Tuesday, February 28, 2017

  Follow Me

After years of wondering I finally got some revelation about what to do with my life. Be warned;
sometimes the answer to such a question may leave you with even more profound questions. This has been very true in my case. Build a business empire is the answer I got. Now how do I go about that exactly? Thus far I haven't been able locate the instruction manual. Thoughts around building and growing a business suddenly made updating my LinkedIn account appear attractive. It didn't take long to realize I was out leagued. After looking at potential connections, I just couldn't get peace or find the words to list the highlights of my inexperienced work history. Sure I could say writer, (although not enough of creative writer to construct an engaging LinkedIn profile). I could say teacher, cake decorator... but truthfully I feel more like a student of all of those things than master. As simple as it seems, there was a very real pause in me about what to say and whom to follow. That's when I remembered these words: "Follow me." They were first uttered by Jesus. He coined the term long before Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other form of social media exsisted or even had a clue. He spoke those words across centuries, with all history in mind. The invitation is as geniune today as it was back then. "Follow me." No skill or title required, and anyone, and I do mean anyone can access His presence. I am friends with the most high, all powerful God. I am connected to the almighty. This business thing looks scary, but it's safe to say do "I know someone." I think I'll be ok with or without LinkedIn. Everyone, everyone should be so connected. As they say "It not what you know. It's who you know." #following Jesus...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Big Daddy Weave - "My Story" (Official Music Video)

Grace has been on my mind. Most people have no use for the word, and books have been written attempting to define it. I won't get into that. All I know is God, by dying and raising again, did something for me that I DESPERATELY needed, but could NEVER do for myself. He rescued me AND gave me power in this life and the life to come. His sacrifice has allowed me to experience the awesomeness of being in right relationship with Him. His love was proactive. I did not deserve any of this, yet I value it above all else.
I heard this song a few months ago is. It seemed like a fitting time to share it. It's powerful to me, because this is my story too.  It is the story of anyone who truly believes and places faith in Christ. It is the heart of real Easter celebration.  Hopefully this is your story too. May you truly know the grace of God. Happy Easter!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Gratefully Insane! 

I'm amazed by the many things we accept as truth. Many of which are a full assault on wisdom and common sense. Yet, if it contains the tiniest element of truth, we accept it absolutely. Even worst, we perpetuate it. Here is one: "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." Really? I hear that one often. Thing is, where I'm from that definition fits another word. Perseverance. I guess perseverance is the new insanity.

It's a shame that we now frown upon, and even vilify persistence. Persistence requires repetition of effort. Success in any area relies heavily on it. Repetition is a hard. Repetition without reward is even more difficult. It's draining. It's like a constant blow to the soul, a journey in defeat. As painful as this process can be, nothing that we really want comes easily, or happens on the first try. Repetition perfects a thing. The old adage is true. "Practice makes perfect." Sadly, it is in direct opposition to the "insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result" mantra.  
I was taught "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Now we are being told, "if at first you don't succeed redefine success." This can only be true if your definition of success is not God's definition. That aside, easy routes, and minimal sacrifices seems the current wave of thinking. It has seeped deep into church. Words that conflict with this new idea, have been phased out. They aren't sexy enough. Discipline. Self control. Longsuffering. Steadfastness. Perseverance.

The Christian life is about perseverance, not preservation. Unfortunately, we've made it about the latter. This makes "quitting" winning. Preservation is the operating system of the flesh. Anything that conflicts with self can be put aside and reasoned away. Perseverance is the powered of the Spirit. There is no "give up" in it.
 The scriptures teach "do not to grow weary in well doing." We are promised a harvest if we do not give up- Galatians 6:9. The enemy wants us believe that continuously doing well expecting to reap a reward is insanity. Do you realize how insane Jesus would look by today's definition? He uses kindness to lead people to repentance. He demonstrated His love for us by dying for us while we were sinners. He consistently acted in love for His enemies.  Today we'd call that being a "doormat." I wonder how many believers can say they have determined and consistently demonstrated love towards an enemy? We struggle to do that with love ones. To defend this low threshold for enduring in love we quickly cite scriptures about Jesus whipping the money changers in the temple. It's an attempt to justify our unholy "stand up for yourself" position. But we forget He allowed himself to be nailed to a tree by those who hated Him. He allowed Himself to be spat upon. He was abused by His enemies. He did not "stand up for Himself." He could have. Instead He allowed it. Who does that? By today's standard that's being a "doormat" indeed! How many people blaspheme God's name daily and still live? He is holy. Where can His eyes find rest from sin on this earth? Still, He endures the profound vileness of the sins on this planet AND continues to do good for sinful, abusive people. That is the very definition of what our world has labelled a "doormat. "Truth is, often what we call being "doormat", God calls patience and longsuffering. 

Suffering. Longsuffering is truly the heart of the matter. This is what we are really fighting against. We cannot tolerate pain. We want no part of it. Hey, I don't desire it either.  Still, suffering done well produces an unparalleled result. On more than one occasion the scriptures talk about glorying in suffering. These are the passages we want to forget. We want to explain them away or ignore them all together. We talk openly about the grace of God, but we perceive it to require no pain, suffering or effort from us. The grace of God is a wonderful thing, but we like to forget 2 Corinthians 2:9-10 "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore will I boast more gladly in my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest upon me. That is why for Christ sake I delight in weakness, and insults and hardships, in persecutions and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Everything in God's word is for our benefit. There are no "filler scriptures." We cannot reason this away. God's grace is great, but grace isn't here to make us feel "no pain" and erase all effort or judgment. That's a lie!  Grace is NOT an enabler or perpetuator of weakness. It is not call to laziness. It is an opportunity for the revelation of God's power.  Grace does not eradicate suffering. Grace enables us to confidently withstand hardships and overcome them. Grace is not peace with the flesh. It is God's power over it. It is not an escape mechanism, whereby we elude all pain and accountability in life. How many times have we heard grace used as a reason to blanket pardon ungodliness? Yet we'd be offended to the core if we were ever told, "God's grace is enough to help us in trial." It sounds so preachy and uncaring, but one is the truth, the other a lie. Often the lie is embraced and truth rejected. Unless we endure sound doctrine, we will not realize "God's kingdom come, and His will be done on earth." We must align our lives with truth. The truth is grace is not merely the peace with sin and failure we have reduced it to. True grace reveals the power of God. It is triumphant. It calls us to attempt the impossible.  Anything calling itself grace, marked by sin and no power of God is a lie.  Grace an power are usually a packaged deal.

Romans 5:3 talks about not only glorying in suffering, but says suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. Say what! The root of hope is suffering? I don't understand this fully. It seems like a contradiction. Yet, it is truth. I have, an continue to experience this. My suffering fixes my focus. The end result is a greater hope. This does not always happen immediately.  Sometimes it happens eventually. The point is, there is meaning in our suffering. This world will not let us escape it without going through difficult things. God in grace, gave us the power to overcome and redeem those situations. He even promised us in Isaiah 40:28-31 to give power to the weak, a renewal of strength, and endurance to the weary. Perseverance is hard. But God blesses us to be able to do it.
I encourage you to align your will with God's will.  Persevere in His ways, even when it looks insane to those around you. Don't give up no matter how long it's been, or how bad it looks. Truth has no expiration date. "In due time you will reap, if you faint not."


Monday, February 29, 2016

Some days (Mondays) are harder than others.
I've made peace with that.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Destination: Journey

 Are you comfortable with being alone? How about being alone for a long time? Resist the urge to answer immediately. 

Alone is a small word with mighty implications. It can be the best and worst thing to happen to you. It can be the ingredient that takes your life to another level, set you free, keep you stagnant, or set you back years. How many people put off life until they have the desired company? How many wait until they feel they will have the desired effect. Trips, ideas, businesses, obedience, charity, talents, feelings, dreams all placed on hold waiting for right time and the right person/people to come along. Even fitness goals are put off for lack of a workout partner, spousal or familial support. This baffles me. How does the mind allow us to take something individualistic in nature, and make it about having company? It does. Often.
I'd like to see that changed. Being alone is not exactly the same as being lonely. That could be part of it, but it's not the same thing. God created Eve because it wasn't good for man to be alone. Yet He, Jesus, often went alone to pray. What alone means and how it affects our lives depends largely on how it is used. 

Busy is in. We are surrounded by lots to see, do, and many "friends" to join us. I question the fullness of our schedules. How much of it is fluff? Are we trading great things for good things? Are we making time for what is truly important? Are we avoiding reality (assuming we know what that is) and escaping into foolishness? Are we trading "right now" waiting for the right people, time and circumstances?

For years, I was plagued by "right time" mentality. I wouldn't describe myself as patient ...yet I waited decades for the right moment to begin walking in my talents. For a long time I didn't even acknowledge them. Weird. I hate failure so I was waiting for the "right time" to try. I didn't really believe in my abilities so I waited on the right support. I didn't see how I could achieve the things I dreamed, so I waited  for the right connections. I was waiting doing nothing. Frozen. Life was passing. The right people weren't showing up. The timing was way off. In fact circumstances often produced a current that kept taking me further from my ideal scenarios. I was drifting away from the situations and people I felt I needed to make my life really happen. All around me, as far as I could see was open water. No life preservers of "right time," "right support," or right connections in sight. Recently, I got tired of the drift and determined I'd swim up stream- alone if I have to...for as long as I have to.  But I don't have to. I serve the God who walked on water. I believe He could have ran on it if He wanted to.That same power is still available to me.  Like Peter if I trust Him, I can walk on water too. 

Water. For years I had this reoccurring dream of standing on the rocks or shore, often overlooking cloudy, choppy waters, wondering if I should get in. I no longer wonder. They don't often, but  now when have those dreams, I'm in the water and venturing further from land.  I not sure where I'm going, but I'm purposely wading with God through life to what He's called me to in Him. I do not have the right circumstances. I pretty much have chaos. I do not have the right support.  Most people have no idea what I truly want to achieve. I'm sure they'd smile politely and cringe inwardly if they knew. No matter. However big or small, if God has led you to it, do it with all your might. Alone if you have to. 

So, do you feel alone? That has everything to do with how you live your life. Embedded in the belief that we are alone is power. It is the source of many lies, and can be the seed of defeat. The belief that we are alone is one of the greatest obstacles to trying anything. Actually, alone means no real reason to try. Alone means no accountability. Alone means no direction. Alone means little hope for a future. Alone means no one sees. No one cares. What does it matter? Why be faithful, persevere, walk in integrity? I could go on. 
The reason we do most things is to serve, impress, or hurt somebody. Admit it or not, we are motivated by others. Not always, but more often than we think. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. I rest my case. That is why you must hear this: You are not alone. You don't have to get comfortable with being alone at all! Never. Ever! It may appear no man genuinely stands with you, or near you for miles. God does. His company is better than armies of trillions. He stands with you and knows your potential in Him. Live what He has imagined for you. I'm not talking about something out of the realm of His will. I'm talking about God given ideas, the way you treat others, handle life's issues etc. In all of it, God has a will for you. This the seed of dreams, doing life God's way. Obedience to what God has already shown you, unmasks God's dreams for you. It brings life's mission into focus. Clarity.
It's tempting to think that the dream is the culmination of an idea or final a destination. Think again. Often the dream is the foul stuff that gets worked out of us on journey. It is the truth we come to know, and trust and the lies we lay aside along the way. I don't believe God's dream is the destination. I believe God's dream for us, is the fruit we produce on a well traveled journey. His dream is who we can become in Him as a result of the journey. The destination is the reward for that journey.  

When I was a kid there was a church a few miles from my house. The minister and his family, which for a while consisted of Him, his wife and the one child, would leave their house, drive to the church and worship. They did this every Sunday. During my early years my family would attend regularly.  As I got older, no one but the minster and his family went. That number could be as little as three, or as high as six. Still they went. From my house I could hear them over loud speakers praising God and preaching. I used to wonder "Why? Why go when no one attended but his family? Why not just have church at home?" It's wasn't until a few months ago I understood why. This man lived as unto the Lord. He was faithful to the one who sees all. No one in my settlement will ever be able to say to God, "we had no church. No one told us about you." This man gave everyone a chance, every Sunday to choose God. He even preached in the streets. By all appearances He was served alone. He continues to do so to this day. He has been faithful to the call, but equally as important, faithful to the journey. Truth is it is impossible to fulfill any call/mission unless you are devoted to the path that takes you there. So many of us want the prize, but despise the path to it. If I'm honest, that's where I spent most of my adult life wanting the end results, of a hard fought battle, but not the battle. All the spoils for none of the war is childish. I had to grow up, and make peace with the path. Like the preacher, I had to accept struggles, and be committed to obedience in them.  Faith does that.
I have a feeling that there are rewards untold for those who are faithful, especially when they appear alone in their faithfulness. I could tell you of a few others, who walked alone. There are not many, but in my life God has placed a few. I believe He did so for such a time as this. Their past example is a road map to my present state, and perhaps to you. Alone is never alone. What you do when you feel that way matters most. I've had examples of what it means to be faithful. I too can be faithful.  They have taught me that failure is not proof that we are alone. Failure is an opportunity to persist in faith. Perseverance isn't really tested until you must continue on alone.  Resistance isn't proof that you are alone. It is where you determine what you really believe and who trust. It's where you find your truest friend, God Himself. Get "alone" with and discover that it means to truly walk with him. He is the hope of hardness.

How many of you are standing on the shores of your talents and abilities?  Not sure you want to wade in the water of that, or go where it takes you? Do you love your comfortable shoreline? Is it your "sure thing?" So many people become observers of their own lives, watching the horizon, waiting for their ship to come in." Just remember "ships don't come in" unless they first leave the shores of somewhere. "Ships don't come in" unless someone has the tenacity to get on the water and drive, sail or steer that thing into harbor. An unmanned vessel is a wreck waiting happen. Don't be a wreck! In the words of the old spiritual, "wade in the water children. Wade in the water!"

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Love's Got You
You are no accident. Nor is your visit to this page. You are reading these very words by supernatural design. They were given to me for you. True story. I asked God one day, "God what do I tell people about you?" "Love has them." Those were the words He gave me.  It's a strange message, but I instantly knew its meaning and implications.

When I was pregnant with my first child I was a micromanaging mess. I wanted so much for her. For me. For us. I was on the hunt for information. I read books. I poured over materials to make the best choices for her. I evaluated the safety of the things she'd use, car seats, diapers, doctors, pacifiers, strollers, clothing, cribs, fabric, detergent. Trust me the list is lengthy. I wanted to make sure she was safe. Even the meaning of her name echoes that desire. Samara we named her. It means protected by God. I was all about the details of this baby I had not met, but loved. Details. They speak of love. In fact, they scream it. Whether the smallest thoughtful gesture or some grand consideration, details matter.  That's what "love's got you" means. It means God's love has you covered even in the most minuscule details of your life. It means every facet of your life has been considered, planned, and counter-planned by a God who loves you. It means that nothing in your life surprises God. He says He knew you before the foundations of the world. That's a long time to plan. His love has considered the details of your life since then. It means don't worry. It means absolute rest.

I prepared for my child with as much wisdom as my human mind could understand. I still do. I pray for her. I give her advice about anything I can think of to prepare her heart and mind for this world. I try to consider the details that would spare her the most pain and make her life better. You'd probably call what I'm doing "taking responsibility." Afterall, I brought this child into the world. My planning and preparation for her life is my obligation. Don't you think God is a better parent than I am? Wouldn't He be more prepared than I could  be? Don't you think He's wiser and more powerful? I can tell you without hesitation there is no comparison. He is the only true Father. A perfect parent. He created you. If you trust Him, He has an obligation to take care of you. God forbid, my child decides not to listen to me. If she leaves my house, and chooses another family, she is lost to me. The relationship cannot be repaired unless she decides to come back. But because she is still my daughter, I'd still leave the door of reconnection open. I'd still hold her share of inheritance pending her return. If I, a severely imperfect creation can do this for my child, how much more would God the Father do? I'm telling you, He'd do and has done more than we'd think or imagine to reach His children.  It is then wise, safe, and in your best interest to trust Him. He knows you, and the plans He has for you. He will get you through and to where He intends you to be. Got problem you can't solve? God's got a solution, designed by Him for you, especially for that problem, and at this time. He knew it was coming. Got a path you are not sure you should take? He's the ultimate guide. What would your life look like if you lived as though you were greatly loved and considered? Can you even imagine it? What would your life be like if you lived as though love is aware of every detail in it? How would you change if you believed love has made great plans for you with the details of you in mind? Personality. Gifts. Family. Country. Likes. Relationships. Dislikes. Imagine all of you, all considered, all the time, all planned, and loved.

God is love. It is WHO He is. He cannot act outside of who He is. Often we believe God is our judge. It's true. He is our judge, but our judge is love. Literally LOVE is our judge. That's huge! It's a major detail that we miss. It keeps us from loving God. It keeps us from trusting Him. How do you love and serve someone you don't trust? We can't.
The other day my daughter, said something that had me laughing hysterically. She recounted an experience with a group of people. The presence of God was there. She was supposed to be taking pictures. She didn't, because the moment felt sacred. She then added, "I had a feeling if I did, Jesus would hit the smite button 20 times over." This is often our view of God. He's warmed up, waiting, and ready to pounce. Then why create us? Why sacrifice yourself for us? Just to play the "smite" game? Despite what we believe the answer is no. I have life. I gave life.  Life has a way of wanting to create life. It's a beautiful thing. That is what He intended. His original plan had us experiencing life fully, never questioning we were loved because we lived and walked with Love Himself.
That plan was affected by our enemy. Satan. He's the one that's waiting to pounce. He falsely accuses and condemns. Interestingly enough we say of him, "the devil is in the details." Nope, he is not! He didn't create. He was created. His attention to details is limited a best. That is why his plan is to always to steal, kill, and destroy. God's plan gives life. Life is a constant generator of details, because things are constantly changing.  Not so with destruction. Destruction brings death. The avenues, are often the same, lack of self control, lust, and the pride that we know how to run and control our lack of control, lust filled lives. See the problem there?  Crazy, isn't it! The enemy twists and decieves us into whoppers like these. He wants us to miss the many small and mighty details of God's great love.

Sunday is Valentine's Day. We'll celebrate the way we love people in details. Flowers. Notes. Candy. Songs. Whatever. Wherever you are, I hope you will pause to remember Love Himself. God, our creator. He is the most detailed lover of them all. You are His, or you can be if you choose. You are in His sight wherever you are or whoever you belong to. Whether you view yourself as good or bad, you are redeemable. He planned your redemption, just like He planned this moment.  Stop. Listen and think.  Life can be without the fruitless effort of worry. It's not popular, but it's still true. God has that for you. It's
His plan.  It's yours, if you trust the details of your now, to the one who knows how to handle them all. Happy Valentines Day. May you KNOW the only true love- the love of God.