Archive | September, 2012

Mercy Me, pass the Grace!

29 Sep

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. –Colossians 3:12-13

Grace means receiving something that you do not deserve; Mercy means not receiving a punishment that you deserve; or it means compassion, forbearance.

In our journey to become Holy, I am learning that understanding Grace and Mercy is second only to accepting Christ as our Savior. Loving our neighbors as a verb is the byproduct of this understanding; in the same breathe, I have also learned that it is far easier to seek either than it is to grant!

It is ego or self-centeredness that include fear, anger, quarrelsomeness, arrogance, bitterness, resentment, unforgiveness, reaction, judgement, insecurity. These are not God’s character. These are not His fruits in us,His fruits are amazing.

I tend to forgive rather than hang on to resentments but this is a process for me and usually includes needing to seek forgiveness as well. This is a human weakness we all share. The self-seeking gratification of wanting to defend ourselves,to feel important or vindicated.

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, -Matthew 5:44

I am two people; I am God’s perfect design in me and I am my belief a.k.a the person of this world rather than the next world.

When I react in any way, outwardly or inwardly, to those that lash out at me in this world, I am no longer fearing God, I am no longer believing His perfect design in me, or His perfect plan for my life. I am no longer accepting His amazing Grace or His beautiful Mercy in my life. I am no longer humble but instead, completely full of myself and gladly listening to the whispers of doubt from the devil.

How easy to love or give mercy and grace to those that are kind to us, that accept us, that lift us up? It’s easy to love the lovers, its hard to love the prickly people. I am sure Jesus had a “right”to call a few people out on their behavior! But, His dying words to those that persecuted him emotionally, physically, were “forgive them Father, they know not what they do”. Wow! Could you be that full of love? That humble?

and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; -I Peter 2:23

We need to own our behavior. We need to look up and ask for wisdom instead of reacting from our ego (emotion).

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. –James 1:5

Imagine the peace in our lives,if we passed along the same mercy, the same grace that Jesus bestowed on us? Imagine the blessings He bestows in our hearts, in those that we would otherwise be engaged in battle with, if we chose to be Holy? That is who we are by God’s design. We just don’t believe it. Love yourselves as God loves you. Love your neighbor as yourself.

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. -I Peter 3:8-9

Sing it loud!

27 Sep

Psalm 30:5 [b] but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I have been struggling with the blues lately. My past shows me that my times with the blues is essential to my faithwalk. I come to a deeper understanding of my walk with Christ; my faith is strengthened, my joy deepens, matures and I become more centered on Him.

There are times when I am bubbling over with a joy I can’t truly explain. There are also times when I am not. In those times when I am going through rough times, when I am feeling distanced from the Lord, or not my best, joy feels out of my reach.

The joy that comes from the Lord is the byproduct of a surrender and a gift that just is. Happiness is completely different from Joy. Joy is this deep knowing, it is peace, it is strength, it is love, it is a warmth that radiates within your soul.
I believe it is what we crave most of all, even more than love.

There are 3 things I have witnessed about this journey of Faith.
~1. Transformation is a life long journey full of pain, mistakes and messups, by God’s design.
~2. Our lives will not become easier, but rather, they become more challenging.
~3. The more we learn and grow, the wiser we become, and with that wisdom is the realization that we know so little, we become smaller, it is incredibly humbling because it never ends.

In the past, I have accepted my difficult times as part of life, hey… we can’t be joyful every day, right? The devil loves to try to trip us up, right?

God showed me one word. Rejoice.

God is telling me to rejoice when I am down, or angry, or struggling. When we are not filled with joy, rejoice! When we suffer, rejoice! Sing God’s praises. Praise His wisdom, His faithfulness, His promises, and all He has done. Heaven is yours because Jesus suffered greatly and died for your salvation. Rejoice! Joy will follow.

Tears are as much a part of our journey as laughter is. We cannot be Holy without suffering. We cannot be Holy without Joy.

Romans 5:1-4 
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

additional scripture;
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Psalm 13:5 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Psalm 40:16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The LORD be exalted!”
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Knocking on Heavens Door

11 Sep

Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.
Psalm 43:5 NKJV

I am under the weather. Thank goodness this doesn’t happen very often. When I am not feeling well, I find myself unable to keep my emotions in check. They have a life of their own. I get sad, edgy and very moody. Those that know me well, know this is not my normal disposition.

That darned devil is so crafty! My physical weakness sets off a chain of events that puts my soul at disease, and that needs to be guarded. When I went through times of deep suffering, I was less at risk of disobedience because I was surrounded with support, I even gave myself the time I needed, because what I felt was understandable, even by my own measure. I leaned into the Lord.

When I am just having a down day, because of illness, lack of sleep, or maybe I am stretched too thin, I need to really guard myself. My mind drifts to self pity, to doubts, to not nice thoughts as a whole. I am reactionary, I have no tolerance, and I don’t mind my manners, so to speak. These are not traits that are representative of my countenance, my true heart, the heart that God shaped and molded so beautifully these past few years.

I literally avoided my bible, devotionals and my fellowship pages during my brief pity trip a.k.a. “the cold”. In that time, I neglected people, I snapped at my daughter, hurting her feelings, I thought unkind things about people. Suddenly, it hit me like ice water!

What if that was my moment to plant important seeds of hope, of joy?

What if we have no more moments? I used to think this was about us, about what God thought of us. If we wasted our last moments by submitting to disobedience, what would God say to us? Now I see this very important lesson differently!

The very important lesson here is to not waste a single moment on anything not of Jesus, not because we are wasting our moments for us, we are saved! What matters more is that we may be wasting someone else’s opportunity to know Heaven, to walk with God.

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me ~Hillsong

Auto Failure

7 Sep

Faith never fails: It is a miracle worker. It looks beyond all boundaries, transcends all limitations, penetrates all obstacles and sees the goal. ~ Orison Swett Marden

I love technology, it allows me to stay connected, to be where I cannot actually be. It is such a gift, making life so much easier.

Until today.

What we have here is Auto Fail!

In order to fully understand the depth of my near panic, until a few years ago money wasn’t an issue in my life. It was a huge adjustment to be on my own. Now it’s to the penny budgeting. Imagine my shock when last night I logged on to my bank accounts; Imagine the panic, as I realize auto-pays paid, auto-deposit not there!

As my stomach began to twist,I know I am to think of my faith. I so wanted to trust God, not let the devil have any foothold yet I was in near panic! Guarding my heart against the attack of the devil, to hear the words of God “trust me now” feels nearly impossible in that moment. I chose to share just that. “I am beyond turning this over right now to you,Lord. Please comfort me in my panic as I struggle to release this all into your loving hands.” I chose to obey God, to believe His promises, to accept that I still felt overwhelming panic. That was the best I had to give. I went to bed and slept, deciding to face my dilema in the morning.

As I opened my eyes this morning, God started to remind me of His words. He will not forsake me. He made promises to me and He will fulfill those promises. I can trust Him. I prayed for a bit, shared my fears with Him, and told Him of my struggle to trust in Him. As I struggle to lean into my faith with all that I am, there is a knowing that He will provide, a reassurance. Choosing to believe His promise to provide me enough is a decision I remind myself of constantly. He will not leave me, He will allow this to be repaired! With that, I came back to address the problem.

All is on its way to being repaired. God provided bandaids to get me through the tough spot, encouragement from friends, and because I believed in His promises, He fulfilled them. He was faithful to the faithful. While this is still being worked out, it is evident that God is working, I haven’t had any overdrafts when I should have. God is just so amazingly loving. He knows my fears as surely as He knows my name. Such a gentle teacher He is, patiently allowing me to feel the fear while He reassured.

“Do not abandon me, O Lord. Do not stand at a distance, my God. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my savior.” ~Psalms 38:21,22 NLT

Lead Me

4 Sep

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can’t
Don’t want to leave them hungry for love
Chasing things that I could give up
I’ll show them I’m willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
~ Sanctus Real

One night, I woke up with a new layer of grief to purge and in its wake, a need to write a letter to God. In this letter I shared what my life with a man by side would look like, my vision of good. It was very specific, very real.

In that letter, I described what it felt like to be with a man of faith, praying together, for one another. Although, I wasn’t sure how he would fit into my life.

Until two weeks ago, I had decided I would never remarry. This particular Sunday I had a sudden,random thought, and it rattled my brain and my nerves.

I might like to be married again one day.

Shocking! I know! I know God has a plan for my life and I accept it as I go. If God wants me to be married again, I will be. If He wants me to himself, I will be. Either way, I am happy.

As a faith walking woman, I believe what the bible tells me. The bible tells me that a husband should be the leader of the home. In theory, this is good, I like this idea. Except the part about being led. I had an epiphany tonight. If I seek a man who will love God, pray with me, be that man of faith, he will, by God’s design, be my leader; Um, one problem, I will need to learn to be led. There is no other way. So, if I am praying for a man to lead, then I also need to pray for the discernment and the courage to be led.

I am strong, independent and capable. It can be hard to get through my protective layer at times. I can be tough. I am also very loving, warm, gentle and extremely loyal. As my daughter noted; I am a Scandinavian woman.

God has been speaking to me, slowly working on my heart. He has softened me and strengthened me in all the right ways. He shows me new insights in the most amazing, random ways. God will not mislead me. He will prepare me to be the woman who recognizes and compliments the leader I seek. When I speak of leadership, it is of respect, strength of mind and character and mostly, of love. And like God, worthy of my trust.

“Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14)

Tripping Up

3 Sep

“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” ~Benjamin Franklin

I remember sitting in church a couple of years ago, contemplating recommitting myself to God. I had drifted away from Him in years past, now was being led on a journey of reconnection.

I began to wonder if going “all in” would be too boring? I was terrified of recommitting. I had an vision in my head of what a “good” Christian looked like. It wasn’t even Jesus that I pictured but rather more a “church lady” of sorts and she didn’t look like fun to me!

Making the decision to follow Christ, to begin a one on one relationship with God, is such an incredibly personal journey. It is a quest to become Holy and it is difficult. Maybe we should refer to ourselves as Christ worshiping sinners because it seems a far more accurate description. A real faith walk is fraught with many mistakes and missteps. It is completely humbling.

In my journey, God works the best in me through difficulty. My deepest insecurities become exposed by my pain and my sins. When my sin is revealed, as I recognize, make amends, seek forgiveness, and learn from my sins, I gain wisdom.

In those moments, we stand in the presence of God. In those moments we are blessed and as I say often, we are blessed to be a blessing.
Learning from my sin, allows to understand others on a deeper level, bringing a gentler, more loving way of seeing others.

As my learning continues, my wisdom deepens, my temptations come in bigger ways. Like a muscle, if I stay diligent on learning, on growth, my obedience is slowly stretched and strengthened.

No mistake is without God, standing by us, loving us through our mistake, making sure it is within our power to grow from. From that comes acceptance of the person we are, imperfectly walking toward God’s perfect design in us, we walk towards Holiness.

Going “all in” is the best decision I’ve ever made. It is also the best time I have ever had. It is my quest to become Holy, my sins are falling away, one by one. New ones are exposed to me over time and I welcome them. It isn’t an easy path, but it is never boring!

I am still the life of the party, in my own mind and that is God’s design in me.

“though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” ~ Psalm 37:24 (NIV)