The Playfulness of Abba

27 05 2015

When I prayed in March of 2014, I had no idea what God would do with my request! It was during Jim Bailey’s Legacy class. The prayer was something like this:

“Father, you came to heal us, to give us sight, deliver us, and set us free. Would you look under every rock, and overturn every stone in our hearts? Leave no place untouched by Your Spirit.”

Okay, we asked God to search our hearts. No big deal, right?

The next month, life was leveled by a series of events that left me in a broken heap, with little faith left in God. I didn’t talk to Him, and certainly didn’t want to hear anything He had to say.

During Legacy, I met Cheryl Stasinowsky, a very gifted counselor. We’d gone to coffee once during the summer. When life fell apart, I realized that our meeting was orchestrated by God. He’d opened a door before I knew I had a need. I had enough sense to step through it.

In September I began to meet with her every week. It’s been a difficult, although fascinating journey.

At the same time, kidney stones made themselves known. Gall stones as well. If you’ve ever had either, you know that they are not fun.

Week after week, Cheryl and I would address another stronghold within me…and I would pass a kidney stone, or two, or three! Not in the usual, painful way, though. I could feel them at the base of my kidney, then feel them drop down the tube into the ‘holding tank’. That was weird!

For the gall stones, I found a homeopathic remedy online – and it really worked!

Each time, after the Lord took down a stronghold, stones were ejected!

Abba was, indeed, looking under every rock and overturning every stone.

However, during this period, I also developed a massive kidney infection. It annoys me to have to go to a doctor to tell me what I already know – just so I can get an antibiotic!!

She did her fancy tests, and confirmed: Kidney infection. I took the written prescription and headed for the pharmacy, then went home to wait until it was ready to be picked up.

By the time I returned for the pills, the infection was gone.

Completely gone!

It seemed silly to take pills for something I no longer had, so I stuck them in my drawer, knowing that I’d probably need them at a later date.

Fast-forward to last weekend.

By Thursday night, the packing was done and ready to be loaded into the car for our long weekend at the coast.

Friday morning I woke up with strep throat and bronchitis.

Great, I thought, I’m going to sleep away our vacation.

I’ve had to go to the doctor while we were out of town (kidney infection!), and it cost almost $600. I didn’t want to do that again.

Our doctor was on vacation, so a quick stop for a prescription was out of the question.

“Oh, Lord. What am I to do?”

The unused medicine came to mind. Where had I put the pills? That was several months ago.

After I found them, I looked up the medication online and discovered that it was also used for respiratory infections and strep throat.

Woohoo! By Saturday I was feeling much better.

On Sunday afternoon, we sat on the gravel beach at Dry Lagoon (just north of Trinidad). The waves were slowly advancing, for high tide was on its way.

Our quest: agates.

I’ve been reading Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge who said that you can tell a great deal about an artist by his work.

Since I was holding a handful of stones, I began to really look at each one. I realized that in my hand were more than 20 different types of rock!

I began to share what I’d been reading with my husband, and said, “This beach is evidence of the extravagance of God. You know, God could have given us one type of rock, one type of grass, of bush, of tree, and even soil. He didn’t have to give us a variety.

“After all, He didn’t spend millennium in the lab trying to figure out an ecosystem that worked. HE decided how it would all work together. He is the originator of the ecosystem…and, therefore, is not limited by it.

“Yet, He chose to give us such a diverse and interesting planet on which to live. By His work, we can see how amazing He really is!”

“WAVE!” my husband yelled, grabbing for his backpack.

I grabbed my flip-flops and scrambled for higher ground. The ‘sneaker’ wave rolled over my pants before I could get clear.

Finally on my feet, I walked up the incline.

“Hey! We were talking about You…and nicely, too,” I said to the Lord with a grin. “You owe us an agate! Oh, all right. I know. You don’t owe us anything.”

Moving to a new spot, I looked down. At my feet was…

…a beautiful smoky agate…

…in the shape of a heart.

AbbaLovesMe

I love the playfulness of my Father!





Make Mine a Movie

19 07 2014

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post, Whimsy – Living Life Out Loud.

I got so fired up about living a better life that I searched for more videos by Donald Miller and Bob Goff. It didn’t take long to realize that I’m missing out on a lot of living!

Then I began to wonder:  How on earth could I do things differently? Don came to the rescue with this suggestion (for those of you who don’t want to watch the 22-minute YouTube video below). I’ve added comments of my own as well to clarify some of the points:

1. Write down the things we want.

2. Imagine watching a movie about the kind of life that would get these things, working through each one at a time.

The example he gives is of a man who wants a BMW. His movie is about him working hard all his life as a grocery clerk. At the end of the movie, he buys the car of his dreams and drives off into the sunset. His big conflict? Earning enough money to buy the car. {yawn}

Would we be likely to recommend this epic movie to our friends and family? Hardly. Would it make us cry when he got what he really wanted? No. This would be a boring movie.

Is there anything wrong with wanting a BMW? No. But if it is what drives us to get up each morning (no pun intended), then it’s a very small story.

3. If the ‘movie’ stinks, cross the desire off the list. Demote it to a subplot if you want, but it’s not a worthy purpose for which we will trade our lives to attain.

4. If the ‘movie’ looks like it could be an epic, anticipate what some of the conflicts might be.

5. A good ‘movie’ must require effort, will include failure, and times when we don’t think we will make it through, and cry out in desperation. It requires something of us.

6. Circle the ones that would make a good movie.

7. Imagine the climactic scenes. For instance, one ‘movie’ may be to get married and have a family.

This story will require relationship, marital conflicts, self-sacrifice, and love…all great components of an epic movie (a little different outlook for those of us who are parents, eh? I hadn’t thought about parenthood quite from this angle.)

The climax of this story is when the child is newly born and being held my Mom or Dad. So…

8. Between now and then, put no scenes into your movie that will interrupt the climactic ending.

You can ‘edit’ your life as you go through each day. “Will this action/activity move me closer to the climax – or will it hinder/prevent reaching the desired end?” Our choices will be determined by the story we want to tell with our lives.

Outside influences will become conflicts to be overcome, as well. We can’t control other people or circumstances, but we can choose whether they will be permitted to derail our movie or get us to quit trying altogether.

The Bible says, “Where there is no vision (revelation), My people perish…” Prov. 29:18. We must have an idea of what we want to accomplish, and what we’ve been created for if we are to attain our goals.

Here’s to living a better story!

 

If you’d rather hear what Don had to say (so much more than I’ve shared here…;)), here’s his talk (same one I posted as a PS yesterday.)





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.)





Wow! Just Wow!

17 04 2014

“The Kingdom of God is within you.”

Have you ever wondered what these words from Luke 17:21 really mean?

Earlier this year, I asked the Lord to explain this…it seemed important. Bit by bit He’s been increasing my understanding. It’s a “mind blower!”

It begins with the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. He was the perfect Lamb of God who took away our sin.

Took away our sin.”

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

This is known as atonement.

Atonement = “At-One-Ment”

We are at peace with God…

…and He calls us “friend!”

Further, we discover in 1 Corinthians 3:16 that the Spirit of God now dwells within us.

…and we are His temple.

John 15 speaks of our abiding in Christ…and His abiding in us as well.

This is where the Kingdom of God comes in.

Jesus said that He did nothing of His own initiative, but only did what He saw the Father doing. He spoke what the Spirit told Him to say.

He was the prototokis…

the prototype.

We find this term used in Romans 8:29, and again in Colossians 1:15, 18. The English renders the word “Firstborn.” It’s not a very good substitute, for we completely miss the point!

The object of a prototype is to demonstrate what the produced line will be like. It is the example of what is to follow.

We don’t begin to grasp what we have been given!

Catch this from John 14:12:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

Jesus was NOT speaking of what we would do once we die. This is a here and now thing.

After all, we are HIS body. His hands, feet, mouth, ears, eyes, and all the rest. The Prototype is on the Father’s throne. We, His assembly line, are created to do that which He demonstrated for us.

His desire is that we would abide in Him, work where we see the Father work, speak what He tells us to say, and do nothing of our own initiative…just like the Prototype. If we, His body, were to do this, what a difference we would make.

(Our aim, of course, must be that of bringing glory to the Father – and not making a name for ourselves. Thought I should throw in this disclaimer, lest some misunderstand!)

We’ve got to lose the image of the austere Jesus, meek and mild. If we read the gospels and note the words which describe Jesus, we discover that He was not calm, cool, and collected, but rather quite emotive and demonstrative. His was a life of simplicity – not sophistication.

Hmm. “Child-like.”

Interesting. Didn’t He say, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”?

Our insistence on being “all that and more” spiritually, maintain our sophistication, and to seek success as the world defines it, will cause us to miss out on the greatest blessing of all – to experience the kingdom of God right here, right now.

Jesus defined His physical ministry in Luke 4:18, 19:

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to
 the poor;
He has sent Me
 to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to
 the blind,
To
 set at liberty those who are oppressed;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

The NIV renders the last statement this way: “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

This is 2014 A. D. …the year of our Lord. Do you see it? Every year is “the year of our Lord” … the year of our Lord’s favor for all who would receive it.

It’s the year that our Lord wants to use us – His body – to continue the work He began at that time.

The gospel still needs to be preached. There are brokenhearted who need to be healed. There are captives and oppressed to be set free.

This is why we aren’t whisked away to His presence the moment we believe in Him!!!

He’s returned to heaven, but left us – His body – here to continue His ministry. As you can see, this involves much more than showing up in church on Sunday for a “holy huddle.” There’s work for us to do…work that will leave us amazed at what God has done through us.

The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead resides in us, and longs for us to partner with Him without limiting what He is permitted to do because of our preconceived notions of what’s “acceptable” or “correct” for Christians.

We might be called “winebibbers” or “a friend to sinners.”

We could be more alive than we ever thought possible.

We could experience the kingdom of God that is within us – now!

Wow!!!

*****

(Don’t miss Mel’s post entitled Three Wonderful Truths About the Atonement. It lays the foundation for what I’ve written. My last post, Bedazzled, also lays some of the groundwork.)

*****

I hope this made sense. God recently challenged what I thought I knew about Christianity in a huge way. Much of what I used to believe has been set aside, and I’m trying to wrap my mind around what He’s been showing me. Hopefully I’ve communicated well enough that you catch a glimpse of the vista before us. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in my own life!

The Lord bless and keep you all!

\o/





Bedazzled!

14 04 2014

The Good News is good news indeed! This last year I discovered something that seemed so amazing that I found it hard to believe. It is this:

The purpose of the death and resurrection of Christ was to restore to you and me the same relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed with God before the fall.

When I first understood this, I thought it had to be heresy. After all, I know myself. I am not a perfect sinless being.

Ah, but that is from a human standpoint. Jesus has a very different view.

Don’t miss these verses from Colossians 1:21-22:

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and beyond reproach in His sight – if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel…”

(Read just the bold print above…do you see it??)

How is this possible? Can it be true? Let’s go to Hebrews 10:

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His fleshand having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful ” (vs. 19-23).

God said it, but I find it hard to believe. As I stated earlier, I know myself. 1 John 3:20 addresses this issue though:

For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.”

Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that a relationship like this (with God), begins once I die. “Eternal life” begins then, doesn’t it?

Not according to Jesus:

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)

Whooee! It doesn’t get any better than this.

If I am “in Christ,” then eternal life is not something yet to come… I’m living it now!

When there is distance between the Lord and I, it’s because, like Adam, I’ve gone into hiding and attempted to cover myself with sewn-together fig leaves (very itchy, by the way!). No doubt the angels scratch their heads in wonder whenever I do this. “What’s she thinking?” I can hear them ask one another.

The distance is spanned in an instant when I acknowledge my sin and turn back to the Father. (Did you know that the Greek word used when the father ran to welcome his prodigal indicates that he sprinted? “Ran – of those who run in a race course; denoting to incur extreme peril, which it requires the exertion of all one’s effort to overcome.” [From Strongs Lexicon])

You…me…welcome to spend time with our Lord whenever and wherever we want. No shame, no condemnation, we’ve been reconciled, restored, we’re invited to come boldly to the throne of grace…He calls us “friend.”

Wow! From our human vantage point, this is the Crown Jewel…and I am humbled by His generosity.

This beautiful truth has, indeed, left me bedazzled!