Monday, November 30, 2015

Singing Over Me

Is it just me, or is anyone else struggling on this fine Monday morning?
I mean, I had my "Spark" and read my Psalms...
I fed the dogs, the children, and myself, and got everyone out the door on time.
But when it came time to go into my study and get in my Word, I kept getting distracted. I was trying to clear my space so that I could just sit down and focus.

Focus on HIM.

Focus on the special word or instructions that He had in store for me today.

But everything I picked up to put away, spurred me to take some other kind of action.
A box from Amazon.com... "Oh, I need to wrap that present."
A note from school... "I gotta get that date on my calendar."
A child's folder... "Let me put that in his book bag.  Lord have mercy! Let me clean out his book bag!"
And on it went.
Finally, I sat in my de-cluttered space to get into some scripture.
I looked at the clock...  "Well, there goes my morning, but I am determined to get this study in today, even if I do NOTHING else."

Yes, Friends.  It's THAT important.

Cue music.  (I always have some worship music playing in the background to set my mind on Jesus before opening His Love Letter.)  Today, it's Christy Nockels singing, "Everything Is Mine In You".  I picked up my book.  The current study I am going through is Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan for Specific and Strategic Prayer.   The focal passage for today came out of Ephesians...
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms... Ephesians 1:17-20
That's when it happened.

Jesus SHOWED UP and SHOWED OUT!!!

(Seriously, y'all, I am getting goosebumps as I type this. You better believe I got me some MAJOR goosebumps at the time!! Not just goosebumps, that's not strong enough imagery.  Let me say it like my youngest, Sam, used to say, "My chill hairs are popping out!" ;-) )

As I read the words on the page, the verses of the song were echoing the very same thought.  Do you get what I'm telling you?

God gave me his word in STEREO!!!

Here's what I'm talking about... As the lesson writer went on to focus on Paul's prayer for the Ephesians (and for you and me, too!) I was taking notes.  As I wrote down a line, I heard the song say something similar, or at least something I could apply.  Don't believe me??  Here's the proof.

My Notes... (Song Lyrics are blue).
Paul wants us to...
    1. Receive a spirit of wisdom  - Even when my heart is breaking, even when my hands are empty, I can trust you with my longing....
    2. Be enlightened to grasp the "hope of his calling"  - Against all hope... help me hope.  Against all fear... draw me near.  I will hope!  I will draw near!!!
    3. Recognize the "riches of the glory of His inheritance" - You are my inheritance, and in You I have everything I need!
    4. Know the "surpassing greatness of his power" toward us - You are Master over all...
    5. Realize that we are seated with Him in the heavenly places - And you are seated in the heavenlies... 
    6. Understand that even though we were "dead", he has given us life -  Everything is mine in you... past or present, death or life....
Yes, friends.... Jesus knew my scatterbrained self was having trouble staying focused on Him today, so he sang over me.  The very words of scripture that he wanted me to study, were blessing my ears in song.  

HOW. COOL. IS. THAT!?!?!?!

The point of all this - other than the fact that when Jesus does stuff like this I just HAVE to share it - is to show you that He knows what we need.  And when we come to him with a sincere heart, seeking his presence and desiring his truth, HE. SHOWS. UP!!!

He didn't just sing, y'all... He totally ROCKED MY FACE OFF!! 

I am still in awe of Him.  Of His grace and mercy.  Of the fact that even though I am small, and I am focused on my little "to-do" list, He is GREAT OLD BIG and HE... the master of the universe took time to SPEAK TO ME!  
Pry our fingers from the earthly, Oh, let us love your glory...
Just as these lyrics filled my ears,,, His presence filled my soul.

Thank you, Jesus!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Prayer...

Been learning a lot about prayer lately.

From this book.  And this one.  And especially this one.

Took some time to pen a "daily prayer" of sorts last night.

Thought I might share...

Sweet Jesus,
What an AWESOME Savior you are! You speak and the mountains crumble... the seas are stilled.  You placed the stars in the sky and the light in my life... I praise you Jesus, because of who you are!  My Messiah, Redeemer, Lord, and friend. 
Tonight I give you my weariness. I'm so tired of fighting the same battles - making the same mistakes - over and over again! Right this very minute, I give You all my doubts, worries, and fears.  I give You my desire to give up and quit. 
I come to You with my thirst - a burning desire only You can quench.  A yearning only You can fill.  I offer You my desire, my gifting, my weakness. 
My need, my failure.   
My everything.   
I pour it out of my broken heart to wash Your feet with my tears - like Mary and her Alabaster Box.  I give You all that I am.  I spend myself lavishly on You.  Only you are worthy of my all. God I give you my heart and all my love! 
Continue to do your deep work in my heart and life.  Transform me into the woman - wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and servant - that I long to be!   
In Your MOST precious and holy name I pray... 
Amen. 

 "I WILL LIFT UP MY EYES TO THE HILLS, FROM WHERE DOES MY HELP COME? 
MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, WHO MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH." 
PSALM 121:1


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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Puttin' On My Ruby Slippers

My yellow brick road has been full of twists and turns.
I met a Scarecrow.  A Tin Man. And a Cowardly Lion.
Not the good kind.
These guys wrecked my mind, trampled my heart, and left me weak and afraid.
I succumbed to the drug-induced slumber of sweet smelling poppies.
I've battled some serious flying monkeys.
And faced an Evil beyond compare.

But through all of this, I met The Wizard.
Or should I say, He came to meet me?
Right where I was.
No.  He was not a weak little man,  pulling levers behind a curtain.
I found a strong and Mighty God.
A Wonderful Counselor.
An Everlasting Father.
The Prince Of Peace.

He came to meet me as I turned toward home.
As my prodigal heart realized that this place of fantasy was all a lie, and I longed to return, I wasn't sure if I was worthy.  If only to eat crumbs from His table, I determined to start toward home.
And you know what? At the very moment I turned around on this broken road, I saw him.
Standing right there in the middle.  Arms open wide.

He didn't just welcome me with hugs and kisses...  He brought me gifts.
Not a brain, or a heart, or courage.
But beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of suffering,
and a garment of praise to replace my spirit of despair.

He bound up my wounds and healed my broken heart.  He broke my chains and set me free!
He has created in me a clean heart and renewed a right spirit within me.
He has granted me a spirit of of love, and power, and a sound mind, and released me from my fears.
He has prepared a banquet for me right in front of my enemies.  He has anointed my head with oil.
My cup is spilling-over-full!!

I'm no longer a weak and afraid.  A frail woman. Defeated in depression, and stained by sin.
I am HIS child.  His masterpiece.
A royal priestess.  His chosen one.
I am a MIGHTY OAK.  Rooted in Christ.  Standing at the River.

He has made me new.  And he has made me glad.

That's my Jesus.
My Portion.  My Deliverer.  My Very Present Help in time of need.
That's MY God.
My Light. My Strength. My song.
That's The Rock I stand on.

In fact, here I am.
Can you see me?
I'm the one standing on The Rock of Ages.
In a brand new pair of sparkling ruby slippers.

And if you listen really closely,
You can hear me...
Clicking my heels together... and saying aloud...

There's. No. Place. Like. Home!

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Image Is Everything

This is a post from my old blog... I was reminded of some of it's truths in my current Bible Study's homework assignment today.
Image is everything.   
We hear it all the time.  All day.  Every day.  
We are constantly bombarded with images of what society deems acceptable, and therefore constantly concerned with what we reflect to the world. 
A.W. Tozer comments on God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17:
“Abraham, I am trying to tell you something ---
something very important.
I want you to listen and to comprehend.
Abraham, you were made in My imageand you were designed for a single purpose:
to worship and glorify Me… If you do not honor
this purpose, your life will degenerate into shallow,
selfish, humanistic pursuits….commit your whole life
and future into my hands.
Let me as your Creator and God
fulfill in you My perfect design.
It is My great desire that you become a faithful
and delighted worshiper at My throne…
When you have found Me, you Creator,your Redeemer, and your Lord,you have found everything you need!It will be your privilege to trust and obey.
It will be my privilege to bless you,
guide you, and sustain you.”
 
This passage, as well as all of the scripture assigned to today’s lesson, spoke very clearly to me today… 
There are many days when I think, “Lord, what am I doing here? I feel so lost and confused… I don’t know what you want from me.” But then I remember…
The Bible says we were “created in His image”. We are his “masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). I am also reminded of one of my favorite verses of scripture from Jeremiah, chapter 29, verse 11… “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you… plans to give you a hope and a future”.  And Titus 2:11-14 tells us that as our Blessed Hope, Jesus redeemed us and purified us to be His chosen people.  People who are “zealous for good works."
 
In his book Desiring God, John Piper so eloquently states…
“He created us ‘in His image’
so that we would image forth His glory
in the world.  We are made to be prisms
refracting the light
of God’s glory into all of life.
Why God should give us a share
in shining with His glory is a great mystery.
Call it grace or mercy or love ---
it is an unspeakable wonder.
Once we were not.
Then we existed for the glory of God!”
 
God’s entire purpose for my existence (for the existence of all of creation, for that matter) is to BEAR HIS IMAGE… SHINE MY LIGHT… REFLECT HIS GLORY!!!  
No matter what. No matter where. We are to SHINE!!
So check the mirror… Who are you reflecting today??
So thankful that God can take "old lessons" and breathe fresh life into them.  

All day. Every day.  

Lord, let me be like the moon. Shining in the darkness. Reflecting You.
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Peeling Away

Have you ever seen someone peel an apple in one long, curly, strip?  I've learned this art recently, and I have to say, it's really pretty cool! But it takes time. And care. You can't just wield the knife haphazardly.

This reminds me of another kind of peeling... A kind that takes similar care and patience. The peeling of skin. Yuck. (Didn't know this post was gonna be gross, did you? Well, bare with me... I'm getting to the point soon...)

First let me give you a quick update on where I am. Many of you have been praying for me and, I'm sure, wondering how I've been.

I can really sum it  up in three little, yet extremely powerful words....

GOD. IS. GOOD!!

(And for bonus points, I'll add three more... ALL. THE. TIME!) ;-)

When I last posted about my situation, I told you that I - like Noah and his family for over a year after the rain stopped falling - was in the ark.  Waiting...

I'm still here.

Clean up takes a while. It's definitely a process, but if you take the time needed and do it right the first time, things will be a whole lot smoother once you disembark. At least that's what I believe.

While in this place of safety and rest, God has been healing me. Little by little. Wound by aching wound.

He has also begun healing those I love.  Again, a process, but very visibly and tangibly so.

His Word is ALIVE and ACTIVE and it is doing its thang!!

The trick to this process is making sure that I am in a posture of humility and repentance. That I yield, or submit, to It... To Him... daily.

Okay. Now back to the peeling part.

I've always loved The Chronicles of Narnia. Ever since I was but a wee lass, and my Sweet Mama read to me about the "Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe", I've been hooked! One of my favorite tales comes from a lesser known work, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader". It is in this volume that we meet the cousin of Lucy, Edmond, Susan, and Peter... Eustace Scrubb. His name gives us a little hint into his character and personality.
Eustace has been corrupted by his progressive parents, who are more interested in jumping on the latest bandwagon fads than they are in raising a son with strong ethical values. Eustace's life is devoid of art, literature, and God, and as a result he is a puny, selfish, unpleasant person. (Schmoop.com)
In other words, Eustace is a piece of work!

But aren't we all??

My favorite part of the story is when Eustace turns into a dragon, or rather grows gnarly, ugly dragon scales. This happens because he wanders off into a dead dragon's cave and his greed takes over. He begins to fill his pockets with treasure. Cursed treasure. (Hence the scales.) Later on, he realizes his wrong, and decides he no longer wants to be a dragon. or greedy. or any of the other negative things that have characterized him up until this point. He tries to remove the scales, but as soon as he peels one off, another one grows in its place. This process is really very painful, and the fact that it's not working at all, is driving him to desperation and despair. But that is actually a good thing, because it is only when he yields to Aslan, The Lion, and allows Him to remove the dreaded, cursed pieces of dragon, that they stay off. For good!

 “Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
 “Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”
Eustace could not restore himself. He had to let Aslan do the work. As much as I would love to wave a magic wand and be whole again, I cannot. I have to let Jesus do the work. And it takes time. But oh, my sweet friends, as each layer of "ick" has been pulled off of my dragon-scaled heart, as I too have been doused into the healing waters of The Word and The Spirit, I have sensed a relief and a pleasure unlike any other. It's truly indescribable.

My Redeemer has come for me. In all his captivating brilliance, He has come. I called to Him, and He answered me. He has delivered me (and continues to deliver me) from my enemy... each and every day. He is my light in the darkness. He is my Hope. My Strength. My All.


Someday soon, I sense it even now, as I look over at the ugly, gnarly thickness of the scales that covered me... the fear, the sin, the shame, the self-loathing, and spirit of depression... I know it is starting to happen again. I feel it bubbling up inside of me and beginning to radiate through my newly bared skin.

Jesus is allowing me... empowering me... to shine again!

To shine my light, and reflect His glory!!

Hallelujah!! 
Thank you, Jesus!!  
Amen!!!
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