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.

jesus draws in the sand

 

 

 

 

Making the Time

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First things first: Anyone new to this blog or anyone who hasn’t read from here lately needs to know one super important thing before reading on – everything the Lord lays on my heart to write about and share is stuff He’s working on in ME. If it resonates with you and you take it to prayer and benefit from it – awesome. But you should know that I am not sharing anything with you that I do not already feel convicted about myself. So there’s that. All righty then!  🙂

You’ve heard this before, right?

One of the greatest and most precious gifts we can give to a person is the gift of our TIME.

Time is something that once given, we don’t ever get back. It’s one of our most precious little things that we hoard ~ often held so very close and even greedily to ourselves (you can admit it, right?). It is often used as our excuse for what we can’t or don’t do, and can even be a false idol, if we really stop and think about it.

We like to say that we DON’T HAVE enough time. But it seems to me that we sure do waste a lot of it.

Television –

Surfing the Internet –

Emails –

Selfies –

Instagram –

Facebook –

Event after Event after Event (including the good stuff)

Magazines –

YouTubeVideos

And so on and so on and so on!

And don’t even get me started on all the scattered (many) things we run to that aren’t necessary.

These aren’t all bad things, but they can be time suckers. Even serving at every church or charitable event, signing up for every last possible activity ever offered for our kids or at their schools, or always working overtime when it really may not be necessary, can whittle away at this very valuable time-thing. And guess what? That can take away from what God values- yah – the people-thing.

Ever heard the phrase “too much of a good thing can be bad?” It’s true. I used to be involved in just about ever extra activity you could count up to – and they were GOOD things. It was too much. I was ignoring what was MOST important, man. And God found His wonderful way to make it abundantly clear to me. He’s good that way.

We can fill our time very easily and before we know it, there’s nothing left for some of the things God may be calling us to invest in – like HURTING PEOPLE.

Are there people out there within our reach that could really benefit if we invested real time in them?

What about those who are hurting or reeling right about now?

How about the folks you know who need more than a quick check-in to see how they are here and there?

Someone in mourning? Going through a serious challenge in their life? Struggling with a new chronic illness, a divorce, or the loss of a child? Anyone out there you know that is feeling totally alone and needs a friend?

What about them?

I also see a lot of the division that is increasing in relationships lately – ALL kinds of relationships – And some of it is happening because of two things that could be avoided, or at the very least, diminished greatly: Miscommunication and Differences in Perception.

Guess what a root solution is for a lot of that kind of junk?

Invest. The. Time.

  • Invest the time to discuss things – not sweep them under the rug. I always like to say – if you sweep the crap under the rug the room will start to STINK even WORSE than it did in the first place! The rug may look pretty on the top side, but something beneath it is starting to FERMENT. (graphic, but true).
  • Invest the time to allow everyone to be  heard and WORK THROUGH solutions – together.
  • Invest the time to follow up and follow through and do it for the long term, man.
  • Invest the time to be a REAL friend. Not with everyone – just with that person God is placing right in front of you and that the Holy Spirit is nudging you about. #justdoit

Hit and miss is not gonna cut it when people are hurting deeply or are facing insurmountable obstacles. This is what Jesus did and still does in and through us if we follow His example. He INVESTED in those disciples of His, man. He caused them, commanded them, and inspired and equipped them to invest in one another. Yes – they reached out to the masses here and there and then had to move on to the next crowd, and every person that Jesus touched was blessed in some way, even if they didn’t get to be as close to him long-term as the disciples did. But Jesus modeled what it is to truly invest in those immediately around us – for the long haul. And then they invested, and they invested, and they invested.

Not gonna happen without giving up that precious time.

Jesus often stopped right in His tracks to deal with a situation at hand even when He was already on the way to go somewhere else! He didn’t wait to deal with that person in need – he stopped and helped that person right in front of Him.

True discipleship and real help and support cannot really happen without a commitment of our time. It won’t happen if we aren’t willing to slow down and stop for someone. It takes a true desire to see how we can MAKE the time. And it takes true compassion, and an intense drive to keep our eyes open and LOOK FOR THOSE who God may be placing in our path.

It takes being present. It takes a commitment. It takes a desire, drive and dedication. It takes seeing it – the need for it. And no one person can do it all. That’s not what Jesus modeled for us anyway.

That’s why it takes a village, man. A village to invest in others. A village to communicate one with another so all the pieces fit together. A village to look under every rug that the crud is getting swept under and GET. IT. OUTTA. THERE.

It takes more than one or two warm bodies.

It takes more than a passing “hope you’re doing okay.”

It takes TIME and a whole lot of it.

Nothing changes if nothing changes. Not in most cases, at least. But at the same time, not much will change when folks are facing serious struggles and we aren’t willing to come alongside them and invest in them. All the way.

Yes – we have to have some quiet time with the Lord – we can NOT sacrifice that, and are NOT called to do so!

Yes, we have our own spouses and our families. They are the people (disciples, anyone?) that we live with and do life with all the time and come right next in line to our time spent with Jesus.

Yes, we have jobs, church commitments, and extra-curricular activities. I personally have found that even those things can’t always come in line first before people though. How about you? We are called to be good stewards of such things, but we sometimes  have to make tough decisions there when weighing priorities in life.

For me, I just found that I came to a point where I truly had to ask myself – “what am I doing with the rest of my time, really? Am I investing in what GOD would have me do? Or what I think is most important?” These questions don’t just get asked once – I find I have to do it every week, seriously! Because that wasting time thing or not having my priorities straight thing starts to sneak right back up on me. #stealthy

I can help another even while I am resting with my crazy-messed-up Fibro Body from my bed and with my computer or my phone and at least spend TIME talking with them in that way. That’s something!

I can meet them for lunch or at church or have them over to the house whenever possible to have some face to face time as well. And that’s even better.

I can think of them, pray specifically for them, and TELL THEM I AM DOING SO every single day through a quick text, (this is how facebook messenger can be a VERY good thing), sharing of a specific prayer, and a wonderful scripture verse the Lord lays on my heart that just very well may comfort them.

All these little things really do add up to a lot of time – and once we realize our time is really not OURS anyway – we can embrace giving it away.

Not at the expense of our relationship with Jesus. Not at the expense of our spouse, children or families who need us and live right next to us.

But in addition to that. And it can happen.

I wish I could make the time to be able to be intensive with my time with everyone that I feel called to invest in. I wish sometimes we could all just live together – say 12 or 13 of us – like Jesus and the disciples did. But asking Jesus to help us make every extra moment count for something (even for rest or quiet time – we gotta be filled too, or we start to run on empty), really does make a difference.

God will make the way if we simply ask Him to do so.

Let’s make the time and give of ourselves in this way freely. And let’s realize it isn’t really ours to keep all to ourselves anyway. Jesus does. And if the Savior of the World could “make the time” maybe we could stand to do so as well.

the-power-of-love

 

 

Who Ya Gonna Call?

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 “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise”
Proverbs 15:31

Wow!!!

I can remember when I was younger and I thought that “wise counsel” meant nothing but “support”. Support of what my desires, dreams and feelings were. Total loyalty to ME and what I wanted. I thought it meant finding people in my community that would always be on my side, no matter what.

Truth is, it was still all about ME. I wasn’t seeking wise and godly counsel – I was seeking friendship. We need BOTH.

So I came to realize, as I learned more and more about God’s character and sought what the Lord says on this matter throughout scripture, that truly wise and godly counsel is not always “just the fun parts” that come along with having “support.”  It ain’t all about having a bunch of friends who will just tell me what I want to hear.

Nope.

Wise counsel must be delivered with the heart, motivation and intention of God’s real love and real truth behind it. These two things lie at the core of truly wise and godly counsel.  It should be constructive not DESTRUCTIVE. It should align with scripture – the whole of it, not just the bits and pieces that fit OUR particular “feeling of the moment”. It should point us to God and what the Lord might have us do in that situation. It should come from a place of humility, yet confidence in the LORD and what He is equipping us to be able to speak into another person’s life.

Wise counsel is honest. Wise counsel is loving. Even when it’s hard.

It takes COURAGE to do this – on both sides. It takes submission and surrender and courage to love like Jesus does. It is NOT EASY. But this is what church really is. Walking it out in the ugly and the messy – that is true SUPPORT in the body of Christ.  Being willing to confront all of it ~  together. Not running or cutting out when it starts feeling uncomfortable.

We don’t get to deliver truth without love. We don’t get to provide REAL and true love without being willing to be truthful, either. Not if we are really walking through life with someone else. And unfortunately, because we often don’t walk through all of it together, we often find ourselves only doing one or the other. Truth OR Love. And it’s gotta be both. I have yet to see this be able to happen if we try to come along side someone halfway.

That’s what Jesus did in His ministry here on earth. He dealt with the hard stuff, man.  He continued to love in the process as well. And if people refused to listen, He allowed that and moved on to help those who were truly open and willing to confront their need.

He doesn’t force us to submit or surrender to Him – but He is there and will show up if we are truly willing. If He places people in our lives that are willing to go all the way and do the hard stuff along with us, it is WISE not to shun that or scoff at that.  If and when we do, we will have to then walk in that. That walk is often one in which we will eventually find ourselves feeling very alone. We may have a few friends out there who are there for us part of the time (I mean – they have lives too, no?) – but they won’t really be doing life with us. Not all the way.

It won’t stay pretty for very long. #guaranteed

So, recognizing who the Lord places in our lives to do this with us means we have to really be discerning and ask ourselves – am I seeking only those who will tell me what I always easy to hear, or the parts that aren’t TOO UNCOMFORTABLE or easy for me to digest – or am I willing to allow those who truly want to be there for me in this and go the distance in my life be there for me?

Gotta be open to it, or it ain’t gonna happen.

Just like with what the Lord wants to do in our lives – We get to choose. Then we gotta walk in what we choose. We get to own it. The good side and the bad side of our choices. It just seems kind of dumb to me when we choose to go our own way. But it’s what we do a lot of the time, isn’t it?

The truth AND love thing? It’s a difficult balance for the one offering help to strike. First, because we are not perfect – not a one! Second,  because real help sometimes has to come in the form of being willing to deliver some bad news.  And NOBODY LIKES THAT!

BUT – sometimes, as we wrap our minds around the hard stuff, we can face it – together! We can bring into the light all the junk that’s in the dark. And THEN real stuff starts to happen!

Or we can run.

The halfway stuff just isn’t gonna help us. It may make us feel better for a while, though. That’s for sure. Hence, the difficulty – the temptation to think we truly are open and willing to confront things with others God places in our lives –  the deceit we operate under and the things we tell ourselves about truly seeking wise counsel – well, it simply then remains and continues to weave a web all around our minds and our  hearts. And that is from the enemy. #truth

Sometimes, God can get downright firm with us. So godly counsel is willing to do the same thing if needed. If the desire is to BUILD US UP (that includes character, not just feel good stuff) and help us truly get through things in our lives that are causing DESTRUCTION AND DIVISION, a loving friend, counselor or mentor WILL put themselves on the line to not just tell us what our “itching ears want to hear.”

They may screw it up (probably will sometimes)- but if all we do is push it away, in reality, we are pushing away those who maybe – just MAYBE – the Lord placed in our lives to TRULY HELP US. Something to think about and take to the Lord in prayer, at the very least!

Jesus displayed that firmness AND love at the same time, over and over again (minus any screw ups) as He walked this earth. He still displays it in our lives today if we allow Him to.

Choose. Choose life. Choose truth. Choose love. Choose all of God’s character to speak into your life. Choose the real deal.

Choose REAL.

No – God doesn’t always tell us what we WANNA hear. That is NOT God’s character. He also doesn’t forget about the compassion and love piece, either. It is BOTH/AND.

We can come to Him freely (as we are – while we are still sinners) for salvation. But when it comes to sanctification, we must be open to hear even the hard stuff. Otherwise, we will start to make our own plans, man. We will go with what OUR heart wants. WE will continue to walk our OWN way. #noteasy

Support and encouragement matter, that’s for sure! BUT….if we REALLY seek true wisdom, real truth, and REAL LOVE, we go first to God in prayer, and then we surround ourselves with WISE counsel. Not just the people who can quote scripture left and right (and often out of context) to make us feel better. Not just people who pride themselves on SPEAKING THE TRUTH and throw love and compassion out the window every time. Not just the people who tell us how to get around things or make others yield to our desires. And not people who don’t understand that we need to take responsibility in order to walk out the counsel of the Lord and TRULY GROW.

Do you find yourself pushing away anyone who wants to come along side you simply because you don’t like some of what they are speaking into your life because it is uncomfortable? I’ve been there, friend. Many times in my life, I have BEEN THERE! If you do see yourself doing something like this and your heart realizes it now, it is not too late to return.  Return to what scripture says – the WHOLE OF IT- when it comes to wise counsel. Take a look at who you have chosen to truly surround yourself with. Got anyone in there that’s willing to share the hard stuff too? Are they willing to be in – ALL THE WAY IN this with you? If so, you are truly blessed. That’s not a gift I would think we might want to simply toss.

Here’s some stuff from a GREAT Christian article (one of many) that I read – all of it resonates with so many parts of what scripture admonishes us to do when seeking truly wise counsel in our lives. Just some food for thought. I know I can always use it.
Wise counsel will come from individuals who know the difference between…

  • what is ultimately good and what is just currently popular,
  • what is really valuable and what is just cheap,
  • what is achieved by hard work and what is just lucky,
  • being happy and just having fun,
  • a sincere apology and a weak excuse,
  • what is true and what is just a matter of opinion,
  • what is to be hard sought and what is to be tolerated,
  • when help is appropriate and when it should be withheld to encourage one to struggle,
  • love and lust,
  • what is really dangerous and what may just be somewhat risky,
  • what is worth fighting against and what one should run from,
  • what is a legitimate source of hope and what is just what we want to hear,
  • what is wise and what is foolish,
  • what can last forever and what is only temporary,
  • humble worship that glorifies God and pride-filled religious rituals that offend God,
  • what is from God and what is from the world.
  • from http://www.christianityetc.org/wise-counsel.php

Proverbs-28.26

 

 

 

All The Way

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“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:1-7

You know what I see that we do a lot when we don’t want to truly change for the better, eradicate a besetting sin out of our lives, or make a heart change that is a real indicator of true repentance (the all the way kind)?

We take, and maybe even apply the parts of what we feel halfway comfortable with, in order to “allow for change”,  yet we discard much of the rest of what is truly required to allow the Lord to do the job completely.

When we do this, we are still in a state of resistance, not surrender.  And we can become very, very good at telling ourselves that is not what we are doing!

  • We tell ourselves little lies and walk in the halfway kind of ownership and surrender that is required to truly allow the Lord to “make all things new”, conform us to His likeness, and “work all things together for our good.”
  • We pick and choose what we will face up to and then reserve the right to customize just how we will go about dealing with that problem.
  • We find ways to make excuses for how this or that is not “working for us” and even go so far as to blame shift and hide beneath scripture we take out of context to justify ourselves in continuing to run.

We do that because we have not TRULY surrendered. And when we do this, we don’t see real change.

You see – most of the time, true surrender is a grueling process. Believe you me, this gal fully understands that because she is the QUEEN of not having mastered surrender!

But, so much of the time, if we really take a long, sustained, hard look, with a REAL desire to face the REAL AND WHOLE truth, we will see that we hang on and we grip very tightly to at least some form of control all the way to “the end.”

We like to do surrender halfway, man. Because it isn’t stinkin’ comfortable.

  • We want comfortable change.
  • We want comfortable accountability.
  • We want comfortable love, comfortable submission and comfortable truth in our lives.
  • We tell ourselves and others we want surrender, but the truth of the matter is sometimes, we just want it to be as comfortable as possible. Or at the very least, we want for it to be less UNCOMFORTABLE.

And sometimes – if we continue to walk in that for too very long, we then start to become people who profess our total commitment to Jesus, but are teetering on the edge of really just walking in a comfortable form of Christianity. And being a follower after Jesus Christ is not comfortable!

When we come to a place where we realize we are still reserving some form of control over our situation and not fully submitting, displacing ownership, blame shifting, and being the victim instead of submitting to the Lord, then we finally reach the place where we are in a state of surrender and the Lord CAN AND WILL WORK.

  • This place understands that the full truth and full self confrontation is nothing to try to run from – because God sees it all anyway.
  • This place understands that forgiveness is freely given, but restoration is conditional and requires full submission.
  • This place stops shifting blame and hanging on to control and looking at everyone else, and starts owning the truth.
  • This is the place that allows us to FINALLY START TO WALK in a struggle that is REAL, but one in which we are truly not alone and have the Lord fully on our side!

Why?

Because we open the door and let Him in. All the way in. He could knock it down- but in my life- He hasn’t. He waits for me to say “yes – come in and come ALL the way in.

We’ve all been through a war like I just described above – I venture to guess we will all go through one again. What I find interesting, is that those habits and tendencies die hard. Each new challenge or trial that I face causes me to see that I am still struggling anew with true surrender.

But thankfully, I am on to myself now. I know I can tend to want to go  halfway when it comes to surrender. I am aware of the fact that I tend to reserve some form of control over matters when it is necessary to fully let go. And I realize that letting go doesn’t mean that I stop doing my part – sometimes, letting go means discontinuing doing the part I decide to do for myself, and STARTING to do the parts that I wasn’t doing that God WANTS for me to do.

We don’t get to just say we have surrendered and not do anything. We have to walk in it. Really WALK.

So the process often isn’t as long and drawn out now when I see that there’s a new need for surrender again. But it will always be a struggle.

It just will.

And this whole constant cycle is indicative of just how much our flesh and our minds fight and war against facing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Facing the truth and displaying a true willingness to do whatever it takes to allow the Lord to change things, is necessary for true repentance. Facing that truth – all of it – (yes, even when it’s ugly), and truly submitting ourselves to the Lord, (all of our selves, sin and all) allows God to work through our imperfections and shortcomings SO THAT we can become more like Christ.

I’m here to share this with my friends today as clearly as I possibly can – In my own little life, I have seen – God doesn’t do His best work in us when we are only willing to  surrender halfway. But He WILL be there for us all the way through things- EVEN WHEN we haven’t fully surrendered yet.

He is patient. But He truly doesn’t want to see us wrestle with this over and over again. I’m sure He often wonders “why are you making this so hard on yourself?” But the process is important, otherwise, He probably wouldn’t allow it in the first place.

You see….. Jesus LOVES us even while we are still sinners. Jesus went to the CROSS for us because of His love for us. But until we truly accept not only the free gift of salvation because of all that He did on that cross for us, but also desire to truly walk in a submitted and surrendered manner with Him, we really aren’t allowing Him to be the center of our lives. The truth is, when we don’t fully submit to Him, we are still in the driver’s seat. And we will probably never experience the FULLNESS of the joy, love, peace and freedom He so desires for us NOW until we reach that place.

That place is a place of UNCOMFORTABLE AND TOTAL surrender. But it is a beautiful place to be.

He will still love us when we are not going all the way and when we are lying to ourselves and not truly submitting. He will still love us, warts and all. But we will never be in the kind of relationship with Him that He intends for us if we continue to hold on to our sin and the lies we tell ourselves and continue to fool ourselves with all this comfortable Christianity, comfortable submission, and comfortable surrender.

Halfway just doesn’t cut it if we want real and intimate relationship. He wants all of us. He truly wants the whole deal. Meeting Him halfway is not abiding – not truly. And it causes a separation in our relationship with Christ. We can’t just hang out on the vine and pretend we are connected and tell ourselves that we can actually bear fruit that way.

We have to cling to the vine. And often, we wanna go our own way when it suits us, but continue to profess that we never left. It’s just what we do sometimes. And the birth of fruit eventually slows, even comes to a state of “hibernation” or even rot, when we start to separate ourselves from the vine. It’s just the facts, jack.

Even if and when we DO attempt to die to our flesh and the war that goes on within our hearts AND our minds, we will struggle, make no mistake about it! But we can stop layering our own extra crud – I like to call it the “crud of resistance” (LOL!) all over the top of that innate struggle, and it will help matters. We have to realize and stop only going halfway with this type of stuff. We add to the battle when we do this, and it makes the “process” oh-so-much- harder.

  • It prevents surrender.
  • It prevents true change.
  • It results in halfway relationships – ones that aren’t truth.
  • And that includes our relationship with our very own Savior.

If we meet Him where we are at – and come to Him in FULL honesty, He will realize we at least want to submit, but that we are struggling and we need HIS HELP.  He knows the truth anyway. So why would we try to hide it?

We can cry out to the Lord and tell Him we want to fully surrender, but we realize we are struggling and still clinging to our own form of control. We can ask Him to do whatever it takes to break that down within us. It’s a  hard prayer to submit to the Lord, even. But if we truly mean it in our hearts, He will deliver.

It may be hard…

It probably won’t be comfortable…

But in the end, it will be SO VERY worth it.

Surrender your heart to God,
    turn to him in prayer,
and give up your sins—
    even those you do in secret.
Then you won’t be ashamed;
you will be confident
    and fearless.  Job 11: 13-15

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Out of the Brown Box

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Sometimes ( a lot) the enemy attacks me inside for being completely honest with you, dear readers. I have things run through my head that I know are from the ugly enemy all the time – things like “no one wants to hear that stuff, you need to talk about the more beautiful things of life and help uplift others, Annie. You’re doing it wrong.”

And I know what that is: It’s the master of deceit’s attempt to get me to think of this little blog as something I do only for others and that I should tailor it to the things people might want to hear. The enemy tries to whisper that I should write only about that which makes me come across as strong and together and that I got it all going on just perfectly because I got Jesus. He says that something like this should not be something I do to bring about my own personal growth (spiritually) as I work through things with God – because that is….Just.So.Selfish.

The enemy tries to tell lots of pretty little lies, friends.

But I do write in order to work things out with the Lord, friends. I do, because He is the ONE and ONLY who can make us whole through the messy stuff in life. Writing this stuff out actually makes it more real and takes away the foothold the enemy likes to take advantage of when we keep it all inside. But he just keeps on whispering – that ugly minion. The enemy whispers that I should portray things as only being all glittery and shiny – like a beautiful treasure chest full of jewels – you can’t wait to open it to see what you will be rewarded with next.

But in so doing, I know that I would create a false prison of sorts. I know that I would be lying. The fact is that the Christian life is messy and ugly and beautiful and intentional all at the same time. So I write the way that I write for that reason. I share the way that I share for that reason. I share it ALL because it’s the TRUTH.

This blog was started as a form of worship of the Lord. Some people worship through music, or art. Some do it by serving in person at the church and expressing their love for Jesus in that way. I write. I write out my feelings and struggles and joy and everything I go through as a Christian far better than I speak it. I am a pretty sensitive person when it comes to things like the body language of others, tone of voice, etc. And I screw up all the time when it comes to my own peripheral forms of communication, so I know that by writing things out, the LORD knows my heart and He reveals things to me in that process. I know that by writing things out that He is working on within me, it takes power away from the enemy and enables me to have more clarity to see things that I need to turn over to the One who holds me tightly, in His mighty hands.

Not everyone who may read it does understand where I’m coming from. And that’s okay. Because another reason I share this stuff out here in cyber space is because I know that there are others who feel alone in their messy stuff right now. There are others who DO feel sort of the same way at times, and need to know they have company. There are many of you, dear friends who read this stuff from time to time who are isolated, and the only form of “fellowship” you may be able to have with other believers is through things like this.

So, I don’t have to share only the happy and shiny stuff here, friends. Because I truly believe that if the Lord would have something I write about help another person, He is God, and He will convey to that person what they might need from it. He will make it work together for our good. He will make it beautiful, in the midst of the messy. If He wants to use anything that I write in someone else’s life, then so be it. Whether it be to encourage, uplift, or just shine light on the fact that sometimes our less than pretty junk is part of the Christian life.

We are NOT perfect. Far from it.  But HE is.

So….I will continue to write the way that He has led me to. As mucky and weird as it may seem at times, I will continue. And it can be unpleasant stuff sometimes, I know.

I write a lot about angst – I write a lot about struggle – the struggles that come from sin, iniquities, and walking as imperfect beings who may have accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord, yet still sin. I am tempted at times not to write about such things. Yes, I am tempted beyond belief.

I am tempted at times to share only the joy-filled, awesome and feel-good stuff that convinces others that I am filled with the joy of Jesus Christ. There is always that pull, no matter who we are or where we are at in life as a Christian, to pretend that everything’s okay. There’s something in there that the enemy has lodged quite deeply – waaaay deep down – that whispers…

“but you must be a good example of how GREAT it is to be a Christian, you little complainer! You are leading people astray by sharing all this hard stuff. You are coming across as a martyr or something. You are __________, __________, and _____.”

But I know. I know what led me to start this blog and I know that Jesus only gave me the ability to express the things He is doing inside of my own heart and mind as a form of worship, and a way of speaking His truth AND love.

Love doesn’t always look pretty. Neither does truth. But the result of Jesus’ love and truth is always B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.

So I hold firm to the promise I made to the Lord – I will not cover up (as I write and I share) the ugly stuff.  We are still  imperfect humans –  And we still struggle – sometimes even more than we did before we were true followers of Christ. But HIS strength is made perfect in our weakness.

I write about such things because they are the reality that most of us (we Christians) truly do grapple with, but are afraid to admit at times, for whatever reason. I write about such things because I feel the Lord calls me to do so – He calls me and it is loud and clear.

Share it, Annie. Share it. Share the stuff that everyone thinks or goes through but maybe feel they can’t say. Share the stuff that is ugly and twisted and messed up, so others may see that they are not the only Christian out there still struggling. Share the stuff Annie, so that through it all, others will be comforted and know that I, Your Mighty King, have the power to help you all overcome these struggles.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Yet He also whispers that I am to share the good stuff too. He tells me through my prayer and devotion time that what He really wants is to have others see that truly, beyond truly, He works all things together for our good.

  • He brings correction when there has been disobedience.
  • He brings restoration when everything seems to have been shattered.
  • He gives us peace during the most angst-riddled of circumstances or situation.
  • He grows our love when we feel like we’ve lost every last ounce of that loving feeling.

So as contradictory as it may seem, these things of beauty do come out of the ugly if we allow Christ to work in us. He is the Creator, the Great Physician, The Almighty and All-Powerful Lord and King. He can and does do it all.

So I shall also write about peace – peace that comes only from Jesus in the midst of these struggles, trials and temptations we face sometimes. And I shall write of love. The love of Jesus that is always there for us, trying to dominate our own hearts and spill forth in spite of the ugly stuff that tries to infiltrate. Most of all, I will share how God works through my own personal struggles and the lack of such things as joy, love and peace in my own little heart to draw me closer to Him and help me be more and more like Jesus through it all.

So often, the reason I can even see the need for greater love in my heart – the reason I see the need for more patience to be developed in my character- the reason I see the need to allow Him to correct me and grow me and help me change direction and take my hands BACK OFF THE WHEEL, is due to the absence of them. He shows me through writing things down that my heart and at times, my mind still need much work. He shows me how very much I struggle putting into practice what I know to be true under duress. He shows me that I am His child and that He loves me too much to leave me the way that I am.

He shows me my need for Him. More of Him.

He must become greater; I must become less.” 1 John 3:18

I hate how much of ME there still is. I want to be nailed to the cross once and for all, like Jesus was. But I struggle with signing up for stuff that’s painful. I don’t have the same kind of love that Jesus does, friends. I care about my own comfort too much. And that pains me in its own way….because I know this so well about myself. And it is hard not to walk in condemnation in the face of that.

That mirror is one I want to shatter sometimes.

But there’s good news in the face of all of that! It’s wonderful how the Lord knows each one of His children so well. He’s aware of every little nuance and quirk about me as a person. He knows what works with me and what doesn’t. He knows just how to get through to me.

He tailors His approach to me in a way that will work to pierce my ungrateful little heart. But He never changes His truth in order to do so.

He never stops loving me while administering the exact and perfect dose of truth that I need in order to stop being sick and return to good health.

One of the ways that He does this with me, in particular, is He has made me very aware when there is some form of toxic darkness in my own heart. I may hold on to it for a while, or I may try to trick myself into thinking it’s not there or denying its existence, and sometimes I have to regroup for a while to discern where it’s coming from, but after sitting still for a time, if I search after Him to reveal it to me, He does.

Every. Single. Time.

This is never a fun process, and I wonder ~ does the Lord ever get sick and tired of  having to discipline me for the same repeat offenses? Does He ever wonder, “will she ever learn?”

But He is my Father, and He knows this is how I operate. He knows that I try to continue moving forward in spite of the weed that is starting to grow in the garden of my heart. I get tired of pulling weeds, so sometimes I just pretend they aren’t there. Or I try to pull them, but if it proves too difficult for me, I just get exasperated and give up after a while.

I do this because I hate conflict that can’t seem to be resolved within reason. I do this because when things seem unreasonable or insurmountable, sometimes I want to flee. I do this because I still put how I think hard stuff should be handled in a little box of my own making.

And Jesus wants to blow out the box. Time for an explosion. The solace and protection we find under the Mighty wing of Jesus is far greater than a fake brown box of our own making. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. We like the cocoon-like feeling of our own boxes and like our security blankets of our own choosing. But God knows.

So at the same time that I hate that I finally go and try to hide from the thorns in life, or can’t tell the difference between surrender and resignation, the Lord uses that escape artist tendency for good. He uses that time that I retreat from the ugly to shine a light on the part of the ugly that is in my own heart. He helps me to purge that crud right out of there. But oh, is it a process.

And here it comes – the need for yet another fruit of the spirit to grow stronger in my life….

Patience.

I struggle with patience, but the lack of it manifests itself inside of me in such deceptive ways. I believe there are times we must walk away and regroup with the Lord, but at the same time, I want the work He does during those times to move at MY PACE.

I realize now how very much I do the either/or thing in my own life. This holds true especially in regard to conflict. I get so worked up emotionally in the face of conflict that stretches out over a period of time, that I lose all clarity – to the point that I have to retreat completely and let God bring about some sense to it all.

Do you do any of this, friends? Let me give you a short list of examples of what I am talking about here.

  • Suck it up and let it go. You just have to worry about your own actions here. (this breeds bitterness over time).
  • Attack the ugly stuff with kindness in spite of the fact that you know there is still a big thorn growing larger all the time that you have to pluck out. Just ignore it since all of your attempts in the past to eradicate it failed. (not gonna work – it’s still growing)
  • Work on yourself and ignore the stuff that is wrong with others involved. You’re only responsible for you. (not loving – real love confronts)
  • Give up – you have been defeated. There’s nothing more that you can do. Build a wall. Build a TALL wall! (still giving the power away to the enemy – still a fake brown box)

For now, I am in a place of being still, even though it may have come about because of my “flee and withdraw” tendency. And God is using it for His glory.

I  have confidence that He will show me what He needs for me to see, and shatter the box. He is already doing it and it has only been a short while now.

I am struggling in these days of remaining still and allowing myself to face the reality (look in the ugly mirror) of what He wants to have me discard out of my heart and mind. I am going through turmoil as to what is to be surrendered, and what is to be held on to tightly.

But our God reveals.

Our God refines.

Our God restores.

And I trust in Him.

If you are struggling today because you are in a place in which you know God is working to help you tear down a wall or shatter a cocoon you have created for peace and comfort, will you let Him bring about the heart work and move you closer toward Him? If, on the other hand, God has asked you to surrender something and retreat for a while to spend time with Him alone, will you obey and let things move in His timing? If you realize you are inside of one, will you allow the Lord to help you venture out of the brown box when He says it is time and move underneath His protective wing instead? If you are having a hard time stepping, ask Him to carry you for a while, because He will. You may even be called to quite a treacherous journey, similar to the walk Christ made to calvary….bloody, even. But He will be with you every step of the way.

He is a loving parent, and our mighty protector. He will help us to walk in what seems like exposed vulnerability, with His protective hand around us the whole time. He knows you, His child. He knows how to make us better. 

We have only to open our mouths and allow the medicine to do its work. We have only to turn the burden over to Him. And we must listen when He tells us to pick up the cross. He will give us the ability and the power to carry it.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

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Sin: How I Know It is Our “Natural” Tendency

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Sin is a part of this earthly life – it is inevitable. But we don’t have to leave it at that.  God asks us NOT to accept that inevitability – quite the contrary.

Some people may find it hard to believe that we are born into sin. And some Christians may find it hard to believe that it’s still a part of our lives even after we have fully given ourselves over to Jesus. And then there are those who feel that Christians think they are now perfect and that because they have been saved from sin through Jesus, it means that they don’t struggle with it any more.

But I don’t. I don’t find it hard to believe at all.

Not any more.

Deeep down inside – we have all the makings of someone who WILL sin. It’s inevitable. And a lot of it has to do with the power of the flesh. The question is – do we accept that inevitability and simply embrace it? It’s a perfect excuse, after all.

  • This is just who I am….
  • Well, at least I’m being honest.
  • I’m going to be true to myself and focus on the good parts about me.

No, No, and N-O!

A lot has to do with the flesh and the things it will seek for its satisfaction. The desires of the flesh are strong. Sometimes, even stronger than we may realize.

Add in the layers of the workings of the mind, the heart, and all the twisty-turny-jumbled-up-type stuff that starts to complicate our inner workings as we walk through this world, and you have a perfect set up for sin.

I may have to accept that it is in my nature to sin, but I won’t accept it remaining there. It will be eradicated one way or another. But it’s best to ask the Lord to help us to deal with the ugly little monster. This is what is called sanctification. And it’s imperative to lay hold of this very important part of what God wants to do in us (daily) as true followers after Jesus Christ.

Pssst: Sanctification hurts. But so does sin. One ends in walking hand-in-hand with the Lord. The other is an empty and dark path laced with loneliness. Except for the devil. And he likes to pose as a fair-weather frenemy.

But people don’t like the word sin. We conjure up images of hell fire and brimstone, of people being judged and burned at the stake, of bullies who sit in judgement of others and their hearts and making decisions as to whether or not they are really saved.

And sometimes, those who shout “SINNER” are doing just that.

But I have learned what sin really is and what it really means. Sin is simply anything that falls short of the perfection of God. That’s most stuff, friends.

That’s most stuff.

None of us is perfect. None of us is God.

But here is what makes me really and truly know that sin is a part of human nature. It’s the fact that even if you have worked with the Lord to move away from a sin that had a grip on you at one time in your life, sometimes, you can pine away for the feeling that sin brought about for you.

Your mind can be tempted to glorify the good parts of that sin and even long for it lustfully.

We over-compartmentalize it and we discard the parts of it that made it sin in the first place and remember the “benefits” that it brought to us at one time.

And that is the work of the enemy, right there.

Here are some ways it happens to me at times, and I will share it the way the words and thoughts actually run through my crazy little head! Keep in mind, that these are things that ended up being sin in my own life – and maybe they aren’t causing sin in your own if you do some of them, K? Okay.

“Boy, oh boy – I sure am glad the Lord delivered me and saved me from alcohol. But, WOW, did that stuff ever WORK! It took the pain away – I wasn’t really getting drunk, per se…..just taking the edge off. I can see why people (including myself at one time) get stuck on that stuff. Too bad it can be so evil and take hold of a person like it does. If I am really truthful, I would say I wish I could  drink sometimes.

Man….I really wish I could just tell that person to take a flying leap of a high cliff. Maybe it would actually HELP them for someone like me to stand up to them and give them a taste (a hefty gulp) of their own medicine.

I hate that person inside right now – my heart is turning black right this very moment and I can feel it. They are being mean to me and I don’t care about all the other good stuff about them or their circumstances or about seeking to truly love them in the midst of all this. I just want them to be nice to me and if they won’t, I want to be angry and bitter. Period.

See? There is sin, and there is temptation to love and glorify parts of that sin. We don’t have to act upon those things, but if they are creeping across our thoughts and trying to edge into our hearts, we have to turn that stuff over to the Lord. If not, the temptations will take root and become sin manifest in our lives.

It’s inevitable.

But the most wonderful news of all is that we are saved from it all if we trust in Jesus as our Savior. He washes away our sin so we can live with Him for all eternity. He sacrificed everything for that.

We don’t have to sit and wallow in that shame any more. We don’t have to choose sin.

Does that mean the tendency to sin will be removed? No way, no how. But we don’t have to white knuckle it and fight it all alone.

We are doing battle while we walk this earth, friends. Sin has a grip, but we don’t have to walk in it and revel in it. But yes – we do still have to fight against it.’Cause the flesh still lives and breathes right now.

So, if you struggle with this in ways like I do, and Jesus is your Savior and Lord, know this:

  • He has washed away your sin in the eyes of the Father.
  • He has equipped you with the Holy Spirit to help you discern how to handle things until you go to live with Him for eternity and sin doesn’t threaten your flesh any longer.
  • Sin will still be a part of who you are, but with God’s help, you don’t have to walk in it.

And if we do sin? We can go to Him – the One who saves us from it all. We can go to the One who can wash us clean each and every day from the muck and mire. We can go to Him and thank Him for saving us from it all and ask Him to remove it from our path.

We can. He will.

God is in the business of taking what is “natural” on this earth and putting His divine stamp upon it. That trumps everything we call…..natural.

  • He saves us from eternity and He saves us from ourselves.
  • He is always here for us to help us fight against those natural (but very wrong) tendencies.

If we call upon Him he will come.

It is inevitable.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:19

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Loving the Other Pharisees

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Last week, I shared what was burdening my heart in regard to the Pharisee that lives inside of mine. I shouted “Death” to that Pharisee, because he is most certainly not welcome to take up residence there.

He just keeps coming back. And I’m on to him.

However, in that very same vein, the Lord has impressed it greatly upon me that I need to love the other Pharisee invaders ~ the ones who try to go after my brothers and sisters ~ the ones that make me angry because they do seem to be wanted ~ yes, those Pharisees.

I can’t scream “Death” to those guys. I have to love them.

Oh, it’s easy when we are taking a hard look on the inside at something ugly in our own hearts, to then hate that thing which needs to be discarded so very much, that we forget to love others who may struggle with the very same issue.

It’s easy to hate the sin so much that we fail to love the sinner.

I know that the Lord will love me through whatever I happen to be struggling with in regard to sin and heart ugly stuff. He is faithful, He is kind, and He is merciful and compassionate. But I am asking Him to. What if others aren’t?

What if some of the others aren’t asking Him to clean their hearts?

Those are the very people I need to let Jesus love through me. Those are the same folks who we are to be salt and light to, friends. It’s hard ~ there’s no mistake about it. But that’s what Jesus came for: to love us while we were (and yes,we ARE) “still sinners.”

The Lord calls each of us to minister to others in certain ways at certain times. About two years ago, I felt that He was practically shouting to me that I was to love others within the body of Christ better. Then, He brought me full circle, back to the secular world and renewed my love for those who do not know Him at all.

I realize through the past couple of years that for me, what He’s doing in my heart and my life is that He’s making something quite clear:

It’s all of us. He loves ALL of us.  

So, it looks like I’m not going to get out of this one. I like to focus and zone in on the one area that I want to tackle. It’s easier for my little mind to focus on one area and master it ~ conquer it ~ refine it to perfection.

But love is truly imperfect. It’s hard stuff. And we can only do it with the help of Jesus Christ.

It’s not meant to be easy.

I’ve been hurt. Close friends of mine have been hurt. And I am sure that I have caused hurt to others by my negligence or indifference. Sometimes, we are called to dust off our feet in a given area, and if with prayer and heart checks we find, with Jesus, that He’s asking for us to move on, we ought to obey His voice.

But I realize this morning that’s not happening for this girl. I’m kind of excited about the fact that the Lord has finally made it clear to me.

Most of what I share on here is written presumptively ~ as though the vast majority of those who read this are believers and maybe even followers after Christ. I will not sacrifice the truth for love, so I won’t be changing much about that. It’s how He’s led me to share.

But I also will embrace the beautiful fact that Jesus doesn’t want me to forget about loving in the midst of truth either. And that means not to forget about those who may not believe.

That means loving when it’s hard.

I also want to make it clear to my friends who may be reading my heart on this matter today that I am not directing this to you at all. I just wanted to share how the Lord is working in my heart and my life specifically in regard to all of this. I know that many of you are struggling with similar things, and am not trying to tell you that you should go this direction. That is for God to help you determine.  But if the Lord is working in your own heart regarding a similar issue, I can pray for you if you wish to reach out to me. I am already praying for several who are trying to seek His direction for them and who they should be ministering to right now.

But for me, it’s about: 

The Pharisee in my heart….

The other Pharisees….

The lost who have not chosen Him….

The Ones who I have hurt and who have hurt me…

The church and their own heart hurts…

The love of Jesus Christ and how there’s nothing that compares ~ at all!

So, today I embark again ~ starting off another work week. Today, I pray that the Lord would seep out of me, because I fail every time I “try” to do it myself. Today, I pray that the expectations of how others would behave would be left at the feet of Jesus. It’s not for me to decide.

I can only pray that He helps me to love others better.

“Death” to the Pharisee inside of my heart.

“Love” to all the others who may not even know they have an unwanted guest creeping around their house.

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:46-48

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One, Two, Three…Check

hotblack via Morguefile

hotblack via Morguefile

Today I am especially thankful for the fact that we have an advocate in the Holy Spirit.

As my mission of celebrating the daily rhythm of gratitude continues, today He led me to do a safety check. I find I am needing to do these often – pretty much daily, really.

I like to call them “heart checks.”

deegolden via morguefile

deegolden via morguefile

I am grateful for that prompting today – coming from the inner voice of the Holy Spirit….. provided to help us, to guide us, and to lead us.

The voice that either spurs us onward, or whispers, “not yet.”

The One who has spared me so much pain when I have listened well.

carlson via Morguefile

carlson via Morguefile

The One who is always there to bail me out or teach me something when I haven’t done such a good job of listening.

It is He….the One who teaches me, cautions me, consoles me, and celebrates with me.

And thankfully, the One who has taken up permanent residence within me.

I love the music of His voice.

Karpati Gabor via Morguefile

Karpati Gabor via Morguefile

This morning, like most mornings, I am grateful for the melody of the still, small, yet very powerful voice of the Holy and Awesome One.

The One who said, “breathe.”

The One who told me “you aren’t doing it wrong, love.”

Roxanneh via Morguefile

Roxanneh via Morguefile

The Spirit of the Lord guided me this morning to set the day off right – starting with my heart and then moving outward from there.

Priority Check – Am I putting God first in my life? Am I spending time with Him in prayer and the Word? Is there anything, big or small that I am starting to rely upon or love more than Him today?

Self-Reliance Check – Did I pause to pray before that interview? How about after? Am I done praying for the day now? He wants to talk to me some more, you know. He wants me to remember to ask for guidance, comfort and love. And then He wants me to trust Him…in all things. Today and every day. Remember?

Alvimann via Morguefile

Alvimann via Morguefile

Balance Check – Am I letting go of the things that will draw me away from Him and the priorities He has set forth before me? What will I let go of in order to approach the things right now that I need to pour myself into? Am I remembering to think about behaviors, intentions, motivations, and most of all, love and grace? Am I going to seek Him to help me with that today, and then am I going to surrender?

Love Check – Do I remember that this is the most important thing of all? Is loving Him first going to be my mission for the day? How about showing love to others? If it gets difficult, am I going to rely upon my own strength or turn to Him – the One who knows it all?

cohdra via MorgueFile

cohdra via MorgueFile

Yes, today, I am so grateful that the Spirit of the Lord always has us covered. He tells us what to check and when. He tells us what needs tweaking. And He gives us the tools to be able to take off, and complete His mission for the day. We need to seek. We need to listen. This is our gift of help from the Lord.

I am grateful He has made it clear that I can perform as many safety checks as one can possibly carry out, but that the truest sense of safety is only going to come from Him. I can trust Him, through the Spirit that lives inside of me to talk to me…to nudge me….to whisper, and knock, and knock, and knock until I hear and listen if I am having another one of my “dense” days.

I am thankful for the Spirit – the One we can hear – the One who is unmistakably there with us all the time.

dee37 via Morguefile

dee37 via Morguefile

I don’t need to see with my eyes.

He speaks to me in ways a mere human eye cannot possibly take in.

He’s always checking on me – my heart is safe with Him.

I just need to remember who the engineer really is.

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will
teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

 

Monday Might

Today, as you begin another week, are you tormented by anything?

Do you feel like you might drown underneath some really crazy waves?

Do you feel full or empty this Monday morning?

Do you know your value or are you feeling like you need to prove it?

Starting out tired already?

Feel like temptation is lurking around every corner?

Something rough happen over the weekend that has you wondering….(“will we be able to combat this thing, or is the devil going to win this one?”)

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, take a moment to meditate on these verses from the scriptures…..that’s what I’m doing today….that’s what we can do every.single.day!

And if you haven’t asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, won’t you consider doing just that? Right now?

Christians are the children of God, and as such, are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and HE will stand with us!

Be bold and believe.

After all, He is mighty to save!

So He’s certainly mighty enough to help us fight these battles too.

We have been granted permission to be bold in fighting against evil and wickedness…..

“The wicked flee though no one pursues,
but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1 NIV

The power of Christ lives in us and His Spirit is made manifest through us. If He is the Lord of our lives, nothing can change that!

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is liv­ing in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mor­tal bod­ies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” Romans 8:11 NIV

And when it’s time to resist all that is dark in this world and embrace the light, we do well to remember……

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

He is on our side………..

He is Mighty to Save…….

His power and might live within us…..

On Mondays…….

And every second of every day!

Call upon Him.

Tap into His power.

Let Him show His might.

And then show His love.

The enemy likes to attack us and then backtalk us when we fight against Him in our own power. But when we answer in God’s power, things start to change.

Got a little message to relay to the enemy today……

Just two words:

JESUS!

And………………..

Crush.

www,jtbarts.com

www,jtbarts.com

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be
against us?” Romans 8:31 NIV

Never thought Blogging could do that!

But then again – it isn’t blogging that creates fellowship amongst believers, is it? It is God Almighty, Himself.

Hello Friends ~

I must admit, I had no idea how much fellowship existed amongst bloggers – Jesus continues to surprise me every single day. In the spirit of that, I want to take a moment to celebrate something with you and invite you to consider doing the same thing if you have a heart for continuing to spread the love of Jesus to others.

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This blog is now officially a member of the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers and can also be found in their member directory on their site. Please check their wonderful site out, as there are some truly AWESOME Christian blogs featured there. There’s something for everyone, whether you are looking for bible studies, stories about family, grief, friendship, or love, or witty and humorous blogs too. More importantly, it provides just another avenue through which we can edify one another as fellow believers in Christ and help to spread His message of love and salvation around the world!

Check them out here:  http://www.focbonline.com/

If you have a Christian blog, consider submitting your information to become a member too.  Let’s follow after their own words and help to “share the love of Jesus Christ, one blog at a time.”

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 NKJV

And remember who loves you the most!

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Monkey Business

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Do you feel uncertain today as you look out toward all that is ahead of you? Do you feel like you may not be equipped to reach out with the love of Christ to others all by yourself? Feeling a bit alone in the matter – like you could really use some help?

Then stop being a funky monkey! You don’t have to do it alone.

robgross via creationswap.com

robgross via creationswap.com

Why not go to other believers in Christ and remember we are here to build one another up? We make each other stronger, friends.

God is always with us, but He shows up big time when two or more gather in His name. He put us together for a reason!

Stay linked as you go about His business today. Find a way to another believer in Christ, no matter what it takes. Then watch God show up – big time.

This is not monkey business – it’s God’s business. And God is serious about His business. He intends to be there.

Don’t go solo, friend. Get your wheels on and roll on down the road to stand with others in the name of Christ.

And keep looking up.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

Focal Point

wallpaper4God.com

wallpaper4God.com

Today was weird, friends.

Until today, I haven’t really felt sad about the fact that I will be departing from the job I have held for over ten years now. Most of you who read this blog know by now that I talk a lot about feelings; how they are fickle; how they should not be what we rely upon; and how they can also just be a pain in the rear sometimes.

Yet, feelings can be good if they help us grow even more in our personal relationship with Christ. Even the not-so-feel-good kind of feelings can bring this glorious result about. It’s about keeping our eyes fixed upon Christ.

Today I have some of those less-than-pleasant feelings going on and rolling around inside of my head and heart. As I write this, My Lord is helping me to give them over to Him. I have been fighting against that all day long. Of course, like so very often happens with me, I didn’t realize I was even struggling to fully surrender until now.

See, I have found that quite frequently, we can experience great joy and great peace in the Lord even when we have the icky feelings floating around in there. It’s part of what we contend with as followers after Christ. If we didn’t experience such things, we’d just be a bunch of robots – heartless, and incapable of having a relationship with Him or anyone else for that matter.

So we get to have the feelings. And that means dealing with the whole spectrum of them too. We don’t get to choose to never feel the stuff that is less-than fun, and just keep the happy stuff locked up in a nice little box. Having feelings means we have them all. And then when we turn to the Lord to help us with the ones that are difficult, He grows us – He loves us – He teaches us, blesses us, and equips us to understand others and have more and more compassion for them. Most of all, His strength shines right through our weaknesses – bringing all the more glory to Him.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made
perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

Today, I felt a bit cold, a little lonely, and a lot sad – like a little lost puppy. Although my last day at this job is not until Friday, today I felt like I was starting the process of walking away from relationships, friendships, and in some ways, what has been my second family for over ten years. I know I will remain friends with some of these wonderful people I have met over those years – but we all know all too well that it will not be the same. It’s part of life.

wallpaper4God.com

wallpaper4God.com

And despite the feelings, I know I am not alone – I know God is with me – so is my real family….the ones who matter most. I am entrenched in my wonderful church family, and those relationships are growing more and more each day. Yet I still felt that way today – that weird way. Not through and through, but it was there.

I felt like I was beginning to experience the sensation of being on the outside of it all, looking in. Like I was in the hallway outside of the door that I asked the Lord to help me close, yet I could still hear the party going on behind it. It is a party I was still invited to attend – so many of my friends there – celebrating, nurturing their relationships, and having a good time.

And I chose not to attend. Weird.

That’s a hard pill to swallow, feelings-wise. Yet I don’t regret it at all. It’s just still a little sad. I will miss my dear friends there. This made me feel momentarily alone. But then I remembered – like the wallpaper post that’s going around on facebook says right now – I have Jesus is in the hallway with me – I am praising Him….worshipping Him….loving Him. I am relying upon Him.

PLUS, I have a place to go, friends. I have my wonderful family to care for, and a beautiful role to play within my church. How much better does it get than that?

I think often of Paul when he spent time in prison – how often he was alone by earthly standards. But he never was. He always carried Jesus with him. I think that sometimes we need to experience such things to remember who will be the One and Only that will be with us forever and ever more, don’t you?

Have you ever felt the way that I felt today? Where you made a choice to move away from something that wasn’t necessarily “bad” to embark upon a new adventure that the Lord is starting for you in life? Have you ever been in that circumstance in which you know it is the right thing to do, yet you feel a bit lost and disoriented because you are leaving all that is known for something that doesn’t seem certain? Yet you know – you know you are supposed to do it – you even want to and feel privileged to do it – you no longer have reservation about doing it – but you still feel a bit sad. Sad through even the blessing of it all.

If so, please take heart, just as I am doing in the Lord right now. Because He has promised to never leave us. He has promised that He wants to use us to bring about glory to Him. If we have accepted the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus, He promises that no matter what, we will be with Him in all eternity – never alone. And if you haven’t accepted this awesome gift, do so today! He loves you dearly. He is waiting.

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For those of us who have chosen Christ as our Savior, these times like I experienced today remind us that great things are brought about when we choose to focus upon Him as we follow after what He is calling us to do.  We get to know with no doubt that He is with us even in the momentary periods of cold or sad or loss. It’s about whether we decide to let the sad outweigh the joy – the real and true joy that He fills us with that is not contingent on our fickle feelings of the day. We can focus on all that still seems blurry, or keep our eyes fixed upon the clarity that we have in Christ.

Today I accept that I feel a bit sad. I trust that the Lord has a reason for allowing me to have those silly and pesky feelings from time to time. I have seen Him do wonders with such things before – many, many times.

And I realize this: He can handle even that for me. He can keep my vision straight even in the midst of the confusion and blurriness as well. He can do it in the midst of my sad. He can do it in the midst of my excitement. He can do it in anything at all. He can do it for me, and He will do it for you.

We don’t have to understand it. But we do need to believe it. And that gives us peace, friends…. just like Paul talked about. It’s the kind of peace that only comes from God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7 NIV

Yes, it was a weird day. But God is not confused. And we are not alone if we have invited Him into our life and accepted the gift that He offers us through Jesus Christ, His son. Not ever.

wallpapers4God.com

wallpapers4God.com

He’s with us in the weird. He’s with us in the sad. He’s with us in the blurry, the confusing, and the cold. He’s with us in the joy. He’s with us in the new. He’s with us in the unknown, the excitement, and the mixed up muddy mess of it all. And He makes it beautiful. He puts it all into focus – in His perfect timing.

Our God? Our Mighty God? He can do all things! Let’s trust Him to do so. And then, let’s move out of the way and just walk where He tells us to – whether He tells us to take one step at a time, or take it in leaps and bounds.

It may sometimes feel like we are on the outside of the party – lost, left out, whether by choice or not. But at the end of the day, who is the One who will be with us no matter what? Who is the One who has the ultimate party planned for us in heaven – one that will last for all eternity – one that we cannot even begin to imagine in relation to how awesome and great it shall be?  I’m up for that party. Are you?

He is the One who has promised He will never leave us or forsake us. That is Jesus Christ, our Lord.

And HE…..HE is our focal point. In everything. Even the not-so-feel-good feelings.

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Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the
joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the
right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV