that it was gone and not in the box. When she would not give up looking in the school box for the missing piece, I agreed to look in there for her. As I started taking items out of the box, I very quickly saw the missing piece. She had been right! How did she know it was there?
My answer to that question is that from her perspective, low to the ground, she had a different view of life and objects. Why she didn't say something sooner, I'll never know. I learned a couple of lessons from her and the puzzle.
I learned never to give up. It was quite challenging to complete the puzzle. I found great satisfaction seeing it come together. I even gave up a couple of nights on Facebook and email to work on the puzzle. The greatest lesson I learned, is that EVERYONE has something to contribute to the family. My daughter, because of her keen observation, was able to put in the coveted "last piece" of the puzzle in making it complete.
This reminded me that God uses the most unlikely people of this world to carry out his plans.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (New International Version)
26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Do you feel like you are not usable by God? None of us are worthy, but all of us are desirable to God. He loves us no matter what. Question is, will you accept God's gift of love and in return, love him back? When you do, he will use the person you have become to do incredible things to advance his kingdom.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I have a friend who is a young adult seeking desperatly to find his way in the world. He had a difficult childhood due to circumstances beyond his control and later due to his own choices. The big hang up he has today is his own father's image of who he would become 7 years ago. What we tell our children with our words, and just as loudly, with our actions has an impact on who they become. For the child, who needs acceptance, guidance and encouragement and not be able to get it, can leave a child feeling worthless, defeated, hurt and angry.
We are all born with the desire to love and be loved because we are made in God's image. He wants to be loved too! More importantly, God wants to love us! So how do you move on when your parent relationship, mother or father, doesn't work out the way "it's supposed to"? When parents don't nurture their children and love them the way God intended them to, then over time, hearts become broken, bitter, hurt and indifferent. All my friend wants from his dad is for him to tell him how proud he is of his accomplishments and help him up when he's down. The power of the father, good or bad has a lasting impact on his children.
During the ballet scene of the movie (the part my daughter likes to watch over and over) the football father is one of the dancers. He is very nervous when he discovers that his entire football team is there to watch him dance. It is his dedication to be a good role model for his daughter that gives him strength to go through with the dance. He says to himself "the power of the father, the power of the father". He had just given his daughter a pep talk about not quiting because she was nervous and there he was feeling just as vulnerable as she did.
Parents don't always have their act together and sometimes they find strength to accomplish difficult tasks from their relationship with their children. A "good" parent isn't one that always has the right answers. A good parent is one that walks ALONG SIDE their child during the good and bad times. A good parent teaches their child to recognize what causes the pain and suffering but gives their child the freedom to make choices. A good parent isn't afraid to seek help and let their child see them fall and pick themselves back up. There are many good lessons to be learned from failing than succeeding. It is way harder to keep trying when you keep loosing or falling down. Real failure doesn't come from not succeeding, it comes from never trying again.
What about you? How has your father (or mother) influenced you? How does that influence affect your relationship with God?
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness." Jeremiah 31:3
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him."
1 John 3:1
Saturday, October 24, 2009
As we neared the end of our hour long session, I was over whelmed with relief (to the point of tears) in my heart by the fact that someone else was helping me manage this huge problem that had started to consume our family. I had no idea that the weight of the burden I was carrying was so heavy until someone else took from me for a while. Even though I had, in my heart and mind, given this worry to God and felt peace about it, I was still carrying around the weight of the situation. Wow! What a relief to finally trust someone else to handle my problems.
I am excited that the skills we will all learn from this therapy, will strengthen our different relationships. Already I am beginning to see a small difference. Thank you God, please continue to teach us how to use the weapons you have given us to fight the battle before us and to lean on you and your power to overcome.
"Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me."
Psalm 144: 1-2 (ESV)
What struggles or battles in your life are you still struggling with? Have you REALLY given responsibility over to God? If you have trouble doing that, pray that God will send someone your way to help you let go of it.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Daddy (Abba) I love you.
Daddy (Abba) I need you.
Daddy (Abba) won't you stay a while longer?
I love your embrace, the warmth of your face,
the fresh smell of rain
when you shower your grace.
I wish we never had to part.
I wish your Spirit would
linger on my lips, linger in my soul,
linger in my heart.
Jesus I love you.
Jesus I need you.
I'm not worthy of such love and affection.
Sin still haunts my body and soul.
Why Lord do you wait so long
to establish on earth your perfect song?
I wish we never had to part.
I wish your Spirit would
linger on my lips, linger in my soul,
linger in my heart.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your stead fast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Psalm 63:1-8
I have become acquainted with this thirst that David mentions in the first verse. Over the past year and a half, during my restoration period, my perception of God has grown from a loving, powerful God in control of the universe (including me) to that of long awaited lover who finally brushes lips with me, yet doesn't linger there. It's not that God pulls away or plays hard to get, but that I am not able to sustain that full embrace yet.
I have on several occasions been so overwhelmed by the presence of God with me that I was either laid out on the floor being renewed by the Holy Spirit or literally breathing hard with my heart beating fast. Just recently, when pouring my heart out from pain and sorrow, I got another brush of God's touch. It left me with an aching desire for more of that intimacy with God.
There is this place in the center of my body that no one can touch except God. Even as I speak about it now, I can feel it begin to wheal up inside of me and that thirst that David talks about is so strong that nothing can quench it except that touch from God.
What is your personal relationship with God like? Do you love Him or are you IN LOVE with Him? If you want a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God, then I challenge you to go where he goes...to the needy, to do what he does...give God first priority in your life, actions, decisions - ALL OF IT, then pray what he prayed..."Not my will but yours..." Then, at the same time act as if you really are in love with him and spend time alone with God, praying, listening and reading his love letter to you - the Bible. He has already died to know you, don't keep him waiting any longer. Pretty soon, you will begin to feel Him caress that inner being of your soul and you will not be able to get enough.
Let me know how it works out for you.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
A tangible answer to one of my hard questions in
“WASHED IN WORSHIP”
With the chance of rain 100% our small, church group of eight kids and six adults caravanned 30 miles to go fishing. I was prepared with poles, tackle, bait, rain gear, snacks, water, camp chairs, a change of clothes for my preschool daughter and a good attitude. All was smooth sailing until I got out of the car and met my teenage son who had been riding in another car. Holding his bottom like a toddler, he said I have to go really bad. The bathroom is way up there and I can’t make it, I’m going to go in the woods. I handed him two tissues and he took off.
I’ll save you smelly details and just tell you that when he was done, there was no way he could stay and fish. His hands, pants, shirt and shoes were all contaminated. Not just a little, but a lot! A good mom is always thinking on her feet. We washed as much off as possible using bottled water, and then hand sanitizer, but the mom and 10 years of OSHA training in me would not let me allow him to even go near the other people. At first I was upset, but God quickly reminded me of a similar experience I had only two months prior. So with compassion in my heart, I placed a trash bag down on the back seat for my son to sit on and we headed back home.
During this humiliating return trip, God did some powerful teaching. I love how God uses our lowest places to teach us his ways. After the first few silent minutes in the car, I shared with my son a time when I was stuck on the interstate with no way to turn around for an hour and had stomach cramps and needed to go to the bathroom. I ended up filling my pants and then had to drive more than an hour to get home. I told my son that from that experience I learned I have no control over my life and that the Bible tells us that “our righteousness is as filthy rags.” I said the very best we have to offer God is like the shitty mess we were both in. Yet, God loves us anyway. “God loves you too,” I told him, “just as you are, shit and all. There is nothing we can do to make our selves good enough for God. He doesn’t expect us to clean ourselves up before coming to him and committing our lives to him.”
After taking a shower and putting on clean clothes, my son said with sincerity, “Mom, thanks for driving me home to clean up. I feel so much better.” I looked him straight in the face and said, “Son, that’s what God wants to do with your life. He wants to take you home, clean you up and love you with no punishment or ridicule. Then you will be ready to face the world.”
We talked some more on the 30 mile trip back to the lake where everyone else was fishing. God delivered so many messages to my son, that I can not even remember them all. I just know that I was so excited to have been a usable vessel to share the love of God with my son. He did get to fish a little and the pastor even cooked some more hotdogs for him to eat. What had the potential to be a complete disaster, turned out to be the most meaningful and beautiful time I have ever spent with my son.
What about you? Are you still trying to offer your best (shitty, filthy rags) to God in exchange for his love? Give up my friend. All God wants you to do is just let him clean you up. He will not be-little you or ridicule you. He is gentle and kind and loves you just as you are.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 (NIV)
Sunday, September 27, 2009
“So close, you’ll never let me go.”
“Time is in your hands, the beginning and the end.”
The day it was confirmed that my son has post-traumatic stress disorder because of sexual and emotional trauma that happened to him over the past 7 years, my heart began to break all over again and my spirit ached and the thought of all that he had been through made me want to vomit. The next day, I attended worship at church. I sat and listened, prayed and sang along. I talked to God very bluntly and honestly from my heart. I only blamed Satan for my son’s injustices, but I still needed to ask God a few hard questions.
Why God didn’t you protect my son? Why did he have to suffer even to this day? I know you know how it feels because you watched your son being tortured and killed. You had the power to stop it, but you didn’t.
Why did you save my son from life on the streets only to be hurt emotionally and sexually? How is he ever going to learn to trust you? He feels you are not there for him.
I prayed for you to protect him each day and comfort him in his sleep at night. He told me that he hears you in his dreams but when he wakes up you are not there and he feels so far away from you.
What can I do to love him more and show him that you do love him? How did Jesus know you still loved him when you turned your back on him while dying on the cross bearing all of sin?
You know God; you are the only one who truly understands how your love works. I need your Holy Spirit to help me understand it.
Even in the pain I will love you…I will trust you…I will praise you.
That’s all I know to do.
At this point in worship, I started singing and lifting my hand in praise and adoration to my God and my King my Papa God. In my desire to submit fully to God and show him how much I trust him and love him, I laid down with my face to the floor and my hands out stretched and fully embraced my God, exposing all of my fear and shame and sorrow. It was on my face that God washed me and took my fear, shame and sorrow away. I cried so hard and I was not ashamed. Then came the sweet rest. After resting a long time in his lap with my head on his shoulder, and all the tears were gone and the ache in my stomach was gone and pain in my heart was gone and my fear was gone, I got up and began praising Him in song. As I did, I closed my eyes and felt myself being swirled around and around and actually felt dizzy. But it was a happy place like being twirled around in a circle by my arms with complete abandon and no fear.
Awe, but the deep rest came when everyone prayed for me and my family.
God told me through a person’s prophesy that he was molding my son into the vessel He wants my son to be and that this period of trials and difficulty are part of the shaping process. Tender hands are gently shaping and molding the piece of clay. I was thankful for the tenderness, like the tender touches of the people praying for me.
Another person prayed and told me that when the molding process is done, God will fill my son with His anointing and this anointing will help to strengthen my marriage and ultimately strengthen our family bond.
Then the power of the Holy Spirit came over me and it was more than I could stand – literally. As I relinquished my body to Him, the Holy Spirit began to pray through me. When I got up I felt rested and safe and satisfied. After going home I was happy to see my children and husband. I was joyful and full of energy. As I sang my daughter to sleep, God’s Spirit continued to flow through me and lift my spirits.
All night long, I slept in complete peace. Each time I awoke in the night, I could hear “Oh how He loves you” being sung. The next day God began revealing the answers to my hard questions. While cooking breakfast, God revealed to me that my son was destined for heartache and had he stayed with his biological mother, not only would he be homeless, but orphaned as well and most likely drifting from foster home to foster home. At least with our family, he was in a safe place surrounded by people who love him and can support him.
Then God answered another question I’d been asking for a long time, “Why doesn’t my son have any real friends?” God’s answer: because, with all of his history as it is, the drama of friendships would have perpetuated the confusion causing him more pain and isolation. Right now, this is what he needs.
My family and I have entered a dark and difficult passage on our journey WITH God, but I know he has prepared us for the trip and will carry us all through the myriad of emotions and struggles that we will face in this healing process.
All praise and glory be to God!
Sunday, September 20, 2009
This week I found God in a phone conversation with my cousin who's mother is very ill in the hospital. We talked for a long time about how God is using this situation to grow everyone involved, from the family and friends to the hospital staff. I physically felt her pain and sadness as we talked on the phone and I heard the Holy Spirit comfort her using words from my mouth. Sure I understood her fear and sorrow, but God knew what she needed to hear and prompted me to speak words of comfort to her. We prayed and rejoiced together in her sorrow and pain.
Later, when I spoke to her mother on the phone before her surgery, I prayed with her over the phone and felt my spirit leap in a surge of power connecting us together. She later came through the surgery just fine and is recuperating.
A couple of days later I had the privilege of hosting a friend and her children in my home for lunch. The children played well together for nearly 4 hours while she and I shared deeply from our hearts about our relationships with our husbands, children and God. It was my goal to encourage her and support her in her decision to take the restoration path in her marriage. I was surprised as God used her to confirm His working in my life and encourage me. I love the way God teaches us!
The end of my week culminated in a youth road trip to a conference that encouraged teens to rebel against low expectations set by society. God worked so intricately in the lives of all who went, that I am still trying to process it. The whole thing started by me purchasing a book I knew nothing about, but thought it looked like something my son needed to read. It was titled, "DO HARD THINGS" by Alex and Brett Harris. After reading the first two chapters, I got so excited about the topic that I went to their web site and discovered they had a conference being held only an 90 miles from us this month. I told my pastor about the book and gave him a copy. He read it and also got excited about it and the conference. So this past weekend, we took 7 teenagers to this conference. Everyone who attended the conference grew in someway. For me personally, I learned that God is working through me to touch other people in ways that I do not expect. The back splash of the Holy Spirit's touch lands on me too.
When the Holy Spirit visited the conference, and about 50 young people met Christ for the first time, they stood up individually before 2500 people and shouted "Jesus Christ is Lord!" It was very powerful and moving. Later, when they were still kneeling and praying near the staging area, I was walking among them and physically felt the presence of God so strong that tears streamed down my face. I saw one 13 year old boy talking to another teen boy and asked him if he could pray for him. He placed his hand on boy's shoulder and began praying. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but I didn't need to. I watched them and when he finished praying, the other boy gave him a hug and they went separate ways. I was overcome with the power of compassion and love demonstrated before me between not only teenagers, but young men. I guess I was so amazed because my own 13 year old son, who attended the conference demonstrated the exact opposite behavior. He was selfish, rude, obstinate and the epitome of what society EXPECTS of teenagers. My heart was crushed by my son's behavior and soaring at the same time by the visitation of the Holy Spirit in that place.
The dichotomy of my heart and emotions was almost unbearable. As usual, when I am in need, God provided a helper. I went to the prayer room to be alone and pray and try to regain control of my emotions. There was one man in the room whom God used to help me process what was happening. God knows that when I talk about what is going on in my heart, I can make better since of it. After sharing my thoughts (as best as I could at the moment) he offered lots of encouragement and prayed with me as did the two women who later joined us. Then I went outside to get some fresh air and talk with God alone. When I returned to the last session an sat down next to my husband, I heard the speaker, who happened to be the father of the authors of the book, talking to the parents in the room about how to parent a rebelutionary. Just what I needed to hear to focus my energy toward an unconditional love for my son. It's possible, that my husband and I are training our son (and daughter) to become the leaders we will need to fulfill our mission in life. How we train them now, by including them as much as possible in our everyday lives will show them and teach them to be the Godly servants they are needed to be.
I want to love my children's company, but sometimes they are not so likable and it's easier to leave them behind (with a sitter) instead of letting them tag along. God it is my prayer that you continue to embed your wisdom into my heart causing an infusion of YOUR love to infiltrate my thinking, my feeling and my doing. Please share the same infusion with my husband that together we may be your instruments.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The thought of what happened, why it happened and the injustice directed toward innocent people, both angered and saddened me. The pain and sorrow for the terrible loss experienced by the victims and survivors of the world trade towers devastation was more than I could bear, so I walked away to pray for those who feel that loss everyday and to pray for wisdom to make a difference now.
Something so terrible, so devastating, so out of my or anyone's control makes you realize just how vulnerable you really are, despite the mask we may wear. No matter how accomplished we become or how powerful, nothing is really in our control.
If mankind can do such terrible things to other people, imagine what God's fury and power must be like. Greater things than this God can do, has done and will do in the day of judgment.
Now is the time to seek God's forgiveness for sin. Now is the time to turn our focus on God. Let not the people, who died 8 years ago in the terrorists attacks, die in vein. Revenge is not the answer, repentance is the path to take.
In our journey back to God, reach out to those around you who are lost as to what to do or what direction to take with their lives. Look at them and SEE them. Hear them and LISTEN to them. Show them you've found the THE way to peace and comfort by investing in their lives. Tell them about the God of your universe and HIS desire to love and be loved by us.
1 Peter 3:8-17
8Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. 9Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. 11He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. 12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
It's important to live on HS time.
This is a very true statement and good advise. Hard to implement sometimes, but still very good advise. To find out WHY it is important, continue reading.
What is HS time?
HS Time is HOLY SPIRIT time. The Apostle Paul, is telling the believers at Corinth, beginning in 1 Corinthians 2:6 that for those among them that are more mature believers, they can learn more about the "SECRET and HIDDEN" wisdom of God. However, the only way to understand this special wisdom, is only through God's spirit revealing it to us.
How do you tell HS time?
What do I get out of living on HS time?
To answer these questions, start reading 1 Corinthians. Specifically chapters 1 and 2 and come back next week with your own answers.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
1) Relationships are messy, painful, delightful, fulfilling and necessary.
2) My benefit from a relationship is directly related to my investment in the relationship, but the dividends may be way out in the future.
3) It is very difficult to avoid relationships. They may be good or bad, but there is usually a relationship somewhere in your life.
4) The other person(s) in the relationship play a major role in the quality of the relationship.
5) No relationship status is forever. Even my relationship with God changes +/-
6) My worth as a person is not determined by my relationship with other people.
7) My worth as a person is only determined by my relationship with God.
8) I have an influence on relationships with and between other people +/-
I have started a study in 1 Corinthians. This is a great book for me and my church right now. There have been several people/families leave our church for various reasons, and those left behind are starting to feel a bit worried. I even felt abandoned when my close friends decided to serve in a sister church. While their decisions was not a surprise, it still stung. I have several relationships in my life that are stinging right how. My relationship with my spouse, my children, my neighbors, my church and other groups I participate in.
Perhaps all of this is a test of my faith and where my loyalties lye. CHANGE seems to be a common thread running through all of my relational hardships. For some, the change is with the other person for the others, the change is within me or my resistance to change.
In ALL of my relationships, communication is the key that unlocks the barriers causing distress on the relationship. Unfortunately for me, those closest to me are the ones I have a hard time communicating with. Maybe it's because I have tried it before and it didn't work so I'm tired of trying. Maybe it's because I am afraid to rock the boat even more by expressing myself.
It seems a lot easier to help other people with their relationship issues because my emotions are not usually at stake. Recently, I agreed to mentor a young lady (teenager) who is taking extreme measures to get her ducks in a row and keep them there. She is living in an environment that totally supports those goals. As her mentor, I have thought deeply about what will happen to her and her ambitions when she is no longer living in that controlled environment. I felt scared for her. She has a good plan for her induction into uncontrolled environment living and I believe she has what it takes to accomplish her goals. The most important goal she'll need is the one to implement when the ideal goal fails or is harder than anticipated.
While the end goal is important, the process of getting to that goal by far more important. For it is all of the peaks and valleys one must walk through on the way to the goal.
Relationships are goals with people. The peaks and valleys we experience with that person flavor the relationship. Right now many of my relationships are very salty, sometimes even bitter, but there are some sweet moments.
What about your relationships? Sweet? Salty? Bitter? Bland? What sustains you through the unpleasant seasons of your relationships? Your relationship with God Almighty is the most important relationship you'll ever have. It is so important that, when we invite Jesus Christ into our hearts, God gives us His Spirit to assist us with this important relationship.
"For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual." 1 Cor. 2:11-13
I don't always understand what God is trying to teach me through my relationships, but I can rely on the promise mentioned above, that the Holy Spirit lives within me and will help me understand the thoughts of God. I believe that spiritual understanding will then make my other relationships more meaningful for we are all made in the image of God.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Here are my thoughts (blue) and the thoughts of my friend Carol (green). Reading these thoughts that were written a couple of weeks ago is encouraging to me because God has been and continues to walk with me through all of my relationships. The main take away from all of this thinking is that God wants to be number one. "No other gods (or relationships) before me". God told that to the Israelites in the book of Exodus. My loyalty and allegiance is to God first. When His love abounds in my heart, He is then able to love through me in all of my other relationships, marriage, parenting, friendships, work, neighbors, acquaintances and strangers. It is my hearts desire to freely allow God to love my husband through me, to love my children through me, to love my friends and...well you get the picture. Not my love...His love.
How does your relationship with the ones you love reflect your relationship with the lover of all…God?
When God’s love reigns in my heart then the ability to love unconditionally rules the relationship. But what about the different types of love mentioned in the Bible?
There are three types of love mentioned in the Bible. 1. agape (unconditional love) 2. eros (sexual love) 3. PHILEO
(brotherly love or personal affection and it expects a return.)
Jesus loves everyone with "agape" love, and He tells us to have "agape" love towards everyone. (It's pronounced A-gop-a)
What happens when you loose eros toward a spouse but you still agape them? Is intimacy with a spouse connected to intimacy with God? We are made in the image of God and he designed our bodies. If my intimacy with God has increased and grown deeper, why does my intimacy with my spouse seem to be growing weaker? According to the triangle model of relationships if the man and the woman are at the bottom of the triangle and God is at the top, then as BOTH partners advance toward God, they also naturally come closer to each other. If one spouse’s relationship advances toward God and the other one doesn’t, then they remain apart until the other spouse “catches up.”
This is a dangerous place for the enemy to step in and create doubt of love for each other, anger, hatred and possibly separation. Christian couples need to guard their hearts and their marriage.
This would be where the servant heart comes into play and the agape love takes over.
How does your relationship with God, influence your relationship with those you love? Most of the time, my relationships with those I love becomes richer because of my relationship with God. I am more compassionate and sensitive to their needs and hurts.
Do you separate your spiritual relationships and physical relationships? I think the ability to love at all in any form is a spiritual thing and it is impossible to separate spiritual from physical. I believe one motive is dominate over the other. It is our choice as to which one rules our lives.
Is there a need to separate spiritual and physical relationships, or can one love spiritually and physically at the same time?
What is a healthy way to make positive changes in a relationship? Positive change usually occurs successfully when you take time to listen to and understand the other person/group that you want to make changes with. The only change you can actually make is of yourself. Others must make their own changes, but you can influence their choice to change. Collaboration is a good technique for groups and one-on-one. Positive feedback to the other person or persons creates an environment conducive to positive change.
When is it time (if ever) to sever a relationship? How can you know if you should hang on and never let go of a relationship with a loved one?
The commitment made to the other person or group determines the need for ending a relationship. Some relationships are temporary and when the goal of that relationship is met, then the relationship usually ends. However, if a lifetime commitment is made between two individuals or an individual and a group, then all avenues of reconciliation and restitution should be made before considering severing a relationship. If a relationship is not safe, then the person in danger has every right to protect themselves and remove themselves from the danger before cautiously seeking reconciliation. Only the unconditional love of God could allow me to love someone who wants to hurt me.
Here are my thoughts: Without a relationship with God, there cannot be unconditional love toward a spouse. We don’t’ know what it looks like, feels like, tastes like, or smells like. We can only give our human best to attempt to love. Once we KNOW God, and have experienced His unconditional love, then we are REQUIRED to love in that manner, EVERY man, not just the ones we have great personal relationships with. That means the teenager that cut you off, the old man that cussed you out, the cashier who short changed you, the boss who torments you, the newspaper delivery boy who daily tosses your paper in the bushes or on the roof, the hateful mother-in-law, and on goes the list. By practicing unconditional love, expecting nothing in return, we are daily growing in the grace, knowledge and image of God. Once we KNOW God, we are more acutely aware that love is a choice, and there really is only one choice to make, the same one Christ made for me. Carol
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Last week, I presented many questions about relationships and have wrestled with that topic this week. Since I am still processing these questions myself, I decided to just show you my notes and some notes from a friend of mine, Carol, who is an expert in this area. Her notes are in green and mine are in blue. I only posted the first few questions...didn't want to overwhelm anyone. This would be more interesting if those reading this blog would post their comments/thoughts.
What influences your relationships?
Time invested in them; Attitude toward that person/group; Information about that person/group; Their interactions toward me; My desire to cultivate (or not) a relationship. My current mood and/or place in life.
What do you do to protect your relationships and improve them?
Invest time and attention in them; pray for them; give them priority in my daily routine/life; give part of myself to that person/group unconditionally; try to learn more about that person/group…understand them. Constantly uplift and refuse to tear down through words, actions, and thoughts.
What destroys your relationships?
Neglect of my time and attention; selfish desires on my part; trying to control the other person/group; lack of motivation to serve that person/group; intentionally hurting the other person/group; not seeking God’s desires for that relationship. Listening to Satan’s whispers in your ear. Allowing your attention/affections to be diverted elsewhere.
In talking with my friend and pastor, Tim this week, he presented me with a challenge to read Romans 6:16 and ask myself "How do you present yourself?"
Romans 6:16 (New International Version)
16Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
This is very insightful. Take some time this week to read and reread this scripture, pray about it and apply it to your relationships.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
What influences your relationships? What do you do to protect your relationships and improve them? What destroys your relationships?
How does your relationship with the ones you love reflect your relationship with the lover of all…God? How does your relationship with God, influence your relationship with those you love? Do you separate your spiritual relationships and physical relationships?
What is a healthy way to make positive changes in a relationship?
When is it time (if ever) to sever a relationship?
How can you know if you should hang on and never let go of a relationship with a loved one?
No funny stories…yet…to tell. Still wrestling with these questions on many levels in my life. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions and how you are dealing with relationships in your life. Then, together, we will look at what the Bible has to say about relationships.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
God you want to lay the foundation of praise in the depth of my spirit. I am so unfamiliar with that area of my life that I am afraid of what is there. I want you to come deeper and lay that foundation. I want to praise you from my soul. I can fill your glory trying to emerge and it rolls and shakes my internal structure like an earthquake. Will I be able to survive the climax?
There is still something preventing this power from emerging. I’m afraid of the change that will take place. I will be out of control – again.
All to Jesus I surrender.
All to him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust him,
In his presence daily live.
I surrender all
I surrender all
All thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all
God you have freed me from so much; depression, despair, loneliness, selfishness, dependency, and self sufficiency. What stands in the way now?
Pastor Tim said “Love opens yourself up to be loved or be hurt.” This I know from experience, but how do I know it? What has happened in my life to prevent me from trusting and opening up? Perhaps it’s not a past experience that presses down on my spirit but rather a perception.
I am afraid to be out of control. I don’t want to fail. I don’t want others to see me fail. I am a people pleaser God. As much as I despise admitting to it, my fear of what others are going to think really does prevent me from giving you full reign in my life.
I feel as though there is a terrible war being fought in my inner being. One force is pushing up and one is pushing down. It has emotional and physical side effects yet is beyond my comprehension or understanding. For years I have felt as if I was suffocating and while the oppression in my live is much less than before, I still find myself taking deep breaths wishing to purge my spirit of the bile that lurks in the dark corners of my heart.
As the Psalmist David cried so do I cry:
Have mercy on me, O God,
According to your steadfast love;
According to your abundant mercy
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity
And cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
And done what is evil in your sight,
So that you may be justified in your words
And blameless in your judgment.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
And you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
Let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
And blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
And take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
And uphold me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
And sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation,
And my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips
And my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
You will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51: 1-17 (ESV)
God, thank you for telling me about my secret heart the one that is crying out to be heard by you and only you. I accept your deliverance from the guilt of my past and present that prevents your spirit from praising you. Let my tongue sing aloud praises of your righteousness, open my lips and fill my mouth with your praise. You want to hear it, I want to give it, shatter the pride that mocks your reign in my life. I want this because it is your spirit pleading with me to let him express himself. It doesn’t matter to me if I speak some language I can’t understand or not, I just want that intimate communion and closeness with you, God. I seek to please you God, lover of my soul.
Opening up this communication between the Holy Spirit, my spirit and you O God, will deepen my relationship with you and enhance my relationships with my family and friends. I seek to be pure and blameless among my Christian sisters and brothers as we await the return of Christ to take his bride home.
Praise be to God!
I am pleased to say that since this post was orginally written 11 months ago, God has answered my prayer and I have enjoyed a sweet, sweet, intimate connection with God through the Holy Spirit that has carried my relationship with God to new depths. Today, however, God brought me back to this scripture during my quiet time and I was reminded that, like all relationships, the depth of intimacy is a like a spiral. As I spiral through my family and friend relationships and spiritual relationship with God, there is always more depth to them. The deeper involved I become with my family, friends and God, the less control I have and the more I understand those whom I connect with.
I am still on a quest to become more like Christ.