Monthly Archives: January 2016

“Presentation” is Everything

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Before I start this blog I would like to say that it’s really a huge accountability act for me. It’s actually a declaration of my belief system…because you don’t know what you really believe until you write it down and because being accountable for God’s will for us is what often takes our faith to the next level. And I’m ready to climb higher with my Savior. Having said that, let me confess this….

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It’s one of those nights when I’m chasing sleep and it’s definitely winning. This is a brand new season for me. I hesitate to use the H word (hormones) but there, I did it anyway. I never lived the perfect life or anything like that but I would say that I have spent a considerable amount of time figuring out ways to muscle the circumstances that kept me from FEELING like things were spinning out of control. Did I say “control”? I am a fixer. There’s no medication for it but it does need a cure. Enter God’s plan to make me authentically usable. (Which, by the way, often looks amazingly like bonafide weakness).

God is teaching me that He is enough. I crave restful nights, productive days, and a well attended to family but He isn’t giving me those things IN THE WAY or IN THE MEASURE that my spirit is demanding. I admit that I have complained to Him on more than one occasion. He isn’t the only One Who takes the hits either. My sweet family is feeling awfully close to MY struggle. Take for example my 26 year old married son who stops over to pick something up, finds me in three day old pajamas with matted down hair and a sour look on my face. Special, I know. It’s always the ones you love the most that have to deal with the less than best you. I had been dealing with a myriad of various personal illnesses for several days. He just very tenderly asked me “are you ok”? I cried. I mean it was a fairly simple question but it made me just bust up in my soul. I wasn’t okay. Hadn’t been okay. Didn’t see “okay” on the horizon.

But God sees the sunrises for eternity. He remembers every time the sun has ever rose and set for about six thousand years. He is faithful about it too. He has made a predictable pattern and His power keeps all the heavens in check. The planets orbit on a precise axis just because He said so and He has the first and last and all the in between “says”. Bad grammar. But you know what I mean.

I mean to say that my sleepless nights and my fatigued days and my mom-deprived family does not have Him worried. He isn’t trying to concoct a plan for survival for me. He already did that. It was called Golgotha. My rescue prescription is called The Cross. My Rescuer is Jesus Christ. My Father sees and knows and hears and nothing is about to change with that. I, however, need to do a little changing. Like speaking truth. Out loud. Singing and making melody in my heart to The Lord. Maybe even a little shout in’! Because I know my Redeemer liveth! Come on now!

We are going to have rough days, trying seasons…maybe even a few thorns in the flesh…but we do not have to surrender to discouragement. We do not have to submit to having our joy stolen and crushed beyond recognition. We do have to allow God to be our strength though…keeping joy and walking in faith is not a work that the flesh can ever be sufficient for. It must be His Spirit taking control of mine. It’s true that I must yield but even my yielding is an act of grace that He has bestowed upon me. I once read something that said “never doubt in the darkness what you have known to be true in the light”. I wish I could give some wise soul credit for that statement. It’s true.

It, however, is a huge temptation to do so. To doubt, that is. To recoil…to wince…maybe even kick and scream? What He longs for me to do is to yield my body as an instrument of righteousness. His righteousness. He tells me clearly that first I must be fully dedicated to Him…body, soul, and spirit. The Scripture puts it in these terms: “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

I conform to this world (the things that I want) when I set myself to be the lord of my life…the lord of my health…the lord of my family…the lord of my schedule…the lord of my sleep. I am transformed when I immerse myself in Who He is by getting into His Word and allowing it to wash away all my expectations of what is good and acceptable and perfect. My mind is renewed when it gives Him complete Lordship and the right to say when, where, and how. My life becomes “presented” when He is the Will Maker…the Will Keeper…the Will Sustainer.

Is this easy? As my 18 month old granddaughter would say “no way”! Living sacrifices are prone to crawl off of altars. That’s why under ceremonial Hebraic law the sacrifice had to be tied to the horns of the altar. Bound up there so when the knife and the fire and the dying began that sacrifice wouldn’t get away. That’s when things get tight. That’s why He says in the New Covenant “present” your bodies. Maybe presenting is a little like dying to self. He isn’t interested in fighting us. He doesn’t market coercion. He loves us to do it out of our love and our trust of Him. When we KNOW WHO HE IS and HOW HE LOVES then we will not crawl off that altar. We will want to. Let’s be honest. Deep down in our humanness we will want to flee quickly! We will have to hear His voice to have the courage to stay there. But God even gives us all the necessary staying resources. It’s all a mysterious act of grace that our minds can’t fully comprehend.

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I don’t know how many more nights of chasing sleep I might have…I have no idea if or when or how I will minister to my family in the ways I desire to…I cannot predict what a productive home will really look like for me right now…but I know Whom I have believed in and He is able to be the Keeper and the Master and the Giver of every good and perfect gift. I am only the “presenter” by His merciful grace.

Carrying the Light

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Matthew 5:14-16
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is n heaven.”

Last week an ice storm came through and our power went out for a few days. This presented some interesting challenges in day to day life. When you’re a kid, this becomes one thrilling long journey…when you’re an adult….not so much. After eighteen hours I was ready for power again.

We have wood heat (praise the Lord!) so despite the chilling cold, we were able to keep warm and our gas stove allowed us to cook, but the adventure wore off quickly for me. Who wants to take a candle to the bathroom? Or have to carry a flashlight in your pocket all the time? Or watch the laundry pile up because the washer and dryer is out of commission? And I must have said, “Please shut the refrigerator!” a thousand times. What is it about a power outage that makes people so hungry that they have to survey the refrigerator contents twice an hour?

Two days without power and it shows you a lot about life….and attitude. Believe me. At the end of the second day (when I was thoroughly sick of no lights) I had a light bulb moment. Almost literally.

It was pitch black, and even the candles spread all over the house didn’t cut the darkness very well. I was sitting on the couch in the thick blackness. I don’t remember what I was doing, except for having a sour attitude. I mean, really, what can you do when it’s dark and you have NO electricity? Then this light entered the room…it was my little sister. She is not an adult, so this was still a huge adventure for her. She was LOVING the moment and I was in the same house HATING it.

She was holding a small glass dish with a tiny tea light candle in it. Strange how the moment hit me, but it was like she was HOLDING LIGHT. You really couldn’t see her glass dish, because the light obscured the container. It really looked like she was cupping light in her hands…and she was bringing it to me. “Faith, look!” she said.

I stared at it. All I could think is how BEAUTIFUL it was. This cupping of light in her hands. It made me want to hold it in mine. To carry it around the room like a little child and share it with others. To wonder at it and be filled with the adventure that was in those sparkling eyes. Why couldn’t I find joy in this moment?

The light was amazingly bright. It seemed so luminous. Chasing away the shadows and lighting the face of this little girl. This child bringing light to me. I had to smile. I couldn’t help it. The moment was beautiful….and since phones don’t run on electricity, I had to take a picture.

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When the moment was past, it got me to thinking…what do I look like to this dark, dying world? Do I cup my hands like a willing servant and carry the light to dark places? Do I smile like a child and enjoy the journey…carrying the Light, the Beauty to others? Is my life’s light bright enough to draw them to JESUS?

I have this picture as my phone’s wallpaper right now…and it’s a visual reminder that I am to carry the Light wherever I go. I want to cup JESUS in my hands and take Him to the dark places.

“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” Isaiah 9:2

Sometimes Provisions are Really Tests

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Exodus 16

Funny how we complain about things….we are just sure that our needs are being overlooked by someone….when it’s really just an indictment against God our Father. We wouldn’t admit that but the truth is we FRET instead of acting in FAITH. We WORRY instead of choosing to WORSHIP. We COMPLAIN instead of deciding to COMMUNICATE OUR GRATITUDE.

The Israelites had just made a mass exodus from the land of their bondage…been led by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day…the Red Sea had been parted…they were even given an awesome water resource after realizing they were thirsty. Then the big idea became meat and bread. It didn’t take that thought long to go viral.

After God had done the impossible in their lives multiple times they turned around and grumbled. Miracles weren’t enough, they had to have meat. Honestly. It’s not just WHAT they complained about either. It was the WAY they murmured. The insults they hurled upon God their Provider! They said it would have been better to die in Egypt where at least they could have meat and bread. Really? It’s so good I’m not in charge of influencing God. Because about 600,000 men plus women and children would have been sent right back where they came from! I would have marched them back to Goshen myself!

But there’s this little verse in the 16th chapter of Exodus that just haunts me. I mean it really corrects me in my spirit. Enter God’s answer to murmuring: MANNA. For real? He told Moses ahead of time that bread would come from heaven. First, quail to the full and then the next morning manna. There would be rules. There would be a measure given to communicate sufficiency. HIS sufficiency. Not ours. Isn’t His mercy amazing? His goodness keeps chasing us. He keeps racing to rescue us!

So Moses gives them the gist. Two quarts per person. No more. You can bake it, boil it, eat it raw…but don’t save it. There’s always a few people who try to push against the stops. For them it was worms the next morning. On the day before Sabbath He let them double up. No worries about worms though, because that was one 24 hour period when God shut down decay. Only He gets to do that. Only He gets to keep the destroyer held back. We would be good to remember that when things seem to spin out of control in our lives. Trust in His power and not our own muster-the-mind problem solving techniques. When you really step back from your calamity and realize Who us really in control, it looks like a no-brainer.

But that verse still grabs my attention. Kind of arrests my thought patterns about what God is doing here for the Hebrews. What He is ultimately doing for US.
Exodus 16:4
“Then said The Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out to gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law or no.” KJV
God told Moses He was giving into their complaint. He heard their grievous and ungrateful lamentations. But He had something bigger than bread in mind.
THAT I MAY PROVE THEM! The Holman Christian Standard Bible says it this way: “I will test them to see whether or not they will follow My instructions.” I WILL TEST THEM. He wasn’t as concerned about their stomachs as He was about their submission.

What if God’s provisions for us are really tests? What if His ultimate rescue plan involves seeing if we really will serve Him in righteousness or not? What if His meeting our needs really represents Him discerning our level of relationship with Him? All the best teachers, professors, and disciplers give tests to see what the student has learned.
What if God’s main goal was not provision but rather proving? And what is there to prove other than our faithlessness? HIS FAITHFULNESS! He proves what is in our hearts so He can reveal what is in His heart toward us. He cares for us so much. He longs to be Abba Father, the One and Only that we run to when we are in trouble. He seeks for us to trust Him implicitly, to resist the temptation to work our trials out in the flesh. He wants us to trust Him to the point of obedience…even if that obedience means we will suffer or if it means we will lose something important to us. He wants to be first in our lives. He will not share His glory with any other…He will not stand for anything or anyone that competes with our deepest affection for Him. He wants to be our All in All. So He provides for us to prove us…to test the stuff our heart is really made of. What is my heart made of today? Do I have Him on the throne of total power? Does He have my whole heart or only the small areas I think I can trust Him with? Am I willing to follow His instructions even though it might mean personal sacrifice? Have I laid my expectations on the alter of surrender so that He can give me MANNA from His Storehouse that is sufficient for my soul searching needs? What do I do with what He does give me as provision? Am I the faithful steward or do I try to gather more than He has really given? Does my life praise His provision or does it squander it through disobedience to His heart?

He fed the Israelites faithfully for 40 years in the wilderness. He never missed a day. Maybe they dreamed about steak and potatoes but they never had to go to bed hungry. Forty years of food that they didn’t even recognize when they saw it for the first time. They didn’t have to grow it, only gather it. They weren’t even sure what to call it. Incredible how God wants us to remember what He has done for us…and so they were told by God Himself to gather up two quarts of manna and to put it in a container so that it could be kept throughout their generations. That manna went with the Ark of the Covenant everywhere it traveled. There inside with all the other articles of testimony was a container filled with manna…or as it was said in their tongue “What is it?”. A powerful reminder that God does provide and that He also proves us in the process…to see “what is it” that is in our hearts! Sometimes His provisions are really a test.

“For He satisfieth the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” Psalm 107:9