Are We Bashing or Blessing?

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I have been really heart broken and almost grieving these last couple of months, but the Lord has comforted me in the way that only He can. He always does – He just surprises me every time this is needed in my own life because He is still full of surprises as to how He goes about it. God is so AMAZING!

You see… My Father allows some grief to enter in at times SO THAT I will actually go to Him in prayer over all of it. Deep prayer – not the kind you do here and there. On my knees, kind of prayer!

He allows such things to get me thinking – and seeking – to go deep with Him. He causes me to wake me up in places where I have started to doze off, and maybe didn’t even realize it. He heightens my awareness that other stuff IS GOING ON that we don’t always pay attention to, or that we push down and try our best to ignore.

Guilty as charged.

But when that nagging is there, as a follower after Christ, you know that you need to address it. It won’t stop until you do. And that is what has been happening to me.

This actually has happened before – but these last few months it has gotten really, REALLY strong. You see – most people don’t realize this, but I am a very observant human. I watch things people talk about and I actually actively pay attention to  how they are being received or how others are responding as well.

I can see all sides of things and I can see where misunderstandings occur too. It’s tempting in those situations to tell those that I love to “play it safe” and just stop sharing altogether – so as to avoid conflict and save them some pain, right? But God has us all going through our own process that He’s taking us through – sometimes we make errors, but we learn from them as we seek Him. Sometimes, others attack us too, and we want to avoid that stuff all-the-more.

Have I ever told you that I am the master of wanting to squash conflict before it even starts? Hmmmmmmmmm.

The stuff that’s been grieving me lately has to do with what I see happening among believers regarding what is going on in the world and what scripture tells us clearly about God’s plan for this earth – that the way it is now will not last forever – and He has had a plan from the very beginning for all of that – for all of us.

I’m talking about our Blessed Hope (for those of us who follow after Jesus Christ) – and, depending on where you’re at and how you view things, what is sometimes also called the “end of days” or “end times.” My own studies have caused me to look at it more as our Blessed Hope – but it took a long time to get there.

About 8 years ago, the Lord really pressed it on my heart to truly study – to go DEEP – and learn about why part of the “end of days” in reality, as a Christian, is not scary – because it contains our Blessed Hope. He had me start off with Revelation – a book I was always afraid to study – and then move on to other parts of the Word that talk about prophecy – over 1/4 of the bible is about prophecy – so it’s kinda important, yo.

In the beginning of the book of Revelation, we are told:

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelation 1: 3

That is huge, man. I always wondered what makes up this special blessing when the book of Revelation is not about only lovely things. But once I really dug deep and looked at the other prophetic scriptures, I saw. (Hint- there’s more than one special blessing – that’s just what I think now).

One of the special blessings I received was that God took away my fear – although at times I still feel unsettled, because I literally feel like the rubber band of this world has almost stretched to capacity, and I can feel it about to snap, I don’t fear it for myself or my family. I do still grieve deeply for those who will have to go through some of the stuff that’s coming up – make no mistake about it. But the focus being on our Blessed Hope as Believers totally overrides that now. Isn’t that where the focus always was supposed to be on in relation to God’s prophecies? On His promises, and drawing closer in our walk with Him? I just never understood why it wasn’t until I went deep.

God actually placed an overriding and utterly joyous expectation into my own heart for the possibility that Christ MAY return for His church (rapture) in my lifetime. And if he doesn’t? It doesn’t matter – because I am saved and I WILL live with Him – my Savior – for all eternity. He also has caused me to want to shine His light all the brighter to those who may not yet know Him. That’s pretty important too!

But what DOES matter, is that I live my life LOOKING FOR His return and never losing hope. I also realize He is with me right here and right now, lest you were wondering.

So, why have I been grieving? Why am I so unsettled?

Well, for starters, I have seen so much dissension in the church over this matter. I’ve come to expect such things in the world, but seeing it in the body of Christ is another thing – it actually HURTS MY STINKIN’ HEART!

It’s always been there – I get that. But it seems like now, it is really bad. There are those who want to actively watch and look for Christ’s return rather than go through their days thinking “oh well, if He comes back, great, and if not, great.” They are excited – they want everyone else to actively watch as well and feel a special blessing because of that in their own lives. There are those who are called to watch and sound the alarm and “speak this prophecy aloud” and those who are called to other things in the body of Christ at this time. We are all part of the same body – we are called to different things at different times. It all matters!

But I have seen a REAL opposition lately toward those who wish to speak about prophecy aloud – in a big way. I also see us taking an either/or approach to things – and that is missing the mark, if you ask me – it is a trap laid by the devil  himself.

I get it – a lot of it is because there have been folks in the past who were “date setters” and deceiving people. But if you really study that – most of them weren’t looking to the WHOLE of scripture and reading it in FULL context to make their case. MOST of them.

And people are fallible…that’s just the crux of the matter. But to not even want to ENTERTAIN the thought of Christ’s soon return is flat-out stifling.

On the other side of the coin, there are those who use scare tactics and forget about the love and the hope part (the most important part of our Blessed Hope) when they talk about such things. I  have been guilty of that in the past, I know. I’ve also been guilty of ignoring prophecy and talking about it out loud with others because of fear that others would judge me, be scared, think this or that of me. Neither of those two things is right.

The point is – all of the Word of God matters. All of what He admonishes us to do and how to behave matters. Truth matters. Love matters. Looking for our Blessed Hope matters. STILL ministering to and loving others as we love ourselves while looking for Christ’s return matters. Not being asleep, but being awake in regard to what God says will happen matters. Actively watching matters. Realizing others may not have studied or understand matters. Understanding fellow believers may have unsaved family members in their lives and that’s why all of this makes them uncomfortable matters. Speaking up and sounding alarms matter (if truly rooted in scripture). Speaking the TRUTH IN LOVE matters.

But what matters most is our relationship with God first, and loving others as ourselves right next in line. Sometimes, love isn’t all flowers and hearts, I get it. But we MUST remember to love one another all the more as “we see the day drawing near.”

I go back to what I have always said –

It’s not Either/Or…..

It’s Both/And!!!!!!!!!

Paul speaks here to believers at the time and this applies to us now: I highly recommend reading ALL of it, not just the first verse or two.

 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.  But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.  For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5-11

If you read this as well as MANY other parts of scripture that talk about Christ’s return and His plan for us as believers, it starts to become quite clear that we don’t have to be surprised about when He will come back for us – that if we are truly studying the Word and going deep, we will know the season. But we don’t want to get so caught up in looking for the particular day or hour that we forget to love one another in the process. It’s not wrong to look and watch as Christ Himself exhorts us to! But all the others stuff as to how He would have us live while we wait is important too.

Yep. It’s Both/And.

I could go off on another tangent here about “no one knows the day or hour” and how that gets thrown around so casually but I won’t. Let me just urge you to TRULY go and study that entire section of scripture and harmonize it with all the other prophetic passages throughout the Word and see for yourself that “the day or hour” is really not speaking about the rapture, but when the heavens and earth will melt away (that’s at the end of the millenium, in case you don’t know that yet).

I’m not here to “make a case” for Christians to look at prophecy and how much or how little you want to speak about it the same way. I’m here to admonish all of us – MYSELF INCLUDED – to take these things seriously and to look at the WORD of God to interpret itself.

I’m here today to share what is grieving my heart and that I feel it is SO IMPORTANT that we pray for one another, share the love and truth of Christ with each other as well as those who do not believe, and never simply dismiss one another’s point of view – but look to the Word and to Christ.

But most importantly – we have to LOOK UP. And at the same time, we can’t forget to look side-to-side at one another. All of this – well, it should be causing us to draw even closer to our Lord and Savior and one another. If it isn’t – don’t blame prophecy, man. Look inward and ask the Lord to show you where the darkness lies in your own heart. This is what I have to do on a daily basis. My tendency is to simply cut and run and avoid the subject entirely, rather than looking at my own heart and what the Lord is trying to show me about myself and how maybe, just maybe – He wants to change me.

We are in this thing together, even though the enemy tries to tear us apart. I would never want to EVER steal someone’s zeal and desire to actively look for the Blessed Hope of Christ’s return. NEVER! It grieves me in ways I cannot express when I see others do that (even well-meaning folks).

At the same time, I don’t want to EVER forget that not everyone is in the same place with how they approach their own study of God’s Prophetic Word – and we all need to show grace, love and understanding, because EVEN WHEN we are not in the same place, we are, as believers, IN THIS TOGETHER.

So instead of continuing to grieve silently, I decided to write this today – to any of my fellow believers out there who so choose to read it. You don’t have to agree with me – and I’d appreciate all commenting to be of a nature of building one another up – if you DO wish to talk with me privately about your take on prophetic scripture, please feel free to place your email in the comments and we can do so. But if the desire to debate prophecy is the first thing you think of as you read this, then that should be a good indicator that you missed my point entirely. I’m here to discuss such things with any brother and sister who wants to – but that’s not really the point of this story today.

I am not a prophecy teacher. (Buah ha ha!) I am not an expert. (even funnier!)

But I am in love with Jesus Christ.

I look to the SCRIPTURES of God to discern what He is saying to us about all of this. I take it seriously – and it actually causes me to let loose of the few earthly ties that bind me here and look forward to my life with HIM once I am removed from this earth (another blessing?) It didn’t used to be that way before I studied what I had always feared. (ANOTHER blessing!)

Yes-  God made true (again) on His promise that it would be a blessing to my life to seek Him in this way as well. And I am POSITIVE that He will make true on EVERY LAST ONE of His other promises.

Talk about grace upon grace. Wow.

Most importantly, I am saved. That – salvation through Jesus Christ – matters more than anything else. Drawing others to thing about Him too, so He can then work within them and they can become saved too – that matters as well. And I pray every single day that I can share the light, love and truth of Jesus with everyone in my path in ways that cause others to let Him pierce their own hearts. I want EVERYONE to get to live with us for all eternity with Jesus – it grieves me that not everyone will.

Let’s share the good news of Jesus rather than fight against one another. Let us not be afraid to respectfully question other believers and seek to understand them and our Savior all the more. Let us not be intent on winning a debate, rather, stand for Him and His truth AND love one another even when we disagree. But let us also allow others who want to shout from the rooftops about our blessed  hope to do so – in a respectful manner, of course.

Let us see our Blessed Hope as a blessing, rather than Bashing it. Let us not bash one another over the head with any of this, rather edify one another. We are all mere humans who all are going through different experiences in our earthly lives – let us look up to the only One who truly understands all of it.

That’s what Jesus does. And we do well to follow after His example.

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Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:12 ESV

I rarely make reference to what others may be writing about out there, due to the fact that I don’t understand everything about their theology, ministry, or commitment to God’s Word. But today I am going to do so ~ because I have prayed about this for a long time now.

Before I do, I must admit I have not investigated everything this particular man believes, so please understand that I simply think this article is well worth reading and putting to prayer, especially if you are a Christian involved in ministry of any kind.

To reiterate this in a different way: It is what he is saying that has me thinking today ~ it is what he is saying in this particular article that I am seeking God over and pouring over God’s Word about today.

Here it is:

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/5-signs-you-glorify-self/

Friends, I struggle with this all the time. I am constantly having to do heart checks about so many things, not the least of which, is my approach and my heart as to how I share Jesus with others. This article simply emphasizes what I find the Word of God admonishing us to consistently remember: It’s supposed to be all about HIM.

But life gets to us in sneaky ways ~ the enemy does, rather. It is so easy to think our hearts are pure, in the right place, or hide behind our good intentions and motivations and ignore the seed of self that is planted right behind it all ~ waiting to sprout.

So what are we to do then? Do we hold back sharing Jesus because we fear that behind it all, there is still some small glorification of self going on that is tainting it?

No. God is bigger than that, friend.

BUT ~ we must admit to ourselves, God and others when we find that we are doing this. This is part of how He works in our lives and how he might work in the life of another! The way He reveals our failures, our sin, our weaknesses to us is part of the gospel because it points directly to our need ~ our deep need for our Savior.

Only Jesus saves.

This is part of how He speaks to others through us ~ not through our wonderful successes and our uber-pure hearts, but through that which falls short and can only be redeemed by the Perfect One.

I am here today to admit without question some of the things that I still do that have seeds of self behind them. I thought about making a list, but realized that’s impossible, because when I think about it and am really honest about it, it’s pretty much……. everything.

This is a big (HUGE) reason I don’t want to “promote” my blog. I started this to commune with the Lord and draw closer to Him, because something special happens when I write about (to) Him. If it happens to encourage or speak to someone else at the same time, that is wonderful and is HIS work, not my own.

But even here, I sometimes get caught up in it all ~ I sometimes wonder about the posts that no one decides to read. I sometimes worry that someone out there will misunderstand and be led astray.

And that’s when I know I am getting away from the whole purpose of even doing it. That’s when I know self is getting in the way, and I have to accept His humbling.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 ESV

As His child, I get to accept even more of His grace in the process of receiving the uncomfortable humbling too. So it is not MY awesome humility (ha ha – doesn’t exist) that blesses anything that I do ~ it’s God and His grace that brings about such blessings even though I need to receive a good God-humbling every single day!

In spite of my own failings, God continues to place His mighty mark in my life ~ in spite of the stuff that tries to sneak it’s way in, He continues to be faithful and honor my desire to speak of Him and His perfection, Him and His glory, Him and His truth, Him and His love.

In spite of my flesh.

In spite of my sin.

In spite of my pride.

In spite of my selfishness.

In spite of my coveteousness.

In spite of my everything that’s not of Him.

We have a greater responsibility as Christians to check our intentions and our actions every single day and make sure we are not promoting self, friends. This starts in our immediate day-to-day interactions with others in our lives, and spills over into what we do ministry-wise. Truly, it starts in our direct relationship with Jesus.

There are certain things we are to speak up about. There are certain things we need to zip our lips in regard to, friends.

Is it Jesus talking today through our lives, or is it us?

In all things, if it is not Jesus Christ who is shining through, it’s time to check our hearts, our minds, our souls. It’s time to accept a humbling ~ and also His grace.

Let us take a hard look in the mirror, friends. Let us look every day not for glory or vanity, but for truth. Let us cut through all that is us and seek His face alone.

And let us look forward to the beautiful hope we have in Christ for the day ~ that beautiful day where mirrors are just…..no longer needed.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30 ESV

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Come With Me ~ ALLIN

Friends,

I have been praying for some time, along with others, about other ways in which to use my love of bringing praise and honor to Jesus through writing. Meaningful ways. I love the community we have here – amongst one another.  That is not going away. No way, no how!

But his prayer has been about how God might wish for us to reach others in different ways, further enhancing community in Christ, but most of all it has been about how to help others in our world to draw even closer to Jesus and live their lives with their eyes set upon Him.

It is not going to replace what I do here. It is simply another place in which I get to shout out His name with praise and adoration. I have said no to many such offers in the past. This one? This one is going to be different ~ I can feel it when I pray about it. He told me to say yes. Maybe He is going to whisper that word in your own ear too.

ALLIN. Living ALLIN for Him.

It is not about platforms. It is not about “followers” (except for those who are following after Jesus Christ). It is not about “promoting” anything other than Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

My friend Heather has had a vision about how she might reach others for Christ in a deeper way. She has had this dream for many years, and much prayer has gone into this adventure for Christ. She didn’t know what it would look like, but she knew God would give her the green light when it was time to step and move forward.

It’s time.

So the time has come. Several prayed-over folks have been given the honor by God, through Heather, to be contributing authors for this new ministry and community. I so happen to be one of them and thought those who read my heart here just might be interested in being a part of this wonderful community.

You are all valued and special in the eyes of the Lord. Maybe you will find even more to celebrate about Him here too!

It’s time for us to jump in – together – ALL IN!

Below, you will find the details about this wonderful community and ministry. Join us, won’t you? We are growing it together – US – with JESUS – I see fruit in our future. Abundant fruit.

Lift off is TODAY!

Join us, dear friends. It will be different than other things you have seen. It is the Lord’s. It is ours as co-heirs with Christ.

It’s about community in Christ. It’s about praising Him, sharing Him, learning about what He writes to us in His Word.

It’s about living all in for Him – not toe-dipping. Not halfway.

It’s about authentic admission of where we fail, but simultaneously it’s about the victory we already have because of Christ Jesus.

Yes. It’s about blossoming in our love for Him ~ in our awe of Him.

It’s ALL of it!

Let’s go ALLIN for Him together. Details Below….

cropped-allin_logo_header_2Click Here to Join Us! http://goingallin.org/

Let’s live ALLIN for Him.

Let’s live, learn and love ~ together.

When Wonder Becomes Wonderful!

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I wonder what it’s like?
To see all of us fight
After all He’s done for us
Walking in darkness versus light?

I wonder what it’s like?
Remaining patient for so long
Giving time for hearts to change
Hoping to Him, we’ll sing our song.

I wonder what it’s like?
Just longing to talk and meet
With His children who are stubborn
Running away, not toward his feet.

I wonder what it’s like?
To know some will not come home
Longing for them to choose Him
Waiting for all, and not just some.

I wonder what it will be like?
That glorious day He comes
To take us to his bosom
Because of Christ and all he’s done.

I wonder what it will be like?
To bow down right at His throne
Able to gaze upon His face
In our real and forever home?

I wonder what it will be like?
Forever light and no more sin
Basking in His love and glory
No longer mortal, flesh-bound men.

He tells us what it’s like
We don’t have to be scared
For there is plenty of room for us
The mansions He has prepared.

John 14:2In my Father’s house are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

I’m so excited for that day
When I’ll no longer have to wonder
Just when He’s coming for us.
What a marvelous hope! Such awe and wonder!

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Unbelievable Praise and Glory!

Friends,

Won’t you take five minutes today to be blessed and revel in the love of God as you watch this beautiful video of worship? I promise, you will be so glad that you did!

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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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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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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Joe Self

Photo Credit via tumblr.com

Photo Credit via tumblr.com

Everywhere you look,  you’ll see something about “just being and loving yourself.” You won’t just see it once. No, not even twice. You will see it everywhere, all the day long!

Truly, I stand in awe of that. At the same time, it resonates. I have that inner longing too. That longing to be loved. That desire to be accepted. At the very least, the ability to feel comfortable in my own skin when I express what is inside.

Why do you think we hear this so very much? Why is it such a pervasive thing? It’s almost like there’s an utter desperation out there to find and be your self!

Here’s my take on it:

I think we have things twisted up (again).

I think the enemy has taken the degree of truth that there is to this matter and messed the whole thing up. Again.

I thought a lot about this today (yes…again). The reason is because it’s where I was at a couple of times today.

“Why do so few people understand me?”

I” don’t think people realize when I am joking around or being serious.”

“Am I going to have to keep restraining myself on a daily basis depending upon the situation I happen to be in? I just wanna be me. Is that so bad?”

Then the other side or other voice  (I know, I know, I have issues):

“Ah…who cares. Just be Joe Self!”

Can you spell J-O-E-S-E-L-F-I-S-H? Yeah.

I have concluded that it’s true: We DO need to find out how to be ourselves, but not the way that the world is trying to tell us to do it.

What brought this to mind today is the fact that I continue to struggle in my own life with this (clearly). Now that I am seeking after and following after Jesus with everything I’ve got, I have become more and more uncomfortable being myself.

I get it. It’s not about me.

It’s about less of Annie, and more of Jesus. I get that too. (although I screw up all the time).

It’s about who I am in Christ Jesus – The vessel that I am for Him. The follower. And one of the ones who needs to seek to understand far more often than I seek to be understood.

If you feel misunderstood, you may be “doing it right.”

I’m starting to get to know that person, (the more-like-Jesus-Annie-self) and sometimes I get confused. Sometimes I forget that only the parts that aren’t Annie at all are the ones that matter.

I forget that it needs to be all about who Annie is in Christ.

I forget to remember that part is ALL that matters.

THAT part – the Jesus part? Well, it needs to be the WHOLE.

Here’s the thing, friends: We have trouble being okay with who we are for basically one of two reasons:

Either we are not the person Christ intends for us to be – we are living in sin or for self.

Or we ARE starting to become who we are intended to be in Jesus, but the world is not comfortable with that – at all.

Hmmm? Remind you of how someone else felt the entire time He walked this earth? Just a little?

So, does this mean we are in for a lose-lose situation here? I don’t know. I guess it depends upon how we define victory, now doesn’t it?

Yes…I will continue to struggle with not feeling comfortable with who I am.

Yes…I will continue to even feel persecuted for it.

But maybe, just maybe, most days those of us feeling this way who are followers after Christ, uncomfortable as our flesh may be, we will judge joy by the peace that we know by letting Him live through us, instead of the “feeling” of fitting in, being accepted, or even just merely being “allowed” to be how we are in Him.

He warned us….

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law:’They hated me without reason.” John 15: 18-25

But He also consoles us. We can remain in HIM, not in our “selves.” It has a far greater reward, and is what will last far beyond the confines of this little world in which we temporarily reside.

And that? Well, that’s Joe Awesome, if you ask me!

 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! John 15: 5-11

Remember today, if you are discouraged, dear friends, Joe Joy comes from Jesus, not from Joe Self.

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Sometimes Ya Gotta Do It

I’m not this cute…..

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And I’m not this cuddly….

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But I am this tired….

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And “that’s today’s memo.” Heh Heh

~ Annie  🙂

And He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place and rest a
while.” For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have
time to eat.
  Mark 6:31

 

Turn on the Power Switch!

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“No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore, take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.” Luke 11:33-36 NKJV

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I have been meditating on this portion of scripture quite a bit over the last couple of months. It means so very much, that I have struggled as to how I wish to write about it. I decided, after a lot of prayer and consideration, that what was holding me back, was the idea that I had to be able to speak to it comprehensively all in one single blog post.

The enemy is so very sneaky.

Then, the Holy Spirit reminded me of something very important: that the Word of God and all of its truth and applications and teachings can never be exhausted. It continues to take on deeper meaning to us as we return to it again and again. And we should never try to hold anything back simply because of some mere human limitation.

Ironically, that is exactly what these verses are about: the fact that we shouldn’t hold back when it comes to the light of Jesus and His power that He has placed within us.

Not at all.

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In these verses, we see that we are not to hide, try to diminish, or keep to ourselves the light of Jesus that is within us. The light of Christ and the way that He fills us and all that He does within us is not meant to be a secret. We are not to selfishly hoard Him all to ourselves. We should revel in the fact that He has fully illuminated our lives, our hearts, and our souls and minds, and allow Him to shine from the inside out – inviting all the world to see so as to experience Him, His love, and His glory to the fullest.

Furthermore, when one puts a light, such as a candle, in or under a basket, what happens? The light eventually goes out. This is not to say that Jesus can ever be squashed because He has no power. After all, He is God. But just as we have a choice as to whether or not we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, we also choose whether or not we are going to share Him with others.

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Next, I was thinking a lot about the fact that the “eye” is indicative of our inner spirit. Is it truth, or is it not? See, truth is not just partly truth…it is whole. But there are many “true” things, even “good” things in this world that we can fill ourselves with that aren’t going to FILL us with light. Those things may help us to be “better people”, but they aren’t going to fill us from the inside out with the light of Jesus – the kind of light that is utterly divine – the kind that leaves not one shred or crevice or splinter of darkness to be found.

Jesus is the whole truth. Jesus is the whole light.

He is truth. He is light.

Eventually, one way or another, partial truth, since it leaves room for tiny specks of dark to remain behind, left uncovered, ends up meaning we are still not filled with light in full. It means some darkness actually still remains. False light leads then to eventual darkness. It leads to spiritual blindness. And complete ineffectiveness.

“Having no part dark.” NO PART. This entails truly seeking only Jesus Christ as our source of light. He is light. He is truth. He is love. He is ALL.

Have we embraced all of the truth, all of the light, all of the love – all of Jesus? Have we asked Him to fill us with Himself – absolutely and fully? Have we asked Him to dispel every single piece of darkness within us? Do we continue to go to Him every single day to take out any dark that has tried to infiltrate, fake us out, seep in and taint or hold back that power in Him which is there – wanting to pour out of us?

And if so, are we trying in any way to hold back the light that is so powerful, that if we just stop messing with it, trying to be non-intrusive, socially acceptable, or whatever else to conform, do we ever ask Him to help us to stop doing that? We can do that, you know: ask for His supernatural help and power to overcome our tendency to hoard or hide.

We can do that.

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If Jesus lives within us, friends, we are full of His power. He wants to use us to shine throughout the world for His glory, and to bring others into the light that He is, and ultimately, to salvation and eternal life with Him. We are to share Him in full, not partially. And we can do so in ways that are extraordinary…because Jesus Christ is most definitely not ordinary!

This is done by turning on the floodlights from the inside out and never holding back when it comes to grace and love.  This is done by Him and through Him and because of Him.

I know power can seem scary, for we are mere human beings. But we need not fear. We need not hold back. God is big enough to handle it. We aren’t going to explode if we let that light pour out of us. People get freaked out if we dump a lot of doctrine on them all at once, but not so when it comes to light, love, and things like grace and compassion. This is why those things are to be our primary focus. God will take care of the rest in His perfect timing.  But we should never withhold love and grace.

We just have to remember to stop trying to mess with the power switch. We have to remember to get rid of the fake light sources or hiding the very real, and very true ones that He has provided to us and just leave that power switch on all the time. Then He will flow. Then He will pour out. Then He will do those extraordinary and awesome things.

Turn on the power switch, friends. Join me in the endeavor to stop making apologies for being too bright in this world for Jesus Christ.

And remember: Jesus Christ doesn’t ever burn out!

Who’s the Boss?

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“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.”  A.W.Tozer

Flippin’ It – How do you like your Eggs?

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I always liked my eggs better sunny side up when I was a kid. Not gooey, or anything, but with enough yolk to dip my fun, buttery toast in. Yum!

Side Note: This was written about a few weeks ago when I was preparing for a medical test/procedure for which I had to fast and I had not eaten for about 18 hours. Spoiled as we are in this country of abundance, suffice it to say I was really, really hungry!

As I grew older and became primarily responsible to make my own eggs, I found it was just easier to either scramble them or cook them yolk facing down. I don’t know the fancy-schmancy word for that, so whatevs – hee hee.

used with permission from microsoft office images

This change in plan was mainly due to my own laziness – I was either just in too much of a hurry to make the eggs the other way, or didn’t want to deal with the mess. (The control issues, remember, friends?)

But sunny side up is just way better if you ask me. I just didn’t want to make the investment required to have them that way when it came right down to it. It seemed at the time – just, not worth it.  The work of it all!

For me, I find myself of late gravitating back out of the controlled, yet easy, face down version to the more-chance-to-screw-this-up-by-taking-a-risk version of egg frying. And my path in my entire life approach seems to be the same way right now, thanks be to Jesus!

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Friends, instead of just going through the motions, I have embraced the “Son-eee” Side Up in life – the one that means following after Him even when there’s risk involved (and work, I might add). I guess that’s what it means to truly be a follower after Christ, right? We actually follow Him any and everywhere He might lead. Sometimes He makes it easy, and sometimes, not so much. But it’s always worth it. Even if it were always difficult, it would be worth it. Because Jesus – well, HE is worth everything. Because of Him, we are blessed even in our trials.

Face up leaves room for vulnerability, doesn’t it? If we try to be in charge of cracking the egg and cooking it ourselves, we risk breaking that yolk. Then what?

Maybe we should let God be in charge of directing our cooking efforts. Maybe we should risk the mess. Is it possible that it is worth taking the extra time and care necessary in order to live life the way Christ intended and be nourished by the results regardless of the outcome?

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Could it be that we could actually embrace……………

  • Having to re-do some things some times?
  • Not always playing it “safe”?
  • Being at risk of exposure to harm, hurt, persecution?
  • Living a life with “messy” in it?

But then there’s this too……………….

  • Getting to dip our toast in the good stuff.
  • Working at and enjoying spiritual cooking.
  • Facing up instead of just…..down.
  • Being privileged to work under the Master of all Chefs.
  • In reality, He is the only One who really knows how to do it all. All other “chefs” are just fancy knock-offs of the real thing.

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I’m flippin’ back to sunny side up, friends. Because the Son of God IS up.

He knows how to mix ’em, and He knows how to stir ’em. And He definitely knows just when to flip ’em.

He lets us help, too. Sometimes we do well, while other times, we might crack a little. But then He puts it all back together and makes it better than it was when it all started.

And sometimes, He lets us dip our toast in it all and have some fun.

Two Fried Eggs Served with Steak and Toast

Won’t we take some risks for Jesus in order to allow Him to work in our lives? Isn’t “Son-ee” Side Up always the better way, even in the face of the unknown? After all, He always takes care of us – even when the risks we take don’t always turn out the way we’d like for them to – we are guaranteed the best eternal outcome imaginable if we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior.

He’s the Bread of life, man….the Bread of life!

He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good. Ecclesiastes 11: 4-6

Straight Up!

Gus Batistuzzi via CreationSwap

Gus Batistuzzi via CreationSwap

What does it really mean to be “straight up” about something?

I took the liberty of checking out some definitions we mere mortals have assigned to this little saying…….

Straight Up:

  • Like the straight arrow, flying towards its target….
  • Straight up gets right to the point…..
  • Tellin’ it straight up, means saying exactly what you mean – tellin’ it like it is….
  • Imminency – right away (“we are going to the movie straight up, yo”)…….
  • To be right or for real, man (“dude, straight up, let’s do this thing!”)…..
  • A way to emphasize the truth of something someone just said (“Dude, we should do this”, and then the reply, “”straight up.”)……
  • Absolutely, Totally……..

I don’t know about you, but for me, all of this resonates, but it is important to remember the ultimate truth in what “straight up” really means – and that means to view it  from a biblical perspective.

For me, friends, it comes down to two things:

  • Look straight up to Jesus for truth – then let Him fill you with it and carry it around with you always. Keep looking up (Straight up)!
  • Walk straight with Jesus – and do it absolutely and totally.

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Sometimes, we feel like we are in the wilderness in a particular area of our lives. And God has His reasons for that. Yet more often than not, I find that in reality, I am never really alone – what I am going through may simply seem unknown. Walking by faith, not by sight doesn’t fit the “absolutely” or “totally” criteria of this crazy world.

Yet living out our faith, true and real faith in Christ is really not so unknown as we at times tend to try to make it. I mean, we can still always look up and then move straight ahead – with Jesus right by our side – down the path He intends for us. And nothing can take that from us – not ever! How real and unchanging is that? Even when we feel alone, or uncertain about what may lurk ahead – even when the world tries to make us think there is too much we are in the dark about – He is there – always right there with us. Absolutely and totally.

I can get ahead of myself at times (surprised?) – it is actually a blessing and a major area in which I can cross the line into disobedience. Discerning the difference is not usually too difficult, but I admit, it does get muddy at times – sometimes I am ironically “behind” in realizing it when I have started to run ahead when I shouldn’t have.

I have to always look up, literally, moment by moment, or I can risk getting too far ahead – too focused on the “destination” in  an area of life, rather than the peace that comes in the journey. I know this about myself, yet I still fall into it. It happens.

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At other times, the Lord has used that desire to forge ahead at a rapid speed to bring about more glory to Himself, His kingdom, and help me to spread the gospel to others.

So, it’s not all good and it’s not all bad.

The important thing though, is to embrace the Lord and His will for us in all that we do, isn’t it? If He says to slow down and walk alone a while, we do so. If He says to run the race faster, harder, or reach a specific finish line in one certain area, we do so. And if we mess up and get too far ahead, we trust in Him that He will show that to us and help us to slow down, change, or press into Him instead of getting our game on.

One thing that has been hard for me to accept and surrender is the true, utter and complete realization that we are truly never finished while we walk this earth. Never finished. But the Lord, in His grace and mercy, gives us certain things in life that we can finish with. He enables us to move on to new things. We just have to remember the entire journey will not end until He comes back for us.

And yes, this whole thing can be confusing – “Straight Up, Dude!” That is exactly why, as much as I understand it, I still fall prey to not walking it sometimes. Proof again, that understanding (the human  kind) is totally limited, man.

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If you find yourself in the midst of something similar right now, call upon the Lord. What I am finding in my particular area that seems to teeter totter between “ok, run now,” and “be still now,” is that the Lord is using that roller coaster to draw me closer and closer to Him. He is reminding me that we will not ever get into a groove and just stay there forever if we are truly seeking to be more like Jesus. Sometimes, He gives us that groove, that awesome “in the zone” feeling that one gets when they have hit their stride and just are enjoying the run, the walk, the process, but are meeting benchmarks (small, little goals) along the way to the “finish line”. Other times, it is just a struggle of a journey….filled with stops and starts, confusing, and full of mixed up signals.

We can thank the Lord for those times in which the signals are getting all mixed up, just as we can be grateful to Him for the “in the zone” moments in life. When it’s in the mixed up mode, just like emotions, those crossed signals or distractions in life can serve as indicators and markers that send up the red flag to tell us that something is wrong, off, or needs some serious adjustment.

Boy with Pinwheel

Typically, for me at least, it means I am getting ahead of myself. Ug.

And if you’re feel unsettled and all windy and curvy – if something inside of you is screaming, “stop,” you’d better believe that voice is there for a reason.

Like me, I encourage you to remember that it’s okay to slow down. He will let us know when it’s time to run again. And no matter what, we will one day – when this earthly life passes away – reach the finish line of all finish lines, friends. And then, this “race” will be over – this muddy, messed up, and illogical-at-times race.

But in the most divine way that defies the irony of all ironies that we could ever conjure up or liken it to here on earth….. that glorious finish line will not be an ending – rather the beginning of an eternal life with Him – and as children of God, our “ultimate” destination. Straight up with Jesus. Party time, friends!

Friends, let’s look straight up today as we walk with Him and let our steps go straight ahead – one foot after the other. And while we do that, with our heads held high, let’s bask in the beauty that as Jesus’ children, we have the most glorious privilege of doing so.

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