Growth Process

For the past two decades I have been journaling during my quiet time.  Recently I started to feel like I should go back and review those journals and type out the lessons.

  • There are many things that I have learned over the years that are engrained in my life, they have become part of who I am.
  • There are some lessons, that like the parable of the seed, fell on bad ground.  At the time in my life I was not in a place that those seeds could take root.  I need to be reminded of those so that I can continue to grow.
  • There are some lesson that I am still learning.  Things I know that God continues to show me time and time again, like the children of Israel because I need them to move forward in my journey.   I need to review them so I can move forward.Growthprocess

These journals are not in order.  I will do my best to date them as they happened, even if they are not typed in that order.  I am hopeful that my journey may help others.  Help others to see:

  • It is okay to start somewhere.
  • That God meets us right where we are
  • He speaks to us in a way that we can understand.
  • Sometimes it comes in waves and other times in a single sentence.

For me, I grew up in church but never learned about a personal relationship with a heavenly Father that loves me.  I could quote the scriptures and tell the stories, but they were just that words and stories.  I had to start with learning lessons in general.  Grand ideas found in the scripture that were applicable to lives in general.  Then I started to learn how to apply them to my own life.  Now I am able to help others apply the lessons to their life.  If nothing else, I hope that it helps you to grow in faith because for the most part, the person who wrote these journals, is a life transformed.  The Growth link at the top will house this journey through my journals.

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Revelation of Him

And from thence He arose, and went away into the borders of Tyre and Sidon. And He entered into a house, and would have no man know it; and He could not be hid. But straightway a woman, whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, having heard of Him, came and fell down at His feet.

Now the woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by race. And she besought Him that He would cast forth the demon out of her daughter.

And He said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs.

But she answered and saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; even the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs.

And He said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the demon is gone out of thy daughter.

And she went away unto her house, and found the child laid upon the bed, and the demon gone out. Mark 7:24‭-‬30 ASV

This passage came up twice today, once in my morning devotion and again in our women’s bible study at church. I usually take notice of repeats, especially when they happen so close together.

revelationofHimThis scene always blows my mind when I read it.  I guess because I always try to read in the context of today’s culture.  I can not imagine this scene playing out today.  There would be cries of discrimination.  There would be social media posts about how Jesus called her a dog.  It is hard for me to read this outside that thought pattern.

Yet, this woman knew who she was.  That is clear from the text and her response.  She knew her place. She was an outsider, a foreigner, a woman, and yet she approached Jesus anyway. She trusted that He would heal her daughter. She was not bashful or offended, she was bold and audacious. This woman had a revelation of Him.  She knew the power of Christ and wanted what He could provide for her daughter.

In contrast, I am a daughter of Christ, I belong to Him.  I am a citizen of Heaven living on earth.  Yet, I so often fail to approach God with my needs.  I will go to Him, but I will not ask for what I want.  Even when I do, I do not often have the bold audacious faith that this woman did.  I sometimes have that faith and boldness for others, for larger needs, just not myself.   For myself, old messages of who I know I am speak louder that my revelation of Him.

Yet the truth is, I can approach the Lord knowing that He will hear.  His Word promises  He will hear; she had no promise, yet she approached anyway.  I need a revelation that I can come to Him. I need a revelation that even when I feel like I don’t even deserve the scraps,  He wants me to come anyway.  He wants me to ask.   I need the revelation of Him, that will give me far more than the scraps, He says “far more than I can ask think or pray.”

I need a revelation of Him and a revelation of who I am in Him and to Him.

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Legalistic Love

Legalistic.  When I think of religion, that is the first word that comes to mind.  As much as I know that Christianity is not a religion, but is a relationship, I still tend to be legalistic in certain things.  I see things as a policy in God’s Word rather than an expression of His love for us and our love for Him.

LegalisticloveOne aspect of legalism I struggle with is  trying to earn His love.  Although I would not have labeled it that way, I realize that I spent much of my life trying to earn God’s love and approval.  I thought if I just went to church enough, read the Bible enough, prayed more, served more that I could somehow undo years of complete disobedience.  At the time, I was blinded to the motive of my heart.  Yet when I didn’t “do something” I would condemn myself for failure.  The more I worked to earn God’s approval, the more frustrated I would become.  The reality is I knew I couldn’t measure up.  There were not enough hours in the day or in my life for me to make up for my sin.

I would run non-stop from early morning devotion time, to work, to volunteer or church, to family obligations, to collapsing in bed for a restless night of sleep, only to wake up and do it again, and again, and again.  Weekends I would spend catching up on all the things I let go through the week, trying to catch up with my extended family and a lot of self-loathing for all the failures of not living up to the standards that not only the world but also that “the church” places on people.  Day in day out, weeks turning into years and years turning into months, I was exhausted.

I don’t know when it began to click that I don’t have to earn God’s love.   I already have His love, it is unconditional.  He is love. I admit it is still a journey that I am learning to walk.  Battling the standards that are placed on me by society and still walking in obedience to what God wants me to do.  It is so easy to move into approval mode and act out of the checklist and obligation instead of obedience and love. I now find myself intentionally missing like a day of journaling just to remind myself it is not a check box for approval, but an act of devotion.  Or I will not make it to a late week service because I know that spending time with my husband can be just as much an act of love for God as sitting in a prayer meeting.  God knows my heart, and I already have His.

I realize that child-like faith combats the legalistic view of religion. I had paused on this comment, as I rocked my niece to sleep last night.  I had been working on the blog since last Wednesday.  I  had intended to finish Saturday night, but the kids had other plans.  I had to laugh, because my pastor preached on this today.  Guess it is a timely topic, or one which I needed reinforcing. I almost decided to delete the post, but figured I would just finish it out.  

There is a book that I read as a child, and I am pretty sure read to my children called “Where the Wild Things Are.”  The story, although I don’t remember all of it is about a little boy Max who gets sent to his room without supper for something.  He is angry, and escapes to a world of imagination where the wild things are.  There is some story where I am sure he starts out scared, then lets his anger help him scare the wild ones. Max ends up becoming king of the wild things, but eventually decides to go back home.  When returning to reality, he finds dinner waiting on him. Max never went anywhere.  He never did anything.  He didn’t have to.  Even though his parents were upset by His behavior, they never stopped loving Him.  Max’s provision was there.

I think that is a picture of God’s love.  We see correction, discipline, pruning as being sent to the room without supper.  We retreat to a world of self-pity and anger.  We allow the enemy to ride our emotions to the land of the Wild things where he makes us think that we are the king of the land.  We start to believe those lies as our thoughts focus on the wrongs that have been done to us, or even just to stay so distracted by the circumstances that are around us.  We get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we lose sight of the Truth.    We are working to make everything better in this land of fantasy.  In reality, if we would just open our eyes to the Truth before us, God has the supper waiting on us.  He already loves.  He already has provided the provision.

There is nothing that we have to do, except believe with child-like faith in God’s love for us.  God is just waiting for us to get beyond where we are and what we are going through to see who He is to receive it.

 

 

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Three little letters

My heart leapt from my chest when he uttered those three little letters.  I had no idea how much it would mean to me to hear him refer to it with that word.  We had talked many times about it, but today provided a level of hope for my soul that I hadn’t expected, especially based on three little letters. Continue reading

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Intimacy

Songs speak to me. I suppose that is really what music is created to do. The pictures that I get listening to music often flood me with so many ideas that it is hard for me to pause and process. This morning me were singing of God’s reckless love and how He leaves the 99 to go after the one. That song has spoken to me for some time, because I know, that I have been that one.  I  recently finished reading about a Shepherd’s view of Psalms 23.  It gave me a  different perspective of God’s love that is sung about in Reckless Love.

intimacyI usually picture God waiting on me where I left Him. Times where I have walked away, disobeyed, or failed, I think of Him waiting on me to return to that spot. Waiting on me to repent, waiting on me to get my act together, waiting on me to surrender. At best, I picture Him calling out to me; like a parent calls for children at the door for dinner or an owner calls for a dog to come in. I knew He would call out to me, I just never pictured Him searching for me.

I thought about how I was pursued prior to marriage.  We had a few break-ups in our dating, and there was a pursuit during that time too.  I thought about how even now, if I have a disagreement with my husband, we may give each other some time, but one or both of us are going to go to the other for reconciliation.  If there has been a disagreement where one of us one walked away, or a hurt, or misunderstanding we are not just going to wait around and hope that things resolve on their own. Regardless of who is at fault, one of us will go to the other to restore the relationship and prevent further damage.

God pursued me before I came to know Him.  However, He does not stop pursuing me after I have accepted Him as Lord in my life.  Just as in marriage there is a continual pursuit, God continues to seek me out, just as I seek Him.  God may give me time, but if I don’t come back to Him to be restored, He will come find me. I learned that shepherd’s don’t wait around for stray sheep, they go after them. They look until they find them. Looking back, I see evidence of this in my own life so I don’t know where I got the idea that God was waiting where I left Him or let Him down.

We sang another song, “The More I Seek You. ” The song created such a picture of intimacy in my mind I was just trying to take it all in, His love is so deep.  The song talks about leaning into God, feeling His heartbeat.  It is such an intimate picture.

One of my favorite things is to just sink back into the safety of my husband’s arms.  Other than our children or grandchildren, no one else has that spot of intimacy. My relationship with God is one of intimacy, it is a reflection of marriage.  God desires that level of closeness with me.

He doesn’t just seek until He finds me, He brings me back into right relationship with Him. As a child, I remember two pictures of Jesus as a Shepherd. One Jesus held the lamb tenderly in His arms, the other He had the injured lamb on His shoulders. In both pictures, the lamb was doing nothing, it was Jesus who was making the effort. The lamb just held a position.

I know my position in my husband’s life, after I said “I do”, his wife became a position I held. It is one of intimacy. It is one of partnership. It is one of respect and submission, not out of fear or obligation but out of love. I am no less my husband’s wife when I let him down. My position as his wife doesn’t change just because we have a disagreement. I am still his wife even when he hurts my feelings. In fact,  we may become a little more intimate in reconciliation. We are still a married couple and can come together even when we have been on a different page for weeks, months or years. It is about knowing my position in his life, and knowing it exists, regardless of how either of us feel in the moment.

We must know our position in Christ. It was a finished work on the cross. Our position is solid regardless of our hurts, hangups and failures. We are still God’s children. We are still chosen, righteous and loved.  We can go to Him based on our relationship of intimacy with Him, our position and His love for us.  It is a place of safety and security, even when everything else around us is off.  We have to be willing to stand in that position regardless of what we have done.  Anything that speaks against our finished position in Christ is a lie from the enemy.  God wants the intimate relationship with His people.

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Daisies. A Picture of Mercy

Daisies. The picture was so clear in my mind. I am not a flower type girl. Flowers are beautiful to look at, some have a pleasing fragrant; I have never understood them outside of their natural setting though. So I had to look up what was so special about daisies that made them my focus. Webster’s Dictionary states:

The daisy flower does not just bud, blossom, and die like most other flowers. Rather it performs a daily routine of “sleeping” at night by closing and “waking” in the morning by opening up again. Because of this unusual trait and the whorled appearance of the flower, the daisy was given the Old English name dægeseage, meaning literally “day’s eye.” The distinctive ray-like appearance of the daisy as it opens and closes with the sun reminds one of an eye that opens in the morning and closes at night.

What a beautiful picture that created in my mind. Daisies are not mentioned in the Bible, but God’s mercy, His compassion are new every morning. His mercy is for the day, just like the cycle of a daisy. His mercy and compassion are not for the past and not for the future.

While He knows the full scope of our lives, His mercy and compassion are for the day at hand. Each day, He is there providing just what we need. It is up to each of us to accept what is there in the day. Each opportunity is in the moment. God’s eye is on us in the moment empowering us in that time to do what is necessary. His love is never ending, but each day is a fresh start.

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Expectation

The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away.

Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever! Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold.

We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth.

And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:7‭-‬18 NLT

My grandchildren have an expectation that when they are at Mimi’s house they will go to church. Yesterday I had a women’s meeting and when I came home I was met with “Why were you at church? We get to go tomorrow right?” Or when they have called me from home while I was at church, they asked similar questions. I love that they love church. They expect that they will be with me if I am at church.

Today I woke the grandkids up to get ready for church and walked back into my room to finish getting ready myself. A few minutes later, I heard a terrible cough; it sounded like a seal. Then I heard sobbing. I went to inspect, and discovered my granddaughter was devistated because her mom had said she couldnt go to church. She was at the point of making herself sick because she expected to go to church. Her brother and I prayed that she would feel better. We told her she could come with papa if she felt better.

As I drove to church, I thought about my own expectation level. Not just for going to church, but about really entering into His tangible presence, or in walking in the presence that is already available. Moses’ face shown with the glory, but we were intended for God’s glory because we exist from Him and for Him. Do I expect God’s glory to be seen in me? I think too often I am willing to settle like the children of Israel for witnessing His presence instead of experiening it like Moses.

I allow myself to be satisfied with veil covered glory instead of truely entering into His presence and expecting God to move. When I have a genuine expectation of God showing up, He does. It doesn’t usually look like I think it will, but it is always worth the time of preperation.

He wants His children to come to Him with bold expectations. He wants us to be confident of our position in Christ, as children of God. He wants us to expect His glory to show up, and to not settle for anything less. We should press in until He shows off. Our disappointment should move us to seek Him until we have His tangible presence.

When we press in, we will find a peace and freedom that comes only from Him. When He shows up, we can not help but be changed. We can not help but show off His glory when we meet with Him with great expectation.

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Obedience

obedience Obedience is better than sacrifice.  This portion of scripture found in I Samuel 14:22 kept playing through my head as I thought about the sacrifice I was feeling, being out in cold rainy weather.  I would have preferred to stay cuddled up in my nice warm home with warm blankets.  Relaxing in comfort was what I wanted after a long work week and busy schedule outside of work the week preceding.

Every scripture I read and journaled over the week pointed towards obedience, even when at first glance it had nothing to really do with obedience. The focus of the scriptures was supposed to be how God knows me, but the question I kept coming back to is “If I know that God knows me, why am I not obedient to Him?”

If I know His heart is for me, and He wants what is best for me, even if something is outside my comfort zone, why would I not obey?  If I know God’s ways are higher than mine, and that He has a perfect plan and purpose for my life, why would I need be obedient to His leading.

When I made it back home, and was in the comfort I had “sacrificed,” the question in James 2:20 just ruminated in my soul. But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? If my faith is in God’s Word, why is my obedience not showing it?  Saying I believe something means nothing if there is no an action behind it.  Faith without action is dead.   Faith requires obedience.

Growing requires obedience.  Romans 1:17 says “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”  It is in the gospel that the righteousness of God is revealed.    If I go from faith to faith, then faith requires action on the revelation of the good news of the gospel.  Faith is the realization of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).  At the moment I can see it, feel it or experience it, it is no longer faith.  I must act on what I am hoping for before I will see it.  I have to live out the revelation of the gospel in my life in order to grow my faith and go from faith to faith.   Faith can not grow without obedience.

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Distracted Focus

We were sitting in prayer, as we do most Sundays that my grandchildren are with me, praying before the service starts.  Typically one sits on each side, and they will cuddle up, but are peaceful.  They know that if they are going to talk during that time it is to God, not Mimi or each other.  We used to have a clock in the back of the room that they would sit and watch as they knew the numbers on the clock that would mean that prayer time was over.  At times, when the clock was still there, they would get a little anxious as the numbers started getting closer to 1-0-1-5 and start to tell me when the numbers changed.  This day was not like that, they wanted to talk the entire time and they were restless.  They were fussing at each other.  It was very distracting to me.

As we gathered to pray in a circle, my granddaughter continued to fidget with my watch, to pull on my clothes, and try to talk with my grandson.  He looked up at me at one point, I gave him “the look”; he then stood quietly and still, holding my hand and leaning in to me.

I thought about how their actions were a reflection of how I am with God at times.  He longs for me to be intimate with Him.  For me to press in to His presence, to sit at His feet, to find peace and rest in Him as I linger in communication with Him.   Just like I love those times with my grandchildren, He loves me to do that too.  He does not pull away if He gives me “the look” or has to correct me.  He enjoys my longing to be with Him, for however long that lasts.  He is, I am sure, hopeful that I will long for increased time with Him; yet, He never makes me feel guilt or shame when I cut it short.

distractionAnd yet, there are times I want to be doing anything or be anywhere else besides in communion with Him.  Regardless of how I know it feels to be in His presence, I am restless and my mind is anywhere but with Him.  I allow outside things to keep me from entering into His presence.  I am concerned about the time.  I am focused on external conditions like the temperature in the room or the weather outside.  Or I am meditating on the circumstances that I have faced throughout the day or week.

I allowed my granddaughter to distract me from entering into His presence fully.  Yet, I can not blame her, because it was my choice.  I have a choice on where I place my focus.  I can choose to focus on the distraction, or I can choose to focus on God.  I know that when I turn my attention solely towards Him, everything else will fade away.  Not that it disappears, but it just becomes less important in the moment.  She was not being disruptive drawing my attention, she was just being a typical 6-year-old little girl.

I could have chosen to press into God even in that moment.  His Word says draw near to Me, and I will draw near to you.  I could have chose to draw in to Him, like my grandson did to me.  My grandson’s look back told me he was ready to go get a doughnut, but he pressed in to me anyway.  God is not offended by our distraction, He just wants us to choose to press in any way.  He is okay with me letting Him know what I would rather be doing, or hearing about the things going on in my world, He just wants me to communicate with Him.  If I stay talking to Him, I will eventually get it all out so that I can give Him what He wants, my praise and worship of Him.

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Wheat vs Straw

I had to look up the differences between wheat and straw. I read that wheat is a grain, used to replant or to make foods. Straw is used to keep animals warm. It is the waste product.

Christ gathers the wheat, those that are reproducing and those who are feeding others. Both purposes cause growth. We are called to make disciples, to grow others in the image of Christ. We are called to share what we have, feeding others, helping them be nurtured and grow individually. Other times we plant what we have and it is multiplied. What a powerful picture of how the Kingdom of God was called to operate.

Yet, too often we are satisfied with the straw. We want to be comfortable and keep those around us comfortable too. We provide the warmth that allows them not to feel the fire from the gates of hell that is surrounding them. We let others stay comfortable in thier sin. We don’t speak the truth in love.

We must feed people the truth of God’s Word. We must plant the seed of God’s Word. Everything else will one day burn up

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