“In Danger” Species

8 02 2014

If there’s one thing I’ve come to realize about Americans, it is this

In God we do NOT trust!

Look around if you think I’m wrong.

Our cars have airbags and seat belts, we won’t get on a bike without a helmet, knee pads are a must for skating/skateboarding, there are handrails and guardrails everywhere.

We have burglar alarms, gated communities, metal detectors in our schools, and believe the world would be a better place if all the law-abiding citizens turned in their firearms (so only the bad guys would have them).

We avoid danger at all cost – and are insured up to our eyeballs to protect us from financial ruin should something ‘bad’ happen.

Look at the number of companies who exist simply because they’ve incited fear in us. Without their coverage, we feel naked and exposed.

We’ve become addicted to safety. No, let me go one step further and say that safety has become our idol.

Have you traveled by plane lately? What a pain in the neck. I used to travel for work, and I’m thankful that I’m not employed with them anymore because the hoops that one has to jump through to get on board are insane.

I actually had a guard pull a gun on me when I left the boarding area at the airport, walked half-way through the exit area, and then turned around to go get my boarding pass from my husband (which I forgot he was holding for me). Seriously?

We’ve passed countless laws to ensure our safety. How’s that working for us?

Sadly, followers of Jesus are often no different from the rest of the world.

One statement I’ve heard from many preachers is this: “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.”

We treat God like some supernatural seat belt that’s supposed to keep us from injury –

– and then get angry with Him when He doesn’t ‘work’ right!

Have you read Hebrews 11 lately? You know, the “Hall of Faith.”

I like the part that reads, “who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weaknesses were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, women received back their dead by resurrection…”

Umm hmm…sign me up!

But wait, there’s more:

“Others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned; they were sawn in two; they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins , in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill treated…wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”

Either these folks slipped under God’s radar and He goofed up… or we have gotten off track somewhere along the way.

I don’t think the issue lies with God!

The apostle Paul understood this best, I think. Here’s his resume:

“In everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger…”

or this one:

“I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness,dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren, I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. (2 Corinthians 11:26-27)

Paul was one ‘In Danger-ed’ man!

Could it be that we find Christianity boring because we’re playing it safe?

Yeah, the ride could get bumpy, it might get a little sketchy here and there, but we would feel alive!

It is my desire to slide into home plate, worn out, used up and yelling “Woohoo! What a life!!”

Let’s give ourselves completely to God, unencumbered by our safety nets for “just in case” and take a walk on the wild side.

May we follow Jesus into the great unknown, willing to become the “In Danger-ed” generation and LIVE!

Life to the full, baby! Let’s have some fun!!





Forgotten Promises

8 11 2013

{I owe a special “Thank You” to Tanya who provided the inspiration for this post!}

I own several Bibles, each one used during a specific season of life. Some are in tatters, others so marked up they are hard to read. The one from my “exodus” from an abusive marriage reads like my diary, the one I was reading when my mom moved to heaven was shelved. There’s one from my early recovery days, and one from the season when God taught me that I am greatly beloved and highly favored.

Each one is dear to me in a different way. Each is full of underlined promises that I claimed as my own.

Tanya drew our attention to the little book of Haggai. If you haven’t read it lately, you should. Don’t know where it is? It’s on page 1315!

A couple of verses stood out to me. These were highlighted in my “recovery season” Bible…promises long forgotten because nothing visible happened at that time. I assumed I’d misunderstood or been presumptuous and moved on.

Chapter 1, Verse 14: “So the Lord stirred up the spirit (of the leaders) and all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God.”

The Lord no longer dwells in a house built by our hands, but we learn in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that our bodies are His temple. The work is no longer specific to a building…but to our hearts! Note who did the work…the people.

Whenever we speak truth in love to one another, equip one another, encourage one another, or bring healing,

we are working on the house of the Lord of hosts. 

Do we see the wreckage in people around us? If we do, then we are meant to act. If He’s made us aware of a broken down life, there’s a reason. We must ask what He would have us do. Sometimes it’s as simple as lifting them up in prayer. At other times, we may need to roll our sleeves up and get to work.

There’s no pat answer. Different people call for a different type of involvement.

Then, in Haggai 2:9, God makes this promise: “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,” says the Lord of hosts, “and in this place I shall give peace,” declares the Lord of hosts.

When God begins His work on our temple through His people,

improvements are inevitable.

For example, look at His temple in me. In the 70s…through the 90s, it was a “den of thieves”, “of iniquity of all sorts. I allowed drunkenness, debauchery, adultery, abuse, and a host of other things to take place in His temple…most of it while claiming to be His follower.

In the midst of my rubble, He sent people to come rebuild a little here, remove a little there. It’s been a slow, laborious process because, unlike a building made with stones, this one is made of tender flesh. That requires gentle handling of the building materials.

While I have not “arrived,” – much remains to be done – the glory of His temple in me is certainly greater than it was then! (That looks so arrogant typed out like that.) But it is true! 

(The thing this former “adrenaline junkie” appreciates most is the Presence of His peace!)

Remodeling is a messy business. First the furniture and decorations are removed. Then things are ripped up, cut out, and torn down. There’s dirt and debris. When a house is in this condition, it’s no time to take photos for House and Garden! Guests don’t hang out because the place is a shambles.

Do you know anyone who is like this? Does your life look like this?

Take heart!

After the removal process, comes the rebuilding. When the last of the debris is swept away, new fixtures are installed. A fresh coat of paint is applied, and even the floor coverings are cleaned or replaced. The room is beginning to take shape. People stick around a little longer. 😉

Then it’s time to decide what furniture and decorations are to be added. May you choose the Couch of Peace, Pictures of Joy, the soft Carpet of Gentleness. May the drapes surround windows through which shine the Goodness of God.

May vases filled with Flowers of Patience adorn the Tables of Kindness, along with golden Goblets of Love. Don’t forget to include the Remote of Self Control!

This little two-chapter book ends with this wonderful promise:

“I will make you like a signet ring (or seal),

for I have chosen you,” declares the Lord of hosts.

All that to say this:

Did God give you promises? Were they so long ago that you’ve given up and decided that you were mistaken when you thought they were meant for you? If so, find them and dust them off.

“Has God not said, and will He not do it?”

The renovation of a heart is a slow, tedious process. For me it has been a work of a couple of decades. Although there’s still work ahead, much of the messy stuff has been taken care of now.

He hasn’t forgotten, and you did not misunderstand –

A good Artist takes His time!

I leave you with this:

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you

will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6





Live Your Purpose

6 10 2013

This song was written, the instrumental track recorded, in 2005 for a women’s conference. Because it fits in with last week’s posts, I thought I’d share it with you.

(The instrumental track was recorded by Steven’s Beard – Jordan Davis, Drew Benson, and Adam Reuther. Thanks, guys.)

Jake Ottinger tweaked the instrument track a bit for me, but it’s still a rough recording, ’cause I added the vocal track myself. 😉





Living in a Microwave World

21 09 2013

Microwaves

Instant Credit

Instant Messaging

There isn’t much we have to wait for these days – except babies.

No one has figured out how to fast-forward a pregnancy…

yet!

The concept of sowing…waiting…reaping  is one we’ve mostly lost in our “have it now” world.

In the “good old days,” families had farms or at least a garden.

If it wasn’t in season, we couldn’t eat it.

If it didn’t grow in your area, we couldn’t buy it –

except by mail order…

…and then we had to…

(here’s that word again)

…WAIT!

There are many fantastic lessons to be learned when growing our own food:

First comes the soil preparation. The ground must be broken up and easy to work.

Then it needs to be piled into rows so the seed won’t drown when water is applied.

Next comes the actual planting of the seed.

Aside from a routine watering cycle and the necessary removal of any weeds, there isn’t much to do except…

…wait.

Oh, and wonder if anything will grow!

At last tiny sprouts appear, which eventually become full plants.

But we can’t eat many of the plants, and so we…

…wait.

Will there be much fruit for our labor? Or will the crops fail, leaving us empty-handed?

There is a sense of excitement and anticipation when blossoms begin to appear.

But we can’t eat the flowers of very many; and…

…wait.

Blossoms turn into tiny fruits and vegetables, not yet ready for the table. We…

…wait.

Finally the time comes to harvest. The time of waiting is over and we can enjoy the wonderful fruit of our labor.

Note that the plants do none of these things for themselves!

In fact, a plant’s “job” is to soak up nutrients, and absorb the sun’s rays. It must submit to the hands of the gardener as well. That’s it! If you go into a garden, you will discover that not one plant is scrunched up, grunting and groaning, striving to produce fruit!

No wonder we buy this stuff at the grocery store instead! A garden requires much work, and much waiting. The tension (if this is your only source of food) can be tremendous.

Delayed gratification seems to be a thing of the past. Few are able to work toward achieving something of value.

Spiritually, it’s no different. We say “the prayer,” and assume we’re good to go. We don’t see the value in waiting on the Lord – for anything; and get kind of miffed if He makes us wait for our prayers to be answered.

“Microwave it, Lord!”

Because He is an excellent Gardener, though, He knows the value of tilling, forming mounds, watering, weeding, pest control, pruning, pinching off suckers, and finally the joy of harvest time.

We could take a lesson from the garden; for when we see ourselves as “plantings of the Lord,” we will be

like trees planted by rivers of water

that brings forth fruit in its season

it’s leaf also shall not wither

and whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalm 1

Our part? Soak up the nutrients of His Word through reading our Bibles and listening to sound teaching, stay in the Sonlight, submit to the Gardener’s pruning, and wait for the harvest…

…it shall surely come!

***

I am the Vine, you are the branches. 

He who abides in Me,

and I in him, 

bears much fruit;

for without Me you can do

nothing.

John 15:5





Augh!!! I’m Still Alive!!!

7 09 2013

When I woke up in the morning I was flat-out ticked off! The night before I’d taken enough pills to kill a horse.

There was no note left for anyone, no last-minute call for help.

I WANTED OFF THIS ROCK!!!

Yet, there I was, very much alive. All the pain that caused me to take such a drastic action was still present.

The enemy whispered, “You’re so bad that even God doesn’t want you.”

Hopeless. That was how I felt.

A few months later, determined to get it over with, I drove my VW bug into an oak tree at 55 MPH.

The tree died. My car…

…not a dent.

Really?

God doesn’t want you. Give it up,” the enemy hissed.

Year after painful year passed.

Then God began to do the miraculous. Old wounds were opened and then healed. My mind began to be renewed, and I began the transformation process.

Then new pain was added to old stuff and I became overwhelmed again.

I stood in my bathroom with a bottle of pills in my hand. I was certain of success this time.

Until…

…A mental picture of me, slumped in a wheelchair, drool running down my face filled my mind.

I heard the Lord say, “There is a time appointed. You will not be coming home until that time arrives. You may choose how you will spend your remaining time on the earth.”

That was the end of that subject for me!

I’m thankful for that encounter. Without God’s interference in the first two instances, none of my children or grand children would exist. I would have missed the opportunity to see God’s miraculous work in me and through me. I would not have been available to minister to others who are now where I was then.

You would not be reading about His great love for you right now.

Trust Him, He is more than able to give us beauty for our ashes, the oil of gladness for our sorrows.

Give Jesus a chance.

He will make something beautiful of your life!