and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Heavens Declare God's Glory

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God himself has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes-his eternal power and divine nature-have been understood and observed by what he made, so that people are without excuse.  Rom. 1:19,20 ISV

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blue Canvas Sky

       Yesterday morning, at 7:50 am, I was driving in the usual spot on the road as I brought my son to his school bus stop.  As I turned the corner on the first section of S-curve, I saw the most beautiful sky I’ve seen in a while.  The background consisted of variable shades of blue blended one into another.  The clouds came in two types: soft, misty like ones that merged into the background colours, and small, puffy white ones scattered around them.  The sun was hidden from view, but shone on the puffy clouds to vary the brightness of white, and give others the ‘silver lining’ effect that is gorgeous to behold.  All together it was like a rich canvas painted before me that changed with every turn of the van.

       Other times when I drove the same route, I have happened upon miserable weather, or fog so thick you couldn’t see, or sunrises that brought colour to my day.  You never know what you’re going to see when you turn a corner, even if you are very familiar with the route and buildings.  Life, nature, and people are often unpredictable, and change things unexpectedly.  Doesn’t that make life more interesting?

       (This is a bit of a side thought.)  At any one time, some of us are like the soft, misty clouds blending in to the background.  Others are differing sizes of puffy, dark to bright white clouds and some have silver linings while others are completely hiding from the sunlight.  In the end, it takes all the kinds of clouds and colours to make for a captivating and splendid scene. (Back to the main thought.)

       There have been times in life that I have turned a corner and discovered wonderful new friends, great opportunities for growth, skills I did not know I possess, and other positive experiences.  There have also been times I turned a corner and learned the depths of despair, the grief of loss, the pain of broken heartedness, and other negative experiences.  But all the experiences have helped me learn and grow, even during the times I was angry, shut down or trying to escape reality.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for youThat ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness… Col. 1:9-13

       The apostles prayed these words for the Colossians that they would walk in a way pleasing to the Lord.  They further explain that means being fruitful in good works, increasing knowledge of God, and then speaks about being strengthened, in His power, with patience, longsuffering and joyfulness, as well as giving thanks for He has delivered us.  I think Paul is talking about those turns in life where we learn so many lessons, toughen up or become stronger in the Lord, learn patience/ longsuffering and joy in the midst of trials.  Eventually, we learn to thank God no matter what we are going through.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Jm. 1:2-4 ISV

       Everyday there are corners to turn, and we can’t keep our joy if we are always worried those turns will become negative experiences.  We need to trust the Lord will be with us through all the good and all the bad; that He will take care of us and turn all the negative things into good in our lives.  Turning the corners in this life is interesting and exciting when the Lord is in control at the wheel beside us, and when we put our trust in Him.  With Him, we can check out all the experiences around the corner, especially the blue canvas skies.

Lord, help us to trust You with ALL our heart!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Perfect Pizza- Part 2

(please read part 1 for better understanding)

       So, how does my perfectionism translate into fear?  First off, it becomes a fear of imperfection or of my being imperfect.  (Strange, isn’t it, because I know no one can really be perfect!)  Just like the way I spent a long time making sure each piece of pepperoni, ham, mushroom, red and green pepper, and onion were perfectly spaced symmetrically on my pizza- after I had perfectly spread the cheese on top of the perfect amount of sauce.

       This desire for perfection (and fear of imperfection) causes me to hold back on trying some things while being unsatisfied with my attempts at others.  As to my Christian walk, sometimes I hold back saying and doing things the Lord wants me to because I don’t want to do anything the least bit incorrectly, or be wrong (imperfect) even in a small part.  So it becomes a battle in my mind.

       Secondly, there is a fear of speaking or acting out of God’s will (another state of imperfection).  If God tells me something, in that moment I am sure I am hearing Him.  Later, when I am supposed to (or want to) tell someone else, I become insecure and usually end up keeping my mouth shut.  Better (in my mind) to say nothing than to say the wrong thing.

       How many people have missed blessings from God because of my irrational fear of being imperfect?  We are human, and therefore imperfect!  One of the battles in my mind right now is knowing what God has planned for my future, but not really acknowledging it because then it becomes real, and I have to face that I won’t be perfect in the role He has set out before me, and that brings out the fear.  On Sunday I was reminded that fear is not from God, for He has not given us a spirit of fear (2Tm. 1:7), and that if you have fear, there is a battle going on in your mind, and it is not a fleshly battle, but a spiritual one.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Eph. 6:12
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2Cor. 10:3-5

       This spiritual war will be won or lost in your mind. What are “strongholds?”  A strong hold is anything that has a strong hold on your body- or on your mind.  Depression, insecurity, shame, feeling unwanted, unloved, unworthy, and let’s not forget fear: these can all be strongholds in our minds.  And if we are to serve God, He wants us to be free to do so (Jh. 8:32,36).

       We need to cast out these thoughts (like fear) that shouldn’t be in our minds, each and every time they come up.  Let’s not be nice about it either, but like enemy soldiers we get them out forcefully- not in our own strength, but the power of God and in the name of Jesus. “…without me ye can do nothing.(Jh. 15:5)  As Christians, we now reside in the kingdom of Jesus (Col. 1:13) where the enemy does not belong.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through the one who loved us. Rom. 8:37 ISV
greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 1Jh. 4:4
but with God all things are possible. Mt. 19:26

       At least 59 times the Lord God (or through his servants) said to us “fear not”.  Thinking on the perfect pizza analogy, I know He is saying that to me, and I have heard, so now I must act on it.  How will I do that?  One step at a time, one ousting of those thoughts at a time.  The Lord is my strength and will help me, for I am a conqueror only through what He has done!

He is with me.  He is with you.

You drew near on the day I called on You, And said, “Do not fear!”
Lam. 3:57

Where to keep our minds:
Keep your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth. Col. 3:2 ISV
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Php. 4:8

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Perfect Pizza- Part 1

No, not really my perfect pizza!

       If there’s one thing about me that is consistently true, it’s that I don’t really care about food in the normal way.  Yes, I eat, but as long as it’s edible, reasonably healthy, won’t hurt my stomach, and isn’t one of the few foods I detest, I’ll eat and be happy.  Of course, it figures that I’d marry a man who does care about his food.  Not only does he care that it tastes good (imo no one cooks as good as he does) but he also cares what it looks like- enough that I’ve taken pictures of his plated food because it is so visually appealing.  So it was, early in our marriage we were forming our own pizzas.  He had cut up the toppings, and I decided to wow him by taking a lot of time to make mine look beautifully perfect.

       The smell from the hot oven was amazing when my pizza finished cooking.  Donning my oven gloves, I carefully pulled the cookie sheet out and gazed at the most perfect looking food I had ever made.  I was so proud and so excited that it turned out so well.  As I walked toward the dining room I was anticipating the wonderful flavours and how much I would enjoy it when suddenly I stumbled, the cookie sheet snapped up, and my beautifully perfect pizza made a beautifully perfect 2 ½ turn summersault and landed, upside down, in an open, brown paper grocery bag, still half full of groceries, that I’d left on the floor.

       There are so many parallels I can make with this story from my life, but actually I want to write about a problem I have- with perfection.  Usually, if I don’t think I can do something perfectly, I don’t bother trying, and that’s been a struggle for me to overcome for years.  Imagine the things that don’t get done with that poor attitude: dishes, cleaning, studying, and cooking, really everything.  It was just this Sunday I was thinking more on how this attitude keeps me in bondage in my maturing in the Lord.  Fear.  That’s what it is.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  2Tm. 1:7
be ye tranformed by the renewing of your mind Rom. 12:2
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  Jh. 8:32

       My perfect pizza analogy (the lesson in it) is just a symptom of the battle in my mind that has been going on for decades.  If God did not give me this spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and sound mind, yet I resist stepping forward in such mature functioning, then obviously I am not living the Scriptures.  Is my mind truly renewing if I am still fighting this battle years later?  Obviously, I have not been transformed enough yet.  If I am holding myself back, how am I free?  These questions and more play in my mind since Sunday, so for now I’ll leave off and hope you’ll come back to read part 2 of- The Perfect Pizza.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vessels of Mud

       When I was young, I used to dig in the back yard and get some clay like ground.  Then I would wet it down, shape and form it into vessels I desired, acting like I was a potter creating objects of beauty and necessity.  I would spend a lot of time on each one, making sure the sides were smooth (insides too) and everything was level.  Then I would let them dry for a couple days and use them for whatever I wanted.  One of the things I couldn’t do was use them to hold liquids, because the liquids would soften the clay ground and make them fall apart thus leaking out all the liquid.  My makeshift vessels could hold no water.

doesn't look appealing to drink, does it?

 For my people have done two evil things: they have forsaken me, the Fountain of Life-giving Water; and they have built for themselves broken cisterns that can’t hold water!  Jer. 2:13 TLB

       There are two issues, both equally bad.  The first is the people abandoned the Fountain of Life-giving Water, or the source of water which ‘saves’ the body from death (God-Jesus- Jh. 4:10-14; 7:37,38).  Forsaken (azab) means to leave, to depart from, leave behind, let alone, abandon, and neglect.  Do any of us Christians today neglect God, leave the Lord alone without us all day, depart from His Word and will, leave Him behind in the church on Sunday, or abandon Him for the football game instead?  I think we do, and far too often even if we don’t admit it, sometimes not even to ourselves!

       The second evil is related because now, with no living water to sustain us, we feel empty and so we must build something to fill us back up.  (Truly a vicious circle.)  So we build, buy, or earn ourselves gods to fill the needs we have for happiness and fulfillment- money, electronics, beautiful homes, fancy clothes, cool cars.  Matthew Henry wrote this:

If we make an idol of any creature-wealth, or pleasure, or honour, - if we place our happiness in it, and promise ourselves the comfort and satisfaction in it which are to be had in God only, - if we make it our joy and love, our hope and confidence, we shall find it a cistern, which we take a great deal of pains to hew out and fill, and at the best it will hold but a little water, and that dead and flat, (for Jer. 2:13)

       So, Matthew likens the broken cisterns to any idols of wealth, pleasure or honour.  Certainly, even Christians still treasure those three things in life, and yet they cannot truly fill that empty spot left for God in our lives- the God we so easily neglect.  Still, we hope in our lives being made better by them, yet they are dead- useless for the purpose we built them up to be.  We are no happier or fulfilled with them because they are cisterns that can’t hold life-giving water.

       Though Scripture speaks to two evils, there is only one solution needed to resolve both, and it is to reverse the first evil.  If we just stop forsaking the Lord, our lives will be more fulfilled than ever before, our joy, peace, and hope will be full and we will lack no important thing.  How do I know this?  30ish years of experience and finally having/ keeping joy, peace, and hope through all (ok, most of the time) the troubles in life.  Fulfillment in God alone is here if we want it; but we need to seek Him first (Mt. 6:33).

But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God,
thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
Dt. 4:29

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Will of God

For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my (Jesus) brother, and my sister, and mother.  
Mr. 3:35
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  Rom. 12:2
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.  2Cor 8:5
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:  Gal. 1:4
Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;  Eph. 6:6
…that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  Col. 4:12
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:  1Th. 4:3
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1Th. 5:18
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 
Heb. 10:36
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  1Pt. 2:15
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 
1Pt. 4:2
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. 1Pt. 4:19
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 
1Jh. 2:17

The will of God is: sovereign as in Gal. 1:4 (God ordained and will happen) or
                              His will (command) for us.

It is our choice to live outside of His will, or within it, and if we live within His will, we will abide forever.