Inside Out

8 08 2014

lessonsbyheart:

Bernadette packed this short article with truth. Enjoy this lovely sister’s post…then be sure to read her other Spirit-inspired writings! \o/

Originally posted on somebodylovesmeblog:

Last weekend, my husband and I took my mom to visit our relatives in Maryland.  We all had such a fun time together, just enjoying each other’s company and laughing a lot!

As usual, the food was delicious, and being that they live so close to the Chesapeake Bay, you know they picked up a bunch of steamed Maryland Blue Crabs.  All I can say about that is …YUM!

My cousin’s husband gave me some pointers on how to eat the crab, and I was armed with a mallet and a little sharp knife.  Although, I have to admit, my husband did most of the work for me, I proceeded to get down and dirty with those crabs, and it tasted like heaven!

On the way home, I noticed that I had cut my thumb…it was like a deep paper cut.  I hadn’t even noticed when the damage was done. …

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Counterfeit Fruit of the Spirit

7 08 2014

lessonsbyheart:

Please don’t miss this excellent article on the Fruit of the Spirit. \o/

Originally posted on Derek E. Radney:

God used Tim Keller’s bible study on  the book of Galatians to change my life by giving me a completely different understanding of Christianity.  Before I worked through the study, I thought the gospel, that Christ died for my sin in my place according the Scriptures and rose from the dead on the third day, was for people who did not know God.  I thought that once I became a Christian, the gospel ceased to be relevant to my life and what mattered was understanding how I was supposed to behave and then obeying.

Whenever I read Galatians 5:19-24, I was either crushed by my failure to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit or incredibly prideful at what I thought to be successful compliance.  In reality, I produced counterfeit fruit, and Keller helped me see that the reason was that I was still living as if I was accepted before…

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Truth = Free…If…

5 08 2014

I’ve been getting a massive dose of “reality check” lately…and discovered that while Denial may be a place to vacation for a day or two, it’s not somewhere to take up residency.

And I did this.

For far too long.

Lately, the Lord has been peeling my hands off my eyes and revealing things that I need to see.

Sad, painful, ugly truth.

However, seeing truth is not enough.

It’s what I choose to do with this truth that will set me free -

- or leave me in bondage.

Often, the mere task of deciding what to make for dinner has been so overwhelming that I have a meltdown. Simple meal preparation feels like more than I can handle.

That’s pathetic.

These are days of sorting out unhealthy behavior, taking in the whole counsel of God, being brave, and standing firm. 

There comes a time when we must say, “Enough!”

I feel like a field that’s being thoroughly plowed at the moment. Things previously unseen are being brought to light.

This is good news, for after the plowing comes the planting – then growth – then a harvest.

God is good at what He does, so I am in good hands.

When one has walked in denial, though (as I have all my life), learning to face the truth – and then bravely doing what needs to be done is hard. It is scary.

Thankfully, the Lord let me know that I can trade in my headless collar for an Anchor!

I’ve learned the lesson of an unmanageable life. A life beyond my control – circumstances beyond my control.

Having done so, I no longer need my rhinestone circlet to hang on my wall as a reminder.

Instead, I’m  in the market for an anchor… which is kinda’ funny, because I got rid of the Asian decorative stuff in my house and have been replacing it with ocean-ish stuff. (I love yard sales!)

In 2005, I realized that I had four main Scriptures to which I would cling in times of adversity:

Jeremiah 29:11 – His plans for me are for good, and not evil, this will end gloriously!

2 Cor. 4: 19 – in light of eternity, this is momentary…and will end gloriously!

Deut. 33:27 – God is my refuge, underneath me at all times are His arms, ready to catch me if I fall.

Romans 8:28 – This is all being worked together for my good – and will end gloriously!

Now I have new ones:

Isaiah 42:9:

“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.”

Isaiah 35:3-6

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.

Being transformed, I’ve discovered, means having what I believe and how I think adjusted to what is true…about the Lord, about me, and about life in general: a renewed mind.

Sometimes the paradigm shift this brings alters the course of life by a few degrees. At other times, it’s more like a 90-degree adjustment. These days it’s more like a 180! The greater the shift, the more stressful it can be due to opposition from others.

So I ask for your prayers: that I will continue to allow the Lord to transform me and not harden my heart; that I will stand firm and be brave; and that I will walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord.

Thanks for “listening.”





Remote Control Words

31 07 2014

Most of my adult life has been spent ferreting out the lies I believed about God as a result of treatment by the men in my life. It’s sad, but true.

Children do not have the emotional maturity to distinguish between their parents behavior – especially their fathers – and God’s character and nature.

Because these are our parents, it is assumed by every child that they love us. Consequently, we define love by their words and actions. We lack the experience necessary to discern our parents’ shortcomings, and assume that we are the ones to blame…that we are bad and don’t deserve any better.

They are all we have in the way of security. They are all that stand between life and death for the child, by his or her limited understanding.

As we get older, and interact with more people, we may begin to feel a sense of injustice about our relationship with our parents, but due to utter dependence upon them, are powerless to change our lives.

Many end up with a shut-down heart, and an intense hatred for and distrust of God.

As a child, I went to a vacation Bible school, and fell in love with Jesus. He didn’t seem to share other’s opinions about me, and that made Him as attractive as a magnet to a fridge in my mind!

We didn’t go to church much, though. After while, He faded into the background…

…until I made a mess of things at the age of 12.

My cousin and her friend decided to have some guys over while her parents were gone. We set up a table in the garage with booze and snacks. (Where it came from, I’m not sure).

However, I’d never me the fellow they’d invited to keep me company. I was a nervous wreck, so helped myself to some of the alcohol…then more…and more.

I don’t remember anything about that evening. I was already blacked out by the time they arrived. Still on my feet, but completely unconscious.

By the time my aunt and uncle returned home, my body was rejecting the alcohol. I ‘baptized’ their house from one end to the other.

The next day, instead of yelling at me and carrying on, my aunt sat me down and gently spoke to me about her concern for my future, and how sad Jesus was about what I’d done.

Grace.

Her act of lovingkindness caused me to determine to become a “good girl” and go to church. I picked out the nearest one and began attending Sunday school, morning and evening services, a prayer breakfast for teens, the mid-week service, and youth group.

Jesus loved me, I knew this for sure.

Too bad His Dad hated my guts!

Just like my dad and step-dad…and nearly every other man I’d ever met.

Religion became a chain tightly wound around my neck, choking the life out of me. God had so many rules, and seemed so hard to please. I never knew what was going to set Him off.

Just like my dad.

Meanwhile, Jesus loved me, coaxed me to walk with Him, to trust Him.

It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I realized all the lies I’d believed about God because of experiences with men.

I thought God was altogether like them.

Today I have a loving relationship with my heavenly Father.

He is nothing like my dad.

For many years, I was angry with God for choosing the parents He gave me. After all, He could have given me healthy, whole, God-fearing parents. Was this all He thought I deserved?

Then I realized that in order for me to be created, it took a specific sperm, and a specific ovum to combine. Any other combination, and I would not exist! This had to come from my mother and my father…no one else on the planet could have done it.

He didn’t hand-pick them; He chose me!

All this to say,

“Men, you have been given the responsibility to bear the Father’s likeness to the world. It’s a high calling.

“These are big shoes to fill, and you will fail in some respects. You will need Abba’s heart if you are going to do this well.

“The men and women in your life need you to reflect the Father’s love, to speak His heart to them, to empower them to become the person He intended the day He chose them.”

A woman’s voice does not carry the same weight as a man’s.

Not when it comes to identity. 

Here are a couple of quotes by William M. Struthers (from Wired for Intimacy, p. 150):

“The masculine voice of affirmation spoken to a woman lets her know that she is loved because of who she is and that she is worthy of pursuit.”

“The masculine voice is received as a voice that speaks unchanging truth. Just as we think of the Word of God being truth that is unchanging, so a man’s words speak what he knows to be true.”

Because men are not nurturing, as a rule, their words are received as concrete truth – whereas a woman speaks from her heart to make things better. Man ‘sees’ the truth and speaks it out.

That’s how humans perceive your words. Did you know that?

It is for this reason that we are told that there is power of life and death in the tongue.

When a man we perceive to be an authority figure makes a judgment call about us, good or bad, we believe it.

Please be certain that your words reflect God’s heart. They will remotely control people for years to come.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. – Ephesians 4:29





A Heart on Lockdown

29 07 2014

I’ve discovered that my home reflects the condition of my heart. When my home is tidy and well organized, so is my heart.

When it’s a disheveled mess, well…you get the idea. I was going to post a picture of my work space, but it’s too embarrassing.

Every adult in the house has taken major hits over the last few months. In one way or another, each has locked down his or her heart.

It’s safer that way.

Waves  continue to buffet our vessel. While the Lord is in the boat with us, in His wisdom He has chosen to let the storm rage on – although He could silence it with a word.

There must be something we need to learn from this experience. We’ll be debriefed later, no doubt.

Over the sound of the rushing wind, and between crashing waves, I hear Jesus call out:

“Let down your nets for a catch.”

He isn’t crazy, you know, but infinitely wise.

However, we’d already ‘let down our nets,’ each one in his or her own way…

…and were let down in the process.

This was hard enough to take when the seas were calm…

But this feels like a Category Five storm.

“Now? You want us to fish now?”

Each one clutches his net a little tighter to his chest. The idea of being let down once again, and in the midst of this tempest is to risk more than we care to lose.

While cleaning my computer’s desktop this morning. I found the following quote. Seeing it today was a divine appointment, and a warning from my loving Father.

The Risk of Love (C. S, Lewis)

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.

If you want to be sure of keeping your heart intact you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safely in the casket of your selfishness.

And in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will not change, it will not be broken. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. The only place outside of heaven where you can be perfectly safe from the dangers of love -

-is hell.

Hell. Hmm, now isn’t that interesting?

What I’ve been describing is, for us, a living  hell. 

Whole days pass with little to show for them…a completed jigsaw puzzle, a bit of needlework. New levels attained on stupid iPhone games (Crowd gasps: “Oooh!”) Mostly, I wander aimlessly through the house.

It feels very much like being buried alive.

Are you sure that the Exodus took place on land? It feels like another lap around the lake. I’ve seen this terrain before, in this same boat! Only the faces are different. ;)

I don’t want to do this to myself anymore. The journey back out of this self-imposed grave is painful and laborious. I don’t have to lock away my heart again.

It’s risky; I’ll have to feel the pain instead of being numb. Can I trust the Lord? I did in the past, and He let me down – or so it seems.

(Or perhaps I didn’t see the whole picture?)

But He calls to me. I dare not decline. His plan for me is for good – not evil.

He does not have a dark side.

(I’ve stated this in many of my posts over the last few months – mostly to remind myself that He is pure Light, not a type of “Jekyll and Hyde.”)

A glance down memory lane shows countless times where He has been faithful.

He has  been good; I must trust that He will  be good to me.

Hmm. Looks like it’s time to go fishing.

Ever so slowly, I’m unlocking the door to my heart. It will probably get kicked around like a soccer ball. At least I’ll be feeling something.

I’m saying “NO” to a locked-down heart!





My Mentor is Two

28 07 2014

Yesterday morning I was getting dressed for church when suddenly my body was thrown off balance by my granddaughter. She grabbed me around my middle in a tight hug and shouted, “Grandma!” with glee.

There’s nothing that warms my heart more than when one of my grandchildren dash across the room and wrap me in a bear hug. Because they are living with us at the moment, this is a daily occurrence.

The littlest one, whom we call “Gerbil” (because she sounds like one when she talks!), loves to come curl up on my lap, sticks to me like Velcro, and imitates me.

Then, as I am apt to do, I began to consider what it’s like for God, my Father, when I run to Him and embrace Him in this manner.

After all, where did I get that love for open and guileless affection, if not from Him?

This became a game-changer for me.

“Lord,” I said, “this morning I want to unabashedly run to You, hug You, and tell You how much I love You. I want to hold Your face in my hands, look You in the eye, and declare all that is in my heart.”

The cool thing is that we usually sing songs about how God makes us brave, or calls us to go deeper than our feet could ever wander. Instead, every song focused on our love for the Lord!

Gee – worship!

I think I may be onto something, for the enemy has redoubled his efforts and all hell is breaking loose around us again.

Excuse me, I think I’ll go tackle Abba again just ’cause I love Him, and forget about the other stuff for a while!

While she may be little and uneducated, my granddaughter sets a fine example of how to demonstrate love to another. I’m glad she’s here to mentor me!

(For those of you who are uncomfortable with using literary license to attribute human features to God, who is Spirit, I realize that He is not in a human form at all…but the Bible also talks about the eyes of the Lord, that His arm is not so short that He can’t save, says the clouds are the dust of His feet, etc. This is not me being irreverent…just enjoying the Almighty God who loves me and calls me His child!)

Have you ‘hugged’ the Father today?





It Involves a Boat

25 07 2014

The year began with a glorious promise from the Lord:

Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them. – Isaiah 42:9

My heart leaped for joy. “This will be a year like no other,” He proclaimed. In joyful anticipation, I stepped into the new season.

I expected a walk in the park

…didn’t hear the water lapping on the shore

…nor the creaking of the boat.

I shoulda’ known a boat would be involved!

The promise was there…

“Let us go to the other side.”

New territory, how exciting! A voyage with Jesus; it doesn’t get any better than this!

When we disembarked, the sky was clear, the water calm. There was smooth sailing ahead…

…or so I thought.

Chatter among the passengers was light and cheerful. Excitement was easily seen in our shining faces and the sparkle in our eyes. No one noticed the gathering clouds.

Jesus lay down and took a nap.

The first flash of lightning silenced the voyagers, and they clapped their hands over their ears as thunder boomed. Joyful faces were replaced with looks of terror.

Not even the fishermen among them had ever witnessed a squall like this one. Waves ten feet high began to toss the little vessel around like a cork, and they were taking on water.

At times like these, two things are easy to forget:

Jesus said we’re going to the other side

and

He is in the boat with us.

…and what’s this? He’s asleep?

Great. We’re on our own!

I began to wonder why Jesus would be sleeping through such a storm.

As a man with a bustling ministry, He was spent and needed to be restored, no doubt.

Ah, but as God, He knew one thing…

…they would arrive at the other side.

It is for this reason that He sits enthroned today.

Whether He’s fully awake -

or seems to be asleep -

He’s got control of the thing!

There’s no pacing, no wringing of the hands while He worries our issues like a bone.

He’s got this!

So, while this year is unlike what I expected – the waves are high threaten to overtake me – I can remember His faithfulness to me in the past, and His promise to make all things new.

Wish I’d have anticipated the boat, instead of a walk down Easy Street. I’d have taken some matters in stride a bit better, I think.

Jesus said, “Let us go to the other side,” 

not:

“to the middle of the lake and drown!”

Sometimes God’s promises involve a boat!








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