But Now I See

10 06 2015

(This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, Born Blind).

We already looked at the story, so let’s see what we can glean from it.

Standing before the Pharisees stood a man who was once one way (blind, in this case), but had an obvious change (could now see).

Because the healing did not take place inside their ‘box’ of who may heal, when they may heal, how they may heal, and whom is ‘worthy’ to be healed, they refused to see Jesus in action and glorify God.

Instead, they wanted the man to admit that he had been healed by a demoniac…and give glory to God.

Does that even make sense?

It’s a good thing that only took place in Jesus’ day – not now.

And I would never be so foolish as to attribute God’s work to Satan…right??

Right?

When my back was healed at the age of 19, it was through a member of a church we’d been taught was ‘suspect.’ Demonization was supposedly rampant there.

What was I to think about that?

I flip-flopped between glorifying God for healing me – and repenting for attending ‘their’ Bible study for many years; a couple of decades, in fact.

(Oh, and there was a second time I was healed through the prayer of pastors from this same church. See Freakin’ Miracles. Do you suppose God was trying to teach me something??)

Even today, animosity toward this particular congregation is intense. “Demons are at work there,” I often hear.

~ Like demons steer clear of every other church in town – and only ‘attend’ that church!

It occurs to me that demons are more evident there…

…because Jesus is there.

Didn’t demons manifest whenever Jesus arrived on the scene?? (What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time? Matthew 8:29). They didn’t come with Him. They couldn’t remain hidden because He was there!

{This is a new thought for me, by the way. Yes, I still struggle to ‘see’.}

Miracles happen there.

All the time.

We Pharisees stand back and demand proof: reports that certify what was true about the person (i.e. blind), and what is now true (20/20 vision).

I say ‘we Pharisees,’ for I have been guilty of this myself. I want proof of the healing from a ‘reliable’ source, for I cannot ‘see’ it myself!

After all, what ‘proof’ is there in a life that has been transformed? Doesn’t that evidence seem a bit flimsy? 😉

I gather my robes tighter to my body, lest I be ‘tainted’ with their delusion

…and actually see Jesus at work before my very eyes.

This is a strong indictment, Lord. One I needed to hear. Thank You for revelation – which changes my identity (from Pharisee to one-who-sees), and not just information – which changes a few thoughts in my head.

Whoa – that last paragraph was very helpful. I’ve pulled back from Bible study out of fear that I was merely adding to my ‘database of knowledge’ so I could more accurately decide for myself what is good and what is evil.

Now, who would want me to believe that lie? 🙂

I see that very often through study I receive revelation that alters my identity in, and what I believe about, Christ, bringing me into greater alignment with Him.

Very cool.

Thanks, Abba!





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!





Root – Shoot – Fruit

26 05 2015

My rose bush produced the loveliest pineapples this year. Last year, it bore oranges.

Without much thought, you immediately knew that those statements were false. Why? Because what you plant is what you get.

A rose bush will only produce roses. (Unless you’re a genetic engineer who tinkers with this stuff. 🙂 )

This is also true concerning spiritual matters. The fruit we produce is determined by our root…our source of life.

Going back to the two trees from which Adam and Eve could choose, Life or the Knowledge of Good and Evil, I want to explore the fruit each tree bears.

Let’s begin with Evil:

The fruit on this branch of the Tree of Knowledge is guilt and shame. Our behavior gnaws at our conscience. Fear that we will be discovered develops. Unchecked, the conscience will become seared, and eventually we are no longer aware of shame at our core. It is possible that this will continue to spiral into deeper and darker behavior.

Think: Charles Manson, Adolf Hitler, or Saddam Hussein.

Ugh! That’s definitely not us. Let’s move on to Good:

The fruit on the “good” branch of the Tree of Knowledge should be much better. Love, joy, peace, and all that.

Surprise! 

The fruit that is produced by our “good” behavior is this:

Self-satisfaction – “I am so good.”

Condemnation – “What they did was bad. They should behave better.”

Judgment – “What they are doing is evil. They should be punished.”

Comparison – “At least I don’t do ______ (fill in the blank) like those people.

Criticism – my group is the only one who has Christianity right. They need to behave like we do.

Vigilance – ever watchful of self and others to determine who is good and who is evil.

Social club mentality – carefully screen every person to determine whether they are “good enough” to be in our club. Avoid obvious sinners, lest they make us look “bad” in the eyes of other Christians.

Self-effort – strive to do the “right” thing, avoid the “evil” thing regarding actions and words.

Religion – a checklist by which we prove ourselves to be “good.”  (Went to church – Check. Spent my obligatory time reading my Bible – Check. Spent 15 minutes in prayer – Check. Did a good deed when I didn’t want to – Check… You get the idea.)

Opinionated – due to endless mental effort, I have the answer to every problem. “You’re doing it wrong. Do it my way and all will be well.” When it comes to doctrine and theology, I will fight to the death for my view. I’ve studied my Bible for years and know the (little ‘t’) truth.

 

Of course, if we failed to meet our criteria of what a “good” Christian does, then we feel “bad” and avoid “eye contact” with God, certain that He is displeased with us, certain that punishment is coming.

You can see that love, joy, peace, etc. are nowhere to be found on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

As I stated in my previous post,

“Evil and good come from the same root. That root is self.”

The end result of eating from this tree is death.

Here’s our dilemma:

Whenever we choose to ‘live’ by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we are the judge of what is good…and what is evil.

The determining factor is self.

How does it make me feel? How does it affect me?

In this, we become our own god. Our life is small, for we are the center of our universe. Everyone else exists for our own good pleasure…and they must please us, or risk being judged as “bad” and then rejected.

Sadly, most Christians I know (myself included) live this way.

Is it any wonder that the world isn’t beating down our doors to “get” what we have?? 

John 15 is full of information about what it means to abide in Christ – the Bread of Life (read that: “Fruit from the Tree of Life):

  • Fruitfulness (love, joy, peace, etc.) – Why do we interpret fruit only as “a big ministry” or “lots of converts”…productivity??
  • Consistent answered prayer – because we have intimacy with Him and He tells us what He is doing…thus showing us how to pray.
  • Confidence that we are loved – no need to hide, fearful of punishment.
  • Full of joy – the burden of controlling the world, getting people to behave better, is lifted from our shoulders!
  • Able to hear His voice, and so know what to do/say/understand in any given situation. We ask Him to explain what’s going on, instead of allowing the enemy to fill in the blanks.
  • Filled with the Spirit – ever present to teach, guide, give insight, and flow through us to reach those around us.

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  ~ John 7:38

When we are set free from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and partake from the Tree of Life, true transformation begins. We see others in a new light…and love those we previously judged to be unworthy of our good company. 😉

Further, when we can drop all the self-imposed”duties” required to run the world, we enjoy a lightness that cannot be described. All the mental energy consumed when we were absorbed with how to fix everyone around us left us drained. We come to life when we let the mental gyrations go!

Do not miss that the Tree of Life is all about relationship – with the Lord, and with others.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, on the other hand, mostly destroys relationships – with the Lord (we’re sure we haven’t measured up, and so hide from Him), and also with those who don’t meet our standards.

What I am sharing with you does not originate with me. Consequently, I wish to give credit where credit is due. Since the beginning of April, I have been listening to Bob Hamp’s Foundational Class series. Just five videos – available online at no cost. No signing up, or signing in.

For this “try harder to do better” woman, the message contained within these videos has forever transformed me. (He also wrote a book, Think Differently, Live Differently.)

People are beginning to ask about the changes they see. How cool is that???

Funny, folks didn’t want to know where they could get some of my critical, judgmental, opinionated, argumentative behaviors and attitudes. Seems the world already has enough of those characteristics.

“You shall know them by their fruit.”

By what fruit are you “known?”

***Keep in mind that what I write is “what I did with what I heard” from the Lord through Mr. Hamp’s messages, and not exact quotes from the videos or his book, unless so noted.***





The God of Second (Third…Hundredth) Chances

6 01 2015

January 1, 2015 began a new year, new beginnings…another chance.

When I opened my Bible app for the Verse of the Day, guess what it was?

Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; do you not perceive it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19.

This is the same verse I received last year!

As I read the words for the umpteenth time, I sensed the Lord’s smile as He let me know that I have a “do-over.” I get another run at this promise. That’s good news!

Last year, I had expectations of what that would look like for me. Those are now gone. I have no preconceived notions of what He has in store…only that He will be faithful to complete the work He has begun.

Life took a crazy turn last year. As I look back at where I was last January, I am amazed at the growth He’s wrought in me – despite my confusion and disappointment. Through all that, the Lord took my faith in Him to a new level.

He used the trials to reveal some very ugly things that I believed to be true of Him, and replaced them with a greater understanding of His infinite love for me.

The training received on making disciples – have no opinion in other’s situations, do not judge, do not advise, only love them – was well-tested. I had ample opportunities to walk out what He’d worked in.

I didn’t do it perfectly {gasp!}.

However, I did much better than ever before.

Progress!

Nothing is resolved yet, but this year I have hope…hope for a brighter future, hope for transformation and restoration.

How I appreciate the fact that the Father loves us where we are, with all our messed up thinking about His character; and that He continues to pursue us in hope that we will finally see Him more accurately.

I said some really mean things to God last year, all borne out of my misunderstanding of what He is really like. My words did not deter Him. He didn’t throw up His hands in exasperation and write me off as a lost cause.

Instead, He continued to tenderly whisper that He loves me, that He understood my confusion but wanted me to know that what I believed was simply not true. He asked me to trust Him with the hard things I’m dealing with, and to believe that He will work all this for my good.

I saw this quote on someone’s blog earlier this week. It resonated with me, and so I share it with you:

“Everything is going to be fine in the end.
If it’s not fine it’s not the end.”

-Oscar Wilde-

And so I begin this year with my hand in my Father’s, trying to match my steps with His, in full confidence that He has this. It will be fun to look back over this year in 2016 and see all He has accomplished in, around, and through me.

To God be the glory! Amen.

How about you? Do you find this the Year of the Great Do-Over? Do tell!

PS If you live in Northern California, the Legacy class (disciple/mentoring) begins soon at The Stirring in Redding. Jim Bailey and his wife Amy are amazing, and very gifted teachers. Don’t miss it!





A Time to be Silent (Part Two)

11 09 2014

If you didn’t read Part One, you must before reading this post!

*****

When we look at our lives through the lens of Scripture, we can make sense of our situations. Romans 15:4 states:

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

As I considered the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, I discovered many similarities between their episode and my own life:

  • I prayed diligently for God to intervene and resurrect a part of my life (Sorry, no details. Use your imagination!)
  • When this seemed improbable and utterly hopeless, I quit asking the Lord to move in my situation.
  • I resigned myself to a life of barrenness (not literally – I have seven children!).
  • God spoke to me through Isaiah 43:19 in January (and with this verse many times since) to say He would answer my prayer this year.
  • More bitterness, resentment, and anger toward the Lord erupted than I would have thought possible. “Now??? At my age??? Thanks a lot!”
  • Further, I didn’t believe what He said.

Interestingly enough, by this time, I’d found myself without a “voice.”

  • Every ministry I’d been involved in came to a close (except for Lessons by Heart).
  • I had nothing to write that was uplifting, encouraging, or even something with which to exhort others, which explains my few posts. :-/
  • We were at a new church, with few people whom we knew. I had no one to spew on!
  • Music was silenced as well – very rare for me.
  • Our circumstances were such that I couldn’t ‘process’ with the Lord in my customary way. It had to be done silently.

His timing was everything:

  • Much inner healing needed to take place in me before I would be ready for what He is currently doing.
  • I needed a preparation time; opportunities to practice the necessary skills in order to handle what was coming. This was done through our guest, and was what I suspected, as I wrote in Stupid Distractions.
  • My identity in Christ needed to be solid, or I would have self-destructed.

It would appear, then, that I am in labor…a messy process. At the end of all this is the delivery of a promised child. What it will look like is yet to be seen, but at last – and because of this story – I have hope.

His promise to me?

Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19

Sadly, I had a lot to work through with the Lord when He made this proclamation. It took several months to get to the place where I believed again:

God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do?
Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

 Don’t know the ‘due date,’ but I am, at last, rejoicing in the upcoming delivery!

*****

Some observations:

While Zechariah may have been unaware of what lurked in his heart, God wasn’t. It would seem that when He briefed Gabriel, their conversation might have been:

“Gabe, I need you to go tell Zechariah that he and Elizabeth are going to have a baby.”

“A baby? That’s…well…great. Hey, didn’t they quit asking for one years ago?”

“Yeah, but the time has come. He’s not going to be as excited as you might expect.”

“At his age, shocked might be more along the lines of expected responses.”

“Well, Zechariah and I have some things to sort out. His first reaction will be to question Me. You need to shut that down. We don’t want his issues with me to take the shine off Elizabeth’s joy.”

“How shall I do that?”

“Well, let him know that he won’t be talking to anyone until after their child is born. That will give us enough time to work things out.”

You see, although Zechariah had been offended by God, yet God called him and Elizabeth righteous and blameless. God understood the why of Zechariah’s reaction. It was time to address the matter. In other words, God does not hold our offenses toward Him against us, but continues to pursue and woo us.

He’s been doing this with me again. (And I thought I was through believing lies about Him. 😦 )

He loves us with an everlasting love. That amazes me.

Despite Zechariah’s lack of faith, God was faithful and answered their prayers at the right time. His delay went way beyond giving a couple a sweet little baby. He had something very special in mind for them all.

With God, timing is everything. He knows far more about what’s needed and precisely when. For this couple, having John so late in life was actually an act of mercy toward them. They would be spared the horror and pain of John’s untimely death. Instead, they would be there to greet their son when he slipped through the veil between this life and the next one.

This has been a lesson learned – even after I knew it all!!

His patience and lovingkindness overwhelm me. Concerning the issue at hand, I have been faithless. I gave up asking Him to act a few years ago…figured I’d have to wait until heaven for relief.

I doubted His goodness and His love for me. I didn’t realize how confused my understanding of Him had become. While I can state with conviction that you are loved by Him with an unending, deep, and passionate love, I’ve believed this didn’t apply to me.

In His perfect timing, He brought these things to light so we can get them settled. I am soothed by His gentleness as He tends to these wounds in my heart. Truth is the balm He uses to heal what was so diseased.

I wonder, what have you learned about your own life as you look through the eyes of Scripture? I’d love to hear about your lessons!