Thursday, September 21, 2017

Nearness is the Blessing

 Image result for nearness

I remember well the days of sending my little sweethearts to their beds to be alone with their thoughts. My anger burned as I saw them choose foolishly, disregard my instructions or just not think at all. It was better for both of us to be apart for awhile. I wasn't far. I could hear their selfish utterances and sighs. I'd be there in a broken heartbeat if their life was threatened, but our closeness was hindered. Their very natural sin bent caused the distance. My desire for goodness and true love for their soul could not allow for tolerance or ignorance. Although tempted, sacrificing our "unity" wasn't worth it. Prayer, patience and faith waited it out. Eventually, those little hearts would melt, the Spirit would speak and misery would draw us back together again. Sweet forgiveness and reconciliation.

Those baby steps lead to larger, harder leaps in the teen years. The timeouts became groundings. The relationship strains were a little more frightening and the prayers got a lot more passionate...because the stakes were higher. The time outs were not always in the safety of their little beds, but in a lying, merciless world. Out of my control. Our relationship wasn't the apple of their eye anymore. Faith is tested hotter in those years. It's easy to see why so many teens don't believe anymore. It's so difficult to allow our kids to struggle, but the struggle is the cure:

"I will go away and return to my place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me."
Hosea 5:15

 In their affliction. There can be no relief without pain. It's a truth that just won't go's for everyone and for all time. For all ages and relationships. 

My husband's doctor recommended a book to us as he underwent the surgery to repair his leg from a serious chain saw accident, a few years ago. It was called "The Gift of Pain" which tells the story of Dr.Paul Brand's years of working in a colony of Leprosy patients. How the absence of pain leads to desensitivity and death. We willingly mask pain to avoid another kind of pain, but end up worse off. 

"Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God.
For a spirit of harlotry is within them.
And they do not know the Lord."
Hosea 5:4

Our deeds lead us away from God. Our unfaithfulness to Him...because we think we know Him, but don't. Knowing Him is everything. Nearness is the blessing. Of course, He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us...but within that promise is a measure of closeness. We can be in a relationship with someone that will never change, but the quality of it does.

If I am experiencing distance from God, maybe He has drawn back form me...taking a time out...because I am not seeing Him as He is or my deeds are betraying Him. I'm still His, but our relationship is broken. 

Return to His precious side by truly seeking Him.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

He Is.

"God is not who you think He is,
He is who He says He is."

What a timely thought.
I would be so upset if someone tried to redefine me. If people went around claiming to know me, then described me inaccurately, saying I love to watch sports, have bleach blonde hair and am a high life city girl. That's just not me at all. Misrepresenting people is extremely important these days, it seems....except when it comes to Jesus. We have raised the human least the born ones and the ones not in nursing god level. Worshiping the created rather than the creator. Our end games is to please the person, whatever makes them happy, regardless of what the creator thinks. Happiness is a trick and a trap. Perishable, and unreliable. God is sculpted from your own lump of clay...everyone's image is different. God is not multi-personalitied any more than you or me. We are unique, definite and is He. 

No one has to accept who He is, but we certainly have to be made aware. I'm not the convincer, just the messenger. I don't have a magic wand to wave over people so they can see the real Jesus, but I do have a voice, a Bible and a heart that loves people enough to share Him. Christians are a dime a dozen who will tell you Jesus loves you and that He wants to help you forever, but few will share all of Him...even the parts you might not like. Yes, Jesus has personality traits that might not be like yours.

 Ever notice that diamonds are often displayed on a black backdrop? That's because they sparkle better with the dark contrast. The good news is better and brighter in light of the bad news of our need. Refusing to tell people what God is really like, of their sin and need of a saviour waters down the good just doesn't have the same effect. Who needs saved when there is nothing wrong with them? Do you think your religion is so attractive that people will trade their own autonomy for litergy and a rules list? I wouldn't. My love for who Jesus is was accelerated once I was face to face with my imperfections...that's a nice way to say 'my evil ways' or 'sinfulness'. Those selfless people who told me the hard truth, spread out the black stage for me, then layed the precious diamonds out on it. The sparkle was bright and beautiful. Still is.

I heard a very famous preacher being interviewed the other day. He said all the things that people want to hear, and are truish, but he intentionally hid the sin part of the good news and even twisted God's personality to make Him more sellable. It made me sad and sick. People don't need to hear makes their situation worse and misrepresents God. No sparkling diamonds there, just dull, undervalued gems that won't be bought.

The bad news isn't so bad, when followed up quickly with the good news. Don't hide his traits you think people might not like. He's tougher than I am. He's more honest than I am and He is far more just than I would be. He's righteous and I am wrongeous....but He gave me His righteousness, and I would rather die than try to sculpt His righteousness to my own image. People have accused me of wanting to be 'right' all the time. Sounds bad...but really if that means being righteous, being right with God, in the truth..then I guess so, for God's sake ya, I need to be righteous...according to Him. A great preacher once said that if we hide who God really is in order to please men and avoid conflict, then truth is left lying slain in the streets. If truth dies, then we have nothing to live hope. 

There is nothing harder and more precious at the same time, than a diamond. It's hard to live the truth of God today. His personality isn't politically correct today...but it's correct all right...sparkling. There are people out there who want it, need it and the message will get to them, if we trust and obey. Don't compromise...spread the black backdrop and present the sparkling diamonds. God will do all the selling Himself...He is who He is.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Clock Master

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Seasons are good. They are a kind of change that is good. Being someone who loves change, but realizing that faithfulness is better, I cling to the changes that are meant to the seasons. Fresh then dirty Spring turns to Summer. Warm then busy Summer turns to Fall. Cozy then dead Fall turns to Winter. Pure then depressing winter turns again to Spring. Faithful AND need for mixing it up thanks you. It's good to realize that life has it's seasons too. Each one is meant for good and we shouldn't fight to stay in one or the other.

When life goes on too regular and predictable, I get sort of annoyed...itchy...almost tortured. I try to shake my head hoping that I'll see something different afterward. Changing the furniture around helps. Painting walls a new color, hair cut, day trip, anything to stimulate my mind out of it's sameness. When life changing news comes, good or bad, it seems to jump start my soul. I can breathe again. It's strange to me and I'm still trying to figure it out. A routine is comforting and I am mostly a planner, but occasional spontaneity is like cold water to the face when I am panicking from stillness.

I'm so glad for the verse "This too shall pass". I'm thankful for time...past, present and future. It's good to hold memories, wonderful to experience the present but even better to look forward to the future. With all that has happened and all that I am still going through, good and bad, I know my story will end well. The end of time will not be the nightmare movies are made of.

 "All things work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28

That makes the pages ok...fearless. I do worry about people I their story will end, but that is out of my control, so I pray. Time is a gift and there is a time for everything under the sun. It moves forward on it's own, sun and moon in hand. We won't get stuck and it's not a race. The times are in His and strong. How comforting to know we are being carried along by time unstoppable and divine! Knowing that nothing here will last, is good. The bad is temporary and the good will only be exchanged for better! The seasons and life events starting and stopping reminds me of this and I am grateful. Change can be very good if it is anchored in the Truth. An unchanging God that leads me through the changing seasons of life. Reliability and diversity wrapped together.

I'm not one of those people who says "where has the time gone!" or "they grew up too fast!". seems like life is long and I'm always rushing to the next thing. I really want to stop this time urgency I struggle with. It's a stress I bring on myself....for no great reason. Yes, winter can seem to go on forever some years, but it always ends in spring, over and over again. It's true...the more years you live...the more winters you see come to an end...the easier it gets to wait it out. 

God always gives His children what they need and often what they enjoy too. He is a good Father!

He makes all things His time.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Difference

Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why is there so much suffering in the world?
Why is depression and suicide so pervasive?

The disciples asked Jesus this question, in John's gospel, as they passed by a man, blind from birth. His answer was this:

"So that the works of God  might be displayed in him" (9:3)

If the power, love, healing and strength of God is as true as we say it is, then show it.

How can we show it without having something to overcome? Whatever suffering is ours to carry, it is there to show the world, or even just one person, the difference Jesus makes. If we handle it the same way the world does, in depression, substance abuse or any other kind of flesh feeding, we are wasting the pain and defeating the purpose. Our suffering is to display the power of God...the difference He makes. Second Timothy chapter 3 says that people, in the last days, will look the part, but there will be no difference in their lives to display the power of God:

"...holding to a form of godliness, but denying the power..." (3:5)

Everyone suffers. No one, Christian or otherwise, is exempt from pain. The difference should be the power of God to overcome that pain. If you are give Him the glory. If you are not healed....that his grace is sufficient for have joy regardless. His presence in our lives should be enough to continue in His ways, even in suffering, with strength, joy and hope.  

Am I displaying the power of God in my suffering?
Do others see the difference God makes in pain?

Or am I just like everyone else...coping...settlement for momentary pleasures...using things of the world instead of the Almighty life giver?

The blind man answered the questions of the unbelieving synagogue leaders with this:

"If this man were not from God, he could do nothing"  (9:33)

So, they kicked him out.

It's not the answer people want to hear, but when you have been blind, and now you see, it's the only answer you can give. The difference is the evidence of the truth of God. You can reject it if you want...but the healed and the waiting will go skipping on their way...convinced and in joy...displaying the power of God.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Preach Red

Confidence has never been one of my strong points. So I married it. 
Then, that confidence started to look like overconfidence and I started to develop a distaste for it. It just seemed too risky to be so sure about things. Being wrong is just too dangerous... too embarrassing... too misleading. Especially when you are supposed to be teachers of the Word of God. People's lives are affected by what you teach as truth... drastically. Being wrong about it, or even unsure, can often have devastating effects. So, it would seem prudent to stay grey. End all advice with "but that's just my take on it" or "no one really knows for sure". Teaching the Word of God however it seems right in your own eyes. I think there is verse that sounds similar to that.

If I want to know what color looks best in my living room, whether to go to Paris or Rome for vacation or even what style of music I should listen to, then your advice should be your opinion... take it or leave it. If I want to know what God Almighty has said in regard to a situation, from His Word, then I expect certainty...Confidence. If God calls us to live or die by His Word, if that might mean loss, if that might mean pain and suffering, if that might mean shame and sorrow...even death, then we had better be sure. We had better teach with confidence... as though the very oracles of God...familiar again? 

The Bible is not a self help books of advice, but a supernatural revelation of a person. A person who lived here, had sure thoughts and desires and desired for us to know Him. Teaching Him to others cannot be done in an unclear way. Imagine if someone asked your child what you thought about drug use or pornography and they said "Welllllll.... he's not been clear to me on that. I think he would say it depends on the person...If it makes you happy..." It really is an all or nothing message...Because He is who He is, all the time, under every circumstance. Uncertainty might happen for a time, but we are expected to be seekers and can expect to find. We're just lazy and a bit afraid.

"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12

That's most preaching today...To itching ears... satisfying rather than true. The aim of pleasing people rather than God. Please God, and He'll please the people. I value such brave and selfless preachers. Paul Washer is 55 years old and such a preacher. He lies in a hospital bed from a massive heart attack today... probably overworked himself in his Heartcry ministry. I pray we don't lose him. His messages might not make you feel warm and fuzzy all the time, but he rightly divides the Word of Truth... yes, it can be done, or God wouldn't have asked us to...And preaches it with certainty... boldly and fearlessly. Being more afraid to band aid sin than to miss the opportunity to share the cure. That's the way I want to be. Confident in who Jesus is, what He said and would do. He made it possible to know by the perfect Word in our hands, made sure.

"So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention"
2 Peter1:19

We doubt. It's easier to doubt. Grey is a comfortable color. 
Red is far more bold, hot and passionate.
It's the color He bled for us.
It's rich and overpowering.
It's never ambiguous.
Might be my favorite.

My husband says "The Bible is a person. Truth is a person." Teach and live the person. He doesn't shape shift, change His mind nor is He two faced. You can count on consistency and perfection with preach Him that way.

One of Pastor Washer's "Buckleys" sermons...Might taste bad, but it works!!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Gallery Glory

Sometimes I see a piece of art and wonder what on earth people like about it. 
I may not like the colors, it's likely too "busy", maybe I just don't get any feeling from it or the same feeling I get from a zillion others like it. Yet, it is on display, people love it and it has a hefty price tag. It reminds me of the diversity in opinions of beauty and value.

It's great that someone loves that painting and is willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in order to see it daily and to share it's"beauty" with others. The name of the artist is made known and his or her works are collected. The artist is sought after for shows and seminars. Fame and renown for the artist. What of the painting though?

The colorful canvas hangs somewhere, untouched. Prized, cared for and gawked at constantly. With lights focused on it, glory beams from it to the pleasure and benefit of spectators. It receives nothing but the honor of bringing glory to its creator. 

As an artist, I understand the personification of pieces of they are like your little children...A piece of you sent into the world. You want them to find a home where they are loved... because you can't keep hem all forever! But I wouldn't die for any of them...they aren't worth THAT much. Continuing the personification, if I could be the art, just hanging there, my beauty and message bringing glory to my maker and benefitting others, would that be enough? 

Acknowledging the fact that I had nothing to do with my glory, but am a chosen canvas on which to display His...Is that enough? Accepting that not all find me beautiful or valuable, by that someone somewhere does or will? Content in the fact that my Creator sees me as priceless? We can understand the difference between an artist and artwork...The right relationship they have and their differing values.

Imagine, if we decided to place more value on the artwork that the artist. Gave the artist a different name, lied about who they were or even denied their existence. Telling spectators that they can choose whomever they like to be the artist...whatever works for them...or that it came about by chance as the canvas sat there for days and days alone.

A piece of art is beautiful, if not to you, to someone.

The work is nothing without its Creator and its purpose is to bring him glory.

Bringing Him glory is the most honoring purpose and greatest pleasure possible.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

Psalms 139:14

"because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."

Romans 1:25

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Spiritual Tylenol

Evil and pain are not the same thing. Evil can cause pain, but so can goodness. Pain is often a protection, like our body's nervous system, designed to inflict pain, or the purposeful administration of needles full of meds. So, if physical pain can be a good thing, bringing healing to the body, why can't we see mental or spiritual pain as, possibly, a good thing too? Instead doing all we can do be rid of it, why not consider it as a guide, a striking, beckoning lighthouse, warning of destruction ahead? Hastily removing pain, without considering this possibility, might end in more permanent torment. A good, loving God and good, loving people will sometimes allow, even inflict pain if it is going to bring healing. 

When people ask why a good God would allow suffering, I'm perplexed. Even allowing evil pain can be used to heal. God IS in control. He inflicts good pain and allows evil pain sometimes, because He has a better plan for us than just comfort and happiness. One that requires pain to accomplish. Sound familiar? The cross was a picture, an example, for us to see this. Jesus went first. He suffered more than anyone ever would, to bring healing. He asks us to accept the same, in different ways, for His glory and our benefit. Job asked the "why" questions because of the pain, but in the end, understood and accepted. Sometimes I ask the"why"questions too, but all the while I really know...I just want relief and comfort. 

Masking physical pain... Tylenoling too much...destroys the body's natural ability to bring healing. So masking mental/spiritual pain can destroy the intangible parallel. Searing the conscience is spiritual Tylenoling. I saw a person experience mental healing recently in miraculous way. Their lack of sleep, depression, anger, hopelessness and loneliness immediately subsided when they were allowed to experience the pain of conviction, the  consequences of actions and then the joy of eager forgiveness and comfort. Often times, the root of the pain is self inflicted...But it's too painful to even go there. Cover up is a quicker fix. I hate this part, I kick and scream when led there, but like Buckleys cough syrup...Tastes aweful, but works. 

In this season of "let's talk", why not add, let's be honest, let's be brave and let's let's allow pain to do it's healing work. Talk is not enough. It only helps temporarily. The talk needs to be the kind that brings real change and healing. Forgiveness is the ultimate medicine, but we more often than not, want to give it than receive it. 

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison," 2 Corinthians 4:17

Momentary pain can be endured  with the ultimate healing in mind. Never alone. The fellowship of His suffering and His true church gets us through.