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Category Archives: Just Jesus

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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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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Trouble With Our Untameable Tongues! What We Can Do!

Medical advances allow us to look inside the human body but there are things we can’t see: we can look at the heart but we can’t see the soul or spirit; we can look at the throat but can’t see the voice; we can look at the brain but can’t see the mind with its thoughts; we can look at the tongue but can’t see intentions or words. Medical science has made great gains in keeping our bodies going; glasses for diminished vision, dentures for bad teeth, aids for hearing problems, transplants for failed organs, and replacements for worn-out joints.

tongue-healthBut the tongue! A member of the body that never gets stiff or tired out; we never need to put a splint on it to fix it up; it cannot be enhanced, transplanted, or replaced with an artificial one. And the tongue gets us in all kinds of trouble. We say something without thinking and we can’t take the words back. Generally speaking, we let our tongues run wild causing havoc every place we take them.

lava-detail-2Growing up, when my tongue got me into trouble with Mom, (lying or talking back) the grainy Lava soap came out, (or should I say went in) my mouth. Then masking tape OVER my mouth so I couldn’t spit it out!  And then I had to stand in the corner for a decent amount of time (aka, until I “had” to swallow the soap) and she would remove the tape, expecting an apology for being naughty. Some people today might think this punishment was extreme but hey… it accomplished its’ purpose and I got the message loud and clear…be careful with my words. And so, I’m thankful for the discipline!

Most people know the damage we can do with words but still seem to think we can say what we want, when and to whom we want and if that means we need to apologize or explain it away later, we will. Unfortunately by then, the words have penetrated deep within like a sword or arrow causing hurt, anger, or worse. It is pretty natural for us to say anything we want without thought to the consequences, including complaining, gossiping, slandering, lying, backbiting, grumbling, exaggerating, and criticizing.

tame3In the Bible in the book of James, the tongue is described as small but boastful; like a rudder on a ship or bit in a horses’ mouth, (small but turns the whole body) a fire, a world of iniquity, untamable, and a restless evil full of deadly poison. It is used to bless God and curse men which simply shouldn’t happen!  In fact, God tells us this is as unnatural as fresh and bitter water coming from the same spring, olives coming from a fig tree, or figs from a grapevine. Blessing and cursing simply should not come from the same source!

bacioWe can try to stop speaking negatively but it won’t happen! That’s because we have to change our hearts first. Our words originate in the heart so if we take care of what goes in our hearts that’s what will come out our mouths. Matthew 12:34-35 “… For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.” The heart engineers what we’re going to say and our tongues “showcase” what’s in our hearts, literally showing off what’s inside.

There are a few things God has told us to do to make sure we bless Him and stop cursing men with our tongues. If you ever have a problem with your tongue, with what you say or how you say it, try these out!

1. Don’t be too quick with words. Proverbs 29:20 “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” There is always a “space of time” between something happening and our response. All we have to do is widen the space – give it some time before we talk so we can choose our words wisely. Expand the space and listen for God’s voice!

Widening the space of time helps us to walk away from gossipy conversations; not retaliate when verbally attacked; praise instead of complain; give thanks instead of grumble; let God defend us instead of being defensive; tell the truth instead of lie or fudge the truth. Basically, put your tongue on a “time out” so God can steer your speech in the right direction when you time in again!

muzzle2. Put a guard or muzzle on our mouths. Psalm 39:1 “I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me.” Muzzling seems extreme but extreme is necessary when it comes to this little unruly member full of deadly poison. We can’t let our tongues have their way or deny its power, going through life thinking we can say what we want, when, how, where, and to whomever we want. Put a muzzle on it!

3. Let our words be few. Proverbs 10:19 “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” It’s simple; talking too much produces sin. One pastor suggests limiting our casual conversation with Christian friends to only about 10-15 minutes a day. He says without a plan or purpose for conversation we undoubtedly we turn to talking ABOUT people (called gossip and slander), OR we complain, grumble and then rationalize it all! Talking too much leads to saying something wrong. This principle applies to our conversation with God too. Ecclesiastes 5:2 “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.”

4. Say what you mean and mean what you say, no more, no less. Jesus said in Matthew 5:37 “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes, and your ‘No’, ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Jesus’ words speak for themselves!

complaining5. Stop complaining and grumbling! 1 Corinthians 10:10 “Nor let us complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” James 5:9 “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”

Being destroyed and condemned are pretty serious consequences for complaining and grumbling, yet they seem so integrally woven into life, we don’t even hear ourselves do it anymore. If we don’t have jobs, we complain about our need. If people don’t meet our needs, we complain they don’t care about us. If we do have jobs, we complain our employers expect too much of us, work us too hard, aren’t fair, or don’t pay us enough. We complain about our health, our spouses, our neighbors, our government, our kids, our school, our church, our pastors, well… we complain about most everything because after all, life is all about us right? Wrong! If we complain we aren’t considering what God hears or the effect we have on others because truth be told, complaining brings everybody down!

A father came home after a hard day at work. Sitting down with the family at the supper table, he gave thanks to God for the food before them and for His goodness and mercy! As they began to eat, he complained the food was lukewarm and tasteless. He asked his wife what she did to ruin the meal. He complained about his boss who expected too much from him and grumbled about the customers being nasty and unappreciative of his work. His young daughter interrupted him saying, “Daddy, do you think God heard your prayer before we started eating?” He said, “Of course dear! God hears everything.” “So he hears everything we say whether we pray it or say it?” Not knowing where she was going with this he agreed with her that yes, God hears them whether they pray or say. She continued, “Did you really mean what you prayed Daddy”? Her father replied, “Of course honey. I wouldn’t have prayed it if I didn’t mean it.” She said, “Did you really mean what you said about our food, mommy, and your job too?” This made the father hesitate without answering. So the little girl finished.  “I was just wondering if God believes what you prayed or if He believes what you said.”  

stop_complainingSaying a prayer of thanksgiving means nothing to God if we follow it up with complaining! FIND a reason to give thanks in all circumstances instead of complaining. Matthew Henry, who wrote a commentary on every book of the Bible, was once robbed. The thieves took everything of value he had. Later that evening he wrote in his diary these words, “I am thankful during these years I have never been robbed before. Also, even though they took my money, they did not take my life. Although they took all I had, it was not much. Finally, I am grateful it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.” Matthew found several reasons to give thanks instead of complaining. Can we?

6.Stop gossiping! Proverbs 18:8 “The words of a gossip are the choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost part.” Proverbs 20:19 “A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.”

People must not think gossip is all that bad or else we think talking about people really isn’t gossip. But it is and it burns deep within our hearts, deadening us to sin and leading us further from the heart of God. We can just stop gossiping and let our hearts burn with love and devotion for Jesus – then our speech will burn with love and adoration FOR Him instead of talking about others!

Six simple remedies to make sure we use our tongues for blessing and not cursing. Try them! You might like them – But for sure – others around you will!

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A Broken Wash Machine and Shopping For a New One… Makes Me Smile

I had just posted a blog titled “A Brief Thought on Snow…and Jesus…” I was enjoying a relaxing day at home with the Lord as well as catching up on bill paying, paperwork, and some ministry things. Hot coffee, snow falling, writing, with a few extras in between is my kind of day!

A few hours later, our daughter said, “Mom, I don’t know if you noticed but the washing machine isn’t working right. There’s a bunch of water just sitting in the bottom. The lights go on and it makes noise but nothing is happening.”

I remembered a few weeks before this it was acting up and had mentioned to my husband I thought the wash machine was on its way out. But after pushing a few buttons it “kept going” so I forgot about it until this particular afternoon. I went down to the basement to see if my button pushing prowess would work better than my daughter’s. I don’t know a mom who doesn’t think she can push buttons better than anyone else!

Well, I was so confident in my ability to get it to work I actually put another load of clothes in to wash, fully expecting it to “take off” for me. Amazingly, it did. It started filling with water which it hadn’t been doing for the first fifty button pushes so I left it confident in my knack for effective button pushing. When I returned later to put the clothes into the dryer…well… I was unpleasantly surprised by a washer full of soaking wet clothes sitting in seven inches of water. Okay – it didn’t work and after another ten-minute button pushing blitz, I could no longer live in denial…the wash machine was shot!

So…I texted my husband who was at work just to see if he “remembered” me telling him a few weeks back that our wash machine was dying. Sometimes, the modern form of communicating without visual eye contact works to our benefit. That is…if your husband actually reads his text messages which in this case he didn’t. So when I called him later about some other things I expected him to bring up the wash machine. He didn’t, so I did.

He is a patient man and simply said, “So you want to go buy a new washer when I get home?” Bless his heart! What I wanted to say and what I said were two different things. I wanted to say “Absolutely not! I want YOU to go buy a new washer, bring it home, hook it up, and we’ll be good to go.” What I said was “Sure. We can do that.”

I don’t like shopping in general, and appliance shopping even less. In over thirty years of marriage though,  we’ve had to do our share of shopping for appliances so I knew we could go around to several different stores, get lots of good advice, apply for lots of great interest free payment plans, contemplate two to four year extended warranties, and well… you know how it goes. So when my husband got home and asked where should we start, I chose one store…his store…Menards! He said, “Don’t you want to try Appliance Smart, Sears, Best Buy…?” Nope – just Menards!

Washers and dryers are seen on display at a store in New YorkWe went and looked at the line up of wash machines, of course, each one of them on sale! Besides the sale price, I basically looked only at energy efficiency and made my decision quickly and confidently proclaiming, “This is the one I want.” My husband said “Are you sure?” Yes! “Positive?” Yes! “You don’t want to keep looking?” No! “But I like this one over here. It’s bigger and…and…and!”

I say, “Okay, we can get that one.” He says, “No, we can get the one you want. But you really should take a good look at this one.” Around and around we go smiling and giggling along the way. We finally settle on the one I choose since I do the laundry. Now…to find a salesperson to help us…Where might we find one when we really need one?

Alas, one shows up only to hand us to another, only to be told he has to help someone else first, only to have the first one say he can “try” to help us. We tell him, “We want to buy a wash machine!” He says, “Okay”! “We want this one!” He says, “Okay, let me see if we have one in the store.” (We’re looking at it – obviously you have one in the store.) He stares at his computer screen for a long time and says, “Nope, we don’t have one.” End of story! I look at him and say, “Well, can you get one from another store?” He looks and says, “I can see if there are any available. Nope. Nope. Nope. There is one in Elk River, MN but I don’t suppose you want to drive there?” I thought (but didn’t say it out loud) “No sir, we sure would like it delivered though!”

The other guy (who was helping another customer) was watching this whole thing and said we just couldn’t get that machine. I say, “Then why is it on the floor, just to tease us?” My husband is very jovial with the fellow saying he has never been told at Menards that he can’t buy something. We thought this was quite funny, though I’m not sure the sales guys felt the same way. We ask if the other machine, the one my husband wanted was available. Nope, not that one either. How about this one? Nope, can’t get that one. I finally say, “Well, why don’t you tell us which ones we CAN buy and we’ll choose from those.” (with a smile on my face of course) He complies with us and points to one they have in stock. Only thing is the energy efficiency rating is four times the cost of the one I wanted. The sales guys sort of just walk away at this point while my husband and I have some fun at their expense, while trying to decide what to do next.

StoryThere is one floor model we can take “as is” but it is $150 more than the one we want. The guy says he’ll knock another $20 off if that will help. I said, “Well the only difference is this one has a glass top so I can watch my clothes getting cleaned, and I am probably not going to do that so… I can’t really see paying that much more for it.” He says, “Yeah, the glass top is probably why it is more.” (Insert smile here). My husband looks at him and says, “Man, do you ever smile? You need to loosen up and have some fun in life.” The man smiled!

We settled on the original machine, (not the one on the left) needing to special order it. That means we’ll not be able to wash clothes at home for about two to three weeks. If you happen to be around us this month…let me just say in advance…sorry! If we smell there is good reason.

White as Snow 2We had a good time buying a wash machine…and then I couldn’t help but laugh some more as I rehashed the experience the next day, remembering a verse I used in the blog the previous morning, from the book of Mark “His (Jesus) clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.”

See, I think things like this are funny! Could God have been playing with me, testing my reaction, trying my trust, or maybe just seeing if I would catch His little “funny”? I can’t prove God did it but He could have been in it! I had enjoyed a day watching snow fall, so white it blinded me, threw a load of clothes in the washer to whiten them, then found out I couldn’t BECAUSE my machine was broken… all reminding me how close God is in the little things in life.

It got me thinking about how intimately God is involved with us…how detailed He is… how caring, fun, and funny He is! And most definitely, it got me thinking of Jesus and His exceeding white clothing, like snow. It got me thinking about how much I love clean clothes fresh out of the machines, smelling so good! It got me thinking how much I love Jesus fresh, every moment, smelling good, bringing refreshment into my life.

Then I thought how this could have been so different. I could have gotten angry, frustrated, and discouraged that RIGHT AFTER CHRISTMAS the wash machine dies. A few years ago I would have went in that direction. Today, nah! After all, He had just talked to me hours earlier about a launderer and snow and Himself. How thankful I am to Him for cleaning us up, whiter than snow! How grateful I am that He forgives, showers us with grace, love, and mercy! And how ridiculously fun is God to show up in the midst of our everyday “disasters” to remind us He is in control?

As we were waiting to “see” if we could at least special order the wash machine, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of our persistence to buy a wash machine from Menards. I mean, seriously, we could have gone anywhere and probably gotten better customer service, but…as I said, I dislike shopping A LOT and I had no intention of shopping around…the plus side of it was hearing my husband help this guy loosen up and have a little fun…I would have missed it had we moved on too quickly…just like I would have missed the magnificent snow falling if I had moved on too quickly in my day…just like I would have missed God’s sense of humor…if I didn’t remember the launderer in the Scripture verse from the day before…

imagesEnjoy today! Take every moment to smile a little, laugh a lot, listen attentively, and look for Jesus in every situation and circumstance, good or bad. I guarantee you’ll find Him!

 
 

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