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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Ooops – I did it again!

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I don’t know what you call this: this thing that I find myself going through a lot. But I do wonder how many of the rest of you out there do the very same thing?

The longer I press in and grow closer in my relationship to Jesus, the more I seem to think that I know about surrender, risk and ultimately, faith. At the very least (in all fairness to myself), I typically think that once I’ve applied and learned a good lesson from the Lord once in my little old life, that I won’t have to learn it and intentionally work at reapplying it all over again.

Nope. Not happening that way.

It is true, we do learn more and understand Jesus all the better the longer we walk with Him. Our pastor was just sharing about that the other night. Yet I find that just when I think I have learned a certain principle or teaching or lesson from the scripture, I’m in a new situation in which it is as though I am having to apply it all over again, just as though I forgot it or something! Like I didn’t learn anything at all from past experience or something.

Let me try to elaborate to be more clear: Right now, this picture will sum up for you the particular lesson that I thought that I should have learned, and learned quite well by now. I should be an EXPERT at this dudes!

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Nope, and nope all over again.

Ug! What is my problem in regard to this anyway? Why do I have to learn this over and over and over again – ad nauseam? Do I not have faith enough to remember how much He has delivered me from in the past when I had no idea what I was doing? Is my flesh that stubborn that I will continue on forever, diminishing what God is capable (and more) of doing in me and through me if I only step out in faith and just trust Him already? Am I really going to continue to hold back from things He is calling me to do out of fear, trepidation, doubt?

Fear is a liar – a perpetual and impulsive one. And oh yes, a malicious one.

And then, I think about our dear disciples – the dear friends of Jesus that He chose to walk alongside Him. He didn’t choose the smartest ones, and He didn’t choose the ones who were “ready” and “prepared” for everything they were about to embark upon if they walked with Him and followed after Him and love Him with all their “heart, mind, soul and strength.” Luke 10:27 No.He simply called them.

And they simply followed.

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Man alive, I am one to be daunted by things if I don’t feel “prepared” or “adequate” or “up to the task.” Fact is, any time I have ever waited to step out until I feel safe about it, or relatively ready for it, I simply find out later that I wasn’t all the way ready like I thought anyway. Sheesh.

Yes, we are going to feel daunted in those times that we undertake something that we are being called to by Jesus, especially when we are facing what seem to be insurmountable obstacles or things that don’t make sense. We are going to feel daunted if we try to make every step we take be laced with rose petals, carefully mapped out, and only venturing along what we little humans perceive to be the “safe” path.

The truth of the matter is that it is HE who will make our paths straight. It’s not to be found in the kind of shoes we choose to wear, the compass that we think we can rely upon in our back pocket, the people we are following, or the maps that we are reading. Only HE adequately equips us.

And He does so in His own timing.

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We tend to measure outcomes, especially what seem to be successful ones, by some strange litmus test that makes sense to us. Does anyone out there know what I am saying here? We tend to think if a person is chosen for this or that, or gets the opportunity to do something they never thought possible, they are either just lucky or they have what it takes.

I “have what it takes” to do lots of things that I am NOT being called by Jesus to do in life right now, my friends. How do I know what I am NOT being called to? Well, lately, it’s the things that seem to make a whole lot of sense – those things that I can feel in my bones I’d be great and successful at right off the bat – that I know from that still small voice I am not suppsed to do.

It’s just the season I’m in right now. It’s the thing(s) that He’s trying to teach me through that uncomfortable place right now. That’s what He’s been calling me to do and where He’s been calling me to be.

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Yes, it seems He is calling me more and more to step out and do things that don’t make sense initially by man’s standards and measurements, but certainly do make total sense in relation to Christ, His purpose for me and others in my life, and in bringing glory to Him through my inadequacy.

If you are like me, there are really only two questions to ask yourself if you have prayed about a decision and God is leading you to step out in faith to do something you don’t feel fully equipped to do:

Are you willing?

And…..

Do you trust in HIM?

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First World Problems Suck Rocks Too!

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First, let’s get this out of the way: Yes, I said “Suck.”

K…moving on.

So often, I feel like a petty little jerk because of how the little, yet tedious and pervasive problems that I experience here in my protective, bubble-like, and luxurious world get to me over time. They start to drag me down, yo. They start to make me sad, irritable, anxious, doubtful, and even angry. And then I sit back and wonder why I am so crazy and selfish, because I am constantly reminded of just how good I have it.

But that’s my reality, “getting” to live in a place where our problems aren’t always BIG. Make no mistake about it, I have had my share of the bigger problems in life and the Lord showed up in His grace and got me through it. But these minor things that infest our world at times like weeds, threatening to destroy, they can wear a person down.

The enemy likes to condemn me for feeling irritated about my little first world problems. He likes to condemn other believers I know around me who are experiencing the same thing. But that’s also a lie. Why do his old tricks continue to work on us? Well, that is going to have to be another story, because this isn’t about that stupid enemy today.

Here’s the truth that the Holy Spirit is whispering in my ear for where I am at right now with all of this. The truth is yes, keep it in perspective, sister. The truth is that yes, you have it very, very good where you live, breath, and are in this life. The truth is yes, it’s not all about you. But the truth is also that yes, God still cares and He wants to  hear about it. God wants to know about the thorns in your side.

He cares about the big and the small, friends. The enemy would have you think otherwise, but again, that’s a LIE.

So, today I am starting off by venting out some of the crud that’s been bugging me, even though I know there are far worse things to contend with in this world. I am vomiting out all of the junk that is trying to weigh me down and take my perspective and make me have a pity party and cause me to give more credence to these petty nuisances than they deserve. I am purging this crap out so the Lord can deal with it. (Yes, I just said “crap.”)

But most of all, I hope it helps you to relate, to understand, that we all go through these things – some big stuff mingled in with a bunch of small stuff – and it’s all stuff that sucks rocks! And the Lord wants us to bring this junk to Him and ask Him to take it and carry us through. He doesn’t want us to “suck it up” and stuff it down because we deem it petty and unimportant. Who do I think I am that I should deem anything to be too small and insignifican for the Lord to place His attention upon in my life? Just who do I think I am!

May you be encouraged at the very least, that if you ever feel this way, you are NOT alone. As one reader told me once (and it SOOOO made me smile)…..

“Anne, you make the rest of us feel and know that we aren’t the only crazy ones!”

As I smile while I type these words, my reply is very honestly and happily…”I am glad I can do that for some of you.” Ha Ha!!!!!!!!!

Give me a break, now the computer is broken?
What’s up, Lord, your word I need to open!

Death of a friend, crying, pain and grief,
Not a petty one there, this life is so brief.

Phone calls, text messages, “I am sick again”
Leaving work, as I should, to help my kids to mend.

Bills to pay, house to clean, it just keeps a’coming,
I don’t have time for this, and I’m starting to be bumming.

Teacher emails, “get a grip, your kid was rude today”
Talks, harangues, replies, discussion, don’t know what to say.

Traffic jams, cramping legs, and the scale just needles higher,
Just get through this day in one piece, is to what I must aspire.

My little world, trying to take over, so much more out there
Typhoons and hurricanes, death, pain, sin and greed laid bare…

Jesus, He’s present, always for me, I don’t have to ask him “where?”
No matter where we all might be, He’ll always be right there.

Yes, even though some of this stuff sucks rocks, I am turning it over the THE ROCK today, because this verse tells me to do so. And I shall rejoice.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 4-7

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Grief, oh Grueling Grief.

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Grief: Bone cracking, heart wrenching, mind bending grief.

Grief: Life sucking, joy sapping, body shaking grief.

Felt down to the tips of your toes while simultaneously going in and out of a state of numbness. One moment here, the next – not sure where you are. One foot in? Or one foot out?

Nerve endings in places you never knew you had. Emotions that mere words, drawings, music, or other forms of human expression simply cannot describe.

Grief: Feeling the core of your soul being wrenched and prodded – kneaded like a big blog of dough.

Grief: No adequate words to offer, no adequate words to be able to fully receive.

A time in which prayer morphs into what it may have always been intended to be like for us all along: God simply reading our hearts.

A time where fuzzy is the new normal for a while and we finally accept that we simply cannot understand it all.

A time in which truly it is clear that only God can hold us together – thinly stiched as it may feel right now; like threads threatening to snap and fray that last little bit, threatening to send us into some kind of abyss.

Grief: Down to the last – the very last microscopic piece of who we think we are – what we thought we were made of and, finally, that moment of being fully surrendered and fully aware of just how much we need to be carried in the arms of the One true and living God. Carried – All. The. Time. 24/7.

Grief: Jesus knows it well. He knows grief.

Jesus knows suffering.

Jesus knows separation from the One that He loved most.

Jesus knows pain, unimaginable loss, betrayal, shock, overwhelming sadness, pain and trial.

Jesus knows it all and more. And HE offers the peace that surpasses all understanding through it all.

That Beautiful Savior of ours – our Jesus? He pieces us back together, heals us.  In our brokenness He manifests the light that when we are “whole” we fail so often to even bother to see.

Darkness makes it easier to see the one small light in the distance. IF we keep our eyes wide open.

And then? He makes us stronger than we ever were before. Because He fills us with Himself. More of Him – and less of us.

Oh grief!

And I DO believe: He weaves new pieces of Himself in as He puts us back together. We end up with more of HIS strength, HIS wisdom, HIS peace and HIS joy that trumps all emotions or experiences or circumstances than we ever thought possible before.

Sometimes grief opens the door we thought we swung wide open a long time ago even more. Even one more millimeter of openness to Jesus and remaining fully surrendered to Him and in His loving arms? That’s going to make a difference in our lives! Even when it comes as a result of the work He does in us during our grief. I guess that’s what it means when He tells us that “his strength is made perfect in our weakness.” Wow.

Grief: God’s opportunity to make us stronger through our pain.

Grief: Surrender and bravery seen through our tears. By HIM.

Tears provide cleansing. Tears provide purification. Tears provide reflection. If they are shed in His presence, they do.

Grief, oh grueling grief.

The only thing to do in such times is fix those eyes of ours upon Jesus and know that one day – we will get to see Him in His full glory. That day when there will be no more tears. That day when grief will no longer exist. That day we  have the privilege, even during such heart wrenching times, to look forward to with the most blessed hope we could ever cling to.

Glorious Jesus! Comfort those in their grief and time of loss today with the comfort that only YOU can provide!

“The Lord is near to those who are broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

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Flower Fade Not

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If you love a flower, don’t let it fade away.
It needs a little light and a little care every day.
With this nourishment, its beauty will stay true;
And a loving, eternal reflection, will shine all over you.

A flower’s beauty loves, but it too, needs love back…
Without this mutuality, its petals begin to crack.
The stem then, isn’t so strong; with nothing there to show,
But leaves and dirt beneath it;  petals that lost their glow.

Yet that can never happen, with some attention every day
‘Cause it will plant new seeds, and won’t just whither away.
Those seeds will keep on growing, with you, your love, your care;
With that you will be showing that you truly want it there.

You say you love your flower? Then know it’s not perfection.
Without a place to grow, it loses all direction.
It’s not completely helpless; it can stand on its own…
But serves all of us better if your heart can be its home.

Let your flower give to you, all it wants to give..
But remember that it needs nurturing to truly bloom and live!
The flower is love and truth, me and you and you and me;
I don’t think it should die – I think we should just see…

That together we’re the caretakers; we can clip it, trim it, mold it…
We can form all shapes and sizes; we can do this bit by bit.
And with a little work – if we just put a little time in,
Our flower will grow and grow, and soon we’ll have a garden.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. Romans 15:5

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It’s Not Safe Here!

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There’s something I need to tell you. It may not be something that feels good as you first hear it. Or maybe it will once you wrap your mind around it.

No…you’ll have to wrap your heart around it too. And then, like me, you may find that you have to do it over and over again.

The Christian life – the REAL Christian life? It’s not safe here.

If we are serious about allowing God to direct our every move, check every crevice of our hearts, turn our crazy minds over to HIM in all that we do, we aren’t going to feel or be safe in this world. That’s the facts, Jack.

We aren’t going to be able to hold on to those little safety nets and fuzzy security blankies that make us feel better about pretending we are taking a real risk when we’re really not because we had the “net” under us all the time anyway. We like soft landings, don’t we?

We aren’t going to be able to safely say that we are sure what we’re doing and where we’re going or staying and we have it all under control and are stable and solid at all times.

We aren’t going to be able to run or to hide from persecution, glaring eyes on occasion, mean-spirited folks who want to do us harm or even well-intentioned people who think they have all the answers. We can’t hide from our own hearts either. Our own dark. Our own breakable, vulnerable selves.

We aren’t going to feel safe in this world.

Can I tell you right now; THAT is really, really uncomfortable, friends!

But what a blessed and glorious peace and joy there is in knowing that the unknown here is very known by our Lord and Savior, Jesus. There’s something freeing about being willing to go where He tells us to whenever He tells us to do so. There’s something beautiful about staying put until He says so too!

He knows what is happening – in our little world and in the lives of everyone else too.

He knows exactly what is going to occur tomorrow, next month, or two seconds from now.

He also has His sovereign hand upon bigger stuff too: Things like eternity, all dimensions, the universe, and existence that can’t be pegged into time, space, or anything else that human minds can fully grasp.

I am starting to think that if it feels safe, we shouldn’t necessarily do it. That doesn’t mean that we can’t make choices that feel good either. I think it just depends upon what your challenge is.

We shouldn’t rule anything out if God is clearly telling us to do it or not to do it. We have to be willing to do the stuff that surpasses human understanding when He tells us to. But we had better be in tune with HIM every step of the way!

For me? It’s living day by day…in a lot of ways. That’s my challenge. It’s having the capacity to make choices now that would wrap things up in a nice little safe and pretty bow, but not making them yet. It’s waiting upon the Lord to tell me when to make the next choice, the next move, the next statement, behavior, action, sacrifice, gesture. The next anything.

It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. Lately the enemy has been nagging at me because the areas in which I am struggling are so small compared to what others are going through. But pervasive is pervasive, and fear can gain a foothold no matter what we are grappling with, dear friends. Sometimes, it’s the smaller stuff that the enemy likes to use to throw us off track the most!

He is my safety net – that beautiful Jesus of mine. He always has been – always will be.

Too bad I have to remind myself of that every single second of every single day.

Or…maybe that’s not bad.

Maybe that’s quite a wonderful thing after all.

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Enough

Grace-has-appeared[1]When you hurt someone’s feelings and you didn’t even notice…

His grace is enough.

When words aren’t sufficient, and you don’t know how to comfort…

His grace is enough.

When your heart needs some healing but you don’t know what to surrender…

His grace is enough.

When bitterness is there and bad feelings are taking over…

His grace is enough.

When you make a mess out of the kitchen and leave it for someone else to clean up…

His grace is enough.

When your need came first and you left others in the dust….

His grace is enough.

When there’s so many to pray for and you forget about your promise…

His grace is enough.

When you take the last cookie, the first good spot, or the best for yourself…

His grace is enough.

When the hurt is so big and the ugly’s so bad…

His grace is enough.

When that movie, TV show, other book you’re reading took time from HIM…

His grace is enough.

When you’re going to be late and you promised you’d be there…

His grace is enough.

When you knew you should stop and you went on with your plans…

His grace is enough.

When you withhold and stew and don’t share and love…

His grace is enough.

When someone you love is hurting and you know you can’t fix it…

His grace is enough.

When nothing makes sense and you’re confused and alone…

His grace is enough.

When nothing else is….

His grace is enough. His grace is ALL.

Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful.” Psalm 69:16

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Pleasing God or Pleasing Man?

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This is a groaning-of-the-heart post. It’s not well-written. It’s not meant to be. I typically share from the  heart, but it comes across more coherent than today’s musings will do. But that’s the point. The Lord is asking me to share the raw stuff that I can’t fully do justice with mere words today. So, if it strikes you as you listen with your heart – as you think of the times you prayed and couldn’t even utter the words, but had to let the Holy Spirit just read your heart, please understand that you are hearing me as I do the same thing. I am typing it as I am praying this way today. Words do not suffice, but I hope you will still be blessed in some way by what I share as you read on.

Is it possible that sometimes we Christians hide behind the whole “you only have to please God” stuff in order to bypass our responsibility to honor and fully love one another? In not doing so, we aren’t pleasing Him anyway, are we?

This is what has been on my heart lately, and it’s been squeezed to the point of feeling it quite literally, friends.

Today, driving home from work, God gave me some clear revelations. This is that big thing that I think He was trying to tell me that I shared was “on my heart” about a month ago. I didn’t know what it was and it’s been driving me nutso!!!

But it was worth waiting upon the Lord to come to this place, which is still a strange place to be in, but wonderful too. Quite frankly, I didn’t expect to get this revelation at all driving home today. But God’s timing is interesting and always perfect, is it not?

I think we are often quite well-intentioned about this, so don’t get me wrong on this one. Sometimes though, we can get duped into thinking that if all we do is focus on God and pleasing Him and Him alone, that is enough. It may be enough for salvation, but it certainly isn’t enough to bear the fruit of it to the fullest.

We then do the exact opposite of living for Him and bringing Him joy when we focus on not needing to honor and please others because we start thinking we are in some kind of special relationship with God where we don’t have to answer to others IN FULL.

We stop placing value on the needs of others and the attributes that He asks us to live out.

We stop living like Jesus lives.

I have been so focused upon loving others well, that I forgot about some of the things that are equally as important.

Things like total and complete loyalty when it’s hard or doesn’t make sense.

Things like being okay with wanting to please others, especially when it comes from a heart of love and letting Jesus shine through that endeavor.

Things like being all right with wanting to know I am adding value to the lives of others, and to know it from them as well as from the Lord.

See, I don’t necessarily know that I need it from others – but it’s good to want it from others and I am starting to make peace with that again in my life. Telling ourselves that it’s not important is a lie from the enemy. As long as the intentions and motivations are right, then I believe God is telling us that it is part, and  a good and important part, of the greater purpose of edifying and loving one another.

In focusing upon pleasing God and only answering to others out of obedience, my heart started to leave the building in many places and situations.

Oh my aching heart. No wonder He was squeezing it for me!

Yes! We are to do all that we do for God’s glory, not to please everyone around us for the sake of pleasing man and fitting in with this world. That wasn’t my problem. I get the whole  “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) I buy into that and want to live that out fully.

And, Yes! We ultimately answer to God and get our true value, worth and identity through Him, and who we are in Him, not this world or the men in it or all the stuff that we do or don’t do. I get that one too.

BUT……

This is just all the more reason to remember how very important it is to look at scripture as a whole.

God also tells us to…..

aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” 2 Corinthians 8:21

Oh, and this too…

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31

Integrity: Doing the right thing even (especially) when it’s hard or may not make sense.

By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever.”Psalm 41: 11-12

Honor:
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 thingsPhilippians 4:8

Upright:
But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Titus 1:8

Pure:
So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man.” Acts 24:16

Faithfulness and Loyalty:
“A faithful man will abound with blessings, but whoever hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20

We are to “love others as Christ loved us.” That means to answer to Him and always remember HE alone is our God.

But at the same time, it means to love and  honor and cherish His bride in EVERY way possible.

His bride is part of HIM. A very, very big and important part!

Guess what? For now, my heart is resting. I still don’t have all the answers, but God does. I know that it’s okay to want to do right by others. Especially when it’s hard.

Are we bondservants of Christ or not? Take a moment and look up the definition in full of bondservant. And I shall leave you with this last word from the Lord:

“Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” Colossians 3:22

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Wanna Get Hammered?

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I shared this the other day with my co-workers as the Lord is really emphasizing this in my heart and throughout all of my devotions lately. Now, I am sharing it with all of you!

I have been thinking and praying a lot about how ever-changing our world is, yet how the fact that our flesh is fickle is something that has always been a constant. It’s a huge theme of what Paul, wrote about as the Lord inspired him to do, and it’s a common topic throughout the whole of scripture.

But so is redemption through Jesus Christ.

Our flesh is weak, but our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the ROCK. HE never changes. We are finicky and fickle little creatures, but our Lord and Savior is firm! Thank HIM that HE never changes!

God has really been working on me about how in order to die to self and live for Christ, it really is an intentional and day to day commitment and battle we must wage along with His divine grace and intervention. Crucifying the flesh is a daily and painful endeavor. Fact is, God’s not going to do it all for us – we have to take action – our part is important too. That’s why it’s painful.

Anyway, I decided to try to go back to how we used to do things when we were kids – you know? Keep it simple!

Here is what I am doing every morning and throughout the day and it’s beginning to help a little:

· “Jesus, help me remember that you are living inside of me and it’s YOUR life.”

· “Jesus, can you fight the devil if he comes near us today?”

· “Jesus, please tell me what to do and help me remember to ask you stuff throughout the day.”

· “Jesus, thank you for loving me and wanting to live in my heart.”

Oh friends, it is not easy to walk through this life with all of our responsibilities and tasks and remember it’s not our own. It’s hard to get the things done we need to and “take ownership” of it without taking ownership of our own lives and taking over at the wheel. Wouldn’t it be easier to just crawl up into a cave or go out into the mission field where there aren’t any distractions and live for Jesus there? Of course, there are lots of other hardships to endure there, but the distractions? What about them?

I don’t think that even in the mission field, immersed in God’s work amongst those who are lost is “safe” either. I think the flesh is strong and it will follow us wherever we go. There’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

We can’t get out of this “nailing it to the cross” thing, guys. It’s part of the deal.

The battle of the flesh is going to remain – but so is Christ Jesus, living in us!!!! Let’s help each other remember who we are in Christ but emphasize how important it is to let HIM be in charge, let HIM shine through, let HIM make the decisions, and let HIM guide our every action, thought, deed.

Let’s help each other!!! Anyone got a hammer and a nail? (Tee Hee)

And if you don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, won’t you come to Him today? Don’t let this flesh battle thing scare you out of it. Fact is, you are battling it either way  you go. At least with Christ on our side, we know the battle is already won and we will reign with Him for all eternity.

Look to the cross – what He has done for us. And place yourself at the foot of it. Turn your face upward and focus upon HIM, and He will be with you forever. He will live in and through us and help us to fight these earthly battles. But most importantly, because He sacrificed everything for us, we have the peace and the joy of knowing that this is just a blip on the radar screen of eternity.

He endured far more than we ever will here on this planet; here in this life…so that we can have a real and blessed life with Him one day in which suffering will be non-existent, and we will sing His praises and revel in His presence.

Not even a sledgehammer is going to prevent that day from coming if we know, follow after, and love our Christ Jesus with all our heart, mind, and soul.

BAM!

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 ESV

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Putting out the Welcome Mat

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We all have different God-given gifts, this is true. We also have different personalities, tastes, hair and eye color and backgrounds, amongst a multitude of other things. The world is a diverse place and people are too.

Aren’t you grateful for those differences when you really think about it?

Some of us are more extroverted than others, while some folks are more peaceful, gentle, and calming. Some of us are visual in our learning style, while others are auditory or hands-on. There are people in the world who can’t stand the idea of public speaking, while others seem to come alive only when performing on stage.

Some folks like coffee, while others prefer tea, and some prefer veggies and dip over cake.

But no matter who you are and what your preferences, tendencies, or giftings are, if you follow after Christ Jesus, He asks that you live out life as a servant unto others.

He asks us to be approachable.

He asks us to be available.

He tells us that people matter more than things – even the things that are good, like church, work, or exercise.

He asks that we show hospitality, leave ourselves open, and most of all, that we do it all with a desire to glorify, praise, and lead others straight to Him and all He has for us. After all, even if we put all of our best gifts and strengths together, they’d never compare to even the most minute detail about our mighty and divine, loving and perfect God!

It doesn’t matter if you are introverted or extroverted, quiet or exuberant in spirit, or if you prefer small gatherings or large crowds. What matters is that as followers after Jesus and brothers and sisters in Him, we make sure to make the most of our commitment to Him, each other, and being like-minded in the face of these little nuances that make us different.

Really think about this for a moment: Jesus made us all different. He talks about the different giftings that we, as individuals have been given and that we are to use them all for His glory! Yet He also emphasizes that as one body, of one mind (in HIM), we can do great things. He tells us with no reservation that no matter what your personality, circumstance, upbringing, or genetics might be, it is a choice to put out the welcome mat and make a focus upon Him and people (relationship) primary in life.

I’m loving that thought right now and praying about it and really soaking it in for a while. I like to imagine the variety in the “welcome mats” that all of my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, would display if we could all just share our own mats with one another. What a colorful world it would be if we could see them!

But we can experience them even if we can’t see them in full color – we just have to look. We just have to appreciate how they are different. We just have to be grateful for every glimpse of them we see not by sight, but through the vision the Lord gives to us when we ask Him for it.

I am so thankful – so very blown away by the grace of God and the eyes He’s giving me to be able to see that diversity amongst us doesn’t always mean division! I’m so excited to get to see the different welcoming spirits that so many around me display in so many different and creative ways. I’m seeing Jesus there. How much more “welcoming” can things get than that?

Sometimes I get down when I rely upon my own faulty vision, don’t you? If you ever find yourself in that same boat, can I encourage you to ask yourself once in a while if your own welcome mat could use a little sweeping? I know that the Lord has placed this challenge pretty heavily upon my own little heart a coule of times lately, that’s for sure. it’s easy to take for granted that it’s out and beckoning “welcome all,” but I have found mine being upside down or a little dirty a couple of times over the past few months.

I may never have even noticed it if He hadn’t reminded me of how important it is. And the reason I am stressing that is because I personally, have found that when my own welcome mat is clean and straight, I am better able to see everyone else’s.

Aren’t we all glad that the Lord always has His welcome mat out – displayed clearly for all to see and trust in and walk upon? Aren’t we thankful that we can not only see that it’s there, but bask in the peace that comes from knowing with no doubt what it’s purpose really is? To cross right over it and past that threshold and into His presence. Then, to make way for others who wish to do the same.

That door is always open – that mat is always laid right out there in plain sight. Thanks be to Him!!

Let’s keep our welcome mats out and clean and stop hesitating to step right into the ones that others have placed out in front of us as well. Then, we can enjoy how God created us all as different, but simultaneously get a better understanding of what it truly is to be like-minded as fellow believers and followers after Christ!

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 1 Peter 3:8

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It’s Not Hard

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It’s not hard to show that we care…

A warm hug
A soft smile
A glint in the eye
A welcome hand

It’s not hard to really be there…

A nice note
A sincere compliment
A time spent
A laugh or two

It’s not hard to give it up and share….

A welcome invitation
A meal on me
A chance to go first
A better choice of seat

It’s not hard another’s burden to help bear…

A listening ear
A praying heart
A commitment to ask about it
A way to help out

It’s not hard – just to do something…
We can’t do everything…
But it’s too easy to do nothing.

It’s not hard.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

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Even in the Sand

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Can I swing high enough?
Will it get me that much closer?
I want to touch your face, oh Lord,
Want to see you all the better.

Can I make it higher this time?
Or do I need to come on down?
Landing on the sand beneath me,
Maybe there, I’ll hear that sound.

Wind and breezes licking at me
Washing away all of my fears
Pumping legs, so light and airy
Drying up the pent up tears.

Swinging high, back and forth
It’s fun for while it lasts.
But landing sometimes isn’t easy
‘Cause swinging’s such a blast!

Oh Father, can I swing high enough?
What happens when the ride is done?
Walking, working, doing, moving,
I just seek the face of Your Son.

And when I reach that sand beneath
I know one thing’s for sure
If it hurts and I will just cry out
You’ll carry me, and then I’ll soar.

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Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually. 1 Chronicles 16:11

Be a Friend

Photo Credit Microsoft Office Free Images

Photo Credit Microsoft Office Free Images

As we grow older our friendships do change.

We get busy with so many activities and conflicting schedules.
We become tired. True rest and refreshment becomes a thing of the past.
We forget what it’s like to play – to laugh – to focus in on the moment.

We let life do the driving.

We build up barriers too. At the very least, we fail to recognize the ones that are already in place and destroy them. You know the ones I mean? The ones that we put up around ourselves years and years ago. The ones that keep us from being a friend to others.

We may have never even noticed that we did it.

Why do we limit ourselves when it comes to becoming friends with others as we grow and change? Why do we allow life to drive us and the first thing that is then forsaken is time with God and fellowship (without barriers) with one another? Then, that very thing – that busy-ness of life – well, it becomes the greatest barrier to closeness and friendship of all. We start to feel uncomfortable because we’ve isolated ourselves for so very long.

We stop relating.

Instead of giving up because the notion of friendship as it was when we were children is no longer in existence, why don’t we adjust and embrace the way our friendships can be now instead? Why don’t we decide to be intentional about it, get creative, and go after it? Why don’t we take the excuses away, smash the barriers, and open ourselves up to more?

Why are we afraid?

What do we do to get to know those who are in our world? Do we seize the moment – those snippets in time to connect with another, or do we just let time pass right on by?

It will pass, you know. Rapidly.

Before we know it, years have gone by. Are we all willing to say at the end of the day, “well, I did my best to keep up with my schedule, all the tasks and things to do, please the bill collectors, keep the house clean, and make everyone else’s schedule and agenda or things they need ticked off their list nice and tidy?”

Are we willing to take our last breath knowing we didn’t make relationship the most important thing while we were here?

There’s a certain degree of structure and responsibility we must adhere to (I guess) if we are going to live in this crazy world of ours. But I have to say that I find there is quite a bit of “stuff” that is truly unnecessary and I am asking God to give me discernement as to what those things are. Then, I need the courage to say no to those things.

Funny how at church service tonight one of the things that was discussed that struck me to the core was about simplifying our lives so we can make room for what should be our top priority anyway:

God and people.

I want to spend my time and effort doing that which is truly meaningful. Sure, right now, my husband and I are choosing to work to make an income, and we can do that work as unto the Lord. But we can build and grow friendships while we are doing that too. We just haven’t been for about the last 20 years or so.

Sometimes we just have to get creative in this world to keep our priorities straight.

You know – maybe the days of spending eight hours in a row with a friend and building mud pies are truly over as we grow older and have our own children to care for (so that they can be free to explore such friendships or activities). I get that. But I am committed to doing all I can to use each moment possible to connect with other people and build friendships where I’m at.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I’m tired of it being nothing.

We must be intentional about this, or it’s never going to happen. The last twenty years have proven that to me without question. But we also need divine intervention if we are going to be successful – if we are really going to make this our first priority in life.

Jesus and people. Yah, I need God’s help.

If you feel the same way and this is a desire of your own heart, won’t you join me in asking the Lord to  help you get creative and find ways to have meaningful moments with others that make a lasting impression or change in their lives. You may find that your own life is enriched as well. I sure have found that I am enjoying other people’s company now that I have opened myself back up to it.

It’s nice to see Jesus in the eyes and actions, thoughts and words, behaviors and experiences of others.

But best of all, the Lord asks us to love one another and tells us that His joy is made complete when we do so. He asks us not to forsake fellowship with others. And in being intentional about community and friendship, we have more and more opportunities to nurture this in life, bringing joy to our wonderful Savior. If He commands it, don’t we think He will  help us to do it?

I want to bring joy to Jesus.

Let’s stop limiting ourselves, or even our wonderful and Mighty Savior in this way, friends. Let’s give Him the praise He deserves and ask Him for His help every step of the way.

Look for Jesus in others and be a friend. Take away the preconceived notions, or the all or nothing boundaries about what friendship is (i.e. “I don’t have enough time, so I just won’t do it at all”) and open yourself up to a new kind of friendship – right where you are at.

Enrich your friendship with Jesus all the more by being a friend to His other sons and daughters.

He’s a friend to us, a compassionate, mighty, and powerful One indeed. He made other sons and daughters, our own brothers and sisters to exist right alongside of us for good reason. We should take advantage of the blessings of family.

No man was ever meant to be an island. We were meant to be friends and family in Christ Jesus.

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those  who are.”  C.S. Lewis

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival  value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing  honor. Romans 12:10

Photo Credit Microsoft Office Free Images

Photo Credit Microsoft Office Free Images

Together in the Mess of it All

Perception is quite a funny little thing, isn’t it?

I mean, over the years, I cannot even begin to tell you how many people have shared things with me that I find so unbelievable. This is stuff that these folks have said that they thought about me upon first meeting, that, when looking from the inside, I fail to understand. But it’s still been their perception, and I have seen some common denominators throughout my life. I’m sure you have too, right? And I’m sure that both you and I have done the same thing about others – it’s part of what humans do.

Perception #1 is the one I want to share about today because this one is the FUN, FUN, FUNNIEST of all!

“You have it so together. You come across as someone who really knows what they are doing, just has it all in the right places, and is balanced and efficient and really dialed in.”

When I hear this, I now know that it’s okay to laugh – out loud. I mean, the belly kind of laugh that is really good for you too! I also realize that it’s meant as a complete and total compliment.

Yet I know myself on the inside – spots and all. I don’t know what causes this perception to be so pervasive when people meet me or are getting to know me – I have given up trying to guess, but it is one of the most common ones that I hear.

What is great about this now in my life, is that it gives me the opportunity to share Jesus in a way I never took advantage of before. In the past, I was still as shocked as I am today to hear about the perception that I am seen as someone who “has it all together”, but it certainly didn’t make me feel bad to hear about it.

These days, although I still take it as a compliment, and don’t feel bad about it, I love it because I can share that I am so NOT together, friends! (It makes for a nice segue).

I am just a poor and crazy woman who is finally trying to figure out how to be who she is in Christ Jesus, bumps and all. Actually, I am in all reality trying to learn to focus more upon HIM and who HE wants to be through me – the parts of Himself that He wishes to show through me more than ever. It’s hard.

And I realize – maybe that’s why some folks still have this perception of me. Maybe it’s because it’s refreshing for people to see others not be afraid all the time to show that they are real – that they are faulty – that they need a Savior and they are going to lift their heads up in the face of that weakness – the ones that they know without question will exist until the day we leave this life and go to live for all eternity with our Lord and Savior! (And, by the way, it should go without saying that is not due to anything I can credit to my little “not-together” self).

What’s funny is that although I am pretty open about how lame I am in so many ways, I still struggle with authenticity at times too. Lately, it’s been more due to the fact that the whole world screams “don’t do that – don’t share your failures and your inadequacies – it’s not good.”

But that’s a lie.

Maybe that is what being “together” is in this messy world we live in right now.

Knowing we are so NOT together. Asking for courage to be honest about it no matter how hard it is.

Knowing that it is Christ Jesus that keeps us whole, as broken and flawed as we are.

Yes, sharing what our weaknesses are – even boasting in them, friends.

Talking and focusing then upon how Christ is making us better, spotty as we are. More of Him….less of us.

Sharing openly how hard we have to battle (sometimes daily) against it all – the battle for being authentic in Christ Jesus and admitting we struggle with relying upon Him at times – admitting that sometimes we want to try to pretend to be, or even really be or appear “together.” That’s tough stuff.

The only way we can ever experience what it is (or a version of it, I guess) to really be”together”, is to allow the Lord to make us whole by breaking us, and molding us into something better day to day.

“Together” through allowing for brokenness- then rebuilding – into His creation of what HE wants us to be.

We are flawed, friends. We are broken at times. We don’t have it all straight, right, dialed in, and perfect – no matter what it may look like from the outside. Not a single one of us does.

But we can be together in our brokenness – in the mess of it all – as long as we realize that we are in need of THE Savior, Jesus Christ.

He can make us whole in spite of our imperfections. He can bring unity and triumph through the ugly and the pain, the failures and the disappointments, the screw-ups and the things we once may have called success but are really just man-made illusions and milestones.

He makes masterpieces this way.

Make no mistake about it: sometimes the messy gets to me. Sometimes I want to be “together” in the way our world thinks about together – in the way I used to admire and strive for with all that I  had. Sometimes I want to start faking myself out and controlling stuff and live in the delusional world of false “together-ness.”

Why? Well, quite frankly, because it feels good. The constant battle gets tiresome, and I am a lazy girl.

It feels good to feel together, even when it’s not for real.

Lots of the enemy’s lies are that way.

But I am so grateful that I have tasted that true “together-ness” comes from the broken. Truth is truth and that’s always better than the illusions we make up for ourselves, even though it certainly doesn’t always feel better than the fake stuff.

Argh. Isn’t it tough to do the right thing in this life, friends? Isn’t it hard to feel the hard and the ugly and walk right when there are so many feel-good temptations out there for the taking?

Yes it is. But it is so very rewarding to let God show His “strength through our weaknesses.” Words fail to describe that kind of “feeling.”

Together in the truth of the Almighty and Great I Am. What better place could there be this side of heaven?

Might I challenge you along with myself today, my friends? Might you be inspired and motivated toward authenticity and transparency regarding it all?  Use these opportunities to share with others just how flawed you are, yet how Christ is making you whole all at the same time. It’s mind blowing stuff, for sure, and I totally believe it’s a wonderful testimony to the power of our Lord and Savior!

Never forget to share the good news after being honest about your weaknesses, either!

In your flaws and in your broken and in your ugly and your mess and hard – Christ Jesus makes you whole. And He can and will do the same for anyone who can admit that and pour out their mess and allow Him to replace it with the REAL truth and the REAL together, and the REAL good that only HE can be.

He is the only piece to the broken puzzle of our lives that makes us complete.

Place Him where He belongs – right smack in the center! Then let Him overflow.

Fill yourself with Him today! Share in the mess of life. Bring others together through that endeavor and one step closer to a truly together life with our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinithians 12:9

Things That We Can Do

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Things that we can do….

Send a funny email
Sneak in a special gift
Laugh along with others
Help to heal a rift.

Things that we can do….

Tweet or text or update
Write a quick, short note
Smile and make eye contact
Step inside of their “same boat.”

Things that we can do…

Ask about that something
That thing that’s on their mind
Try to love your enemies
Never leave one man behind.

Things that we can do…

Offer help when busy
Share your time or talents
Commend a job well done
Ask how that project went.

Things that we can do…

Offer a shoulder or ear
Love in the face of sin
Face up to demons screaming
Decide the enemy shall not win.

Things that we can do…

Remember who is family
Complete His joy and love
For all shall know us by this
And be pointed to God above.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35 ESV

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Is it Okay to Live for Today?

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God surprises me all the time. Just when I think I have “come a long way” with some certain issue, He helps me to see that I still need Him in that area too. I am grateful for that.

Over the last year, I have let go (or thought I had) of a lot of what I call my “control issues.” I left a very stable job that I’d  had for a decade, lots of great relationships there, to move on to….well, I didn’t know what.

For a planner, the unknown is a dark place.

After yielding to His will, and praying a lot, I thought (twice, actually) that He had led me to the place that I was meant to be job-wise. Both of these places were wonderful, and everything just seemed in line with what His will is for me, and my family, when I accepted those positions.

Surprise!

Then, for reasons that didn’t make any logical sense, I just knew that He wanted me to  move again. I did so, and now I am at a wonderful place that I hope will be the place He has for me to remain in for a while.

Now, understand something: I am, and have never been a quitter. This has been really hard for me. I know it’s hard to understand that when there are so many out there in the world without work at all.

What? She is saying it’s  hard to have been fortunate enough to  have been offered the ability to work in three places since she quit (of her own accord) a job that was already awesome?

That’s not what I mean by hard though. I realize that it is a whole other level of difficulty to contend with when one cannot find work at all and I completely sympathize with that.

But when one is seeking the Lord’s will and voluntarily making changes, hoping that they are doing the right thing all along, and things don’t work out – well, it makes the mind and the heart ripe for battle, let’s just put it that way.

I have been at war with tomorrow.

So  here’s the thing: I have still been battling inside in spite of the fact that the Lord has led me back to a place that I call my home away from home when it comes to my employment. I am so thankful to be where I am at, and it wasn’t easy, but God just opened all the doors every step of the way. He encouraged me through the Holy Spirit by making me feel unsettled so that I would continue to move. All the while, He has allowed that uneasy feeling to get better and better.

But a version of uneasy is still there.

And I realized that it’s because I am still too much of a planner. I’m still to much about worrying about the unknown, wanting to feel dug in, settled. See, in the face of throwing the stability and the comfort and the ease of just staying where I was at right out the window, I was still counting upon being able to plan a little.

I wanted to plan within the chaos.

I thought that if I took steps and even leaps of faith with the big stuff, that then I could still plan with the little stuff once I “got to where I needed to be.” And I am reminded once again, that it’s not even about me.

Oh yah.

I feel such a weight lifted from my heart today, friends. I realize this is what has been causing me to periodically battle in the midst of this triumph and blessing at my new, beautiful job!

I don’t have to know what I hope to do there long term. I don’t have to feel unsettled at all. I can enjoy it for what it is (the position I have taken – the job itself) and love the whole of what I am doing and the wonderful ministry and family I am NOW A PART OF WITH NO DOUBT!

I can be at home at work.

How many people in the world are blessed enough regarding their employment to feel that? I feel like such a schlump!

I can focus on the big picture of why I am there. I can think about the mission of the organization, the people there, not whether I will stay in a processing job or move on to do something else.

Maybe I can feel eventually like I am actually GOOD at my processing job!

It’s not about the processing anyway. Where I’m at, it’s about Jesus and the people no matter which position you accept. How beautiful is that?

And then I realized something else….I was being taunted by fear. Fear NOT of being left behind for better jobs that come up that I can’t take right now. But fear of settling in!

Fear of settling in and being content. Fear of feeling at home. Fear of comfort.

Can you believe that?

 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

As Christians, we can get caught up a bit too much at times in wondering if we are aligned with God’s plans for us. It’s good to self-check and do heart checks regarding this, but if we miss out on enjoying God and time with Him and His people in the process, it is completely defeating. That alone can take us out of His will for us.

I can’t profess that I know how to do this, even though I have had this wonderful realization. But I can say that I am excited about it. There will be easy in this as well as hard throughout, I am certain. But I plan to do all I can with the help of the Lord to enjoy this time.

It’s okay. It’s okay to live for Him in my today.

As long as we are doing it to glorify God and be the light of Jesus first and foremost – every single day.

I’m sure there will be a blog post in the future about the struggles I am facing after getting “settled in” and then some other calling within the ministry comes my way. It will be hard to get comfortable in the uncomfortable, only to have to change again. But, that’s okay too. I am just going to trust Jesus and the leadership we have at my work to tell me what to do and where to go, if anywhere.

I’m going to focus on today.

God tells us not to worry about tomorrow…today has enough challenges of it’s own. He is giving me permission to live for today and the people I will encounter as I do so. He is giving me permission to focus upon Him and the others I am interacting with to the fullest.

He gives me permission to trust in Him and love thinking about Him today.

What greater calling can any of us  have than to make the most of what is right in front of our noses? How freeing is it to know that the Lord’s plans and purposes will be fulfilled in the face of our stubborn opposition and the battles and games we play?

If you are struggling with letting go in a particular area, I encourage  you to ask the Lord if you have fully surrendered. Sometimes He allows us to be uncomfortable because we are not walking in His will for us. But other times, He just wants for us to rest in Him, throw our incessant need for planning right out the window, and allow Him to smash it to pieces.

What is your plan for today? Ask God to help you to make it His plan and then go for it.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21 ESV

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If I Could I Would

photo credit www.creationswap.com Jose Fares

photo credit http://www.creationswap.com Jose Fares

If I could I would….

Run a marathon…
Lose the last 15 and keep it off forever…
Blog full time for Jesus and not think about paying bills…
Go back to school for my masters degree…

If I could I would…

Freeze my kids right where they’re at…
Get mama and daddy back…
Love my husband even better…
Slow life down, but stay together…

If I could I would….

Visit the holy land…
Weep in Gethsemane…
Bow at calvary and the tomb…
Gazing outward, upward, eternally…

If I could I would….

Make sure every mouth was fed…
Every single heart is led…
To Him, our One, True HOPE…
Always waiting, living, expecting..

But should I? Could I? Would I?

Really would I?

What WILL I do?

How about you?

It’s not about woulda. It’s not about shoulda. And no, it’s not about coulda.

It’s about ARE ya?

Am I?

Am I really willing to follow after Jesus with all my heart, mind, and soul?

Am I wiling to look obsessed, crazed, face alienation, loss, sacrifice, even my own life if necessary?

Am I willing to follow – take up that cross and truly follow no matter what the cost?

ALL the way?

It’s easy to say yes because I have the intention of doing so. But I will never fully trust that I could not be the next Peter, depending upon the situation that may actually come before me.

I want to be a true follower after my Glorious Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ! I want to always be ALL the way in! I want it badly. It might be one of those…”careful what you pray for” things, but it’s right. It’s good. It’s truth. It’s BEST.

I prayed for a deeper love for others a couple of years ago. I got it, but I have been on a roller coaster ever since. I know it was good. I know it is exactly what He calls me to do. I know He answered my prayer and granted me a gracious gift that I never dreamed possible. Sure, there are times that it slips away, but I find that if I get right back down on my knees before Him and ask Him to purge my heart and refill it with His love, He delivers.

No…I can’t say we can reach a point where we “take up our cross” for once and for all, and it’s, just – done.

We have to do it again and again and again.

And if necessary, or if called to do so, we are to nail our hopes, dreams, our everything but our love for Jesus into that cross. We already nailed Him to that once. Why is it so difficult for us to nail the things of this world to it?

It’s worth it. He thinks so. He has, and continues to demonstrate it quite clearly.

We need to pray daily for the strength to do it, just as Jesus did it for all of us. We need HIS strength.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25-26

We may not have to give everything up all at once like some of the disciples were asked to, but we need to be prepared to do so. I wonder how many of us can truly say that we are?

Jesus isn’t about “could I?”

He isn’t about “should I?”

And Jesus is not about “would I?”

Not when it comes to giving up of self and giving all for the sake of others.

Not when it comes to offering us the gift of eternal life with Him for His glory!

It’s not only not all about me, but it’s not even some about me. That’s how I know that I haven’t fully surrendered and will have to do this every day, sometimes even moment to moment, friends – because it’s still some about me.

It’s to be all about HE!!!!!!!!!!!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” Matthew 16:24

Help us, Jesus. Help us to have the courage and the strength to truly be willing at all times to do whatever it takes to truly follow after you with all that we have, all that we are, all that You have given us. We know that You will equip us – it may not be easy, but we know You are faithful and love us. Most of all, we know this is for Your glory and is what is good. We pray that You will remind us not to forget to come to you every day, in every new situation, and ask for the strength we need. We thank you for sacrificing everything for US. Fill us with YOU. Help us make it all about YOU.

Jesus…YOU ARE.

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This One’s Going to Be Tough

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Yes, this post is a tough one, friends.

Before I share, let me remind anyone reading this that everything I write is what I feel the Spirit of the Lord nudging me to say. Especially when I have some hard to share, I go to Him in prayer first, to make sure I am in the right place with Him before I do so.

The other thing I want to remind everyone of is the fact that any and everything I say, is typically stuff I am dealing with as an individual. If it also applies to you, that is AWESOME. But know that I share the hard along with the smooth because it has to do with lessons that our Lord Jesus Christ is teaching me.

What is true edification of the body of believers and followers after Christ anyway? Is it just the shiny, sparkly, feel-good stuff that builds one another up and helps create feelings of unity and bliss through the beauty of it all? Or is it also the other the stuff that lies on the other side of the coin?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

That’s my life verse, friends. That is my calling.

Yeah….I think the other side is just as important as the “up” side, don’t you? And, quite frankly, I think we neglect to take care of both sides of the coin when it comes to edification of the church.

I find that we either err too far on one side more than the other far too often.

Sometimes, it’s the side of “hey, let’s share all the good and positive stuff about being Christians with one another.” You know? Stuff like…..

  • Keep it to yourself if it doesn’t sound or feel good.
    Be patient – always. Never feel restless. Or at least, if you do, certainly never share it. You’ll bring people down! (Yo…that’s scientology, not Christianity, by the way).
    Make sure you don’t admit your imperfections or mistakes. If you do, make it sound holy or something. (You get the drift).

Or what about the other side of it? Maybe we spend all of our time commiserating and complaining together and never praising and celebrating all of our many blessings?

  • Nobody understands us because we are so persecuted, you know.
    The devil made me do it – or made you do it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.
    Condemnation, condemnation, condemnation. Fear, fear, fear.

But I think the tough part comes into play when we not only realize we need to do both things – )rejoice with one another AND weep with one another), but when we find that it’s really, really hard to step first – really, really lonely to feel like you are constantly taking the risks and not sure if you will still be seen as “Christian” by your fellow believers. I’ve been there so many times in the past year and I’ve watched so many others struggling in that very same place.

Something is very wrong about that!

I for one, experience a mixture of things surrounding this issue lately. On one hand, I have seen more grace and compassion exhibited in the Christian world I am directly involved in than I have in quite some time. On the other hand, I see the enemy trying to cloud up any endeavor towards transparency in the church that He possibly can.

It’s a tough one – this particular spiritual battle we are facing. It’s not a new one – not by any stretch of the imagination. But it is evolving constantly – and getting trickier and more deceitful by the day. Rough and tough. Ugly and deceitful.

I must admit – this brings me down. Waaayyyy down, at times. And for a person like me, it’s difficult to hide it.

Did you see what I just wrote though? I wrote “hide it.”

Therein lies the battle I personally experience in relation to this. Even knowing this stuff – even after already having been tuned into it over and over again by the Lord, I still fall prey to feeling pressure to hide it when once in a while I have a down day. The enemy is laughing his rear off right about now too. He loves it.

I have found that I have had to pray for the courage to be real and transparent when it comes to the days I am not finding the coin on the “up” side more and more lately. Ironically, I can also clearly see that even if uncomfortable about it, people crave this honesty. There is no doubt about that left for me at all!

I believe that’s because when we model that type of honesty – that willingness to be vulnerable – to show the ugly or the not-so-perfect – that it gives others a sense of relief, almost – “permission” if you will, to be honest themselves.

At least on the inside.

It gives others a sense of relief that maybe they aren’t the only ones who feel that way.

They just may not say it.

If and when you are the one in the position of saying it – of mustering up the courage to be fully transparent and honest about the tough stuff, and you can tell others feel that same way but for whatever reason (reasons of their own) aren’t about to say it, remember that you don’t need them to make you feel like you are only human too.

Jesus can do that for you. Nothing we go through is something that He didn’t experience to the fullest (suffering-wise) while walking this earth.

Seek to understand others.

Hard enough for most of us, eh?

But when not feeling understood yourself? Look to Jesus first.

Hopefully, a fellow believer and follower after Christ will also come along side of you and help you in your transparency and through your tough. But if not, we can always count on Him!

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

What if you are the person on the other side of this? What if you are the one who is not feeling you can take that risk and be honest and transparent? What if you are the one who feels the same way, but can’t bring yourself to say anything?

Well, I am there too sometimes (I told you…I sometimes feel pressure to “hide it.”).

For me, what I do is I first ask the Lord “what is holding me back? Is it fear? Is it an attack? Is it sin? Am I keeping my “mask” on or trying to be the perfect role model? (which is not a perfect model at all).

After seeking and praying about that, my only suggestion is to surrender and allow the Lord to fully convict our hearts and breath in the answer as to what to do. If He is encouraging us to become more transparent, we must trust Him and then do it.

It takes courage and full reliance on Him, and make no mistake about it – we will be attacked – more than once!

I told you, this is a tough one.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

I am telling you now – I feel discouraged by all of this at times. But the great thing about it is, I don’t STAY discouraged. That verse above gives me the power and the renewal needed in my Spirit to get back up again.

Inside of the nooks and crannies of that tough lies the hard, yet beautiful, truth. I’ll take that any day over the easy and pretty little lies the enemy feeds us. I may not feel great about it for a time, but it’s so worth it once the storm subsides.

It’s going to get harder. There are going to be more difficult levels of tough to contend with if we commit ourselves fully to this, dear, dear friends. But are we soldiers committed to being salt and light in this world, amongst one another (fellow believers) as well as those who are walking in the dark? Are we?

That’s a question each of us must answer for ourselves, hopefully with God and His will for us in the depths of our hearts and minds. I hope that when we are indeed resistant, or trying to hide, it knaws at us from the inside out – I really do!

We aren’t going to bear good fruit if we don’t allow for the pruning. Pruning is not for the faint of heart, either. It takes vulnerability to become truly strong. Expressing vulnerability and being there for someone else who does so is part of the kind of love He emphasizes we not only show, but truly develop for one another deep down inside.

You are my friends if you do what I command.I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.This is my command: Love each other. John 15: 14-17

This takes action. Consistent and relentless action. Intentional action. This takes going far beyond quietly feeling it in our hearts and not saying anything about it. This takes daily renewal and input from our Savior and the subsequent refilling of the power that comes only from the Spirit He has placed inside of us!

Yes, this is a tough one. But it is the right one, the best one, and it IS the Jesus one.

That’s where I want for us to be – together.

Show some weakness today if He leads you to be courageous and do so. And know in that, you are manifesting His divine and glorious strength!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Look for the Glint

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We are to look for Jesus in others with all that we have.

Do you try to see the best in others?

Do you look for the glint in their eye?

What’s special about that person you are interacting with today? What do you see in them that reminds you of the glory of God’s creation?

Even when darkness or despair is overtaking a person, do we search for some kind of beauty in them? Do we see them as magnificent creatures that God values and loves and wants to draw closer to Him with every passing moment?

There’s a glint somewhere in there.

Are we doing anything to ignite it? Are we really looking?

Do we feel afraid to point it out when we see Jesus shining through? Are we blinded by our own unwillingness to look deeper, harder, get outside of the box that we have placed others in depending on their situation or circumstance?

Look for the glint. It’s there.

Then, make sure to point it out. Celebrate it. Make it known that you see it.

LOVE them.

Have that moment where you connect – eye to eye – Jesus vision to Jesus vision.

Then sit back and enjoy what you see.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus….
Look full in His wonderful face…
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace. (Helen Lemmel)

It’s in all of us. He is inside of every one of us who has accepted Him as our Lord and Savior.

See Him.

Look for Him.

Even if you have to squint to see the glint.

Especially then.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4: 7-8

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We Got Ta’ Move It, Move It!

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Today our ministry had a field day and we all worked together on teams to support our well-loved field countries and celebrate the children around the world that we love so very dearly. We had a day of it and the display of teamwork and unity under Christ was most certainly a sight to behold. It was a privilege to be a part of it all.

Fun was to be had and crazy (in the good kind of way) was the standard for the day. Just my kind of thing!

I will say this: Doing even the smallest of physically active things today, in our cushy little shoes, and our nice little park to run in, along with coolers full of plenty of water, amongst other things that we are blessed to have for our comfort in this land, this 46 year old sister was still feelin’ some pain by the end of the day! Yes Sir-eee!

Most of my problems occurred due to some crazy (in the not-so-good kind of way) allergy problems that became exacerbated throughout the daily activities. But I must admit, some of the reasons I believe we are physically “hurting” in some ways tonight are due to the fact that we are, even when we try not to be, such sedentary creatures here in the United States. It’s just a fact of life for at least a good part of the work day in most instances.

This girl works out, friends. I really, really do. I am someone who is pretty consistent in jogging and getting some cardio activity in at least three or four times per week. I go on walks on my breaks during my work shift, and try not to take the short way from the parking lot into the building when I am out running errands and such. But that’s not enough.

No… it still doesn’t make a dent in helping to counteract this sedentary lifestyle we live!

We Got Ta’ Move It!

I was thinking about the children as well as the adults around the world today that our ministry supports. I thought about how so many of them are so very active in their own lives, yet they have so few of the comforts that we have to make activity more – well, comfortable.

We often think they are just forced to be more active due to the lack of conveniences they have that comes from the poverty that envelops their lives. That may be true, but at least they are on the move. Movement is a good thing when one is following after Christ. Living a sedentary lifestyle can become kind of a poverty of it’s own, can’t it?

We have to work much harder, much more intentionally at going against the grain of inactivity in the midst of our luxury. My friends and I at my work are certainly not sitting around out of laziness – we work very hard and integrity and stewardship is of the utmost importance to each and every one of us as well as the ministry as a whole!

It’s just that our world has become so technically driven, that our jobs, for most of us, entail sitting at a computer. A lot!

We do certain things to help ourselves, like stretch together, in unity, every couple of hours. We are grateful to be able to have a few outings once in a while too. Many of us get physical exercise in several times per week on our personal time outside of work, and that helps a lot.

But, if you ask me, we still need to do more to counteract this lack of movement that is becoming an epidemic in this world in which we live (sit?).

Thankfully, I was reminded today that although we have work to do in order to stay physically fit in the face of this sedentary life, God is moving His people in great and mighty ways! The same goes for our spiritual health and relationships. It is far too easy to start going through the motions and becoming statue-like if we don’t work those muscles and get out of our comfort zones intentionally and regularly!

Isn’t it awesome that when a body of believers comes together in unity under Christ, and is committed to keeping that oneness of spirit whole and healthy for the glory of the Almighty, that movement is then something we can count upon showing up time and time again?

He’s got ta’ move us!

Jesus and the disciples were on the move all the time. The only exception was when Jesus needed to make it a point that we should be intentional about rest, prayer, and time with the Father. Of course, we need to work on remembering that as well.

He moves us to love more. He moves us to get down and get messy and in the icky of it all – together. He moves us to step, skip, run, jump, create, learn, flex, and sing to bring glory to His kingdom and praise Him with more than we ever thought we had. He moves us to laughter, to tears, and tells us when to plant ourselves down with the Word and folded hands or when to jump up out of our seats and shake ourselves into an awakened and enthusiastic state.

No matter what, He is moving us as we follow after Him with all our “minds, hearts and souls.”

That’s not something many of us will sit around and celebrate quietly. THAT is something that will get us right up out of our seats, jumping up and down, and squealing with the joy of Jesus every last time we recognize it.

We’re Goin’ ta’ move it – more and more and more. He’s moving us right where He wants for us to be.

And oh yes. Yes, we shall follow!

Just look for the war painted, sunburned, and allegy-ridden people who have big fat smiles plastered all over their faces.

Those are called JESUS SMILES. And hopefully, you will see them more and more often and in more and more places as  you look for them in your day to day life.

If you feel complacent, bored, stagnant, or just plain antsy, press into the Lord and ask Him to help you take the steps needed to counteract the sedentary stuff of life and get moving. He will be faithful and guide your steps. He will heal you and transform you along the way. You may get a little sore, and yes, it might hurt at times.  But it will all be worth it as He continues to move you where He wants for you to be.

But to follow after Christ, sometimes we got ta’ move it.

And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. Matthew 19:2

Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:27-30

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