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?





Freedom

22 07 2014

As stated in my last post, my theology sadly lacked throughout most of my life.

I gave my heart to Jesus as a little kid. I was so relieved to find someone who loved me!

During my teen years, I learned that He had a wonderful plan for my life…

…so long as I followed the rules.

I married a fellow I met at Bible college. If anything was going to get God’s favor, I thought, that would surely fit the bill.

The marriage was doomed to failure from the beginning. The poor guy couldn’t “be Jesus” for me. That’s what I wanted, a savior.

After a couple of failed suicide attempts, I “knew” for sure that no one loved me…even God didn’t want me.

And that was my perception of God for the next two and a half decades.

Sorry that He’d ever created me.

During my mom’s short illness and then death, though, God was so close I could almost hear Him breathe.

He wrapped me in Comfort, and supported me like never before.

He DID love me!

In all my ‘figuring’ about life and God and stuff, I’d failed to understand the importance of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which God placed in the Garden of Eden.

To me it was the most unloving thing He ever did. Why put a tree there that could cause separation between man and Himself?

The answer is surprising.

Freedom to choose.

We weren’t locked into a relationship with God, with no choice to do anything else.

He gave man a chance to decide for himself whom he would love and serve.

We know the rest of the story.

It lives out all around us today.

Every day people choose to do their own thing…

…steal

…kill

…destroy.

These things involve relationships…people.

You

Me

A look at the Ten Commandments will reveal that every one of them has to do with relationship…

…love God

…love others

When we choose to live independent of God’s laws, people get hurt.

You

Me

The things that have caused me the most pain in my life have been people.

People who lived outside God’s stated guidelines for how life works best for everyone concerned.

Yes, He could step in and “take ’em out.” The weird thing is that He loves them, too.

He is not willing that any should perish.

He wants us all.

And so He gives every man, woman, and child the freedom to choose.

Then, cleans up the messes they make when they reject Him and His ways.

He’s cleaned up many of the wounds left in me by other humans (and continues to do so, I might add).

He’s also cleaned up many of the wounds I caused in others (Thank You, Lord!).

Further, by giving the freedom to choose, there is the added benefit when we end up in the mire of our choice and desperate for help. It isn’t until the pain is intense enough that many of us ever considered the need for our Creator.

Guess what? Some of the ugliest stuff in my story is now the platform from which I can testify of the goodness of God…

…a platform I would not otherwise have.

(Ever had someone who’s never “been there, done that, and bought all the souvenirs” try to counsel you through a tough time? They may speak truth, but it’s hard to ‘connect’ with them; they have no experience in the matter, only theory.)

God never wastes anything!

I don’t have this ‘all figured out’ by a long shot. I’m mostly thinking out loud. If this post sounds like a ramble, that’s because it is!

The bottom line, I guess, is that I like the freedom to choose how I’m going to live life. If I can have this, then others must be allowed to do the same…even if their choice is to commit evil against others.

I suppose at the end of the day, God can still be blamed. After all, He did plant that tree in the garden. He wasn’t content to have a relationship with us simply because we had no other option.

It’s only when love can choose that it is love at all.

Sadly, that means the freedom to choose Satan’s will and way, if that’s what they really want.

God, being no respecter of persons, is very “black-and-white” in this regard:

Freedom for none,

or freedom for all.





Whimsy – Living Life Out Loud

18 07 2014

There’s nothing like having small children around to stir our hearts to lightness and laughter. We have the privilege of enjoying three of our grandchildren up close, for they and their parents are staying with us for a while.

It’s fun to watch them play, imagination turning the living room into a jungle or corral or restaurant. They are un-selfconscious in their play, free to just ‘be.’ I envy them.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our pastors recommended a book by Bob Goff: Love Does. It’s a fantastic book by an adult who is enthralled with whimsy – it sounds like fun, may look a little silly, be risky…let’s go for it! You’ve GOT to read this book!

At the same time, I heard that Donald Miller has a new book out as well. I didn’t know what the title was, or what it was about, but love to read his rambling style, and how he challenges what I believe.

It was his book, Searching for God Knows What that helped me get over people pleasing. Once I realized that real life in Christ does not involve “Values Clarification” (who is worthy to be saved in a calamity in order to help build a new world), I was liberated from the need to compare myself to others and work out (in my mind) why I deserved a seat in the lifeboat and they didn’t.

After all, the ground at the foot of the cross is level – and there is room for all.

Donald Miller’s new book is A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and its subtitle is “How I Learned to Live a Better Story.”

Here’s Don’s brief description of his book:

The two books, read at the same time, complement one another.

It turns out the two are friends. Each has a short section in their book which mentions the other author!

What are the chances I’d get them both to read at the same time?

The two of them challenge me to live a life that includes whimsy – is more spontaneous, and lived out loud. Life is meant to be an adventure, to include risk, and to be FUN!

Yes, there are times when the going gets tough, when all seems dark around us, and nothing makes sense. I want to sandwich those times like a thin piece of salami between two thick slices of the Bread of Life – abundant, enjoyable, whimsical life with Jesus.

Crammed between the two I want all the condiments that make a sandwich a masterpiece – lettuce, onions, pickles, mushrooms, olives, bell pepper, and eggplant, or (fill in the blank), slathered with the oil of the Spirit, Light mayo, mustard seeds of faith, and sprinkled with the salt of the earth.

Now that’s a sandwich that will invite others to dine with us, don’t you think?

I went in search of a photo of Bob’s book, and found this YouTube video instead:

Both books are about living a good story…one that is worth being ‘read’ by others.

There are two quotes from Donald’s book that stuck with me:

“The basic structure of a good story has a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.”

(In other words, a good story is not lived on Easy Street) – and –

“Great stories go to those who don’t give in to fear.”

(There’s an element of risk!)

When I think of the opportunities that I missed because I wanted to be “proper,” “do things right,” and “act my age” (who came up with that dumb idea, anyway?), it saddens me. I’ve been mostly sedate, glum, and safe.

And boring.

The few times I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone and done something childlike and free, people have been drawn to me.

For instance, there was the day I was on the beach and decided to sing to the Lord the new songs He’s given me. Two women kept moving closer and closer (Really, ladies? This beach has plenty of room for all of us!). One of the women was drawn by the music, said she heard the Lord in them.

I handed her an unusual barnacle I’d just picked up. She accepted it with trembling hands, then told me how her brother drowned nearby earlier that year, and the gift I’d given was the Lord’s message to her that all was well. Her brother was safely Home.

Only because I decided to do something silly and sing with abandon like a child.

She would not have been drawn to me had I merely been collecting shells…

I want more moments like that! 

I’m betting that Jesus was like this – a fun, whimsical person to hang out with. One who was unpredictable – spitting in people’s eyes to give them sight, delivering the oppressed (read Mark – this is in nearly every chapter), walking on water (who even thinks to try something like that?), and making lame people walk.

There had to be something vibrant and exciting about Him…even when He was merely passing by.

No one walks away from their steady job to follow a drudge.

Hmm. There’s no crowd behind me.

How about you?

Every one of us was created to be unique, not a carbon copy of someone else. To the extent that we are striving to be like someone else, we are short-circuiting the freedom Jesus died to give. Our gifts, and natural talents and abilities – even our very character – are going unused.

The world needs someone exactly like you, exactly like me, or we would not be here. How different this world would be if we loved better, laughed more, took risks, and weren’t afraid of making fools of ourselves.

Maybe, just maybe, we would discover that abundant life Jesus promised. 😉

It’s time to set aside the lie that we must “act our age” – live with the heart of a child once again (which is not to say be childISH – yuck!). 

People will be drawn to us, to discover what makes us different when we learn to embrace whimsy…

…and live life out loud.

PS I went back to YouTube to check out some of Donald Miller’s videos. If today’s topic stirs something up in you, check out this video filmed at The Gathering, Lipscomb U. He gives some wonderful insight into how to live a better story. (22 minutes long.)





How to Use Crayons

29 05 2014

My husband and I are new to the “prophetic word” concept. It’s taken us a while to understand what’s going on, and every Sunday we’re being stretched a bit more in this regard.

Holy Spirit has been faithfully leading us into truth throughout the process. I’d like to share what we’ve learned.

Each one of us has their own “box of crayons” with which to draw pictures of one another (and ourselves). Without realizing it, this is what we do with our words.

Throughout most of my life, I’ve sat under the teaching of various pastors. One thing they had in common was the picture they drew of the “charismatic” churches in our area. The colors were dark, and beneath were the reds, oranges, and yellows of the flames of hell…which was sure to be their destination.

As a result, when one of the members of this “type” of church would offer a prophetic word, I would listen politely…then let it go in one ear and out the other. I don’t recall a single thing spoken over me (which happened fairly often, by the way!).

My pastors and teachers seemed to have missed this little verse:

Do not despise prophecies.1 Thessalonians 5:20

(Which comes with this cautionary word:

Test all things; hold fast what is good.. V 21)

And they missed this verse as well:

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.1 Corinthians 14:1

Wow! We’re supposed to desire this gift of the Spirit. Guess what? We do prophesy…

By our choice of comments, we either use the dark colors to depict what’s wrong with another…

…or the pastels to draw out what we see God doing in them.

It becomes  a question of the source of our statements.

The pictures our words evoke can either bring life or death.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21

It becomes clear that we ‘prophesy’ over people all day long. We tell them what we see within them – state it matter-of-fact – as if it is truth.

We either color a picture from God’s perspective, and offer a future and hope…

…or we color a picture of whom our adversary wants them to become.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. James 3:9,10

{Is anyone besides me feeling convicted??}

 Yes, there are times when people need a word of correction, or “admonishment,” as the Bible calls it. However,

If our motive isn’t love for the person, 

then this isn’t our assignment!

We are in no position to speak to another regarding their behavior until we have gone to the Lord and asked for His view of that person. If we don’t see them as the torn, bleeding sheep they are, we can’t even really pray for them accurately! (Aren’t you thankful that the Spirit fixes our prayers so they are in line with what is true about others??)

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

So, how will we use our box of crayons today? Will we impart grace to those with whom we communicate? Can we speak words that give them hope for their future? (Which, of course, isn’t something we just ‘make up,’ or wishful thinking on our part. For we have the mind of Christ…let’s use it!!!

Go forth and color your world!





Who’s Idea Was This?

23 05 2014

When God asks us to obey, He doesn’t make us responsible for the outcome…merely for our obedience.

Sometimes, what follows when we obey looks like a train wreck. That’s when we begin to second-guess what we thought we heard.

Then we set about to fix our *mistake.*

However, from God’s perspective, everything is heading toward His desired end.

We have a situation that looks very much like this at the moment.

God asked us to make room in our home for two other families.

That’s all we were asked to do.

Love them.

Not fix them, not correct them, not have an opinion about their separate issues, take sides, or get involved.

House them.

Love them.

We obeyed.

All hell broke loose.

Oddly enough, not in our home.

Despite the various trials each of us is going through, there is a level of peace that can only be from the Lord. Each person has their own volatile test which affords enough stress to float an aircraft carrier. Thrown in with four other like people, the opportunities for conflict abound. Nevertheless, even after a couple of months we continue to enjoy the calming mantle of God’s Presence.

We fight for one another’s heart, instead of fighting one another.

Further, the Lord is providing extra funds to help cover expenses. We’ve had money drop out of nowhere unexpectedly several times.

At the same time, there have been repercussions in external relationships.

Apparently, association equals approval and support of a person’s behavior.

If that’s the case, then Jesus set a bad example for us to follow. 

Judas was embezzling. Yet, Jesus not only welcomed him into the group of disciples, but also made him their treasurer…and washed his feet along with all the “good” disciples.

In addition, Jesus obeyed God by choosing Judas after an all-night conference – and to His own hurt.

Judas betrayed him.

Sometimes obedience seems counter-productive. It may look all wrong for a while.

We will wonder if we heard correctly.

Obedience may cost us in ways we never imagined.

(We will also grow in ways we never thought possible!)

Thankfully, our part is to respond to God’s invitation to join Him in His work.

He takes full responsibility for the outcome!

I can’t wait to see what He’s going to do in and through our home.

All will end well – because it was His idea;

and He is good all the time!