Archive | March, 2014

New Beginnings

20 Mar

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. ~ Philippians 4:4-9 NIV

It’s funny what we gain from being near to our loved ones physically, and how deeply separation affects us. This is not weakness in trial nor absence of faith. Our heart’s still feel love and mourn loss, because that is how we are designed.

My daughter is moving and taking my heart with her. This move towards the next phase in her life, the next page as a mother, is so painful, yet I know it is right. I am proud of her desire to challenge herself, to not settle, to achieve goals and do what is best for my favorite person in the world. Her move will bring him near to so much family and great male role models. Minnesota is a wholesome, fresh, healthy place to raise a boy such as my grandson. He will thrive there, in the place I love, but for me, I know, with all certainty, it is not God’s plan for me. So, I obediently stay where God has me, and trust His plan for my life.

Transition is so difficult, in a heart-wrenching, rip you to shreds, kind of way. Standing firmly in faith does not mean that we are not susceptible to grief, because honestly, my faith is so strong because of and through, my grief. This is trust at it’s greatest.

So I say goodbye for now and my heart breaks in two, feeling a bit alone here in Florida…and I cry out to Jesus, to my Father, to the Holy Spirit, to comfort me, to soothe my sorrow, and He is there. He comes swiftly and in ways that only He can. He brings me words, He brings me songs, He brings me His Peace,His Hope, His Joy, and I feel content. He is enough to satisfy me fully. He brings me hope even in the darkness. I can’t wait to see where His plan takes me, even through the tears.

This is my walk with Christ, this knowing. Knowing, even as I yearn to stay near to my daughter, nearer still, to my grandson, though it hurts, He has this. This isn’t me, going out on a limb and hoping I am right, this isn’t me believing what I am told, this isn’t martyrdom. This is complete knowing. Knowing my Lord and knowing this is the plan. Knowing the plan will unfold in His time, and trusting in Him, completely.

A friend told me it is my time; To walk alone, and to prepare my life for the next step in the journey.

They are beginning their new season. So am I.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

1 Peter 1:6 (CEV)
On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while.

James 1:12 (VOICE)
Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he’ll know God’s sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him.

Romans 12:12 (NIV)
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Be Near

16 Mar

Father be near as I stumble again,
I forgot who I am in your sight
I beat my head against the wall of my will
Seeing the world through the shame of my past.

Oh merciful Lord, My rock and my hope
Your wisdom is mine if I ask
You gave us new life and new ways to see
You set the path straight, you set the path right

The power of darkness dims with your light
My temper is weak in your sight
My heart cries out Lord, show me the way
Your presence is felt at once

I fight the temptations, of body and mind
I lay my life at your feet.
Take from me these fears and concerns
Bear all my failures, be patient and always near

Renew my spirit with Mercy and Grace
You are my hope, you are my everything
You crown me with truth, compassion and strength
Wrap me in goodness and beauty

Sow within my broken heart
The seeds to do your will
Let me be the voice or your hope
So they know truth and your endless promise

Blessed are you, God, that gave me true life.
Your beauty overwhelms, your presence in all I see
Dressed in the sunshine and perfect as the moon
Scent as glorious as the Orange Blossom

Sow within my broken heart
The seeds to do your will
Let me be the voice or your hope
So they may know the truth of your promise

Show me how, direct my feet
remove the stone from my heart
Let me shine the light of you
The peace of you, always and forever.

Amen

Boundaries are healthy

15 Mar

2 Corinthians 9:7-9 (VOICE)
Giving grows out of the heart—otherwise, you’ve reluctantly grumbled “yes” because you felt you had to or because you couldn’t say “no,” but this isn’t the way God wants it. For we know that “God loves a cheerful giver.” God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share. Remember what is written about the One who trusts in the Lord:He scattered abroad; He gave freely to the poor;
 His righteousness endures throughout the ages.

Learning to set healthy boundaries is difficult for some of us. We come from places of insecurity, confusion on what it means to be a good Christian, or we heard over and over again to “be nice”. As a Christian, we hear the word love, a lot. When you are raised (particularly women) to give, taught to care more about others, to take care of everyone around you, setting boundaries can be very difficult. My heart see’s need, and I feel bound to serve. One sad truth though, is I have given at times, to the point of resentment. The catholic word of my youth comes to mind, “suffrage”.

My weakness, what has pushed or pushes my buttons is spurred by other’s actions or words towards me, whether their actions/words are meant to control me, or are just thoughtless, unkind or hurtful. I respond by separating myself and putting up a wall. There is some good in that and some destructive. I am learning what setting boundaries is, and what it is not.

I was recently told this phrase that truly sits well within my soul. “ To stand your ground on righteousness, is not vindictive. Let God vindicate you and you will be victorious. “ Do you see the boundaries within that statement? It is an agreement between my Father and myself, that I will walk within faith, obedience and righteousness, very different from being right, and God will do the rest.

Giving in to a bully or doing what is necessary to keep the peace, to be uncomfortable with the right kind of anger, to avoid conflict, to be afraid to let others down, to not wanting to disappoint and never say no, is so counterproductive to a healthy walk with God, and a healthy soul. The [my]idol of caring what other’s think, say or do, rather than what our Father says, does or promises is such a stronghold, it comes back to me often. How can you honestly give with a truly glad heart if you are not centered in Faith? Without that constant nourishment from the Holy Spirit, we wither.

Setting healthy boundaries as a Christian is actually quite clear. Jesus himself was excellent at setting boundaries. He taught us how to be okay in every situation, yet be continually able to love generously, give from our heart; Even those that would harm us. What Jesus did not do, was enable. In every healing, he gave a directive and told the person to do for themselves, to the cripple, he said stand, to the prostitute, he said go and sin no more. Nothing was given without also putting the responsibility back on the recipient. Do we give and then also do for?

Jesus taught us to cherish and nurture the closeness to His[our] Father, Abba. Jesus was completely dependent upon God, that is apparent throughout scripture. He took time to stay focused in relationship with Him. He surrounded himself with those that would love him, those he could fellowship with, commune with and grow with, though even those close friends betrayed him and He actually knew they would one day. They weren’t even sure He was who He said He was. (doubting Thomas, poor Peter betrayed Jesus, yet loved Him so). He could love because He knew his Love.

He taught us to put our relationship with God at the helm, from whom all things flow. He taught us appropriate anger. He taught us how to nourish our souls and the importance of that. He taught us not to be so busy doing that we can’t receive (Martha vs Mary).

When we put our lot on ourselves, on others, on success or security, money or what have you, we will become burned out. These things cannot fulfill our hearts need to be nourished, lifted and supported. We can’t get this from others, from things or from ourselves.

Giving is a funny thing. When you are not good at setting healthy boundaries, when you don’t understand the importance of being careful what you give, you tend to give to the point of burnout, anger, despair, sorrow or resentment.

Jesus understood and explained the need sequence so perfectly. The vine is a great example of the proper flow of things. We are taught that Jesus is the vine, God is the Gardener and the Holy Spirit is the Life within the vine. We gain our peace, our love, our fulfillment, our joy, our hope, our encouragement from the Vine.

When Jesus as man, would be tired, hungry, weak in any way, a focus of attention or be tested or be tempted, He would leave and take solitude with God to reestablish His peace, His ability to lead rebounded.He nourished his mind, spirit and soul.

When we are hurt by the wickedness of others, when other’s have the ability to hurt us, we are not giving with the heart that knows we are loved by the only Love that matters. Maybe we are owning the outcome of what we are hoping to inspire. My friend Nancy is a counselor and taught me about this boundary. It was a very important lesson for me to learn, as a mother, as a friend, in any ministry I partake in. Giving, leading and planting the seeds only means we are the fruits, anything more than that means we are trying to be one of the Holy Triune of the vine.

Learning to say no, learning to lean on God for all our needs, emotionally, physically and spiritually, learning to rest, take care to nourish our minds, our soul, our bodies, and knowing God’s voice, all bring us to a place of right living, unselfish giving while remaining strong and healthy within our soul.

Acts 20:35 (VOICE)

35 This is my last gift to you, this example of a way of life: a life of hard work, a life of helping the weak, a life that echoes every day those words of Jesus our King, who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

John 12:50 (MSG)

47-50 “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”

Matthew 11:28-30(MSG)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

2 Corinthians 9:7-11
The Message (MSG)

6-7 Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving

Every Precious Life

11 Mar

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.~Matthew 10:29-31

Someone posted this photo on Facebook. I hesitate to share this post. I steer clear of politics as much as possible, but feel God put this on my heart heavily, to share my thoughts. What strikes me about this picture is that it is aimed at Christians, and it comes from a place of seeing the hypocrisy in us, from a place of feeling judged in the name of Christ.

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The truth of my walk is this, the deeper I go in my relationship with Christ, the more I abide in love. I used to abide in the law, in the order of things, right and wrong, opinions that were very black and white. That was my security, that was how I remained in the false sense that all was under control; That I was in control.

The more I learn, the absolute belief that every moment, every part of our journey and every being is a perfect creation of God himself, even before conception. The bible tells us that every hair is perfectly placed; every life is lovingly designed, by Him, for a purpose. God loves with a love that you and I will never understand or ever come close to.

I love the Lord and know He loves us all. If He can love a sinner like me, a person so full of mistakes and imperfection, then I know this to be truth: If there is to be any judging it will be on me.

1 John 4:8 (NIV) 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Lord, you didn’t say, “except for those people, they need to be judged” you said “love, as I have loved you”. Please, let me always be an example of your love.

Walking in faith isn’t about changing laws, it is about changing hearts. If I could inspire a love for Christ, then I know His great power to change hearts and lives. I don’t judge on either above “political” issue, but I do so love my gay friends and family members;I do so love the babies. Truth is, I will hurt forever for the life I took.

I wouldn’t lobby, argue or fight on either political issue, but my one true hope, as a Christian, is that I would be willing to lay my life down for both, for all.

John 15:12-13 (NIV) My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Galatians 1:15 (NIV)
15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased

Jeremiah 1:4-5(NIV)
The Call of Jeremiah

4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

John 1:3 (KJV)
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

THE Day Will Come.

4 Mar

I have had death and the end times on my heart. There is a deep need, an urgency in my heart to have people hear this.

I am only me. I am broken, imperfect, struggling to walk biblically, righteously and still I fall short of it. I am not a prophet nor a preacher, I am not someone people look up to. My love is imperfect and I am self-centered at times. Though, who I am, is irrelevant. It is God that urges me to write about a matter; He is perfect, His Love is perfect and never fails.

Isaiah 1:18(VOICE)
18 Come on now, let’s walk and talk; let’s work this out.
Your wrongdoings are bloodred,
But they can turn as white as snow.
Your sins are red like crimson,
But they can be made clean again like new wool.

I wish to plant this seed for you, this thought for you to remember always. Nothing is required of you today, but put these words in your heart “just in case”.

I am going to share with you what God has shown me, because if you are not where you need to be, spiritually, when the time comes, you will atleast have this seed to look back on and reconsider. If (when) that moment of reveal happens, you will know it for what it is, because I am telling you, it will come.

There is so much talk in the world about The Trumpet’s have sounded. The words “do you feel the end is near?” is everywhere. “Yes”, is the resounding answer and it is said with a hushed voice. This is deep stuff. We look around and see people we love that do not believe The Bible and the Words that it speaks, and it burdens our hearts. No one knows or can predict when Jesus will come, when the world will end, so with that said…it isn’t really about end times but rather our ending, and the joyful hope of living forever. We are all dying now, and death is death, Life eternal is an option that I am so excited about and I want everyone I meet to be there with me.

So, I will begin my urging with the question “What if The Bible is truth? What if Jesus, the man most religion’s acknowledge to be atleast a prophet, if not the Son of God, is exactly who He says He was. (If He wasn’t who He said He was, why acknowledge a liar? Hmmm… that always baffles me… but I digress).

Understanding the importance of Jesus in our plea for Heaven:
His life was about the teaching but He was born to die. His death is what you need to understand. His death is the only bridge to acceptance into heaven that we can have. There is not one of us on this earth that has not done wrong, that doesn’t fall short in one way or another. No one is sinless enough, good enough, kind enough, generous enough, humble enough, praising God enough, living a holy enough life for Heaven. Jesus suffered for us,He died for us, He took the punishment for our sins. If you believe He lived, if you believe He taught us, then you have to consider what He went through. Without Him, we can never be good enough to earn our way in. We will stand next to the likes of Mother Teresa, of the Hitler’s, our children and our enemies. We are, none of us, good enough, yet He died for all of us.

Consider what the Apostles had to go through to continue to spread the word of Christianity. Paul (Saul) was tortured, imprisoned and beaten, it is unclear how he died but reports have it that he was beheaded. He was changed in a moment. He was an unbeliever and a persecutor of all who followed Christ. His transformation was astounding.( Acts 9).
Peter, Andrew, Simon, Philip and Bartholomew were beaten then crucified, Peter was crucified upside down. James was beheaded, Matthew and Thomas were speared to death, James and Thaddaeus were stoned to death. Judas that betrayed Jesus, committed suicide. John died of old age alone on an island of exile. John, the beloved, shared the scripture you see all the time. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Would you suffer for something you were not completely sure of? Would you strive to move the world, be beaten, stoned, imprisoned, rejected, mocked, cursed, die, for a maybe? These men saw Christ with their own eyes. These men also had their moments of questions, right after Christ died, imagine the doubt, the “oh my word, what now?”. Jesus came to them to reassure them for you. He died for you.

Questions are okay, God loves dialogue! Always seek the truth from God. Don’t take my word for it, don’t find your answers in flawed mankind! Just because something is popular, doesn’t make it real. Seek the truth. Don’t listen to Christians, don’t listen to non-believers. Listen not to what the world will tell you, not what the latest author will tell you. Did you know that ‘The Secret’ is mostly taken from scripture without the name of the Lord? Don’t listen to one person, listen to them all and then ask God to show you what truth is.

Ask Jesus to come into your heart. If not now, remember I promised you that at some point, either in death or end times, that you would have that chance to make that choice! He will come to you. Be prepared for that time, remember that I told you this and be prepared to say yes.

If you do nothing else, remember this!

Jesus shared this story for us to learn, to understand:

Matthew 19:16-30 (MSG)
Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
Jesus said, “Why do you question me about what’s good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you.”The man asked, “What in particular?”
Jesus said, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself.” The young man said, “I’ve done all that. What’s left?” “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions; give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.”
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear. And so, crestfallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go.
As he watched him go, Jesus told his disciples, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for the rich to enter God’s kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for the rich to enter God’s kingdom.”
The disciples were staggered. “Then who has any chance at all?”
Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”
Then Peter chimed in, “We left everything and followed you. What do we get out of it?”
Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.”

Revelation 3:10 (NIV)
10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
1 Corinthians 15:52 (NIV)
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NIV)
2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night
Mark 13:32-37(NIV)
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert[a]! You do not know when that time will come.
Matthew 24:42 (NIV)
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
Mark 13:26 (NIV)
26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Overcomer

2 Mar

“Persevere, ride the wave, you’re an overcomer, weather the storm, God has this, hang in there”

As Christians, we do this all the time. We encourage one another to persevere, we pray for one another to be strong in the face of trial. This is only the beginning of faith.

As we grow in our faith, we are not called to be strong or to persevere. We are called to rejoice in our trials. We are called to Praise Jesus for our trials.

This has been on the tongues of several friends of late. I am finding truths that convict me and challenge me, but mostly, it took the death of my dear friend for me to see what God wants us to know.

God wants us to get out of the boat, in the middle of the storm and joyfully walk to Jesus. He instructs us to be grateful for every wave, every bolt of lightning, every trial, every thorn, every heartbreak.

James 1:2-4(NIV)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Truth be told, that is a challenge I honestly don’t feel up to most days, yet I strive to do it because He asks this of me. I am learning to ride the waves, tentatively get out of the boat with only sheer focus on Jesus, and shakily walk out towards Him, saying the whole time, You have me right? I sink a little with each step. What would it be, to jump out of the boat gleefully and run to him, happily? I long for that faith!

In looking at my friends life, her anorexia was so obvious, but it was never the focus of her walk with Christ or of the friendships she created. I see in hindsight, that had God not brought illness to her stunning beauty, she could never have touched all the lives that she did. She brought many, many people closer to the Lord. She is now whole, truly at peace, truly joyful, sitting in the brightest of lights and loved with the greatest of loves.

Jill served her purpose with her thorn plainly showing and she did it so joyfully. This is a lesson for us all and I am forever changed by this realization.

Romans 8:17-18(NIV)
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Proverbs 3:5-6(NIV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him,
 and he will make your paths straight.[a]

Romans 8:28(NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 5:3-5(NIV)
3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

1 Peter 5:7(NIV)
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Psalm 27:1(NIV)
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 41:13(NIV)
For I am the Lord your God,
who takes hold of your right hand
 and says to you, Do not fear;
 I will help you.