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.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Finding Faith 

Certain words carry baggage. Gay. Straight. Colored. God. Vote. Male. Female. Pink. It's a shame really, because those words are beautiful and innocent. They have profound meanings and implications, yet they are indistinguishable from the connotations and drama they evoke. The reactions to them are often immediate, passionate, and extreme. Whether an extremely sluggish reaction, overreaction, silence or screams there is hardly ever objective listening going on. You almost instantly want to smack, praise, turn off or tune out the speaker/messenger.

Faith is that kind of a word. Did you instantly shut down when you read that? Don't. Let go of the baggage. Hear me out.  Faith is more than church a word. Faith belongs to everyone. It affects, and infects us all. We all have it. We were born that way. Where we place our faith is the source of our differences, but there is no getting around it; we all have faith in something. We may not call it faith. It often masquerades as devotion, loyalty dedication, hope. Still those things are often a ruse for the measure of innate faith we all possess. Where we spend our time, and thoughts is often the area we've esteemed most faith worthy.  It could be in ourselves, work, our relationships, our gods, our finances, abilities, activities, careers and more. It could be invested in one main source or spread thinly over several sources. The latter is what most people do. They have faith in all the pots in their lives, no matter how shallow. It is a combination of a little here, a little there, tucked in away in what we feel will help us most in a time of need.

Untold is that a little faith in many places amounts to no real faith at all. If a thing is truly worthy of faith, it's worth a total investment. All in. That's what God wants. He wants all our faith. He deserves it.  In fact without faith we are told it is impossible to please Him. Furthermore, Jesus marvelled at one thing and one thing only: faith. Remember how He said that all the commandments hinged on two: love God and love others? Likewise, all He told us to do here hinges on at least one thing: faith in Him. Jesus said mustard seed sized faith can move mountains. Mountains.
Faith is the currency of Heaven. I believe it is why Jesus did works when He walked the earth, not to increase His faith. He already knew He could heal the sick, raise the dead, walk on water, curse a fig tree, and all the rest. He did it to increase our faith, the faith of those who followed Him and would one day follow Him. Yes, He wants our works, but only as a product of faith.

The faith of a person determines control. Destiny. This is why its placement is important. It needs to be in something eternally secure. Immutable. God is the only one who guarantees He does not change. To invest in any other but God is to invest in the uncontrollable, the random, change. It is pursue insecurity, to partner with inconsistency, and align oneself with the unfaithful.
Faith in other sources leaves us with a product that can fall apart, shake, change and shift. It is subject to the powers, or lack of power of the one, or thing that possesses our faith. This is why God must have our faith, and why He proved He is love. Perfect. All good. If He were not, He's no more deserving of our faith than any unstable, selfish person/thing which bends, break, shift, changes. God's proven, perfect love is the collateral for our faith. His faithfulness secures our faith. He can be entrusted with our faith, because He has done everything to earn it.
He knows and does what's best for us. He wants us to be able to withstand the storms of life. He doesn't want us to be shifted, carried away with every wind. He wants us to be stable not tossed by the waves. In/on Him is the only solid place to stand. He's the only one that cannot change. He is flawless and immutable. Forever. Everything and everyone else must change. Always. Thus faith in anyone or anything else leaves us subject to correction, to change. To invest elsewhere is to invite a shift. It is investment in instability. When the shift comes will you be able to withstand it?
How many people are affected when the stock market corrects itself, a child strays, a spouse leaves, someone dies etc? Those are hard things. They hurt. They also reveal the true location and whereabouts of our faith. In Him is the only place you can invest faith and have guaranteed return and growth. He promised to those who have more will be added. In exchange for you faith you will get more faith. It's a win win.

If you spend you faith on other things, you can be successful, or fail or be misled, but you will also be controlled. Faith in anyone or anything, gives it power and control. That is why you must put your faith in something or someone who doesn't seek to control you, but who knows you, loves you and wants to complete you. Despite what you've been told or feel, God's love does not seek to control you. It seeks to fulfill you, to make you whole. That will not change. You can trust it with your faith.
A wise man builds his house on a rock. When the elements test it, there is no movement of him in the storm, because there is no movement in his God. Indeed the elements come to reveal the location of our faith. It a opportunity to examine and correct any faulty faith investments. Are we steadfast, and immovable? That's He wants for us. It's the power of faith in Him. It will make us abound in Him, only in Him. He is the only one not affected by the rain, moved by the wind. He's a sure foundation. Of all the areas we can place our faith it is the best offer out there.

I dream of living on a farm. No mortgage, I'm also a fan of being prepared. I wouldn't say that I'm a prepper, but I'd love to dabble. For me if I'm not careful, that's a dream that will steal my faith. Perhaps that is why God has me living on a patch of land in the city. It would be so easy to put faith in my food supply, and finance supply. If you loose your life for my sake you'll find it He promised. So even my beautiful country dream pales in comparison to the cross. I know I'd put my faith in my fortified house, my food supply over God's provisions and protection. Faith in ability has led many to overcome adversity and achieve dreams. Faith in a cause has led others to set people free. Faith in finances have led many to wealth, and poverty. Faith is effective. Potent. That's true no matter what your faith is in. Faith or lack of, is the driving force behind work, and the outcome of our lives. Faith in ourselves, our money, our abilities causes us to work in an on those areas, because faith without works is dead. That's also true no matter what our faith is in. I just happen to believe that faith in anything/anyone other than God is a pointless faith, resulting in death of the faith and works. Even faith in a beautiful farm. It's a beautiful fleeting thing. Not fulfilling, but time stealing. Yet, faith in other sources comes so easily for us. I believe the enemy makes this so. He keeps us distracted. He hides truth. He offers us shiny things to blind us to the substantive things of God. He makes fear to arise in everything and causes faith to feel impossible. Unattainable. Liar!

Now faith is not a magic pill. It is a choice to believe God over all else. Looking at a mountain? Need it gone? Tell it to move! God said it can move. That's faith: the decision to believe God despite what is seen. It is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1.
Fortunately, is not a feeling, or we'd never have any. It is an invitation to choose a team. It is the choice to believe in God's wisdom, vision, power, GOD over all else in all areas of life come whatever. That is what the enemy doesn't want us to have and know. He doesn't care if we are gifted, he can use that.. He doesn't care if we are love, he can use that. The only thing that he cannot use or have is anything completely given to God. That is especially true of our faith in God. Once you give your faith to God you have in one action surrendered everything to God. Satan cannot take back what belongs to God. He cannot use our faith in God. He tries, but faith in God cannot be overcome. He tries instead to get us not to have it, to doubt, to fear, and mainly to waste our days placing it elsewhere. It's a run out the clock situation.  He doesn't mind if we have a little faith in God, PLUS other things. As long as we don't place all our mustard seed sized faith in Jesus, Hell wins. Our enemy knows it's best to keep us from ever getting to a place of surrendering total faith in God, because once we do  the entire Kingdom of Heaven is unleashed in us on earth. We become unstoppable, and cause others to follow...and He'll be on the run. Powerless. So he keeps us circling the field of faith, looking over the fence and admiring the fine building faith can build, but never entering. How tragic to stay in the field of but never enter and build the house of faith! So many live this way, with the power at their fingers, but fail to press go. He who straddles the fence on any issue isn't really neutral, they are neutralized, no power. He who straddles the fence is uncomfortable. Be filled to overflowing friend! I beg you, don't settle for scraps when you can an full and wonderful meal.

Paul said He lived by the faith of the Son of God can you imagine that? Was Jesus ever defeated? To live by that kind of faith is to live worry free. Anxiety free. Victorious. Don't you want that? You can have that. Trust no one but God. Make that decision now. Give Him ALL your faith. Don't take it back. He doesn't take the cross back. Will things get hard? Guaranteed! Choose to believe especially then. Forget what you feel. Learn what God said. Live by it. That's truth. Trust it. Your enemy speaks to flesh. Flesh runs on how it feels. The spirit has power over the flesh. Believe in your heart all of it, all of what God says. God loves you. He died for you. He gave you the riches of Heaven. Experience them here. Faith unlocks the experience. Live free. Live by faith in Him. Live!