Let us begin

Lately, there are a number of songs that talk about going back in time to tell yourself what you know now. A chance to tell yourself to walk away from a toxic relationship or to take the job you turned down. While this perspective seems appealing, I am not sure I would take it if given the opportunity.

Yes, there are decisions I made in my past that I regret. People I hurt because of my selfishness or insecurity. I made some pretty foolish decisions when I was eighteen, some that continue to impact me thirty years later. It has become part of who I am and who I am not.

I know as a believer, that God has had a plan for my life since before I was born. I know there were times in my life that the very prayers of someone kept me from danger. I also know that there were times when I chose to do something that was not God-honoring, sometimes I chose to do that deliberately. While I cannot go back and fix it, I know that I can learn from it.

Psalm 18:30-32 says, As for God, his way is perfect; The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure (NIV).

Of the regrets that I can name, the ones that cause the most sadness to me are the ones I knew better than to do, but I did it anyway. In a way, I think that is the definition of regret, I knew better that to do it, but I did it anyway. My poor decisions, my failures, even the losses I experienced, were part of the path that led me to Christ.

When I came to see that all these choices I had made were never going to bring me the happiness, the contentment, the grace, mercy, or forgiveness I needed– that is when I cried out to God. And that is when He answered me. Not with fire, thunder, or lightning but with tenderness. With the very grace and love I needed.

Child, I have been waiting for you to call my name. I have wanted to pick you up, dust you off, mend your brokenness, and wipe your tears. But you never called out to me until now.

God is not a belligerent dictator, He is a gentleman. He will not come where He is not invited. But oh, Best Beloved, when God is invited into your life and heart. Wow. I learned that day, that He has the power to take my regrets and turn them into blessings. He did that day, He still does today.

Mother Teresa once said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.” That was the lesson I learned from God the day He came into my life. I would not be able to go back and change the life I had lived before that day. I would not be able to tell the future, to know fully what would happen tomorrow. But while it was still called today, I could experience His grace. His mercy and learn the lesson that the past is in the past for a reason.

Now, the enemy is going to try and attack any way and any chance he can, to stop me from growing in Christ, to keep my story from being used to encourage others. It is what he does. He wants to bring up the regrets and the failures and tell me that I cannot possibly be used by God for God’s purposes and glory. But that is a lie.

God is in the business of taking people’s messes and turning them into messages. Scripture is full of story after story that show His redemptive power. Some of my favorite stories include the woman at the well in John 4 and the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Each time Jesus met the woman, their story was anything but a fairytale. But instead of taking them to task and in one case stoning her for her sins, Jesus turned the story on its head. He told the woman at the well that there was a way to get Living Water, to never thirst again. She had made a mess of thirsting for love from men who would never satisfy her thirst for eternal healing,

The woman in John 8 was seeking love in the wrong places and had made a complete mess of things. Jesus, who by all authority had the right to cast the first stone, as the only person there who was without sin, did nothing. He gave the woman another chance. A chance to change her mess into a message of grace. Of mercy and forgiveness.

Best Beloved, let us leave the past where it belongs- behind us. The future is somewhere on the horizon. Today is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:4).

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Splinters

The weather has been fluctuating here in southeastern Nebraska. I’ve worn shorts and been barefoot during a sunny, 70 degree day only to scrap snow and ice off my windshield the following morning. Welcome to March.

Each morning I have gone to the bird coop to met out the ducks and chickens. I feed them, collect eggs, and check the flock for any issues. My wardrobe includes my all important muck boots. Knee high rubber boots that withstand the yuck, mud, and such that can occur in a pen after a winter of snow and rain.

This week I noticed my right arch was tender whenever I put pressure on my right foot. I figured I had bruised my arch from the boots and all the walking I had done recently. I couldn’t find a bruise, but I figured it was just a deep bruise.

Last night, my arch was very tender, so I took off my sock and found I had a small thorn, about a quarter of an inch long in my foot. Within a few minutes I had removed the thorn, disinfected the area and felt relief. My arch is still tender, but now that the cause has been taken out I know it can heal.

Sin works the same way. it works it’s way into our heart and if it’s not removed it will fester. If someone else points out the splinter – touching the skin it is under, the person with the splinter will cry out in pain and often anger. Some may even smack the hand away for causing the pain.

After a while, if left untreated, the infection can take over. The smallest splinter, if left under the skin, can cause the biggest risk to the body. One such danger is sepsis or septicemia, often called blood poisoning. The very system designed to bring life to your body now carries infection and can lead to death.

There is only one way to prevent this from happening. Remove the splinter. Remove the sin. Confess it to a mentor. Confess it to your pastor, your spiritual brother or sister in Christ. Ask for prayer, be honest about it. Whether it is gossip, a food addiction, or pornography. Confess it. As I heard it explained recently, “We are only as sick as our secrets.”

The enemy wants us to feel shame, he wants us to feel that our issue, our sin, is too big for God to forgive.

That is a lie, straight from hell itself.

There is no sin so big, so daunting, so shameful, that God cannot forgive it. No excuse that can be spoken to say your sin is unforgivable.

Best Beloved, Christ’s death on the Cross was “once, for all.” It wasn’t for everyone, but you. It was for everyone, including you.

It’s time to stop polishing your splinter.

It’s time to remove it. If you cannot do it alone, do it with someone who will walk with you as you recover. whether it is a brother or sister in Christ, a recovery group, or a treatment facility.

Get the tweezers, some disinfectant, and remove it. Through the power and blood of the Cross, it’s time for the healing.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, (1 John 1:9, HCSB).

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Carrots and parsnips

The idea of dangling carrots in front of stubborn horses or donkeys has been around for centuries. It’s a simple idea, take a stick with a piece of string, fishing line, etc. and tie the carrot so that it is always just out of reach of the animal. It hangs where the animal can see it, but can never reach it.

The animal is not intelligent enough to recognize the ruse, so it will continue to go forward, which is the owner’s intent.

Our enemy works the same way.

When our eyes are off our relationship with Christ, when we are tired and weak from battle, the enemy springs his attack. It does not look like a full, frontal attack, something we can see and prepare to fight. The enemy instead, will often place an item we innocently desire in front of us. Soon we become so drawn to that item, that we don’t realize we are being led off the path.

We may “wake up” and see we have been distracted by the carrot, but it’s only after we have walked through the brambles and burrs, or even lost our way. We cry out to God to save us and restore us to Him, which He will do.

So the enemy changes tactics.

Parsnips taste very similar to carrots. It’s different in color, but the goal is still the same. Misleading us to chase something or even someone, we will not attain. Even if it seems we are getting close.

We can even talk ourselves into believing we are not being fooled; “We’d recognize the carrot and not follow it. But has anyone else seen this new thing we are following after?”

It’s is the way a simple friendship develops into an affair.

It’s the way someone who may drink a glass or two at night to help unwind, becomes an alcoholic.

It’s the way a suggestive image that triggers a rush can develop into a porn addiction.

It’s the way the enemy can distract us ultimately to death itself.

This image above was used as anti-war propaganda during WWI, however, it is a valid depiction of what the enemy wants to do to all of us. Distract us with our carrots or parsnips until our hearts deaden to the whispers of the Holy Spirit calling us back to God.

The whole experience can seem hopeless.

But it is never hopeless when we have Christ. Scripture is clear that we do have a way out.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7, NIV).

When Jesus was in the wilderness (Matthew 4) and the enemy tried to tempt him with food, fame, and power, Jesus did not try to debate with him. Jesus turned to Scripture, knowing there is power in the word of God. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The enemy then tried to use Scripture to validate his point, quoting Psalm 91:11, 12. Jesus responded with Deuteronomy 6:16. Again, knowing our New Testament, we know what Paul said is true.

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil (Ephesians 6:10-11, HCSB).

We are not strong enough to cut the string that holds our carrots. Only Christ and His power can do that. Don’t lose hope, Best Beloved, it can be done.

Just ask the person going through counseling.

The person going through a 12-step program.

The husband and wife who choose restoration over divorce.

Make no mistake, it is some of the hardest work for us to do – with Christ. Yet, it can be done, (see Philippians 4:13, 19).

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, NIV).

This is the first step, Best Beloved. We seek Christ. He has the power and dominion over everything, given to Him by God. It is by Him and through Him, that we can be restored.

It’s time to cut the strings.

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The bad stuff

If you’ve ever seen Pretty Woman*, then you probably remember the scene where Richard Gere (Edward) and Julia Roberts (Vivian) are discussing her past.

After listening to her story, he gently says, “But you could be so much more.”

Her response, “Yeah, but the bad stuff is easier to believe.”

Why is it the negative, the salacious, the cruel and cutting statements about another person are the ones we want to believe? Is it that we want to feel superior? Do we want someone to be “taken down a peg or two”?

As a new believer, this part of my “old life” was the most difficult from which to break free. It is also the easiest in which to be tangled again. The lies are like a vine entangling my feet and hands until I fall in despair to the floor. Wondering if I will ever get up again.

The whispers of the enemy can come over us all, like a tsunami. Powerful, overwhelming, and devastating. They tell us we are wrong, we cannot accomplish the changes we are given through Christ. They tell us there is no point to try getting back up on our feet. It’s useless, we are useless.

It is only possible to cut through the lies with a sharp blade, The sharpest blade in fact, The Sword of the Spirit. It has the power, the Truth to cut everything else away.

When Pretty Woman came out, I sat in the darkened theater and sobbed. I understood where “Vivian” was coming from, The person she felt she could never become. She doubted the kindness of “Edward,” she understood the cruelty of “Stuckey.” She couldn’t receive “Edward’s” gentleness and when it was offered, she drew back and ran away.

The Woman at the Well, Mary Magdalene, the Woman Caught in Adultery, they were all the same way. They knew how to handle cruelty, shaming, and brutality. How to steel themselves from the words, the sneers, the looks.

But the kindness and gentleness of Christ? What was the catch?

Reading in the Gospel of John, it becomes evident that Jesus is changing things. The way religion is viewed, how the Sabbath is to be honored, how Grace not justice, is the way to reach sinners. Jesus had come to teach, show, love, forgive, encourage, bless, and challenge the people He met.

He came to show us that the Bad Stuff might be easier to believe, but if we believed in Him and the One who sent Him instead, we could understand and experience what is truly Good.

Best Beloved, once we open our hearts to Jesus, we can begin to hand Him all the bad stuff and He will throw it away, as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103). He will instead, begin to open our eyes to see what He sees. Someone worth dying for, someone worth leaving Heaven for, someone who is loved beyond all comprehension. The very apple of God’s eye.

Let’s encourage one another to remember Who we are in Christ and Whose we are, children of the Living God.

Amen? Amen!

*Pretty Woman, (1990), Touchstone Pictures, Garry Marshall, Dir., Richard Gere, Julia Roberts

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Pockets

My paternal grandfather was quick witted, savvy in business, one of the first to be there to help– with a hammer, a hand, or the shirt off his back. He was a hero to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but most of all to his wife.

If you saw Gramps working on the farm, he was often wearing his work clothes; a green, long sleeved shirt with a pair of matching green pants, work-shoes/boots, and of course a baseball cap that was slightly askew on his head.

More than ten years after he passed away, I found a pair of those green pants along with a couple shirts, right where he had placed them after working on one of the family farms. I laughed hard when I put my hand in the pockets only to pull out some baler twine, a large washer, a couple nails, and some straw. Gramps was obviously keeping those items handy as he worked on a project.

Lately, I have been thinking about the conversations he and I had. I remembered the time I sent a letter to him and Gram, asking questions about their childhood, where they were at certain times in history, etc.

One of the last questions I asked him, was what did he want as his legacy. His answer surprised me. He said he wanted to be remembered for the history he knew and the things he would leave behind in the community. He had been a founding member of his town’s historical society and over the years he had been involved in many different parts of town, including his church.

It was the little things he left behind, that have had a lasting impact, like the items in his pocket. Drawing people together, like the baler twine held together the straw or hay.

He liked to make sure things were secure, like the washer would help hold a bolt firmly against the metal pieces it was joining. The nails would leave a lasting mark wherever they were hammered, even if removed, the mark would remain. Straw, which would make a place comfortable and safe for resting.

The legacies we will leave some day are not what we may expect.

Gramps’ name is in the historical society. Say his name in certain places and watch faces light up and stories start pouring out. Bring some of my family around and in less than an hour someone is telling a story about Gramps. He drew us together. He reminded us that when it came down to it, we were who were connected to, by name, by blood, by love, and by history.

Best Beloved, what do you want to leave as your legacy? Have you checked your pockets lately? Maybe it’s time to put your hand inside and see what little things you are carrying. It may be the very thing that makes a lasting mark.

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Give me a “V”

My social media feed has been full of videos of young girls tumbling and cheering in competitions to win the trophy and honor of being the Champions in their category and conference. I have cheered, celebrated, and encouraged them as their parents have posted the videos and pictures.

In other posts I have mentioned that my dad was a football and wresting coach, so growing up on the sidelines of a team giving their all on a field or mat is soaked into my DNA. It is a genetic strand that has followed me into parenthood and cheering on my own sons as they battled to leave it all on the cross country course or soccer field.

The one field I had forgotten until recently, was the spiritual battlefield. My personal struggles with medication, my marital relationship, and the day-to-day activities have taken over the quest I had been on.

I forgot that the spiritual battle is the one battle that matters more than any other one I might face. If I lose this battle, then the rest of them are like dust particles in the wind, inconsequential and worthless.

I started reading Tony Evans’ book, Warfare this week and I found myself rising off the floor, wiping the sleep from my eyes, and reaching for my armor again. Best Beloved, I have not even finished the first chapter.

Any good book is going to be marked and notes are going to be written on the margins, but with this book I am taking notes separately in a notebook. Just so the words can resonate through my pen to the page. For example, from page 19: One f Satan’s strategies, though, is to get us to forget that we are fighting a spiritual battle and instead to focus on the physical , tangible challenges we face.

Ugh.

That is exactly what has been happening in my life. Restoring our house, preparing our sons for a life outside our home, mental issues for my hubby and for me, long overdue for attention. Our jobs, lost, found, lost, and found. My eyes and mind have been so diligently watching and thinking about what was in front of them, I had forgotten what I could not see.

Pastor Evans continues, Although we live in a physical world, we live in a war zone. Recognizing this reality is the first step toward victory (also p. 19).

Now, I am not writing a book report for class, but as my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, I do want to encourage you, as these pages have encouraged me. Let us pull each other up off the ground, from the couches, from the floors. Let’s put on our armor again, let us take up the Word of God- the very Sword of Truth, and remember who we are and Whose we are again.

It is time to live in the Victory that is found in the Cross and the empty tomb.

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Dreaming in the quiet

I had my annual physical this month. I had the usual height, weight, temperature, blood pressure taken, all of which were fine. I had fasted for my blood work to check cholesterol levels, my thyroid, etc. My numbers were all in the normal range, which was encouraging.

One thing that came up during my visit was a review of the medication I take every day. I take a low dosage of allergy medication and a low dosage of blood pressure medication. I have also been taking anxiety meds for years now, but my dosage has fluctuated a lot during this time. It turns out, I had been taking twice as much as I should have been taking. In a sense, I had been overdosing for at least six months and never realized it.

After working in a highly stressful environment for so long, I had begun to believe my anxiety would always been on the cusp of overwhelming me, no matter the dosage. What I learned is that the more medication I was taking, the less the effect. I was basically erasing all the good that was being done because I was taking too much.

It has been a few weeks since my appointment and I am finally enjoying the peace I had been desperate to find. I am able to put my head down at night and sleep immediately and soundly. I am not feeling like my mind is on fast forward and my restless legs have even settled down.

It’s amazing what happens when the body is cared for in the best way possible.

As I thought about all the time I had felt like a constant propeller, being blown by the inconstant wind, never resting, I heard a whisper, My Child, that is what it looks like when you don’t come to me for help.

Oh. Yeah.

My internal wiring is to complete tasks, report the completion, and continue to do more. My weekends, though satisfying, were also exhausting. I felt that I couldn’t let a weekend go by without having a list of completed tasks to show for it. I was trying to earn my worth. My hubby would tell me again and again to sit down, slow down, let it wait until another day. To my ears all I heard was, be lazy, which contradicted everything running in my head.

In the weeks since my medication change, I have found myself sitting down, prioritizing what was needed and what I wanted to do. I spent an afternoon sitting and mending the pile of clothes that had been growing. I picked up my quilting again and remembered how much I enjoyed its simplicity.

I am starting to understand the attraction of drawing close to God, of resting in His presence, and of being filled with His peace the whole time.

There is great wisdom in David’s words, The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV).

The sheep were under their shepherd’s care. They could graze and know he was watching for predators, dangerous terrain, and knew where to take them to rest. They were free to eat, play, and sleep because he was always there.

Best Beloved, what is your internal pace today? Are you resting? Are you rushing? Come with me and let us find the Shepherd together. He will show us where there is sweet grass, a cool breeze, and a safe place to lay our heads down.

Blessings to you, Dear One.

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Poppies, places, and people

Field of Poppies, Auvers-sur-Oise, 1890
Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Vincent Van Gogh is my favorite French Impressionist, a fellow follower/seeker of Christ, and someone who battled within his soul daily for clarity, truth, and a sense of purpose and worth. His works are what draw me in, drawing me into the midst of a pastoral scene, like the the field of poppies above.

As a man who sought to understand the world around him, but struggled with the world within him; he would have periods of sanity and periods of turmoil, leading to his being hospitalized. In studying his work, I can sense the desire for his soul to be freed. The wind blowing through the cypress trees, across the fields, out over the sea.

It’s a sensation we all feel at the deepest level.

A desire to be loosed from the shackles that hold us to our past mistakes, our regrets and sorrows. The losses of friends or loved ones, a broken marriage, a wayward child, all these things pull at our hearts and minds, leading some of us to beg with God to have a do-over.

There is nothing we can do to fully correct these experiences. No phone call, letter, text, email, etc, will ever truly wipe away that feeling of failure.

Only Jesus.

Only by the power of Christ can we be free. No longer lost, no longer without hope, no longer without love. All we must do is cry out to Him. Admit the truth, that we are all lost, broken, and desperately in need of a Savior. It isn’t something we have to accomplish at a certain place, with impressive people.

It can be in a canvas tent in the middle of the wilderness, in a city highrise, or in a field of poppies. I just need myself and Jesus. I know that it is because of Christ that I will spend all of eternity with Him. Not my accomplishments as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, or friend. Knowing I cannot break the chains that bind me. But Jesus can, He always will.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death, (Romans‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭NIV).‬‬

It is all about Jesus.

Nothing else will do.

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Tend the fires

During the night I wake up to check the fires in the wood stoves and to add more wood as needed to keep the house warm. While it only takes about 5-10 minutes to get both fires checked, I have been using this time to pray for people who cross my mind. I had not realized I was doing it at first. Someone would come to mind, I would simply pray whatever came to mind about them.

Many people in my life are believers who pray, but I know that praying for them still matters. Even as a believer whose prayers are heard by the God of Heaven, knowing others are also praying for me helps remind me I am not alone.

Paul, James, and Peter too, wrote to remind the Church to pray for each other. James said it clearly in chapter 5:13-20 (HCSB, bold mine):

Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord.

 The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours; yet he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its fruit.

 My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins.

I used to skip these verse a lot. I didn’t understand them, they seemed boring even. Now, I hear the wisdom, crave the prayers, and find peace in the promises in each word.

Prayers of healing (this side of Heaven or in Heaven itself), prayers of reconciliation, prayers of redemption for the prodigals. Reminders that a man, just like us prayed for no rain and God heard him, answering his prayers.

Best Beloved, we are to encourage and tend the fires within our hearts, but also within the hearts of our brothers and sisters. We are called on again and again to pray for our brothers and sisters who are in chains, those in need of comfort, wisdom, healing strength, and power from the Holy Spirit.

Be the fire-tender for your family and friends. For the person you pass on the sidewalk in town, the person you drive past on the roads to work. The very prayer you pray may never be known to them, but will be heard by your Heavenly Father, who may take those prayers and turn them into answers.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire, (Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV).

May our prayers be incense to Him, sweet, pure, and holy.

Amen.

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Hitting the mat

The only way to know who you are in Christ is to know what He thinks about you. If you know what God has to say about you, then the lies of the enemy seem silly. (From day 2 of the devotional, The Veil, on the You Version Bible app).

“Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. God, how difficult Your thoughts are for me to comprehend; how vast their sum is! If I counted them, they would outnumber the grains of sand; when I wake up, I am still with You,” (Psalms‬ ‭139:16-18‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

I have been quiet lately, trying to figure out next steps for me, how to be supportive and encouraging for my husband as he works through his own things. For the past few weeks I have been like the 98-pound weakling trying to pick up the strong man’s weights. A ridiculous and pitiful sight to see. I’ve been wallowing in self doubt, an unfounded sense of abandonment, just giving in to any and all manner of irrational thought.

I have emotionally exhausted both myself and my dear hubby in the process.

A friend’s son was a powerful and tenacious wrestler throughout his childhood years and into high school as well. He held fast when he put his opponent in a hold, he could adjust and counter the counter-moves of the other wrestler. The joy he felt in winning a very long match encouraged me and re-lit a fire in my soul. I have been approaching the funk all wrong. For too long.

I had been listening to the enemy. Every whisper suggesting now that my husband had come out, he was going to leave me. No matter what my hubby said, I couldn’t believe him. Even though not a single thing showed contrary to his commitment to me and to our marriage vows. I still believed the Liar whispering in my ear. I had forgotten the Truth.

I had forgotten that when tendrils begin to curl around my thoughts, pulling and tugging me away from the Truth of who I am and Whose I am, I am armed with the Sword of Truth, which has power to cut through the lies. I had forgotten who my opponent was and what I needed to defeat him.

“Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand,” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-13‬ ‭HCSB, bold mine‬‬).

The King James Version puts Ephesians 6:12 this way, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” (‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:12‬ ‭KJV, bold mine‬‬).

We are wrestlers on the mat, going for the pin, having to counter our opponent and maintain our strength as we listen for our Coach’s voice to instruct us. As I mentioned in the post, Coffee Grinders, as a wrestler I need to remember to move my legs, to switch the power from the top wrestler to me, the one on the bottom.

It’s time for me to tune my ears again, to hear my Coach. To hear Him remind me that my battle with the enemy has already been won by Christ. I am on the mat to gain wisdom and strength for my journey with Him.

It’s time to put my armor back on, to remember that in my weakness Christ is made strong. His strength is what will and has won the battle.

“But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me,” (‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

What about you, Best Beloved? Are you hitting the mat, confident in your success? Or are you the weakling waiting to be pounded by the opponent? Let us tune our ears to our Coach and remember He already has the ultimate Victory.

Hallelujah, amen.

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Squares, triangles, and icosahedrons

Geometry was not my favorite class in high school. I have often said the reason I had good grades in geometry was because my boyfriend at the time tutored me. I may not have known the equations that created a shape, but I still found myself drawn to them.

A triangle can be two dimensional or it can be multidimensional, like a pyramid. The shape becomes more than the simple design from preschool. It has depth, it has space within to hold something or cover and protect a person or an item (think classic tent shapes).

Squares become cubes like the Rubik’s cube, the Borg cube in Star Trek, the simple shape of a house when drawn by a small child. Again, so many options to hold, contain, or protect items within.

As for the icosahedron; it is a polyhedron with 20 faces. The name comes from Ancient Greek εἴκοσι, meaning ‘twenty’, and ἕδρα, meaning ‘seat’.

What all of these shapes cannot do is contain a person; their personality, likes, dislikes, skills, talents, and dreams. The human body and soul are both mortal and immortal. One will eventually stop functioning and the other will continue living for eternity. How can anyone fully understand this truth and still want to force a person to conform to a particular shape, ultimately trying to control him or her?

As my husband continues to learn how to bring both aspects of his life together, we have encountered people who believe that as a gay man he should divorce me and embrace his “gayness.” Then, there are those who state our faith forbids him to have these feelings and that he should repent and beg forgiveness from God and me, living contrite for the rest of his life.

Nothing is that simple. I wish it was, believe me. I would like nothing better than to have a delete button on all the things that don’t “fit” the way life is supposed to be. War, famine, human trafficking, they are all terrible. I would love to delete these things from our world. But God gave us all free will and that means that there are things we will choose to do or not do, that are contrary to Him.

Being gay or straight for that matter, should not be the way we see a person. A person is created in the image of God. Trying to cubby-hole the people in our lives diminishes this fact. While watching a recent episode of Mixish I heard these words being confirmed.

The main character, Rainbow, who is the daughter of a white father and a black mother, is struggling with stereotypes. One of the things she said in the episode was that by stereotyping a person, it allows them to become less of who they are, a person who is less than human can then become a thing instead of a person. From my viewpoint as a believer, that kind of thinking is dangerous. It’s the gasoline poured on division. It is the kind of thinking the enemy relishes.

After all, he has been causing division since God made Adam and Eve.

In my life I have friends and family who lean to the left, lean to the right, or sit in the middle politically. While I may not agree with everything they post to social media, I still value them. They have been a part of my life’s journey and they are treasured.

Trying to put anyone of them into a shape, whether its a triangle, square, or icosahedron would be a mistake. It would take away parts of who they are and who they maybe become. My husband has a statement online os his social media feeds that says, “I am a gay man happily living a straight life.” No cubby-holes can make this fit.

Just like my last post, I don’t have a ribbon of Scripture with which to tie this up. I do not want a theological, sociological, or any other ogical debate. Just pray. Pray with your whole heart, honestly, and ask God to open your eyes to see people as He sees them. Made in His image, with an ever-living-never-dying-soul, and ask Him to lead you in the next steps. It could be introducing yourself, paying for their cup of coffee, it could be learning about who they are and their journey.

The enemy has been winning a lot of skirmishes and battles lately using division. Let us remind him, that God is about multiplication (wherever two or more are gathered in my Name, I am there among them, Matthew 18:20).

Best Beloved, shapes are great for geometry. The only shape we as believers should be using when we meet people is the shape of the human heart and the shape of the Cross. From the view of eternity, nothing else after.

Blessings,

oxoxo

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