never enough

Each day I strive to spend time with God, reading devotionals, meditating on the words I have read, hoping to steep my soul in them and carry them around during the day. Some days this works, other days one would think I never knew of God’s grace– my heart feels stained, ugly, and steeped with disappointment, sadness, and so on.

When this happens and I catch myself on this negative trajectory, I close my eyes and take a moment to re-center my heart on God.  There are times though, when I wonder when will God say, “That’s it! I am sick-and-tired of having to forgive you for this thinking?  When are you going to get it through your thick head that this behavior needs to stop?” 

I wonder, will there ever be a day when God says, “Enough! I am done with you! You keep blowing it, keep sinning, keep withholding mercy from others, keep expecting people to live up to expectations you aren’t even living up to every day.  I am done — stop coming around and pestering me.”

And then, like a sweet breeze from Heaven I hear, “Oh sweet child, how could you think I would ever turn from you? My Son died for you, you have called to Him as Savior and have been cleansed by His blood since that very day.  There is nothing you will ever do, no sin you will ever commit that will make me say ‘Enough.’  I love you, you are precious in my sight and I cannot deny my own.”

My heart soars at the idea that God will never reach the point of enough — not with me, not with you.  Not with anyone who seeks forgiveness and through God’s strength and the help of others turns from the very sin they confessed.

We as human beings spend too much time trying to measure ourselves against each other. Well, at least I don’t act like that.  This kind of thinking reminds me of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14:

 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Our measuring stick is the Son of God and His Grace gift on the Cross.  If God says to us that He will never reach Enough then maybe that is how we should treat each other and ourselves.

Give grace, receive grace, show mercy, love, kindness, forgiveness, keep no more lists of the wrongs done to you, let them go– just like God did with you.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

no regrets

One day we will all stand before the Throne of Heaven to speak about what we have done and not done in our lives.  It could be a long list of things we did or a long list of things we didn’t do.  Scripture is clear about this Day of Reckoning, it will happen.  Somehow, I find myself not feeling as apprehensive as I would have thought.

I am striving to live my life with no regrets.  Oh, don’t be fooled, I have regrets for things I have done in my past.  But today is a new day, God’s mercies are new, I have asked forgiveness for these things (done and undone), and today- I will draw my line as a starting line to declare “from this point forward” I want to live a life of no regrets.

I want to stand on those mountain tops and feel the wind in my hair, throw my arms out to the sides, and take in the incredible rush of the moment.  I don’t want to sit in base camp and imagine what it will be, I want to experience it– first hand.

I want to love freely those who need to know they matter– which is everyone– I want to give of my time, my talents, my energies, and my gifts without concern of the return.  I want to share the Love of God and draw others to Him, not because of clever words or gimmicks, but because they will recognize the genuineness in me as I speak of the Truth of Him.

I pray I will have the strength to stand when others sit or never arrive.  I pray I will defend those who are defenseless, serve those who are forgotten–even if that service comes in the form of a touch, a piece of fruit, and a smile.

Our days on this Earth are numbered.  We don’t know when, we don’t know where, we don’t know how old we will be when we are called to that Heavenly Throne Room. One of the saddest things to see is something with that new shine and shimmer on it, still in the box, unused. I want to have lived a life that was used to its fullest.

Father God, use me.  Break me out of my fears, my what-if-it-all-goes-wrong thinking, help me remember that I am released from my past because of the Cross. I am a Child of the One True King, I pray I will live my life from today forward fearlessly without worry, but in Faith.  Trusting in You and stepping out in faith again and again.

Forever Your Daughter because of Your Son,

Amen

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

intentions

We are probably all familiar with the adage, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”  And it is true.  If we intend to do something without actually following through it is worthless and ultimately, a waste of time.

The intentions I am thinking of today, is more of the why-I-do-what-I-do kind of intention. What is the purpose, the real reason, the meaning behind something.

I have recently be challenged that I want to be perceived as a polite, appropriate, socially correct person–even though I live in an area that is more blue collar than white, more cowboy hat/baseball cap, and more pick-up truck than anything else.

I have thought about this for some time.  I realized that my heart isn’t about being socially correct– I don’t know the right spoon or fork from another beyond the simple table setting.  But I do want to make sure my actions, my words, what is said and recorded for public hearing/reading doesn’t sadden the Holy Spirit.

As believers we are held to a higher standard, Ephesians 4:29 says, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Why?  Because as believers we aren’t helping shine the Light of Christ if our actions are no different than those who are not believers.

How can anyone tell the difference if all we do is the same thing, speak the same way, etc.? Now, I am not being legalistic.  I have seen how badly that kind of life can suck the joy from you and from those around you that you may be trying to reach. I Corinthians 9:20 gives Paul’s perspective of this as he understood reaching those who were different, To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. In other words, Paul understood it was important to be set apart, but not so far apart that someone would think becoming a believer was unattainable.

So, I don’t share off-color jokes, images, or stories on my newsfeed.  I don’t chose to share every private detail of my life with people I have known as a person of authority, there is a line that should not be crossed and I do my best not to cross it.  Not because I want someone’s approval that really doesn’t care about what I am doing, but instead– I want to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.

God is my audience.  God is my purpose.  My intentions are clear, to Fear the Lord your God, serve him only (Deuteronomy 6:13)  or as Jesus put it in Matthew 4:10,  ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”   Either way, my desire is not to be a stumbling block that prevents someone from being introduced to the One True God.

 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

the next ones

I was reading in Prayer by Philip Yancey today, when he shared a story about Corrie Ten Boom, one of my heroines.  He wrote about how after her multiple strokes she was bed-ridden but had her helpers hang pictures of dear ones and missionaries on the wall so she could continue to pray for them (p. 275). I was so struck by her connection with lifting others up when she no longer could lift herself off the bed.

As my mom and I chatted I was suddenly struck with the idea that right now in Heaven, Corrie Ten Boom is celebrating the King of Kings with Amy Charmichael, Ruth Bell Graham, and Elisabeth Elliot.  It brought me to tears as I thought of these women who spent hours and hours on their knees for their family, friends, strangers, and people they may never have met.  Praying and interceding on their behalf.

I sobered quickly when I thought of this generation growing up today.  Who would be their intercessors?  Who is praying on behalf of the young men and women who are striving, seeking, and finding God in their youth and in their middle age?

Who is on their knees praying for their salvation, their struggles, their triumphs, their losses, praying for healing, praying for restoration of relationships, praying for the Love of God to flood their hearts and minds?

Who is praying for the lost children?  Who is praying for the lost men and women who are just steps away from an eternity without God?

Who is interceding for those who don’t know God, who don’t even know there is a God in Heaven who sent His Son to die for them?

We do have some amazing women today who are Bible-teachers, who share, speak, write, and yes, pray for those I have mentioned.  But who is being trained up in the next generation?  Who has stood in the gap to hold out a hand to the younger ones to bring them up to see all that God is doing, will do, and can do if only someone would intercede?

Who?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

continuing on…

My collection of books is growing in my bag.  At present, I am reading five different books, a chapter or two in each almost daily.  It has helped me get grounded again after so much activity during the summer. I mentioned a couple of them yesterday, the ones I am reading to help me re-engage in what prayer looks like for me during this season.  The other books are literature, a classic novel and a contemporary one.

My purpose is to find the little moments to re-center, re-focus, and remember what my heart is like and how it was created and wired.

The more my heart awakens from the slumber of too much activity, the more I find myself reaching for the things that comfort me and grow me at the same time.  Which is why my book collection grows.  Most of my books are still in boxes due to the move and the renovation of the house. Right now, there isn’t a room that doesn’t have something going on it, whether it is re-wiring the room, peeling wallpaper, repairing cracks with drywall tape and joint compound, or storing boxes of stuff for the rooms in process– there is no place to “go” and chill out, relax, or refocus. I know this isn’t a forever situation, but it will take some time to get things into place.

So, I go for walks around the property, sit on the porch and play with the kittens, and read. I realize that my house is a lot like the way I am, personally.  Lots of activity inside, renovating old thinking processes, re-wiring the places that are worn out or just not working correctly anymore.  There are skills and talents that are in boxes waiting for me to complete some areas in my heart and healing, so they can be unpacked and displayed and used.

My prayer is that each day I will exhale out more of the way I “used” to be, the anxiety, fear, doubt, and worry I have carried with me for decades, and inhale the trust, the Truth, the reality, that I am a Child of God. He created me over 45 years ago, knitting me together in my mother’s womb, I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16).  When I truly embrace this, living it out day-to-day, I will find my place of rest, my place of comfort–where I can relax and release any burdens I have carried.

It must be why these verses speak to me so deeply every time I read them.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

And this is why I continue on, reading, reflecting, writing, praying, listening.  My God is speaking and I don’t want to miss a word.  His Word is Life.  And I want to live in Him.

 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

prayer

I am reminding myself what prayer means and how to pray.  I have given toss up prayers, fervent prayers, pleading prayers, and grateful prayers a lot lately.  But what I haven’t done is any kind of official prayer time in a while.  It has a lot to do with my schedule, a lot to do with my heart, and a lot to do with feeling like I suddenly don’t know where to start.

I have been reading through a couple books that have reawakened the sweetness and richness that comes from prayer and I find myself remembering what it was like to spend time in “fellowship” with God for an extended period.

One of the books is the devotional I have been reading and re-reading since last year, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  It is great for a touchstone or re-centering in my day.  But to think that this small reminder is going to feed me all day is like thinking a half-piece of toast will carry me through the day until dinner.  I need some real meat and sustenance.

In all of the packing and unpacking we have done in the last year I came across a book I was given twenty-five years ago, as a new believer; Vance Havner’s Lord of What’s Left: Meditations of Hope and Inspiration. Each chapter is a reflective devotional that uses everyday events to remind us that this Earth is not our home and there is so much more to come.  It reminds me a bit of my grandfathers and the way they related stories in a simple, straightforward manner.

Years ago, a dear friend gave me the book, Prayer- Does it Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey.  I have not plowed through the book, as I would usually, but instead approached it like a rich meal.  I read a few chapters and let them slowly process through my mind and heart.  Reflecting on his perspective of prayer and how it relates to all of us this side of Heaven has helped to unbend the places that have been out of shape due to life’s strains and struggles.

My desire is not to have a checklist each day where I can mark off that I have spent time in prayer.  It would be completely missing the point and purpose of prayer.  At the same time, I do not want to go backward to the way I used to pray.  My experiences are different, my season of life is different.  It would be foolish to think the “old way” would work.

So, I search.  I look for the simple ways I can relate and share my heart with God.  Closing my eyes while sitting on the porch, breathing in God’s presence and breathing out my stress, anxiety, tiredness, and even frustration.  I spend time in the truck, on the way to work, being still and listening to anything God may want to whisper to me for the day.

Prayer is the oldest way to connect with God, but it can be done in new fresh ways for me and that is the way I want to approach my relationship with God.  The heart needs to be made new each day and my communion with God should be the same.

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live (Psalm 116:1-2).

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the mob

I’ve recently been debating the removal of social media from my day-to-day life.  We are renovating our 100+ year old house and for a season are without internet access.  It has been freeing to cut the invisible cord that has tied our family to television, YouTube, Pinterest, and podcasts.

The issue I have, the concern and heart ache I feel, is when I read posts from people who have shared a post from elsewhere- news source or otherwise, that includes hundreds of responses to the original post.  By the time the twentieth or thirtieth person has responded much of what could be said or “needs” to be said, has been said.  From then on, the reactions are a re-telling of a previous response.  The further down the feed the responses get- the uglier, more brutal, and hurtful the comments become.  It almost seems like a competition to be the meanest or most hurtful comment in the feed.

It is a mob mentality.  And it is destructive.  Scripture talks about when Jesus was anointed at Bethany there were people who lined the streets laying palm fronds and even their cloaks on the ground as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem (John 12:12-18).  This may have started with those who truly believed in who He was, but most likely people joined to be a part of something, out of curiosity, out of boredom.

We are called to be a part of community, it is inherent in all of us.  God wired us that way. But when the mob mentality becomes one focused on selfish reasons or self-preservation, then it is at its most dangerous.

As one of my favorite authors described it, “The same crowd that a week before was crying ‘Hosanna’ was now chanting ‘Crucify Him,'” oh what a difference a week makes (John 19:1-18).

The news in America has been full of mob actions.  Destructive behavior, destruction of property, of morality, of each other.  Nothing good has come from it.

It breaks my heart.

The sweet joy and union of community that can draw us together for a purpose and a service to mankind has been used far too often to destroy.

What would it look like if instead of tearing down in our news-feeds we found the words to encourage and to build up one another?  What would it look like, if here in the States and elsewhere, we gathered around those who were hurting and held them, protected them, lifted them up?

This is a personal choice.  It is not an action taken on by a mob.  It is something that must be selected by individuals.

Will you be one of the individuals?  Will you go against the flow and build up instead of tear down? What would that look like if you decided today to speak one more word of encouragement and one less hurtful word?

It is up to you and it is up to me.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

fairness

Fairness, by definition means, the state, condition, or quality of being  fair, or free from bias or injustice; even-handedness (dictionary.com). 

In my life I find many people who seek fairness for everyone and every situation.  But with this fairness there is no room for grace or mercy.  It’s a justice mentality- getting just what you deserve for your actions.  No, second chances, no benefit-of-the-doubt, just a pass/fail mentality.

That’s one of the reasons the Pharisees were so upset with Jesus. He came and challenged their thinking. Jesus gave grace, forgave sins, healed sickness and disease, and showed mercy. From the Pharisees’ point-of-view, if there was any sickness or disease or infirmity of any kind, it was due to a sin in the person’s life or even in their parents’ life.  Their belief system was set in Old Testament law which operated on the Justice game board.

Then Jesus comes.  And He says, “I didn’t come to get rid of the Law, but to complete it.” In other words, the view that it is Law only is not the only way, there is more to the equation.  The Law of Moses and the Prophets is, in a sense, there to show that we cannot measure up, that we need grace. We need second chances and third chances and sometimes 400 hundred chances to finally get things changed.

We often hear children cry out, “It’s not fair!”  But is that what we want?  Do we really want fairness? Fairness is dangerous. It’s what creates societies of people who believe they deserve things they haven’t earned- just because the people in that society draw breath or show up.

Fairness does not grow bravery and courage, fairness does not develop strong character and the strength to know and act on right versus wrong, or defend the weak.  Fairness grows selfishness and a sense of entitlement.

Jesus never spoke of fairness.  He did speak of giving when there was need, of serving others, holding up others as more important than ourselves (selflessness).  He spoke about seeking God’s plan and purpose for our lives, not our own selfish ways.  And most of all, He spoke about how this world would have troubles (John 16:33). In other words, this world is not going to be fair.  But to remember that the Triune God is in charge and all things will come out right in the end.

A life of Fairness is not a life I want to live– a life of Faithfulness on the other hand; that kind of life is worth living every single day.

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

artistry

My community if full of artists.  Some are closet artists, only showing their skill and gift to a select few, some make a living at it, proudly sharing their talents with others.  Either way, I have been so blessed by these people who share their talents with me.

We are creating for others every time we make a meal and share it with loved ones, or sketch/paint/or draw a picture that shares our heart at that time.  We create our heart’s perspective through woodworking, knitting/crocheting/quilting, music, or giving the gift of hope to someone who is struggling in a hospital bed.  We share what God has planted in us each time we give from within.

Now, some may say that is not what we are doing– but I would argue it is.  God has uniquely wired each one of us with gifts and talents that bless those around us when they are shared with the world.  Unfortunately, some of us have struggled, battled, and denied these gifts for a very long time.  This saddens me, as so many others have missed out on the blessing of our unique, specialized gifts.

So, to those who are “afraid” to share their gifts– take a deep breath and do it anyway.  Share your heart, share your artistry with those around you.  Make something and give it away.  Your first attempts may not be perfect, but do it anyway. Someone will be blessed and encouraged by it.  Believe me.

The young child who drew simple images may become an incredible artist if encouraged by others that his or her gifts are to be treasured.  The young writer may write rambling stories at first, but through encouragement and direction may in time become an accomplished writer.

The child who loves to help others, with time and guidance may become an amazing, blessing of a nurse– if the early gifts are received.

Allow the artistry of God to flow through you– and create! That is what you are, God’s creation, designed and formed to share His artistry throughout the world.  Now take that gift and talent and share it with others.

He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created (Genesis 5:2).

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand (Isaiah 64:8).

 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

in the cards

Ever since I was a new believer I have written down different verses that challenge and encourage me. I write verses on my folders, on scraps of paper, in devotionals, in my journals,  with whiteboard markers on my mirrors; wherever I will see the verses and be reminded of the truth in the Scripture.

Over the course of the past twenty-five years, I have found myself collecting index cards to write these truths on and to carry around with me.  I have these index cards taped to cabinets, to the window by the kitchen sink, to the bathroom mirror. Places I will see each day to help me find the courage to seek God when things are difficult, as well as praise Him for the way He carries me through.

When I participated in Beth Moore Bible studies I found that she often included Scripture cards in her studies as well.  The cards had verses like, Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

Or this verse from Isaiah 61:1, The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…

Each one reminding us of the Bible study topic, but also who we were through Christ.

I started thinking, each one of us receives “cards” from people throughout our day, words of encouragement if we are lucky, but too often they are words that are hurtful, destructive, and sometimes out-right lies. What would it look like if we turned in the “bad” cards and replaced them with Biblical truths?

Would we remember that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)?  Would we find courage and comfort in the verse,  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you (Isaiah 54:10)?

Again and again the definition of encouragement comes to mind.  The literal definition is to pour courage into someone.  How many of us need courage, strength, wisdom, truth, and the reminder of God’s amazing love poured into each day?

I think it’s time to take the truth in the Word and carry it on cards with us.  As we read the truth in the cards it will then be transferred to our hearts.  And we all need a bit more of His Truth poured in there each day.

 

 

Posted in reflections, Walking by Faith and not by sight | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment