Thursday, March 22, 2018

Happy TEN Years to JITM; Change is Afoot!


Just when the anticipation of life elements slowing a bit, they speed up.  The past few months have been a launch pad of sorts in several areas of life.

My two eldest are launching wholly into adulthood. There really are no words for such an experience.  There is a lot that goes into the final launch though, from the simplicity of changing car insurance policies to thinking through the complexity of where they are going to set up their next nest. And as if my two eldest don't have my head spinning rapidly enough these days, my youngest is a rising junior and will begin taking college classes in the fall. Unreal are these days before us, but suffice to say, I am one more proud mama..... and the fact that I am happy and sane is a sizable blessing in my book.

My secular job as Director of Human Resources continues to both bless and challenge me.  It is a demanding and heavy load to be certain, but all things considered, I have borne up under the weight, both carrying it and growing through it. The fact that the role was ever entrusted to me is both tremendously humbling and tremendously edifying. With God, I will carry it across the finish line with a rather large smile upon both my heart and my countenance!  No doubt what I have exercised and developed will be applied to my next chapter, coming soon!

As for Joy In The Morning, God is no doubt on the move.... where to He is certain and fixed. Since 2018 has begun, it is altogether clear that He is re-staking the ground and giving the command to press forward. In January, JITM quietly celebrated its 10th birthday. Right on that heel, at the beginning of February, I received word that the host/server company would no longer support small businesses as of the end of February....or March at the very latest, meaning I was tasked with finding a new home for the website and blog. No small task in a normal time frame!  But where I felt blindsided, GOD KNEW; He always knows! At the end of February, I had an acquaintance step forward and say he could both host the website on his server, move it over, and revamp the website. Once again, blindsided.... but this time, in a good way.... a very good way!  When I asked him what he needed from me, his reply was, "Not a thing; 'William Doolittle' at your service."  There are NO WORDS to express my amazement, my gratitude, and my serious exhale at God sending this "angel with skin on" to me at the PERFECT time, SO "in due season"!  So, bless him; he has spent this month setting up the host server, as well as everything else (that I absolutely know very little about) that goes into moving an entire website and blog over to its new home. So,  be on the look out for JITM's facelift... coming soon!

"Coming soon" is God's theme for me, my family, and JITM.  Here's to change all the way around, from every possible angle, at both God's beckoning and command!

Aye, aye,  Captain.... lead on..... WE WILL FOLLOW....

With Him, for Him, in Him,

Deborah

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

It's a Matter of Honor

An employee has a report due on Monday.  They submit it on Tuesday.

A driver encounters another driver needing to merge on the highway.  They speed up to prevent the "fronting."

A request is made to turn the television off.   "Just five more minutes."

A member of a household is asked to fold towels. They haphazardly tossed them. 

What's missing in these examples?

HONOR; the deliberate elevation of regard for another above oneself.

This subject has captivated my attention this past month.

Here are a few of the one hundred verses in the Bible that address the subject:

"'Far be it from Me, for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.' "  I. Samuel 2:30b

"The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor."   Proverbs 15:33

"Before destruction a man's heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor."  Proverbs 18:12

"Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor."  Proverbs 21:21

"Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool." Proverbs 26:1

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." Romans 12:9-10

I have read through many Bible passages this month where when God gave specific instruction to His people, and when they diverted from those instructions in a measure we would all likely assess as "mild", God's anger burned against them.

Why?

The lack of honor.....the lack of regard.
The presence of selfish will..... the presence self exaltation.

Our history reading lends itself to thoughts of judgement against the nation of Israel, does it not?

"What were they; stupid?"  

In my job, I am the Director of Human Resources.  I manage a great deal of people on a daily basis, from their regard of one another to their work place obedience.  It's a challenging, yet humble job, because we are talking about adults with the same selfish, sinful tendencies we all have, and not all have the power of Christ within to identify these tendencies, let alone deliberately rise up against the destructive tendencies and say, "NO, I'm not participating in acts of dishonor!"

Without laying out every role in life, if we all stop and ponder, we can identify the presence of honor or the lack of honor in EVERY role of our lives.

It's a strong current in our culture, is it not?   To look after self first.  To fight for what we perceive as "fair" or "right" in our own mind.

We all face countless situations daily where we have to decide in a moment.... how am I going to respond as the receiver of dishonor, or the flip side.... how am I going to course correct if I am acting dishonorably?

Are you the person turning the report in a day late; or are you the one receiving the day late report?

Are you the person punching the accelerator; or are you the one trying to merge?

Are you the person asking the TV be turned off; or the one delaying by "five more minutes"?

Are you the person asking the towels be folded; or the one tossing them haphazardly?

Life is a long series of interactions one with another.   In a perfect world, they should be Godly interactions, but in our fallen world, they are more often than not wholly ungodly interactions.
  
One of the many lessons God has shown me this past month applies to BOTH sides of the interaction: the times when I am receiving dishonor AND when I am dispensing dishonor.

It's the bent knee verses stiff-neck stance.

We tend to clearly understand this dynamic in the scope of Godly obedience verses disobedience, but it likewise comes to roost in the scope of honor.  In actuality, obedience and honor are intimately linked.  It's just that as adults we tend to disassociate the two through our rationalizations and twisted justifications; watering down both obedience and honor after leaving our childhood behind.

How many of us, when asked to do something completely within our scope to do, bristle at the notion of doing what is asked of us?

Oh, that rebellious spirit within each of us must ALWAYS be put into check this side of Glory!

I dare say we all bristle far more than we care to admit.  But if we run with diligence TOWARDS God's command to have higher regard for another than we do for ourselves, the bent knee should ALWAYS trump the stiff neck.

Paul knew this fight and discipline well:

"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Oh, such RICH words of walked out wisdom from Paul!

So, first things first: make sure each of us is walking a walk of self-policing first and foremost.  Be willing to strike a blow to your own self, bringing it into FULL submission to God.  I can boldly testify that when God has called me to do something my will does not "feel" like doing, and I obey Him, often saying out loud, "Not my will, but Yours be done"...I am keenly aware of one of His great mysteries: my spirit's growth accelerates in THAT moment unlike any other time.

Why this usually still leaves me awestruck is at the very least amusing.  And to be candid, I generally always catch Him smiling when I not only obey when I really don't want to, but also when I stop and take notice of the supernatural fruit such obedience yields..... especially when it involves the honoring of another above myself.

Secondly, how to properly interface the positional bent knee with being a steward of the Gospel message. For me personally, I have found this walk to be a challenging walk.  It is literally my profession to confront and mediate offenses at work  It is equally a passion of mine to give the call to come up higher within the Body of Christ.  In my parenting and in my marriage, it is my job to shine a light on where areas need work in my children and in my husband, and again, call them to a higher, deeper place in Christ.  All while exercising personal discipline on bent knee.

Only with Christ, step by step, can such a walk be walked!

One of my beloved passages in the Bible is found in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17:

"Thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God a pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved AND those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the Word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God."

So again, the fine line is walking humbly, yet boldly and honestly, with people SO that our lives illumine if there be death at the core of one's being or life in Christ at the core of one's being.  Our behavior towards our fellow believers in particular should MIRROR Christ in one another.  If it does not, we should boldly inspect what is within and course correct, but if we cannot "strike the blow to ourselves".... we must be willing to take correction from one another, believing that the ultimate prize is in becoming that pleasing aroma of Christ to all we encounter.

Understand that the charge to speak against an offense is vital because  when we dishonor another, we are ultimately dishonoring God who commanded: "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10

I once knew this sister-in-Christ who ultimately stepped away from our friendship because though she was constantly dishonored and disregarded by her husband, she would not speak up and tell him.  Every time she bemoaned his poor treatment to me, I would instruct her to let him know how he made her feel; to do otherwise was a tremendous disservice to him. She, however, could never bring herself to do so. In her mind, she rationalized that speaking up was an act counter to submission; it was making waves.  She could not have been more wrong, for in actuality, in her silence, she was participating in his ongoing sin of dishonoring both her and God. That is not a Godly decision of a sister-in-Christ towards her husband.  That is not the heart of Christ.  It is a perversion of Truth.

The heart of Christ is that of FULL restoration IN Him WITH Him and WITH those in the Body.  Neither can transpire if truth is not boldly spoken and walked out daily.

Think for a moment where you and I would be had the Apostles not understood unto death the bent knee of submission to God's will, honoring both Him and those they encountered above themselves, coupled to the bold confrontation of sin and offense within their lives and in the lives of those they did life with. While it is true, we, like the Apostles, do not control whether the listener bends the knee or stiffens the neck, speaking out will forever remain a cornerstone of the Gospel.  Silence is NOT an option.  Silence is NOT an act of love.

Be vigilant, dear ones; fight against your own self protecting, stiff neck tendencies.  Be quick to bend the knee, honor others above yourself, and always be found edifying those around you to do likewise. In doing this, we WILL demonstrate Christ to a lost, perverted, self-indulgent, stiff necked world.

As Hebrews so soberly reminds all of us, "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."

It's a matter of honor, dear ones; it's a matter of HONOR!




Sunday, January 28, 2018

January is Coming to a Close....

I've been off radar this month.  In truth, too much to process and little time to do so, but before the month comes to a close, I'll give a few highlights....

- Started the year off with a fast.... ergo no post for the "New Year".... it was an appointed, reverent start to my year... #submitted

- I have been working up near fifty hours a week since the new year.... yes, this HAS to stop.....but one does what one must.... #dedication

- Too many items to recount surrounding my kids.... my head is spinning... and it's just the first month of the year....  #thrilled

In the midst of the day to day, a big shift is coming; plans in the next few months to have our home of seventeen plus years prepared and put on the market.   #nowords

There are days I look around and think, "How did all this happen?"   I'm simply trying to absorb what I can and lift the rest up to Lord.  No one should delude themselves by thinking they are the captain of their domain.  Since my young adult years, stewarding wisely what the Master has entrusted to me has been THE driving force behind each and every one of my days. And now, I can say with blessed assurance I have passed two vital batons on to my kids...."God first" ..."stewardship second".   #grateful

Isn't that the point to the Gospel?  The making of disciples, and the weighty understanding that we WILL give an account before Him for how we oversaw that which was entrusted to us by Him.  #sobering

Seasons shift; and not always as we envisioned them to shift, but the Master remains at the wheel.  He is and forever will be my Captain.  Even as this new year has begun, there likewise comes understood endings. They, too, are often not as we envisioned. I surely pray each of you took significant time during this first month of 2018 to assess that which was, that which is, and that which may or may not be; absorbing what you can and lifting all the rest up to Him.  Be assured;  He sees, He cares, and He alone is able to will, be, and do as He sees fit for HIS purpose.  #surrendered

With love,

Deborah





Saturday, December 23, 2017

First Things First

Oh, where to begin?

I rolled over and opened my eyes this morning, and my mind promptly engaged.

He was in the room.

It's Christmas.

The time of the year we set aside to celebrate His first coming.

He truly is spectacular.

I don't think we can possibly grasp this concept in its uncloaked rawness.

Last night, as I laid in the bed, talking softly with Him, I said outloud, "Who are You to me really?"

I then was struck silent; pondering the heavy question put there by His Spirit.

We use inadequate words to try and describe who He is to us, but words fall so short.

As my regular readers know, I have grappled with my cousin's husband's raw walk into widowhood this year.   Who is God to him...really?

I myself have been traversing territory I thought surely would have been avoided, but alas it's here.  Who is God to me ....really?

A mom last night sat in the ER with her young son, cast being put on his leg. Who is God to her...really?

Be they but a brief moment or a chronic season with no known end point, who is God REALLY?

I let the Spirit's words sit on me as I closed my eyes last night -- and they were still there this morning --

In His presence this morning, there came this analogy I want to share with you. It helped me put my relationship with Him into check.... perhaps it'll help you assess where you are, too.

In marriage, the husband is commanded to leave his father and his mother - and join to his wife.

Likewise we are commanded to leave everything..... and join to Him.... are we not?

Now, think with me.  I'm probably accurate in stating that we ALL could name at least one marriage relationship where the commanded leaving never happened; where the husband, with great futility, tried to walk the fence between wife's desires and parents' desires.  Did it go well for ANY party?

Now, think with me.  I'm probably accurate in stating that we ALL could name at least one fellow believer (perhaps self?) where the commanded leaving never happened; where the believer, with great futility, tried to walk the fence between God's desires and world's desires.   Did it go well for ANY party?

I wonder why it is often so much easier to identify the looming disaster in a marriage, but we turn a blind eye to the GREATER looming disaster in our relationship with God?

God said: put Him first.....it's not a suggestion....it's a command.

God said: husbands leave father and mother... it's not a suggestion... it's a command.

"God said" is supposed to teach us essential  bare-bones, basic principles of obedient living.

What's the core issue in BOTH the above debacle scenarios?  Disobedience.

When we put Him first, He puts the desire in us to put others first..... and in that mysterious Divine place.... a Kingdom exchange occurs: "So the last shall be first, and the first last."

Want to be that believer who brings His Kingdom to this broken earth?  You have to obey Him.... NO addenda....NO rationalizations...NO exceptions.

Remember: the devil knows who Jesus is.... he just never chose to obey Him.  Therein came his destiny.  Therein lies yours.  Let that sit on you a good long while.

"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me."

No addenda.
No rationalizations.
No exceptions.

So, as I let the words sit on me....I ask you:

This Christmas, who is He to you ... really?






Sunday, November 26, 2017

Flight of a Heron


I am beyond thankful that I do not have many mornings like this morning.

But, let me tell you... the struggle this morning to get up and get going was tangible.

Realizing this as soon as my eyes opened, I afforded myself the "necessity of pause" -- fixing my mind with great intention on God before my feet hit the floor.

"Grant to me vision for today, Lord, and strength to walk the vision," audibly I said out-loud.

I continued to lay there in silence.

Within moments, a picture came to my mind:
I was standing dressed, ready for church.

I thought....okay, so I know at least what to wear.

I chuckled.

There are days, dear ones, are there not, where the mind struggles to engage in "the basics" such as what even to wear?!

I rolled out of the bed, dressed in the outfit He had shown me, and walked down the stairs to take my sweet pup outside to go potty.

Within seconds of opening the door and stepping out, I witnessed a beautiful, large heron flying solo across the expanse of the morning sky.

"Drink it in, Deborah," I heard Him say.

I stood there. Absolutely transfixed.  It was a scene to behold!

"Lord, I want my life to be FILLED with THESE moments."  

He smiled.

As I exhaled, I sensed His complete empathy wrap around me, simultaneously strengthening my weariness.

But why use a heron for His demonstration, I wondered?

He smiled again.

(You do know that God is exacting in His ways.  No such thing as coincidence with Him.)

Herons are rare in my area, so that began to awaken my senses.

What's the "more" to this, Lord?

The student in me, now wide awake, dug in.

Fascinating facts on herons:

- In ancient days, herons were likened to Christ for the following two reasons: 1) they can and do devour snakes; 2) also according to Pliny of Ancient Rome, they are rare birds in that they shed tears, symbolic of Christ and His sufferings.

- Because of its long beak, they were symbols of exploration of hidden wisdom.

- In many ancient cultures, they were revered as messengers of God, and it was considered "bad luck" to harm or shoot a heron.

In avian symbolism, the heron stands for strength, purity, wisdom, determination, grace/calmness, patience, and long life.

There was a great deal of personal application that transpired this morning between Teacher and student, but it is enough to say here:  "I hear You, Lord; I hear You."

He smiled.

The "more" now received.

 A heron's solo flight at dawn....  awe-struck wonder!


"Before long, the world will not see Me anymore,
but you will see Me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day, you will realize that I am in My Father,
and you are in Me,  and I am in you."


Do you see Him?
Do you see yourself in Him,
and Him in you?

Take flight!

Godspeed!




Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tear the Walls Down; Tear Them ALL Down!

I'm going to preface these two songs with the edification:

Put your rejoicing ears on; hard as it may be for some..... 
and truly even as I edify you to do so, 
I know the depth of difficulty for some of you out there!

Most people look at demolition and see destruction.

Some would say I am odd in that I see limitless possibilities.

I take the stand, "Well, God, let's see what You're going to do with THIS!"

And I mean it.

I place myself upon a near-by knoll as a point of witness....and watch the Master at His craft ....He is indeed unlike anyone who ever has been or ever will be!

Isaiah 61 is a glorious Scripture.... a part of it:

"....(He will) provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS splendor."

Determine to be a part of His splendor.

Today and in the coming days, choose to see limitless possibilities instead of destruction!

Find a knoll..... take a seat... and be a witness to His handiwork as He brings it up out of the rubble using.....

His blueprints..... not yours!


( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X-CPOLmKucs )



( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O4MhbHTWZI )
  
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Epic Battle

Angry people fascinate me.

This wasn't always the case.

For one, they used to get on my nerves....EVEN as I was one! Hello! And consequently, the self-righteous carnal part of me, not-yet-dead, wanted to fix them. (Grinning) I know. I know. The irony is tangible! Don't shake your head at me...(grinning wider)..... if you're honest and NOT walking in head-deep self-deceit, you know as well as I know we ALL had or still have these common threads of broken humanity within us.

Have you ever seen a person remove a hem?  How they have to PULL the old threads out?

Yep. The old threads have to go.

Staying on that theme....have you ever had a pair of pants where part of the hem is falling out, but still hanging in there, and the crease somewhat disguises the falling-out thread.... so you try and get away with putting the pair of pants on....only to have your foot get caught in the hem?

Come on, I KNOW I am not the only person to have experienced this vexing state. In the spirit-realm, this person is wrestling....and usually, wrestling far more with themselves than God would ever wrestle with them!  God doesn't wrestle, dear ones. He doesn't have to. He simply speaks...and it is done. We....WE wrestle.... especially when we don't like what He speaks.

(I know Jacob decided to take God on, but really....is anyone going to take the stand that that was a wise decision worthy of following in his footsteps??  Not I! )

It's not that I don't get angry anymore, but there is a difference between getting angry and being an angry person.

Angry people hurt people, and usually hurt them deeply.

I take no offense at this.... as if my experience should be anything less than what Jesus endured or those believers who came before me.

I do however set up boundaries that clearly delineate what is and what is not acceptable. I'm no one's doormat.... and neither should you be.

What makes this fascinating to me is that IF they be a fellow believer, they know in their spirit their actions are hurting the very people they want so badly to love, but to be an angry person....simply put, means the flesh has the upper hand.  Another way to think about this even more clearly at a root level: angry people have a chronic internal identity crisis.   It's what the Bible refers to as the "double minded man."  He is unstable in all his ways.

There is a fix.... but it isn't a quick fix.... and it isn't pretty.

I recently was conversing about the old tale of the two dogs within each of us.... the spirit dog and the flesh dog.  The one we feed is the strong one.  The weak dog has no choice but to yield to the strong dog.... be it flesh to spirit  or spirit to flesh.... there WILL be a yielding.   And consequently, again, good things are going to come OR bad things are going to come.

I have shared in the past that God, many years ago, took me through what I affectionately call my "opposite season."  Absolutely everything I wanted to do, I was required to do the opposite.  I truly do mean everything.  It was an intense season where God killed my rationalization.

ANYTHING that exalts itself above God's will is an idol.

We rationalize the daylights out of this.

"God doesn't really care if I have ____ to eat."
"God doesn't really care if I go to that movie."
"God doesn't really care if I spend $___ on that."
And on and on it goes.

And the on and on part --- that's where we get into some serious trouble because one "God really doesn't care about ________"  turns into an entire mental stronghold of "God doesn't really care about ______" -- and before we know it.... our flesh dog has completely overtaken our spiritual dog.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you try to impose an "opposite season" upon yourself arbitrarily, BUT if God directs you into one..... a word of wisdom... DO IT!   The freedom on the other side is amazing!

Regardless of the method, we ALL have been called to KILL....

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature....which is idolatry."  Col 3:5

Did you miss that?  Our earthly nature is equated to automatic idolatry.

"For if you live according to the flesh, you WILL die; but if by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:13

Who's doing the killing of the carnal will?  God?  NO!  

You and I don't get off that easy!

WE must do the killing to our earthly nature.... that nature that so easily betrays us...and yields death in and of itself upon us.   

Let me make this clear:  you either kill it.... or it will kill you.

You will never know who you are in Christ feeding both dogs.... even by feeding the flesh dog "mere scraps".

You must resolve to starve the flesh dog UNTO DEATH.

Only then will you be transformed from an angry person to a person who can, if needs be, exercise anger.

Powerful difference!

So, the next time you encounter an angry person.... say a prayer for them. You and I were once them....or perhaps you can still identify with them as them.  They are in a literal mad-identity-crisis of their choosing.

It's the kind of crisis a bystander can not solve, so set boundaries if you must be in relationship with them ...and then stand back..... their wrestling match between the dogs is going to be epic....


Nothing starves unto death voluntarily!


Godspeed!