Impossible!

5 02 2014

Chosen by God…that’s you and me.

We remember the day we were anointed to become kings and priests before our God (1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6).

That we were chosen had nothing to do with skills, talents, gifts, abilities, looks, but was based on our heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Despite being chosen, some of us may not yet be “installed” into the place to which we were called – like David who was anointed to be king of Israel, but was not crowned until many years later.

What do we do in the meantime? Let’s drop in on David in 1 Samuel 17 to see what David did.

We find three of his older brothers with Saul’s army at the Valley of Elah. Across the valley was the Philistine army, along with their champion, Goliath.

Saul had already been rejected by God as king, and David already anointed to take his place.

However, David was at home, tending sheep! Not for long.

Dad called on David to run an errand. He was to take grain, bread, and cheese to the army.

In essence, this anointed one was dispatched as a pizza delivery guy!

It is interesting that David didn’t tell his dad, “What? Are you kidding me? I’m the king! Get one of my other brothers to be your errand boy. That’s not my calling!”

Instead, he obeyed his father and set out for the battle.

As he drew near to the place, he could hear the big mouth of Goliath. Every boast and taunt rankled.

He left the supplies with the supply keeper, then went in search of his brothers.

After he asked what was going on, his oldest brother turned on David and accused him of being a rubbernecker. Undaunted, he went and talked to some of the other men.

Everyone told him how big and mean Goliath was.

On the other hand, David’s question was this: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

The men saw a big problem…David saw his big God.

Saul got word that there was someone willing to take on the giant. He was just a kid, though. What to do?

David was summoned, and the king insisted that the fellow put on his armor.

I think David went along with it just so he could tell his buds back home, “I got to wear Saul’s armor!”

The results were laughable. Saul stood head and shoulders above grown men, and David was just a youth.

It didn’t take much intelligence to realize that this would not go well. He took it off again and deferred to his own weapons – a staff and a sling.

He told of killing a lion and a bear with nothing more than these…and his Lord.

Besides, this guy was bad-mouthing the army of the living God – and it ticked him off. Someone needed to shut him up. If no one else was willing to do the thing, then he’d see to it.

Wearing someone else’s “armor” is awkward.

David knew God could use what this shepherd brought to the table.

He stopped on the way to the valley and selected five smooth stones.

Then came the moment of truth.

Once he stepped into that valley, there was no turning back. Could he do it?

Are you kidding?

He was there to defend the honor of the living God.

Without the first irrevocable step,

all David had said would be just a lot of hot air…

No different than Goliath!

“You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

“This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

Then, in classic Aragorn fashion (Lord of the Rings), David ran toward Goliath.

True to his word, he felled the giant with a single stone, then took Goliath’s sword and severed his head from his body. (Ladies say, “Eew!”)

He took that head with him to Jerusalem. (Double Eew!)

As you see above, there are three things we want to take away from this story:

1. The men saw a big problem…David saw his big God.

When we are faced with difficulties we choose what we will focus on. Will it be the size of the matter before us? Or will it be the size of our living God?

2. Wearing someone else’s “armor” is awkward.

Each one of us has been given, by God’s divine power, all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3).

In other words, God knew what armor you have before He invited you into this ordeal.

We get ourselves into great trouble when we compare our equipment (anointing, skills, abilities, talents, or gifts) to those around us.

“Oh, if only I could teach like So-and-so.” “Oh, if only I was a prayer warrior like _________.” “If I had leadership skills like Whats-his-face…”

“THEN I could _________________.”

Um…wrong-o! First Corinthians 1:27 reads, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.”

Feeling too weak or foolish to see the thing through? Perfect! You’re exactly the person God wants to use!

Not only that, but we look downright silly trying to “wear” what someone else has when we step into the arena.

3. Without the first irrevocable step, we will be no different than many other people who sit in church on a Sunday singing about how brave they are…

…then go home and do nothing out of fear: fear of failure, of looking foolish, of not doing it right, of what others might think.

Life will come to a close. They’ll draw the sheet up over our heads, and we will have done nothing noteworthy to demonstrate the power of the living God.

Today I want you to know this:

You are enough for anything God wants to do through you!

Get your sling, and I’ll meet you at the edge of the valley, for nothing is impossible…

…with God!

(This was Sunday’s sermon…bits of it, anyway. It was so good that I went back in the evening to hear it again!)





God Found Under a Chair!

28 01 2014

I’ve been walking with the Lord long enough to know that when I have a day like yesterday something amazing is just around the corner.

Why can’t I remember that when the heat is on?

Yesterday was no exception.

The day was long and tiring. Lyric sheets were typed for worship songbooks. The entire time, the enemy was hard at it: lies, condemnation, doubt, fear…relentless. I would emerge from the completion of one song – and realize what was going on in my head. Time out was taken to capture those thoughts, call on the Lord for help, address some of the stuff being thrown at me, and then type the next song.

This went on all day.

By dinner time I was battle-weary, and beginning to succumb to the lies. Sadly, I know better.

A women’s worship/prayer meeting was scheduled for the evening. I nearly didn’t go because I was feeling like I could just slip in under the door…I was that low.

Friends are good. I’d made plans to meet a couple of women there. They were expecting me, so I gathered up my things and headed to the church.

It was a prayer meeting; I expected maybe a dozen women.

To my surprise, it was standing room only – about 100 women showed up…many of them were in their 20s-30s! That was exciting to see.

During the course of the evening, we broke into small groups of 3-4 women to pray for and encourage one another. The prayer time was interspersed with worship.

There were three in our group. We shared some concerns and prayed for one another.

The leader of our group picked up on the fact that our third member stood at a distance from God. She began to question her.

While they talked, I knew in an instant what we should do.

Barb had done this with me years ago – and it changed everything.

“Let’s ask the Lord to tell you how He sees you.”

She got a wary look in her eyes.

Oh, Lord, I prayed, that wall is high and thick. You’ve got Your work cut out for You!

We bowed our heads and made our request. After a couple of minutes, she raised her head and said, “It’s no use. I know what the Bible says, but it just doesn’t get to my heart.”

“That’s okay. I get that. Keep asking Him. Take this question to Him every day until He responds. He wants you to know how much He loves you – far more than you want to hear it. He’s faithful. You’ll see.”

Just then, one of the leaders broke in to announce that there were two women whom the Lord chose to single out for a special blessing. We were to check the underside of our seats for a taped piece of paper.

As my husband often says, “I coulda’ wrote it down.”

Um hmm. On the bottom of this dear lady’s chair was a note. It read:

“You are a beloved child of the King!”

The other woman and I looked at one another and said at the same time, “That was fast!”

God is so good to us!

Do remember that there were about 100 chairs in the room. What are the odds that this particular woman would sit in that particular chair? Personally, I do not believe in coincidence!

Have you taken this question to the Lord? He longs to tell you of His great love. If there’s a wall – if your heart can’t hear His voice – set aside your doubt. He will find a way

Even if it’s through a note placed under your chair!





Buffeted at the Buffet

27 01 2014

It’s easy to tell when we’re on the right track spiritually:

God is on the move in our lives and we’re cooperating with Him.

We’re hearing from Him in ways that are fresh and new.

We’re spending more time in His Word, or in worship.

We’re reaching out to others and speaking God’s truth into their lives.

At times like these, opposition grows and can become overwhelming, if we don’t know how our enemy operates.

I recently read 2 Corinthians 12:7 and noticed something I’d never seen before. Let me quote it, then we’ll chat.

“And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me…”

I’ve heard countless sermons on this “thorn in the flesh.” Most seem to think it was his eye problem, others that he was short and ugly…kinda’ rude, I think!

On the other hand, I’ve heard few talk about the “messenger of Satan.” For me, this bit was key.

What does a messenger do, anyway?

He delivers messages…words.

This one’s messages buffet us. They can be a continual onslaught

…nothing good or helpful…

…or true.

After all, his messages come from the father of lies – the one about whom Jesus said, “He cannot speak the truth, for there is no truth in him.

When I think of buffeting, I think of a ship at sea, fully rigged and sails billowing. Although the wind cannot be seen, the sailors must know how to read its effects. If they don’t, the vessel could be blown off course. Harnessed, the wind propels them toward their destiny. Unheeded, it could lead to their ruin.

In the same way, if we are not taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, we are at the mercy of the buffeting of these messengers of Satan.

We can find our mental energy consumed when we let the wind of their words carry us wherever they will.

As with a ship, this can lead to our destruction…which is, of course, the intent.

The Lord prepares a banquet before us in the presence of our enemies.

Never forget their presence!

For, while we’re enjoying the sumptuous fare set before us, they are at our side – buffeting us with memories of things done to us, things done by us. They seek to stir up strife, anger, bitterness, and rage – or guilt, shame, and condemnation. They hurl accusations against us. They can be relentless.

The most foolish thing a soldier could do in the midst of the war is say, “I’m sick of all the fighting, the continual vigilance, the stress of worrying about the next attack. Forget this. Let’s party!” We would hear about their death in the next edition of the news.

We must be wise, and not foolish. We are in a war. The time for taking off our armor comes when we reach heaven. Until then, we dare not remove it – especially at the banquet table.

Lord, this understanding is helpful; but is there anything I can do about it? I wondered.

“Yes, but it will take some effort on your part,” was His reply.

We must take those thoughts that come against us and turn them to praise.

If you think about it, every circumstance, every struggle, every dumb thing we’ve ever done has served to make us who we are today. The relationship we have with Jesus is a result of what we’ve been through.

We’ve learned by experience that God is faithful.

We’ve become stronger people, and discovered that things we thought would be the end of us have instead caused us to mature.

Current problems are opportunities for the Lord to show Himself mighty on our behalf.

Remorse and regret are not very helpful – unless we use those memories to praise the Lord for His immense patience with us. We can thank Him for those blunders, and for His atoning sacrifice that paid for every sin we’ve ever committed…and have yet to commit.

In other words, when we find ourselves in gale-force winds of adversity and choose to turn it into a praise meeting many good things come from our active resistance.

Life becomes peaceful when we take every thought captive and choose to look for the good, the right, the pure, the just, the lovely…the praiseworthy.

We move from a “victim” stance to one of victory as we look for reasons to be grateful for life’s events (and remember that they won’t last forever!)

Not only that, but a good look at the path down which we’ve come…including traveling companions selected for the journey…gives us a chance to see how God has taken all things and been working them for our good. That’s worth more than gold!

Do this often enough and our ever-present enemy may stand by us at the buffet…but the buffeting will cease – at least for a while. The last thing they want is for us to take their buffeting and turn it into a praise session!





Struck Down But Not Crushed

3 10 2013

Your past is insignificant except in its value to shape and mold you into the person you are today.

Please stop displaying the tools used to form you. They are not the masterpiece –

You are.

What the enemy meant for evil, I intended to use for good.

You are the showpiece of what I can create using the roughest of tools…everything the adversary brought against you.

Yet you sit on your haunches, whining and holding up the tools of yore for all to behold.

“Look what they did to me!” you cry to passersby.

Yes look. YOU look! Take a good long look.

Do you see the effects? The faith, mercy, compassion, empathy, grace, love, strength, endurance, perseverance, and patience that are now yours?

They are within you in greater measure than they were even a few years ago.

The trials have been hot – intensely hot, I know. They were necessary.

You are clay. Do you know anything of the potter?

The clay is rolled into a ball, then slammed onto the wheel. More pushing and shoving takes place. It takes a fair amount of force to center the clay on the wheel to keep it from slinging off when the work begins.

Then comes more pressure – and going round and round…wall, wall, wall, shirt…over and over. Seen the same scenery time and again? Now you know why.

The implements used are hard. Some smooth, some pointed and sharp.

The potters fingers are poked into the center, pushing, pressing, thinning out the walls.

More implements are used on the outside, and on the inside.

All the while, the potter’s eyes never leave his project. All could be ruined in an instant by distractions, so he stays focused.

The spinning finally stops; but it’s not over yet.

The pot is cut off at the foot…that useless excess clay that held it to the wheel.

Next it’s time for the drying rack; a place where no water is added, and the excess moisture can evaporate. Feeling like you’re cried out? Hmm.

The pot is shelved, seemingly abandoned and rejected.

At last it’s a beautiful earthen vessel. Not good for much, though.

If bumped, it will crack. If filled with liquid, it will absorb the fluid and begin to sag…until it becomes a useless lump of clay again!

What to do? It’s of little value if all it can do is sit there, untouchable.

The firing furnace is necessary to make it useful.

Glazes may be applied, then baked into the piece. What special “glaze” do you have? An illness, injury, or disease? These add to the beauty and uniqueness of each piece, you know.

An interesting thing happens in the kiln. The piece becomes transparent! The potter can see right through the pot. It’s at this point that he knows this vessel can hold water without reverting back to its original form.

Some vessels receive more layers of glaze to achieve the desired result. That, of course, means more time in the kiln.

This has been the story of your life: squished, rolled, smacked down, a life that goes in circles, pressure, your insides messed with, drought, the heat of trials and so forth.

But look, will you? As a result of all you’ve gone through, look what you’ve become!

The only significance those past experiences have had is that they’ve made you what you are today –

My masterpiece.

Without those implements, you would be a lump of clay that melts away into nothingness.

Stop cursing them and be grateful for their value in forming you.

It is My work in you that I want to show off,

not the tools I used.

I want My work in you to declare my glory to the world…my ability to use everything the enemy threw at you to create beauty from the ashes he left behind.

So long as you insist on holding up the tools as if they are badges of honor, that’s all people will see.

Pity will be your reward…a sorry substitute for the glory I want to display through you, don’t you think?

Stand firm…it’s time to rise from the ashes and see –

– not “what might have been”

-but God’s redeeming work in…and through…You!

Praise Him, He saved you from what you would have become, and used your past to make you into who you are today.

If you’ll only see it.

*****

God does not commit evil against us, but the Bible is clear that He allows mere man to choose to do whatever he wants, and also allows the adversary a certain amount of freedom to do likewise (Job, Peter).

Those who do not belong to the household of God belong to the household of the devil, and carry out his will against humans who were made in the image of God. Watch the evening news or read the paper. You can see that he is still hard at work to steal, kill, and destroy. His tools? Other humans.

The amazing thing is that God comes behind him and uses this to turn us into vessels of honor…fit to house the very Spirit of God. I do not pretend to understand this completely, but it has been my experience absolutely.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a great deal of evil, so I’m not talking in theory.

I’ve seen His handiwork as He’s healed this brokenhearted woman, set this captive free. He’s given me the ability to rise up with wings like eagles, to run and not be weary, to walk and not faint. It wasn’t until I was able to see His ability to give me beauty for ashes, and to redeem every bit of darkness within me that I was finally able to let go of my posture as a victim and walk in freedom and Light.

We must let go of unforgiveness and bitterness or learn to be content with pity as our reward for all we endured. I don’t know about you, but I suffered enough at the hands of others. I’ll be hanged if I’m going to pick up where they left off. I’m on my feet and heading for the battle field. There are many others who need to know of God’s healing power. They’ve been taken hostage, and enough is enough! Let’s go get them.

To God be the glory forever!

Amen

\o/





Unlock Your Shackles

25 09 2013

“The key to freedom is not merely what is written in the bible,

it’s what’s written between our ears.”

{This quote comes from one of the 900+ posts I read last weekend. If it’s from you, please let me know so I can properly credit you! ;)}

As a twenty-something year old, my understanding of God was so skewed that I don’t even want to capitalize His name in this sentence. Whatever it was that I “loved” – it certainly was not YHWH!

It is unfortunate that we liken our heavenly Father to our earthly one. While there are some men who are excellent fathers, the majority are not.

Oh, in public, they’re the model of love and kindness.

Get them home and it’s another story. There they reign like a tyrant – selfish, demanding, and subject to outbursts of anger when they don’t get their way.

Others, sadly, appear to be spineless and impotent.

From these “living” examples, a child develops their concept of what God is like.

I was no exception.

My birth father – Mel – abandoned me, I was told for years. (I learned this was not true just a few years ago…thanks Aunt Katie!)

Abandoned? You must have been really bad if even your own father didn’t want you. That’s what a child’s mind does with this information. The identity issues this causes in a child aren’t worth the momentary pleasure a divorced woman derives from such a put down. This doesn’t inflict nearly as much pain on your ex as it does your child. If you are doing this, please stop!

I grew up believing that I was worthless because of this lie.

To make matters worse, I was adopted by my step-dad. He was the embodiment of all that is selfish, demanding, and wrathful. In addition, he was capricious. One never knew what the slightest disturbance might bring in the way of affection or anger. This isn’t the place to expose him – just suffice it to say that he was a very poor representation of our heavenly Father.

As if this wasn’t enough, the church I attended during my teen years was extremely legalistic; so much so that we didn’t even associate with other churches in the same denomination because they couldn’t “toe the mark!” The “god” these dear, devout believers taught about lurked around every corner; watching, just waiting for us to mess up so we could be punished.

Hmm. Not much different than my step-dad.

I pictured life with God like this:

He and I sat across from one another, a game board was spread between us. With a broad grin on His face, “God” said,

“Let’s play a game and have some fun.”

“How do we play?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m not going to tell you. Just make what seems to be the right move. It will be fun!”

I looked over the various parts – the board, markers, dice…I know what to do!

The dice were scooped up and I tossed them onto the board.

Without warning, “God” reached across the table and slapped me hard enough that I fell to the ground. Red with rage, He said, “That was the wrong thing to do. Try something else.”

A smile lit his face, and He brightly said, “Isn’t this fun?”

I made some other move, and all was well…

…and the game went on.

This was my understanding of “God.”

Perhaps now you understand why He’s provided so many “freakin’ miracles” in and around me. He was determined to show me that He was nothing like what I believed Him to be.

To say that He is patient is a gross understatement. He loved me with an everlasting love, therefore He drew me to Himself with lovingkindness.

He has a great sense of humor, too. Remember the church I mentioned? Well, they had a library. Among the books there was one by A. W. Tozer entitled, “The Knowledge of the Holy.” An avid reader, I checked it out and brought it home. God used that book to begin to break through the lies I believed about Him.

Thanks to a high school English teacher who had a classroom full of foul novels…and a “speed reading” machine in the back corner of the room, I can now read somewhere around 700 words per minute with 85% comprehension. (I asked if I could use the machine instead of reading novels and turning in book reports. He graciously consented – anyone else see the fingerprints of God here? ;))

Despite my reading abilities, after three weeks, I’d read only 26 pages in Tozer’s book.

Well, read isn’t the best word to use. Eaten would be a better choice. I had several versions of the Bible, a dictionary, and a notebook. I spent eight or more hours per day absorbing every word that was written. This influx of information, combined with my Fearful Flight, served to greatly alter how I saw God.

In fact, the entire year was one of a rapid transformation as God used His lovingkindness to continue to renew my mind concerning His character.

It was the year of Problematic Food, and How Can You Say You Understand?

The Bible states, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free,” (John 8:32). By the time that all this took place, I’d read my Bible cover-to-cover no less than six or seven times. I “knew” truth…knew about it, but did not know it by experience until God stepped in and began to reveal Himself. When He said, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13), that’s exactly what He meant.

Bit by tiny bit, God has been replacing what was written between my ears!

How I love Him today because of His patient teaching. He never gave up on me – even when I was maligning Him and accusing Him of many atrocious and cruel actions against me. In the process, He’s shown me how deep His love is for me.

If He can love me like this…

…Oh how much He loves you!

What we believe about God will determine how we live our lives. If your concept of Him is anything like mine, ask Him to show you the truth.

Like me, you will learn that:

“The key to freedom is not merely what is written in the bible,

it’s what’s written between our ears.”

You’ll hear the sound of shackles falling to the ground – like a gentle spring rain in no time at all as He replaces those old lies with the glorious truth of Who He is.