Friday, January 1, 2021

Run With Haste

For as long as I can remember back, I have had a craving to know God. One of the many stories my mother has reminded me of more than once in my fifty years is how exuberantly I responded to the pastoral Sunday morning altar calls.... often...very often.  She says I had a crush on the pastor. I do recall his kind countenance, but honestly, I remember fear far more.  Not of the pastor, but rather fear at just how woefully ill-equipped  I was to navigate LIFE alone.

Life is daunting, overwhelmingly so when one quiets themselves long enough to go face to face, toe to toe, with the fact we have zero control outside of our soul. I don't need to look past the housing of my soul (ie: my body) for confirmation of the zero-factor; I do not even control the ability to take my next breath.

Yet, God did gift to me and to you one hundred percent control over our soul which is comprised of three facets; the mind (thoughts), the will, and the emotions. 

Slow your row for a moment. Take more than a moment right now to think on those three facets and how you permit them to influence you each and every day.  

The mind.

The will.

The emotions.

Now here's the million dollar question?  Do you live "willy-nilly" out of any one or more of those three? 

Do you let your own thoughts dictate to you what is truth, what is right?  "What I think is..."

Do you let your will dictate what you will be doing today?  "What I want to do...."

Do you let your emotions dictate the mood you find yourself in even now? "What I feel is..."

If you do, you are being robbed, duped, living subpar.

Our soul apart from the Captain WILL BE a lethal foe to us, destroying our destiny right down to our quality of life.  You and I were NEVER meant to captain ourselves. 

Seriously, think on that.  The created knowing what, how, and when to do anything apart from the Creator is utter foolishness, but how many people proceed following themselves daily - whatever thought pops into their head, they run with it - whatever their to do list demands, they run with it - whatever emotion they wake up to, they run with it.  Not so much as even taking a pause to ask God, "What do You want of me today?"  

God beckons us, "Come to Me - you who are weary."

The one thing I have found that wearies me quicker than anything else is if I roll out of bed with my soul being in charge.  It's a deliberate move on my part as I sit with God in the early morning to hand over my soul, asking Him to correct it. I don't have the pretense that I can do it apart from Him. 

Some days, there might be an arrow or two the enemy fires off at me right from the beginning. Other days, it is an all out assault.  On days that I fail to mindfully hand over my soul it is blatantly apparent to everyone I encounter.  (Word: It is blatantly apparent of your life too.) 

He has provided the solution for you and for me, but we have to act on it. I must come to Him with the understanding I am nothing apart from Him and I can do nothing - including direct myself - apart from Him. Second, in Ephesians, we find the passage concerning the putting on of the Armor of God.  There has to be a deliberate mindfulness of putting it on EVERY day just as there is a deliberate mindfulness putting on of my natural clothes EVERY day.  It does not simply occur. Only after taking these two steps can I have the hope of proceeding in the direction HE desires.

As we begin this new year, deep in my soul I ache to know Him more.  I sat with Him this morning with a prayer, "Lord, I want to be even more mindful of You this year than last, even more instep with You. I so desperately want to know You; how You are on any given day. Let this year be more about You and less about me, please."

I don't know about you, but the older I get, the more I understand both the need and the blessing of leaning on Him for my everything.  But the greater treasure that this life tends to rob us from exploring to great depths is knowing Him...not knowing about Him.... but knowing Him; discovering what brings Him joy, what brings Him sadness His heart hurting, if so I want to know... is His heart happy, if so I want to know.  I so desire to line my soul up greater still, such that I am in sync with Him and He with me.  How about you?   (Word: Part of that challenge is holding up - surrendering - to Him what we think we already know about Him. Remember, our soul is our worst hinderance apart from His Captainship.)

As I sat this morning, I smiled at the little girl I was so long ago, making haste down the aisle to the altar to her God.  She knew then what she knows now: life apart from Him is all over the place and profoundly empty and meaningless. What a gift it is to be able to hand our soul over to Him!

I pray your 2021 will be a year of mindfulness; how you walk and with whom you walk. 

"Though none go with me, still I will follow...."   

Lead on, Lord! With haste, I'm still running to You.... Your forever daughter! ♡

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Difficult or Destructive?

Do we all know the difference between a difficult marriage (which is every marriage) and a destructive one? Do we?

As a Christian, I ask my fellow Christians the question because I do not believe we do.

I want to give you three excellent "tools".  The first is a meaty video that will help in identifying which relationship you have. It is an important first step. I believe everyone in a relationship - even those desiring a relationship - should take the time to hear it all the way through.  It will set your mental wheels to spinning both in the now and the future so you can more readily recognize the warning signs of a difficult relationship transforming into a destructive one.  The second tool is brief and pointed.  I wholeheartedly agree that selfishness is THE component that turns a difficult marriage into a destructive one. And the third tool is a wonderful teaching on "men covering women", what it looks like, and the cost of such a relationship, keeping in the very forefront the Truth: "Apart from Me, you can do nothing!" John 15:5

None of us are in totality devoid of selfishness this side of Glory. As a result, we, as Christians, must be on guard against the mentality "what's in it for me."  Asking that question is not what defines a destructive marriage, but it does define humanity in its degenerate state.

A significant mark of the Christian is actively putting to death the degenerate self by seeking the care of those in our lives more than that of ourselves.  (Mouse over to follow the link.)

Ask the tough questions!
Seek the tough answers!
Do what is RIGHT!


Sunday, July 5, 2020

Discord or Harmony?

Mental strongholds: patterns of thought formed before even sentences are possible.

Have you watched a baby?  Really watched them.  They are living sponges. All they have are their senses to tell them of their life just beginning.

Do they hear tones of love OR anger?
Do they see affection OR distance?

Indeed, before they even know what life is they are inputting data without pause that will determine their course for years, possibly their entire life.

But we, as Christian adults, should pause. A lot.

I Corinthians 10:24 states, "Let no one seek his own good, but the good of another."

Yesterday, in America, we celebrated "Independence Day."

Mankind has raised the concept of independence to a place of idolatry. Not only rejecting the concept of a Creator and the accountability our position as the created naturally assesses, but also rejecting the concept of becoming a harmonious member of a society, a marriage, a family, and most importantly - the Body of Christ.

There is an evil in all of us that seeks its own way.

Paul wrote the Corinthians a third time, "For I am afraid that when I come, I may not find you as I want you to be... I fear there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, disorder...that I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin, and debauchery in which they have indulged...our prayer is that you may be fully restored...strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace."

Take a moment to slowly re-read those words.
Let them sink in.

Choice and its destiny; 
powerful when divinely embraced for others, 
destructive when egocentrically driven.

Do we make choices to harmonize our sphere by serving another's good before our own or do we make choices of discord, seeking our own?

It's that simple.  Make no mistake; our choices are intentional, no matter what lies we tell ourselves.

The harsher truth is, short of God, mankind tends to duplicate the example set before the eyes and the ears prior to the ability of putting words together is possessed.

This reality takes the responsibility of marriage and family to another whole level... stratospheric level!

My parents determined early in their marriage to read and learn how to become a harmonious unit; and they partnered together towards harmony.  My husband's parents, I am left by observation, mostly chose independence. Dad did his thing; mom did her thing.

Subsequently, I came into marriage with the belief every married couple sought to harmonize, yet my husband's reference point was, well, not that. When I would inquire where he was going or when he would be back, he bristled.  It took me some time to figure out his reaction to my persistent petitions of accountability was rooted in the independence in which he was raised.

Begs the question: do our beginnings - good or not so good -  excuse our present? Absolutely not.

Go back and read what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. We all have beginnings that miss the bulls-eye of God! Paul counted himself among the worst of beginnings.

It is not how we begin, but how we choose to persist.

In a day and age when people are screaming for individual rights to the point of rioting, Christians among themselves need to be representing and living God's sovereign heart for harmony. For the married couple, start with your marriage. Husbands, the buck starts and ends with you.  You may not want to hear that, but truth is truth. God appointed husbands to lead and wives to respond.  Straight up, you lead righteously when you lead humbly; considering those in your charge first. For Christian singles, work on harmonizing within the Body of Christ, strengthening relationships as you edify others before you seek out edification.

I challenge each of you as a student of God, regardless of your beginning, bring yourself under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit and allow His correction to re-shape that which perhaps was misshapen from birth.

"When I was a child, I spoke like a child. thought as a child, reasoned as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." (I Corinthians 13:11)

Paul made a choice that changed the trajectory of his life. In fact, he made many, many choices every day that kept him on God's track, so that he could confidently say, "I will know fully just as I also have been fully known."

"Greater love hath no man than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends."
 John 15:13

So, how's that going for you?

God's way or your way?

The choice is yours to make.

But know this:
the result of your choice...

THAT is predetermined.

Discord OR harmony:
what's it going to be?

Friday, July 3, 2020

How's Your Hearing?

Depravity is defined as "moral corruption; wickedness"

No matter how good you believe yourself to be, you are depraved.  I know, I know, no one likes to be in that camp, but fact is this side of Glory, we all are.

There is not a single day where you and I don't have to make the intentional decision to live for righteousness and then proceed through our day vigilantly on guard, listening to the Holy Spirit. The condition of our relationship with the Holy Spirit is KEY to both our success and our failure. For if we think we can grieve the Holy Spirit through willful sin, glossing over it, never repenting, we become dull of hearing, and duller with each passing day, until we are utterly deaf to His shaping, correction, and direction.

There is a movie line where a grieving husband references his marriage, "She was horrible to me sometimes; I was even worse to her." Then comes the question, "Did you love her?"  He replies, "More than anything on Earth."  Then come further questions about why the choice of infidelity. The husband replies, "I don't know; I just did it. Sometimes you just do things; you want to take it back, but you can't."

That's depravity.

"I was wrong to treat her the way I did, and she was wrong to treat me the way she did. Now, neither of us has the chance to say I'm sorry."

That's revelation.

Retained sin, persistent strife, velcroed offense, formidable pride all keep us unable to receive Holy Spirit revelation, and subsequent direction, until it is often too late to make amends. It is indeed a ploy of our enemy.

You see, light and dark can not coincide. Once the decision to even taste a morsel of evil is made, fellowship with God immediately breaks until acknowledgement and repentance come.  Look at Adam and Eve.  It took but a taste... a single taste... to break fellowship with God and send them running into hiding. Generations later, the Adams and the Eves of this world are still tasting, still running, still hiding....and still shattering one another in the process.

Question: Are you hiding from both God and spouse as a result of willful sin, trying to formulate a fix of your own making?  It will NEVER work. Not with God. Not with your spouse. Fellowship will remain broken.

Understand, repentance and reconciliation are two separate events.  Repentance ushers in God's forgiveness.  God's forgiveness ushers in reconciliation.  You cannot begin the PROCESS of reconciliation without genuine repentance before God.

To gloss over the repulsiveness of sin is at the very heart of human depravity. We must never cease in seeking to see as God sees.  We must never cease in seeking to line up our heart with His.  And we must never cease the all out pursuit of righteousness this side of Glory.  For even Paul stated, "For now I know in part...", but in part beats willful blindness and deafness!

Begin by confessing known sin to God. Confession goes to work on a hard heart.  There are over one hundred Bible verses pertaining to hardheartedness. Look them up.  Study them.  I am leaving HERE for you a link to Charles Spurgeon's sermon on grieving the Holy Spirit given in 1859. Powerful; if you are short on time, scan down to point three and read through it at least twice.  Until you address hardheartedness and the effects of grieving the Holy Spirit, you will be both blind and deaf.

Life here is SO fleeting. I think about all the many years satan and his cronies successfully robbed me from a proper, righteous, loving relationship with my husband and he with me. While you and I do not possess the ability to control anyone or anything, we do possess the ability to control ourselves and our choices.

I edify you: do NOT participate with the enemy of God, do not be a spouse who persists in selfish, depraved living, who participates in shattering another's soul. Yes, God possesses the ability to heal, but willful wounding is very deep indeed and will leave scars. The only one who wins is satan himself.

"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Get rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger,
brawling and slander,
along with EVERY form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other,
just as in Christ, God forgave you."
Eph 4: 30-32

You cannot do the above without GOD,
and GOD cannot be present and active
in your life with known sin.
It's that simple!

So, how's your hearing?


The Seen and The Unseen

This may be my most candid post to date, but I need to begin, and I have a strong sense the Holy Spirit will continue to deepen His work in me even as He continues His work within the Body, who perhaps needs to read these words as much as I need to write them.

To those who really know me, it is no secret: I do not have a marriage to envy, at least not as the world regards envy.  In saying that, I also have to acknowledge my marriage is not an isolated battlefield. Perhaps you missed the memo? The devil hates marriage with a passion; he wages war in every marriage. He has been out to destroy mine for twenty seven years and counting.

There is no way to cover twenty seven years in a single writing; ten years, mind you, longer than the longest war involving the United States. But I am sure there are battlefields of marriage with greater longevity than mine, just as there are sadly some that are shorter.  Some have greater intensity than mine and some less.  But the material point is every marriage IS a battlefield with a persistent and formidable foe who is NOT your spouse.

For those who know my husband, they know him as a "nice guy."  I'm not here to throw stones, as you will see in the coming weeks, but rather say if that's all you allow yourself to see in any person, you have tunnel vision, and you are not serving the Body of Christ as Christ desires.

See, I have found in twenty seven years of seeking counsel and male intervention; only one man tried to step persistently into my husband's space, and thus onto our battlefield. In twenty seven years, one person dared to persist.  I have had church leaders say, "We'll get back to you," never to hear from them. Other church leaders defaulted to pointing out what I wasn't doing 'correctly'.  I have had an older Christian gentleman say pointedly, "I'm not getting involved in another man's business." The excuses I have heard over the past twenty seven years are indeed countless. Again, not throwing stones, but pointing out a gross negligence in the Body that needs addressing. We must collectively wake up and step up, because if we choose to look the other way or avoid getting involved, we are participating in the devil's take down of one marriage after another as we elect silence over involvement.

If my experience over twenty seven years speaks even a whisper of truth to the contagion of silence on this subject in the Body, countless wives are indeed suffering tormenting, soul shattering neglect and abuse while its individual members go out of their way to mind their 'own business'. What exactly is that business if not the well-being of  the Body? And that truth is more than sufficient to break my silence.  Again, not casting stones.  My heart's cry to the Body is WAKE UP,  GET UP, ARM UP, SPEAK UP!  There is a massive, long-standing war against marriage waging all around us, yet so many who identify themselves as warriors in the Body of Christ are opting to play ignorant or opossum, or worst of all - go AWOL.

In the coming weeks and months, I am going to take Joy In The Morning's blog and share marital experiences as the Holy Spirit leads, but more importantly how He corrected and molded me through the experiences.  I refuse to let the devil win, and he only wins if I don't give God the glory due Him; for in fact I am still here - still advancing His Kingdom - still being molded in the Father's hands - still being shaped into His image - Still -

"...we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."  (II Corinthians 4:18)

Godspeed, one and all, to the end.... which is but the beginning...♡

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Determine To Be An Overcomer

Just as Christ is, so too determine to be an....

"You, dear children, are from God
 and have overcome them (who oppose Him),
because the One who is in you
 is greater than the one who is in the world.
They are from the world, and therefore,
speak from the viewpoint of the world,
and the world listens to them.
We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us,
but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.
This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth
and the spirit of falsehood."
I John 4: 4-6

Walk the Truth stated in the Word:
Those in Christ HAVE overcome!

Be on guard to whom you heed,
for these are treacherous days indeed!


If you missed the last post, check it out HERE:

Do You Have THE Counterbalance?

Every good leader (that would be you and I, as we do lead, at a minimum, ourselves) needs a counterbalance, and when that is either absent, devalued, or eradicated, chaos and strife are not only birthed, they thrive.

We have collectively turned our back to God, and in so doing, we have forfeited our Counterbalance as a people. When one has no Counterbalance, all that is left is one's own fallible, feeble musings to decree what is right.

Reminds me of Deuteronomy 12:8, "You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes..."

But it does not stop there.

Our own perceived thoughts and rights when challenged almost always breeds offense first and foremost. When offense is the first leap, it is a fatal leap. I would encourage everyone to read "Bait of Satan," by John Bevere.

We have an epidemic of offense in our society that not only prevents, but shuts down *respectful* exchange of ideas, observations, and thoughts; and as a result, we have indeed become a royally lost, stunted, obstinate people.

When one combines the absence of God as mankind's Counterbalance while so quickly taking the bait of offense, we have doomed ourselves to utter darkness, save Christ.