Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coming Topics

In the next few weeks, I am going to be writing a series of topics entitled "Straight Talk." In my direct fashion, I will be addressing topics such as fornication, slothfulness, "Dangers in the Sea of Grace," and health and well-being, to name a few.

My hope is that those who have ears to hear will turn away from the cliff they are fast approaching and back to home base for a re-grounding.

The culture we live in today, along with the "tickle-the-ears" messages many hear each Sunday, has left a whole lot of people with very shallow roots. To be frank, if a storm came today, I believe a tremendous number of Christians would be blown down. Many have no clue why they believe what they say they believe. Many of those so-called beliefs are subjective, meaning they are not grounded in anything, but perhaps popular opinion. That is a BIG problem, dear ones.

Many Christians --- including LEADERS in the churches -- have defaulted to "fill-in-blank" Bible studies for their education and root growth. Gone are the days when LOCAL elder women taught the LOCAL younger women and the LOCAL elder men taught the LOCAL young men. Not intending to take aim at any particular person here, but I seriously doubt the widely-sold, popular "fill-in-the-blank" teachers ever intended to become every church on every corner's default teacher. We have become a lazy bunch of people... worse off than the proverbial couch potatoes, cramming "blanks" into our spirits and calling ourselves nourished.

Shame on us.

So, I am about to let loose.

I have observed, prayed, and studied for months, and now it's time.

If you're open, you'll learn a few things. At the very least, perhaps the writings will give you courage to stand against the popular current and dig a little deeper than you are right now.

If you're closed, you are going to get offended.
In short, I don't want to hear about it.

My goal is to reach the GOOD soil, equipping them to go deeper, and I'll leave the other soil types to God. He's the ONLY element who is able to change the soil type of people anyway.

Admittedly, I have been frustrated in the past as to why so few people who hear truth actually absorb it and change, but the Word's teaching on soil types have and will continue to hold me at a release point where others are concerned.

If people insist on going around the mountain "one more time," it's a pretty clear indicator what soil type they are.

If people just sit on the curb, so to speak, and do nothing, it's a pretty clear indicator what soil type they are.

If people cross their Jordan and take their land, it's a pretty clear indicator what soil type they are.

As I recently told a dear friend, it is always good to remember we do NOT toil for the results, but for the sowing. (READ THAT AGAIN.)

You and I can't change people, so if you're trying, for the love of that person, STOP.

Newsflash: God does not require YOUR blueprint for them! He is the Master Planner.

What we CAN do is encourage people in the truth of the WORD and pray those seeds take root in their lives.

I am way past a bit weary of certain people-types who run around, offering their two cents, a quarter, and even a whole dollar's worth about what so-and-so's problem is. It's one thing to ask for counsel; it's another thing to be "vomited on." Can I hear an "Amen?" (Thank you, I heard that!) You know the people I'm talking about. And why is it they routinely seem to be the very ones who make multiple trips around their own mountains?

Please hear me --- ALL we have to offer people is Jesus and the Word. Period.

We all start out as a great big ball of knots, and to presume any one of us knows the solution to untangle another's series of knots is utter stupidity. Let me ask you something? How good are you at untangling your OWN series of knots? Exactly.

Now - that is not to say we don't have something to offer people. You do. It's called Jesus and the Word. Simple. Right? It would be if the demi-god platforms were knocked down, and we stopped "helping" God help people. I'm telling you if we just returned to the basics of our faith, we might just stand a chance of becoming effective in the world again...

So, keep all this in mind if you dare to read what I'm going to share in the coming weeks. I'll be pointing us, as a Body, directly back to the Word. It's going to sting because to be blunt, there are MANY offenders in the Body of Christ, but if we truly want to be a bride without spot or blemish --- we've got to be wiling to face Truth and let it do its work in us.

I have said this before, but it bears repeating especially on the dawn of this series, I LOVE THE BODY OF CHRIST. If I didn't care so stinkin' much, I would live in my nice little bubble with my sweet family and not give it a second glance or a second thought. But the condition of the Body weighs heavy on me......... silence is not an option.

I truly pray you will step up with courage, and even now begin praying that God will give you open ears to hear what is to come over the next few weeks.

Loving you so very much, your sister in Christ,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy Weekend, All!

What a week it has been....

For starters, our kitchen remodel began! As a friend said this week, "It is really going to 'pop,' Deborah!" And indeed, it is!

Secondly, Valentine's Day was a celebration from beginning to end. We began our day taking the children out for breakfast. What a yummy treat! Here in the south, we love our Cracker Barrel! And oh, the laughs and conversation that floated around that table...

In the afternoon, we celebrated Brian's birthday! Fun times for sure celebrating the MAN at the helm of our family's ship. As his wife, he has my love, respect, and admiration, and while the former flows easily enough to others, the latter two do not. The fact that he has all three speaks volumes!

In the evening, that man of mine took me out for a wonderful candlelit Mediterranean dinner.

The rest of the week was packed with ministry items, Andrew's (elder son) classes outside the home (the other children had the week off - fortunate for them and me!), and the kitchen remodel.

Come Friday evening, Brian took the family out, which included catching a show. It was well appreciated down time for us all!

And so, "Heeeellllllooooo, weekend!" Brian and Andrew are out cycling. The coffee has been put on for a mid-morning treat. The rest of the family has rolled out of the bed. And now, there is absolutely no limit to the trouble we can and will get into! More on that later!

As I close this entry, I want to strongly offer encouragement to all my readers. EVERY moment of life has two sides, just like a coin. It is up to US which side of that coin we CHOOSE to focus on. Choose to be thankful. Choose to the see and acknowledge the "blessing side" of your life coin. The trial side, though always there, does not need to be given place such that it steals your joy, nor plants envy into your heart for what you perceive to lack. I have found that as one CHOOSES a thankful heart, the capacity to see blessings exponentially increases. There is an old children's song I was raised with that came to my remembrance just now. I used to sing it to the children from time to time, especially through the dark days of our past.

I leave you with the lyrics.

"Count Your Blessings"

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Have a BLESSED weekend, all! And remember: choose to focus on the "blessing side" of your life coin!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Grateful Reflection

It's Friday evening. All is quiet now.

This evening I settled into my chair for a blissful time of reflection.

Life is just amazing. Daily I marvel at the life's blessings.... and life's trials. (You do know a coin is not a coin without BOTH sides, don't you?)

Life is meant to be absorbed, to be breathed, to be tasted.

These days I feel all my senses are in sync with a heightened knowledge I'll never relive any singular moment. It doesn't feel weighty, so much as it feels like a precious, precious gift.

As a family, we have come into such a rich season. I stand back and marvel at who our children have become. It's a gift to be able to say, "I like them... I REALLY like them." These are the harvest years.... and I'm loving every moment!

In my marriage, I have no words. I just know I seem to stay in a constant state of marvel these days at the man God has formed before me. He is a man after God's heart.... and daily he is apprehending that heart. I don't deserve him, I didn't earn him, but man - am I ever thankful for him!

In ministry, I am ever humbled at all the opportunities God grants to me to sow into people's lives truth; uncompromising, life-changing truth. My days demand that I follow His Spirit every step of the way to ensure balance between ministry and family, but He is doing it... He is doing it! And the testimonies I receive fire me on with increased passion. The fruit is both priceless and precious.

Life. Memories. The fabric of our days.

Recently, Beth Moore moved out of her house that she had resided in for decades. Hers is a life lived a bit further down the track from mine, but I can almost picture being "there"..... some point in the future of equal reflection. A holding of the breath. A clear state of awe over the flood of memories of a life lived. But even beyond our singular life comes the flood gate of memories linked to those who God has woven into the tapestry of our life. Some of the "colors" run throughout the tapestry. Other "colors" are dropped into the work here and there for divine purpose. I agree with Beth. The orchestration over each of our lives is positively mind-blowing.

Sometimes I feel like I have lived enough.

Do you ever feel that way?

Like your mind can hardly handle any more memory space? I mean -- I have lived over four decades, given birth four times, been married to the love of my life for nearly twenty years, I am the mom to two teens and a pre-teen.... and that's just the latter two decades. (I know those of you who are older are laughing and probably saying the same thing I tell the younger generation, "Just you wait! There is plenty more to come!")

But really -- how in the world will I feel at the end of another four decades?

Do you ever stop to dream with God about what will be?
I do.

I envision future family holidays, trips, and the day to day living with four of the greatest treasures I'll ever know.

I envision my children's lives unfolding.

I envision laughing, loving, and living life to the fullest with the love of my life.

I envision the wealth of ministry yet to be discovered, the unfolding of God's words over us.

I envision all the faces I have yet to meet.

I envision all the friendships yet to be birthed.

I envision gain.

I envision loss.

I envision.

Life is a precious gift. So often these days it literally catches in my throat.

I never wish to stop time... nor to relive it.... yet I am grateful for it. Time.

But time is just time without God and loved ones. They are the elements of "color" in life's tapestry. Without them, life would be droll and monotone.

Yes, Lord, I am thankful You remind me You have numbered my days and they are precious in Your sight. Even now as I sit in the quiet of the evening and dream with You, I reflect back to years gone by with a "heart smile." Thank You, Lord, for Your unending love and faithfulness, but even beyond these.... thank You that You take the broken and You form masterpieces in the lives of Your children.

I stand in awe of You.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,
With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
With resounding music upon the lyre.
For You, O LORD, have made me glad
by what You have done,

I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
Psm 92: 1-4

Friday, February 3, 2012

What Kind of Lawn Do You Have?

"The Lord will give [unyielding and impenetrable] strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace." Psm 29:11

Do you exercise His PEACE and His unyielding and impenetrable STRENGTH throughout your day? Or do you give in to worry and weakness?

I challenge those who count themselves among His to CURB the complaining and the fretting by guarding your heart as you actively FILTER your thoughts, which means YOU actively select the "seed-thoughts" you plant into your being. Then allow Him to rain on those selective seeds by CHOOSING to praise Him with your mouth.

Have you ever noticed that weeds do not grow easily, if at all, in a healthy lawn? A healthy lawn is thick with good blades of grass that came from good grass seed. A lush lawn usually has trimmed shrubs, is mulched, and has nice growing trees. It all around says, "I am well-tended!"

Secondly, have you ever noticed you don't have to plant weed seeds? Weeds seeds just blow in, and if they find bare spots, they root quickly without invitation. Weedy-thoughts are like that too. They don't require active planting. All they have to do is blow in, find bare spots, and root uninvited.

The careless or complacent gardener has an unkempt lawn with overgrown shrubby and mangled trees. It is full of bare spots and weeds. Here in the south, usually the bare spots in a physical lawn are the result of parasites, such as brown patch. Brown patch spreads with rapid pace if not treated. In the spiritual scope, bare spots are caused by the parasites of complaint and worry, and they too spread rapidly if not treated.

It is amazing what our CHOICES unleash in our lives. If you unleash worry, fretting, or complaints, you unleash the multiplication of those very elements, which shrinks your capacity to hold God and His overcoming power. If you unleash praise, thanksgiving, and Godly-focus of thought, you multiply those elements in your life, which then increases your capacity to hold more of Him and His overcoming power. The more you choose Him over life's worries, the greater His overcoming power will pulsate through your days!

A wise child will inspect their spiritual lawn regularly. They will quickly identify areas of parasites and treat them with a good "wash" of the Word and praise. A vigilant gardener produces a lush lawn. A careless or complacent gardener produces a weed infested lawn.

Isaiah 30 lays out a prerequisite to the ability of sowing well. It reads:

"Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right or to the left. And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!” Then He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous; on that day your livestock will graze in a roomy pasture."

Did you catch the prerequisite? The prerequisite is to cast out all impure things.

What are impure things? Anything that exalts itself equal to or above Him. It could be YOUR plans. It could be YOUR desires. It could be your thirst for the "easy-life." It could be your envy of what someone else has. It could be lust and sexual habits that you have given place to. It could be pride in your own ability to make something of your life apart from God. It could be many many things. I ask you most sincerely to ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light on the impure things in your own life and then courage-up, casting them far from your life with a declaration of "BE GONE!" Only then can He enter in and rain on your field, producing substance of beauty and provision.

The kind of life you live is YOUR choosing. Recognize God has empowered you to SOW wisely. Whether you do so or not is a choice He has granted to you. He has laid out the results of both the vigilant sower and the careless sower.

Which one are YOU?

Your "lawn" and the product from it will testify for all to see. Does it testify that you are His, wisely stewarding over the life He has gifted to you? Or does it tell a different story?

Make no mistake: it does tell a story!