Saturday, December 7, 2013

Insufficient Funds & Special Needs

Have you ever experienced that moment when you're checking out at the cashier's stand with your bags ready to go and the message comes back - Denied - Insufficient Funds?

Red face.  Humiliation.

Do you know that we are all Insufficient Funds?

-without His grace, love, and mercy?  Not just zero, but negative - in the red.

Do you ever feel unworthy?  Less than? Empty? Cast aside? 

Have you ever been told or treated like you are simply not good enough?

 I had a dream. Another one.

In it, I was searching for someone to talk to about my son's youth group (they had spent all their time outside chasing clearly I needed to discuss this with someone in charge (-:) and I walked into a room that had a few older people sitting in chairs, holding clipboards and discussing who would serve where and what the needs were.  I thought I would speak with one of them, but instead I quickly scanned the room and noticed there were a lot of young children (about 5-6 years old) who were joyfully learning and working and playing.  I sat next to one of them and asked her a question about what she was working on.  She enthusiastically responded and as we continued our conversation I thought, "Oh, this is why I'm here.  This is where the need is."

Then the Lord opened my eyes and as I looked around again, I realized each one of the kids had special needs.  My heart swelled and tears filled my eyes as He flooded me with His love for these precious children...who had been ostracized and taunted and cast aside by others...but not by Him.

And I woke up and I knew...we are all special needs.  

We are all special needs and insufficient funds. And I laugh and cry at the same time as I grasp this.  Because no matter what anyone has ever said about you, He is wild about you!  He loves you to the core of your being.  He loves you with your special needs and your weakness and your lack.  

In our weakness, His strength is perfected.  When we understand we are insufficient, we invite His sufficiency and abundance into our lives.  And we humbly give Him what He alone deserves, all the glory and honor and praise! 

1 Corinthians 1
26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Calling Up Grace

There's something I've been thinking about for quite some time now.  In fact, I mostly think about these things and occasionally write about this is something I've been chewing on...mulling over...praying over...

I believe it's time.

I believe it's time to call people up.  Notice I said, "up," not "out."  Because this isn't a confrontation.  It's an invitation.  To what?  To take off the blinders and hold the mirror up to our faces; to let His truth and light be known as we let go of hypocrisy and let His Spirit cleanse us of that which is...I'll say it...


 James 1:22-26

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.

James 2:1-12

My dear brothers and sisters,[a] how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting[b] dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name[c] you bear?
Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[d] But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.  For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.”[e] So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.  So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.

Galations 6:1-5
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer[a] is overcome by some sin, you who are godly[b] should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.  Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.  If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
 Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

Mark 9:38-41
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said. “No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me.  Anyone who is not against us is for us.  If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.

Romans 14
Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.[c] 11 For it is written:
As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”[d]

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

Proverbs 17:5
Whoever mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 14:17
He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given.

There it is - favoritism.  It seems so...small, doesn't it?  Harmless, even?  Don't we all have our favorites, if we're actually honest?  True, we may feel a certain way - after all, we're still flesh and blood, and it's normal to feel closer to some people than others, however, God's word clearly commands us not to show partiality, or favoritism, in how we treat others.  

It's easy to agree with the example given here in scripture - rich and poor - and I think we can all obviously see how wrong it is.  

So let's dig a little deeper.  

What about the spiritually poor?  Immature?  Dirty, even?  What about those who come to fellowship and are difficult to be around?  What if they're wounded?  Bleeding?  Dressed wrong? What if it's none of that but sadly our pride that calls them less for a made up or ill perceived reason?  What if we just don't like them?  What if they don't have spiritual status?  Can we spiritually justify treating them as less than?  Why would we even try?  When we treat other brothers and sisters as "less than," what have we become?  Well, the word calls us "judges with evil thoughts/motives." (James 2:4)


It's that serious.  It's not harmless.  It's not small.

When we oppress the poor, we are like the blasphemers who dragged the poor to court.  If we really are obeying God's royal law, we will love others as we love ourselves.  We will treat others how we want to be treated.  We won't have an inner circle others must earn their way into in order to be loved or truly to minister to, or minister with.  It's not about "us" and "them," because we are one body and Christ is the Head. If we are truly loving others as He loves us and has command us to, we simply will not show partiality and favoritism.

Let me break it down very clearly:

favoritism/partiality = SIN

When we treat others with partiality, we're guilty of breaking God's law just like an adulterer or murderer has.  I find it fascinating these are the two examples given when addressing favoritism.  Not lying or stealing or some nicer sounding sin. But unfaithfulness and hate.  Guilty. 

Let's all be really honest here.  When we let it be known (through words or actions, whether by gossip barely cloaked in concern or insinuation with raised eyebrows) that "they" are just not as worthy or deserving of our time, energy, effort, prayer and service as someone else is, we have become evil judges. We are not leading people closer to Jesus, but hindering them, hurting them, and stumbling them.  Christ warns us not to cause the young in Him to stumble.  It breaks His heart, and He takes this seriously.  (Mark 9:42.)

We must ask - deep down, in my innermost being, do I pride myself on my service or wisdom or knowledge or position or status?  How do I react when someone corrects me or tells me I am wrong? Proudly?  Angrily?  If so, we must stop. It's hurting us, and it's hurting the bride of Christ.  He is the One who sees our hearts' intentions, and at times He is grieved.  Sadly, there will be naive and immature people who will willingly believe and follow us, especially if we keep telling them they are to submit.  They will have to suppress the truth in unrighteousness to keep going along with what is, in truth, deception. In this we are not doing the Lord's work - we are working against Him.  Jesus said, "As you've done to the least of these my brethren, you've done it to me!" He desires we bring encouraging refreshment in His name.  (Matthew 10:42)  He desires calling up,  helping up, and bearing one another's burdens instead of putting people down under our we can rest our feet on their backs...

The poor - the least of these. 
The immature.
Those who disagree with us.
Those who don't take our advice.
Those we just don't like.
The way we've hurt and ostracized and rejected them, sadly, sickeningly, in the Lord's name even, we must realize we've done it to Him.  Will we hear this?  Will we humble our hearts and repent?

To those who are leading, whether it be family or fellowship, we are not at the top of a power pyramid.  Jesus said being great in His kingdom means being servant of all!  When we mock or belittle others because they have not lived up to our standard we are being judges with evil motives. We are showing contempt for God. For God! Let's sit with that for a minute.

He fashioned each one in His very image, and leaders are no better than anyone else.  God's will is that each one will stand before Him, not that we would tear each other down. Have we forgotten the sweet, simple fact that it's all grace?
That's our remedy!  Grace! Mercy! Peace! Edification! Mercy triumphs over judgement!!  Thank You, Jesus!  Realize that everyone of us needs grace and mercy every day.  When we are real about our own need for mercy and grace, it's so easy to allow it to pour over onto the people around us.  Let's be those who pursue and chase after peace with each other.  Let's let God be God and stop acting like we are God Who sees inside people's hearts.  (1 Samuel 16:7.)  Listen, people disagreeing with us does not equal people disagreeing with Him. Please understand, leaders are not the Holy Spirit and we do not have special access to God.  We must not allow people to treat us like we do!  We must be honest and humble and upfront about this truth.

Body, hold your leaders accountable.  It is so easy to speak the truth so well, yet refuse to humbly recognize our own sin.  There are those who pervert the truth and take advantage of the bride, placing themselves in the driver's seat of other's lives where only our Great Shepherd belongs.  Body, if we treat our "leaders" differently, unquestioningly obeying even when God's very Spirit living inside us is warning us something is wrong, we are showing favoritism/partiality as well.  If we belong to a fellowship where we feel we are not truly supposed to ask and question and talk and are actively encouraged to hold leaders (servants) accountable, run!  Find somewhere else to fellowship.  Because we are not to be following men who say the right things but do another, but Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!  The Holy Spirit leads us into all understanding.  He shows no favoritism.  He died for all. He loves all - unconditionally, poor or rich, sweet or difficult.  He lavishes grace and mercy on every single one of us.

If you are reading this, I pray you will be one who will allow God to lavish His great love and mercy and grace and peace on you! May you never forget you are destitute without Him!  May you treat those He has allowed in your care with that same grace, mercy, and love He is pouring out on you.  His people are precious!! Love them, and leave the judgement up to God.  Let go of the "us" and "them" mentality.  The question isn't "Can you get behind me on this?" but "Will you follow Jesus with all your heart, mind, and strength?  Will you get behind Him?"  Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ! Edify each other!  Have the mind of Christ, who made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself to the point of death. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Phil. 2)  

Ask the LORD, "Who do You want me to lift up today?" and then do it!

Lord, take us deeper - we want to know Your heart.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Failure and Falling Forward

This scene - who would have thought this scene would cause a grown woman to cry in a movie theater? Let's all take a moment to be thankful for dark theaters.

If we could all learn to respond this to way failure - how amazing would it be?  To our own failure; to other's failure?  How many times have I caused fear with my frustration with my kids or spouse instead of helping them move forward with loving, enthusiastic encouragement?

What I'm learning in this season of my life (whether it be in marriage, parenting, growing up which I intend to do until the day I pass on, or walking out my faith,) is to let go of comparing myself to others or even to myself - my "past" self, my "should be" self, or even the shiny and beautiful "who I want to be" self.  Because what it does is discourage and immobilize me.  It takes my focus from Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, and turns it outward or inward instead...and I'm not talking about frank reflection on the state of one's soul or learning from watching someone else, but the problem that invariably exists when the wrong thing becomes the main focus.

When I finally learned I could truly let go of my ideas and expectations of perfection, oh - the freedom and growth!  Thinking it would bring joy, I had fastened my will to my own ideas only to find they were the very things that kept me bound.  Those things I wanted so desperately - they were idols.  "I'll be happy when" owned me.

The other day, I spent some time simply basking in and resting in His great love - for me! How dare I, really, because - who am I?

Who am I?   I am His, and that is everything!

But if I choose to keep pushing His love - in reality, HIM - away with all my expectations of what "should" be,  I'll miss it. Because I'm not abiding in Him when I'm trying to be in control.  Giving up my own willfulness for His perfect will, letting go of the thought of how it "should be" and letting Him simply love me, just as I am...and in turn, loving Him back ...and others through Him...that is never failure.

So here I am, loved, thankful, and free.  Falling forward, caught in His grace, finding my rest in His arms of love as He lovingly cheers me on to keep moving forward in Him.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Safety in His Presence

I recently found myself in a very uncomfortable situation.  I remember feeling like the Israelites when they told Moses, "You brought us out here to kill us!" 

That's what I told Him, "Lord, You've brought me here to kill me!"

Sometimes I'm dramatic. 

It brought up some extremely painful things from my (church) past.

I felt very unsafe. Sick.  But I also knew to trust the Lord and His perfect timing in and through the situation.  I knew He brought me there for that very reason. My emotions welled up, threatening to take over, so I desperately told Him, "I need security."  Normally I ask.  But this was different; it was a bold request.  I wrote the word "Security" in my notes, an urgent plea from my panicking heart. 

He spoke so clearly through the teacher that night...she referred to Valentine heart candies with "sweet nothings" written on them, encouraging us to listen for God's voice to speak intimately to our hearts that weekend.  When she pointed to and read one that said, "You're Mine,"  it was God Who used her hand as an arrow to point from His heart straight into mine.  "You are Mine. You belong to Me."

Isn't that what security is?

One of the sweet nothings God had spoken to me through a very broken part of my life was from Zechariah 2:8b, "for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye."

The teacher shared the verse she had been given upon her arrival that weekend, a verse that was very personal to her. "He found him in a desert land, And in the wasteland, a howling in the wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of his eye." Deut. 32:10 
How sweet that the LORD would share that verse with me, too; another "apple of his eye" verse.  It was meaningful to me because it showed me how personally He cares for us.

The LORD allowed me to sift through my emotions.  There was healing to be done.  The soil of my heart was being dug up and tilled.  I woke up sobbing the next morning...embarrassed, and praying I wouldn't wake my room mates.  I took a shower and walked outside.  The beautiful breeze brought to my mind "Heaven's Dream" and sounded like beach waves as I closed my eyes and listened.  It was quiet and I was alone (double bonus,) so I took my bible, notebook and flashlight and spent some time with Him in His word.  He took me to verse after verse, chapter after chapter affirming me and ministering safety as His presence filled my heart. 

Psalm 17 
 Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.

You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.

I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye;

 Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
From the wicked who oppress me,
From my deadly enemies who surround me.

15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

In the very first verse He gave me that morning, He showed me He understood exactly where I was, who I was, and what I was going through.  And He told me my vindication is found in His presence and assured me He would keep me, for the third time that weekend, as the apple of His eye. 

 Psalm 18 

 I will love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;
My God, my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised;
So shall I be saved from my enemies.

When I read verses 16-19, He reminded me of a dream He gave me years ago.  

In that dream, my husband and I had stopped in to eat at a bar/restaurant while we were on vacation.  We were talking about the Lord with a man who was working there.  Some people from our fellowship came in and told us we shouldn't be doing that there. After awhile we left and the next thing I knew, we were on a boat.  I saw a huge wave coming (a massive storm was headed our way) and I knew there was no way we would survive it.  But then I was lifted above the clouds, watching everything below grow smaller and smaller as I was shown the bigger picture.  What I remember most clearly was the amazing, peaceful presence I felt with me.  I knew God had lifted me out and above the impending danger.  I knew He was literally with me, behind me.

16 He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
17 He delivered me from my strong enemy,
From those who hated me,
For they were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the Lord was my support.
19 He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.

He delivered me because He delighted in me? Who am I, that He would think about me?  How can I ever even begin to understand that?

 25 With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
26 With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
27 For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks.

28 For You will light my lamp;
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.
29 For by You I can run against a troop,
By my God I can leap over a wall.
30 As for God, His way is perfect;
The word of the Lord is proven;
He is a shield to all who trust in Him.

He assured me, "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows." Ex. 3:7

Psalm 9
The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
A refuge in times of trouble.
10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;  For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.

He sees me as blameless, not because of my own perfection (because that can never be on this side of eternity) but because of His work in me. He knew *exactly* what I was going though. He saw it all. Every part of it.  And still, He chose me, loved me, and sheltered me.

"The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by Him, Who shelters him all the day long, And he shall dwell between His shoulders." -Deut. 33:12

Is there any place safer than that? *sigh*

Then He reminded me of Moses.  God had told Moses to take His people to the promised land, that He would send an angel before them but that He wouldn't go with them because they were being stubborn and rebellious.

12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
18 And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.”
19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” 21 And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Moses realized if God's presence didn't go with then, then he didn't want to go at all.  And the LORD granted him that request, assuring him he'd found grace in His sight and that the LORD knew him by name.  Moses wanted to see the face of the One Who knew him so well, but knowing that would kill him, God generously offered, "Come over here by Me, stand on the rock, and I'll cover you with my hand.  I'll pass by and you can see the trail of My glory." 

He showed me I'd found grace in His sight.  He was my safe place.  Him.  And He doesn't change!  He still does that with us today.  "LORD, I want to know You.  I want to see Your face." So we stand on the Rock, Jesus, and find all our safety and salvation in Him.  One day we will wake in His Presence and see Him face to face and not die because we are hidden in Christ.  How great are the precious promises He's given us!  

It's all found in Him.

It's all about His Presence.

How's your heart?  Is it hurting? Angry? Broken? Betrayed? Accused? Forgotten? Proud? Numb? Shattered?

Everything you need is found in His presence.

Go to Him.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Heaven's Dream

I had been feeling lonely, missing people who have passed on, missing people who for one reason or another, I didn't/don't see anymore - missing my husband at work, my kids at school, my friends... aching, painful, overwhelming loneliness was after me!  I was exhausted and had to actually lie down *gasp!* - in the middle of the day - what?! - and then, it overtook me.  I fell asleep.  And I'm so glad I did, because after the dream I had, I didn't want to wake up.  I wanted to stay there forever.

I dreamed I had gone on a retreat and I didn't know anyone.  I was walking around by myself with the relentless loneliness I'd been carrying with me.  There were women milling around, some walking around the common area and some had gone outside.  I hesitated, and then decided I'd also go for a walk outside.

As I stepped out the back door, I was shocked by the view.  It was breathtaking.  I realized the door was the entry to the sandy shore of a beautiful, calm beach.  To my left there was a cliff - there was only one way to get to this special place.   The rainbow of the color streaked sky was gorgeous; it was the most glorious place I'd ever been!  I inhaled it all with slow, deliberate breaths and wondered in awe at the striking beauty of the beach.  I stepped up to the water's edge...just being near to the water awakened a dormant longing in my heart.  I was being drawn to it the way one's soul longs for its lover.  My heart was being filled as I was drawn to wade in deeper, up to my knees.  The aching in my soul was being filled with peace and the overwhelming loneliness was replaced with fullness of joy.   Taking in the beauty gave me rest and respite from the dark aching that had been in my heart and I realized - it was God who had drawn me there, it was Him who was the water.  He's the beautiful One, my place of rest and calm and retreat and the One I had been longing for with soul loneliness.  I sat down in that lovely, inviting water and I began to weep.  I was so sorry for having neglected coming to this place, this sweet and precious refreshing gift - this valuable time of coming to Jesus and letting Him be my water of life!  My shoulders heaved and I cried cleansing tears of beautiful confession and repentance.   And peace came.  And grace. Even in correction, I was protected by His grace as I entered into the cleansing and righteousness that had been waiting there, available to me the whole time! Even in the midst of my salty tears, I was so grateful I hadn't chosen to walk around inside my loneliness but had made the simple decision to go outside myself for the refreshing presence of Christ through His Spirit, all in the Father's love.  

And I woke up.  

The beautiful beach was gone.

But the rest, the peace, the love, the deep joy and abiding presence of Jesus - that abides.  Matthew 11:28-29 has never been so real -  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.”

And as He said to the woman at the well in John 4:14, "Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life!”

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Greatest Undercover Boss Reveal - Ever.

Tell me you've seen the tv show Undercover Boss, because this post will make *so much more sense* if you have: 

At tonight's coffee shop study we were reading about the woman at the well in John 4:

 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

And then it hit me: Jesus gave the GREATEST Undercover Boss reveal EVER! (I may be a little too excited about this, but stay with me - ) Jesus told her the Father is seeking those who will worship Him... Jesus who would say, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father," and I had a picture in my mind of the delighted look in Jesus' eyes as the meaning behind His words drew her to Him, "I AM God, and I'm seeking you. In fact, I went of of my way to come here and meet with you.  I sought you out."  You, who haven't found lasting love in the 5 husbands you've had or the man you are living with now. "  

"I want you."

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”

And....then, wait for it... - 

26 Jesus said to her,  

I who speak to you am He.” 


In other words, as God the Father said to Moses when he asked Him who should he say sent him, "I AM."  God of the Universe, Love Unconditional, Awesome, Powerful, Merciful Savior.  That would be Me, Jesus was explaining to her. 

Can you see it?  The kindness and excitement in His eyes as He revealed His true self to her?   His smile as He offered her EVERYTHING - "Dear woman, you thought you were bringing me a drink and some food, but I came to reveal myself to you and offer you eternal life."   


Greatest Undercover Boss Reveal. Ever.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Freedom Roots and Bitterness

Showering.  It's where quiet time happens.  The majority of my uninterrupted time is spent there.  And, let's face it, the acoustics are *amazing.*  I can sing my heart out, offerings of praise rising to heaven along with the steam.  :-)

As I began to pray, I finally realized what I'd been trying so hard not to admit, "They broke my heart, LORD."  I had never put it in those words before.  Hot tears slid down my face as I gave Him the brokenness of my heart. I didn't want to confess it, because I didn't want it to be true.  I also knew I had a root of bitterness in my soul, and try as I might, it wasn't going anywhere 




Yet as I laid my heart bare before Him, He instructed me gently, "Pray for them."

Oh, that.  To be perfectly honest, I didn't want to - I had before, though truth be told, much more in the beginning than as of late.

"'s going to be ugly."

"I know."

"And I don't want to pray anything I shouldn't."

Hmmmm.  "Should I call my best friend? mentor?" I wondered.  Someone flesh and blood to put their arm around me and pray with me?

"I'm right here," He gently offered. His presence was so real. His love.  His grace.  His mercy.  His welcoming.  His faithfulness.  His love.  Him.   He was enough.

So I did.  I started praying for them.  Some words came easily and others were stilted and gutteral, but they came nonetheless, and as I poured out the dark contents of my heart, He filled it with His healing balm of love and mercy. And I as I felt relief, I wondered if it would last.  Would I wake up the next day and feel horrible all over again?

Because, in truth, I know a lot of verses about forgiveness.  But I also know what it's like to wake up and not *feel* like doing it.  To have all those fiery darts and accusations and reminders of words spoken and injuries incurred and to want to give into the ugliness.  But more than that, I want to walk like Jesus walked.  I want to look like Him.  He forgave.  He loved.  He died for us while we were yet sinners! And I want to obey Him.  His command is simple, "forgive." Even if you never get an apology.  

The beauty of it all is that He strengthens us through His Spirit to be rooted and grounded in love.  His love pushes out the roots of bitterness and fills us with the fullness of Himself.  It's His power that works in us to obey Him.  Specifically, to dig out the root of bitterness and unforgiveness and to have His love for others, yes, especially the ones who hurt you. 

It's so healing and freeing!  The next day when I woke up? His fullness and grace was shielding me from those fiery darts.  That "stuff?"  It's not mine anymore.  I gave it to Him.  And that, my friends, is freedom.

Ephesians 3:14-21 "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."