and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shining Faces

       She held her baby gently in her arms cooing at her daughter who had just been born the day before.  Forgotten are pain and stress of yesterday, but what remained was an intense feeling of love toward the precious bundle in her arms.  It wasn’t the infant that drew my attention though, it was the face of the mother shining like she was already in heaven as she gazed upon her beautiful baby.  I couldn’t believe how much she glowed, pure joy exuding from her face.

        Moses face also shone, but it was after being in the presence of Almighty God (Ex. 34:29+).  It shone so much that the people, even his own brother, were afraid to get close to him- a mere man. 

       Jesus’ face shone on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt. 17:2), God was there (v.5), and the disciples fell on their faces and were afraid.

       Do we want the presence of Almighty God to fill our congregations today?  Are we prepared for it?  Where the presence of the Lord is there is fear (of the Lord) and reverence.

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.  2Chr. 5:13,14

       Could the glory of the Lord fill our congregations today?  I’d like to think so, and we should want it.  Perhaps we just need to worship united as one with one voice of praise (celebration) and worship (reverence) to the Lord.  Certainly, I’ve felt His presence in the services I’ve been at many times, but the tangible presence of God would be an amazing experience, and most likely, life changing.  Imagine His presence so strong that we could not stand (or stay) to serve.  Yet we have His presence wherever we go and “…if thou seek him, he will be found of thee…” (1Chr. 28:9). 

       Maybe if we seek Him with all our hearts- together and when we are alone- maybe His presence will change our countenance, and the world will notice and ask, “You’re positively glowing what’s going on?”

The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever…”
Ps. 104:31

Friday, November 16, 2012

Driving Through Life

       Some days it seems like all I ever do is drive; to the bus stop, my kid’s work, church functions, doctor appointments, and the myriad of stores where I purchase items our family needs.  Driving only serves one purpose- to get from point A to point B.  To accomplish that task requires far more than a simple drive.  There are written and driving tests to be taken in order to get a license to drive.  You must have a vehicle, which requires money to purchase, and money for the insurance of said vehicle, which means you need to take driver’s ed. for more reasonable insurance rates.

       That is all just the beginning.  The vehicle will require space to park, regular maintenance and repairs to be made in order to keep running, fluids to keep parts working and let’s not forget our all time favorite expense- gasoline- to keep it moving down the road.  All these costs allow us to begin to drive from point to point, but there is also the action part of it.  Adjust seats and mirrors, check for traffic, signs, pedestrians, maintain proper speed, lane, directions, etc…  The list is continual.  Much of it we do without thinking, after we’ve been driving for a while anyway, but to be a good driver and hopefully avoid accidents, you’ve got to keep your mind focused on driving and not the kids, noise, phone or other distractions.

       In the same way, we ‘drive’ through our lives on a journey from birth to eternity (an eternity based on our decision while here).  In between are relationships, memories, learning, change, struggles and the search for fulfillment.  That search to fill the empty spot in us leads us on all kinds of different roads, some of them good, and others very, very bad; there’s a lot of construction but eventually, every person must make a decision about faith in their lives.  For those of us who chose salvation through Jesus Christ, we become part of a bigger community called Christians, but the journey doesn’t end there, rather, it begins again.

       Now that we are given our new license under Christ, and a new vehicle to drive in- fully insured, we still have other things to deal with.  We require a place and time to be still, we need to do regular maintenance on ourselves daily checking for sin, God’s will, worldliness etc. so that we can keep moving forward unobstructed.  We need regular intake of nutrition to meet our needs (reading Bible, prayer), time in the presence of God and the filling of the Holy Spirit as the powerful ‘gas’ that gives us energy to keep going.

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit Eph. 6:18 (also 1Th. 5:17)
O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.  Ps. 119:97

       Then there is a continual list of checks as we go through our drive: are we loving in words and actions, are we living with integrity as would please God, are we witnessing God’s love by our actions, compassion, mercy etc.  Maybe if we do it enough, it will become automatic in our lives!  Of course, we need to (focus on) keep our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2) so we ‘behold attentively’ to the paths God wants us on (Ps. 119:15 YLT).  The biggest difference in regular driving and ‘the Christian drive’ is that for us, the driver’s ed. is never completed, not until the Lord returns.

       We need to continue learning and maturing* along this drive.  The minute we stop doing that, we become dangerous drivers to ourselves and others.  We have more potential for causing accidents, even injuring pedestrians.  That means we need to stay under the instruction of our teacher (Jh. 14:26) and follow His guidance (Rom. 8:14).  Book (Bible) learning will be required so we know all the ‘how to-s’ and frequent tests will be administered to keep our skills fresh.  We can try to get out of the learning, but the consequence could mean our death (spiritual).  But this drive is the one that matters most in eternity.  It’s our choice: life or death (Dt. 30:19)--- choose life! 

I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father,
but by me.
Jh. 14:6

*All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2Tm. 3:16,17 ISV
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect (complete, mental or moral growth) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children… But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  Eph. 4:13-15
Instead, continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  2Pt. 3:18 ISV

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Castle Dreams

       Ever since I was a little girl, I always loved castles.  They are regal buildings full of character and mystery, each one distinct from another.  As a child my favorite toys were the Fisher Price play sets with different buildings, people and furniture.  I would play for hours making up imaginary lives for the characters, and set them about their daily tasks.

        In the mid 70’s a new set came out, the Fisher Price Castle, and I was just thrilled.  My best friend at the time got one, and we played with it as often as she’d allow.  It had everything one would want for the castle including a trap door that led to the dungeon: such a great set!  The problem was I lived nowhere near her, and because mom didn’t drive, I could rarely get over.  Still, it was my fondest hope that I would receive it as my one toy for Christmas (along with the standard socks and undies).

       Disappointment set in quickly when I opened my presents that year and there was a different toy (cheaper by necessity), and I did not understand why I could not have the one thing I really wanted.  For me, it was heartbreaking.  Worse yet, my friend had tired of her toy castle and no longer wanted to play with it when I could get over.  It was devastating for me to be so close to the castle and never be able to play with it.

       It is not the same with our Father in heaven.  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10) and so anything we ask of Him is possible.  Does it mean we will get everything we want?  I don’t believe that is what scriptures are referring to, but yet, we are promised He will meet our need (Php. 4:19).  Yet, there is one thing in which Jesus said we would not be disappointed.  If we keep asking for the Holy Spirit, we will receive!

So I say to you: Keep asking, and it will be given you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who keeps asking will receive, and the person who keeps searching will find, and the person who keeps knocking will have the door opened.
"What father among you, if his son asks for bread, would give him a stone, or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake instead of the fish? Or if he asks for an egg, would he give him a scorpion? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who keep asking him!"  Lk. 11:9-13 ISV

       What an exceedingly great gift we have the opportunity to receive.  No earthly father would give their child dangerous objects in place of basic needs, so how much more the Father will give the Holy Spirit (a need) to us, to help us with our lives and teach us all things (Jh. 14:26).  We can certainly live our lives in the salvation Jesus provided for us, but I thank God that Jesus left to send us the Holy Spirit (Jh. 16:7) to complete our lives, and His Spirit is the power we have to live according to God’s will.  According to Jesus, we can keep asking for Him, and the Father will not disappoint us.  The Spirit is better and exceeds all dreams!

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory...
Eph. 3:20,21 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tomorrow is a New Day

       Sometimes it’s hard to leave our past behind, whether it is ‘big’ things like failed marriages or ‘small’ things like not getting all our chores done the day before.  When I was a teen, my favorite movie was Anne of Green Gables released in ’85.  I loved her spunk, her propensity for getting into trouble for the dumbest reasons, and her crazy ideas.

       Really, who breaks a slate board over a boy’s head on her very first day of school, all because he calls her ‘Carrots’ due to her red hair?  Used to getting into trouble, Anne had to learn how to deal with her many mistakes, and it is in this movie that I heard one of my most favorite quotes, “…isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?

       Yes, it is pleasant to think that every morning I wake up it is a fresh day without any mistakes yet.  I guess it goes right along with “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.(Lam. 3:22,23 NKJV)  We are not consumed (wasted; burnt up; destroyed), because the Lord’s mercy and compassion are new for us every day.

        Yesterday I made mistakes.  Yesterday I sinned.  Yesterday I did not get done all I needed to, yet still, when the Lord’s forgiveness comes, it is complete (Is. 43:25; Heb. 8:12) so why should I allow guilt of yesterday to keep me from trying to get this day right?  Far too often, we allow our ‘failures’ to keep us back from moving on with the Lord, or life; the enemy will also use these same tactics.  But we must remember that with the Lord, every day (if forgiven) is a new start with no mistakes in it, and the Lord does this for us because of His great mercy and compassion.  How wonderful He is.

Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?...  Is. 43:18,19 

His mercy & compassion, like dew, are new every day!

       Let us never give up, not on ourselves (God has always known we are not perfect and would fail often- yet He still loves us) and not on God who doesn’t always do things the way we expect.  Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.  We need to leave the past behind us, not looking back in guilt (only as lessons learned) and permit ourselves to begin again.  Though we fall, the Lord will uphold us in His hands (Ps. 37:24) and He will help us begin each day anew with no mistakes in it… yet!

Then we’ll do it all again tomorrow!

this one thing I do:
Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I keep pursuing the goal to win the prize of God's heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Therefore, those of us who are mature should think this way... 
Php. 3:13-15 ISV

Monday, November 12, 2012

God’s still working on me

to make me what I ought to be…

       Those were the words to a song I used to sing to my children when they were young.  I think some of the Lord’s greatest truths are expressed in the simplest songs.  As I drove to the bus stop this morning, I was pondering how great God is, how awesome He is to continue to work in my life changing me even though I can be fickle with Him some days, and how incredible He is that He does things even when we can’t see it and don’t know it.  Wow God.  You are beyond all words to describe.

       So, I’m driving along thinking how this perfectionist thing has affected, no, infected my life over the years.  Not only has it kept me back from doing things I should do, but it also affected my relationship with Him.  In my subconscious I would think ‘I’m praying hard enough, the right words, often enough’- in other words perfectly, precisely what I needed to do so that the Lord would respond the way I wanted Him to- answering my prayers as I desired.  Every time He didn’t do that, I eventually drew away from Him.

       Ah, but I’ve been serving Him as hard as I can, doing as much as I can, loving when I don’t want to, giving when it’s difficult, sharing myself even when I’m hurting.  Doesn’t that mean He’ll answer my prayers the way I want?  What good is it to serve You God if I ‘never’ get what I want out of it?  Of course, those words would never come out of my mouth, but they were always there at the back of my mind hidden behind the boxes of hidden sin, so He can’t see, right?!  You know, I’ve been pretty unfaithful to Him over the years, my immaturity showing through loud and clear, but one truth remains.

God loves me even when I don’t deserve it.  (Rom. 5:8)

and another truth that’s also so important.

God is still working on me!

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Php. 2:13
But by God's grace I am what I am, and his grace shown to me was not wasted. Instead, I worked harder than all the others-not I, of course, but God's grace that was with me.  1Cor. 15:10 ISV
I work hard and struggle to do this according to his energy that powerfully works in me.  Col. 1:29  ISV
Still under construction!

       I owe Him everything: everything I was, everything I am and everything I will ever be.  I don’t want to hold anything back anymore, because He never gave up on me and His work in me is new every day.  He is alive, and He is working in all of our lives.  How awesome that the God of the universe wants to be with us every step of the way.  And He has not given up on us, He loves us and will continue to work in us as we draw nearer to Him.  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you...” (Jm. 4:8)  God is still working on me and I am feeling a wonderful freedom, more and more.  He wants us all to be free in him.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (Jh. 8:36)  We were meant to be free.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Rom. 8:28
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.  2Cor. 3:17,18

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Little Button that Mocked Me

Not the real button that mocked me!

       There it was staring at me from its position on the stage of which I sat directly in front.  The third button up on the speaker’s blouse was open exposing a small part of her belly, and I couldn’t stop staring at the button.  It was like it laughed at me reminding me of my perfectionist fears.  For weeks now, the Lord has been working on perfectionism issues in my life, and here was this imperfect thing ‘laughing’ at me to ‘say’ two things: you can’t stop looking at all the imperfections just like everyone else and your imperfections will ruin God’s use of you for His glory.

       For a few minutes my eyes kept going back there wondering if I could gracefully let the speaker know to fix it, and then I realized it was not her problem (she didn’t know it had happened) but mine because I couldn’t stop looking.  Meanwhile, she was doing a really good job at speaking on ‘discipline and self-control: a journey in excellence not perfection.’  Yes, that was really her topic, very appropriate for where I am in my journey right now!  Still, that little button mocked me from its place on the stage and I realized I was allowing this stupid, little imperfection to ruin, obviously important things for me to hear.  Determined to completely stop looking at the imperfection, I focused on the speaker’s face, and every time I heard ‘just look to see if it’s still there’ I refused, and eventually it stopped bothering me altogether.

       However, the other issue still remained.  I’ve known for many years of a particular calling God has on my life and didn’t really know when it would begin.  Lately, it ‘feels’ like it could be just around the corner, and the Lord has been working hard in my life to clean up a lot of things like perfectionism, (see post Oct. 16,17) but one of my major concerns remained: if I am in the public eye and something is wrong/ not perfect or I say or do something wrong/ not perfect, then it will ruin what God is doing.

       There are two things wrong with this thinking, three at least.  One, I am not perfect- no one but God is, yet He still wants to use us.  Two, to allow this thinking to stop me from doing what He wants is a lack of trust in Him and that He will work all things out for good.  Three, God can still move and do a great work even where imperfection exists.  This was proven to me as the speaker ¾ of the way through found the problem, corrected it very publicly using it to laughingly illustrate her message, and then finished up, and I realized that God had surely used this woman AND her imperfections for His glory to help us all to grow- especially me.

       What a release that was in my spirit!  If I just allow Him, God can use me imperfect as I am, and He’ll make sure that the imperfections won’t get in the way of His glory.  I needed to have that proven to me, and the Lord used a beautiful lady with a really good message to demonstrate it right before my eyes.  So that button that seemed to mock me was relegated to inconsequential, but the lesson learned has changed me for the better- forever.  Thank You Lord for the wonderful and sometimes strange ways You have for helping us grow.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might  Ec. 9:10 (all NKJV)
whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1Cor. 10:31
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:10

Walk in excellence, but leave the perfect to Jesus!

if you check the meanings of the words ‘perfect’ in the Bible,
you get complete and mature, not without any mistake!!!)