Archive | May 2015

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

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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.