The Shortest Distance

15 07 2014

When I was a pilot, I learned that in order to go north, sometimes you must point the nose of the aircraft northwest. If the wind is coming from the southwest and you aim for north on the compass, you’ll end up far east of your destination. This is known as “crabbing.”

Life is no different. We get a goal in mind. As a passenger, we think we should be headed north toward that goal. Looking out the window of our mind, we keep seeing the sun at 10:30 when it should be at 9:00. We begin to get a little nervous. Surely we will miss our mark at this rate!

This is when we begin to question the Lord, and even to suggest that we take over the joystick for a while.

What we fail to realize is that the winds of adversity are blowing strong, steering us off course. Because we can’t see or feel it, or even see its effects, a glance at the compass causes us to fear. The reading isn’t zero (straight toward our destination); but is three hundred degrees. This will never do!

However, like an aircraft, sometimes we must move toward our goal sideways, like a crab.

This has been my experience over the last few months. At long last, I knew what my purpose was in this world – write songs that would impact lives.

Then I glanced at the “compass” and saw that I was flying over the land of relationships and learning to love well. This is a worthy destination, but not the one I was positive belonged to me!

We’ve flown through some heavy storms. The thunder was loud, and the lightening threatened to fry us to a crisp. Our heading was completely contrary to where I thought I was supposed to go.

One thing about Jesus, though. When He says, “Let’s go to the other side,” He doesn’t mean, “Let’s fly into this storm and end up as a plane crash.”

Little by little, He is disclosing the need for some of the detours. He’s shown the mountain peak that was barely missed, hidden in the clouds, and the radio tower that would have split us asunder.

The storm is beginning to abate, but there is damage control to be done. There were times when I refused to let the Lord lead my life, but also refused to take the wheel myself. Life was tossed here and there like a piece of paper in the wind. This is never a good plan, by the way.

The Lord is faithful, however. He is beginning the restoration process. I’m thankful that He never quits on anything He begins (Philippians 1:6). There is the promise of the return of the years the locusts have eaten as well (Joel 2:5).

So, when our lives appear to have veered off course, we must keep our eyes on the Pilot, and not the compass. He knows the path we should take, and what we will need in the way of preparation to reach our destiny. The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but unseen obstacles along the way may keep us from arriving!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, don’t lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths…even when it looks like you’re taking the long way ’round!





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!

 

 

 





Edgewise Words

30 01 2014

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who didn’t let you say much? It can be frustrating. When you depart, you feel more like an audience than a contributor.

Prayer, sadly, can be like this. We “spend time with God” – but didn’t let Him get a word in edgewise!

Walter Wangerin Jr. said:

“Without our truly listening, prayer will seem to have failed because communication, remaining incomplete, did in fact fail. The circle stayed broken, and love was left unknown.”

Today I want to return to the series on Intimacy with God. The next section, as you can tell, is on Prayer: Making Room For God.

Real prayer has nothing to do with presenting a “grocery list” of requests and demands for God. It is about spending time with Someone we love.

Since childhood, I’ve been taught the importance of a “quiet time.” It was generally taught that this is a necessary evil.

Now, they didn’t use those words, but that’s the message conveyed…like I had to go visit Aunt Betsie. After all, she’s family, and that’s what family does.

I’m sure Aunt Betsie felt very honored by our obligatory visit – stilted and strained as we tried to keep the conversation going.

No doubt she was as relieved as we when we finally went home.

If our “quiet times” with God are like this, we are missing a wonderful opportunity to know the Lord.

There are four movements of prayer. They are:

1. We speak.

2. God listens.

3. God speaks.

4. We listen.

Let’s begin with the first one:

We have been given a great privilege:

The God of the universe invites us to talk to Him.

If an earthly king, rock star, or actor/actress gave us an audience, we’d Tweet, Facebook, blog, and otherwise get the word out in every way we could. Everyone would see “#chatted with _______” – and we’d use their first name just so folks knew how “important” we were!

The One who has invited you to “come boldly” into His presence…yeah, He created those celebs! They’re here today and gone tomorrow, while He’s existed forever – and will continue to be here long after their stars have burned out.

There will be no meeting with a “protocol adviser” before you can see Him. There are no requirements as to proper attire, what can and can’t be discussed, the proper way to address Him, or a limit to the time you have with Him.

You’re welcome to talk to Him anytime, any place, and in whatever state you’re in.

The second point is as amazing as the first:

God listens! 

He’s not big on repetitious prayers…would you want to listen to someone recite the same poem every time you saw them? (Especially if that’s all they ever said!)

When our grandkids come to visit, we stop what we’re doing and turn our attention to them. The youngest is two years old, and unable to speak words we fully understand. Does this matter? No. We listen intently and try to make out what she is saying.

There are times when her grandpa says, “Gerbil, I know you’re trying hard to tell me something. I’m sorry, but I can’t understand.” She shrugs her shoulders and cuddles for a bit before she runs off to play. (We call her Gerbil ’cause she sounds like one when she talks!)

God – the One who runs the universe, and far more than we can begin to fathom… He listens. Isn’t that astounding?

His attention is neither obligatory nor impatient. He listens because He cares deeply about each one of us.

However, most of us stop there and figure we’re good to go. Like Gerbil, we chatter away and then run off to our busy days.

We miss out on the best part:

God speaks.

He has things to say to you!

Guess what? He’s not aching to chew you out. He wants to tell you things about Himself – an integral part of building a relationship!

He wants to tell you about yourself as well – words that will strengthen, edify, encourage, and yes, sometimes rebuke (which does not resemble being yelled at by a parent, I assure you!).

Finally:

We listen.

Our part in the conversation is to listen to Him. It’s a choice – just as it is with any visible human.

This takes an act of our will, and a bit of practice.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” (John 10:27)

Notice that it doesn’t say “some” of my sheep.

If we’re sheep, we’ve been given the ability to hear what He has to say.

A new addition to the flock will need to hear the Shepherd’s voice several times before it is recognized as such, but over time the lamb will hear and respond.

(Tomorrow we’ll explore various ways in which God talks to us)

When we understand that there is nothing “religious” about prayer – that it’s simply conversation, and an opportunity to know someone better, our mindset toward this discipline will change:

Prayer will cease being drudgery and become the place where the fire of love burns bright!

This will be our experience when we learn to…

Let God get a word in edgewise!





Woohoo! Got ‘er Done!

22 01 2014

Hi, everyone!

Thanks for bearing with me. Since mid-November I’ve been taking a course in music theory. By the grace of God alone, I was able to complete over 900 pages of text (a 2-year college course), complete with about 350 pages of hand-written notes in that time. (I’ve tried to take theory courses in college – and had to drop out every time. I just couldn’t understand the concepts.)

Needless to say, it’s been a time-consuming undertaking, but that phase is behind me now. Next is ear-training and hands-on instrumental instruction. You should see me doing the “happy dance!”

Beginning later this week, I should be back to regular posts. There is so much to tell you concerning the Lord. I can’t wait!

Oh, and in the near future I’ll be posting some new songs (and old songs with a new sound). God is good! This has been a dream of mine since childhood. With so many decades between then and now, I’d resigned myself tot he fact that music would have to wait for heaven. I’m excited to discover that songwriting won’t be for the ‘forever life’ alone, after all!

What about you? Is there an old dream that you’ve given up on? Don’t. God is full of surprises! You never know where He is going to lead you.

Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you (plant within you – and later fulfill in you*) the desires of your heart.” He is faithful to complete the work He’s begun (Phil. 1:6)…even in this! (*my addition)

I appreciate your patience, and faithfulness despite my on-again, off-again posts.

You rock!

Love and big hugs –

Tami

\o/

Praising Jesus who gives me many reasons to sing!





Breaking Free

22 11 2013

This week’s set of posts, beginning with Where Image is Everything, came from a Bible study on Intimacy with God that my husband and I recently attended. This was a pivotal teaching for me, and it is transforming my life in ways I can’t begin to explain!

My hope is that I am delivering enough of the content to do the same for you…my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will fill in the blanks and provide what is lacking.

When we live our lives as chameleons, modifying who we are in every situation for the sake of garnering favor from those we are with, we become hypocrites.

In Bible days, a popular past-time was the theater. The Greek name for an actor was a hypocrite; and we understand that when Jesus meant called people by this term, it wasn’t a compliment!

Now, it’s not that we aren’t ever to adjust our behavior. Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Here’s what he had to say:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more.

And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the law;

And to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law.

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.

And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow-partaker of it.

The difference between living from Bounded Sets and doing what Paul did is motive.

His focus wasn’t on his image, or whether people liked him. If Paul did this for the purpose of self-preservation, it didn’t work! The guy was a walking scar from being beaten and stoned!

His intent was to benefit them; to reach them with the gospel.

This is the only purpose for becoming chameleons.

Living from Bounded Sets will lead us to three possible responses.

1) Rebellion – We can choose to turn our back on God, the church, and determine to live it up. This didn’t go very well for the prodigal son in Luke 15!

I took this route twice, and can report that nothing much of lasting value came from either time. The first time led me into the drug and alcohol scene, and a 10-year marriage from hell. The second episode was no better.

Although I received the prodigal’s welcome both times, there’s still the principle of sowing and reaping.

Thirty years later, I am still reaping what was sown…and so are my children. 😦

This is not a wise move!

2) Legalism – We become rigid rule-makers and rule-keepers (aka Pharisees)who judge everyone according to the laws we make…while continually breaking them ourselves. Here is Jesus’ commentary:

And He said, “Woe to you also, lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. (Luke 11:46)

There is a third option!

3) Break free – We turn our eyes from outward appearances – ours and others’ – and draw closer to Jesus.

This begins with repentance. To repent means to make a U-Turn. We were going this way, now we’ve made a 180 and are moving in the opposite direction.

Hmm. It occurs to me that if one direction leads us toward Jesus, then if we’re going in the opposite direction we are moving toward…you got it…our adversary! Eek!!!

Next, it will take transformation. No amount of self-will is going to make this happen. Have you ever seen a caterpillar hunched up willing itself to be changed into a butterfly? (Duh, no you have not!) The Greek word for transformation means metamorphosis – meta = big; morph = change.

The most amazing change to witness is when a person goes from being a Pharisee to becoming a lover of Jesus. Not only does their behavior become gentle, kind, and loving, but even their countenance changes.

Paul told us how to be transformed:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed {HOW?} by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2a}

How do we renew our minds?

Jesus gave us a big hint, “You will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32)

The one place where we will receive the truth, and nothing but the truth is in the Bible. We must spend time getting into the Word…and letting the Word get into us.

We must also examine our thoughts.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

We’ve become a gullible people – readily accepting all the world has to say about what brings life, light, success, etc., while at the same time, slamming on the brakes when it comes to Biblical truth. We’re ready to believe the best about famous people – and the worst about God. Things like:

God doesn’t want me to have fun.

God wants me to be His slave – without a life of my own.

If I really follow God, He will probably send me to Africa or Siberia!

With these thoughts lurking deep in our minds, it’s no wonder we don’t want to get closer to the Lord!

Jesus’ response to these charges:

Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:34)

He does not lie!

There’s more to say on this topic, but this post is longer than most will read(!), so we’ll finish tomorrow.

Overcoming Obstacles to Intimacy with God begins with “C’mon In…