Never Give Up

I had the privledge of being with our four to six year old children’s church group this week. I forgot how much the teach me in the moment, such profound truth wrapped in the simple view of a child. I also remember how much I can enjoy the children, even when I enter feeling burnt out and frazzled. I often forget that children bring a fresh break from my normal routine and tend to reenergize me when I am running on empty.

We were learning about the story of David and Goliath found in I Samuel 17.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

After the lesson and all that goes into class time, I planned a game to bring home the story. I wanted something the children would remember. The object of the game was to get the stone in the cup that was over nine feet away. Reminding them David’s stone had to reach Goliath in the right spot to kill him.

NevergiveupEach of the children took a turn being “David.” As you can imagine, none of them was successful with the single stone. Although David had five, it only took one. After a few rounds, they tired of trying.   They decided it was impossible.  Then they quickly declared David was successful because of God; this was a wonderful point I wasn’t even trying to make. I reminded them the Bible tells us that with God nothing is impossible.

A few of the children wanted to continue trying to get the stone in the cup. They were up for the challenge, even after the rest of the group had moved on to other activities. The few were persistent.  Two of the kids actually got the stone in the cup after many tries.

One of the six-years-old boy kept going and going even after everyone else had quit. As he kept trying and failing, I tried to encourage him in his growing frustration.  I told him that even though David had only used one stone, David had practiced a lot before that time. I reminded him that David had killed the lion and the bear. I told him, I was sure much of David’s time tending the sheep was spent sharpening his slingshot skills. David was prepared when everyone else had given up because of this.

After finally getting the stone in the cup, he said, “Yea, He did eventually get the stone in the cup a couple times knocking the cup over as it entered. He was so proud of himself.  I smiled as I heard him  telling his mom about the lesson as they walked out of the church doors.

I thought about the young child’s comment as I left. “ I’m David. The rest of the class is like the Israelites, they gave up.”  How many times do I look at preparation time as wasted time? I would love to think that I have learned the lesson, but too often I give up in the preparation. I grow weary of not seeing the progress I expect. I cower back in fear when the enemy comes against me because my faith isn’t where it needs to be in the moment.

When I do see success in the long term, I know the only reason I am is due to preparation. I can make the win because I put the time in during practice ahead of time. Some thing’s I am great at putting in the preparation time, but too often I get discouraged in the preparation, especially as a task oriented person.  I like things that I can accomplish, but much of life is just cumulative preparation.

I want to have the perserverance of David. I want the stick-to-it-ness of the child not willing to stop until he showed he could get the stone in the cup. I want to be the person that is ready to face the battle, regardless of how big the enemy appears. I want to have the faith to stand when everyone else is cowering back. I want to be the person who never, ever gives up.  I want to see the impossible done.

Posted in Faith

Chosen Imperfections

There is a gorgeous accent wall at my church, made of wood planks. For whatever reason, there is a single plank that always catches my attention. Tonight was no different. I opened my eyes to see it front and center to me. Anytime something continually catches my attention, I look for the lesson that God might be speaking to me through it. I take it as a “Here’s your sign” from the Lord. Yes, a lot of times I need that direct comment from Him to listen or in this case see.

As I thought about the plank, I realize it has a major imperfection. There is dark grain running vertical on the horizontal plank. If I had picked the planks individually, I would have put it back. I wouldn’t have used it, but the builder of the accent wall was looking at the overall purpose and aesthetics. Seeing the finished product, it is perfect.

As I kept thinking of my reaction to the plank, I realized there are still times I have that same attitude with God. I focus on all that is wrong with me. My present faults, failures, and shortcomings are many; that doesn’t even take into account my past. I wouldn’t have picked me, knowing all my imperfections.

Yet God does pick me. I wasn’t some random plank in a large slab of planks, that He purchased. I wasn’t someone He had to work with regardless of my imperfections because He had to have me to fill His purpose.  He chose me. He chooses each of us individually.  He sees all of our imperfections and stills says “That is the one I want to use.”  I have come to realize that sometimes it is percisely in my imperfections that lead Him to use me. What better person to minister to a messed up person than someone who has walked the same path of failure and imperfection.

I also thought about how I am so focused on that one plank, that I don’t see the imperfections in the other planks. When I step back and look at the bigger picture, no one, except Christ, is perfect. When I take in the whole accent wall, many of the planks have knots, different grains that catch the color differently, and other imperfections.

Every person has different faults, failures, and shortcomings. There are areas that most of us would look at in our lives as disqualifiers for our use by God. When we see those same things in the lives of others, we can see the beauty in their testimony. We can highlight thier faults as a uniqueness in their personality. We see failures as a turning point to their overcoming. We see shortcomings as a reason for their merit to serve.

How often in my own life am I so focused on all that I’ve got wrong, that I think I am the only one with anything wrong? My imperfections are magnified in my eyes because I see them up close and personal. I need to give myself the same grace that God gives me, the same grace I give to others. I also need to see how my imperfections may work next to others for them to see the need for change, the potential for overcoming, or give merit to the magificant work of God.  Others see me with the same grace I see them.

20191113_1939192805598692627487952.jpgThe final thing I saw, is that it is as we come together as a body that the true beauty in our lives is revealed. Alone, I might be set in the discard pile due to my imperfections. When I am submitted to Christ and working in unity with Him and those He has built me to be part of, I become asthetically pleasing. We were never designed to be alone. We are part of the body of Christ and our imperfections are covered in grace and forgiveness. We are sealed with the blood of Christ to bring glory to God.  It is in our completeness as His body that we are able to fulfill what He designed us for, His plans and purpose.

Maybe, as I am sitting in church my eyes will not be drawn to this imperfect plank.  I smile knowing if they do, I will know God is just wanting to remind me of His lessons.

That despite my imperfections:

  • He chose me.
  • I am not alone in my imperfections, but He can still use me for His purpose.
  • My imperfections will be less noticeable when I am working in unity with Him and those around me.
  • In my imperfections, His work will be seen and He will receive the glory.
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Slow down and frolic

My coworker teases me because I am slow. I have a shorter gait than she does. I rarely attempt to walk fast enough to try to keep up. It is a little joke between us.

Today as I was walking in to work, one of our maintenance men blew past me down the hall. Then he paused, backed up, and walked beside me. He said “I really need to learn to slow down.” I jokingly told him, “They usually tell me to speed up.” He walked the remainder of the way with me and turned off to his work space.

Just reflecting on that brief conversation, I thought about how often we get caught up in the rat race of life. We spend so much time trying to keep up with others. We rush from one thing to the next with very little margin built in, let alone free time. So many people I talk to say that they feel guilty if they take some time to just relax and do nothing.

frolicI lived that way; it was my husband and children that paid the price. I gave my best to others. I spent myself on those who would take anything and everything I had to offer, and give me little to nothing in return. My children and husband got the leftovers and at times even the leftovers were not much. I am grateful that somewhere along the way, I learned to slow down. I only regret it was for the most part after the kids hit thier teenage yearals and were on thier way out of the house.

I had a wise professor in my undergraduate Social Work program. She taught us the importance of taking time to enjoy the now. We would take time in the midst of a busy, stressful, and chaotic week to frolic.

Merriam Webster online dictionary defines frolic as a verb (Entry 2 of 3)
1: to amuse oneself : make merry
2: to play and run about happily : ROMP

Yes, there were probably times, as students that we took advantage of her encouragement of frolicking. We often declared the need to be outside for our class; even if we were not running around, it did make us merry. I now realize she was engaging us in self-care. It was an important lesson, that I didn’t fully appreciate at the time.

Each person’s frolic may look different. I am a joyful person, but I am not sure people would call me merry. I am not one to run and play a lot. My play looks much different than how most people play. What amuses me doesn’t generally amuse others. Its okay, I am content to live at a pace that doesn’t match others.

As someone in a helping profession, self care is important. We all have a different pace, things that give us energy and things that drain us. We have to access that regularly and work to make adjustments in our lives that take into account our pace. We have to take time to slow down and enjoy where we are in life. We have to take time to slow down and frolic.
Posted in Restoration

Shudder or scatter

There is this scene in the original The Lion King (1994) where the hyenas say the name of the king, Mufasa. One shudders at the power of the name, but says “do it again.” I couldn’t place the scene in the movie but that was the picture that came to my mind today as we sang about the name of Jesus.

The song by Gateway “When I speak your name” says:

When I speak Your name
Mountains move, chains are loosed
When I speak Your name
Darkness flees, it has no hold on me

As I sang the words, I thought there are some mountains that haven’t moved in my life. I walk around them, I talk to them, but they never move.

I realize there are some chains that still aren’t loosed. They might rattle at times, but I still let them hold me captive. I make the demons shutter at His name, but without His authority I haven’t commanded them to flee.

Like the hyenas, I recognize there is power in the name of the King, but I am not speaking it with authority. The hyenas had no problem being in the presence of His name. When Mufasa came in authority, they didn’t shutter, they scattered.

Power is the ability or potential of an individual to influence others and control their actions. Authority is the legal and formal right to give orders and commands, and make decisions.

Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. Luke 9:1 NKJV

Christ gave His disciples both, but they didn’t always use them. As Christians, we have access Christ’s power to influence and control. Too often, we give power away instead of exerting it in Jesus’ name.

Christ has given us the authority. We have the right to command and make decisions. Yet, we often fail to exercise that authority in the name of Jesus. We sit back and let the culture and environment around us to control our voice.

When we don’t exercise what Christ has given us, the mountains stay in place. We stay bound in chains when we give up our power and authority. We let darkness spread when we do not let His light shone through us in all power and authority.

We need to stop making the enemy shudder and make him scatter as we use the power and authority available in Christ.

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Stand

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Ephesians 6:13

I took a deeper look into this passage as my focus has been on warfare.

According to the Military Science Fiction there are three basic types of war:

Attrition War – forces attack to destroy enemy forces to destroy the ability to fight.  It is measured by ground captured and enemy destroyed.

Maneuver War – fought to destroy the enemy’s will to fight.  It involves risk and exploits weaknesses and fears.

Revolutionary War – seeks to evade destruction , turning the people against leaders and the leaders against the people.  It is about emotions and beliefs, killing is a means to an end, not the end itself.

standIf I believe that Jesus finished everything at the cross, that the total price was paid and victory was obtained at the resurrection, then the war is already won.  This passage tells me that my role is to stand firm.

Satan often tries to convince me that the war is not already won.  He attacks me with all three types of war trying to tear me down.

Attrition War – He tries to make me think he has captured territory that is not his, like taking prayer out of school or legalizing abortion. Satan did not take that territory, he doesn’t have that power.   Christ finished it on the cross. As Christians, we backed away from the battle instead of taking a stand.  We gave the territory to him.

Maneuver War – Satan preys on my weakness and fears.  The Word says “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me.  Christ finished it at the cross.  I have to stand firm in who God says I am instead of listening to the lies of the enemy.

Revolutionary War – Satan tries to convince me that God is mad at me.  He tries to turn me against God.  Satan convince me that God is not all the Word portrays Him to be based on the circumstances surrounding me. Satan tries to wedge himself into my deepest questions.  Those questions like “why would a good God allow ____ to happen.”  Christ finished it at the cross.  I have to stand on the truth of the Word and allow God to minister in those places.

The enemy’s tactics must be exposed, because it is finished.  As a Christian I can stand on the finished work of Christ.  Jesus already won the war.  I have to learn to stand confidently in whatever battle Satan rages against me.  I have to remind myself of the authority I have in Christ.  I have to stand firmly in that authority.  I have to know that regardless of what things look like around me, the war is already one.  I have to stand on His promises.  I have to know that nothing can seperate me from the love of God.  I have to stand on His promises.

Lord, You already won the war.  Remind me to stand on Your Word when Satan tries to wage battle.  It is finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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True value

There is a lot of talk about the worth or value of a person. This is often tied to a person’s self-esteem or lack there of. It can lead decsions we make about many things. Too often, in our consideration of our own value we fail to consider the value placed on us by our Creator. We fail to consider the price that was paid for us.

We tend to cheapen our value as we accept as truth comments that tear us down or are contrary to the Word of God. Or we allow treatment to ourselves that we would not tolerate to anyone that we love or care about and that our Creator did not design us to tolerate. Or we place ourselves in situations that our Creator never intended us to be.

I started to think about how Christ, the Son of Man could have struggled with His value had He not had a deep revelation from the Father of His worth. Men spoke against Him.  They attempted to stone Him on several occasions. His death was a brutal one. Yet in it all, He knew what His value was.

How He really did experience what we go through. I often wonder if He might have experienced it on a deeper level because He knew what perfect love was like.  He experienced perfect love with the Father. I started thinking about how those close to Him valued Him.

Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. John 12:1‭-‬6 ESV

Mary held Jesus in high regard. She was willing to use costly perfume to anoint His feet. One danarius is said to be a day’s wages. So she was willing to give up a years wages to anoint the feet of Jesus.   Never mind that she wiped His feet with her hair.  I Corinthians 11:15 says that long hair is a woman’s covering, her glory.

Contrast Mary’s value towards Jesus to that of his disciple, Judas.

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Matthew 26:14‭-‬16 ESV

Thirty pieces of silver was the value of slave who was accidently killed. If the ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. Exodus 21:32 ESV

Judas valued Jesus, a “friend” he had walked along side of and served, as a slave. He was willing to give Him over to those who sought to kill Jesus for the price of a slave.  The thirty pieces of silver eventually bought the Field of blood, a potter’s field for the burial of strangers.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Matthew 27:3‭-‬7 ESV

Value.pngAnd then there were the secret followers of Christ. These men who followed Christ in secret.  Yet they still valued Him.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:38‭-‬42 ESV

Some commentaries point out that this amount of myrrh and aloes was excessive, enough for hundreds of bodies. They who followed Him in secret publically honored Him in death.

Each of these scriptures is tied to Christ’s death. Mary prepared Him for death. Judas led Him to His death. Joseph and Nicodemus prepared Him for burial. Each held Jesus at a different value, thier actions related to His death spoke louder than thier words.

Jesus could have seen how others treated Him, or valued Him and discounted His own value. Instead He held tightly to what God said about Him. What an example for us to hold on to, in more ways than one.

First, how much do I value to gift that has been given to me by Christ? What am I willing to give up for Him? Does it look like the price of a dead slave or extravagant purfume?

Second, am I more focused on how others value me or how God does? Are the words I hear in my head or the scenes I play in my mind those of people? Or do I let those words pass through and hold on to the Words God has spoken over me? Am I focused on what others think I am worth or the value He placed on me? He holds my true value.

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Peace

John 20:19-21 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

The disciples were locked up in fear.  Jesus came to them, and His first word to them was “peace.”

Peace, is the Greek word eirēnē according to a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is: Comprehensively, of every kind of peace (blessing), yet with a predominance apparently of the notion of peace with God.

When I am filled with anxiety, fear or worry, Jesus wants to come to me and speak “peace.”  How many times do I lock Him out of the situation, not allowing Him to speak peace into my circumstances.  I seek other’s opinions.  I rationalize in my own mind.  I seek out experts.

PeaceYet Jesus just speaks “peace” when I quiet myself enough. He will meet me where I am.  He will show me what to do.  He may use someone, but it is rarely the voice I sought that will guide me where He wants me to go.  He may lead me to an expert, but it is rarely in my own searching.  When I see Him in my anxiousness, the answer always starts with peace.  It comes from a place of peace.

The second thing that John recorded that Jesus spoke after His resurrection to His disciples was again “peace.”  Even as He was sending them out into the world.  Peace is what He wanted them to have.  He knew in order for them to walk through their journey, and complete their God given mission, they would need to be at peace with God wherever they were in life.

So it is with me.  I become ineffective in my roles whenever I loose my peace with God.  I must stay connected to His peace if I want to be successful.  For a long time in my life, I didn’t have His peace.  There was such a deep anger inside of me, that I quickly lashed out at whoever was around.  I was not content with where I was.    It could be the littlest thing that would set me off.

It takes a lot more now for me to get to that place, but unfortunately, I know it is still there.  I was it on vacation with my family.  A trip we planned for months.  It erupted when the kids were fighting.  I saw it with my grandchildren when their behavior is wrong all weekend. I have seen it rear it’s ugly head with my husband. I have lost my peace, only to have to come back an apologize  later when I had the opportunity to regroup and reenter the situation with a repentant heart to ask for forgiveness.

I want to get to the point that I really am just peaceful all of the time.  Where I let God lead even when the storms are raging.  God showed me earlier this year that I have to let Him be the One stable thing for me when all else is uprooted or unstable.  He can be that peace, if I will not lock Him out but will go to Him, or better yet, just abide in Him.

Lord, thank you for Your peace, the fruit of the Spirit that you have grown in my life. Thank you for your faithfulness, even when I have not sought you. Thank you for your forgiveness when I have lost that battle lately.  I need your peace, the peace that surpasses all understand.  Continue to grow Your peace in me.  Thank you for speaking peace into my life.   Thank you for your gracious love. Let your peace go with me.  I want to be known as a woman of peace. 

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Perceptions

My Pastor preached a message today on honor. He reference a few passages and the television show Gold Rush. One of the passages of scripture was:  “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Matthew 13:44 HCSB

He talked about how the man not only got the treasure when he bought the land, but also all the dirt that went with it. He related it back to our own lives and how we all have a treasure within, but we have to dig through all the dirt to get to the treasure that God already sees. He pointed out that often other people have a treasure to give us, but it is hard for us to receive their treasure because we know the dirt in thier lives.  Our perception of them is tainted by what we know – the things they do, their past, or their struggles and allow that to keep us from receiving from them.

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines perceptions as a transitive verb meaning:

1 a : to attain awareness or understanding of
b : to regard as being such 
2 : to become aware of through the senses

He talked about how it takes mountains of dirt being moved to find one ounce of gold, hence the reference to Gold Rush.  He said people don’t go looking for the dirt, they go looking for the gold, the treasure. They put up with the dirt for the reward of gold in the end. Depending on the reported source, and likely also the land where it is being mined if you watch Gold Rush, it can take between two and ninty tons (1 ton is roughly 2,000 pounds) of dirt to mine one ounce of gold. That is a lot of dirt!

As I drove home from church I was just meditating on the message. Over the years, I have realized that God can and does speak to me through some of society’s “dirtiest” people. I have worked with the richest of people and the poorest.  I have learned to receive His revelation regardless of where it appears to come from. I perceive, if He can speak through a donkey, there is probably not a person alive I can not receive something from.

perceiveYet, when it comes to me, I often believe that my dirt is too much for Him to want to use me. I know this is a lie, and have been renewing my mind that God can and does use me. He might want to use me more, but I often let my own perception of my life keep me from stepping out in obedience.

He shared the story of the Samaritan woman at the well found in John 4 and how Jesus revealed her sin which then changed her perception of how she viewed him. She went from questioning how Jesus, a Jew, would even talk to her to perceiving that Jesus was a prophet.

As my pastor shared about how her changed perception had transformed her life, I couldn’t help but reflect on the bigger picture. Her perception transformed her life, but it also changed a city. She shared what happened to her and more people came to hear Jesus and also beleived. What if we realize that our correct perceptions have the ability to not only transform our lives, but the very cities we live in?

Now many Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of what the woman said when she testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” Therefore, when the Samaritans came to Him, they asked Him to stay with them, and He stayed there two days. Many more believed because of what He said. And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.John 4:39‭-‬42 HCSB

Maybe my dirt really isn’t the barrier, maybe it is just my perception of it. Jesus in a moment took this five-time divorced woman who was living with yet another, and removed so much dirt from her life that the treasure she found was enough to transform a city. She went from the ostracized woman at the well, to a spokeswoman for Christ who led many to believe. Her dirt wasn’t enough to stop her from sharing the treasure she found whe she got the right perception.

I look at my own life still, and know that there is still a lot of dirt in my life. I spent the weekend sifting through dirt in another area where I needed a perception change. So my thoughts turned to Joseph, the son of Jacob. He tends to be one of my go to people as the misunderstood younger sibling with big dreams. I find myself learning a lot from His life.

He also started out with a wrong perception. Joseph shared too soon what God had placed inside of him. He didn’t have the character yet for the vision within him. So he went from favored son with big dreams to the pit. Then he went to the palace but didn’t stay.  From there he went to prison. His dirt was pretty deep, but God was using the time and process to refine Joseph. When it came time for God to fulfill the dream He had placed inside of Joseph, his character had caught up to the vision. Despite all the dirt that had gone down in the past, the transformation was of great magnitude.  It was not only Joesph’s life that was transformed, but his brothers’ lives, his father’s life, his city and multiple countries were saved and tranformed by his perception.

Our perceptions may not save a country, but they certainly have the ablity to impact more than just our personal life. We all have influence, and that influence to others, influences more, and they influence more. It is when we have a right perception of our position and our purpose, and our passion is aligned with God’s that we will reach our cities, our states, our nation, and eventually the world as decribed in Acts:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 HCSB

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Where You are

I have not been able to get this song out of my head that we sang at church. It is a song by Hillsong Worship “You Came to My Rescue.”  Part of the song says “I called, You answered. You came to my rescue and I wanna be where You are.” It is a powerful song, with obviously a catchy tune based on scriptures.

Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and
while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer you, and show you great and
mighty things, which you know not.
Psalm 22:8 “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
Psalm 35:17 Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, My precious life from the lions.
Psalm 136:24 And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy endures forever;

I know God’s Word is true.  I know this song resonates in my soul.  Still there are some times in my life though, I might say “I called and God didn’t answer. God didn’t come to my rescue.”  In the moment of my pain, that is a true statement. There are times in my life that I have had to walk though some really difficult circumstances where I really wanted God to intervene in my timing, AKA immediately.

whereyouareAnd yet, I realize there is not a situation that I have called out to God for that I am still in now. His answer rarely looked like I wanted it to.  His answers rarely came in the timing that I was looking for.  Every time though, He did answer. Every time, He did rescue me.

Looking back, it is not in the answer or the rescue that my thought that “sometimes He doesn’t answer or rescue” comes from. When I get to that point, where I am really calling out to Him in desperation, I really just want Him to answer. I want Him to rescue me from whatever I am experiencing at the time.  Yet rarely has my desire before I got to that moment been to “just be where He is.”

At those times I have really cried out, in desperation, needing the answer only He could bring; I rarely before had a cry in my heart to be where He was.  I am not naïve enough to believe things can not go wrong when I am truly abiding with Him.  However, I tend to have an inner strength that helps carry me through even the toughest times when I am sharing my burden with Him daily.  Jesus says in Matthew 11:29-30Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I need to stay in the place where the cry of my heart is to be where God is.  I won’t have to travel so far then when I need to call on Him.  I will know that He is answering.  I will know that He is rescuing me.  I will know that regardless of what I am up against, I am right where I am suppose to be, in His presence, seeking His help.  There may be something that I am suppose to be learning.  There may be something that You are trying to work out in me or through me.  It may be my own poor choices or the actions of others.  Regardless of the purpose, I will be where You are.

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Confessions of a Cranky Christian

I would love to blame it on

  • The full moon,
  • Mercury being close to the earth last month,
  • Not enough sleep,
  • Working too much,
  • The behavior of those around me,
  • Circumstances outside of my control
  • The series of unfortunate events that played out in just a short span

Anything to take the blame off for my crankiness over the past three days. I certainly could make the above excuses.  I could gain some sympathy from those around me to my unfortuante plight. However, while all of the above might be true, the only one responsible for my attitude is me.

CrankychristianIt is easy to make an excuse for my actions; it is much harder to accept responsibility. It is even harder to take action to change things, especially when every ounce of your being is cranky right down to the core. That is where I have been the last few days. So cranky, I didn’t even want to be around myself.

I admit, a lot of people around me didn’t realize how cranky I was.  I do a pretty good job of masking it, much better than I used to when even the dog next door could sense my crankiness.  I have learned over the years to not express the full extent of what I am thinking.  I realize I am better at hiding the crankiness, because I found myself wanting to apologize for my snappy attitude, which I did to two of my coworkers.  It was met with a “You were not snappy.”  and a “I thought you were funny.”

However, I also am not good at hiding it with those closest to me.  By the end of the third day, I had provoked my husband with my attitude to the point he asked if I wanted a divorce.  That is a word that neither of us has mentioned in over a decade.  I would not typically allow myself to take responsibility for his words or actions, because I am not.   I will certainly say that I really provoked his response in this small time frame, and that he resisted most of my cranky instigations.

I knew that my focus had been on all that was wrong in the moment.  Nothing life shattering, just small inconveniences in the larger spectrum of life.  On day three, I finally decided to stop walling in my crankiness, and reluctantly give it to God. I recognized it as a spiritual battle, because any other time I can count my blessing, naming them one by one, with a gratefulness that allows me to proudly proclaim, “I am blessed and highly favored.”  I had given away my joy, by allowing myself to focus on the things that I am discontent with, not on the amazing things that I have seen and walked through.

So here is my confession, I know the secret to fixing crankiness, especially as a Christian; although I know that it works for non-Christians too.  Crankiness, can be fixed by changing what you are thinking about.  If the focus is the negative, you will always find it.  If the focus is on the good, you will find it too.  The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.   What we think on has a powerful ability to steer our behavior.  So if you need an attitude adjustment, change your focus.

I will be the first to admit, it is easier said than done.  However, if we keep taking the thoughts captive that are not true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, we will eventually find our attitude changing.  It took a few hours once I started doing it for my attitude to change, but it was a complete makeover, not just a mask I put on.

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