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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Taking action

Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act, making your righteousness shine like the dawn, your justice like the noonday. Be silent before the Lord and wait expectantly for Him; do not be agitated by one who prospers in his way, by the man who carries out evil plans. Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated — it can only bring harm,” (Psalms‬ ‭37:3-8‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

Early in my faith walk I came across Psalm 37, I don’t remember what led me to that chapter, but I do know how often I returned to those verses to read them. I was still figuring out what my walk was going to look like, how I was going to live it out. These verses resonated in my head. Each verse has a command, trust, take, commit, be silent, wait, refrain. Each verb a direction, instruction on how to live my life with Christ; how to seek His face, to grow in my faith. They were steps to take, kind of a recipe of how to come to Christ and learn from Him.

Step 1): Trust God- doing what is good, living confidently in His land

Step 2): Take delight in God- make Him first and He will take care of the rest

Step 3): Commit your life to the Lord- He will work in your life bringing about righteousness in your life, justice will come (in His perfect timing).

Step 4): Be quiet so you can listen to His direction, it will be exactly what is needed in your life. He loves you.

Step 5): Wait for Him – don’t go ahead of Him thinking He will follow- we are to follow Him, not the other way around.

Step 6): Don’t get angry- the world will look like it’s winning, but remember that God’s timing is nothing like ours. He knows that anger unchecked is destructive.

Now, the Christian faith is not a “paint-by-numbers” kind of faith. We call it a ‘Faith” because we are going through this world without seeing the completed story. We will not understand the decisions God made until we are in Heaven. So it comes back to Psalm 37. We are to trust in the Lord (see also Proverbs 3:5-6), we are to delight in the Lord. He brings joy into our hearts when we accept His gift of grace and forgiveness (Luke 6:23).

We can entrust our lives, our eternity to Him. He died for us that we could live for Him (Romans 6:8). Our hearts learn best when we are quiet and still, ready to listen to Him (Psalm 46:10). Being impatient with those who are lost and continue to live a foolish life is a waste of our time. We may never know how God moved in our lives for us to come to Him. We must trust His perfect timeline for all of Creation (2 Peter 3:9).

Where are you in this process, Best Beloved? Are you still trying to accomplish step 1? Are you working through step 4? Whichever step you are on, keep working at it. Ask Christ to meet you there and to guide you on. Our journey is only beginning this side of Heaven. Don’t stop working now, take action. Keep moving forward.

Blessings,

oxoxoxo

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Yuck mouth

On Saturday mornings it was tradition to watch cartoons, from the time I woke up until 10 o’clock when my chores would begin. Sprinkled throughout the cartoons would be Public Service Announcements (PSAs) about being safe in a forest with fire, not polluting the environment or littering along the roads. Some of my favorite PSAs included Yuck Mouth and the Time for Timer-“Hanker for a hunk of Cheese.”

Yuck Mouth was all about learning to have good dental care so our teeth were clean and in good health.

His whole presence reminded me of rotting foods. It was very clever to introduce to young kids who were eating sugary cereals, I think. The other PSA, Time for Timer, focused on making good choices when eating snacks.

I often saw these two PSAs back-to-back, a sort of don’t-make-poor-choices-make-better-choices. The lyrics to each of the choruses still echo in my head all these years later.

As I’ve grown older, I continue to look for the either/or option of life. Whether it is a choice of cereal, movies, even flannel shirts, I come back to the poor choices vs. better choices. When I started reading the Bible, I realized our choices are as old as Creation itself.

God presented to Adam and Eve all of the Garden of Eden, except for the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:9). We all know how that decision turned out. God still gave them another chance though and through it, we have the same choice available to us today (John 3:16, Romans 10:9).

We all have these kinds of choices. Ephesians 4:17-31 gives examples of who were were and who we are now in Christ. As believers we take off the tattered, dirty rags of our old life, our sin life and put on the robes of righteousness, the robes of grace and mercy, the holiness that comes from Christ.

In the wilderness, on the side of the Jordan River, Joshua and Moses gathered all the Israelites and told them that they had to make a choice. Deuteronomy 27 explains that before the Israelites crossed over the Jordan they were to walk between two mountains and written on stones would be the blessings of following God and His commandments on one side, the curses and consequences of disobeying God and His commandments were on the other side. The ultimate billboard advising them of what their choices would bring.

Later in Deuteronomy 30:14-16 comes another reminder, But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you and do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the lORD your God will blessings you i the land that you are entering to take possession if it.

And if that was not enough of a reminder Moses continues, I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Best Beloved, I do not know the choices you make each day. When we see these words, however, it is clear that God desires we choose Him we choose a life of life and of following Him.

It’s a choice that can be difficult, but from eternity’s perspective, is worth it.

Every single time.

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Cold silence

Nebraska has been frigid this week with temperatures below zero and wind chills in the negative double digits. Out in “farm country”, where we live, night temps seem to bite into your skin and stepping outside to do anything seems like a terrible idea.

When my hubby and I came home last night, the lights seemed to flicker a bit in the house. I thought it was a bulb beginning to die, then I noticed it was in every room. We made sure to keep the minimum number of lights on to help the grid from being overtaxed. But around one o’clock this morning, the electricity went off.

Suddenly the rhythmic whoosh of the c-pap machine my husband uses was gone. The little milk house heater no longer glowed, the fridge no longer hummed. The gas-fed stove we use to heat the house fell silent. Because of the negative temperatures outside, the house temperatures began to chill.

No heat, no light, no sounds.

I put another quilt on the bed to fight against the cold as it settled in the room and I waited. There were no sounds, no light to see by, no warmth was offered.

Hubby checked our power company’s website and they posted a minor outage had occurred in our area. I knew we would have power again soon, but when? When would the life giving source be restored?

Thankfully, within the hour, the electricity was back on and we were able to fall asleep.

I have often wondered what it means when the Bible speaks of the separation of man from God for eternity. The weeping and gnashing of teeth, the cold and utter darkness, came to mind as I lay in bed (1 Thessalonians 5:23, Philippians 3:20, Titus 2:13).

I know the inconvenience of no electricity does not compare to eternity without God’s presence, but last night was as close as I want to get.

Best Beloved, Heaven is real, so is Hell. One does not exist without the other. My heart breaks for my family members and friends who have passed away and did not have a relationship with God. Not as a ticket to Heaven, but to know, lean into, trust, and obey throughout life.

I have seen the comfort of Christ in a person’s life being a person through deep heartache. Dear hubby and I have been experiencing this for the past few weeks. The joy and celebration that come from walking with God daily. These moments breathe life into my tired soul.

As a believer who has accepted Christ in my life, I do not worry that I will be cast out. Yet, friends and family of whom I love deeply are in danger. My prayer is for their salvation and for their hearts to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus (2 Peter 3:8). That they will see that glorious morning when Christ returns again-one day (1 Thessalonians 5:23, Philippians 3:20, Titus 2:13).

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Desperate pleas

Whenever I think of desperate pleas I think of the damsel in distress, white flowing dress, hair disheveled, hands bound, on her knees in front of the dastardly evil man who is planning to tie her to the train tracks. Much like Snidely and Nellie in the “Dudley Do-Right” cartoon from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

There are times, in my faith walk, when I am faced with impossible situations. I wonder if this is the time when it is all going to fall apart. I wonder if God is going to hear my pleas for help and rescue me. Will He correct the situation I am pleading about this time?

Sometimes, He answers with a resolute, Yes! Other times, it is, No. I don’t get to see the reasons at first, but there is a reason. He does not move without purpose. I have been on my knees praying for relationships that I thought were going to last a lifetime, only to have God step in and say, No. I have prayed for precious family and friends to be healed from cancer, only to have God answer the healing with Heaven.

I have pleaded with God for protection when our car was making noises that could not be explained. He answered those prayers. My hubby and I found out later that he had been driving for months on a broken axle on the interstate. I have laid hands on equipment, praying for motors to work and God has answered with Yes.

God is not a temperamental idol who decides to answer prayers by flipping a coin. He is able to meet our needs, heal our hearts, and answer our prayers (read Psalm 143, David’s words may bring some comfort).

I have come to see my prayers are like a child who is crying out of need and sometimes crying out of want. God, like all parents, knows His children. He loves us. His answers don’t always make us happy. But much like Aslan, God is good.

Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Just as Peter, Lucy, Susan, and Edmund had to learn that Aslan saw things they could not, we must learn that God hears every prayer and plea. How He answers them comes from the very nature of Him. The LORD is good. A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7).

I am grateful for each answer to prayer, even if they aren’t the answer I want or hope for because I know He loves me.

May you come to know this kind of amazing love, Best Beloved.

Blessings, oxoxo

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Someday, we’ll be together

My grandfathers had a deep respect for the military. This admiration and gratitude was modeled for me in the way they spoke of those in their family who had served and the way they stood when the American flag went by in a parade. As my sons grew up, I made a point to teach them to show that same respect. Whenever we saw a person in uniform the boys would approach them and say, “Thank you for your service.”

Social media has become a place for families to share the homecoming of servicemen and women who are returning from duty. Some of these homecomings are arranged to be at a school event that includes a younger sibling who is unaware of their brother or sister’s return.

This morning I watched a clip of a younger sister meeting her mom in the school office for an early dismissal. Unaware at first, that her brother was in the room, having returned for a visit after being away serving in the US Navy. As soon as the young girl sees him, she drops her backpack from her shoulders and jumps into his arms. She cries for joy to be reunited.

I smiled at the powerful moment she was restored to her brother. Her baggage gone, arms tightened around his neck, a sense that she would never let him go again.

This is what I imagine will happen when we are reunited with Christ. He has been away, seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2), waiting for the time to return to Earth. He comes back and when we see him every single thing becomes unimportant. All that matters is that He is there waiting to embrace us.

I do not know what you have been facing in your life, Best Beloved. You may have a daily battle that leaves you exhausted every night. You may have physical pain, emotional pain, or maybe mental health issues, that seem to build a blockade between you and joy.

“Then the news about Him spread throughout Syria. So they brought to Him all those who were afflicted, those suffering from various diseases and intense pains, the demon-possessed, the epileptics, and the paralytics. And He healed them, (Matthew‬ ‭4:24‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

Scripture is clear that one day we will see our Savior face to face. He will hold us close, we will throw off the baggage we have carried at His feet and nothing else will matter. It will be all about you and Jesus.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith, (2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

Dear One, my prayer for you and your situation is simply this; that you will not stop fighting your battle. Do not give up. Jesus is coming soon. While it may seem like it is a long time to wait, hang on. Keep getting out of bed and keep moving forward.

The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance, (‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:9‬ ‭HCSB).‬‬

He is coming. He will wipe every tear from your eyes and you will know Him as you have never known Him before.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away, (Revelation‬ ‭21:4‬ ‭HCSB‬‬).

Take heart, be of good courage. He is coming back for you and for me. “He who testifies about these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation‬ ‭22:20‬ ‭HCSB).‬‬

Amen indeed.

Blessings, oxoxox

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Weather conditions

Living in the middle of the United States makes for interesting weather. Yesterday was in the mid-50s and today the temperature is 15 degrees (F). Last week we had a wind chill of -25 degrees. We’ve had ice, rain, snow, fog with zero visibility and that’s in past few weeks. Nebraska weather is ever changing.

Living with anxiety and being married to someone diagnosed with severe depression is a lot like living in Nebraska. There a days when all seems well, even joyous. Other days, it is debilitating. We both take medication to help balance out our body’s chemistry and we’ve both been in counseling. Each piece has made a positive impact in our lives. We also have our faith.

Our individual faith journeys have helped prepare us for our marriage and brought us through difficult times that would have brought others to divorce. Anxiety and depression are different from the other battles we’ve faced together. Our diagnoses can battle each other. My anxiety can trigger his depression and vice versa. It is through a lot of prayer and Bible study that I am able to see the underlying issues. I miss the root of it at times, too.

Often well intentioned folk will tell you not to worry so much, “The Bible says, ‘Do not worry.’ You need to believe more.” Or “The Bible says, ‘Do not fear‘ 365 times, that’s one for every day.” Quoting Scripture is vital to my walk, but it is not an instant fix in the middle of an anxiety attack or a depressive episode.

Each person is different when they are battling their anxiety and/or depression. The overall encouragement is being present in that person’s life. No perfect verse, quote, platitude, or fix is needed. It takes patience. It may take hospitalization. It absolutely takes time, maybe a lifetime.

Scripture is my personal blessing. I have studied and memorized verses that echo in my heart and mind when my anxiety is spiking. One of these verses whispers to my heart often, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit,” ‭‭(Psalm‬ ‭34:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬).

God already knows what I am battling and He is by my side. The Holy Spirit is comforting me. The weather conditions in my life will change, sometimes by the hour. One thing that will not change is God. He is with me always (Matthew 28:20) He will complete what He has begun (Philippians 1:6). I will put on the armor needed for battle and I know He will stand with me (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Best Beloved, if you know someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression please make the time to check in with them. Encourage them, listen to them, walk with them, and if distance prevents these options- above all, pray for them. Prayer is crucial. If your dear one does not say it: Thank you for listening ♥️

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What to do, what to do?

In 1996, I sent my resume to the Alaskan teacher certification board. My plan was to get approved to teach there and then move to Alaska, teaching and living a frontier lifestyle. My request was denied. The state education board said my degree was not from an accredited school. I later learned this was a clerical error, but by then I was married and a mother.

It has been my pattern to seek out the most extreme ideas when a wide open opportunity is presented. Like a child arriving at a large playground who tries to run to all the equipment at the same time. I run ahead of God, forgetting His purposes, His perfect plan for me in His Kingdom.

I can quote Jeremiah 29:11, Micah 6:8, or Proverbs 3:5-6, yet, when I am supposed to be seeking God’s wisdom and direction, I am more like an uncontrolled child. Disaster is eminent. I had decided to go to Alaska in 1996 following a broken engagement a year or two before. Where was the faith I claimed to have? Where was the trust?

Only after I received the denial letter from Alaska did I slow down. I begin to listen again to God, who had been trying to get my attention for over a year. He was calling me to Himself, to come and sit at His feet like Mary and lean into Him (Luke 10:38-42). Learning to be still again, to pray and write it all down. I had forgotten my first love (Isaiah 17:10).

It was never supposed to be me, myself, or I deciding on my own which path to take. It was God’s perfect plan. I began my way back to Him.

I started with a specific time and place each day to meet with God. I had a journal, a cassette tape of Christian music, and my Bible. During the next nine months I grew deeper into love with God. I sought His wisdom in everything. Over twenty years later, I am forever grateful for that special season of prayer.

Sure, I would like to say that I never ran ahead of God again. I cannot. I can say that my time being a wild child is shorter. My ears are now better tuned to His voice.

Best Beloved, I do not know what you are facing right now. I will not pretend to understand your battles, your sorrows, or your accomplishments. I do not have to understand. God does, that is enough.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity, (Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-14a‬ ‭NIV, bold mine‬‬).

It isn’t just that God has the plans and He is going to dole them out to me like an allowance. His plan includes growing me more and more into His image. When I grasp this and do not let go, only then am I ready to begin my journey.

It is no longer a time of worrying about what to do. It is a time to seek His hand and His face and walk according to His plans for me.

Best Beloved, it doesn’t matter how far ahead you have gone, whether you have forgotten the sound of God’s voice. It only takes the action of turning around. Our one step to Him is met by the thousands of steps God takes toward us (Luke 15:4-10).

What is preventing you, Dear One, from seeking His face before anything else? Ask Him to meet you where you are, to help you figure out where your stumbling.

He is faithful, The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it, (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

‭‭

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Ain’t no shame in my name

I hated my first name as a kid. All of my friends seemed to have cute names; Kim, Becky, Sue, others had names that could be made into cute nicknames, Nicole became Nik, Melony became Mel, My name, however? My name is Gretchen. There is nothing cute about it. It’s a lot like a growl, something said in anger, it even has a gritty sound to it.

There are no nicknames that can come out of it without a lot of effort. So, there I was in grade school, junior high, and high school with eight letters that stuck out like a sore thumb. To top it off, I had copper red hair, it was like a neon sign in the night sky. I wanted to blend into the crowd, to be lost in the sea of blondes and brunettes, but I felt like I stuck out everywhere I went.

When I became a believer, I began to understand God does things differently. The name my folks gave me represented the treasure I am to them. My name comes from Margaret and it means pearl; something that is valued and sought after. The further I dug into Scripture, the more often I would find that the names given in the Old Testament often told a story. Names that represented joy or pain or even reflected the relationship between God and His people.

Scripture even tells that when we get to Heaven God is going to give us a new name, one no one else has ever spoken, has ever teased about; a name only known to God and you (Revelation 2:17).

The biggest struggles in my faith journey have been the grenades of shame the enemy has tossed onto my path to prevent me from going forward. All the shame, regret, and pain I felt about my past is thrown at me to try to keep me from embracing the new name I have because of Christ. The enemy does not want me to take my new position in the Kingdom of God as a co-heir with Christ. As a daughter of God, a new creation, as Hephzibah (“my delight is in her,” Isaiah 62:4).

Every time I raise my head up as a woman of God who has been freed from the bondage of my past, the enemy tries to knock me back down, like a spiritual whack-a-mole. The goal of the enemy is to keep us bowed down under the weight of our sins, the baggage of who we were before Christ.

The only way we can break this cycle is to remember to only answer to our new name. The one God gave us. We have been adopted into the family of God and just as an adopted child is given a new name by his new parents, we no longer answer to who we were. We only answer to who we are now.

Jesus bore our shame (Isaiah 53:3, 1 Peter 2:24). Since He took it and paid for it, we are called to Walk Worthy of this calling (Colossians 2:6-7). If we are walking worthy then our head needs to be help up, not bowed down in shame.

In Christ, there ain’t no shame in our new name.

Can I get an amen??

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But first…

I have always preferred the “golden age” of entertainment; television, music, movies, there is something that strikes a deep chord within me when I watch or listen to the old songs or actors and actresses of that period.

Often the shows on radio or television were sponsored by a primary business and the show’s host/hostess would tell about the wonderful product that the listeners “needed” to buy. There may even be a teaser given for the listeners to return to the show after the commercials, followed by, “But first, a word from our sponsor(s)…”

In America, the NASCAR organization’s racing cars have decals on them to show who are sponsoring the drivers. I wonder what would happen if human beings had that kind of information given to anyone who listened to them. Who would their sponsor(s) be? Would we given them as much attention if we knew who was really fueling their conversation?

Jesus often spoke of His “sponsor” and why He was here on earth. There are approximately twenty-four verses in the Gospels that explain Who sent Christ. For example John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”

Or John 12:49, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak.

Jesus was clear every time, He was not here because He “felt” like it was a good idea. He was here for the specific mission of telling everyone who would listen, God loved them and had created a way for them to be restored to the same intimacy of Adam and Eve.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me,” (John 13:20).

When we choose to accept the offer of an intimate relationship with Christ, we are choosing a life full of prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit. As we listen, it prompts us to show mercy (Micah 6:8), care for the poor and the widow (James 1:27), to love one another (Ephesians 4::2) as we have been called to do because we are following Christ.

It’s time to be honest; who do we say we follow and who are we really “sponsored” by? If we don’t like the choices we’ve made in the past we can “break our contract” with the old sponsor and sign on with the new sponsor, Jesus. He offers a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17) and an eternal life (John 3:16) through His death and resurrection.

We can embrace a life of true relationship with Christ and learn the depth and breadth of living life “sold out” to God and God alone. It is a decision we all will make, either by intentional decision or by our indecision.

Best Beloved, I do not know what your life is like or the decisions you made/make daily. I can speak to this; choosing to walk fully with Christ every day and purposefully growing in your relationship with Christ Jesus is worth it. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them, (Hebrews 7:25).

Choosing Christ means you will have wisdom and understanding from Heaven (James 1:17). It means an opportunity to lean into God when you don’t understand and to know that His understanding is beyond ours and that we can trust in Him. He is faithful.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, (1 Corinthians 1:9).

His love for you is unfathomable: and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:19-21).

My prayer for you, Dear Ones, is that you will choose a life with Christ. Not because it is easy, it may very well be the hardest decision you make. Choosing Jesus means knowing and accepting that He is the only way to restore your relationship with God.

He is the Only Way (John 14:6) to restoration. To change the sponsorship of your ever-living-never-dying-soul from Hell to Heaven. Best Beloved, choose Christ. Put Him first in all things and He will grow in your soul a desire for Him.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, (Matthew 6:33).

Amen and amen.

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The mermaid and the land-lubber

My cousin is an avid swimmer. She has been swimming since she was around four or five, through elementary school, junior high, high school, if you didn’t know where she was, the first place to check was the pool. She has power, strength, tenacity, and is in tune with her muscles, knowing when to rest and when to push though.

She has been a part of an open water swimming group for years and has gone distances I would only go in my car. I think she is truly amazing. One thing that I have never fully understood, is that although we are just seven months apart we are decidedly different when it comes to water. I like to look at it, maybe put my feet in it, but you will not see me going into deep waters of my own free will.

During our house restoration/ renovation dear hubby and I decided to put in a stock tank for our tub in the master bathroom. The dimensions are 6 ft x 2 1/2 ft x 2 ft, small children could swim in it.

While my cousin may swim distances in the ocean or other large bodies or water, unable to feel the bottom with her toes or reach out and touch the sides; I want to feel those things. There is safety in knowing where you are, yet in the stock tank, to reach head and foot I have to put my arms above my head and point my toes as the same time. God whispered, That’s what it feels like when you are leaning into the faith you proclaim you have in Me. You are stretching your whole being and growing as you do it.

Ugh.

He was right, like always. This faith walk I have been doing for almost three decades cannot take me into the deep waters. If I am constantly looking for the coastline, trying to feel for the bottom. Where my cousin embraces the depth and breadth of the waters, I am still in the kiddie pool with my floaters on my arms.

And no, God is not in the business of comparing one person to another. He has never said, Why can’t you be more like her? What I believe He has said, is, I long to show you more, to journey farther with you than you have been before. But you must be willing to let go of the coastline and trust Me in the open waters. This weekend when I broke into mourning, I believe I truly stepped into the deep waters (Matthew 14:28).

I couldn’t see the coastline, couldn’t feel the bottom, I could only hold on to my Life Preserver and pray that I would be ok. That those I loved so dearly would emerge from the depths as well.

It has not been an easy few days for me, I am just beginning to use muscles my cousin has been using for a long time. Yet, somehow, I am beginning to see that there is beauty in the unknown, the unseen, the new horizon in front of me. I may never become a mermaid, but I am comfortable now with the seas.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, Let me walk upon the waters, Wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, And my faith will be made stronger, In the presence of my Savior (Oceans by Hillsong UNITED).

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