Thursday, February 28, 2008
I have a lot on my heart - but there's some fear in being so vulnerable as to share what I'm going through. I don't want to be judged because of it and I don't want it to be misunderstood or received negatively - so I'm going to put most of my thoughts on a private post until I know there's been time to sit and reflect on it. That has been a wonderful lesson I've learned this year--- to never post or say anything when we're so full of emotion. A lesson I really needed to learn a long time ago. When I do that (write or speak before allowing enough time for things to "cool down"), I end up saying things that I either regret or things that get misinterpretted because I didn't word them right in my emotion. Our "feelings" or "emotions" many times do not take into account the truth of a situation. (more on this at a later post). When I react with feelings/emotions...then, people end up getting hurt and I have to delete posts because I never want to be hurtful to anybody, ever. I needed a lot of help in this area and Jesus has given it. He has given me patience where before I would be rash. He has given me the strength to just step back and not get pulled into the emotion of a situation. I know it must be Him at work in me - because my personality is not the kind to be able to be calm when I'm hurt or offended or feel judged.
Because I love people - I love being around them. Because I'm around them so much, I've been in many situations where people are escalated (frustrated, upset). What I've learned (that I honestly still struggle with and need to ask for help with a LOT) is to never get sucked into others anger or emotion. You have to separate yourself. You have to do whatever it takes to not take personal anybody's attacks and realize a lot of what people say is just because of emotions and misunderstanding. The Truth of every matter is somewhere covered up with a lot of feelings and emotions and usually miscommunications based on past biases of a person. And that is what I was trying to say in my post from the other day. That the more truth I learn about a person, the more loveable they are. I believe that to be really true of me. Judgements might be true judgements at some time - but never looking past our judgements of a person doesn't take into account the power of Jesus. I believe Jesus can change anybody and change them completely! He sheds away all labels and redefines anybody when they ask. The more people look past my mistakes and look for the Jesus in me, instead of my past sins, the more loveable I am. Jesus covers up all bitterness, all hurt, all emotion and fills us with Him. I don't believe there's a person out there that doesn't need Jesus. We all have anger, bitterness and pain and I pray to find more people in my life that will extend to me mercy and grace and look for what Jesus has been able to cover me with - not what was once there.
I pray to find people that are like my husband that always just assume the best in people -- and try to draw out the Jesus in them instead of defining them by their past. The devil plants such negative seeds in our mind about others doesn't he? He loves for us to assume the worst in each other. He loves to distort truth and just cause confusion and hurt. Knowing this, I have been asking for help in just being able to assume the best in everybody.... looking for the good in them. When I see something that I don't understand on the surface, I need to look closer, deeper if possible and just believe that there is a truth there that I just don't know yet, that can explain why what is on the surface, is there.
So that is all that is on my heart today. No special plans for today really - but I do NOT think we'll try the park again because it's supposed to be pretty chilly again today haha I'm thinking we might just stroll at the mall or something!
I thought I'd share this email I received the other day. My verse of last week was Jeremiah 29:11 --- and I should have changed it Sunday but I keep forgetting. The verse this week is Romans 8:28 --- also a perfect example of God's goodness and love for us. There is always hope because of Jesus and there is always room for love and mercy! I will post more soon on this.....
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I Peter 5:9 says "resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are underoing the same kind of sufferings"....
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
We are learning to be empathetic and understanding for people. It's not pity - because I don't feel pity for anybody, because I know my Savior and I know what He offers.....but certainly, I am just more...loving and patient with people BECAUSE of Jesus in me, nothing that I deserve any credit for.
The Bible says, “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2b NLT)
I am realizing that it's absolutely true that the more christlike we become, the less we use labels and judgements in our relationships. Our relationships are geting to be Truth-based, not feeling or thinking-based. Labels and judgements aren't how we define others. It has changed our relationships! It has changed us! The more we understand Truths about others (acquire wisdom) --- the more patient we are with them.
I realize that when there is anger...it's because of a hurt. When there is visciousness.... it's because (indirectly or directly) of an emptiness. When there is a general lack of caring (apathy) or even just an un-friendly personality....there is a history.
When we realize these things, we are more likely to "make allowance for each other's faults". We forgive and if somebody hurts us or we just don't agree with somebody's attitude in general..... their faults and offenses just roll off us like water off a duck's back. This a true sign that we have become more patient. The ability to understand others and look through to the deeper meaning of their actions is a christlike trait I wish I could have understood years (months) ago. I feel like I only have started to understand it - but I feel so much farther from where I was.
I always say that we can't truly love others until we love ourselves. And we can't truly love until there is absolute forgiveness. So to all who have hurt me, to all who are going to tomorrow, next week or 10 years from now.... I forgive you. Sometimes I really DO have the urge to revert back to my ugly (what my aunt used to call sassy) venemous attitude, language and thoughts to HURT the others that I think are just wrong --- but I can honestly promise out there to you, my dear blog, that I won't do it. I am no longer capable. I know that putting people down and carrying around so much anger doesn't do anything except hurt me. If I want somebody to change -- my role is to love on them and encourage their good points and leave the rest to God. It's never to hurt them....ever. I am so so thankful to have learned this lesson but I wish I had learned it a long time ago. But there is something new in me now. Ezek 36:26. I am past that point.
It's no longer about BEING right...it's about doing right.
Only when we realize how truly unrighteous and wrong we were before our Savior came and ransomed us from our prison - can we truly learn to love others. When we can take the eyes off of others' faults, realizing our own are 10 times greater --- and just look at THEM, then the world and our perspective of it, changes.
I know that I can't give what I don't have --- so I ask forgiveness every day and I ask for God to help me forgive myself so I will be able to forgive others. Every morning I "tattle" on those who have hurt me or who I feel I just can't possible love --- I lay it all on Jesus's feet and I ask God to SOMEHOW fill me up with love for them - and He always does.
I am so so so thankful God sent me this message yesterday in my Purpose Driven Life email. All of these thoughts came directly from what I read in that email.
And here is a direct quote, "We all have different backgrounds, and we’re each at a different place in our journey with Jesus. Practicing patience keeps our view on the things above, allowing us to see how God works even in the most difficult of circumstances. It is in patience we often learn that diversity is a strength, instead of a weakness."
The apostle Paul wrote, “Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them every time they do or say something you don’t agree with – even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently.” (Romans 14:1 MSG)
I LOVE this lesson --- so I am going to consistently work on being more and more patient. I want to be loving, encouraging, forgiving and to give mercy. Seeing the heart behind the frown, the soul behind the negative destructive words, and the emptiness behind the stinging attitude.
I can't expect God to continually give me His over flowing grace and mercy if I don't extend it to others - and I pray the same for you all --- that you will make an extreme effort to extend grace and mercy even when your mind tells you otherwise - so you can be a full and total recipient of God's grace and forgiveness!
And that's all I have to say about that (for now)!! I have a whole new entry on my heart already that I want to write about, that will be tomorrow! But my lesson on my heart today is: If your love tank is empty - go let Jesus fill it up! Even though we don't deserve it, He'll give it --- which is the exact example we are to follow.
I Corinthians 13:4
Monday, February 25, 2008
I remember when I was little, seeing the people raise their hands in our church -- and I just didn't get it. I was singing just to sing - I was singing becuase *I* liked the feeling *I* felt. I wasn't really singing to God, I wasn't offering ME and so I didn't understand what they were feeling or doing.
Years later, I went to my first Yankee Game ---- my first Yankee game I ever went to was when David Cone pitched a perfect game --- the stadium was going NUTS! I realized that EVERYBODY, every single person in the stadium was throwing their hands in the air, dancing, shouting, "praising" even (ouch) this man and this team. I realized, that I throw my hands in the air in a SECOND for the athletes I love, the musicians I've seen in concert..... Why didn't I understand it when people were doing it for GOD, The creator of the WHOLE ENTIRE universe, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords?
He wasn't really real to me yet..... I didn't have the personal relationship. I didn't yet realize that someday I would be at that point where I just want to give to Him and BE with Him, and worship in whatever style I choose.
HE is the ONE, the ONLY ONE that actually DESERVES our worship - whatever style that may be --- but the devil distracts us, or tries to.
So I've been thinking about this a lot - and then I picked up C.S. Lewis again - I LOVE all his books....and I was reading portions of the ScrewTape Letters. I realized that the devil and his people will do whatever they can to distract us from God. To try to take our focus and attention off of him. So my opinion is:
WORSHIP God - it's not only OKAY to worship physically, emotionally in whatever form YOU want to --- but it's what He desires! There are times now when I absolutely lose my voice during worship and I just lift up my hands --- as a symbol to Him that I am giving Him myself and totally "letting myself go". It's what we are called to do (not lifting up our hands -- but I mean worshipping....in whatever style you worship in)
It is our ultimate and defining purpose! So do it!!! Figure out what styles of worship you can offer! If you're the type that will throw your hands up in the air during a Yankees game like me --- then when you feel called to do it to your God -do it!!! It's so appropriate! Don't hold back! It's not weird --- and it's okay if people misunderstand --- I always misunderstood and was curious what people were doing during worship when I was little...but now worship during service is my favorite time. You do it for God, not for others!!
If worshipping physically is not your style of worship - and you feel uncomfortable - or if it makes you focus on YOU - then by all means DON'T. Just like everything else I keep talking about - it's all about your heart.
If you get distracted by OTHERS in their style of worship - the only thing I can say is take off your robe and close your eyes! Close your eyes is a big one for me -- why do people look around during church anyway? We should learn the words of the songs that our worship band sings - so we can close our eyes and not be distracted by others!
And that's all I have to say about that for now! :)
He desires worship! It's not only appropriate --- but we are designed for it. Don't let your mind or our society mess you up --- be with Him and worship Him! The Truth is always opposite of what the world and what your mind tell you. Listen to your Spirit.
picture taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/christinaleong/149809126/
Saturday, February 23, 2008
I've had this picture on my myspace account for a while....I really believe it to be the Truth. I hope all the people around me, and those that read my blog believe it in their hearts too.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
It is all too easy for us to *feel* separated from God, all alone, and unloved, but Romans 8:35-39 assures us that is it impossible to escape God's love, even if we don't feel His love.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? NO! Nothing can separate His love from us, ever!! And as I learned from Mr. Rogers when I was 5....love isn't always about a FEELING (when Mr. Rogers talked about our sibling relationships haha).... It's about a commitment!
True love was brought to us in the ultimate expression when Jesus showed His eternal commitment to us and He laid down His life for ME... for YOU. Will that commitment bring us strong feelings!? ABSOLUTELY! But even in our valleys when we don't "feel" His love - we have to listen to our HEART our SOUL and just KNOW that He DOES and absolutely always will love us! Because it's the Truth and that is the beautiful thing about Truth - it is so profoundly simple and concrete no matter if you believe it or not!
When I had my day of discouragement and then my day of encouragement back to back --- and I laid on my bed and cried and just felt God's love like I had never felt before --- it was the first time that I truly can say I felt something that was literally indescribable. I can usually find some words to describe myf eelings....but that day, the love and mercy and grace He poured all over me was beyond english comprehension. I searched for words - and "love" just didn't seem to do what I felt justice. Maybe "lavishing His love on me" was close....but when I asked that day, "God DO you love!?" ..... I felt the answer and it felt like...not only do I LOVE you Randi - but I have loved you with a deeper love than you will ever understand and I have done it since the beginning of time and will do it forever more. I was at a loss....I felt the same thing back to Him but couldn't say any words...I just hope my tears and heart said enough to Him at that moment.
Jeremiah 31: 3 says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness."
He shows love to me in SO many ways - He woos me with the sunsets He gives me EVERY day (and if I miss the sunset, He always gives me beauty someplace else!), through His word, through the people He puts in my life.....but above all His presence!
Can you even believe what we have available to us? Do you truly understand and appreciate what happened when that curtain was torn at Jesus' death. We now have unlimited access to God, THE creator of the whole universe --- and He IS love. You can't go to His presence WITHOUT feeling in your soul, love! What an incredible and truly AWEsome God we serve!!!!!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Check it out in any version and it's like ok that's nice.
Check it out in the amplified version...[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death...and it's like WOAH!
My determined purpose is to know God. My purpose. What am I here for? To know God. I am here everyday of my life, job, kids, family, all secondary to knowing God. And on my journey to knowing God I will find the answer to all of life's questions.
I cannot take the journey alone. There is absolutely no way anyone can make this alone because the doubts and discouragement that you will discover everyone goes through, will take you down if you don't KNOW that other people go through it. The lies the enemy throws at you to keep you from realizing this truth, will always, always, lead you into isolation. Do you feel like you're all alone? Like NOBODY can possibly understand or get or help you because _____ ? That's the enemy. I don't even need to know your story to know that's true.
Note to self: NO amount of quiet time or dedication is going to make God give you want you want early. The point of quiet time/drawing near to God, isn't getting what we want it's getting to know God which is what he wants. It's possible to know God.
So this season is really really a learning season. Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you which has been on my facebook for at least a WEEK as the verse of the DAY is just a reminder. We have to keep our minds on God. Pursue God. NEVER stop chasing HIM and dreaming big -don't ever stop dreaming!!- because one day those things are going to happen and it's not too late. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths.
The life that God intends for you, is not about a job or a ministry your life is about knowing God and being known to him, because we try to hide from him mucho.....He WILL use anyone, but he WANTS to use you. The desires of your heart and his heart for you are not fulfilled when you land a job or a ministry. He wants you to want him. He wants your job, ministry, family, college to bring you closer to Him, teach you to lean on Him, hear from Him, relate to him. He wants to be wanted by you and he wants you to want to do what he wants to do through you. All of that, all of those desires are cultivated through daily getting to know him, daily going where he guides. By being involved in ministry at church pouring your life out. By loving your husband and being the very very very best parent you can be and cultivating God in your kids. By taking risks. And then you'll be in a place years from now thinking, how did I get here?? I can't believe I am here and you'll realize God has accomplished what he promised in giving you more than you can hope or imagine.
But something inside of me rebels against all of that and just says, God, I just want to know now. Like my cousin Brandon's (yeah my hubby!) favorite verse of Psalm 23, he will MAKE you lie down in green pastures. Did you hear it? He will lead you to a place and say stay. rest. we have a journey ahead and a ways to go but you need to take this time, hang out with me, i'm your shepherd so I'm not about to leave without you (you're gonna make me famous/rich at the end of this journey while you're hair grows lets sit and hang out. heehee.....)
He will MAKE you come to this place where everything inside you rebels and there he will conform your will to his. And then you'll take off again on your journey.
I want to take every possible opportunity I have right now I don't want to miss ONE THING whether it's God or not as long as it's good, right now. But there's a huge fear that since I don't know where the road leads, or where I'm going, or what I want to do when I grow up, then I'll miss it. But it's pretty much guaranteed that I won't because God says so that you CAN'T. That's not possible because if you're seeking him and getting to know him you WON'T go anywhere that's not him. That simple truth is so. amazingly. easy. to lose sight of because we don't see how right now can lead us where we want to be.
I could ramble all day about this because over and over I feel the need to resolve this issue, I keep coming back to it. But life is not about a job it's about a journey. So when people ask from now on what I want to do when I grow up, I'm going to say I'm doing it. I'm really with all my heart seeking God. I'm serving and I'm learning. Everyday. I can't forget that. I can't lose sight of it or I'll start this crazy cycle again trying to find what I'm supposed to "DO" with my life. Then I'll end up back here realizing DUH I was doing it before I got side tracked trying to live my future as my present.
I have a few dreams here and there, don't get me wrong and I won't stop dreaming! but I have to live in the here and now and know God knows my future and that he wants me to live it and love it. So he'll lead me to it.
From: "David LaBonte"
My wife, Rosemary, wrote a wonderful letter to the editor of the OC Register which, of course, was not printed. So, I decided to "print" it myself by sendingit out on the Internet.
Pass it along if you feel so inclined.
Dave LaBonte (signed)
Written in response to a series of letters to theeditor in the Orange County Register:
So many letter writers have based their arguments on how this land is made up of immigrants. Ernie Lujanfor one, suggests we should tear down the Statue of Liberty because the people now in question aren't being treated the same as those who passed through Ellis Island and other ports of entry. Maybe we should turn to our history books and point out to people like Mr. Lujan why today's American is not willing to accept this new kind of immigrant any longer. Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to the United States, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in New York and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new American households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home. They had waved good bye to their birth place to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture. was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labor laws to protect them. All they had were the skills and craftsmanship they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity. Most of their children came of age when World War II brokeout. My father fought along side men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France and Japan . None of these 1st generation Americans ever gave any thought about what country their parents had come from. They were Americans fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the United States of America as one people.When we liberated France, no one in those villages looking for the French-American or the German American or the Irish American. The people of France saw only Americans. And we carried one flag that represented one country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be an American. They stirred the melting pot into one red, white and blue bowl. And here we are in 2006 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes the entitlement card and a guarantee of being faithful to their mother country. I'm sorry, that's not what being an American is all about. I believe that the immigrants who landed on Ellis Island in the early 1900's deserve better than that for all the toil, hard work and sacrifice in raising future generations to create a land that has become a beacon for those legally searching for a better life . I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags. And for that suggestion about taking down the Statue of Liberty, it happens to mean a lot to the citizens who are voting on the immigration bill. I wouldn't start talking about dismantling the United States just yet.
(signed) Rosemary LaBonte
Sunday, February 10, 2008
During today's sermon, the pastor wasn't there - so the youth pastor stepped in and preached - and what he preached on, was..as usual..totally aligned with what God was telling me the past few days. His teachings were based on Exodus 24 about God, Moses, the people & the mountain, the 10 commandments. The basic outline using the scripture was:
In order to conquer the mountains in life:
a) we must understand our spiritual boundaries
b) we must respond/adhere to our spiritual boundaries
c) the glory of God must be our highest aim
d) the word of God *must be our ONLY standard*
e) we must wait on God
Moses was totally in tune to God. He responded to Him. He didn't push or attack the situation.... He didn't try to control the timing of things...He responded (walked up to meet God) after God had taken the first step (showing Him it was time).
Pastor Derik said some very powerful things today that have also been on my heart, but I didn't know how to put it into words. He said, "'why are we in such a hurry?..... we need to take time for God, DAILY. Our society has lost the discipline of meditation!" That is so powerful to me. This most recent part of my journey, which started in 2007, when I finally got really serious in my pursuit of God - was started because I recognized this about myself. I kept hearing people talk about their alone time with God, being in His presence, their daily meditation - and I just didn't GET IT. I WANTED that. I wanted to be more like grandma! I wanted to know God like she knew Him!!...but I knew I was missing out on something. Every time I kept trying to have this 'quiet time' or whatever you want to call it - I would just sit there and it would just end up being all about me: my prayer requests, what was on my heart and then after that, thoughts would go through my mind like, "after this quiet time I'll do the dishes, then laundry, then xyz"...and I would always get distracted and just end it early. And frankly, I got real sick of not having this 'quiet time' be successful. but thank God I didn't stop trying! I made the decision that the first step I needed to take was to open the Bible to turn my attention to God. I turned off the TV, the music, the telephones, the computer and focused all my attention on the Word with my goal to read the whole Bible in 2007. AND I FINALLY "got it"!!! I found what I was looking for! This "discipline of meditation" this "quiet time" really is just internalizing the Word of God. Letting it soak in and thinking about it and focusing on it. That's how I found I could meet God.
YES I still go to Him and just talk all about me and what's on my heart and I vent and rant about my spouse, my child, my family, my negative situations and then I ask Him to fill me back up for love and patience in all these situations!! I bring HIM the negative so I can have the positive for others! (more on this in the next entry -- all about relationships! it will be titled, "a lesson learned I wish I always knew!" or something along those lines!)
BUT I make sure to have the time also just focusing on HIM!
Next, I started to pray to Him using the ACTS way of prayer.
A-doration (acknowledge God for who He is) -- a psalm, a song, telling Him I know He is the ONE true and only God. King of King Lord of Lords, One and only Creator!
C-onfession (admit my sin, identify it specifically, repent)
T-hanksgiving (this one I think I was always good at - I am very appreciative!)
And now that I've taken these first steps to having quiet time - and working on my prayer life...it really has made all the difference. God speaks to me ALL the time now through so many different things - because I have given Him attention - He now gives it to me. He always gives back to us what we give out! I give out love to others - He gives it back to me 100 fold..I give out forgiveness - He shows me His forgiveness 100 times greater....I give Him attention, He pours Himself (His word, His presence) all over me from so many differnet sources!!
SOOOO all that being said --- this all didn't happen all at once. It took time. I started seeking Him out with little steps - and have just done little things each day and I am being rewarded for those little steps now. I hope everybody makes these little decisions to get to know Him, to be more Christ-like daily. If only we wouldn't get so overwhelmed with how far we have to go -- but just do a little bit each day. If we can let God help us take control of our minutes -- seize back what was taken away from us with our distractions and "busy-ness" --- then the world is ours!! The devil eats away at us ever so slowly so that we don't even recognize it is him and he has a grip!....
My grandma always used to say, "take care of your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves".....and I always knew there was more to that phrase but I never got it!!! I was always thinking it was literal since I always saw her rolling her coins and counting pennies ---- but I had such an AH HA! moment the other day when I realized once again how unbelievably wise she was!!! What she was saying was that --- focus on the little steps (and this is applicable in ALL areas of life)!
In finances, get control of your pennies, know where every cent goes - and you will figure out where your dollars go! We are doing a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class right now and he says, "dollars always flow from people who don't manage them, to people who do!"....he says you have to command your pennies where to go!
It's the same with our minutes!! We have to control them! It's okay to blow minutes, it's okay to alot time that you know you're just going to veg out or be lazy or whatever --- but at least keep track of it! KNOW how much time you are spending doing your daily things. You will find out if you are putting too much time/focus into a certain area and not enough in another! Control your minutes - and focus a portion of them on God and on God ONLY.
SOOOO I say all that to tell you what God has been teaching me in my minutes the past few days:
God is teaching me to be still. When we're tired from the fight (it IS a fight to live in this world but be God-centered and to put a personal relationship about Jesus Christ above all else)....we need to run to Him and rest.
He is also teaching me to be PATIENT. God wants to be glorified through us and our success, through our battles, through all parts of us! ......and the more we wait on Him, the more we rely on Him...then our pride goes away and when we do have the victory, when our mountain is moved, when we are finally used....the glory will go to HIM and Him alone. but it has to be on His timing.
WOW! He even gave me a reminder of this lesson again just now as I write this blog, because on my left hand column of my blog under today's "Motivation to Live Well" it says:
"Patience is key to achieving our goals. It involves the act of placing our concern in the hands of our Lord, and leaving it there". AWESOME!!!!
There's a huge danger to people who are given it all without working for it...or given it all quickly or "easily". The devil uses this to puff them up and make them think they don't need God.
God knows my heart - and He knows that I would rather do things right one time.....then to do it my way, and mess it all up and have to do it all over again.. God knows I'm not stable enough for that haha...and that it's better for me to learn the lessons I have to NOW. He knows that I am willing to wait on Him (even though it's a fight like my discouragment day)...rather then to reach some success in being used --- to have it all come crashing down because I didn't have a strong enough foundation.
I've been asking for exactly what I've been getting. I've been asking for Him to search my heart and to make sure before He moves me to the next level that I'm totally ready!! I SO want to be used by Him and to fulfill whatever specific purpose He has for me - but I want to do it the right way. I want ALL the glory to go to Him when I am used, and when I am 'successful' in my purpose - and I don't want there to be any room for pride.
He is teaching me! Thank you God! I WILL try my best to be patient and to be still and know that YOU alone are God!!!
picture taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/buferanera/
Saturday, February 9, 2008
I felt His presence like never before - so much that the tears just were automatically flowing like a fountain - and then I was giggly with the joy & peace He brought to me. I was giggly with the words he was woo-ing me with that I heard ever so softly & tenderly. "Yes Randi I do love you". And I can't even put into words what He was trying to communicate. It was like a sense of, "of course, more than you will ever release, forever and forever" - but my english couldn't capture all He was trying to say. I heard, "be patient.... I have a plan for you. I know what I'm doing."
In those moments when He draws me in - and surrounds me....I just feel like literally nothing else matters. It reminds me of Brandon's favorite verse in Psalms - Psalm 23:2. "He MAKES me lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides quiet waters". He makes us rest. He makes us be quiet and still and need Him. During those moments it's like nothing else matters at all.... I get a glimpse of what it's going to be like with Him. When we're with Him, this life will be like a blink of an eye and soo insignificant compared to eternity in His glory.
I do enjoy the journey and the fact that through ALL the moments - ups, downs, moments of discouragement - HE is ALWAYS there. He always lets me turn to Him with my heartache - and He always builds me back up!
God is so great beyond words!
(and by the way - as if I needed anything else besides Him -- He went totally above & beyond and blessed me even more ...with three very encouraging emails. From C, K & D. I was blown away with these women's comments to me and about me. He reminded me through them, that I DO make a difference and I AM being used even if I don't see the results! K & D don't read my blog and have no idea what I'm going through - their emails came out of the blue thanking me for something I didn't even know I did!! God is sooo good.)
These 2 pictures are special to me. The first was the day that Brandon proposed to me. The 2nd was on our honeymoon. Everybody who knows me knows I LOVE sunsets. I watch the sunset every day even if it's just a peek through a window sometimes. I believe each sunset is a special gift from God for me... if I'm with Brandon and Raymond at sunset, I make everybody go outside and watch it together.
And out of ALL the sunsets I have ever seen - the top 5 prettiest were ALWAYS after a huge storm! They were the sunsets that nobody expected to come - it would be too cloudy, no light would shine through at all --- but I always made everybody stay and wait - and guess what! The sun always did peek through if only a little bit for a short time - and it cast the most incredible reflections on the clouds and it created the most beautiful sunset!! My little digital camera just doesn't do any nature scenes justice --- but these 2 sunsets were 2 of my favorites!
What a wonderful life lesson! Grandma and I always used to encourage each other and say, "we would not appreciate the sun, if there were never any clouds"
God is so great and I am blessed! :)
Friday, February 8, 2008
but I had a crash in the past 24 hours. I believe that I was attacked spiritually.....but I believe God is going to use it for good. I honestly don't even know where this blog entry is going to go....I am just going to sit here and type my heart to figure out what is going on and why the sobs wouldn't stop last night until I fell asleep.
I am very aware of my personality and that my highs are REALLY high and my lows are really low - so knowing myself....I don't get 'scared' of these lows anymore - but I still don't LIKE them!
Part of my heavy heart right now....is that I have a hard time when I am just totally overflowing with the Spirit and I feel soo joyful, loved, passionate, excited about life ---- and nobody else gets it. I don't want approval from others - I am past that point. I don't want to use my closeness with God to boost my own ego ---- but I want others to see my joy and excitement and I want them to be inspired! I want others to feel what I feel! How come the revelations that are mind numbingly INCREDIBLE to me -- fall on deaf ears. The past 24 hours, I feel I have been speaking from my heart and giving and giving and giving -- and they have just fallen on deaf ears. I have literally seen my seeds that I want to plant in others - just get blown totally away into the wind - it's like I KNOW something that I want to convey to others and I can't get it out! And when I do get it out -- it doesn't sound right and it isn't received well. Does everybody just already know the things I know - so I am just silly for talking about such simple things?!
Why does the devil let so much confusion in. I am a very simple believer. I believe the word of God is the Truth and that it's very black and white and simple. I like to keep things simple. I don't believe in thinking with our mind and dissecting every passage and second guessing and trying to be logical - I believe we are called to have a simple, childlike faith. The word of God is enough. Believe it...believe what it says, it's that simple to me. Why in my recent conversations then God - did you not let that prevail!?
When I feel like I have something to convey and the seeds just get blown into the wind or get put into rocky soil --- it is seriously heartbreaking and discouraging when this happens. I have been in discussions in the past few days - and in the moment each time I started to think .....oh wow, this is the opportunity GOd has been preparing me for! I was thinking - God give me words to speak - God help me be a blessing! I really felt a lot recently that God could totally work through me to help somebody overcome their doubt, sin, or valley they are in. But He didn't..... what I wanted to communicate, wouldn't come out. I couldn't find the words in the right way to convey what I was feeling inside. God's message on my heart was lost in a lot of theology and confusion and commotion. It was discouraging! How could He have let that happen? Let the theology and confusion be the apparent winner?
God, I believe you love my childlike faith! I believe you gave me simple faith for a reason. I used to try to work out my doubts and work through my valleys with logic, with my mind....but I realized I was thinking with my mind - I was "too educated"!! I realized that thinking with my MIND doesn't work! no matter how many ways you dissect it, the answer is a very simple answer. The answers to what everybody is seeking - is so simple that I understood it at 7 years of age when I was saved. I truly believe that Jesus is the anwer to everything - and I believe if people don't accept God and Jesus to be the son He sent to die for my sins...they will go to hell. I don't want the ones that don't know you God that are around me...to go to hell! Won't you use me to help break down how complicated people try to make things. Sometimes I feel soo....looked down on! Sometimes I really feel like they are saying "aw look at how cute Randi's faith is"...."they" being people who are soo 'educated' - who know more scripture than me - and know all the theories about this that and the other. But do they know YOU God!? How tricky of the devil to plant seeds in me that maybe my faith is TOO simple. Maybe there's something wrong with ME. I believe that WE have messed up christianity God - but I believe that YOU meant things to be simple! That is why Jesus spoke in stories right!? You don't like confusion do you!? You don't want to spend soo much time theorizing and dissecting scripture --- don't you want us to just go and bring non christians to Christ!!??? Isn't it very simple God!?
It's simple to me --- I need to continually grow closer to God through His word and time with Him - to be able to be fully devoted to Jesus Christ and get others to do the same. I like to keep things soo simple that they become very deep! I believe that we always have to do exactly opposite of what society says! And I believe society says that it can't be this easy - that it can't be "once saved, always saved" --- but I BELIEVE YOUR word God! Romans 10:9 - how much more simple can you get than that!? I will continue to learn scripture and do whatever I can to get closer to you - but please God always keep me simple! Keep me and my faith and wisdom in a way, "simple" so I can keep it simple for others who are seeking you. The complicated stuff can come later in their walk - but shouldn't we be so aware of not complicating things in front of non christians!?
I don't know why my discussions recently have gone so wrong....maybe God it wasn't about the words? Maybe it doesn't matter what voice "seemed" to be the winner? Maybe it was about the way I communicated instead? Did I do a good job of at least being loving even if I didn't have any good words?!? Were SOME/ANY seeds planted God, even if I didn't get any positive feedback at all!?
--- I am in a pit. God, will I EVER be useful to you!? I feel...worthless.... because I KNOW that without being useful to you I am NOTHING. I am a strong enough christian that I can swallow the Truth that there is nothing good in me without you. But do I have your approval God?! I don't want to look for others for approval, for love to fill me - I want YOU to fill me. I know this earth is meaningless compared to eternity and being with you --- so why am I here if I am not useful. Will I be useful someday!? I want to be used! Can't my simple faith help somebody!? Can't you use me to love on others and be an example of the love they so deperately seek. I realize that the only thing good in me is you --- and the only success I have is from you. and I feel like I am at the point in my walk that it's action time - am I wrong!? Why would you pour so much into my life this past month if it was for nothing... have you been blessing me just to build me up - not to use it to help others in some way? Am I just too impatient? I need rest - I have been disciplining myself so much to dig into your word, and it's not always 'easy' to seek you out. In my quiet time after this blog - I am just going to lay on my bed and just totally rest and listen...I don't want to read, I don't want to journal, I don't want to figure out a wonderful revelation - I just want YOU - I need some love and rest and I know you'll give it to me. I need some reassurance. If God is the only thing good in me...is there even thing special & unique about me that can't just be replaced by somebody else. Why is the devil trying to make me believe I can be so easily replaced - that's not true is it God!?
Yesterday on the way to work.... this 80+ year old guy whose eyes were barely about his big lincoln towncar steering wheel - pulled out in front of me - and I don't mean just was rude and pulled out --- I mean he literally just didn't see my SUV going 50+++ miles down the highway - and pulled out from a side street into the middle of the road, I was in the left lane - he pulled out RIGHT in front of me - and I saw the end of my life and I wasn't scared. I had to swerve from the far left lane into the right - I totally lost control of the wheel, tires were squealing - and I felt the car about to tip. I have a car with a high rollover risk - there is warning signs plastered all over the driver seat that it has high rollover risk, etc.etc. I have no idea how I didn't tip over....I truly believe that as I cruised down the road singing KLove on - singing that song, "show me your glory - I want to see your face"..... God had a hedge of protection around me. I pulled up to the stoplight - people got out of their car and were just all open mouthed like what the heck just happened. The man STILL had NO clue what was going on. People were trying to get his attention and he is just staring straight ahead no idea what he just did. I shook for over an hour just because of the adrenaline. But I have to say - I didn't have a joyful, "oh praise God thank you for saving me" moment....it was like - GOD why did you just save me!? Am I really that important? If you don't want to take me to heaven, please use me. I truly just felt like....oh well, if I had died would it really matter. It wasn't even a pity party, I'm not a depressive, pessimistic person - I'm exactly opposite.... but at the same time, right before that song came on and that almost fatal accident happened - I was listening to KLove - one of the love stories of the month - and it was talking about this huband who had lost his wife and he was so excited that God had given him another wife and how she was really his completer, etc. etc. --- and the devil planted in my head....see everybody is replaceable... even you. If you died, some people would be upset for a while -- but God is really all that matters so they would get over it. The devil is using some Truth (God is truly all that matters) against me. He is distorting it just enough to actually have it make sense in my brain.
But no matter what my mind says and what the devil plants in my head -- my heart says NO I'm not replaceable! The Spirit is in me as part of the "body of Christ" but that doesn't mean *I*am Christ and He could just go use somebody else's body if I leave to go to heaven --- I'm RANDI with Christ in me! Having Him in me just helps RANDI be more like Him - I have my own special gifts & talents and I was designed specifically and uniquely! Nobody else can be like me.
It's just such a hard abstract thing to think about sometimes. I doubt anybody even understands what I'm saying --- this is a very personal attack that was laid on me. I don't like when things are so complicated....I need some clarification!
But I believe GOd is going to use this attack for the good - becuase I love Him. Romans 8:28 I know that discouragement comes after spiritual highs - I know this. Especially the type of highs I have - which are very emotionally exciting and physically exhausting highs (because of my excitement and joy I don't get a lot of sleep).... and I know right now I just have to do what is necessary to let God restore my inner resources. So I'm going to speak God's word into my life:
God loves me! He loves me so much that He created me in His image and when I fell (sinned) from glory - He sent His son to be crucified and take the blame and consequences of my sin so I could have a relationship with Him. I was created a female on purpose -- and He understands the essence of my female heart. My heart may be too much for some - my emotions way 'too much' for others - but He undersatnds me and knows me! He gave me a heart that wants to bring him Beauty and live a wonderful adventure with Him. He tells me: Randi I KNOW the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and bring good to you - plans of hope and a future!
and I believe you God! I believe that even when my seeds are blown into the wind - I realize that I will be given other opportunities. Even if I feel I disappointed you and myself - it's okay! You are using my weaknesses to keep me ever humble and patient. I want to be used - but I am going to commit to doing it YOUR way. Please God just give me the words when I'm supposed to have them - and when it's not my time to bless somebody (even when I feel it is)...just help me see the bigger picture - that YOUR perfect timing is just that...it's perfect! And it wasn't time to use me yet..... Help me remember that someday I will be useful to you!
Continue to search my heart and keep me ever humble God! But help me understand true humility. The devil wants me to believe that humility means I have no worth or self esteem at all ---- but humility is not about beating myself down and thinking nothing of myself -- it's all about putting YOU and YOUR will above all else! I know you feel my pain and discouragement and I know you will build me back up after this horrible few days.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
The Word In Song
By Billy Foote
You Are God Alone (Not a god)
by Billy Foote
You are not a god created by human hands.
You are not a god dependent on any mortal man.
You are not a god in need of anything we can give.
By Your plan, that’s just the way it is.
You are God alone, from before time began,
You were on Your throne, You were God alone.
And right now, in the good times and bad,
You are on Your throne, You are God alone.
Unshakeable, unchangeable, unstoppable,
That’s what You are.
Unshakeable, unchangeable, unstoppable,
That’s what You are.
You’re the only God whose power none can contend.
You’re the only God whose name and praise will never end.
You’re the only God who’s worthy of everything we can give.
You are God, that’s just the way it is.
One of the great joys that comes with writing a song from a God-centered, Biblical perspective is the fact that the Word of God is the final authority on subject matter. The thoughts expressed in the song, “You Are God Alone (Not a god)” are not my thoughts or ideas. They are God’s words. When we sing,You are not a god created by human hands / You are not a god dependent on / any mortal man / You are not a god in need of anything we can give…
We can rest assured that He has already proclaimed this truth about himself.
In Psalm 50: 9-12, God says, “I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.”
In Acts 17:24-25, Paul says to the religious men of Athens, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else...”
It is good to know that God was not our idea. We did not make him. The first four words of the Bible say it all… “In the beginning, God…” (Genesis 1:1, NIV).
We live in a day where relativism runs rampant through a Christ-less culture. We are told that we should respect opposing views and ideas. We are told that we should be open to all religions and other gods. We surely should not say that our God is the only god. Should we? Let us turn again to the Bible and see what God says about this.
Isaiah 44:6 says, “I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”
The very first of God’s Ten Commandments says, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
The second commandment states, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God….”
And Deuteronomy 6:13-14 (NIV) says, “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the people around you.”
The chorus begins by saying, “You are God alone from before time began, You were on Your throne, You were God alone…” To say this is to only agree with what God has already said of himself. Psalm 93:1-2 (NIV) says, “The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed withstrength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity.”
In Psalm 103:19 (NIV) we find the psalmist saying, “The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”
Isn’t it encouraging to be reminded that God’s kingdom rules over all? He answers to no one. He is never caught off guard. He does not have a bad day. His plans are never hijacked by the enemy. God has never had to campaign for his position as Ruler of the universe. He will not be up for re-election in four years. His plans will not be changed, shaken or stopped. This is why we can go on to say, “And right now, In the good times and bad, You are on Your throne, You are God alone.”
He is in control! So, in our seemingly good times or bad, let us agree with the Psalmist when he says, “But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge…” (Psalm 141:8 NIV).
Lastly, we should review the second verse of the song: You’re the only God whose power none can contend. / You’re the only God whose name and praise will never end. / You’re the only God who’s worthy of everything we can give. / You are God, that’s just the way it is.
In verse one, we say that God is in need of nothing we can give. We come to that conclusion from verses such as Acts 17:24-25. It is true. He is not a god in need of anything we can give. He is, however, as said in the second verse, the only God who is worthy of everything we can give. He is worthy of our time, worthy of our lives lived for His glory.
So, as you go through the day, remember: God’s word is tried and true. And his word confirms this: He is worthy of worship because He was, is and forever will be God alone.
Friday, February 1, 2008
Question: "What is true religion?"
Answer: Religion can be defined as “belief in God or gods to be worshipped, usually expressed in conduct and ritual” or “any specific system of belief, worship, etc., often involving a code of ethics.” Well over 90% of the world’s population adheres to some form of religion. The problem is that there are so many different religions. What is the right religion? What is true religion?
The two most common ingredients in religions are rules and rituals. Some religions are essentially nothing more than a list of rules, do’s and don’t's, that a person must observe in order to be considered a faithful adherent of that religion, and thereby, right with the God of that religion. Two examples of rules-based religions are Islam and Judaism. Islam has its five pillars that must be observed. Judaism has hundreds of commands and traditions that are to be observed. Both religions, to a certain degree, claim that by obeying the rules of the religion, a person will be considered right with God.
Other religions focus more on observing rituals instead of obeying a list of rules. By offering this sacrifice, performing this task, participating in this service, consuming this meal, etc., a person is made right with God. The most prominent example of a ritual-based religion is Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism holds that by being water baptized as an infant, by partaking in the Mass, by confessing sin to a priest, by offering prayers to saints in Heaven, by being anointed by a priest before death, etc., etc., God will accept such a person into Heaven after death. Buddhism and Hinduism are also primarily ritual-based religions, but can also to a lesser degree be considered rules-based.
True religion is neither rules-based nor ritual-based. True religion is a relationship with God. Two things that all religions hold are that humanity is somehow separated from God and needs to be reconciled to Him. False religion seeks to solve this problem by observing rules and rituals. True religion solves the problem by recognizing that only God could rectify the separation, and that He has done so. True religion recognizes the following:
We have all sinned and are therefore separated from God (Romans 3:23).
If not rectified, the just penalty for sin is death and eternal separation from God after death (Romans 6:23).
God came to us in the Person of Jesus Christ and died in our place, taking the punishment that we deserve, and rose from the dead to demonstrate that His death was a sufficient sacrifice (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
If we receive Jesus as the Savior, trusting His death as the full payment for our sins, we are forgiven, saved, redeemed, reconciled, and justified with God (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9).
True religion does have rules and rituals, but there is a crucial difference. In true religion, the rules and rituals are observed out of gratitude for the salvation God has provided – NOT in an effort to obtain that salvation. True religion, which is Biblical Christianity, has rules to obey (do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not lie, etc.) and rituals to observe (water baptism by immersion and the Lord’s Supper / Communion). Observance of these rules and rituals is not what makes a person right with God. Rather, these rules and rituals are the RESULT of the relationship with God, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the Savior. False religion is doing things (rules and rituals) in order to try to earn God’s favor. True religion is receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and thereby having a right relationship with God – and then doing things (rules and rituals) out of love for God and desire to grow closer to Him.
It all boils down to our heart. God sees what's inside, our intentions, WHY we do the things we do....and that is where the judgement should be, between our own heart and Him. Our decisions, our walk with God, how we live our life is a very personal thing that nobody really understands or can judge except us.
In our relatinships... we should be more focused on showing Jesus love and mercy than showing how to follow the rules & rituals! That is the central lesson here right. That HE is the answer to all problems, He should be the focus - not any rules or rituals! And what He is....is love, mercy, compassion, servitude, forgiveness. When we have people around us struggling or just off the path....we should do our best to pray for them, pray for Jesus to shine through them and work in them, we should set a good example, but most importantly in our relationships we should always offer mercy forgiveness compassion and love instead of condemnation, guilty or forceful teaching. This is something I will always be working on since I have been guilty of this in the past. Not that I condemn people although I'm sure I've done that too. But I can just be tough on them. Sometimes I felt that not being tough would lower the standards for people or myself and I can't stand mediocrity....but I realize that when I'm thinking like that, I'm thinking about these rules & rituals - not the relationship. I have learned that I need to listen to the Spirit more in my relationships.
Even when I know how a person can change things and I see where they have gone wrong --- that doesn't mean it's my job to tell! Just because I know a Truth doesn't mean I have to blast people away with it. Sometimes God doesn't want me to say anything and instead just love on this person and lift them up, praise the good things in them. Sometimes people aren't open to us, sometimes they aren't ready for what we have to say and that is why it's so important to listen to the Spirit in our relationships. He will tell us when it's time for tough love or not. He will tell us when to speak. We need to be okay with that and realize that God is in control.
My grandma was the best example of this for me. So many times she had the answers - she could have told me exactly what I needed to do and how to do it....but she let me learn on my own instead, she always uplifted me and never condemned. Though she never saw a lot of the fruits of her labor - I have NO doubt she is seeing them in heaven! I am going to do whatever I can for God to use me, so increase her fruits exponentially! She did give me some tough love - but it was exactly when I needed it. She was a lady totally in tune with the Spirit and a wonderful example for me.....ohh I so want to have so many of the qualities she possesses! I believe that God will give them to me as well!!