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God Will Lead You All the Way!

imagesEver have those times in life where one thing after another happens – good things, bad things, indifferent things? There is no consistency and nothing you can really count on? “Those times” have been consistent in my life for the past couple of years. I thought a time would come when there weren’t so many “things” popping onto my path; that I would reach a plateau; life would calm down and I would walk a level path without all the inclines and hills. While thinking those thoughts though, more big things happened.

There have certainly been scenic views on the journey; some stopped me abruptly and took my breath away by their beauty, others by their pain, all have brought tears. And then, just when I think I can breathe again, something else happens and I’m right back on the journey!

12_memory-verseFriends have suggested a vacation, time out, a get away, maybe just a day of fun with them. Just as I’m thinking what a great idea that would be, something else happens and I realize I can’t. Then it hits me, “This is my life. One thing after another.” And just as quickly my thinking changes to “Wait…this is His life in me.” Then I smile! The good things, the bad things, the indifferent things make up my life of inconsistency; of things I can’t count on! YAY! That’s what makes His life in me so very incredible. That’s what makes me vulnerable! That’s what makes me teachable! That’s what makes me humble! That’s what keeps me dependent on my All Powerful, All Consuming, and Almighty God!

images (2)One day, after having one more “thing” added to my journey of life I took a moment to step back in my mind and peruse the last couple of years. I was amazed at what I saw. Then, in my mind’s eye I looked just a little bit ahead at the path before me, hoping to be just as amazed. But what I saw were more inclines and hills in my immediate future. The cool thing though is I couldn’t and can’t see what the decline looks like; I can’t see what is beyond the hills. What I CAN see is the path – and that’s all I need to see! It’s always very good because Jesus leads me on the narrow come-follow-me-e1349918455591path; He leads me beside still waters; He leads me onto the deep waters; He says, “Come, follow Me!”

Now those three words from Jesus might appear to be an invitation – but for me, they are stronger than an invite; they are a command! If they weren’t – I would likely RSVP  “Will not be able to attend” to Him most days. I just told a friend, “I’m sure glad God has taught me to say “yes” to Him BEFORE I can see the whole picture because after I see the details of what I said “yes” to, I KNOW I would never have said “yes”.

One morning on this journey of life, after several “things” occurred one on top of the other, I opened God’s Word to read Deuteronomy 8. It was there I rediscovered the beauty of seeing Jesus’ invitation to follow Him as a command in my life; a command with a purpose.

“Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land…And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way… in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you…”

changeyourfocus2Right then and there I paused as Holy Spirit ministered this word deeply to my heart. All the things that happen; good, bad, and indifferent, are things that happen on this journey of faith for a purpose. His commandments keep us focused on Him and not the things, so we can live and multiply as we go in to possess.

“Going in” demands a careful observance of every commandment… THAT seems like pressure! But it’s not! All we need to do is remember the Lord our God led us ALL THE WAY, so He will lead us ALL THE WAY too! AND, He led and leads for a purpose! To humble us; to test us; to know what was in our hearts, whether we would keep His commandments or not.

That’s a great word of encouragement for us today! When things are happening one after another; good things, bad things, indifferent things – when there is no consistency and nothing you can count on – Praise the Lord! He is leading you ALL THE WAY with purpose! To humble, to test, and to know your heart! When Jesus says, “Come, follow Me”, just focus on coming to Jesus and following Him – Don’t focus on what’s coming! He WILL lead you ALL THE WAY! That’s a promise you can count on!

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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Yes, and…

mayyes-and-fancyWhile my husband and I were at a financial workshop designed for couples to communicate effectively in regard to the emotional impact finances have on their marriage, we did an interesting activity involving brainstorming. We were given a scenario and told to try to solve the dilemma using the phrase “Yes, but…” After a few minutes we were instructed to use the same scenario, but use the phrase “Yes, and…” while brainstorming.

What a difference one word makes! At the completion of the exercise, we talked about how easy it was to use “Yes, but…” to get our point across, yet, didn’t help us solve the problem. Using the phrase, “Yes, and…” took a little more effort but opened our hearts and minds to greater possibilities.

Later in the evening we had opportunity to brainstorm solutions for one of our own financial goals. While doing this, my husband and I found ourselves in a quandary because we were literally saying “Yes, but…” and tension was escalating. “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but you want me to do what?” “Yes, I hear what you’re saying but that’s ridiculous!”

We weren’t getting anywhere because we weren’t hearing each other. Suddenly it hit us! We were saying the wrong things! We smiled! We laughed! We regrouped! We started saying, “Yes, and…” We had fun! We brainstormed! We came up with a plan! We’re on our way to reaching our goal!

All this got me thinking though about something bigger! It got me thinking about the power of those two little words, “Yes, and…” AND what if we used those words with Jesus! What if we read His Word and always responded with those two words?

let_not_your_heart_be_troubled_mousepad-p144284209831913735envq7_400Here’s what it might look like taking John 14 as an example: Jesus says, “Don’t let your hearts get all out of whack! Don’t be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” We say, “Yes, and how cool is it that we don’t have a trouble in the world AND how cool is it that we GET to believe.”

maxresdefaultJesus says, “Yes, and in My Father’s house are MANY mansions. I’m going there to prepare a place for you.” We say, “Yes, and when I die, I GET to live in the place You’re preparing.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and since I’m going away to get this place ready, you can believe I’m coming back to get you so where I am, you are.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait to see what You’ve prepared for me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and where I go, you know! AND, you know the way.” We say, “Yes, and we know we know the way because we know You.” (Yes, read it the way I wrote it)

imagesJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” We say “Yes, and knowing You the way we do, we also know our Father.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and because you believe in Me you get to come to your Father.” We say, “Yes, and now because we know our Father, can you show us our Father?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and I can do more than that! Just so you know…you’re looking at Him…because when you see Me you see your Father who is in Me and I am in Him.” We say, “YES, and…Is there more, Jesus?”

He says, “Yes, and assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father.” We say, “Yes, and how excited we are to do these greater works. Is there more?”

20120319-231032Jesus says, “Yes, and whatever you ask in My name, I will go ahead and do it just so My Father will be glorified in Me.” We say, “Yes, and from now on I’m going to ask for all the “whatever’s” in Your name. Is there still more?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you ask ANYTHING in My Name, I will do it.” We say, “Are You kidding me?” (haha!) No, we say, “Yes, and if I ask for anything in Your name, I know You will do it. More Lord?”

Jesus says, “Yes, and if you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” We say, “Yes, and because I love You, it is truly an honor and privilege to obey You.”

pic twoJesus says, “Yes, and there is more! I will pray that My Father will give you another Helper who will stay with you forever.” We say, “Yes, and I can’t wait to get to know this Helper intimately.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and this Helper is the Spirit of truth and you already know Him.” We say, “Yes, and we know Him because He lives in us and is with us all the time,everywhere we go.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and you can believe something else too… I would never leave you fatherless. I’m coming back.” We say, “Yes, and I can hardly wait! I’m so excited for the time You are coming to get me.”

Jesus says, “Yes, and until that time the Helper, Holy Spirit, whom Father God is sending in My name will teach you everything you need to know and He will help you remember everything I’ve said to you.” We say, “Yes, and I am teachable and want to know and remember everything! Is there still more?”

images (1)Jesus says, “Yes, and I’m leaving you something real special. My peace! It will keep your heart from being troubled and afraid.” We say, “Yes, and Your peace is so different from the fake peace the world offers us.”

Yes, and I could go on and on and on in God’s Word! I could show you lots of examples where we see people saying, “Yes, and…” People like Abraham when God said He would make his descendants like sand on the seashore. People like Rebekah who went with Abraham’s servant when he met her at the well and said he would like to take her back to be Isaac’s wife. People like Mary, Joseph, Paul, and let’s not forget Jesus, who always responded to His Father with “Yes, and…”

There are lots of “Yes, but…” responses too. BUT, those don’t turn out so well just as our “Yes, but’s” don’t turn out so well today! It’s a choice! As for me, I’m going to make sure my vocabulary includes the phrase, “Yes, and…” instead of “Yes, but…” and I’m going to have some fun with the Lord today and everyday! How about you? My suggestion is you give it a try! What do you have to lose except some “but’s”!

 

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Peace, Uncategorized

 

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Do the Inviting!

If you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you know He knows you intimately! That’s a GOOD thing! You know He is Master of your life; that too is a GOOD thing! You know He saved, saves, and will save you forever! That is also a very GOOD thing!

tumblr_m5sstkvaoc1r1o6z3o1_500All this knowledge of good things should really encourage us every day of our lives! AND…there is more! In Psalm 139 God captures our attention by revealing Himself as the Lord who searches and knows us inside and out. He knows when we sit and when we get up. He understands every thought flowing through our brains as well as every word we speak. He comprehends our daily walk and our need to lie down and rest. He is well acquainted with the way we do things. He protects and lays His hand on us!

Sooooo… Yes… He really is an amazing, intimate, passionate, involved God! AND… there is more! He is e4fd1e2e179c08d835dd028df8e5e5dbwith us from before the beginning to after the end! God not only knows everything about us but He is everywhere all at the same time! Not that we would want to escape Him, but if we did want to, we can’t! There is nowhere we go that He isn’t there!

flat,550x550,075,fPsalm 139:7-12 explains it this way: “Is there anyplace I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight? If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there! If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute— You’re already there waiting! Then I said to myself, ‘Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!’ It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to You; night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to You.” (The Message)

Good stuff right? So let’s see! We’ve declared God knows us VERY intimately; we’ve declared He is with us 24/7; AND still…there is more! In verses 13-16 we admit and profess His creative powers by forming us in our mother’s wombs. God’s eyes saw the substance of who we are even before He formed us into who we are!

psalm 139.17 cTHAT thought is amazing! AND yes… there is more! Not only did God think about us before He formed us but He thinks about us all the time. In fact, His thoughts are more numerous than the sand on the seashore! God truly has a lot of thinking going on! It is incredibly precious then, for us to think about God’s thoughts!

search me_tHere’s the thing! We can know and believe all this truth and still not live in it! To live in it, we need to participate in it! After knowing and acknowledging the truth that God searches and knows us, we must invite Him to search and know us! Psalm 139:23-24 say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

It almost sounds like a no-brainer for us to ask God to search our hearts. But remember; we declare in the beginning of this Psalm we know the Lord HAS searched and known us! Why must we invite Him then to do what He has already done? Because, knowing He searches and then inviting Him to search are two different things! We need to make this no-brainer a yes-brainer! Yes, Lord! I know You search my heart! Yes, Lord I know You know me! Yes, Lord! I want You to search my heart! Yes Lord, I want You to know me! Yes, Lord, I invite You to search me and know me!

where-can-i-go-from-your-presenceThe Message Bible puts the invitation this way: “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.”

Hopefully you are connecting the knowing and the inviting! We already know God investigates our lives but in relationship with Him, we invite Him to do so! Our invitation makes His knowledge of us a huge “YES” in our brains AND in our hearts! Our invitation for the Lord to search involves “us” in this intimate relationship with God. Then we don’t think of ourselves as mere bystanders or spectators while He does all the work of searching! We don’t stand by watching and fearfully wondering what He might find! We become willing and eager participants; inviting Him to test us to find the yuck so He can lead us to eternal life now! Our invitation releases a desire in us for Him to have His way!

So…it’s like this! I can know my husband, or my children, or my friends love me! I can know they will be with me through thick and thin! I can know they know me inside and out and accept me just the way I am. But…inviting them to love me; to know me more; to be with me; to know me inside and out; to accept me…well, that makes a huge difference in our relationships. There is a trust developed and an intimacy formed through vulnerability; through a mere invitation for them to do and to be everything they already do and are!

Let today be the day you don’t just KNOW God searches and knows you, but invite Him to search and know you! It’s a decision you’ll never regret!

 
 

Woe Is Me or Whoa, This Is Me? Both!

undoneI’ve been thinking lately about how often I feel “undone” in the presence of God. I can be talking in conversation about Him and feel “undone”. I can be reading His Word and something strikes a chord in me and I am “undone”. I can be worshipping or praying and I’m unable to go on because I feel “undone”. I can be teaching or preaching and the reality I get to speak His Word leaves me feeling “undone”.

In those moments, God takes what He created, “me”, and does me in. I can’t move, can’t speak, can’t think; and to be honest, I don’t want to. I KNOW He is the One who does me in and He completely overwhelms my thoughts, heart, and mind and overrides my will and body. At those times I stop everything and let Him do me in! It can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours, but afterwards I am always in awe that He would care to meet with me.

One day after I was undone in God’s presence I thought about what happens in being undone. First I thought of earthly things. For example; an undone piece of meat can be NOT good for us(tasty if you like “rare” but a bit risky). Undone brownies might actually taste good though messy. How about zippers undone on our pants? NOT good and potentially bad! Leaving homework or “work” work undone? NOT smart! These situations show us being “undone” means something is left incomplete, unaccomplished, unfinished; simply not done yet!

downloadBut think about “coming undone” emotionally. We don’t like that thought as much, especially if it happens in public. We can come undone when things don’t go as planned or expected; or when something fails; or when we are superbly surprised. Having an unwelcomed meltdown where we lose all composure or self-control is usually not a favorite for most people.

After all this thinking, it came to me! Being undone in God’s presence can mean all these things AND so much more! Like a piece of undone meat, we are never done! Christians can still be tasty but it’s risky so we need God every moment to keep “doing”! Like undone brownies, we still have an impact in this world even though we can be messy. While being caught with our zippers undone can be embarrassing, getting caught with our spiritual zipper down is quite freeing, cleansing, purifying, and truly, completely amazing! See, there is no “awkwardness” involved with God – just complete transparency before the One who makes all things new. Finally, while it’s not wise to leave school or “work” work undone, letting God finish His work in us is much more productive than striving to do it alone. Plus, He loves the extra time we spend with Him “getting it done”!

Being undone in God’s presence is always unplanned just like being undone in earthly things. I can honestly say I’ve never scheduled a time of being undone in God’s presence. My undone “episodes” range from brief moments of raw exposure, being stunned in His presence, to complete meltdowns, often messy, when I lose all composure and self-control. One thing is for sure; they ALWAYS surprise and humble me. I become acutely aware of God’s presence and the fact He chooses to come and touch His beloved fills me with reverential fear of Him and I think, “Whoa, this is awesome”, as I’m reminded of who I am and more importantly WHO HE IS!

Isaiah said it this way, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5) Isaiah said this after a vision in which he saw the Lord sitting on His throne, high and lifted up and the train of his robe filled the temple while the seraphim cried out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory!”

You would think after having this vision instead of saying “woe is me” Isaiah might have said, “Whoa, this is me! I must be God’s favorite! I mean, seriously, have any of YOU had visions of the Lord in His temple while angels worshipped Him? Probably not! This makes me super special in God’s eyes. How awesome am I for God to show me this stuff?” You would also think Isaiah would be happier than happy! Instead, he is undone. In the original language, undone means he felt cut off, thinking he would surely die at this sight of the Lord on His throne.

woe_is_meSo…being undone is like being caught with our zipper down spiritually and we realize just how totally obnoxious we are, at least in comparison to our holy God. We sin! It’s bad enough to realize just how much we sin, but to have it exposed, to be undone by and before a holy God, well…THAT is humbling.

The truth is every Christian comes face to face with their sin when undone in the presence of a holy God. The sinfulness of sin by nature is contrary to the holy nature of God, leaving us undone! Sin exposes the vast difference between us and a holy God!

Let’s face it! Just like Isaiah, our lips are unclean. We say things we should never say. We curse, we lie, we gossip, we slander, and we even say terrible things about people we supposedly love. It surprises me how often we accuse family, friends, and fellow members of the body of Christ of being terrible people, or doing horrible things. Of course we say it behind their backs and then are super sweet to their faces. We seem unaware that we are giving Satan legal right to torment our families, relationships, and churches, and even more oblivious that God sees all of it! Friends, we have unclean lips and God’s got a remedy.

coalIn Isaiah, the seraphim took tongs to gather coal from the altar and then touched Isaiah’s lips declaring his sins burned away, purged and he was cleansed. Now THAT is a WHOA and a WHOOHOO! Being undone in the presence of God leads to our sins being done as well. When we’re undone in His presence we can expect to be confess and repent of sin because we see it all clearly AND we are encouraged and lifted up because visions of God’s glory have that effect on us! We have a Mediator, and that, my friends, leaves us undone in the presence of our Lord and Savior, able to boldly and confidently approach Him!

 

a-sinners-prayerWhen our eyes meet the King of kings and Lord of lords, we are undone; we are filled with fear and freedom at the same time! When we truly believe He is Lord, we see His sovereignty and majesty over all and it strikes even greater awe, reverence and godly fear to the very core of our being!

So friends…I pray we are all undone! There is no greater place to be!

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in Faith & Worship, Forgiveness, Just Jesus, Uncategorized

 

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Tough and Tender? No…Be Strong and Tender!

tenderness___by_reearadu-d3ezzclTenderness…I knew what it was but not at the level I do today (I wonder what tomorrow will bring). Much of my early life was spent being tough and not tender, more out of necessity than choice. The details really aren’t important; understanding is and hopefully sharing it! Unfortunately, I didn’t even know how “unhealthy tough” I’d become. Even though I’ve been greatly loved by God, husband, children, and friends for decades, I had still let toughness steel me to tenderness.

Circumstances finally forced a break, with toughness giving way and making room for tenderness. It seemed to happen “out of the blue”, but in truth, it was our extraordinary God making a way during an incongruous time in my life! So much was going wrong yet so much was right. The hurt was so bad, yet it was so good. It was the best of times and the worst of times at the SAME time! The challenges were overwhelming yet I felt calm in the midst of the storm. Harsh and hard-hitting things were coming from every angle yet I felt a sort of gentleness, warmth, and softness in my spirit. So…though everything seemed wrong, everything was right. Ever felt that way? Where toughness had previously made me hard and inflexible, now tenderness was making me soft and flexible, yet still strong. What happened?

  • LoveMeTSheetI lost some precious relationships but God found me in the midst of brokenness to show me my part – I learned a lot about friendship.
  • I doubted myself and my ability to be in healthy loving relationships but God made sure I saw and was certain of His ability to put me in healthy, loving, and yes, tender relationships where we can be strong in Him.
  • I struggled with trust at a level I couldn’t imagine, complete with skepticism, wariness, and cynicism hardening me even more. Instead of coddling me, God brought conviction, leading to reckless abandonment and vulnerability to Him. Though I’ve always trusted God, now I was addicted to trusting Him.
  • Worthiness, long ago settled for me in Christ, was nearly decimated. Holy Spirit replaced my feelings of unworthiness AGAIN, showing my worth in Jesus who loves like no other.

This exchange of toughness for tenderness came through the hand of God breaking what I thought to be unbreakable. It came through the Spirit of God shattering what appeared to be shatterproof. It came through gaining what I perceived to be lost and it came through admitting I wasn’t totally and completely depending on God.

When the exchange happened, I realized how much I REALLY need Him every moment of every day and night! I can’t breathe without Him. And trust me on this one; this kind of tenderness makes a person extremely vulnerable to Him and this in turn creates humility unmatched on this earth. These three things: Dependence, vulnerability, and humility can take any semblance of toughness we maintain and create tenderness unimaginable and unexpected.

I had some questions though. “How did this happen? How did God do this to me? How does God make us vulnerable? How does He position us for dependency on Him? How does He create tenderness in us for Him and others? How can we be strong but not so tough anymore?”

Tender-Lion-WebThe answers are found by looking in His Word, where tenderness is almost always united with His mercy. He showers us with His own “tender mercies” and then…we’re addicted! In both the Old and New Testaments God’s tenderness is most often associated with His mercy. For the Hebrews (Old Testament) “tender” references the “bowels” or “seat of the most tender of affections”; especially kindness, compassion, and benevolence. For the Greeks (New Testament) “tender” also refers to the “bowels” or seat of the more violent passions such as anger and love. In English, tenderness combines these same thoughts: compassion, warmth, gentleness, kindheartedness, affection, care, LOVE in the deepest parts of our being. In truth, if we could open our hearts, God’s tenderness and compassion would pour out. His mercies, which multiply without measure, would overwhelm us!

Here are a few verses from the Psalms to fill us with His tender mercies:

Screen-Shot-2013-12-23-at-11.22.01-AMPsalms 40:11 “Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.”

Psalms 69:16 “Hear me, O Lord, for Your lovingkindness is good; turn to me according to the multitude of Your tender mercies.”

Psalms 79:8 “Oh, do not remember former iniquities against us! Let Your tender mercies come speedily to meet us, for we have been brought very low.”

Psalms 103:4 “Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies…”

Psalms 119:77 “Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; for Your law is my delight.”

Psalms 145:9 “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.”

In all these verses tender mercies refer to God’s compassion and favor poured into the innermost part of who we are. We are His creations; His dearly loved children. God is the source of all mercy and it is through His compassion that we are filled with His compassion, His tender mercies. When God broke through my toughness, even that which I was unaware of, He brought His compassion and favor to sit in the seat of my emotions and then His Word answered all the questions.

9780961519773How did this happen? Toughness came as a result of hurt, abuse, distrust, fear, doubt, loneliness, and a whole host of other circumstances. But in my toughness, I was not strong. I was just hard! How did God do “this” to me, break through my toughness with His tenderness? He did it by reminding me people I love will always hurt me and I will hurt others. Abuse, distrust, doubt, loneliness are all part of life. Fear comes at us daily. None of those things are going to stop – but toughness isn’t going to help! Jesus is! Total dependence on Him; complete reception of His compassion and favor will keep us tender!

God makes us vulnerable by showing how He sees us – as His own holy and beloved chosen ones! Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering.” In Jesus, we are holy and beloved so we get to put on tender mercies. Now THAT is SOME strength! God positions us for dependency on Him by letting us be tough to the point of breaking and then He tenderly reminds us He is there in our innermost beings, deep within, full of compassion and mercy, making us strong and completely transparent before Him.

God creates tenderness for Him and others by putting a longing in our hearts. Paul says in Philippians 1:8 “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” Bowels is also translated affection, tender compassion, or tender mercies. THIS creates a tenderness causing us to love more deeply. Philippians 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,” In truth, He showers us with His own “tender mercies” and then…we’re addicted!

And finally, we can be strong yet not so tough anymore through the encouragement of Christ Jesus giving us courage to be strong and tender, not tough and tender! Philippians 2:1-2 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion (also translated bowels and mercies or tenderness and compassion) make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”

If you’ve been tough, go ahead and let the tenderness of God make you strong…in Him!

u-show-me-tender-compassion-198-dpi

 

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2014 in Awesome God, Grace, Uncategorized

 

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Stand and Behold…But Don’t Forget To Look and Listen For the New…Too!

Christ On The Cross by Andrea MategnaPain, sorrow, grief, agony – They are part of life! But what do we do with them? It would seem Easter is the perfect time to contemplate these deep emotions! I know I have! I’ve taken the time to consider how much pain, sorrow, grief, and agony Mary, the mother of Jesus endured as she stood by the cross, looking up at her Son as He was cruelly crucified with stakes driven through His hands and feet after being maliciously mocked and brutally beaten. The pain and agony He experienced is incomprehensible while Mary’s emotions must have been off the charts as well!

Understanding how Mary endured this onslaught of grief might just help us endure whatever circumstances we face today! We CAN and should identify with Mary because we’ve all been given the great capacity to love. In fact, the love of God IN us is limitless because His love FOR us has no limits!

We read in John 19:25-27 “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.”

basketball-courtI can relate in a MUCH smaller degree to Mom Mary. Our son was a talented and successful basketball player in high school and college, entertaining to watch though his opponents didn’t enjoy watching him as much as we did. It was common for them to undercut him when he went high in the air, landing him on his back in excruciating pain. I guess the fouls they accrued were worth it to them.

Every time this happened, I instinctively covered my eyes, bowing over in my own anguish, then looked back to see if he got up. I wanted to save him, protect him; tell him to stop playing, stop jumping; please…make it all STOP! I moved quickly from pain to anger, wanting to hurt the boy who hurt my boy JUST because he was alive and on the basketball court. I wonder if that’s how Mary felt. Please…just let it be over; Stop the madness; Stop the rejection, the humiliation, and the beatings. Stop hurting my Son just because He is alive and on the earth.

Its-OverWhen my son’s final basketball season was over, I felt relief. Sure! I would have enjoyed watching him play forever. He was extraordinary. But I was tired of seeing him get hurt; tired of watching him get treatments on his back so he could get back out on the court only to be hurt again; tired of watching him be strong on the outside when inside he was breaking. I was glad when it was finally over.

I imagine when Jesus’ earthly life came to an end Mary felt relief. Sure, she would have enjoyed watching Him continue His ministry forever. He was extraordinary. But she also must have been tired of seeing Him be rejected, hated, mocked, whipped and beaten; tired of watching Him be strong on the outside while His heart broke inwardly; glad when it was finally over.

Many people came to watch the basketball games to be entertained but honestly, none of them were more invested than the parents and loved ones of those men on the court. Think of the many people who stood by, watching this crucifixion! All of them were inconsequential in comparison to those who loved Jesus and stood by His cross as He hung in pain; His mom, her sister, two other “Mary” friends, and His beloved friend, John who stood close by.

Holding handsThank God Mary had significant, special people to get her through this seeming nightmare. I imagine as she stood by the cross she reached out to her friends; holding on to them for dear life; letting their strength seep into her as they held her up!

When my son would get hurt and there wasn’t anything I could do, I grabbed hold of my husband, daughters, in-laws, or friends nearby. I reached out knowing I could rely on them because they shared similar thoughts and feelings as me. Sure…we all experienced it differently but the love binding us together, love for a son, a grandson, a brother, a friend, or a friend’s son helped me as I stood and watched.

Jesus meets MaryFriends, all of us have times in life when there is nothing we can do but stand by and watch. What DO you do when there is nothing you can do? Let me suggest reaching out to touch someone and let them touch you too! The love and strength of a friend’s touch can be a source of strength coming from our source of strength, Father God. A friend’s touch can seep through our bodies and spirits to bring renewed strength to stand. Touch is something we can all do! AND, there’s something else; eye contact!

Platon-Varquez-Son-Behold-Your-Mother-16x20-Oil-1996While Mary stood by watching, Jesus looked down at her from the cross and their eyes met. Mother and Son! I think if Mary wasn’t already hanging on to her friends for dear life, she did, the moment she made eye contact with her Boy. The helplessness she must have felt at that moment is haunting. Perhaps she was tempted to look away from His pain but she couldn’t. Did she cry, scream, shout, or attack the attackers? Did she plead with the guards to take her Boy off the cross? What message did she convey with her eyes as she gazed into His eyes; the Boy she birthed, nursed, raised, loved, and watched grow to manhood? When their eyes met, what depth of love did they communicate to one another?

One time the athletic trainer called us down from the stands because our son was hurt badly. When I walked into the training room and saw him in the throes of severe pain, my heart broke. When his eyes met mine I saw desperation. He didn’t speak but I imagined only two words…HELP ME! And there I stood…helpless! My touch wouldn’t still the pain…my comfort wouldn’t ease the torment…my prayers though welcomed wouldn’t end the torture he was experiencing…my sympathy was useless…and at that moment…my love felt like nothing for him.

How many of you reading this have beloveds in your life who are in pain; physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual? Your touch doesn’t still their agony. Your comfort doesn’t ease the torment. Your prayers, though welcome, don’t stop the torture. Your sympathy is useless and your love, though deep and passionate does nothing to stop the insanity.

What DO you do when your eyes meet the eyes of loved ones in these situations? What depth of love is communicated as your eyes meet? What DO you do when you can’t help them? When you can’t take away pain from a child, parent, or friend? When there are no words to still the hurt?

6a00d8341fd10e53ef0167636db06c970bI want to do what Mary did…she stood! She watched! She looked into her Son’s eyes. And then…she listened to Him. In the throes of pain and agony Jesus did the unthinkable; He declared a new love relationship! He glanced at John and then at His mom. “He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!'” Jesus He gave His mother a son, and his beloved friend a mother.

Mary and John had a decision to make. They had to take their eyes OFF Jesus and behold one another! Look away from what “was” and look at what now WAS. They looked into each other’s eyes as mother and son! Wow! If I were Mary I might have screamed, “NO, I don’t want John. I want YOU Jesus!” But Mary, in the midst of sorrow, looked into the eyes of her Son; she heard His heart, she heard His words, and then she looked away to behold the new!

Take time today to consider how Jesus gave up His mom to do His Father’s will. He was always thinking of others so He made sure His mom had a son to carry on with. And Mary? She is quite amazing too! She gave up her Son to do her Father’s will. She was also thinking of others so she went home with John to be his mom…AND she let him be her son. Pretty special…Pretty healing!

Whatever you’re facing today…whatever loved ones in your life are facing today… give them up to your heavenly Father to do His will. Know God has a plan and He gives us friends and loved ones to stand with, to touch, to look into each other’s eyes, to behold, and to embrace the new, whatever that might be!

 

 

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Hail Santa Claus! Not! But What Does That Even Mean?

downloadMy husband, daughter, and I went out to eat at a local restaurant where it was noisy with lots of conversation and laughter. Our food was served and we held hands to give thanks to our heavenly Father who richly provides for our every need. We finished saying, “REJOICE” in unison as a family walked past our table to leave. The smiling man looked at the three of us and said, “Hail, Santa Claus.” It happened so suddenly and he left so fast we didn’t even have a chance to respond.

what-does-that-even-mean-jackie-chanWe looked at each other, and our daughter said what we were all thinking, “What does that even mean?” Obviously he didn’t like our rejoicing in Jesus but really? Hail Santa Claus? Perhaps we just don’t know some “new” slogan out there or it is some “new” mockery against Christianity. I don’t really know! On the outside I smiled but on the inside I cried. It broke my heart. I have no condemnation for this man. I would never point my finger at him or tell him how terrible he is. I am not angry. I know he doesn’t know any better and he is just acting according to his nature. It shouldn’t surprise us. He just doesn’t believe in this wonderful God we happen to know and be in relationship with. It is a sign of the times, evidence of a godless nation. In my brokenness, I thanked God for our freedom in this land TO pray and believed we planted a seed in this man’s life, even though he is unaware of it being planted.

The next morning Holy Spirit tied this experience with a quote I read about how the hearts of Christians should break because our presence is not making a more significant difference in our land. I have to tell you, THAT is another kind of statement I ask, “What does that even mean?”  Certainly, it is tragic for Christians to remain silent, to refuse to be witnesses for Jesus, to condemn people in the world, or not to honor God in everything we say and do. However, to suggest our hearts should break because “our presence” is not making a more significant difference in our land is heartbreaking.

FJMATD-Logo-600x222We don’t look at society to see if “our presence” makes a difference! See, we are the very presence of Jesus everywhere we go. I’ve got to tell you friends, HE MAKES A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE every day in every way! We look to Jesus and let His presence MAKE all the difference in us. It doesn’t break my heart thinking “I” don’t make a difference. It breaks my heart when others don’t receive the difference He makes in us!

whats-that-smellThe Word of God tells us exactly what our presence will do in this world – and it isn’t about making a more significant difference. It is about His fragrance! 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life…”

We CANNOT know how little or how much significant difference we make in this world by looking AT the world! We CAN know it though by the fragrance GOD emits through us! He does the work. We are the diffusers! The power is in Him and we are His conduit! Everywhere we go we are TO GOD the fragrance of His Son. He diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge everywhere we go. Some people will smell it and receive life while others will smell only the aroma of death.

Certainly it hurts to know some smell death when His fragrance is diffused. But somehow, knowing it is not my job to make a significant difference by looking at how little or how much difference I SEEM to make, takes the pressure off and I can simply let God diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge through me, knowing I don’t need to “see” the difference, just “be” His difference.

jesus_public_display_of_affection_t_shirt-r51fa9b881391406db9ec8e08c5d4b01b_804gy_512When my husband, daughter, and I demonstrated our PDA, our public display of affection for Jesus, something significant happened in our lives and I can tell you it wasn’t because WE made a difference but because His fragrance was diffused which makes ALL the difference in the world. AND, I’m believing something significant happened to the man who said “Hail Santa Claus” as well. It might not be a difference WE saw, and it might not be the difference we would like to see BUT, when Jesus is diffused, when His knowledge is released, He makes a difference.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Just Jesus, Life, Lifestyle

 

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