Archives

Can I Get a Witness?

20140914_142311

Exodus 34:5-7a (NKJV) – Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…

 

I don’t know exactly from where, but I remember hearing that phrase, “Can I get a witness?” when a preacher was saying something he felt should resonate with his congregation, asking, “Haven’t you had the same experience? Come on, let everyone know you know what I’m talking about!”  I believe this may be my last post for a while because it’s obvious God is moving us to a new season in our life.  I felt the Lord speaking to me this time last year to begin this blog and it has been one of the coolest things He’s allowed me to do.  You’ve walked with me in the most amazing point in my journey with our Abba, our heavenly Daddy.  I realized that I didn’t know Him the way I needed to, really seeing Him as He is which is loving and gracious, kind and immeasurably good.  I know it will take the rest of my life and into eternity to understand this more and more because I’m sure what I’ve learned this last year just scratches the surface.  But, I have been changed, with the exception of being saved, this is the most I’ve changed in my entire life.  Thank you Abba!

Over one year ago, God put Ed and I on a journey that we didn’t understand and that seemed fraught with peril, uncertainty and its share of fear.  I was laid off after working 20 years for essentially the same company going from a part-time receptionist back in 1990 to running the entire facility management organization.  We were a one income family, mine, with a house up in  Connecticut that we had been trying to sell for a year with no results, a home here in Florida and I was beyond burned out.  Over this last year God has spent such quality time with Ed and I and revealed to us the many, many places where our trust was in so many other things besides Him.  We know now that daily we need Him, more like minute by minute, and we realize that He is the goal, not a job or career, not financial success or having amazing children (although we do!).  No, none of those things are the prize, it’s Jesus and we are committed to going only after Him and realize we can only do that with His help.

Ok, are you ready for what God has done?  I hope you’re sitting down because in our wildest hopes this last year, we couldn’t have expected how He accomplished it.  He is just so amazing.  It began a little over a month ago when a good friend that I used to work for reached out to me to be a reference for him for a position that he was applying for.  I was happy to do so and a few weeks went by and one Friday afternoon just a few short weeks ago, that call came in.  The manager for that position began asking me about my friend, how we knew each other, was describing the role and asking how all the pieces fit.  It was interesting because she and I immediately connected.  As the conversation went on, little by little it became apparent that she was actually very interested in me for the position and I was becoming interested, the first time in a long time, in it as well.  God was orchestrating something in the most unique way.  She and I spoke for an hour and at the end of the call I was going to talk to Ed about the role, and she was going to schedule to fly me out the next week to interview with her boss, the CFO (chief financial officer) and a few others.  And get this!  She was going to be on vacation, so I wouldn’t even get to meet her in person when I was doing the interviews.  Long story short, God handled every single step and meeting and from the time she and I spoke exactly two weeks later I had received and accepted a job offer.  What?!  Now you’re probably wondering about my friend, right?!  He and I have since spoken and while he was very interested in the position, God actually opened up another door for him that he is very excited about and he loved the way God used him to bring this miracle about!  So cool and I can already tell I’m going to love this place!

Now this new position is in Dallas and we still have our home in Florida, which we put on the market a month and a half ago because we just wanted to have everything out on the table before God.  We also still have the house in Connecticut and now we’re going to need to rent something in Dallas, how is that going to work?  Thank the Lord that we’ve learned what we’ve learned because we didn’t even bat an eyelash.  We’ve felt perfect peace knowing that God was more than able to lay out all that we needed to take care of that.  Ed and I just got back a couple of days ago from our 30th anniversary trip (I know, can you believe it?  30 years!!) and the day we were returning we had a showing (0ne of many since we’ve listed it).  The next day we had a second showing (this was the first second visit of a perspective buyer that we’d had).  Unbeknownst to us when we returned after the showing, they were still in the house…what?!  Another God ordained appointment.  We spent 10-15 minutes speaking with them and their agent and they were the nicest couple.  The next morning I get a call from our realtor, they are putting in an offer, actually a CASH offer, they want to close by October 25 and the offer is very close to what Ed and I were hoping to sell the house for.  Isn’t that incredible??!!  If we had any doubts about the job and moving (and we didn’t) God couldn’t have made it more clear that He was directing our steps.

Wow!  When I got the call on the sale of the house yesterday morning I felt almost dazed, my mind on tilt.  Now I have a little taste of what the psalmist meant when he penned Psalms 126, Psalm 126:1-2 (AMP)  When the Lord brought back the captives [who returned] to Zion, we were like those who dream [it seemed so unreal].   Then were our mouths filled with laughter, and our tongues with singing. Then they said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.  We had a feeling that when God transitioned us that it would be suddenly, but that just doesn’t prepare you for when it actually happens.  We just can’t wrap our human minds around the ways of God, but I am so thankful for them!

Now I want to thank you.  Thank you for starting this journey with me.  I pray that you have been blessed as much as I have in what God has revealed to us in these posts, I am truly humbled .  I pray that you continue with me in this press into knowing your Heavenly Father more deeply every day.  See Jesus and His indescribable work at the cross as the highest price paid for us to be in fellowship with our Heavenly Father, I don’t want to waste another moment.  Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you and comfort you and be that ever present help in time of need (and we are at every moment a needy people!!).  Daily.  Join me in tending your soul daily, enjoying God’s presence and being used by Him to bless others and to be blessed by others.  I am and you are and together we are…our Father’s daughters!!

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba, human words cannot express my thankfulness and gratefulness.  Not because of what you’ve done, although that is such a testimony of who You are, and that is why I am grateful and thankful.  Thank you for revealing to me who You really are and peeling away layers of misconceptions and wrong thinking.  While this side of heaven I will see through a glass darkly, but because of this time the glimmers are brighter and the image becoming clearer.  Abba, help me as we enter this next chapter to glorify you in all that we do and may we be a living example of Jesus to a world that is lost in darkness and in need of Him.  Greater.  Greater are you than anything that we see before us and we trust You to work Your plan in and through us as we look and as we point…to You.

Searching for answers…or searching for Him?

Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

 

In this age we live in, and especially our culture, we’re taught to question people, circumstances and situations.  There’s the five “W’s”, Who, What, Where, When and the most famous Why used by children everywhere.  “Why is the sky blue?”  “Why can’t I have that?”  “Why can’t I sleep over at my friend’s house?”  If you have children or have been around them for more than five minutes, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  We think we grow out of that, but actually we don’t.  Maybe we don’t ask every question we have out loud, but we ask.  We’re searching for answers, working to understand causes and effects and we’re told that to learn we must ask.  In fact, I can resolve many disagreements with my husband over where we’ve seen that actor before by pulling out my phone and just “Googling” for the information.  Viola!  Disagreement resolved, we now know the answer and who is right and who was wrong.

Yesterday the Holy Spirit asked me this question, “Are you searching for answers or are you searching for your Heavenly Father’s heart and the face of Jesus?”  My first thought was, of course I’m searching for You God, haven’t you read my journal, this blog?  Haven’t you heard all my prayers where I tell you I’m seeking and searching for you?  Then low and behold, and to my great surprise, I saw the motive of much of my seeking and searching…I was looking for answers.  I’ve been chasing after trying to understand what God is doing, why He’s doing it, what He’s doing, what that means for me and WHEN will I know?!  The foundation of most, although not all, of my searching was anchored in trying to figure something out.

I’d like to be sure and say that God has no problem with us wanting to know things or about things.  Like I mentioned, children our innately curious and they are supposed to be, we are supposed to be.  But here, I believe, is the issue, when the focus of our search is about getting all our questions answered vs. being satisfied with Him even if we never get the answer to the why or the where or the what or the when or the who.  I’m convinced that because of God’s question that we covered in my last post, “Where were you?” and the revelation that much of God for us right now is far beyond our human ability to understand, that the Holy Spirit was able to ask this next question, “Are you searching for answers or are you truly searching for me?”…and I could recognize the difference.  I don’t know what all I need to do to be what He’s created me to do and be.  If I’m honest with myself, I don’t really even know the right questions to ask.  But this I do know, if I set my heart to search for Him, to know Him, to make Him the focus of my quest, He will answer my unasked questions with exactly the right answer.

Here’s an example in the Bible that caught my attention a couple of weeks ago and captured the longings I’ve been having.  It’s in 2 Chronicles 20 and King Jehoshaphat has just heard that the armies of the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Meunites were coming against him and that they were a great multitude.  As you can imagine the first thing that hit King Jehoshaphat was fear but then he did something really interesting, here’s what the Bible tells us in the Amplified version, 2 Chorinthians 20:3(a) Then Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself [determinedly, as his vital need] to seek the Lord(emphasis mine).  That phrase, as his vital need, has been stuck in my heart for a bit now.  I’ve also been captured by what it says in verse 4 And Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord [yearning for Him with all their desire] (emphasis mine).  Yearning for Him with all their desire.

Again, I find that very intriguing.  Why you may ask (no pun intended there!!).  Here’s why.  They had a desperate situation, they really needed some guidance and answers or they were going to be slaughtered with a capital “S”, but the Bible doesn’t record any normal questions like, “Why is this happening to us?”, “Where are You God?”, or “What did I do wrong?”.  The Bible lays this out as a very succinct action to a set of scary circumstances.  King Jehoshaphat gets the news and the natural emotion of fear rises up, but unlike how I have usually dealt with a scary set of circumstances he immediately and determinedly as his vital need sets himself to seek the Lord.  Then he calls his people and they begin to seek the Lord, not described as to get answers, although they are going to ask questions, but their intent is yearning for Him with all of their desire.  That was what was at the heart of that question to me, was I more interested in getting an answer I felt I needed or understanding to something I didn’t understand or was I truly looking to set my Heavenly Father as my vital need and yearning for Him with all of my desire?  As I saw my motives I saw I wanted answers.  But how can we know if we’re wanting God first?  Let’s look at what King Jehoshaphat and the assembly of Judah did:

2 Chronicles 20:5-12 (AMP) – And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord before the new court  And said, O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations? In Your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand You. Did not You, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham Your friend?  They dwelt in it and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your Name, saying,  If evil comes upon us, the sword of judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You—for Your Name [and the symbol of Your presence] is in this house—and cry to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.  And now behold, the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they turned from and did not destroy— Behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. O our God, will You not exercise judgment upon them? For we have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think most of us pray like that in a situation like this.  King Jehoshaphat spends the majority of the first part of the prayer reminding himself, his people and God who God is.  They are phrased as questions but they are rhetorical because they know and God knows that the answer to each of these is “Yes”.  I also noticed there’s not a single, Why, again just a statement of the facts, although it sounds like King Jehoshaphat may be wondering why God stopped them from invading when they had the chance, but regardless he gets back to the heart of the matter…We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.  Boy, don’t you love that?

So let’s break this down, because I believe that if we can get what they did here to become the way we are chasing after God, we will see the majority of our anxiety, frustration and fear take a backseat to faith, confidence and security.  First, they had a serious problem and one that God could have kept from happening if He would have let them invade these enemies when they originally had the opportunity.  Secondly, like every one of us, the first response was the natural human reaction, fear.  But unlike most of us, King Jehoshaphat in this third step did something amazing, he determined that he was going to seek God in this as his vital need.  Once he did that, fourthly he pulled together the rest of his people and together they, yearning for Him with all of their desire, sought the Lord.  AND THEN King Jehoshaphat prayed his questions.  This is what I see, he and they searched God first and then they laid out their needs and even in that King Jehoshaphat reminded himself, his people and God who God is and not even in it’s own sentence does he tell God he doesn’t know what to do, no he ends the sentence with …but our eyes are upon You.  Wow, that is just powerful!

So how does it end?  I’m so glad you asked.  Here is what God said in response to their prayer, 15 He (God) said, Hearken, all Judah, you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat. The Lord says this to you: Be not afraid or dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s (emphasis mine).  God tells them, “I’ve got this!”  If you read the rest of the chapter (and please do, read the whole thing!!) He gives them some instructions and the next morning they went where God told them, they focused on God’s mercy and loving-kindness and sang and praised the Lord and the armies of the enemies turned on themselves and wiped themselves out…AND it took three days for the tribe of Judah to collect all of the spoils.  Hoorah!  Guess what, I don’t want to ask my questions and search for answers over my searching for Him anymore.  I want to set God as my vital need, I want to remind myself of who He is, I want to make my requests known and I want to listen, obey and let Him do His thing!  Here’s the reminder that I needed, He is the answer.  The great I AM is the answer to every question I ask or don’t even know to ask and if I do like King Jehoshaphat and the tribe of Judah did, make Him my vital need and go after Him with all my desire, I already have all the answers I need.

 

A Daughter’s Prayer and This Post’s Resource:  It seems to me that the more we come to know our Heavenly Father’s character the easier it is to search for Him vs. answers.  Here’s a song that’s helping me focus on that and I can’t pray it any better than this!!

Where Were You?

Galaxy Photo

Psalms 19:1-4 (NKJV) The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line[a] has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,

A few weeks ago Ed and I had the opportunity to spend a week at a lovely cabin in the mountains of North Carolina.  No cell service, no cable or wifi just us, nature and a sweet cabin.  As you can imagine, it was awesome!  While there I happened upon a National Geographic magazine from several years ago that had pictures from a recent hubble excursion.  Here I was in an area rich with the beauty of God’s handiwork in trees and mountain, rivers and wildlife and I’m holding in my hand pictures of some of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen, God’s galaxies.  To say I was humbled would be an understatement.  I was in awe.  Like most Americans, I’ve seen pictures of the planets and galaxies before but never had the impact reach me like that of how amazingly they represent our Heavenly Father.

During that week in the mountains Ed and I really experienced and felt God’s presence and it was one of the best trips we’ve ever had.  But like everything in this life, that part of our journey came to an end and we headed back to “real life”.  Very quickly the pressures and frustration of our current circumstances bounded back into our minds and onto our shoulders and the questions began again.  “God what are You up to?”  “Why is nothing seeming to change?”  “Have we missed something You’ve said?”  “What’s going on?”  You get the idea!

Fortunately for us, God had led us to an amazing pastor and author who we began to watch his sermon videos, J.D. Greear.  I was first introduced to J.D. through a daily devotional through my subscription to Faith Gateway (I’ll have more info. for you in the Resource Section below).  It was a number of months ago and God really used that word to comfort Ed & I, so I purchased his book, Jesus Con’t.  Recently we also began to listen to his teachings and in one of the sermons we were watching that was inspired by this book J.D. addressed the reaction we humans have to circumstances and situations God takes us through that to us are unfair, excruciating, devastating or unimaginable.  He talks about a number of things but one topic took me right back to those photos of the galaxies and changed the very way I was looking at my circumstances and most importantly God.  J.D. brought up Job (gulp!) and the wretched things that happened to him because God knew that no matter what satan came at him with, Job would not turn his back on God.  But that did not mean Job did not question what the heck was going on (remember Job wasn’t privy to the heavenly conversations between satan and Job’s Heavenly Father).

After 37 chapters of calamity of cataclysmic proportions and questions that we would feel Job had every right to ask, God shows up.  Interestingly enough though, God isn’t all “Way to go Job!  I knew you could do it!  I knew you’d show that pain in our rear devil what he could do with his boasting!”  No, that’s not what He says to Job.  In fact, with the wrong perspective, we think what God says seems very inappropriate for someone who trusted God with his life and everything that he had.  We could also erroneously think what God said was very arrogant.  I’m going to give you an excerpt from that conversation and Job’s response:

God:  Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?  To what were its foundations fastened?  Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job:  Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’  Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.   Listen, please, and let me speak; You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’ “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You.  Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.

Job 38:4-7; Job 42:1-6

I gave you a couple of versus but God goes on for several chapters before Job can get a word in edgewise.  Before my awestruck encounter with those photos from the Hubble I would have (and probably did in the past when I read those verses) thought that God just didn’t seem to be very nice to a man who just suffered the most of anyone we’ve seen in the Bible.  We know the rest of the story, that God gives back to Job double and more but at this point Job doesn’t know that.  But having my spiritual lens changed from our trip to the mountains and the opportunity to see afresh the majesty of God in His creation that is more amazing as you see the majesty of His galaxies, I actually began to be comforted by God’s words to Job.  I began to truly see that His question to Job of , “Where were you?  Where were you when I created all of this and planned for all of this and thought about you and every single other living person and creature?  Last I remember, you weren’t there.”, is a reminder to Job and to us that He is so much bigger than we allow Him to be in our lives.  His thoughts are so much more powerful and creative and majestic than we, as mere human creatures, can at this stage of our journey ever understand.  God’s comfort began to overtake me and like Job, I understood that I have uttered what I did not understand, things to wonderful for me. 

I don’t think it’s possible for us to, in this earthly body, grasp why we go through the things we go through.  Loss, death, evil, waiting, change in direction, change in circumstances…all of it.  It is too much for us, but for our Heavenly Father, the creator of galaxies beyond what humans can see or understand, it is all within His purview.  AND we can with confidence step back from our doubts and anxiety and confusion and know that while we weren’t there when God created everything that has been created, He was and nothing is a surprise to Him.  Despite the fact we turned control over to His enemy to corrupt what He in perfection created, that He, when He is our Lord and Savior, makes all wrong right!!

I encourage you to visit the link I’m providing of the space pictures of the galaxies.  View it with fresh eyes and marvel at your Heavenly Father, whose daughter you are.  He who created all things, and didn’t even spare His own Son but gave Him freely for you, what good thing will He withhold from you (Romans 8:32)?  As Paul goes on to say, Nothing.  So it comes down to trust.  Trusting He is wholly good, wholly loving and He says that He is, and He says He is not a man that He can lie (Numbers 23:19).  Re-read those verses from Job, maybe read the whole book of Job and then pay special attention Job chapters 38 – 41 when God is talking and chapter 42 when Job’s perspective changes.  You can trust Him, you can put your situation into His hands and know regardless of how each day of the journey goes, God’s got this.  We may never completely understand in this life, but the God who created the beauties of this earth and the majesties of the galaxies does and He is intricately working all these things for your and for my good.

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba the joy in my heart cannot be described when I look through my human eyes at the glory of your majesty.  I am so thankful that You are so much greater than I have believed You are.  Like Job I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not and do not know.  And I am ok with that and may each time I question you, and I am sure that I will, remind me again of Your glory and Your majesty and then show me again how much You love me and that nothing happens that You are not using for my good and the good of those I love.  Help me see with new eyes and hear with new ears, anchored in a new perspective that I am not even worthy but out of your immeasurable loving kindness, because of Jesus, I am worthy and I AM my Father’s Daughter.  Amen!

Resources:

  • HubbleSite – How people cannot believe in God after seeing this, I do not know, but these pictures are absolutely incredible!!  http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/
  • FaithGateway – I signed up to get their daily devotional emails.  Through this I have read some of the best Christian content I have ever experienced.  Now not every day and every devotional does that for me, but I would say 80% or more they speak something to me that I really need right then.  If you’re interested here’s how you can sign up.  http://www.faithgateway.com/
  • J.D. Greear – If you enjoy reading I would highly recommend J.D.’s book Jesus Con’t.  but even outside of that his sermons are life changing and point you to the One who is the one who transforms us.  http://www.summitrdu.com/messages/  Also, if you need an absolutely amazing teaching on patience, guest speaker Bryan Loritts has a fantastic one that he gave during the month of July: Bryan Loritts – Patience
  • PodBay – I first started listening to J.D. on this app on my phone as well as several other speakers.  It covers many genres but the good news is it has a lot of Christian speakers, so you may want to download this free app if you’d rather listen than watch:  PodBay for Android  PodBay for iPhone

Honest Prayers

Sheep and Shepherd

Isaiah 40:11 (NKJV) – He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.

 

 

You may have been wondering about my extended absence from my blog and I’ve wondered about that too!  It’s interesting because I know when I have something I want to post and over the last month or so, I’ve not had the words to share.  I’ve never been a book writer, so I’ve not experienced writer’s block, but this wasn’t a block it was knowing that what God was doing and saying in me wasn’t to a place that it could be shared.  But today is your lucky day, here it is!!

I think of myself as a very honest person; I work to tell the truth at all times, believe what is true and also stand for truth.  So you can imagine my surprise when it felt as if God was telling me I haven’t been honest with Him and a big part of that was because I wasn’t being honest with myself.  To describe this is going to take God’s grace because when you aren’t honest with yourself, but have always thought you were being honest with yourself and everyone else, it’s difficult to understand how you can be so far off.  This is where I believe I was, I had spent the majority of my life trying to be good, to act right, to believe right, to counter improper thoughts with correct thoughts, to forgive or have grace if I was mistreated…and the list goes on and on and on.  The bottom line is I have worked to be right.  I’ve used my will to manage myself and behaviors so that I would line up with what I thought God said, God promised and, quite frankly, what God expected.

Over this last month, something, and it hasn’t been this clear event but more of a journey, has made me realize I never have felt I could just feel and think all of these things that I feel and think when I’m angry, hurt, mad, confused or any of these negative emotions and spill them out to God.  For numerous reasons, even though I knew God knew everything I thought or felt, I believed if I thought too long on them or said them that I would cancel out what God said He would do on my behalf in His word.  It’s funny because when you really allow yourself to get to some beliefs that are way down there deep and you are able to see them, they aren’t complex or so weird that they aren’t understandable or they are not thoughts that make no logical sense, usually they are just these simple lies that we’ve believed to be true but based on God’s word, aren’t and we’ve filtered thousands of thoughts and actions through them.  Lies like we’re unlovable, that because one person close to us betrayed us that we can’t trust anyone or God is mad at me or I’ve been so bad, I can never be truly right.  But when these deep lies are exposed and God’s light of truth is shined on them, we can see what maybe for a lifetime, has held us hostage and if we can believe God’s truth we can really be free.  Also, that freedom breaks many other issues in our lives that grew because of that lie.

That’s what I’ve been doing these last several weeks.  Getting to a place where I could let God tell me I have a problem that’s affecting many areas of my life.  Things I’ve wanted to see God change, big things, have been rooted in this problem.  When I was hurt or upset I wouldn’t let myself be honest, with myself or with God, and I’d cover it and cover it and cover it but God in His mercy only let’s us hide stuff for so long.  And if we’re asking, and I was!, He’s faithful to show us, but at the same time He’s working in us to be in a place where we can come out in victory on the other side.  There’s pain in the process, and that’s usually why we avoid it, but I’ve had pain from all of the things I’ve been covering, so I’d rather plunge in with God in the pain and come out healed vs. hitting it unwittingly when I least expect it because I’ve got land mines buried everywhere.

So here we are, I suddenly (it was a suddenly that was a long time coming!!) realize that I don’t acknowledge the ugly emotions that I get when something bad happens or someone or something hurts me and because of that I don’t tell God what I’m feeling so that He can overtake me with His word and His love and keep that experience from becoming a new wound that never gets healed.  And I don’t get stronger in those areas because I don’t let Him become my answer in those areas, instead I’m looking for a solution somewhere else and usually in someone else; myself, my husband, my kids, friends or someone I think is an expert in that area, but not God.  Again, seems obvious when you see it in black and white, but in the murky waters of our inside self, it’s so easy and so natural to look for an answer that’s not God.  Here’s what I’ve been learning, though, it is so freeing to be honest with God and it’s been really amazing that as I spew out the junk then a scripture pops up in my mind and I look it up and His Word overtakes me and my spirit says, “Yes, Lord, that’s what I want in this situation.  That’s what I want You to be for me in this.”  I’ve had this happen while I’m in bed when I was dealing with some really hard emotions, I’ve had it happen at my desk, while I was writing out my fears and frustrations over a big issue, and I’ve had it happen in the shower while I cried because I was so mad at an argument I’d just had and felt I’d been totally treated unfairly.  Each and every time I poured out to myself and to God all of the ugly emotions I felt, all the unfairness it seemed I was being subjected to, all the rights of mine I felt were being trampled and the injustice of my circumstance and situation and then God in His kindness and mercy put a piece of scripture in my mind.  I would then look it up and each and every time it was so amazing how appropriate it was.  Some times I’d look them up on Google and God would also point out an article or teaching that would lead me to an additional passage that just made the truth even greater in me.

This is huge in me right now, and I want to give you every chance to see what and how God is doing this so I’m going to share one of my prayers (this is my way, you should always feel free to do it your way because God loves it exactly how you are comfortable doing it).  I hope that my experience will help you feel comfortable to have your own if you haven’t in the past.  I’m also going to provide at the end of today’s post a link to some resources that helped me tremendously in praying honest prayers.  Let the chips fall where they may and then see our Heavenly Father, who loves His daughters so much more than we know, show up and love us through the mess.

A Daughter’s Honest Prayer:  Lord, today I just feel bad.  I feel lost, confused and down.  I know that there are things that you are doing and have done, but the unknown is overwhelming me.  Help.  I need help.  In my spirit it’s like I’m in a dark rainy place and I’m curled up feeling abandoned and hopeless.  I’m asking, “Where are You God?”  Why is this so hard and why does the way forward continue to escape our inquiries?  I don’t know what to do.  I have no clue as to what You are saying, what You desire.  I don’t hear “yes” and I don’t hear “no”…it feels like I hear nothing.  Well maybe not nothing, maybe, “Follow Me”, but I’m not sure I know where “Follow Me” is coming from.  I’d love to follow You, but where are You?!

I feel like I’ve asked and have kept on asking, and that I’ve knocked and kept on knocking but the part where You open the door and where You answer the question…that part hasn’t, isn’t happening.  You’ve promised that You never leave us, nor do You forsake us, so based on that I know You are here…but the lamp unto my feet and light unto my path part…where is that?  You say You are that, You say that as You do this new thing You’ll show us…where is that part of the promise?

I know I am feeble, but as far as I am able I’ve surrendered and I’ve laid myself at Your feet.  I’ve asked to die to myself and become alive to You.  When does the alive part happen?  I admit it, I’m just plain scared.  I know I’m not supposed to be, but I am.  Not all the time, not every day, but today, right now I am.  And I’m upset!  I’m upset with everyone else who knows what we’re going through and doesn’t say or do what seems like would be helpful and encouraging.  I know these aren’t right thoughts and emotions, but they are what I have right now.  All I can do is tell them to You and let You do with them what needs to be done with them.

Help.  I know I need Your help.  Holy Spirit, my Comforter, Jesus my ever present help in time of need.  I desire help from my good shepherd.  As Rich Mullins said, “Hold me Jesus, I’m shaking like a leaf.  You’ve been my King of Glory, won’t You be my Prince of Peace?”*  Amen.

Resources:

Here is a link to a folder where I have several exercises and tools I’ve used as I’ve dug into spending more time talking to my Heavenly Father and being in a place to hear His voice and experience His presence.  I think you’ll find them very helpful!  Prayer Resources

If you’re unfamiliar with Rich Mullin’s song, “Hold Me Jesus”, here’s a link to the words and his video.  I find this song really moving, especially when I’m struggling with what’s going on in a bad situation.  Hold Me Jesus

Pizza Box Faith

bird in hand

Matthew 25:40 (NKJV) – And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

My husband, Ed, my sister, Sam, and I just got home from a Christian conference.  We had a great time but it’s interesting that one of the things that has stuck with me wasn’t from all the teachings and awesome praise and worship, it was actually from something we experienced during a lunch break.  We had a nice break between sessions and decided we wanted to go over to a pizza place Ed & I had seen the day before.  It was about a 10 minute walk, a beautiful day and we had lots to talk about coming from the first sessions, in fact we even had an assignment. We got to the pizza parlor and ordered our food and it was really, really good but the large pizza was huge, way more than the three of us could put away.  We grabbed a to go box and headed out.  I’m not sure if it was Ed or Sam but one of them suggested we give the rest of the pizza away to a homeless person.  There were plenty in the area where we were at, so the decision was made.  As we walked the few blocks back our eyes scanned the streets, the benches and the park.  We saw one young man we thought we might give the pizza to, but he was asleep and we didn’t want to wake him.  As our eyes moved from him, we saw our recipient, he was foraging in a nearby trash can, looking for food.  Ed confidently walked over with the pizza box and kindly gave it to him.  He smiled, answered the homeless man’s mumbled words with, “You’re welcome”, and we walked away, thankful we had boxed up the left overs, found a needy individual and passed on part of a blessing we had been given, good food.

This event struck me in my heart.  Not the giving to the homeless person, per se, as we’ve done that before, Ed loves to give to people who are down and out. But the process itself.  We had something, in fact we had overflow, more than we could enjoy and we knew we were to give it away.  We had it in our hand, and we had an assignment, find the right hurting, hungry person to give it to.  We knew what type of person we were looking for, someone needy and hungry.  When our eyes lit upon this particular homeless man, we knew he was the right one.  There were lots of homeless people between the pizza parlor and the conference location, but this one we knew was looking specifically for food, because he was foraging through the trash can.  He had a need and we had provision and we were looking for him!

It dawned on me that this is how our lives are supposed to go because this is the example Jesus set for us.  He was on assignment and everywhere He went He looked for those whose provision He had and He knew were looking for the answers He had.  It was easier for us with the pizza box because it was a tangible experience and assignment, but I’m realizing that I need to be applying this principle to every aspect of the good news that Jesus has planted inside of me.  Sometimes it will be tangible things like food, money or helping someone who can’t do something by themselves.  Other times it will be kind words, sharing the salvation message or encouragement from the Word.  Pizza Box Faith, that’s what I’m calling it.  Jesus has given us more pizza than we can handle and I’m to take that abundance of pizza and look for those that He directs me to and share the abundance of pizza.  That’s what Peter and John did with the lame man:

Acts 3:1-13   Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

They had had lots of practice being prepared to share Jesus and His abundance of healing and restoration, and it dawned on me that it truly is the art of practice.  Opportunities easily slip us by and I recognized this yesterday when what I think was a potential opportunity didn’t even dawn on my until it was passed.  Ed & I were flying back and because of airline system problems our first flight was delayed causing us to miss our connection.  We were re-booked onto a much later flight but we were hoping perhaps on a different airline we might be able to get out sooner.  We were at the counter of the service center checking on options and there was a young Asian woman with another agent and she was being informed that there wasn’t another flight for her until the next day and she was pretty upset.  As Ed & I were leaving the service area Ed mentioned to me that he hoped she was going to be ok and I, of course, agreed with him.  It didn’t dawn on me until later that could have been a Pizza Box moment.  We had peace about our situation (which in times past wasn’t even close to being the case!) and we could’ve waited nearby and just checked in with the young woman once she was finished to make sure she was going to be ok and to see if there was anything we could do.  Just even see if she needed some encouragement or help.  Like I said, it didn’t even dawn on me at the time, because, quite frankly, I didn’t realize at the moment I could be used in these simple but complex situations.  They are simple because it doesn’t take much to reach out a helping or encouraging hand, they are complex because we tend to be so caught up in ourselves and our own agenda it can be challenging for the Holy Spirit to get our attention.  I laugh at myself because He didn’t get my attention until later, but the good news is, He did get my attention!

I believe the reason that Peter and John were so quickly able to respond to the lame man and not let that opportunity pass them by is because they had learned to be on the lookout for these very opportunities.  Before Jesus left for heaven He asked Peter to feed His sheep.  Three times He asked Peter if he loved Him and three times He asked him to take care of His sheep (John 21:15-17).  Peter was on the lookout for ways to feed and tend Jesus’ sheep.  Jesus has asked us to  do the same.  Can we pry ourselves away from our various troubles, cares and activities and begin to see all of the Pizza Boxes that Jesus has given us filled with the abundance of our needs being filled and can we walk around each day looking for that opportunity to feed the homeless man, provide support and comfort to someone anxious and afraid, or be a listening ear and a prayerful heart for those who need it?  I love the example the Holy Spirit gave us in our Pizza Box experience and with His help, I’m going to lean into believing that I’ve got lots of Pizza Boxes that Jesus wants to use me to pass out to others and just be obedient in handing them out wherever He leads.  Luke 6:38 (NKJV)  Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba, what an exciting opportunity you have placed before me, before us.  You have promised to meet our needs and more besides and you have also asked us to give to those in need.  I have spent a lot of time receiving and being thankful for your provisions but I want to spend a lot more time seeing those who I can pass on Your abundance to.  I pray for seeing eyes and a hearing heart to the whispers of the Holy Spirit encouraging me to be Your hands, Your feet and Your voice.  Use me to pass out Pizza Boxes with love, kindness, graciousness and obedience.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

Passion

red-flowers

Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

In our “circles”…whatever that means…the word passion feels like it’s used a lot.  What’s your passion or what are you passionate about?  But like most words I think we’ve lost its true meaning.  As I looked up the definition I was somewhat underwhelmed by it, strong and barely controllable emotion, but I was interested in this graph I found which showed that the use of the word passion has dropped considerably over the last 100 years in writing.  That actually kind of shocks me because there are so many more books available now than then, and yet it’s mentioned 50% less.

I decided to look up definitions in Noah Webster’s original dictionary and one of the definitions began to speak to me more impactfully; Zeal; ardor; vehement desire.  I believe we were created for this but not how we’ve been taught to think or desire it but as it relates to our pursuit of God.  In Acts 1:3 it says, “To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) …”  Jesus’ passion was His choosing to experience the suffering before and during His betrayal and crucifixion.  But it wasn’t His desire for that experience it was the fact that God’s love for us was so great He was willing to experience all of those things for us…that was Christ’s passion.

Our one thing, that is what God expects to be in our lives.  That doesn’t replace all of the people, places and things that are a part of our lives, instead it sets the order.  I think it’s cool that God is a God of order (in fact I really like organization!) and the way God orders our life is by having us make Him our One and Only and then He orchestrates the balance of family, life, ministry, even ourselves and any and all other things that He’s planned to be a part of our lives.  What is also becoming clearer each day is that I have to passionately pursue keeping Him as my One Thing passionately, with zeal, ardor and vehement desire, or I allow disorder to enter onto the scene.

It seems to me that one of the reasons the word passion has diminished in use is because it’s a lot of work.  Think how life has changed in the last 100 years.  Life for us, especially those in progressive countries, has become so much more convenient.  I think convenient and easy has been replacing passion.  A few years back we had an early snow storm and because the leaves were still on the trees they caught and held the snow which was so heavy it broke thousands of trees all over our state and power lines fell like dominos and the whole state of Connecticut was pretty much without power.  For eight days my husband, kids, an occasional friend, and myself just worked to keep the basics going.  We were on a well, so no electricity also meant no water…ouch!  Even the simplest things in our normal lives became a huge event.  In experiencing that two things came to mind; 1) how much time it took just to stay alive when you didn’t have all the things we now have; and 2) how appreciative I became for the progress we’ve made over the last 100 years!

I don’t think God has any problem with the fact that daily living is easier now than it’s ever been, but I do think we need to realize that because it is easier, keeping Him as our One Thing, our focus, our top priority is going to take more effort on our part.  We are going to have to choose to maintain that passion, to not let convenience and busyness encroach and push out the desire to seek Him and find Him and daily search for Him with all of our heart and live the life He designed us for.

Have you heard the quote that good is the enemy of great?  God doesn’t settle.  To be saved there’s one way, and only one way, through Jesus Christ.  He also makes it clear that He has no desire to be second in our lives, He has to be first.  I don’t know that we’ve really grasped what that means but I believe that the Holy Spirit is awakening in this time and hour a desire in the hearts of many to put God in His rightful place within our hearts and lives.  God understands that on our own we cannot put Him, nor keep Him, as our One Thing.  With that understanding He’s shown us that if we will reset each day, turn our eyes on Him, let Him know we want Him to be first, He’ll do the ordering of our lives, He’ll blow on the embers of our passion for Him and fan it to a burning flame but it is truly a daily event.  I encourage you, as I do myself, to make the effort to write those notes, set those alarms and reminders, put that picture and verse up where you can see it and daily place your heart in His hands and fix your eyes on Jesus.  As you daily do this you will find that the rest of your life begins to make more sense and when troubles do arise you’re not out there trying to be your own air traffic controller, in fact you have the most brilliant air traffic controller ever, the Holy Spirit, working on your behalf!  Join me in pursuing our passion, which comes to a stop…right at the feet of Jesus.

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba, it embarrasses me to admit that I have not kept You in Your proper place in my life.  I have let my desires, the desires of others and the busyness of my life take greater importance than You.  Thank You that out of Your love, patience, grace and mercy You continue to draw me to You and remind me that You are my most important thing, in fact You need to be my One Thing.  That is what I desire, You…as my One Thing.  Daily I need You, daily I seek after You and find You as I search for You with my whole heart.  Out of my pursuit of You, You orchestrate my life, my activities, my encounters and my very being.  Jesus, be my passion, be my whole pursuit.  In Your holy name, amen.

 

A Life of Possibilities

?????????????????????????

Lamentations 3:22-24 (NKJV) Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”

I’m not sure at what place it happens, it’s probably different for every person, but I’m sure each of us has gone through that place where we look at our life and feel disappointed with some or many aspects of it.  The older we get, the more we usually wish we could go back and do things based on the knowledge we’ve gained from experience.  It seems somewhat unfair that God would wait until opportunities pass for us to know enough to take advantage of them!  So when do opportunities, future possibilities and the chance to do something you’re excited about cease to exist?  If we continue to operate in the way the world would have us live, we can feel regret at any age and believe we’ve missed our defining moment.  Believe we’ll never be all we’d hoped to be.  There’s so many things we can mess up that contribute to this mindset; a destroyed relationship, what looks like the wrong job, or the wrong college choice or the wrong major.  Then there are wasted opportunities, a bad choice, a never ending stream of bad choices that led us to a dark place.  Mistakes, large or small, contribute to this mindset as does the end of something.  You’ve spent 5, 10, 15 maybe 30 years down a path and then all of a sudden it’s over, it feels like there’s just no more possibilities in front of you.

What do we do with these circumstances, situations, feelings and emotions?  Changing the way we are looking at our circumstances and how we perceive their effect on what happens next is difficult at best and more typically paralyzing.  Believe it or not, that’s what the enemy is working to do, steal our ability to believe for good in our lives. 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT) says,  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Since we know he doesn’t actually eat us, what is this telling us?  I believe that one of the things it’s telling us is that the devil looks to devour our hope, our joy, our ability to believe and expect good.  Similar to what happens to plants when you take away the sunlight and water and they in turn wither and die, when the enemy is able to choke, smother and squelch our desires and expectations we, over time, wither and die on the inside.  It can be a long slow process or it can be a sudden, earth shaking event; regardless, his anticipated outcome is the same, to convince us that the life we’ve hoped for has passed us by and what lays before us is a barren wasteland of sorrow and personal suffering.

BUT THAT’S A LIE!!!  Yes, it’s true, those things you’ve believed, the way you are looking at your situation, circumstance, your barren wasteland is not the truth.  A well crafted, very real feeling lie but a lie nonetheless.  Jesus says, The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”  (John 10:10 NLT) .  I don’t think we can get any plainer than that!  He knows what the enemy is up to and Jesus tells us, as real as that may seem, it’s the thief, the devil, and here’s his objective…but I say, in me I intend you to have a rich and satisfying life, and he doesn’t just mean when you’re young or when your smart enough (as if!) or for a certain period of your life.  No, the Word is clear, His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).  As we look through the Bible we see time and again that age (remember Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born), intelligence (be honest, how many times did you laugh when you read Peter asking Jesus another crazy question), mistakes (David, a man after God’s own heart, made plenty!), starting off on the wrong foot (I mean, Paul was killing Christians when God called him…really?!) and the list goes on and on and on; are not the determining factor to achieving God’s plan for us.   Praise God!

It pleases God to take what is, in our eyes, the worst possible mess or dry lifeless place and turn it around for His glory and our benefit.  He does the work and we get to experience the joy!  My prayer is that you will have the courage to offer up your loss, your debt, your chaos and confusion and, in knowing that He is good and He loves you unconditionally, place it firmly and squarely in His hands and say, “Here, I can’t wait to see what You do with this!!  I messed it up really good, but I’m taking You at Your Word, I’m expecting that beauty for ashes and that oil of joy for mourning!”

Do you see what we’ve done?  We’ve taken our eyes off of ourselves, our situation and circumstances and instead placed them on Jesus.  We’re looking at Him with expectation, not the plan or thing.  It’s a mess, why do we want to watch it?  But Jesus, He’s worthy of our attention and confidence and expectation.  In Him the possibilities are endless to what He will craft out of our barrenness, our tangled jumble of mistakes or seeming missed opportunities.  Remember, He is the redeemer, the restorer, the one who speaks life and says “Yes” and “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

I understand that challenge and struggle of trying to stop looking at the problem.  I have plenty that are all around me at this very moment, but this I know, I don’t want the solution I can come up with or the future I create.  I’m ready for something much better, more fulfilling and something I don’t have to sustain.  I’m ready to look to Jesus, my messes and fears firmly in His hands, and I can see by looking in His eyes that He is excited and He knows that what He’s going to do with it is far beyond anything I could think up!  I’m ready to strike on the greatest adventure and time of my life…truly a daily life full of possibilities.

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba, here I am, in a dark hour where I realize that nothing I’ve done has brought me to where I hoped I’d be.  Instead, I’ve done the very things I intended not to do and ended up with messes I have no ability to fix.  Thank You that I and my mistakes are not a surprise to You.  That You knew all of this and are waiting to take me and my barrenness in with arms wide open, excited to turn my ashes into something beautiful and my mourning into the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced.  Holy Spirit, help me receive God’s amazing grace in my situations and circumstances and realize that You are not mad at me or ashamed of me, in fact nothing could be further from the truth.  You are proud of me, love me with unfathomable love and pour favor on me as You beloved daughter.  Lead me to the places You are crafting and designing for me; a life of possibilities where I can see You live and move and have your way in my life and those You have designed that I can touch with Your love and beauty.  Restore unto me the joy of my salvation and continue to draw me daily into the way everlasting!  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

 

You Know That You Know

Blue flower

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT) The faithful love of the Lord never ends![a] His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

My husband and I had an enlightening conversation this week.  In fact, we were watching a sermon that was really opening our eyes on some things we’d been praying about for quite a while and during that we paused the sermon and had that conversation.  It’s so important that things move from our head to our heart but what is becoming abundantly clear is the timing of that is all God because the interesting thing was we’d watched this sermon before and it didn’t “speak” to us the way it did this time.  The first time it was really good and we enjoyed it, but this time we were changed in our hearts, minds and spirits.  The Holy Spirit at that particular time breathed life and we literally had an awakening moment.  We will never be the same.

What happened?  I’m sure I don’t even have a full view of what all happened, but I’ll share the things that I do know.  As I mentioned in previous posts, God has my husband and I on a very unique journey right now, we’ve never been on anything like it before.  Over the last nine months God has been intently molding us, shaping us, pruning us, teaching us, and retraining areas where we had wrong thinking…a lot of that actually.

We’ve told God we want to live and have all that He has for us, but funny enough, you really never realize what your opening yourself up for with that request.  For us it has been inside out, upside down, complete overhaul time.  Don’t get me wrong, we needed it, but in it sometimes you’re wondering, “Was anything in my life working?  Does EVERYTHING have to be redone?”  Sometimes there is a lot that we need renewed, but the whole purpose of the process is preparation and getting you ready for where God is leading you and make you fit for His use in that.  Joseph comes to mind.  He had the visions of his family bowing down to him, which seemed pretty prideful at the time!, and I imagine he did have some pride issues going on being his Father’s favored son and seeing these dreams.  However, what those dreams represented were way beyond what was seen at the time; all of the known nations of the world would be under Joseph when the time came, because he would be the way any of them would survive.  During the seven year famine every person needing food had to go through Joseph to get it, and the reason it was available was because of Joseph’s stewardship…wow!

God took Joseph through some pretty intense training, that at the time made absolutely no sense to Joseph.  He’d have favor and then the pit; he’d have favor and then prison; he’d have favor and then be forgotten.  But the purpose for it was there and the time was coming and God was weaving all the necessary pieces together while Joseph waited, was tested, while Joseph changed, served and matured.

That’s been us, fortunately so far we’ve gotten to skip the literal pit and prison experiences but many of Joseph’s experiences we can relate to.  So lately God has really impressed upon us the importance of having Hope in our lives.  I even did a post on Hope a couple of weeks ago, that confident expectation of good.  I have it on my board in my office, I’ve been reading devotionals and Christian books that cover hope, and I’ve been regularly reading awesome scriptures on hope.  I’ve also prayed that the Holy Spirit would fill me with hope and that the all to often confident expectation of nothing good would be transformed to what God has promised!!  I know all of those things probably don’t sound that exciting and they may even sound trite, but I’m here to tell you that when God says,  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV), that’s really what He means and when we take Him at His Word, what He promised and what we’ve been praying for will come to pass.

Back to Ed’s and my conversation.  We’re watching the sermon and getting revelation and all of a sudden we have that hope.  It’s no longer just in our head, it’s in our hearts and we are seeing and feeling totally different than we did an hour ago.  We pause the message and Ed tells me that it’s like knowing we are saved and going to heaven.  Both of us are so sure of that, there is nothing anyone could say or do to us that would cause us to stop believing that truth.  We are unshakable in our confidence of our salvation, we know that we know.  If we can believe that, the most amazing gift God gives us, why are we struggling with all of these seemingly lesser beliefs?  Really, I can believe that Jesus saved me from hell and I’m going to spend an eternity in heaven with God, but I struggle with where this month’s milk money is coming from…it seems crazy.  I think, though, it’s a few reasons we have these daily struggles; the enemy, our culture, we are growing each day from glory to glory, and the list goes on.  Here’s the pièce de résistance:  if we will truly commit and surrender ourselves to our Heavenly Father (no take backs!!), and if we will be willing to take Him at His Word and press in and keep on seeking and knocking, He has promised that absolutely He will reveal to us His ways and they will come in with a confidence and strength that it will no longer be something you just understand in your head, you will know that you know that you know and the victory and joy and peace that come with that will be the joy that is set before you that dims all the struggle our human flesh went through to obtain His glorious promise!

I don’t know where you are today and what challenges, frustrations, griefs, or obstacles you are in the middle of, but your Heavenly Father does know.  He knows and He’s provided a promise and a provision that are far beyond the problem.  For us, our circumstances over the years had led to a season where we really needed to be living in God’s hope for what He has next for us.  In our heads a lot of it didn’t make sense and we’ve knocked heads with God on a number of occasions (maybe not the brightest move on our part!), but His loving-kindness and His faithfulness and gentleness continued to envelope us and we are learning more about what God wants to be for us in this time far beyond what we’ve ever known before, and we know are truly living in hope.  For this season of what we are learning, because this is a continual journey, we know what we know…and we are unshakeable.

Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mi6nZA2wUqo  If you’re interested in the sermon God used for Ed & I, here’s the link.  It’s Graham Cooke’s “The Language of Heaven”

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba, I stand in a place I do not understand and that I do not want to be.  Instead of being in Your green pastures I feel as though I am banished to the most barren desert.  I have no idea how to get to where I am, to where You’ve promised You will lead me.  But it is You, Lord, that I want.  There is nothing in this life that will ever be as important as You.  I know You can take me from my wilderness and from my wanderings and lead me by Your still waters.  You can set me at Your table in the presence of my enemies and I can see Your marvelous glory turn my wasteland into a land flowing with milk and honey.  You, Abba, are my hope. In You will I trust.  I lay my brokenness at your feet and I surrender myself wholly to You that not only will I reap life everlasting, I will have hope, peace, joy, grace, mercy and Your loving-kindness all the days of my life.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

My Normal

Daisy

Romans 14:17 (NKJV) – for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

 

The last few weeks have been interestingly normal and I say that implying that normal means ups and downs, good experiences and bad, laughter and tears on any given day.  As I continue to tread along this journey of discovery about my Heavenly Father, I also find out more and more about myself.  I’m discovering that while I know correct things in my head, I still expect something else in my life.  Take normal for example.  In my head I know that normal means all kinds of different experiences, including ones I like and those I don’t, because we all have that, that’s normal.  But I want my normal to mean that I’m driving in my convertible, perfect humidity free breeze blowing (don’t want my hair to get frizzy!), sun shining, the right song on the radio and not a care in the world.  Unfortunately, most of my days don’t look like that, so my emotions and that voice in my head begin to tell me I’m living a sub-par life, I’m not living a normal life.  Ha!  Joke’s on me!

It’s time to take on a more mature, and I mean spiritually mature, view of what normal should look like and it’s not either view I have so carefully crafted.  Instead, it’s a beautiful blend where I am living my very normal, roll coaster of a life, but inside I’m experiencing the peace, stability and carefree existence the Bible describes over and over and over again.  That familiar scripture in Philippians 4:11-13 (AMP):

11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be [a] content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.  12 I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.  13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [b]infuses inner strength into me; I am [c]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

Again, another area where I mentally understood what Paul was saying, but in living life, never truly comprehended how something like that could be me.  How can I, how can we, be steadfast, content, satisfied, not disturbed, nor disquieted regardless of our situation and circumstances?  How can I be riding the scariest roller coaster on the outside and be driving peacefully and relaxed in my convertible on the inside?  Honestly, I don’t think I truly felt like that is something I could be.  Not because I didn’t think that was what God wanted for me, I just didn’t know what I needed or needed to do or be…to BE that person.

Here’s what I’m discovering.  This journey is less and less about me and more and more about Him.  Remember that scripture, I’ve been crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live (Galatians 2:20) and this one, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2).  So a lot of my life has been a picture of how I saw it, how I thought it should be and my efforts in creating that environment and prayers to God to change circumstances to come into line with my thoughts on my life.  Many of my thoughts were founded on scriptures, but it’s been my weaving and selection of scriptures to best fit my current circumstance and desired outcome.  The reality is, however, very different.  God has planned a life for each one of us whereby we live in His love, acceptance, joy, peace and favor and accomplish His design and plan for us.  I’m able to walk this walk because my time is spent in His presence and receiving all that Jesus died for me to have (that love, acceptance, joy, etc.) and He works in me and through me to pour that out as I walk the path He has set before me. ( Proverbs 3:6  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct[a] your paths.) 

The how is not found in what I must figure out to do, it’s in choosing to seek Him and His kingdom and my inner life becomes one of constancy because He does not change even when things around me are crashing and clanging.  I believe the reason Paul was able to say what he had become in all of his circumstances is because he went from seeking the perfect place and settled in the perfect person…His Heavenly Father, the shelter from the storm, the stillness in midst of the hurricane, the provision in the middle of lack…Paul’s internal rest in the secret place of the almighty.  I leave you with Psalms 91 that I believe is what God has spoken to us that we are to have as our normal regardless of any situation we find ourselves in.  It is what I am reaching for as the normal life I believe God planned for me…and for you!

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler[a]
And from the perilous pestilence.
He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;
His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,
Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,
10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;
11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you in all your ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
13 You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra,
The young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.

14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

He is Our Hope

Daffodils in Snow

1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NKJV) – But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

 

You can’t be a Christian for very long before you become familiar with the scripture in Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  And I don’t know about you but I didn’t really go “Aha! Now it all makes sense.”  after reading that.  In fact, for a long time it seemed like a riddle that I was never really able to solve.  It was like describing something I didn’t understand with something else I didn’t understand!  In our culture hope has become like wishing…standing at the edge of a fountain, holding your coin and your breath as you toss it into the water making your wish.  And then walking away not really expecting much to come from it but not wanting to miss the chance just in case it might.  Sound familiar?  Under that context I certainly don’t have any confidence in faith if that is what its substance is…a kind of wish!  In reading the Bible we know that is not what it means and to have more confidence in faith we also have to have a revelation of what is meant by hope.

Hope in the New Testament is the Greek word elpis, which is defined as a “favorable and confident expectation” or “the happy anticipation of good”1.  When we make a wish that is not what we feel, so I think it’s important to think about under what circumstances do we have confident expectation and a happy anticipation of good?  For me, that happens when I know that something I want is coming.  My husband is wonderful about getting me things that I want (he tried it the other way, getting things he wanted to get me, and somehow that just never produced the excitement he wanted!), so when a special occasion arrives and I’ve had my eye on something I have the hope described here that even though I haven’t actually received it and it’s not actually in my possession I have confident expectation and happy anticipation of being the recipient of my special gift.  If we apply that concept to Hebrews 11:1, that faith is the substance of having that confident expectation and that happy anticipation of good, that begins to provide me a glimmer of what God is wanting to express in His Word about hope.

Like we talked about previously when we studied peace, the gifts God gives us in the areas of love, peace,  and joy are not how the world has translated them to us.  Instead, they are each life giving/life changing fruits of the Spirit.  The hope that God gives is also a gift that is meant to empower us and connect us to Him and through it He is able to move and do the very things that are His intent to do.  Where I think we’ve struggled, and I can say for sure that I have struggled, is we have focused our hope on the outcome not on God.  Let’s go back to my example of my husband and his gifts.  When those special occasions come around I’m not telling everyone that I know what I want and “hoping” that someone will have enough sense to get it for me, no, instead I have all the confidence in the world in Ed and my knowledge of his character and faithfulness and desire to bring me joy and because of that I have confidence in him providing me a wonderful and beautiful gift.  How much more our Heavenly Father, than an earthly loved one, to have that type of expectation of?  In fact Jesus says in Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! where He’s also telling us that if we truly understood our Heavenly Father’s character and great love for us, we would have confident expectation and happy anticipation of good!

The whole premise of this blog, the reason I started it, was because I knew that I needed a purer revelation of my Heavenly Father’s character because religion, trials, and earthly junk had warped my view of Him.  We’ve probably all heard the saying that someone’s perception is their reality, whether it’s the truth or not.  I, frankly, was tired of living in my own reality, I wanted truth because I knew that without it I was not going to be able to be all He had created me to be and do all the things He had designed me to do when He planned for me when He was creating the world.  I was tired of the enemy and the world defining for me who my Heavenly Father is and robbing me of the joy, love, peace, kindness and power that belong to me as a daughter of God.  I say all that because we will continue to see that if we truly get to know our Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit we will realize that they are the answers to our ability to accomplish what is written in the Word.  My faith becomes substantial (meaning, “of ample or considerable amount, quantity, size, etc.; tangible; real; of solid character or quality; firm, stout, or strong“) because my hope (favorable and confident expectation) is in a God that is for me, for my family, for us as His loving creation.  Honestly, I’m getting to the place that it’s less about what the specific outcome is and more about being excited to see what God is going to do in my life and the world around me.  I’m learning to spend time with Him, read His word, hear His voice and pray the scriptures and words He is giving me about situations and circumstances and then sitting back and watching Him bring all of the pieces together.  I’m learning, and He’s probably thinking, “Finally!”,  that He is my hope!

Resources:  During this unusual time God has had Ed & I in, one book that has been transforming how we see God’s character is Joseph Prince’s, “The Power of Right Believing”.  I have seen major changes in my view and even larger transformations in Ed’s view and personality as we’ve read this scripture filled, excited about Jesus, book.  Here’s the link if you would like to read it too, it will change your life.  In fact, our daughter, Ashley, just started it!  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_18?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the%20power%20of%20right%20believing%20by%20joseph%20prince&sprefix=the+power+of+right%2Caps%2C294

A Daughter’s Prayer:  Abba, in a world of wishful thinking and dashed expectations I have lost the meaning of true hope.  Jesus came that I might have life and live it more abundantly and You desire for me to have my hope firmly and securely set in You.  I do not need to be concerned about my circumstances, my situations or any problem that I am in because You have promised over and over in Your Word that You take care of me, my family and those You have given me.  Holy Spirit, continue revealing to me the lovely character of my Heavenly Father and increase my ability to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and not the distractions of this world.  In You I have hope and in You I do hope.  In Jesus’ holy name, amen.

 

Notes:  1NT:1680, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words.  Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.