Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sacrificing Community, Settling for Connection

Sometimes we have to let go of the good - to embrace the great God has prepared for us. We have to obey when we don't understand.  I think that we often miss God's best for us because we refuse to let go of the "good" things that we see we can do right *now*.

We all sacrifice so many great things because we don't have faith to let go of the good. We don't trust how GREAT the GREAT is gonna be.  Sometimes, we sacrifice the great because we want things NOW and we think, "well I will just take THIS that I see right now because at least the good I see I can have right NOW is immediate, I don't have to wait - and it's a SURE thing". We just have little faith & settle mentalities. What does this have to do with anything??? Well I continually go through ups & downs with Facebook and recently I have felt God leading me away from it again.  It makes sense when God asks me to step away because I'm wasting time, but it's harder to accept when God asks me to step away and I'm actually doing lots of good activities on there.   I can't believe how difficult it is to let go of "good" sometimes.  But it made me think about how much we all do this...

We sacrifice unconditional love and we settle for attention & affirmation.  We refuse to give the most time & focus to the One who loves without condition.

We sacrifice acceptance and we settle for approval.   We keep our eyes' locked on others' eyes watching us, instead of keeping our eyes' locked on the One Who Sees Us.

We sacrifice significance and being who God designed us to be and we settle for popularity.  We let numbers & worldly measures determine our decisions & how we are doing.

And the conclusion God has brought me to this week is that....we sacrifice true community because we settle for "connection".   

Facebook is not the issue.  Please let me remove the excuses for all of us that are blamers.  Facebook is not inherently evil nor inherently bad - it's just like money.  It takes on the condition of whoever possess it - it can be used for good or evil.  Facebook is not the issue.  Self is the issue.  

Self gets addicted to Facebook because self is full of pride, laziness, coveting, selfishness, lustful conditions. Self is the issue.  And we all know that issues are multiplied and magnified 100 x on media (social or not).  
So it should be quite clear for all of us to see - Facebook addiction is an issue. 

I see this issue now for what it really is.  

Facebook addiction is to community what porn is to marriage.   

Porn is an easy substitute for true intimacy, that takes time, effort & work.  True intimacy takes a lot of *giving* -- not just taking!  Porn is selfish.  Porn is a counterfeit relationship. Facebook addiction is an easy substitute for true intimacy.  Facebook addiction is selfish.   Facebook addiction maintains an entire neighborhood of counterfeit relationships.  

On Facebook, all the images and updates, just like porn,  are addictive.  It's an easy fix to get quick conversation.  Quick feedback, quick affirmation.  Our facebook activity quickly can take a nasty turn from admiring people, being inspired by people ---- into outright sin.  Coveting & lusting over what other people have - even good things.  We covet others' success in ministry that they SEEM to have, quality friendships they SEEM to have, quality family life they SEEM to have.

Coveting, lusting, desiring immediate affirmation when we want it - all addictive, all sinful.  

Those are all negative aspects of Facebook over-use --- but even if we ONLY ever did GOOD things on Facebook - the truth is that when we become addicted, we are sacrificing community because we are settling for connection.   We are settling for connection because we either do not know HOW to do the hard work to form quality relationships - or we are not willing to do the hard work.  

How easy is it to connect on Facebook?  I don't care who you are, you can find a group that is for you on Facebook.  Moms? there's a group for you! Homeschoolers: Group!  Any school: group!  Looking for people who bird watch in your city?  I am sure you can find them on FBook!   Love to do yoga with your dog as you SUP?  There's probably a group for that too!

Connection is a good thing.  Facebook is a great way to get connected. 

But connection is not enough.  What we all truly desire is community, isn't it???

Unfortunately, when you sacrifice community - you are also sacrificing the practice of being in community.  Facebook addiction actually cripples us from being able to be an actual friend who knows how to love the unloveable.  A friend that is patient and gracious.  A friend that is willing to go through the messiness of real, true life.  A friend that is willing to hurt each other, annoy each other, forgive and still be friends.

How EASY is it to have a friend on Facebook!?!  OMGoodness I LOOOOVE everybody on Facebook. It's so easy to love on them - send them nice words that barely take any time or thought.   I mean I seriously feel total total love *feelings* for my Facebook friends.  I think they are gorgeous, I think their kids are gorgeous, I think they are funny, sweet, encouraging and they are seriously easy to love.

Enter real life.

Omgoodness they are not that funny when they can't go back & edit their joke.   They are actually kind of rude.   And it's actually really hard to figure out what they are TRYING to say in their words.   They aren't that sweet when we have been around each other too long and the kids are tired & we are tired & we are not in the comfort of our worn out stained computer chair & sunflower seed embedded keyboard.  They are not always encouraging and smiley and happy and sending me nice messages.  Instead, friends are often very selfish because the reality is.... it's hard to control our public image in REAL life..... and the truth is that REAL people are hard to love.   We are ALL very unloveable very often!!!    And it takes WORK to communicate and use words & think before we speak and be patient & gracious when people and OPK (other people's kids) are up in our stuff.

Here's my point.  I need a new rhythm in my relationships.   Forget "balance".  Ugh, I don't want to ever say the word balance ever again in my life.  Balance is a daunting word -  it's like "potential" - I've always disliked that word, too.   Balance is an illusion.  We won't ever have balance - different seasons throw us off, in different periods of time certain things DO need more attention and we will be off "balance" for an extended period.   Ew, forget balance - we just need rhythm.  We just gotta make sure we are dancing to the song of the season as best we can.... and are listening to the music the Creator is putting on for us.  When it's time to shift and slow down, we have to and when it's time to get going, we gotta move & shake it!   I'm aiming for a good rhythm in my days & in my years.

The rhythm that *I* need right now and the dance *I* am dancing is way different than yours.  Every heart is so different in fact that I can't tell you what you are addicted to and where you are off rhythm.  We have different music playing, my friends - so don't follow me.   Just follow my desire to want to dance in step with my King and to stop jumping on everybody's toes so much because I'm way off the beat.

Here's a dance step I'm adding in effective immediately.  Facebook is now going to be treated for what it is - a place to connect with friends & acquaintances.
Facebook is not my spouse that is my priority over all earthly relationships.
Facebook is not my child that I need to tend to and check in on every 5 minutes -Can I get an amen, seriously!?
Facebook is the coffee house, bar or park (if you're a Mommy like me) where you visit once a week maybe twice a week to catch up with friends & check in with people.  To see what's going on around town - and even meet a new friend or two.

Facebook is a good place to connect.   I really feel I do good things on Facebook.  I am inspired by ministry friends. I pass on love.  I monitor groups to make sure they are welcoming, kind places to connect.  I help connect people to each other & to resources they could use.  I encourage mommies.  I check in with friends.  I am encouraged by others.  I learn about every horrendous crime that happened last night & what color I would be if I was a color - oh wait - those are not that good.

But I AM willing to give up good things *when God asks me to* - because I know God has great plans in place for my life.    Sadly, I will go through a detox phase and things will get worse before they get better.  It is really hard to let go of good things - but I know the GREAT will be worth it!!

I hope I can encourage somebody else - get into real life relationship.  Do not sacrifice community for connection.   Be willing to do the HARD WORK of pouring into quality relationships.

Facebook addiction makes you feel more lonely - so lonely that it may seem impossible to give up this place of GOOD connection.    But to get to a place of quality relationships, you have to be willing to feel the pain of facing reality!   It's going to be really really hard to detox from Facebook again.  I've gone without it for 7 months before so I know I can do this new rhythm and put Facebook in its proper place - but it's hard!  It makes me face the reality of how messed up my time management has gotten and it makes me face the reality of how little time I've given to real in life connection, again.   My rhythm is out of whack, people!!  Sorry for all of you whose toes I've stepped on as I danced all crazy.  Sorry to those that I've left on the regular life dance floor as I ran to the Facebook dance floor. My concern now is -  is there ANYBODY left on the real life dance floor!? How long until somebody will join me!?

The world needs more people willing to go through the hard of life.  Facing the reality that life is not about feelings and we don't always get the attention, connection we want.   Facing the reality that less about me GETTING and more about me GIVING.   Facing the reality that *everything* in life worth having takes HARD WORK & intention & effort & focus.   The reality that love is HARD to do.

The world needs more people willing to do hard work, not indulge in easy fixes.  More people that are willing to get into close relationships and not always choose the comfort that loving from a distance provides.  Real life communication & investing in others is hard work.

Facebook addiction makes you more SELF-conscious because you are more others-focused. 
Focused on how others see you.  Focused on what others have.  Focused on what others are doing. Focused on other people's rhythm in their life.  Focused on what others' *pictures* look like. Focused on a projected image - NOT reality. 

The world needs more people who are loving-others-conscious because they are Jesus-focused.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I am a cleansed leper!!!

Our Lord - He just won't stop!  His love won't stop and His transforming hand won't let go of me. Every week I see it more and more - He is *always* at work!  He is continually wooing us to new depths of renewal and healing & love.   Interacting with Him & His Word always brings change.  We are so undeserving and He is so *lavish* in His love & mercy.   What a glimpse of heaven we experience every time we come into contact with His audacious grace

This week we discussed Jesus healing the leper.   I have heard this story so many times but this time, it sunk in!  The Word is alive & active - I am experiencing it!

Four  "small" verses in the 8th Chapter of Matthew:

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”   Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

As I studied this, the Holy Spirit kept nudging me,  "there is something very important about this. keep your eyes & heart wide open here. pay attention here!"

What He pointed me to first was simply the amazing COMPASSION that the Lord Jesus had to tell the leper "to go to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded" (4).

Imagine all the memories this leper had stored in his mind up until this point.  Memories of walking through that town and having to shout, "unclean" so people could scatter and not come in contact with him.  Many in his culture believed that leprosy was only put on people as punishment from God for sins such as pride or greed so imagine the shame & rejection he must have felt.   Along with the shame & rejection, I sympathize with him as his mind & heart were probably flooded with painful memories of isolation, inferiority and uncleanliness.   How gracious is our Lord Jesus to send him back through that town, now clean!?  I can picture that leper walking through the town - now cleansed - no longer a leper - to go to the priest.  Redemption!!!

The truth is - that leper - even though he was no cleansed - still probably had a heart &  head full of leprosy.  It wasn't enough to be cleansed... He had to *believe* he was no longer a leper!   Jesus gave him the literal, physical healing but His lavish grace did not stop there.  He spoke truth into Him, "be clean!"  Believe.  Live it.  BE clean.  Don't cling to your leprosy. Believe what just happened.

Then, the Lord helped Him *live* it out.  The Lord commanded him to go through the town to redeem all those painful memories.  He might not have let those memories be erased completely.. so that this leper would never lose his compassion for others who are struggling under their uncleanliness..... but He separated the leper from those memories.  He gave him fresh memories - He covered over those old memories - of walking through town - now cleansed!! To go show the priests & be a testimony to them of the Lord Jesus's lavish grace.

Praise the Lord!! I hear you Jesus.  Be clean!  I am clean!

Believe!  You will become what you believe about yourself.  What do you believe about yourself?  Be transformed by the renewal of your mind. 

As I sat in my closet one morning after this beautiful encounter with Jesus --- after a long 2 weeks of saying goodbye to Lennox (our doggie), sick kids, sick mommy, Daddy not available until 9pm every night,  fatigue, emotional & mental battles, and the average daily struggles with germs & routines & work & parenting & marriage & friendships....I was struggling.   In my vulnerable moments the past 2 weeks, the enemy was pulling hard on the biggest stronghold he has had in my life - this guilt over my imperfections & mistakes. (see previous post  Perfectionism )  Specifically, things I had done wrong with my first child when he was a baby and toddler, the same old thoughts that creep up every time I'm on a trip into guilt land.  I was a mess.  I go through this ALL the time?  Continually asking myself - why am I so weak in this area, Lord?  SO MANY of my blogs are about this cycle of pride/discouragement....or pride/guilt.....highs and lows.  I am ready to be freed from this stronghold!!!  If you are willing, please Lord, help me!!

As I cried out to Him, He brought to mind that lesson of the leper.... and I realized I had wandered away from Him because I had lost sight of focusing on how He sees me.   Remember, Randi... believe.  Become what you believe about yourself.  Do you believe what I believe about you!? Do you see yourself as I see you!?  Or are you still believing you are the leper, who you were before?  

So I looked back at my list of "I am"s (Put Off, Put On)  that hang in my closet and I looked for the one I thought He was speaking to me. The 3rd caught my eye - "forgiven" - which had Hebrews 9:14 listed next to it.

My heart about exploded when I read what verses the Lord had taken me to:


11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands,that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifersprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, *cleanse our consciences* from acts that lead to death,[c]so that we may serve the living God!

Hebrews 9:11-14

Yes Yes Yes!!!  I just felt my David pick up that stone and slay that giant in my heart & mind!!   He wants to battle for us!

His WORD is so POWER full!

You see - I can speak to myself forever, "don't feel guilty.  it's okay.  You confessed so He forgives you. He loves you"..... but there was no POWER in my words to myself.   Those words were not powerful because His truth had not sunk into my heart yet.

but I know it now -  He has forever stamped this truth on my heart!   I now have, forever - these powerful WORDS to use every.single.time I feel myself struggling with guilt over things I know I have confessed & asked forgiveness for.  He has given me practical help to be cleansed of this perfectionism and this cycle of guilt.

He has CLEANSED this leper not only from the penalty of sin but from this guilty, shameful conscience.   I am not a leper any longer.  I do not have to cling to all these painful memories I had when I was.

I do not have to punish myself any longer for any mistakes I've made - because He paid the FULL punishment.

I praise Jesus - my friend, my fighter, my giant-slayer, this healer & power-full Lord!!

Jesus paid it ALL.

  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”
    • Refrain:
      Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.
  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Perfectionism

Why do I struggle with these cycles of everything is fine (actually more than fine - overflowing awesome!!!)...and then the next hour, some little thing triggers something and I spend an entire day beating myself up, beating my husband up (not literally) and just feeling like I can not accept forgiveness.  My personality?  I am sure that plays a part.   Hormones?  Maybe.  But there's something much more going on here.

I can't let go of this condemnation sometimes, this condemnation I put on myself when I haven't met my expectations or my husband hasn't or my kids haven't.   When I start on this path of condemnation & destruction.... I can not let go of guilt.   And so many painful memories come to my mind that I hate about my old self & my past.   When I get in this condemning mode.... the longer Brandon (in his wisdom) refuses to engage with me, the more angry and angry I get until out pours all kinds of mess I was holding in that I didn't even realize I was still holding.  Anger because we are not good enough. Anger because we are "failing".

Anger because I am mourning over my imperfection & undeserved-ness and poverty of spirit.  I then stay angry because I do not accept the comfort He is offering.  (Matthew 5:3)  He offers me comfort... but I will not accept it in these moments.  I want punishment for everything and everybody.... even though I really don't.

Where do these thoughts come from!?!  I know they are NOT from the Lord!!

After one of these vent sessions....God is always so faithful to heal the damage I just inflicted and show me scripture that makes it every clear - I am loved.  I am forgiven. I am free.  He is so faithful to bring me a sister in Christ to speak truth into me and show me how I am sinning by holding on to guilt and not focusing on Truth.

This cycle needs to stop.  I can't stay on this rollercoaster.   I NEED to catch these thoughts sooner.  The all over the place, up and down - same conversation every 2 months over and over and over again.  I need off that ride!  I'm like that man tossed about with the waves because my heart & mind & eyes aren't focused.

After writing yesterday & talking to friends today, I believe I am getting to the root here.  Here is what I believe He is teaching me:

God does not command me to WIN; He commands me to LOVE.

I can not LOVE if I do not accept HIS LOVE.

I can not accept His Love if I am ignoring His Truth.

If I ignore His truth, other thoughts WILL replace that space in my heart & thoughtlife.

Even though I spend time every.single.day in His Word (it's one of my goals on my expectations of my day, you know) - I am still often somehow IGNORING it!!

I need to find some scripture that He can use to reprogram my mind when I feel FAILURE.  Scripture I can cling to right in that moment before the major Randi storm comes.   In those moments when I can't stand our imperfections.  When I am so impatient at how LONG it takes for ANYTHING to change.  When all I see is fail fail fail fail fail.

I am going to find them, write them down and focus on them.  I am going to learn to start reading them when I have the first inclination that my thoughts are starting to drift away from truth - not just after I have gone WAY down that path of wandering and have done so much damage.

I will not do this perfectly.   But I think this is the whole point.  I am not perfect.

My perfection is not the goal.  My personal perfection does not glorify Him.  The goal is more of Him, less of ME.  So that I can become the TRUE ME.  The ME I was always designed to be.  Not this flesh me... but this me that is being revealed more and more.   He WILL change me - I will be transformed by the renewing of my mind - but that is not the goal.

HE IS THE GOAL.  He is the heavenly treasure.  He is the heavenly rewards.

THE GOSPEL is all about HIM.   The gospel is not a shout at me to work work work and obsess over my personal holiness/righteousness so I can be deserving of grace.   The gospel is the message that HE is all.  and EVERYTHING finds its place IN Him.   The gospel is that I am not, cant not, will not ever be deserving of His mercy & love & forgiveness & the freedom from condemnation.  BUT that He offered it because that's just who HE is.  

It is NOT ABOUT ME.  

It is ALL ABOUT HIM.

I can't believe how hard it is for me to LIVE THIS!!!

That justice I seek so badly.... this thing in me that wants somebody to pay and pay miserably for all the imperfections I see.... that justice IS finished.   Praise the Lord... JESUS HIMSELF was willing to GIVE UP HIS PERFECTION and He took on ALL that sin & shame & guilt & blame and my sins HAVE BEEN punished.  It's over.  Somebody has paid.    It was Jesus, my savior!!

That cry & yearning for justice I feel is not a bad thing....it's just wrong when I forget that the crimes have been punished... even though He was undeserving.

THAT is how I will direct my thoughts:  the punishment I seek has been given.   Look at what He took for me.  Why do I live & act like there is MORE punishment needed!?  Did he not do enough for me?!?!!?! :(   This is so much bigger than me, my husband... this is about ME not accepting what HE DID.

He gave up His PERFECTION - He offered it right up - sacrificed it.   NOW --- will I follow my Savior, the One who took all punishment that YES I deserved?   Will I accept this gift, every single day of His great grace that gives me everything I could never deserve!?

Will I accept that He sees me as perfect forever - even as I am being made Holy??

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Hebrews 10:14

Jesus knew His followers would have this issue.  He told them:

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48

They would later understand...perfection is not attainable in self.  But it IS attainable through Him and He has gifted it to us.  The question that is left is... WILL we accept it?!?!

Will I give up aiming for my perfection that *I* could never attain anyway.... and instead accept His perfection that He gave up!? !

Will I focus my aim -  my heart & soul & mind & strength right on to my treasure, my reward - JESUS my Lord???

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Losing

Some days I am just SO TIRED & discouraged...not physically tired...just everything-else-tired! Today is one of those days.

Father - I'm so tired of this world.  I'm so tired of all that is wrong with ME and all that is wrong with EVERYTHING & EVERYBODY.   

Why am I such a weakling?  Why do I battle like I do!?  I can't carry this cross.  I am so tired of the uphill battle of living against the culture, against the flow of my flesh, against the masses.  It is so hard to learn to LOSE.   It is so HARD for me to keep my eyes on YOU,  Lord & value what YOU value, not value what the world around me values. It's so hard to find my value in you alone, Lord! 

I was the epitome of having a focus & desire to WIN WIN WIN and compete for the first 2 1/2 decades of my life.   I never came close to winning much of anything or being the best at anything.... but I certainly was one of the best at lusting after it.  The Lord has changed me!!! I didn't even realize how much until my children entered 'the world'.   As my children get older,  we have more and more experiences where we are surrounded by a focus on winning.  The lesson and focus is never about the heart...it's always LESS about trying your own best and instead it's mostly about just being BETTER than everybody else. Win win win!  Is this even about the children!?  or is mostly about the parents wanting to re-live their childhood???   I know the Lord has changed me... because everything discourages (disgusts!?) me so much and it makes me so sad.  But obviously, I need help on being faith-ful and keeping my eyes on Him and not being discouraged.

On a good day, I can pull my children aside at a certain point and speak truth into them and let them know that GOD sees them when they are not valued.  I can remind them what is really important and what OUR focus is.  But on a bad day, everything just makes me spitting angry.  On a really bad day, I have major urges to either withdraw completely from society...or stand on a table and shout out to every parent and coach and leader - everything they are doing wrong and why don't they get with the program and if I "have to" live like this and value the right things....... then you all should have to change, too....it's too annoying to be around you all that have different values!!!.... (yes that's a really bad day.  that's not me being salt or light).

But REALLY - Omgoodness the way children are recognized & praised for beating others and the focus on win win win.  What are we teaching our children!?!?!  Are we not training every single child to think their value is in their ability to "win" or do????

This message and lust seems to be showing itself in little ways in my family's lives. every.single.day...... sometimes it directly outwardly shouts and screams.... but often it's just a daily, 'small' message and focus.

I have a great focus on the heart in my children.  This is a gift from the Lord.  I make sure they know when they are competing, that I am simply enjoying watching them play and try their best.  That I LOVE watching them have fun.  My first words will never be, "you won you won you won".... instead, they will always be, "wow, that was so fun! I had so much fun watching you"..... but what if every.other.single.leader in their life doesn't support that message?  God, please help them hear MY words to their hearts!  Help them value what YOU value - which is not beating other players in the cubscout regatta or soccer match.

My flesh fits in easily in this world.  My perfectionism has a home here.  I know how to grasp, strain and strive to win.....I know how to get the edge over others, try better, have more discipline, more structure...how to appear to be a winner to others, fit in the winners club, set goals and reach them.

But my spirit is not at home here.  And this is not what my heart values any longer.   My heart & spirit fight my flesh.  So there's this battle raging.....

I know that the reason I am tired is because I am wrestling with the Lord.  I am discouraged because I'm distracted by the world.  When I am NOT wrestling with Him, I literally feel at rest.  I feel HIM as my rest.  I feel my burdens lightened because I have allowed Him to shoulder them for me.  I feel His grace & love & approval.

HOW do I do better at resting & not wrestling!??!

More often than not...instead of accepting His will & plan, including allowing Him to carry my burdens for me, I wrestle Him.

Why am I so fiercely independent & stubborn?   Why do I look for value in the world & what others think of me/us?   Why do we think that we are only as good as we are "excelling" and better than others?

Why do I think that the way to glorify Him is by being better than everybody and having people look up to me/us?  Where is that scripture that says that?  There's not one!

SURE, we ought to always try our best.  Sure, one can glorify God through the success He gives us through the hard work He helps us put in and the way He has gifted us....  But the truth is, God resists the proud.  I am proud.  He is resisting me (through circumstance and showing me through His Spirit) right back as I wrestle.... I feel it...because He IS the perfect Father.

He has changed me so much from my competitive spirit, yes.... but there's still so much more to go.

My flesh doesn't like to lose.  My flesh resists anybody in my family that makes me "lose" and I will force, control, nag until they do what I want so we can "win". (All the while, I AM truly losing what is most important in those times... love, trust, grace, bond, relationship).  My flesh wants to glorify God ONLY by winning.  *I* want to choose how *I* glorify God... now is THAT glorifying Him!??!

My flesh wants to glorify the Lord by being victorious & perfect in everything.  I want my kids to excel, win everything, do everything right AND be valued for it.   I want the world to see everything He has done in me and through me and praise it.  I want others to look at us and say gosh - the Lord is really with them - they have been so blessed in every area......don't we see that in the OT.  But wait... how did I get on this wrong gospel again!??!   The health & wealth & winning & prosperity gospel is not THE gospel.   The *blessings* God talks about in the NT is not about tangible things as much as it is spiritual!!!  How did I get here again?

I used to be a perfectionist in worldly things...but now I see my perfectionism has carried over to spiritual things.   I do believe I often have right motives much of the time --- I desire to glorify Him ---- but I am going about it in MYSELF which is the WRONG way and exactly opposite of what I need to do.

There is no place for perfectionism in this journey.... unless we are talking about our Perfect Lord and Savior.    This journey starts with being POOR in spirit, not rich in self confidence. This journey starts with meekness not amazing self discipline.

Self confidence & self reliance & a focus on self discipline above all will always lead to SELF righteousness and THAT is not the gospel message.  The gospel is the gospel of grace through Jesus.  The gospel that preaches that the righteousness I wear is not my own.  The righteousness He gives me is His and He gifted it to me.  I can not earn it.  He sanctifies me and that righteousness reveals itself more and more!!....but it comes out,  not because of an obsession with my personal holiness & righteousness....but through Him having more and more space in my life.

It is SO HARD to be so imperfect.

But the HARD is what makes this good.   The HARD is what makes this way narrow.  The hard is the cross I am to carry, until I lay it down at the Lord's feet.

Even as I type this... it sounds so silly to even say THIS is hard.  I am a weakling.  I know what others have endured....and THIS is such a small cross to carry, such a small price to pay.  I am so weak.  

I need some truth about glorifying God.  What glorifies you, Lord???

We glorify you in our surrender.  Through our dependence on you, starting with our poverty of spirit.

We glorify you by showing others that we are being changed by YOU....because you are transforming us by renewing our minds.  We are changed when we focus on you and see ourselves in your loving, merciful eyes, as you look at us through your Son.  We become what we believe about ourselves.

We glorify you by how we LOVE you and enJOY you.

The clay, ME.... ought never to be proud of how the Potter shaped it.  Or how the Potter picked it up and used it, in the Potter's plan and Potter's power.  The clay gives the most glory to the Potter in the surrender. In the complete dependence and rest in His hands.

I know that this tree of life, this tree of Christ I have eaten from and chosen is all about life for the long term...not life as I want it, right now.  It's about full, true, abundant, lasting life... in Christ.  I am also understanding that the way to get to that life is through death.  So few will choose this tree because it looks like death. It doesn't appear desirable good or pleasant to our flesh like the other option (Gen 3:6).  This death of self and the surrender to Him and His will & His timing & His plan is not easy.  We choose this tree through faith not because of the ease it will give us now.   It is with eyes of faith that we choose.... it's for the life set before us that we choose...it's for the joy set before us that we can choose this dying.  Just like our Savior.  I understand now how I can be one with Christ in His sufferings.   I trust that this death I experience....  it IS true life.

I've chosen the right fruit.  So I press on. I am not without hope --- because I know that I can trust that God is stronger than I am and He will wait patiently and work with me forever.  He will shape this clay!!!  Yes, I do believe I make Him work harder with all my wrestling & wiggling.... but He is gonna shape this clay!  Like the way He wrestled Jacob...Jacob wrestled so hard the Lord had to break Him to the point of giving Him a limp forever...a constant declaration of the Lord's mercy and grace to do whatever it takes to do what is GOOD for us.... He will keep working me until I have completely exhausted my strength and know in my desperation that I need to stop the wrestle, once again.

He WILL help me grow in complete dependence on Him.... and THAT is true, abundant life - and THAT is what glorifies the Lord!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jesus is the Answer

At the beginning, end, center & top of everything sits Jesus Christ the Lord.   The fulfillment of all prophecy of the Messiah for the Jewish people – and for the entire world!!!  The Savior & Mighty King.  Christ is the center of the Father’s heart and the Spirit’s focus.  He is everything and in Him all things find their purpose & meaning. The Lord is in the process of putting everything back under the Lord’s reign, as it was intended to be – and everything aches for it!!!

In BSF, I was asked this question, “Read Isaiah 40:3-5 which the Gospel writers and John the Baptist himself applied to his work (Jn 1:23).  How was John’s work among his people related to “valleys and mountains and rough places” as Jesus Christ was about to appear publicly?”   I love the Bible walk the Lord took me on as I answered this question….

The herald of the Lord’s coming was John the Baptist. His very existence was defined by the message he had to bring to the people – which was to Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near! (Matthew3:2)  He was preparing their hearts so they would see their need for the Savior & be ready to receive Him!! 

If my life is going to shout a message – I want it to be as clear & bold as John’s.   I want my life to say, “the Lord has come, the time to receive Him is NOW.   He is everything.  He loves you beyond anything you can imagine and He endured the worst suffering we could fathom to save us!   Because of Him, the kingdom is here!   He is alive today &  He is Lord of this eternal kingdom and He wants you part of it!!  He is coming back for full, visible reign!!  Don’t wait – accept Him now – be ready for Him!! He is coming back to take back everything under His reign.   Be in His kingdom when He returns!!! You need Him!!  Accept His offering & sacrifice, surrender to Him, He is Lord of all – turn from your old life without Him and face the Savior, look in His eyes, believe in Him!”      

John was fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3-5. 
A voice of one calling in the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

And John’s message still applies to us.  Make straight the highways in your heart to be able to receive the Savior!  Clear the way in your heart to accept Him!  The Lord Jesus is going to raise every valley, make low every mountain & hill and level every rough ground.  You need Him to - get ready for it!! 

The valleys are those areas of darkness, stress, despair in my life that I need escape from. I need light in. The areas of hopelessness.   JESUS is the answer for the valleys!!  John 8:12 I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of Life

The mountains are the areas of pride and ego and selfishness that need humbling – and JESUS is the answer for the mountains!  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” Luke 14:11

The rough places are the areas where I constantly stumble & trip and just can’t make smooth myself – and JESUS is the answer for those places, too!!  Prov 3:6  - in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight

Not only does everybody have at least one valley, one mountain or one rough place they need saving from --- but ALL people have LOTS of valleys, mountains & rough places!  Everybody needs a Savior!! But until they see that – they won’t realize they need Him.   I pray the Lord will use me to plant small seeds in people’s hearts to admit their need.  It takes the work of the Holy Spirit to convict & open people’s hearts to see their desperate state – and it also takes people willing to plant those small seeds into others, through example & through words. 

We must share with others how the Lord has raised up our valleys, humbled our mountains and smoothed out our rough patches.  But!! I see more clearly we can also point to the Savior by showing the areas we still need His deliverance!  We won't see in full all healing & redemption & things made right until He comes back fully & visibly.   Admitting that, will also point people to Jesus!!!  All things can be used to point to Him!  

Too many times, we think we need to only share how the Lord Jesus has accomplished great things in our life.....but where does that leave all of the people who are suffering & asking for healing & not receiving?  We must do both!!  Share how the Lord has answered and helped in ways only He could.  But also share how we are waiting & trusting on Him to fulfill all our needs and be our answer!!  Let people see our trust in His plan & time and that we know that if He doesn't answer now - He WILL answer fully, someday!  

Let that be my message,  Lord – that you are everything!  And we need you!!  You are the answer now and we will see that in full someday! 

Isaiah 42:15 – I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;  I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth.  These are the things I will do, I will not forsake them

Jesus is the answer to ALL.   All questions, all imperfections, all struggles, all prophecy.


I want my life to boldly & clearly show how much we NEED Him and how much He is the ANSWER.