Lines

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“Fair is not always equal ~ Equal is not always Fair.” This came out of my mouth on practically a weekly basis when I was raising my children. I find these days, as I go through hard situations with other adults, this is something I think, and sometimes, even say, far more frequently than I did back then.

We are raised these days to think that everyone is entitled. We are conditioned to think that everyone should get the same things, and if we aren’t, that something is wrong. But the thing about it is ~ life is conditional. People are in different places, walking out different circumstances, and need different things when it comes to what is best for them. And if you look at the Bible as a whole, this is how Jesus healed, taught, and walked.

Jesus was a rebel in His day. He still is! But not for the sake of being one – and not because He is on a rampage to show how great He is ~ calling everybody out and putting everyone in their place was not the motivation, although that had to happen in order to stand for what is right in God’s eyes. He was and is seen as a rebel simply because doing things the way that God intends is ALWAYS going to buck the system of man. Period.

Like so many others, there is another verse in the Bible that I find keeps getting twisted, used, distorted, for selfish gain. “There is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11)  In this section of scripture, we are told that no matter who we are, Jew or Gentile, God will not consider that which is outward when He makes his final judgements. Our outward appearance won’t matter. Our cultural or religious advantages, titles, and other things -not gonna help us out a whole lot. None of the outward things will give us a leg up when it comes to how God sees us.

God looks for what we do with what we know in our hearts to be true about Him. He looks on the inside. And He even goes beyond OUR hearts, and looks for whether we have accepted Christ Jesus into our hearts as Savior and Lord.  It may not seem “fair”, but we are all given a choice – in that way, it really is. We often tend to forget about that fact.

In this way, there will be a division – make no mistake about it, friends. Some will choose not to accept Jesus and the salvation He has freely offered us and rely solely upon their own good deeds or outward appearance and take their chances. Some will go through the motions, looking all bright and shiny on the outside, but not giving a hoot about what is there on the inside. Regardless, we stand no chance if we don’t accept Christ as our Savior so we can be seen as spotless in the eyes of the Lord.

And as we walk this earth, if we are true followers after Christ, we are going to have to become rebels too. The hard part is to do this when it is appropriate, without tossing the rest of scripture out the window, without sinning as we do what is right, and relying upon Him for help, rather than ourselves. God help us all.

So. We are to do what is right, and that doesn’t always seem “fair.” We are to stand for Jesus, and that can seem unbalanced at times (not equal). In some ways, the concept of fairness and equality can often seem evil to me now – it’s become so distorted.

I know this, because as a young child, living in the flesh and totally self-centered, I found myself always saying “that’s not fair” when I didn’t get what I wanted. Now, I find myself saying “that doesn’t seem RIGHT” a lot more.

Go ahead – don’t be afraid of the crashing judgment people will bring down upon your head for doing it.  Just say it with me: “That doesn’t seem RIGHT.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the woman who was about to be stoned for her adultery and how Jesus came up and showed ever-so-clearly, what it means to stand for what is RIGHT versus what seemed FAIR or EQUAL at the time. Let me tell you – in this particular situation – Jesus showed some serious “partiality”, friends. What he did looked biased. What he did was dangerous.

But it was RIGHT.

In the culture of the day, the men had a legal excuse to stone this “adulterous” woman. It was beyond “acceptable” to do so, it had been made into law.  Regardless of the fact that she had to have had a few partners to commit such a crime (who happened to be men? – just sayin’) she was the target for “death to the sinner” in this situation. They were out to get her – let her have it – and wanted Jesus to tell them it was okay to do it.

What did Jesus do? Did he follow the fair game rules of the day or what was culturally and legally accepted? Did he allow the men to carry out the sentence of death against this woman for her crimes and sins, because to them, it was only fair and just that they be not only allowed to do so, but they get his BLESSING in the process? Did I say already that they were more than “justified” through their customs and laws to give it more credence?

Did Jesus say that we needed to obey them and even go along with this death sentence in this situation or just walk on by and remain silent?

NOPE.

He not only stood up for the woman, and met her right where she was at, but he drew a line in the sand. He stood for what was RIGHT. He stood for mercy, compassion, love and grace. He defied the authority of the day to do what was right. And he didn’t bypass truth in the process. He addressed her sin, but not until he made sure she knew she was not condemned first. More importantly, he addressed the sin of the men on the other side of the line. To be even more specific – he dared them to address it themselves.

He took a stand for what was RIGHT. He drew that line in the sand.

But it wasn’t the line that the men of this town were hoping for. They wanted him to draw a line that would affirm their laws and customs. They wanted him to reinforce THEIR concept of fairness and justice. They wanted him to tell them what they were doing was not only acceptable, but right.

He turned the law right on its head. He challenged their “authority” because the situation called for it. And he did the whole thing without sinning.

Jesus then got down on the level with the woman – the so called sole sinner, (the target) in this particular scenario- the one who by law, justifiably and fairly for the day, could be stoned. She was a home wrecker – she was an immoral adulteress ~ she was in their eyes, a temptress who was leading the poor men of the day into sin. And no one cared about the circumstances or if she had been threatened into the immoral situation she found herself in or not.

  • Jesus didn’t ask first for clarification to prove he was somehow unbiased.
  • He didn’t concern himself with getting all the facts first.
  • He simply came DOWN right next to the woman. He aligned himself with the “sinner.”
  • And he told the men that they have a choice…

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7 

He REINFORCED the line.  He then moved right into the line of fire WITH her. They would have to risk hitting him as well if they start firing away. No mistake about it. The men dropped their stones and left

And this is love. This is truth. This is Jesus.

Jesus risked everything of earthly value for the sinner – the woman. He risked his reputation to even be SEEN with her, let alone appearing to be “on her side.” He risked his life. He ensured she knew she was not condemned. And then, after earning her trust, he shared that she should go and sin no more. Just like he would for anyone else in the same situation.

Fair is not always equal. Equal is not always fair.

Is there something you feel you must do – a line in the sand you have to draw, that to the world, even the Christian one, will not seem fair, unbiased, or just in the eyes of man? If you have brought this to the Lord in prayer and He is reinforcing it, go ahead then and do it.  And know that it will be hard. Are you feeling the Holy Spirit moving you to do something that you just know, after a lot of prayer and listening, is right? But wow, oh wow, is it ever dangerous! Test the spirits – make sure it’s from the Lord and not your flesh. And the more you pray, the more clear it will become. And get ready – it’s not going to be easy – it never is and it will involve some serious risk and probably a whole load of suffering you weren’t wanting to invite in to your life. But God’s got you – right in the palm of His hand.

He’s not letting go.

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Magnified

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Now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 2 Corinthians 5:7

This is a hard thing to write about – it’s truly difficult for me to put it into words, so I’m just going to try!

I’ve been thinking a lot about relationship lately. Relationships, the way that we tend to perceive them, are based a LOT around feelings. As humans, we experience them, right?

Feelings are part of our  make-up. But often, we rely upon them way too much. We can allow them to define us and/or define our relationships. And feelings are so fickle! So if you ask me, they shouldn’t be the foundation of all that we call relationship. No sir!

Much of the time I find myself thinking that the type of relationship we have with God is really the only one that is all the way right. It has crossed my mind so often, because, as you know, I don’t get out and about a whole lot.

The world likes to say that if we aren’t seeing, feeling, touching, hearing, smelling – EXPERIENCING –  well, then we aren’t in real relationship with others. That can be partially true, but it isn’t always the whole truth. Be careful about that and listen to the Lord!

My relationship with God DEFIES human boundaries! I know this because I have experienced it first hand now that all the other stuff has been stripped away during this weird and hard season in my life. And it’s caused me to take a hard and deep look at the fact that maybe – just MAYBE – we rely too much upon what we can see and experience- all the tangible stuff- to define true relationship.

In some ways, that reliance upon all that is within our grasp can trick us, man. And God can break the mold any time He wants to if we allow Him to do so.

I used to be surrounded by people. I was in the mix of it all. I’m not bashing that – man, alive! If you can get out among people, please do it! Jesus and the disciples did that very thing and it is important! Being alone is not good for us, so whenever it is possible to spend time with other people, it is GOOD.

But in some ways, being alone a lot causes a person to really dig for the true gold amidst the intangibles. And that too, is very, very good ~ IF we are digging in all the right places.

It all depends upon what we do with the season in life that is before us. Do we wallow around and feel sorry for ourselves most of the time, or do we look for the treasure we have when we are in relationship with Jesus?

  • The Jesus treasure!
  • The real relationship we have and find in prayer and study of His Word – His love letter to us!
  • The crying out we do in the bathtub when we are feeling sorry for ourselves!
  • The dancing and singing in our hearts to praise Him for every little thing that we used to dismiss as not important!
  • The new understanding of His character in the midst of our “suffering” that we may never have had revealed to us before without having been placed in this season!

Make no mistake about it – our relationship with Jesus involves feelings too! But for me, I have found that it is characterized more about what I know about Him than all of that other stuff. It takes a lot of me out of the picture – although that is always still a struggle. It causes me to focus in on Him a little more.

We can’t “see” Him yet. We can’t touch him tangibly yet. We can’t hear Him in the same way (with our ears) or smell Him just yet. But does that make the relationship we have with our Savior less-than in some way? No!

It defies the boundaries we mere little human beings place around our ability to have “relationship.” It transcends feelings and tangible feel-good stuff. AND, no matter whether we are surrounded by 1000 other people or walking much of our season in life alone, HE IS WITH US.

How rad is that?!

Not being able to rely upon the things we can grasp,  hold, squeeze, cling to – well, it all causes us to rely upon HIM and the fact that HE is unchanging. It causes us to try to know Him, rather than rely upon all that other stuff to convince ourselves there is something there. It inspires us to dig – to listen – to be in His Word in order to “hear” HIS VOICE. It is an experience – our relationship with our Savior.

But I won’t lie. It certainly makes it harder in some ways, right? The ideal is to be able to press in deeper in our relationship with Jesus AND nurture our many other relationships with people in real and tangible ways. But sometimes, we are in a season like Job was when he was ailing (to put it mildly) or like Paul was when he was in prison – and conditions are not “ideal.”

And isn’t that something that might actually be to our benefit? Again – is it possible that when we can’t rely upon the tangible things, we seek Him all the more? 

I would venture to say that digging in with regard to our relationship with Christ is a bit harder when we are not in a season of spending a lot of time alone. Why can I say that? Because I have been in both places. I had a relationship with Jesus before, but I was distracted a lot, too. Maybe, in some ways, He has given me a gift through this season of chronic illness. I know that sounds weird, but it’s how I’m coming to see it all.

And I share this with you today because if YOU are in a season that is causing you to be alone a lot of the time, I know you will be tempted to allow the world or, worse yet, the enemy cause you to think you can’t have a FULL relationship with Jesus Christ in the midst of that. That is a lie! Be encouraged, dear friend!

I have grown closer in my relationship with Jesus than ever before because I have been able to use this time in this season in my life to get back to my first love – something I should have done before anyway.  I desire to seek Him more diligently but have to ask Him daily to help me to cut through all the feelings I have about my chronic illness, including the physical and emotional ones, so as to focus in on HIM. It is a daily battle in which I am asked to surrender my attitude and outlook and change it from thinking about all that is missing to all that I can still have in HIM! And to enjoy and appreciate every single thing He has provided for me on this earth too – like my family, my church family, my sweet puppy dog, and having a nice home to sleep in and live in until I go to my forever home.

I am not really alone. You aren’t either if you don’t want to be.

I often find myself longing to hear Him or feel Him hugging me in spite of the fact that I know He is already here with me. That’s the human being inside that longs for the tangible stuff. But I am not missing anything this side of heaven in having a real and awesome relationship with Jesus.

And one day ~ one GLORIOUS DAY – we will meet our Lord and Savior and get our glorified bodies.  It’s going to happen soon and very soon!  And THEN! I can’t even imagine what He has in store for us, dear friends!

In the meantime, we can cry out to Him to draw near – and He does, friends, HE DOES! We can use this time to ask Him to show us through what seem like dark or lonely seasons or like loss or missing out on things, that we actually have more than we could ever ask for in our relationship with Him! We can learn more about HIS attributes and who HE is in spite of the fact that the only thing we feel we can grasp is our relationship with our Savior and His Word.

The only thing? That thing is HUGE. Don’t allow the enemy to diminish that. Allow God to magnify it!

And He and His word lives on forever, whether it is clutched in our mere little hands or not. It is living and everlasting and deeply embedded in our hearts and our souls. He can never be stripped away from us. No, not ever!

He is always with us, friends. He is faithful and true.

Jesus Christ is all about relationship. But never forget – He KNOWS HOW to break the mold. And in what seems like a time marked by having to squint so we can see, He can magnify Himself in our lives. He can!

Let us embrace that.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 5:7

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The Broken Prayer Warrior

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One of the worst aspects of battling an invisible, but-very-real-chronic illness (disorder, disease, condition – sheesh, don’t even know what to call it anymore!) is in the MIND.

There are lots of things about this subject that I could share with you, but today, I will simply share the part about feeling U-S-E-L-E-S-S.

It’s a very lonely feeling – feeling useless – and combating that takes a LOT of perspective -changing and hand-wringing and mind-tweaking and total-behavior-and-thought-reforming and (ugggg) submitting to see the BIG FAT lie the enemy tries to tell us about our contribution to the world when we are “sick people.” It’s a mess in and of itself, I must say – the entire “process.”

By the way: it’s never ending. Not at least while until we get OUT OF HERE and head onward to our eternal home. Just so ya know.  😦

Remember- feelings can trick us! That’s why this girl’s crazy mind has to be submitted to Yeshua on a DAILY BASIS. I will absolutely, and with no doubt at ALL, go cray-cray, otherwise.

The devil attacks my mind – a lot. This I know.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

I did not realize, until it was all stripped away, just how much I was still relying upon my ability to get out and about to serve my Lord and Savior, Jesus, in ways that seemed – well, just meaningful. Of course, walking around in a halfway healthy body made things a lot easier too!

You see – back then, I could see it – taste it – touch it, hear it – and I could feel it ! You know what I’m talking about – the fruit of it all. It was right in front of me and glaringly obvious.

I was actively fulfilling His purpose for me as one of His many disciples! And for a while there, when I couldn’t see it anymore – once I became trapped inside this messed up body and not able to practically ever leave my house – I started to doubt it all.

If we can get out and meet people face-to-face, serve at church and other places, be that light at the grocery store or toward that stranger we run into on the street, or interact with people in the workplace – well, we get to see at least SOME of the fruit that comes out of that! At the same time, we run the risk of thinking we are doing a good job of serving the Lord – and at least for me, well – I think I had to see that He  had other plans in mind that would be just as USEFUL as those were back in the day.

But I didn’t see it right away. And sometimes, I still am plagued with doubt. Then I am reminded that God is bigger than all of it.

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).
Now that I am in my own “prison” of sorts, because of my chronic disease – well, I almost never get out of the house – not very often, at least. And for a while there, I struggled to figure out how God may want to use me FOR OTHERS. I mean- how in the world does one go about being the light of the world when one can’t go OUT into that world? And remember those two greatest commandments? I can’t seem to forget them:

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

The enemy gets into my MIND and tells me – “what neighbor?” “Who are you helping and loving right now, Annie?” “You are an isolated hermit unable to be any kind of light in this world because you have caved in to your selfish need to take care of your sick little self.”

Just being honest – that’s what runs through my head when I am under attack. And that happens a lot, friends.

That’s why I can write this and share it with you today – I am not immune to the attacks from the enemy – you may not see them, but they are very real. And my mind is where he knows to go to first and foremost. The sick, sore, worn out and messed-up body symptoms? Ha! Those are NOTHING (and they are kinda a big deal, man) compared to the attacks that my mind undergoes on a regular basis. I bet you know what I’m talking about for your OWN reasons, don’t you?

BUT GOD!

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20 

Here is what I have realized as I have spent a lot of time in prayer these past three weeks or so – and just so ya know – just because I “realize” this, it does not mean that the battle is OVER. Like I said, it’s a daily surrender and I’m fully aware of that!

But I have come to see that PRAYER is one of the best ways we can allow God to use us as His loving disciples in bringing glory and honor to Him and being that light in the world. And that INCLUDES those of us who have to pray behind closed doors.

Others may not ever see it – but it is very, very real. God sees it. It takes “us” outta the picture. And in some ways, that’s a really, REALLY good thing!

And prayer is powerful beyond measure.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people. 1 Timothy 2:1

I had prayed throughout all my life about the fact that I didn’t think I was “very good” at prayer. I lose focus easily (the mind again, yo) and get distracted by all the racing thoughts and lists in my head that I can’t seem to rid myself of – no, not ever!

But ONCE AGAIN, God has made something good happen out of a seemingly “bad” situation. By being trapped in some ways because of my illness, I had no choice but to trust in Him that He would help me to learn to pray more diligently, be in His Word more deeply and regularly, and seek to become laser focused in praying for others in our world.

TRUST. IN. HIM.

God is SO GOOD, friends. He will make use of you right where you are at if you pour your heart out to Him and ask Him to do so. Sometimes, He does it in quiet ways that not a single other soul will EVER know about or see- but He knows and so do YOU.

  • It teaches us to rely upon Him and Him alone in living out our calling to spread the gospel – not to rely upon getting to see the fruit of our “efforts.”
  • It teaches us that it’s all about Him anyway – and that we can trust God to be GOD and that He will fulfill His purposes and bring about His will regardless of the limitations his disciples may face.
  • It teaches us about humility and renews our ability to focus on our first love – HIM – and love others in these ways that before, we may have thought – “not enough.”

If you can still go out in the world and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, DO IT! But if you are someone who for whatever reason, can not do that and you are starting to feel like you are useless to God – lay that CRAP right at the foot of the cross and let God do His will through you.

I promise – He WILL do it!

For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2:13

Nothing can stop God from using one of His children in a powerful and effective way to bring glory to Himself! God is much bigger than all of the roadblocks, prisons, illnesses, ailments, sins, challenges, and attacks that try to stop us.

He can walk right through those walls. I’ve decided to follow.

Believe. Believe that He is bigger than all of it. Call out to Him and ask Him to meet you where you are at. Draw near to Him from WHEREVER you are – and He WILL draw near to YOU!

It’s all about HIM, anyway. Removing the ability to see the fruit from our “efforts” makes that come into focus very quickly. Praise the LORD!

Now go and pray. If you can do nothing else today – just pray. Because in doing so, you aren’t “just” doing something else that is a poor substitute for going out into the world to serve your Savior. You are doing what Christ Himself put above all else.

And that matters.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 21:12

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