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 )
  
♡♡♡♡♡♡♡



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!














Thursday, November 9, 2017

Butt vs Dovetail Joint...Which are you?

My eyes opened this morning, and almost instantly I had three pictures that came to my mind. My Teacher was in the room!

Here are two pictures resembling what He showed me:






The third....you'll have to use your imagination. The picture was a combination of the two different cuts coming together.  Take a moment to visualize what that would look like.  Do you see the holes that are present?  Imagine the disjointedness and the weakness such a coming together would bring!

I know very little about wood-working, but I do know the strength of two pieces of wood coming together is found in the JOINT.  

These pictures I saw in my mind set the student-in-me to blaze.  The more I read up on wood-working, the more the Spirit illumined His point, so here I am ..... both prolific writer and student of life....sharing a bit about this morning's personal lesson.  I have a strong sense you will have a significant take-away in the reading of it.

I found this quote on a wood-working site quite telling: (Hint: Read it with your SPIRITUAL glasses on.)

"Wood joinery is one of the most basic concepts in woodworking. If we didn't have the ability to join two pieces of wood together in a solid fashion, all woodworking pieces would be sculptures carved out of a single piece of wood.  However, with the many varied types of wood joinery, a woodworker has a number of different joints in his arsenal from which to choose, based upon the project."

Taking it further:  

The top picture above is called a butt joint because it simply butts up to another piece of wood; its shape unchanged.  "There is no more basic wood joinery than the butt joint."  Considered to be the weakest joint.

The bottom picture above is called the through dovetail joint. "Of all wood joinery methods, the through dovetail may be the most revered. A classic through dovetail is beautiful and very strong and adds a touch of class to any piece."   Considered to be the strongest joint.

Is your spiritual light bulb warming up?

Take a moment.... honestly assess what kind of joint are you currently?  

A "thorough dovetail joint"..... that has a nice ring to it, does it not?.....capable of being fashioned together with both beauty and strength.  

I mean, really, who wants to be a butt joint?  I get why they called it that, but I certainly don't want to BE that!  

Then I went to the Bible...

Many verses on wood.  Some of the first mentions of wood are in dealing with the Ark of the Covenant and the ark of the flood....BOTH commanded with exact specifications by God. Clearly, long before He set His feet upon the earth as a carpenter.... He has always been a skilled woodcrafter. 

So, I ask you.... are you a butt joint or a dovetail joint?  

Are you cut-able...shape-able.....fit-able in the Master Woodcrafter's hands?   Do you allow Him to cut exact details into you in such a way as to bring strength and beauty to those He fits you with?  

OR are you resistant to change...unyielding to His chisel....conditional....determined to stay a simple, "safe" piece of wood that merely butts up against others, never fitting, never adding strength or beauty? 

I wholly believe it is the Master Woodcrafter's desire to make His children into beautiful "through dovetail joints"!   Ephesians says, "He makes the whole body FIT together PERFECTLY."   When I read those words, taking into account today's topic of wood joints, I don't picture butt joints, but rather beautiful, strong through dovetail joints! 

As I shared a new weeks ago.... I know Psm 119 well, having read it countless times so far in my life.  Here are a few treasured verses out of that lengthy Psalm near and dear to my heart:

"The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.  Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn Your commands. May those who fear You rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in Your Word."

Don't know about you, but I have spent the better part of my life on God's crafting table...many times wondering, "Are we about done?"   (Believe me when I say, I CLEARLY see Him smile when I say this because He knows I'll willingly let Him keep on keeping-on until He's done!  I desperately want to be among His masterpieces.... and I truly pray you do too!) 

If you honestly assessed today that you are a butt joint, will you bolster the courage to ask Him to TRANSFORM you into a strong and beautiful dovetail?  Yes, it's going to hurt.... Yes, it's going to take humility.....Yes, it's going to take time.....  but oh, can you imagine, in the least, what beauty and what strength there will be when He's done!?   

I sincerely challenge you; dare to put yourself in the Master Woodcrafter's hands with only these words, "May it be done unto me according to Your Word [Your will, Your plan]!"






Sunday, November 5, 2017

Oneness, Wives, & Husbands...Oh, My.

Allow me to set a few essential grounding points to this post before you dig in and begin chewing on it:

1) I am so very mindful that God is right here with me, in me, directing me, according to my obedience.

2) If I had a heart to dishonor men, this would have been written years ago when I was young in the faith and had malice in my heart. On the contrary, I deeply desire my brothers-in-Christ to RISE up and succeed in their place in the Kingdom.

3) I have become a deep lover of truth, and by default, an instrument of light to dark places.

4) I deeply desire to see lasting change come to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, marriages changed, and families transformed.

5) May God be glorified above all else through this writing, and may evil be pushed back and uprooted.

I sit before this keyboard with mindfulness; an awareness of this oh-so weighty topic I am about to bite off.

This writing is lengthy to be sure, but the topic is not to be lightly addressed.  As you read, may the Spirit nudge you to read to the very end, weighing carefully these words in light of your own actions.  I have no doubt that those who desire holiness in the secrets places will do so.  Those who don't; won't.

To be candid, the appointed time of now has caught me a tad off-guard, having lived privately on the matter for nearly a quarter of a century.

Since stepping out at God's calling from behind my hiding bush many years ago, it has been my heart's desire - and truly, Joy In The Morning's purpose -  to share my life's journey in the hopes that it helps those who come upon it and read it.

This is especially true today.

Brave ones.... hurting ones.... curious ones;
shall we dive on in?

This week my twenty-fourth wedding anniversary rolls around.

In truth, if I could skip this week, I would.  Historically, this time on the calendar demands a lot of energy from me..... to keep my flesh down and my emotions submitted to my spirit as I call my spirit up to blindly navigate the onslaught of painful memories and would-be-raw emotions.  (Before continuing, let me say I am not innocent with regard to the past; I am one of two contributors to both the memories and the emotions.)

I use the phrase "blindly navigate" with great intention.  Nearly twenty years ago, God gave me a vision. It is not a vision that He has to remind me of, for it is seared upon my soul as a compass.  I was standing on a rather large rock on a rough rocky seashore, the waves crashing in. God was standing there with me. Holding out a blindfold, He asked gently, "Will you let Me put this on you?"  With a degree of understandable trepidation, I asked, "But how will I see to step?"  With gentleness, He extended His hand and said, "If you will put your hand in Mine, I will tell you exactly where and when to step. I will be your guide."   Glory.... what a Saviour we have!  Forgive us, Lord, for doubting Your character... for our struggles to believe!  Your love is without measure; it is indeed unsurpassed!

I would not be where I am today had I not chosen to obey that day, setting me upon a path to discover first hand His unsurpassed dependability and love.

This week, my boss (for those of you who are new to Joy In The Morning, I also work as Director of Human Resources and Training with Chick-fil-A) said to me, "You have such a deep faith. It is the thing that drives and directs your life above all else."   I am thankful that is what is most apparent to those who witness my walk hour by hour throughout my work week. To God be the Glory... for He is the Potter, and I am a lump of clay. Can I get an "Amen"?!

That trust... that deep faith... has been forged over time.... split time, I like to say... between the fire and the threshing floor....through storms and experiences so excruciating at times I could hardly breathe; so tear stained, that even at the writing of  this, my flesh squirms and churns at the very remembrances.

But God... oh, how my heart soars at the sound of those two words!

But God is unrelenting, immovable, uncompromising... SO THAT He may perfect you and I according to His will.

Again, my spirit cries out, "Glory to Him alone!"

I have read a book that was given to me at the onset of my marriage by a co-worker at the time many, many times.  I have marked it up and highlighted it through the various phases of my life to date. It speaks to me in ways no other book does, save the Word of God. In many ways, it is my life. Its name is "Hinds' feet on High Places."

The main character, Much-Afraid, like me, was crippled at birth. Early in the novel, the Shepherd comes to her and asks her to go on a journey with two companions, Sorrow and Suffering.

(I want to pause a minute and highlight that word ASK.  That has been my experience. God approaches me with such gentleness and asks if I be willing to go. I cannot imagine denying my Lord anything. I truly cannot, but to have the God of the Universe ... the very One who could stop my heart at any moment.... gently ask  me to participate with Him as He shapes this lump of clay is both humbling and dumbfounding to my finite mind. Understand, that there are TWO responses...yes and no.....and regardless of our selection, He honors it. Oh, how I marvel!)

Through her journey, she is transformed and renamed Grace-and-Glory, and her companions are renamed Joy and Peace.  If you have never read it, pick it up!  You will be blessed in the reading of it!

Here in recent weeks, I was lead to re-read it. The last time I read it was many years ago, and my journey as Much-Afraid was still very much in progress.  As I re-read it this time, however, I heard God say, "Grace-and-Glory, Deborah; and your Sorrow and Suffering is now Joy and Peace."  Mercy.

For me - where I am now in my life - I have come to the end of the book; the part that I can relate to the most.  I am not content to be a mountain dweller - though the view is indeed spectacular (!) -  when I know SO many suffer in the "Valley of Humiliation"..... and are brain-washed to think they must stay there and suffer alone.

The Bible speaks of "the cloud of witnesses."  I not only choose to be among that cloud.... I have been appointed to be a part of that cloud as a member of The Body of Christ.... and as such.... my silence is not an option.

My marriage has not been a marriage derived from fairy-tales or anything remotely similar.

When I wrote the article "Dying Roses" on Joy In The Morning's website -- I was a dying rose. Still am, in fact. When I wrote a few articles back on this very blog about marriage being a "sanctuary of refinement" -- I wrote that from a deep place of knowing just how profound a truth it is.

Many bury such a knowing, and resist its intent, choosing to distract themselves with the family's day to day demands, but deep down... if they be a Child of the King.... they know holiness is God's primary objective within a marriage.... and to get there.... it's going to come with a high price.... much sorrow.... much suffering.....much climbing.

Again -- for those in this place -- hear my heart for you.... YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Much like Elijah who was reprimanded by God to get out of the cave he was hiding in and get back to the city because he was not alone.... he had 7000 unwilling to bow to Baal  he had not yet discovered.... YOU are NOT alone!  Come out of your cave.... embrace the journey.....embrace the death. You and I serve a God who brings beauty up from the ashes.  In the ashes, I give Him praise!

(As a point of clarity, mountain-top view is my spiritual reality; ashes are a circumstantial reality.)

Through the years, I have written so much on marriage because I am, at the core of my being, both married and a student... a student of God's ways and how those ways plug in and transform human life.

Going back to the concepts of Hinds Feet and Potter/clay... brings my mind to an article I read many years ago about just what all goes into purifying the clay so that it is even moldable.  I don't know about you, but prior to reading that article, I had never given much thought to what all God has to do to you and I long before He ever places us upon the Potter's wheel!  It was humbling to say the least.  I know with great certainty I sure have taken a great deal of God's time just to get this lump of clay ready to be shaped on His wheel! (Thank You, Lord, for Your steadfastness; truly, I thank You!)

So, where am I going with this?  Where's the application?

First, I want you --- particularly my sisters-in-Christ, those who are wives and ex-wives -- to know, if you are in a hurting place, you are not alone.  You have a sister-in-Christ who knows the hurting place well, but you also must cling to the knowledge you have a Father, willing and able to bring correction where correction must come.  As He brings the correction to you and/or to your husband, you are going to have to wrestle your own flesh (hello?!) down to the mat and hold it there until it yields.

Second, I have been brought to a meditative place on this Scripture for weeks now, mostly in my prayer closet:

"In the same way, husbands live with your wives in an understanding way, since they are weaker than you. Show them honor and respect since they, too, are joint heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." I. Peter 3:7

How many husbands can say they understand their wives?

Lofty goal (in some cases, Mt Everest lofty)?    Perhaps.

Worthy goal?  Without a doubt... straight from God's lips to your ears!

BUT....

It WILL take a lot of effort.

It WILL take a lot of time.

It WILL take a lot of heart.

(I pause.  I ponder.  Dare we apply this to ALL of us in the scope of our relationship with God?!  How many of us deeply desire to be known by God and to know Him?  Yet how many forfeit this splendor because we perceive it will require too much in our feeble assessment. Such the forfeit is a fool's folly.)

This scene from "Fireproof" comes to mind:


(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45pzxLz2owY)

Husbands, are you willing to do what it will take to get a high school degree?  How about a college degree?

For husbands out there who may stumble across this, seeking help who legitimately want some help in understanding your wife's makeup, let me say this:  IF your wife belongs to God, at the core of her being she wants you to value her as God does.... and as the Word commands, higher than yourself.  She knows in her heart she is beloved by God.  There is nothing He has withheld from her....from you....even mysteries He withholds not. (Job12:22; Daniel 2:22; Jeremiah 33:3)  God is transparent and bold when it comes to His demonstration of love upon His daughters. THIS I know full-well! He made us gals just so. God's mandate is NOT for you to seek change in your wife or grumble at her short-comings, but rather it is to explore her as His creation for you........ your helpmate..... living with her in an understanding way.  Discover her strengths, encourage her to aim higher than she is aiming today, and when she falls...which she will.... grant grace to her, cover her, love her, and move on. THAT'S what GOD does for you and I.  We are to be on the same team in the same cloud of witnesses, glorifying our God. Anything less is sin, and the wages of sin IS death.

There is a branch of my husband's lineage that is notably foreign to the concept of oneness, and observation would affirm that the gift of edification in Christ is equally as foreign. The inclination is towards autonomy with an evident bent to criticize; minimizing God-given strengths while magnifying short-comings. It's truly heart-wrenching to spectate, and simply impossible to stay quiet as a daughter of the King. (Alas, like Paul, I have had a number of stones thrown at me as a result.)

(How many understand you, as a citizen in God's Kingdom, have an obligation (hello?!) to speak up in love, BUT with firmness, when actions of those claiming to be His do not line up with Kingdom principles?  I'm here to tell you, you have such an obligation if you are counted among His Citizens! Silence is NOT an option.)

Despite the warnings, they continue on; and their own actions determine serious harmful affects. No one and nothing else to blame.

Let's remind one another of the Word's admonition:

"He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life." Ezekiel 33:5

"And when they resisted and blasphemed, he (Paul) shook out his garments and said to them, 'Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I shall go to the Gentiles.' " Acts 18: 6

God is gracious.  There is not a true believer that will deny that, but His grace does have limits because He is uncompromisingly HOLY.  At some point, the road divides, and one either chooses life or they choose death; BUT THEY CHOOSE.  Many times our doom is of our own stubborn undoing.

The command to husbands is to "leave your father and mother and cleave to your wife."  I do not believe that is a mere physical change of location....but a leaving of past thoughts and familial habits.... and with great determination, forge a NEW path with your wife.... physically, mentally, and spiritually....as GOD directs.

I wrote just weeks ago about "Autonomy vs Oneness."   I know the battle to get someone to break their "code of individuality" so that oneness can come can be lengthy.  The two are truly like light and dark though.... the two cannot coincide.

Let me put this as black and white as I can:

Autonomy = death

Oneness = life


I say this firmly:  men, if you have NO desire to put your autonomy to death, do NOT ask a woman for her hand in marriage.  Marriage is not an add-on to your life. The longer you try to parallel your autonomy with God's plan of oneness,  you will without a doubt challenge, scar, and perhaps even break your wife's spirit in the process. At the very least, you will bestow on her a challenging journey of continuous forgiveness that will potentially wear her soul out before God.

How long will we persist in the fool's folly of trying to make God be gray to suit our perverse ways?

It's the age old sin.  Man was designed to be in submission and one with God... submission and one with his wife.... submission and one with the Body of Christ, but man's fallen nature compels him to rebel with headstrong autonomy; an unwillingness to bend to Him and thus to her... so you resist Him and break her.

God have mercy and forgive us of our rebellious ways!  Transform us into Your likeness, for we are utterly doomed if You do not!

I pray for all couples out there. Oh, how I pray! There is a world-wide epidemic as old as the world itself opposed to doing life as God designed it.  With alarm, but not surprise, we know there are a number of  Satan-dominated stances and cultures whose specific purpose is to batter and beat women into such destitute, used stations in life; where fear dominates and a woman's spirit struggles to stay alive. In addition, there are a number of Satan-dominated stance and cultures whose specific purpose is to hold men in a state of perpetual slumber and stagnation.  Both are truly EVIL.

I go back to the Word.
It is timeless and universal.
It has stood BOLD and  TRUE from the beginning of time.
It stands BOLD and TRUE today.

No matter where you live....
no matter your cultural's status quo....
no matter your personal upbringing.....
GOD says ... and so it must be, "Husbands live with your wives in an understanding way......"

I pray I live long enough to see this mandate become the status quo.

I truly do.


(PS: James MacDonald has a lot of good teachings on marriage. You can pull them up on YouTube or the like. My intent here was to share my heart's burden for marriages as it is on this leg of my life's journey. Take from it what you will! Godspeed...truly! ♡ )








Saturday, October 28, 2017

Heavy Heart

I wrote on Facebook recently the following:

"James MacDonald referenced Tozer's failure to love his wife and children in a video I listened to recently. My curiosity awakened, I researched and found the quote he read:

"When she remarried after his (Tozer's) death, she said, 'I have never been happier in my life...Aiden (Tozer) loved Jesus Christ, but Leonard Odam loves me."

What an incredibly raw, honest statement she made.
The quote continued:

"During the 1930s, Tozer read voraciously, and he also developed a magnificent obsession to be in Christ's presence - just to worship Him and to be with Him. Yet he was a man who was emotionally and spiritually distant from his own wife. By early 1928, the Tozers had a routine. Aiden found his fulfillment in reading, preparing sermons, preaching, and weaving travel into his demanding and exiting schedule, while Ada learned to cope. She dutifully washed, ironed, cooked, and cared for the little ones, and developed the art of shoving her pain deep down inside. Most of the time she pretended there was no hurt, but when it erupted, she usually blamed herself for not being godly enough to conquer her longing for intimacy from an emotionally aloof husband."

I'm letting these statements rest on me today. I understand her more than I would choose.  To marry is to commit to love that one, and only that one, as God loves.... fully, transparently, faithfully. And when that is not done, sorrow descends upon the soul.  It is at that point, trust in God to 'exalt in due time' rises to a fever pitch. A woman's heart, given to a man by God Himself, is entrusted by God to man to solely and wholly love and protect as if God Himself were loving and protecting it.  YES, it is that weighty, not to be carelessly nor selfishly entered into."

Last night, a five minute video by Matt Chandler popped up, and this morning, another five minute video popped up. They are certainly worth SOWING the ten minutes into your life, no matter if you are married or single.... male or female.... take the ten minutes!  Let the Holy Spirit then direct you past those ten minutes on to a road specified for you by Him.  Ten minutes is the beginning point.... or should be!

(Scroll over the links to go to the videos.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW5B0OTrWMU 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejjweiF0gTk

My heart is so burdened for particularly wives in this culture.  Weekly, I hear from them.  Their hearts are suffocating.  They so want to walk a walk worthy of God's pleasure and their husband's, but too often their husbands are walking a checked-out, selfish existence.  To singularly pull a plow intend for two is a feat she was never meant to do! 

I had one husband who commented on my Facebook post, "I love Tozer's stuff, but I never knew this about him. As much as I love the Scriptures and teaching them, it must never take the place of the love that I have for my wife and kids. Thanks for sharing."

I commented back, "There are many things that clamor about in this world, seeking to displace a man's affections for his wife and his children. Some are foolishly declared more noble than others, but all of them are wrong. Personal dedication to God should affirm God's ways, not fly in the face of them. I appreciate your heart towards (your wife)! Love her well, as you have, all the days of your life! In that, you honor her.... you honor God!"

The shocking thing to me is that to do as Christ desires is NOT complex.  In my mind, Christ says it, I do it. Period.  What muddies the water is SELF. There are those who say they want to be obedient; they just don't want it to cost them anything. HOW DARE THEY!  YOU cost Christ EVERYTHING!  Let that sink in and resonate a good LONG while!  When feet become set in self, hearts are broken, families are torn apart, destinies are destroyed.

Indeed.... my heart is heavy.



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Careful: Marginalize NOT The Word

Thirty-three years ago this coming Christmas my parents gifted the most cherished tangible Gift ever given to me.

The Gift: A beautiful leather bound adult study Bible.

Little did I know at the time how that Gift would continuously challenge and change my life.

Few days have passed without a dedicated visit with the Gift.

It's beautifully worn now with many markings, bearing the evidence of Its place in my life and in my heart.

(Permit me to follow a particular trail for the sake of the tech-loving-believers out there.  I challenge you to open a Bible... not a Bible app. For you cannot make notes from your studies on an app.  You cannot leave an app to future generations.  You cannot bury your face in an app at a moment of rapturous joy or humble contrition.You cannot place an app upon your head or hug it to your chest as you can an open Bible when the Holy Spirit moves over your time in the Word, and you know afresh the truth that you are washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.  Nothing takes the place of opening a Bible upon one's lap in the early morning hours as He joins you upon Its pages.  Nothing.  So again, I challenge you.... make the investment.... purchase a Bible....open it.... as weird as it perhaps may sound... stick your nose in it.... inhale as you would at the smell of fine cooking.... and then dive into the Meal that It is!)

Since Its bestowment, I have read through It many times.
It is life giving, life sustaining to me.

I think upon Proverbs 3....  "...do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace..." ... Psalm 33...."...For the Word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does..."  ... Psalm 119...."...The unfolding of Your Words gives light...."

Many years ago I copied Psalm 119, thus being able to take the passage with me wherever I went....and as such, I began making it a regular practice to read it many, many times since, often times reading it out-loud.... letting the Words fall fresh upon my ears.



YEARS now past, there is no denying the untold treasures The Gift's passages have planted in my being.

It's grievous to me that SO many.....believers and non-believers alike.... in our culture today marginalize The Gift. Countless thousands, who possess the ability to purchase, don't possess The Gift.  They neither see the need  nor do they have a desire. For those that do have The Gift right at their fingertips, again... thousands simply do not take the time to open it and read it regularly... much less study it.

I cannot imagine my life a part from It.  I wholly cannot.

Recently, with GREAT JOY, I bestowed to my three children The Gift, bearing their names upon each cover, just as mine was presented to me all those years ago.  Its sacredness was tangible in the now as it was then.  It is truly and wholly timeless; living, penetrating, transforming to those who heed It.

God says His beloveds' names are recorded in the Book of Life.  With my children having made their own profession of faith in Christ Jesus some time ago, but now having stepped across the threshold into adulthood, I sensed a rather large smile upon Christ's heart at the symbolize of having their names inscribed upon The Gift.  The Gift declares that His mark is upon His beloveds (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).... and I confess I receive a spiritual-hug, if you will, every time I pick up my Gift and see my name upon Him, so to speak.

"My Beloved is mine, and I am His." Song of Solomon 2:!6

I have no doubt that in thirty-three years they will gaze upon their well-worn Gift with a smile, reflecting on just how It challenged and changed them throughout their years.

I can think of no other tangible gift I would rather give them. Its sacredness - beyond comprehension.



I pray, oh how I pray, each of you reading this simple blog post will look upon The Gift in a new light!

Charles Spurgeon wrote, "A Bible that's falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn't."

Children of mine, may your Bibles be found falling apart!

With all my love,
Mom






Friday, October 13, 2017

Autonomy OR Oneness; Pick Your Aim Carefully

Recently, God has been speaking to me a lot about these two words and their active opposition towards one another.

As I have been meditating, I have come to see and understand the stark difference between these two and that our "action-understanding" brings either a root failure OR a root success upon one's life; depending on our daily choices.  I'm not talking small failure or small success... I'm talking paramount.

Like so many "grounds" -- there is no middle ground.

By our actions, we either bow our knee in submission to oneness or we raise ourselves with stiff necks in defense of our autonomy. 

This theme can be applied to our walk with God, our interaction with The Body of Christ, our families, our marriages.  It invades and penetrates EVERY fabric of our being and every fabric intertwined with our being. 

I do believe if we were in a room together we would, as believers, agree that we are "one with Christ".... but do our actions affirm this statement of belief?  Are our values His values?  Are our actions His actions? 

When the rubber meets the road, I believe, in order to truly grow, we have to stop deluding ourselves that our talk is equating to our action.

If married, how is that going?  The Word says you and your spouse are one.  Are you?  Do you steward your body the same way as your spouse?  Do you have separate financial accounts? Do you rise and go to bed together?  Are you like-minded in life goals; making sure those goals are, above all else, Christ-willed?  If not, PRAY, dear ones, for your spouse... and be responsible to make sure your walk's aim is oneness in Christ first and foremost!

Oneness.  It's far more to God than a token of thought.

I know from personal experience just how intense that battle for oneness can be; both personally and maritally speaking. Truth be told, it potentially is a life-long battle with uncertain outcome, depending upon the strength of the self-will. I highlighted this in my last two posts concerning Jacob.  The realization of this should sit on you like the proverbial two-ton brick.  In love, I implore you, let such truth sober you.

Such battles often.... dare I say inclusively always.... include judgment by others.  

One of the largest twists of the Word popular in today's culture is the mantra, "Judge not, lest you be judge." We hear it routinely in our politically correct (TOXIC) climate.

I wrote a lengthy article on www.joyinthemorning.com  under the article's tab called "To Fully and Rightly Function as a Believer." 

If you want to take the time - which I encourage - read it.  It is about halfway down through the articles. Scroll till you find it.  It's worth the hunt, I do believe.

The battle between autonomy and oneness in the believer's life will always include the buffet of God as well as other fellow believers.  Don't run from it.  Don't resist it.  If you want to grow, embrace it.

One morning as I was meditating, the thought hit me, "If we are so touchy about the judgement of others, how ever will we be able to handle the day of account before God Himself?!"  

I'm serious. Let that thought sit on you awhile and soak in beyond the surface.   

The documentation of rightly judging of actions and words by God and others is found throughout the Word.

Understand the action of resisting judgment is an affirmation of your insistent autonomy.  (Re-read that.)

Again, let it soak well below the surface.

Are you squirming?  May I gently suggest that you humbly lay before God and ask Him why this topic is setting you off.

Self-will MUST die if oneness is to be achieved.

If we cannot yet say as Christ said, "I have come NOT to do My will, but to do the will of Him who sent me."....then the battle for oneness is still very much alive.  Acknowledge it, confess it... then take the action steps God shows you today that line up with:

If anyone want to come with Me,
(again, oneness being the theme),
 he must deny himself,
 pick up his cross EVERY DAY,
 and follow Me CONTINUOUSLY.
Luke 9:23 

I'll close this out with two edifying points:

1) Take ten minutes or so and SLOWLY read out-loud Ephesians 5.  Allow the words to fall on you as if it were the first time you were reading the passage.  Engage ALL of your brain cells. In other words, resist reading it as the "familiar passage" it tends to be to the believer.  It is charged with the powerful theme of oneness.

2) I wrote on Facebook this week something I felt the Spirit stir up and speak to me: 

Autonomy and oneness have never and will never coexist.
To have one is to sacrifice the other.
Which one is placed upon the altar and burned up
depends NOT upon the presence of Christ's Lordship,
but upon our obedience to His Lordship.

Are you humbly on your knees, crying out to God to make oneness real in your life?
Or are you on your feet, defiantly stiff-necked in defense of your autonomy?

Pick your aim carefully.
Which will it be?
Autonomy or oneness?   

Please know with all weightiness, your eternal destination hangs in the balance:

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter." Matthew 7:21

That should wake us ALL up!
I know it certainly has me wide awake.

What's God's will for you today?

Take the time.
SEEK it out
before Him
 as if your very life
 depends upon finding it
.... because it does.

♡Godspeed♡





Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Follow-Up: "But Now I See"

So, how many actually heeded my recommendation to watch the series "How to Renew Your Mind"  by James MacDonald?  If you did, you know just how hard session 10 and 11 hit.

To think, that even with God's persistence all the way to the very end of life, we can still elect to sin, hide the sin, say one thing - do another, harbor the pain from sin and regret.... and die...NEVER grasping God's redemption, liberty, and pleasure.

Jacob, in front of Pharaoh at the end of his days, described his life as too short (ie: full of regret with little time to redeem it) and evil.  Evil.  Not difficult.  Not unfair.  BUT EVIL.  Let that word rest on you for a moment.

He lived his entire life deceiving himself and those around him; lying to those around him - ultimately out of fear and passivity, as James pointed out.

One of the most alarming eye-openers to me was that he had lived in that rut for so long that not even the rape of his daughter was enough to knock him out of his passive avoidance state.  How incredibly sad.... and WRONG... is that?!

I'm fairly confident that we all know a "Jacob".  Someone who claims to know God.... may even talk regularly with God as Jacob did.... but who equally regularly lies, deceives, and cheats just as Jacob did to both themselves and those around them.

This series lead me to listen to James MacDonald's series "But Now I See."   Interestingly enough, in either the first or the second video, he mentions his series "How to Renew Your Mind," questioning which series should have actually come first, but regardless the two most certainly go hand in hand.

If I could, I would make each of you sit and watch BOTH series.  I truly would.  Not because I want you to feel beat up, but because I realize that in order to move forward... to grow... we have to be brave and face the music, as the expression goes.  We, as believers, have got to get better about discerning the difference between condemnation (of the devil) and conviction (of God).  Both "feel" similar -- so we tend to avoid both!  NOT smart!

It is in love I tell you; I don't wish for any of you to remain Jacobs, but if you tend to tell yourself, "That's not me or that's not for me" - I fear you delude yourself, and you run the likelihood of being as Jacob at the end of your life... full of regret and seeing just how evil you made it..... by your choices and your willfulness.  

I have learned so much in these two series, and I have found James MacDonald's forthrightness to be altogether refreshing.  Few pastors these days CALL PEOPLE UP AND OUT of their sin-filled life with the VOICE OF CORRECTION anymore. (I am of the strong opinion that we need a lot of James MacDonalds as pastors!)

In his second video, James quotes a secular psychiatrist from the 70s:
"In all of the laments and reproaches made today, one misses any mention of sin. It was a word once on everyone's mind, but now if ever heard.  Does that mean that no sin is involved in all our troubles? Is no one any longer guilty of anything? Guilty perhaps of a sin that could be repented of...?  Is it only that someone may be stupid or sick or criminal or asleep? Look! Wrong things are being done. We know. But is no one to blame for these things? Is no one answerable for these acts? Is no one responsible? Anxiety and depression and guilt, we all acknowledge. But has no one committed any sins?  Where indeed did sin go? What became of it?"  (Dr. Karl Menninger)

In a day and age, when it is status quo to deflect responsibility onto everything and everyone else and call our behavior anything but sin, here I am petitioning you .... yet again..... take the time to listen to the "But Now I See" series.  There are six videos, and each of them I have found to be wholly sobering.

I take my walk with God very serious, but honestly, my sobriety in Christ has been ratcheted higher through the listening.  I hope you will take the time.  I keep saying this.... and I'll keep saying this.... this life is fleeting.... and we will all stand before God and give an account.  If you make excuses now....if you have become a "pro" at rationalizing, I shutter to think what you'll say in front of God on that day quickly coming. As James says, "It's not a good plan; not a good plan AT ALL!"

Listen, let bravery rise, and take responsibility for where you and your life currently are.

It's the ONLY path that will yield good and get you where you so long to get.....

Godspeed.... truly.

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH0xA06L0-Y&t=17s )




Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Time of Account; Ready or Not

Good morning....I'm going to dive right in, and for those of you who take heed, I know you'll be both blessed and challenged.

I've been on vacation these past few days, and what I chose to do on my vacation was to make my way through a wonderful teaching series by James MacDonald.  I'll link the video series at the bottom of this post. (For those of you who receive this blog through email, you'll have to go to the actual blog to see the link.  Why it renders blank through email, I do not know.)

The series addresses the core of who we are by zeroing in on our thought life, our thought patterns, why we think the way we think, and how to eradicate debilitating, destructive patterns out of our life.

I found listening to ten hours of sermons delightful.  I know.  I am odd.  But in part, James is easy to listen to, and I like his dry humor ..... even as God excises "stinkin thinkin" out of my own mind.

That is the point of listening, you know.... to EXCISE elements OUT of your life.  It isn't so that reason will give allowance for them to stay a bit longer.

My great-grandfather and my grandfather, who lived beside one another and whose lands bumped up to one another, were farmers....not for profession... but for provision.  As a result, they tended the fields EVERY morning and EVERY evening.  In between, they worked their jobs.

As a result, they always had this tremendous abundance of various foods. (The peaches were always my favorite!)

I recently had a conversation with a dear soul.  During spring, they had planted a few plants, built a fence to keep rabbits and the like away, and left them to grow.  Over the course of the summer, the weeds simply overtook the plants.  When we were talking, they said, "Well, I weeded them about three times, but the weeds...."   Yes, the weeds.

Needless to say, nothing came from those plants.

The elements in our lives are like those plants.  Sporadic weeding is simply not sufficient IF we actually desire fruit.  Be it relationships or elements of personal disciple, to produce fruit DEMANDS DAILY weeding; DAILY DISCIPLINE.

If my grandparents had taken the course of least resistance and taken to the field only sporadically or when they FELT  like it, you and I both know little to nothing would have come out of those fields.

Feelings.  Oh, talk about a cans of worms. If I could count all the conversations with beloved people who are chained to their feelings, I know the number would be profoundly vast.

Educating my children, I taught them two paramount cornerstones-of-the-mind, if you will:

1) LEAD your emotions.... do NOT be lead by them.
2) Learn to say NO to yourself.

Oh that everyone had someone who would drive just these two points home, deep into the mind, soul, and spirit!

I want to encourage you to do two things in the coming days:

1) START and COMPLETE the video series by James MacDonald.  You binge watch Netflix or the like!  So, I KNOW you can take the time to SOW into YOUR life this truly  life-altering series.

2) START really monitoring what you do, when you do, and how you do LIFE.

Take your life OFF auto-pilot.  Begin with small steps.  It might be dedicating structure to when you rise in the morning and when you go to sleep at night.

We, as Christians, just love to talk about the liberty found in God, but too often, I find too many apply that liberty to destructive patterns.  That was never God's intent.  Remember I Corinthians 10:23: "I have the right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial.  I have the right to do anything, but not everything is constructive."  Some of you would do a lot of good by dedicating that verse to memory and meditating on it before rolling out of bed in the morning!

It was interesting listening to the individual who planted the plants in the spring. They began to explain why it had turned out the way it had.  Quietly, I heard the Lord say, "This is what I will hear when My people come before Me at the Time of Account."   There was no condemnation in His tone, but sadness. Indescribable sadness.

I don't want to stand before Him and be so flustered that all I have to offer is excuses and "rational reasons" why I didn't produce well, why I did not steward well.

I know it is hard to rip the blinders off and truly assess one's habits, one's life, one's fruit - if there be any, but hear me, dear ones..... to delay is absolute folly!  For the "Time of Account" is nearing....if not through Jesus' return.... certainly through death!

Time here is brief to say the least!
What are you doing with your time?

This brings me to an amusing true story, but it does drive home the point.

A father had had his fill of his high-school son complaining that he simply didn't have the time needed to do all his school work.  So, the wise father looked at his son and explained, "Son,  everyone has 24 hours in a day.  I work between 7 and 8 of those hours, sleep 8 of those hours, and have 8 hours free.  What I want you do to is think of your school as your work, and record the MINUTES... not the hours... but the minutes you actually work on your school.  Do not record the minutes you pick up your phone to look at whatever or the minutes your mind takes you to a various website to check on some interest. ONLY record the minutes you actually apply to your work."

Again - oh that EVERYONE would have someone give them such wise instruction.

How easy it is to "blow our time" ...and then turn right around and complain we simply don't have enough of time to work our field!

God is a God of order, and what I have found in my nearly 50 years of living is that in following His lead in that line of order brings forth well-springs of provision internally of love, peace, joy, etc.

I don't have to give myself pep-talks of self-worth because I have, with diligence and mindfulness, sown seeds of care and stewardship concerning this life He died to give me.

My ACTIONS, my personal stewardship, DECLARE my gratitude and my understanding concerning what HE had to do on my behalf.  I CANNOT do any less than my best FOR HIM!

Let your life do likewise, dear ones!  No matter your starting point, let there be a starting point!

Learn to say "NO" to yourself; which as we all know, "self" until regenerated (dare I say executed) on down the path of Godliness is carnal and corrupt and leads to death.  Don't go that direction.  I implore you; don't! Choose life.... by your actions; choose life!

Godspeed, dear ones; Godspeed!


******************************

Here is the first video of ten in the series.. Most sincerely, may God have His way with you as you dedicate this time between you and Him......




Sunday, October 8, 2017

Let Life "Rest" on You

As I was spending such sweet time with the Lord this morning, I exhaled.... and the Lord set my life down into my lap like a fluffy pillow.  I know that sounds odd, but I know of no other way to describe it.  I sat. Eyes closed. I inhaled. I exhaled. Again, this awareness "rested" on me that life is so sweet... such a tremendous GIFT from above.

Now, before you get so much as a single step down the path to assuming my life is perfect - exactly as I always hoped or imagined - let me stop you.  I won't riddle you with the details of my life, but daily I pick up my cross, carry it, and move forward.  God has my tears in His bottle and recorded in His book (Psm 56:8), but I rejoice because His vows are binding upon Me, He has delivered me, kept my feet from stumbling so that I may walk with Him in the light of the living! (Psm 56:12-13)

Perspective is everything.  Not nine tenths... not ninety percent... but 100%.  Don't believe me?  Look at the disciples who lost not their joy UNTO death... and not a natural death.... but a taking of their life by those that hated and despised them and the message of the Gospel.

Such a thing is NOT possible without God.

I opened the Word in the early hours this morning and immediately my eyes read, "He brought me out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psm 40:2)

Have you ever stood upon a rock at the ocean's edge?  Waves crashing about?  It's a breath taking place to stand.

Or have you ever stood upon a high rock at the dessert's edge?  Miles of land laid out way beneath one's feet?  That too is a breath taking place to stand.

Life is like that with God. If you let Him, He'll shine His omnipotent perspective on your life.  From that moment forward, one's perspective can never return to that of doom or pity.  He is purposed in ALL His ways.... and some how.... completely without explanation....He alone possess the ability to make life, regardless of circumstances, rest upon you like a soft pillow.

I pray you are nurturing your relationship with Him.  Don't undersell Him by insultingly looking at Him as your "get out of misery" card.  Let His glory shine in the midst of your difficulties....let the fruit of the Holy Spirit radiate beyond the boundaries of the difficulties....and let Jesus place you in His footprints, showing you His perspective .... it'll change you......forever.





Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tap Into the Holy Spirit... or Flounder

Winding down from a demanding day.
I'm having a cup of tea.
I smile as I read the teatag.



Experience; it's bitter sweet - is it not?  It certainly has the POTENTIAL to grant us power and confidence *** IF *** we determine to GROW with pleasing God as the highest aim in our "life's education".

Grievously, we all observe individuals who truly seem to be self-destructive. They don't learn from their experiences; instead they repeat them over and over and over again.  It's a witness of insanity to those of us who dedicate our lives to learning, growing, and changing.

This morning I read Psalm 4:7-8:

"You have put joy in my heart more than when their wheat and new wine have abound. In peace, I will both lie down and sleep, for You Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust."

Read that again.  Did you catch the contrast?  The writer ISN'T experiencing circumstantial overflow, YET they recognize that through God they ARE experiencing the internal overflow of joy and peace.

Life is not circumstantially peaceful and overflowing in abundance these days; from North Korea to Las Vegas to Africa to your corner of the world to my corner of the world.  But please get this.... and I mean really get this.... joy and peace are NOT products of external circumstances.  They are PRODUCTS of a life intimately linked to the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5: 22-23; "But the fruit OF THE SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

Today, I had the displeasure of watching a video that was deeply unsettling and set my righteous anger into motion.  The "Christian" speaker was attempting to define what a good woman is. He addressed all things external.  Be THIS wife; don't nag him, support his vision, be peaceful, be silent unless you're cheer-leading for him, be everything sexual that he dreams... and on and on the list went.  I just about imploded.  I told the individual that brought it to my attention, "This will do far more damage to those in relationship than help them."

What makes a good woman is a Godly woman who follows (is surrendered to) God's heart and will; and, as such, my witness is that God often uses her to counter and confront the man's will....(and vise-a-versa), especially that which is rooted in the carnal. God's intent is for a home to be a place of refueling for BOTH spouses as well as the children therein, but His first and foremost motive is that it be a sanctuary of refinement into holiness for every member of the household....and that objective has NO option but to singe and burn up unrighteousness. That's going to bring the concept of iron sharping iron to bear in most households until God's will is all that matters.  Most every one has heard the expression, "God isn't interested in your happiness, but in your holiness."  Hello!

There is an abundance of out-workings (the Fruit of the Spirit) from a Godly life, married or NOT,  but those are birthed INTERNALLY from the Holy Spirit.... products of Him... NOT your circumstances, events, things, or people around you.  If you keep looking to those elements to grant you joy and peace, you'll NEVER find them. Never.

I smile.  My second teatag:



Hello! AGAIN.... that too is NOT possible without the Holy Spirit and His fruit!

Tap WHOLLY into the Holy Spirit....understand, His fruit works from the inside out... NOT from the outside in. If you don't wholly tap into Him, you will forever flounder...doomed to repeat today the self-destructive patterns of yesterday... and on into your tomorrows.....

Stop the insanity! 

Godspeed!






Sunday, October 1, 2017

Begin Your October with Him

October is by far my most favorite month.  The fact that it began today...a Sunday...  has been such a rich blessing.

Sunday... a day of rest.... a day of thanksgiving.... a day of meditation....

After a wonderful Sunday service, I went with my youngest son on a sort of scavenger hunt.  After ending it successfully, we ate lunch at Panera Bread...just the two of us.  Precious time together.  We took our time.... I savored a dessert and a cappuccino... and we laughed together.

I love laughter.  I truly do!

We strolled to the car.  I sat for a moment before starting the car.  I took a long exhale.  I'm doing that more and more these days.  I frequently hear the Spirit say, "Exhale, Deborah; just exhale into Me."

We took the long way home with the sunroof open.... there is NOTHING like a cool fall breeze.

Upon arriving home, I threw open the windows in one of our family rooms.  It's my favorite room in our home; built especially by us, with eight BIG windows. I often say I would live in a glass house if I could.

The breeze blew in....

I pulled up the video I have linked below, putting it on repeat mode.... and proceeded to spend my entire afternoon with God.... exhaling into Him .... with extreme gratitude that He holds my being, my heart, my totality with such intimate care.  I am His, and He is mine.

I pray as you begin your October you take the time to meditate on Him... His unsurpassed greatness, His holiness, His intimate care, His mercies, His plan.... exhale into Him.... and let Him settle on you.....

  
Signing off now....dear daughter has a fire in the fire pit started, and she's calling me to join her....

♡eudaimonia♡

Godspeed




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Start A-Fresh

This morning I awoke early and ready to start the day.

I went downstairs and proceeded to do about two hours of intense stretching. (I did say "awoke *early*.")

Through the stretches, the deep breathing.... and the pain (hello!), I say things like, "Lord, take this tension. Take all the tension from all the years now gone.  I choose to release it from this body, Lord...."

I have been amazed ...truly amazed... at how much freer I am not just in body, but mind, soul, and spirit.

We store things up, don't we?  Both positive and negative. For years and years.  Sometimes not even consciously doing so.

Our bodies, if we are not careful, become a type of store house.  For many, we pack our store house to the brim. It is dark, unkempt, dusty, and musty.... and perhaps even moldy from the tears we shed and kept...instead of turning over to the Lord.

In contrast, I believe we were created to be a beautiful, clean, open building of exchange...of invite.  Even now, I picture my building with lots and lots of windows.... raised, of course (anyone who knows me - knows the windows MUST be raised!)  A cool fall breeze is blowing through. I cleaned house for two hours this morning. It's just beautiful.... and it becomes more and more beautiful every time I take time to tend to my being's house.

Some of you need to learn how to begin.  Take the smallest box.... or the smallest corner... but START.

I have this car ornament that hangs from my rear view mirror. I ran out to the garage just now and snapped a picture for you.



It is an ongoing reminder to me that the past is just that ....passed.   And the more I focus on the condition of my house today, the more it becomes a beautiful dwelling I truly enjoy.

A clean house before the Lord is a peaceful house. It's light and airy.

A clean house is a house prepared for His habitation. Oh, the joy!

I want Him to enjoy being in my house as much as I want to enjoy being in my house.

During my time this morning, the instructor was talking about one of the reasons deep breathing is so important during intense stretching is that as the body fights to let go of the tension, the mind's instruction to go into deep methodical breathing overrides the body's fight, and through the mind the nervous system overrides the body's muscles, requiring the body to let go.

The scientist in me loves that.  It's science confirming the Word, where the spirit directs the mind and the mind the body... down to the most basic physical functions.

Breathing is a constant reminder of "starting a-fresh" with every new breath.  I like that.

I then opened the Word and I was directed to on-going concepts of sowing and the coming judgement of Christ.  I get that for some that concept of judgement can bring an initial cringe because decisions made earlier in life weren't in line with God's ways, but here's the Good News.  YOU can start a-fresh... TODAY.

Every day brings new opportunity to sow wisely.  With every passing day of WISE sowing, guess what you are going to yield?  GOOD fruit!  Fruit you will want to share!  Fruit you will actually possess to share!

Two months ago, when I started this intense, methodical stretching, I could hardly do any of it.  I was as stiff as a buckboard.  Today, I can bend in crazy ways.  Reminds me of that song, "I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy...."   (You know how I love tree symbolism!)

So, today.... wherever YOU are.... take courage.... inspect your house.... your body... internal and external..... and begin.... taking baby steps if needs be... "a box" ... "a corner"... somewhere...anywhere you feel prompted .... and start.  

Tomorrow's harvest depends on your start today.

Isaiah 30: 21-22 states, "You will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images.  You will scatter them as unclean things.  You will 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."

Take a moment to re-read this passage and meditate on it a few moments.

Notice the "cleaning out of the house"  - Different people have different idols, but we ALL have them... be they people, or things, or ideas of what should have been or what was/is or what we think will be....BUT whatever they are to YOU, YOU have to eradicate them from your life!  (God will NOT do this for you!)

....   THEN faithful planting .....

...... THEN HE promises to rain on the seed YOU plant (If you don't plant, there is nothing for Him to water. Hello!)

...... THEN the promise of plenty.

There is an order to the process. You can't skip steps.... or worse yet, walk in the delusion that somehow the "plenty" will come without even starting the process!  (HELLO!)

Today, I challenge you: start a-fresh.  Take the time to clean, then to sow.

May YOUR house be a peaceful, delightful, clean house for your being and for God Himself!

Open the windows, let the wind blow through, perhaps for the first time... sit a while with God....have a cup of tea or coffee together... breathe deep.... talk or don't talk.... you may just want to sit silently with Him.... but START....start methodically and intentionally stewarding your house...physically, mentally, emotionally ..... the residence of your being and of God....


♡Godspeed♡




Saturday, September 23, 2017

Respite

It's now 4:45 AM.... Saturday morning.  (No name calling, you hear!)

I have the house to myself, and I get giddy at the thought of what this weekend will bring to mind, body, soul, and spirit!

No reason to waste time.

In this early hour, I meditate on just how profoundly quiet my corner of the world is at the moment. I stepped outside just minutes ago. In the distance, I could hear lawn sprinklers...an oddly comforting rhythm of sound; but beyond that, nothing.  All was still.

Stillness.  It is both an art and a blessing.  

Just three years ago, I recall reading "The Sacred Year," by Michael Yankoski.  

I enjoyed it so much that I shared it with my kids, reading it aloud to them. I found Michael's year long journey compelling; though odd at times - such as slowing down I believe it was an hour to eat an apple; a practice he encouraged his readers to try.

I didn't go the apple-eating route, but after reading his book, I did habitually begin taking segments of my day and slowing them way down, such as rising earlier than my norm to eat my breakfast slowly and then taking time in the evening to sit in quiet, evaluate my day, and offer the "day's package" up to the Lord.  These practices I continue to do most every day. I do find my life far richer from these practices of intentionality and evaluation. 

Without question, whether we approve or not, life comes at us with an intense pace. Even for those of us who tend to thrive on intensity, society's pace can be wearing, if not put into check from time to time. 

The other day I was having a conversation with a precious individual and the word "parameters" came up several times.  During this conversation, as I was strongly recommending the concept become a part of their life, internally it occurred to me that I function at a relative high rate of capacity because I learned the practice of parameters some time back.  

Parameters of priorities.
Parameters of reality.
Parameters of time.
Parameters of ethics.
Parameters of choice and subsequent consequence.
etc., etc., etc.

Do you ever just take the time to ponder the parameters in your life? 

I encourage you to do so.  Re-evaluate - or perhaps evaluate for the first time ever - the presence of parameters of your life.  Are they even present?

A take away from Michael's book was the intentional slowing down to methodically inspect the parameters in one's life such that a state of order was given place... even in a high capacity lifestyle such as his.

Spin down so that one can spin up, so to speak.

In keeping with the heart of evaluation, this weekend will be such a time for me.  All is quiet and will remain quiet for my entire weekend. It's a gift not to be wasted....not to be slept away.

(Hello! Nothing wrong with rest, but the Word does have something to say regarding habitual bed-wallowing. Curious?  Well, you may want to peruse  Proverbs 6:9-11 and Proverbs 20:13, but a word of warning: once you read them, you very well may feel a frequent gut check ... especially when reaching to hit the snooze "just one more time".  The Word is living, sharp, and meant to transform... so don't get miffed.... resolve to receive It's life-giving truths.... and be transformed by It! ♡ )

Yes, indeed.... even now, before the sun rises..... I exhale, I inhale.....I savor.... I spin down so that I may spin up and run on "with patience the race that is set before" me....  

This weekend may you too find moments to savor, to evaluate, to spin down so that you can spin up and run on with joy, perseverance, and purpose the race set before YOU!

♡ Godspeed ♡



Thursday, September 21, 2017

Settling?

Settling.

This is such a foreign concept to me, but as I am well into middle age, it is a concept that I am witnessing more and more from my contemporaries, whether it be in actual word or observable deed.

Other terms with the same concept, but with overtones of "icing" to make them sound  a tad better:

"Self-acceptance"

"Self-love"

"Self-affirmation"

Now, don't get me wrong. None of these things are inherently wrong, BUT the rub is when such terms are used in the context of "cloaked surrender"... a giving up on life, if you will.

Lately, when I have heard them, they are most certainly in the context of surrender... a resignation that things just are as they are and always will be as they are.

That's NOT okay.

2 Timothy 1:7:   "For God did NOT give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), BUT (He gave us a spirit) of POWER and of LOVE and of CALM and WELL-BALANCED MIND and DISCIPLINE and SELF-CONTROL."

Take a moment and re-read that verse.  Really meditate on those words in all caps.

I'm not talking about taking these words and applying them to everything and everyone NOT you.

I'm asking that you take them and apply them to only YOU, as if you were in a vacuum.

Does your INTERNAL life reflect those attributes.... or have you just given in to your flesh to go and do as it FATALLY chooses to go and do?

I have long sense held myself to a particular standard based SOLELY upon a deep understanding of stewardship.   I AM going to give an account for HOW (ie rooted in courage or fear; faith or doubt) I made my decisions, AND what I did with my mind, with my time, with my resources, with my witness (hello!), and with my body.

No one gets a pass on this judgement time before God.  Make no mistake, that point in time WILL come with absolute certainty.

That keeps me sober.  Plain and simple.

I have tremendous respect for God, and while I do not look to my actions to save me (ie: as in the incorrect theology of a works based salvation).... I do believe in the very foundation of stewardship as divinely set and commanded into being by God Himself dating to the beginning of time itself with Adam.

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:25, "Every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts HIMSELF in ALL things."

Note, it does NOT say "....restricts his/her kids, his/her wife/husband, his/her co-workers, his/her friends..... it says HIMSELF/HERSELF.  Get your eyes OFF everyone else and ON you!

One of the very first lessons I taught my children when they were very young is to say "NO" to THEMSELVES.  If they heard me say it once, they heard me say it literally a thousand times growing up.

"You must learn to say 'no' to yourself."

The world almost audibly gasps at this concept.

But God clearly commands, "....deny yourself, pick up YOUR cross daily, and follow Me."

It's the very foundation of stewardship.

Too many relish in all the liberties/freedoms of Christianity so called protected under the covering of God's grace and love.  But we need to remind ourselves STERNLY of Paul's words, "I have the right to do anything, so you say -- but not everything is beneficial.  I have the right to do anything, but not everything is constructive."

In a day and age where so many are simply settling into the flesh's cravings, their health is going to pot from the junk they put into their bodies, their mind is going to pot from the consumption of all things garbage and unholy, and as a result, their spirit is growing darker and darker... and their spiritual ears are deafening more and more... by the day.

I am fairly certainly this has been a hard read for a number of you, but just as Paul had to say the hard thing in his day, I am sternly reminding us all that the words he spoke nearly 2000 years ago to the Corinthian church, APPLY TODAY.

Whether you heed them or not is a matter between you and God, but I fervently pray you embrace with sobering understanding you WILL give an account for rather you settled....dare I say GAVE IN and GAVE UP.... in this life; or you, by HIS power that is WITHIN you, rose above... conquered... and took dominion.... just as HE commanded you to do.

 The choice is yours.

Again, I edify you... choose wisely.

♡ Godspeed ♡