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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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Being Quiet Together

Recently, two of my daughters invited me to grab lunch and go shopping with them after worship services. I don’t like shopping but they convinced me some mom/daughter/granddaughter time would be fun, plus we all had birthday gifts to buy. It turned out to be much more than fun and shopping.

samGrandchildren never cease to amaze, having a way of surprising me without even meaning to do so. My sweet three-year old granddaughter Samaria asked if she could ride with me to the mall. I buckled her in and got on the road. After about five minutes of complete silence I said, “Sam, what are you doing? You’re so quiet!” She said, “Oh, Buma (her name for me), I’m just having quiet time.”

800px-thumbnailI personally love quiet most of the time since it gives opportunity to sort dozens of thoughts running through my mind or to stop thinking about things and start thinking on Jesus! However, when I’m with people, quiet isn’t the norm and might even be considered unsocial.

quietI smiled when Samaria said she was having quiet time not just because of how sweet she said it but because we were having quiet time together. I realized there’s a difference between having quiet time alone and having quiet time with someone. It was one of the most beautiful quarter hours I’ve had in a long time; being quiet with my granddaughter in the backseat, each of us thinking our own thoughts, enjoying each other’s presence without words, touch, sight, or taste.

It was a new feeling for me, or at least one I haven’t recognized perhaps because I love listening to all my grandchildren, hold and hug them, watch their interactions and activity, and kiss their cute little faces. If one of them is close by, I cannot help but talk, touch, watch, and yes, just eat them up. So to be in a place where Samaria and I were not conversing, where I couldn’t hold her hand and she couldn’t sit in my lap, and I couldn’t see or kiss her and yet feel so very close to her was amazing.  The love I experienced for this moment in time was tangible love. God had provided the perfect scenario for me to once again be renewed in the reality this is what it’s like to be with Jesus every moment of every day, living in His tangible love.

The presence of Jesus in our lives, though a mystery, is still as real as if He was here in the flesh. Surely we can’t literally hear His voice yet we hear Him speak to our spirits in many ways. We can’t physically touch His face or hands yet we can feel His touch often as we journey through our days. We can’t see Him with our physical eyes yet we see Him through eyes of faith. We can’t taste Him but we surely can taste and see the Lord is good. And we can be quiet with Him and experience His perfect peace, feeling so close to one another, it would seem we are one.

downloadThis experience then brought me to the pinnacle of quietness as Holy Spirit reminded me of one of my favorite bible passages, Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Some versions of the Bible say it this way, “He will be quiet in His love” to convey the message He is quiet with us in love or His quietness quiets us as we are renewed with His love. We are in the very presence of love when we are quiet with Jesus.

The quiet love I experienced with Samaria that day in the car was very special. It ended far too soon and I was left with the memory of our quiet time together. Yet, I smile every time I think of her words, “Oh Buma, I’m just having quiet time” because it reminds me we get to have this special quiet time with Jesus any time we want.

Jesus is with us, in our midst. He is mighty to save. He rejoices over us with joy and is quiet with us in His love. To top it all off, He rejoices, He takes great joy in us, so much so He can’t help but sing over us.

Today, I pray we’ll take the opportunity to say, “Oh Jesus, I’m just having quiet time.” Then enjoy being quiet with Jesus!

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Happy Rejoicing…Happy Praying…Happy Thanksgiving!

il_570xN.316918257Americans are pretty good at giving thanks at Thanksgiving, as it should be! But as followers of Jesus, there’s more to giving thanks than just saying thank you! The “more” comes from doing God’s will! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The Message Bible says it this way: “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” That makes giving thanks non-optional! These verses outline an “all or nothing” trilogy! Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks! If we make this trio top priority, filtering everything we say and do through them, we’ll be giving thanks like Jesus planned us to!

Most of us can agree rejoicing ALWAYS is a bit of a misnomer in Christianity. Instead, we tend to rejoice sometimes, when we have earthly reason to rejoice. We’ve decided, maybe without being aware of it, rejoicing without cause is just faking it. We even encourage one another in the church “Don’t put on a mask; don’t be plastic or pretend everything’s okay. We have problems just like everyone else. Just be real.” Well, those are the facts; we shouldn’t fake it, put on a mask, be plastic, be pretenders, and yes, we do have problems like everyone else. But “just being REAL” as Christians, demands that the facts NEVER stop us from doing “truth”! We are to rejoice all the time!

My-Joy-Your-Joy-300x225It’s not as hard as one might think! We won’t be putting on a mask, be plastic, pretending, or fake any rejoicing WHEN we look to the source of our joy, the target of our cheerfulness, Jesus Christ Himself! IN Him our joy is complete! Jesus said in John 15:11 “These things have I spoken unto you, that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” The “these things” Jesus spoke of center on “abiding” in Him! When we remain and stay IN Him, wait on and focus on Him, we are filled with joy; we REDO joy; we RE-Joy or rejoice always! Our joy tanks will be empty if we abide, remain, or stay set on things of this world; on people, situations, worldly comforts, and even blessings! These things come and go, whereas Jesus is constant; He doesn’t come and go! So when we let His joy remain in us, we are full to the brim all the time! No faking, no pretension, no masks – just being real in Jesus!

light-shining-through-cracks-in-doorLet me share an illustration from profound Christian author, C.S. Lewis. One day he was in his tool shed near his garden. He noticed a sunbeam shining across the shed showing up the dust particles. He’d seen the same thing many times before, but this time he was captivated by it. He traced the beam of light to the crack at the top of the closed-door of the shed. What struck him was that although the light appeared to be coming from the crack, it was really coming from a blazing star 90 million miles away! Squinting up at the beam carefully so as not to burn his eyes, he followed the beam through the crack in the door, through the leaves of a tree outside, up and beyond to its magnificent source. Lewis thought to himself how different it was to trace the beam to its source than it was looking at the beam in his tool shed.

Joining Lewis in our mind’s eye in his tool shed, we cannot help but notice how the thin beam is so much smaller and weaker in comparison to the great burning nuclear fire called the sun. Looking at the beam alone tells us so little about its great source. Only by following and tracing the beam all the way to its source are we able to see the vast difference! The little beam is certainly beautiful but its source is magnificent and awe-inspiring.

The things of earth that flush thanks from our mouths are so much smaller and weaker in comparison to the great burning fire of God found in His Son, Jesus! Looking at the beams of blessings, the things we rejoice in here on earth alone tell us so little about their great source. Only by following and tracing the beams back to their Source, are we able to see the vast difference. The things of this earth we rejoice in are certainly beautiful but their Source is amazing and glorious! We can never get so entranced by the things of this world that we forget to trace them back to the source of all beauty, the beautiful One we love.

pray_always-160604_thumbRejoicing positions us to embrace the second act of the trilogy, “Pray without ceasing”! The more we pray the more we’ll rejoice! The Bible repeatedly urges us to pray always but we often prefer to make excuses for our shortage of prayer; saying or thinking it’s not possible to pray constantly or that’s not really what He meant! Praying always doesn’t mean we do nothing else but pray; it means nothing else hinders us from praying. Luke 21:36 “Watch therefore, and pray always…” 2 Thessalonians 1:11 “Therefore we also pray always for you… Luke 18:1 “. Men always ought to pray and not lose heart…”

Prayer is simply communicating and communing with God, something we should want to do ALL THE TIME! But never forget communing is a two-way street; we don’t do all the talking; we let God speak to our spirits bringing comfort, confidence, conviction, correction, and cheerfulness to us! He makes us want to rejoice, to re-do joy repeatedly when we live IN HIM! Surely there are times of sadness and sorrow in this world; no one is saying they don’t exist. But IN the midst of sorrow we commune; we pray; we listen to His Words; we respond to His direction; we rejoice IN Him! 2 Corinthians 6:4, 10 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing…”

urlWhen we rejoice always and pray without ceasing we’ll be compelled to “give thanks in everything”, the third act in the trilogy. Notice we give thanks IN not FOR everything! This week we’ll thank God for many things. But let’s admit there are things unworthy of thanks; sickness, disease, murder, abortion, poverty, famine, fires, earthquakes. We don’t thank God FOR these terrible things! I know… some Christians think bad things make us reliant on God or remind us to trust Him more! But unbelievers think we’re crazy when we thank God for terrible things and yet tell them He is a great God, the Giver of all good gifts! We need to be real in Christ. Bad things happen and we’re not thankful FOR them BUT… we sure do thank God IN the bad times, in everything, trusting Him IN all things! Romans 8:28 “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

The story of Martin Rinkart might help us understand how we don’t thank God FOR everything but IN everything! Martin was a German Lutheran pastor in Eilenburg, an overcrowded refuge town during the Thirty Years War from 1618-1648 when famine and deadly epidemics raged! In the year of the Great Pestilence, 1637, the town started with four pastors. Soon, one left to work in healthier conditions and Pastor Rinkart officiated the funerals of the other two. As the lone pastor, he often conducted funeral services for as many as 40-50 people a day, burying over 4000 people that year including his own wife. By the end of 1637 the death toll demanded people be buried in trenches without services. Living in this kind of world, dominated by death, Pastor Rinkart lived real Christianity. He rejoiced, prayed and gave thanks by tracing everything back to his Source of rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving, God Himself and he wrote the now famous hymn as a prayer for his children to pray “Now Thank We All Our God”! As you read the words, keep in mind what was going on around Him.

url-1Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore!

Martin lived in the midst of extreme chaos, confusion, and loss! But in this world, he found reason to rejoice always, to pray without stopping, to give thanks in everything because it was the will of God in Christ Jesus for him. It wasn’t WHAT He was experiencing that caused him to rejoice, pray and give thanks. IT was WHO he was experiencing!

url-2Thanksgiving MUST go with a life of rejoicing and praying! Philippians 4:6 “Be anxious for nothing, but IN everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” The truth is if we’re not actively giving thanks in everything we’re likely complaining about something! One doctor wrote,  “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I’ve come to realize they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.”

Complaining always leads to misery! Psalm 77:3 “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.” God’s answer is revealed in Philippians 2:13 “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” That sounds like a plan to me! Shine like stars! When we shine, the world will SEE Jesus in us! We cannot hide our light or waste time complaining and arguing. We are light in a dark world!

part-003The parable of candles might help us remember to stop making excuses and start shining! There was a blackout one night and a woman fumbled to the closet where she kept the candles, found and lit four of them. As she was turning to leave with the largest candle in her hand she heard a voice, “Now, hold it right there.” “Who said that?” “I did.” The voice was near her hand. “Who are you? What are you?” “I’m a candle.” She lifted up the candle to take a closer look and there was a tiny face in the wax. “Don’t take me out of here!” “What?”

“I said, don’t take me out of this room.” “What do you mean? I have to take you out. You’re a candle. Your job is to give light. It’s dark out there.” “But you can’t take me out. I’m not ready,” the candle explained with pleading eyes. “I need more preparation.” The woman couldn’t believe her ears. “More preparation?” “Yeah, I’ve decided I need to research this job of light-giving so I won’t go out and make a bunch of mistakes. You’d be surprised how distorted the glow of an untrained candle can be…” “All right then,” she said. “You’re not the only candle on the shelf. I’ll blow you out and take the others!”

But right then she heard other voices, “We aren’t going either!” She turned to the other candles, “You are candles and your job is to light dark places!” “Well, that may be what you think,” said the first one, “But I can’t go, I’m busy … I’m meditating on the importance of light. It’s really enlightening.” “And you other two,” she asked, “Are you going to stay, too?” A short, plump, purple candle with chubby cheeks spoke up. “I’m waiting to get my life together, I’m not stable enough.”

The last candle had a very pleasant female voice, sweet to the ear. “I’d like to help,” she explained, “but lighting the darkness is not my gift … I’m a singer. I sing to other candles to encourage them to burn more brightly.” She began a rendition of “This Little Light of Mine.” The other three joined in, filling the closet with singing. The woman took a step back and considered the absurdity of it all. Four perfectly healthy candles singing to each other about light but refusing to come out of the closet and shine in the darkness!

ShineBrightThis world is full of darkness with many people stumbling around trying to find their way. We can be light for them! But we only shine when we reflect light from the Source of all light; when we rejoice when there is no earthly reason to rejoice; pray when we have no words left to pray; give thanks in everything, not for everything. Smile…say hello…forgive…shine…reach out…serve…! Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Happy rejoicing!                           Happy praying!                       Happy Thanksgiving!

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Posted by on November 24, 2013 in Church, Giving, Prayer, Uncategorized

 

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Live in the Moment!

Live in the moment…

1146478_592910187532_1695619488_nOne Monday morning before heading off to a full day of ministry I was rapidly cleaning up the house from our family gathering on Sunday. After nine adults and six little ones (four years old and younger) spend the day playing, eating, drinking, laughing, shouting, and jumping, the house was, shall we say, dirty.

I loved every minute of it…well most of the minutes at least and honestly wouldn’t trade one second of the time I get to spend with any one of our family members even though I can get a bit stressed at times when things get broken or lost. I remind myself “less is more” and “things are just things” while people are treasures.

Anyway, for the first time since our six grandchildren entered the world, I had to go to work after family day! For those who’ve “worked” outside the home their entire life this is “standard issue” for you but for me, it was anything but “normal”. Though I’ve had part-time jobs and ministry positions without the title or pay along the way, I’ve worked full-time in the home since God gave us our first child.

The difference this time came with “no choice”. In the past, I could arrange my schedule, ask for time off, and make sure I had time to put my house back together after a joyous celebration. This time, I HAD to go into the office because it’s the busiest time of year in Church ministry with Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations added to an already busy schedule of teaching, planning, budgeting, and the like.

Pity Party TimeSo I got up at 5 AM, got the coffee perking, laundry started, rugs hung outside, broom, vacuum, and mop out to get this house in perfect shape so I could concentrate on work when I got to the office. I did, however, take time to feel sorry for myself because I “had” to go to work. I engaged in a rather pitiful “pity” party all alone, thinking of days gone by when I could take all day to get my house back in order after family get-together’s. I tried to pacify myself by saying other women had done what I was doing their whole lives but that didn’t make me feel any better. I tried consoling myself by thinking about how privileged I am to have a ministry job where I enjoy “most” of my responsibilities.

Well, the pity party just put me into more of a “funk” – complaining (even if it’s just in your thoughts) doesn’t alleviate frustration. Psalm 77:3 “…I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.” So I stopped “partying” and I got on with my plan to get the house cleaned up, get to work and be productive, get back home and bake a dessert before heading to our daughter’s volleyball banquet that evening. I was running around like a mad woman finding more to do every time I entered another room of the house. I got side tracked from what I was doing or going every time I saw dirt, crumbs, toys, fingerprints, or spills.

1456583_10103875435727670_1657356198_nThen it happened. I was spraying the fingerprints on our mirrored closet door when I heard that still small voice of God, “Live in the moment!” Suddenly, I looked closely at the fingerprints before wiping them away and smiled. I saw the beautiful open-mouthed grin of my one-year old granddaughter as she gazed at herself in the mirror and then looked up at me with an even bigger smile! Ah, precious image.

525331_10151514152729470_1383721100_nHarperWhile mopping my kitchen floor I heard the chatter of the four oldest grandchildren perched on the stools and chairs around the counter, eating, spilling, eating, spilling…and I smiled. While vacuuming crumbs in the living room I heard the giggles of the kids and the adults in the other room saying, “I don’t even want to know what’s going on in there; I don’t want to know what they are giggling about.” More smiles for me!

1005326_10151729185324470_1224993249_nmakkedahWhile cleaning up confetti, images of the kids flying around the living room, tossing the red mess in the air, laughing as they threw yet another handful, made me giggle out loud. Moving furniture so I could vacuum and discovering tiny plastic pegs and teddy bears that my youngest grandson flung in his exuberance to “throw” anything and everything brought more smiles and laughter to me as I “heard” his laughter in my mind.

Wiping the multitude of fingerprints off my I-pad brought more smiles and joy as I “saw” the oldest grandchildren all lined up on the couch doing puzzles, squirming, pushing, elbowing, and yes, even hitting each other now and then, but all the while, figuring out this thing called “getting along” and “sharing”.

Logic-Will-Get-You-From-A-to-Z-450x300samSuper gluing my porcelain bear figurines back together brought huge smiles to my face as I pictured my little granddaughter lining them all up, using different voices to have them talk to one another, moving them around as though they were real, using her imagination to the fullest, breaking off a piece here and there and saying to me, “I didn’t do it.” Haha!

SoloWiping the water drips and fingerprints off our refrigerator brought another flood of smiles as I replayed how proud my oldest grandson was to fill his own water cup from the dispenser. Then the two “babies” pulling on the doors, using their word, “this”, to get G’ma or Buma (my names to each of them) to give them string cheese or ice, two of their favorites.

Yep, I could go on and on with all the “moments” the Lord let me live that Monday morning as I cleaned! I forgot1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do all to the glory of God.” I set out to “get things done” and ended up being “undone”! 

live in the momentbeautifulSo, thank You Jesus for the reminder to “Live in the moment!”I almost missed all the great surprises; I almost missed the mental images; I almost missed the smiles that make me smile; I almost missed the privilege of cleaning; I almost missed the opportunity to be filled with joy! I almost forgot to live in the moment!

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Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Life, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

 

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Choosing is So Much Better Than Making Decisions – The Best Part!

Choose Image_0Choosing is so much better than making decisions! That’s what I heard from the Lord one morning!  (Read last blog) Many people struggle with the concept of “decision making”; some refuse to make decisions; some reluctantly make them; and some complain, moan, or groan while making them.

Making decisions can be hard especially since the disapproval from others can make us second-guess or doubt our ability to make decisions. So the idea of choosing instead of making decisions can really be refreshing. I’m not saying making decisions is bad or ungodly, I’m just saying choosing is so much better (because that’s what Holy Spirit said).

imagesMaking decisions doesn’t necessarily commit us TO our decision; it doesn’t force us to invest or take part IN our decision. In fact, some people say no decision is a decision but that really means nothing either because we still don’t have to “do” anything with our non-decision. On the other hand, choosing commits us to our choice; it’s a conscious action on our part forcing us TO participate IN what we’ve chosen, and forcing us NOT TO choose something else.

Choosing is so much better than making decisions because THAT’S what God does. He chooses! Deuteronomy 7:6-8 “…the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples but because the Lord loves you…”

God didn’t “decide” to be in relationship with His people. That sounds sort of “cold” doesn’t it? No, He chose His people for Himself and THAT solidifies our relationship with Him! He chose His people to be a special treasure to Himself not because of any reason other than His love. (For you theologians out there I realize this speaks specifically about the Jewish nation but praise God, we Gentiles have been “grafted” in so…we are chosen John15_16-300x225too.)

Jesus Himself tells us He chose us and if that doesn’t make you want to shout “Hallelujah” I don’t know what does! John 15:16 “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

chosenWe GET to go, live, love, and laugh because He chose us. We get to be blessings to other people because we ask and we GET! By His choosing we become His own special people. That is breathtaking! 1 Peter 2:4,9 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious…you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

ChooseThisDay-1024x768There’s only one response to God choosing us – Choose Him! Then proclaim Him to the world!  Choosing to serve and live for the Lord is not a decision we make; it’s a choice based on His irrevocable choice! Joshua 24:15 “’And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

In the next few verses the people explain to Joshua they intend to choose the Lord their God. They proclaim His faithfulness to them in freeing them from bondage, Who did great signs in their sight, Who preserved and protected them, Who fought for them! They said as did Joshua “We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

Then Joshua reminds them their choice commits them “to” serve God and “to not” serve other gods. It is an “all or nothing” deal!  He says in verses 19-20  “You cannot serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.”

The people “GET IT”! They are suddenly acutely aware they cannot do both. They need to make a choice! Verse 21 “And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, but we will serve the Lord!’” They can make this choice because the Lord their God had already chosen them. They needed to reciprocate! Joshua continues in verses 22-24 “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord for yourselves, to serve Him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses!’ ‘Now therefore,’ he said, ‘put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel.’ And the people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and His voice we will obey!’”

Their choice committed them to not only obey and follow God but to put away everything else in life they had chosen. See, choosing really does commit us “to” some things AND commits us to “putting away” other things! And THAT’S a good thing!

So today, take some time to remember His faithfulness and how He has set you free in Him. Remember and consider all the great signs and blessings He showers on you every day; how He has preserved, protected, and fought for you.  And then…Choose life! Choose blessing! Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

deuteronomy-30-19After all, we GET to choose because He chose us! Don’t fret about making decisions! Start choosing instead! Choosing is so much better than making decisions!

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Life, Lifestyle, Uncategorized

 

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Closings…They Hurt…But They Serve His Purpose!

We lived in what is sometimes called a “starter” home for seventeen years. We never intended to stay that long. We were planning on two to three years; just a transition house….while we looked for something affordable and quaint out in the country. But just like that…nearly two decades had come and gone. With our four children plus other people occasionally living with us for weeks, months, or even years, we definitely kept it “cozy”!

photo (13)A few years into the seventeen, while I was struggling with health issues after a serious auto accident, my husband added a four-season porch off the kitchen. However, it was never really just a porch. It was our “Upper Room” filled with sunlight and breeze. It was a place for me to be alone, pray and heal; where media devices weren’t allowed; where I could hear God apart from all the distractions of this world. Though we lived in a bustling suburb with neighbors all around and the constant rumble of traffic, the Upper Room gave the ambiance of rural life, and it was there that God brought physical healing and spiritual growth to me.

photo (12)The Upper Room became a favorite place for others as well; the atmosphere catering to great conversation, laughter, fun, and fellowship! Thus, in addition to serving as my room for studying the Bible, worship, praise, prayer, and pouring my heart out on paper, laptop, or I-pad, it was the perfect area for family gatherings, women’s bible studies, corporate worship and praise, prayer meetings, holiday get-together’s, home school, dining room, playroom, and napping room too!

We were blessed in the Upper Room for nearly ten of the seventeen years we lived in our home. So when the time came to move on, as silly as it might sound, leaving the Upper Room behind was difficult for me. Naturally I “knew” it was just a room; God is present everywhere so I was in good hands. But God’s presence had been so tangible and His healing touch so concrete in the Upper Room, I didn’t want to leave it behind!

photo (14)Over the weeks leading up to moving day as I packed our belongings including everything in the Upper Room, the memories, good and bad, echoed in my mind. I recalled being distraught at my inability to help my husband build the Upper Room because of physical pain. I reminisced about God’s peace that passes understanding was so tangible in the Upper Room. I thought about the intimacy created with God and others in the Upper Room; the healing and deliverance that happened in the Upper Room; the laughter and tears collected as family and friends gathered to enjoy each other and God in the Upper Room; the praise, worship, prayer, intercession, and teaching in the Upper Room; the celebrations and special times spent in the Upper Room! How could God top what happened there? How could I leave such a special place created for me? Would I ever have an Upper Room like it again?

On the morning of our closing, I went through each room one last time and the myriad of emotions along with flashes of memorable events was astounding. I welcomed them all…that is…until I reached the Upper Room. Suddenly I felt paralyzed; unable to go in. For just a split second, the sense of loss was overwhelming with tears welling in my eyes! I left the house without going into my Upper Room one last time; the same room I had walked into every morning for nearly a decade; the same room I experienced a splash of freshness every time I entered!

photo (11)photo (9)On the way to our closings I cried sweet, cleansing tears as I came to terms with the reality I would never see my Upper Room again, much less spend time there! I also smiled through my tears as a random thought occurred to me, “Consider it closed”.  This was the Realty company motto I saw proudly displayed on correspondence for months now. How true these words rang in my spirit that morning, “Consider it closed”.  With the door closing on Garner Avenue in Rosemount, I needed to consider it closed. BUT, just as quickly as that thought swooped into my brain, a second thought struck me; I needed to consider a new door opening on Guarani Street in Oak Grove, because in the next few hours, we would be signing papers saying we sold one house and bought another!

That’s what happens with most “closings” in life…they are accompanied by tears, smiles, and other emotions! For example, graduations whether from kindergarten, high school, college, or graduate school can bring tears because we’ll miss the people and activities but we also smile thinking of what’s ahead (not to mention we’re done studying).  Jobs and careers close on us and we may cry if we’re fired or laid off and we may smile when promoted, but all are closings of something. Businesses and churches close! These closings can cause anger while people fight for the wrong thing or play the blame game. But these closings can also move people to reflect on where they’ve been and where they’re headed, perhaps a new and exciting direction, bringing gladness to the soul.  One kind of closing can really undo most people…road closings! Talk about firing up all emotions on one cylinder! Finally we come to the final closing…death…when it feels the door to our loved ones is slammed shut forever! There’s always an abundance of tears shed when death closes in, AND, many smiles as we reminisce plus remind ourselves as believers we WILL see them again!

People say when God closes a door, He opens a window. Well, that’s not exactly biblical even though it certainly does make people feel better about their situations. But God is not into making people feel better! He IS into making people better, and the good feelings follow. God makes all things new and He has purpose in all things! Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Closings certainly serve a purpose! We are unlikely to perceive His purpose in them if we’re looking for “our” purpose in life! Stay tuned for the next blog when I share more about my Upper room, closings and His purpose!

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Life

 

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How Awesome IS Our God? #6

Screen-Shot-2012-08-18-at-9_43_45-PMWe’re almost done using an acronym to explore how AWESOME God is! Today we do it through MEDITATING on Him!

A – Through Adoration

W – In Wonder

E – With Energy and Expectation

S – In Simplicity

O – By Obsession

M – Through Meditating on Him

E – With Excitement Everyday

Meditating on God! Meditate means to contemplate, ponder, think on, consider, deliberate, turn over in our minds, mull over, and reflect upon! When we believe in Jesus, we get to do all these things every day…what a great privilege, what an honor, what a pleasure to meditate on God and His Word every minute of every day!  What freedom knowing we need not waste a single minute focused on “us” but can spend every moment, day and night, investing in Jesus!

zoo-beach-reunion-2009-272Scripture gives us many reminders to meditate on God!

Psalm 63:6 “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.”

Psalm 145:5 “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”

 Psalm 77:12 “I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.”

The world suggests we empty our minds and practice relaxation techniques like yoga and transcendental meditation to relieve stress and make us more productive. But God gives more than a suggestion! He tells us what to do! He says to remember Him at night, don’t empty our minds but fill them with thoughts of Him; don’t mull over our problems but ponder the glorious splendor of His majesty; don’t contemplate all the unfinished work we have yet to complete but consider His wondrous works! When we commit to meditating on God and His awesomeness, the natural follow-up is to talk about Him and His deeds. We’ll have so much of Him in our brain that when we open our mouth, He comes out! That can change our environment…yes?

I refer to one of my favorite Christian songs “Hold Me” as my “happy” song because it reflects my own obsession with God (blog #5 in this series). Here are a few of the words: “I know I should be workin’, but I’m thinking of You; and, just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down, that’s when Your smile comes around…forever in my heart, always on my mind, it’s crazy how I think about You all of the time; and, just when I think I’m ‘bout to figure You out; You make me want to sing and shout…”

prayingThinking on God; meditating on Him; it feeds our obsession for more of Him and His awesomeness! I love Psalm 143:5 “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands.” Remember, meditate, muse! Letting our minds be filled with God; what He has done and what He is doing; all His mighty works! That’s awesome!

I’m awake a lot at night (actually in the early morning hours shortly after midnight) and often times when that happens, my brain takes me places I don’t want to go or be; like trying to figure out WHY I’m awake; “I’m having hot flashes, I’m in pain, I’m sore, It’s hot in the house, I’ve got so much work to get done, There are so many problems to deal with.” Let me just say, that’s a miserable way to spend “awake” time!

psalm-119148_4369_1024x768scripture meditationThere’s a better way to be awake at night (if I can’t sleep) Psalm 119:148 “My eyes are awake through the night watches; that I may meditate on Your Word.” So THAT’S why I’m awake! That I may meditate on His Word!  Awesome! If you think about it, (mediate on it) it’s actually the perfect set up for a night watch of meditating on God! If you’re awake through the night watches, feel free to meditate on His Word!

I’d like to tell you I get it right every night; the very first time too! But I don’t! Sometimes I’m just so tired I let frustration lead me to wasting time thinking about “WHY” I’m awake. But the more I practice God’s life-giving truth, the faster I get around to taking control of my brain and not letting IT lead me! Then, I get to experience more of the awesomeness of God! When I say “no” to the fluff that fills my mind and “yes” to the firm foundation of truth that NEEDS to fill my mind, my awesome God calms me and reminds me that He LOVES to spend time with me! Even during the night watch!

imagesCA56QYADWhether it is day or night – learn how to meditate on God; His Word; His works; His majesty! In the book of Joshua we’re given great advice (or shall I say “command”) Joshua 1:7-8 “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Isn’t that a GREAT idea? Have fun today meditating on God! I know His awesomeness will lead to more meditation, more doing, more talking about Him, and His awesomeness is spread to more people!

And tonight? I pray you sleep well…but if you’re awake…have a great time meditating even more on the awesomeness of God!

Awesome-God

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Awesome God

 

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