Abide in Love ~ Abound in Thanksgiving ~ Work in Joy...
Live Fully ~ Suffer Rightly ~ Trust Deeply ~ Bless Truly!


"Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long."
~ Psalms 25:4,5

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

I should have known

It took four days to figure it out and yet I thought I was prepared to see it coming!

We had a guest preacher at church this morning, who happens to be a personal friend of ours.  He preached a dynamic message on Matthew 4:1-11.  Since the passage is about Jesus' temptation with Satan, it was one of those messages that really exposes the Devil for who and how he is...he doesn't like that one bit.

So, I let our friend know afterward that I would be praying against spiritual warfare for him this week.  His response, "Have you talked to my wife or are you just saying that?"  I was just saying it because the LORD had laid that on my heart, but apparently the enemy had been attacking at their house this past week in a preemptive attempt against his preaching on Matthew 4.

As I was explaining to him that I often feel under spiritual attack after I am involved in a Spirit-led proclamation of His Word...and in fact just Tuesday night I was telling DH, "Bible Study of Genesis 1 with the teen moms went really well tonight.  As excited as I am about that, I'm not looking forward to the potential spiritual warfare to follow tomorrow."  And that's when it dawned on me!

That melancholy mood, that depression I could seem to shake Thursday, Friday, Saturday...THAT was probably due to spiritual warfare.  The enemy knew I was expecting it on Wednesday, so he delayed and then zapped my energy, distracted my focus.  I couldn't figure it out, but today I am enlightened and maybe next time I can be a learner who learns and applies more quickly!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

To Refresh The Intense

If you don't know me personally, you have probably gathered from this blog that I am an intense person.  Intense, intentional, serious (although I love to laugh, I am not the Fun Creator).

Lately, I have been spending Sunday afternoon - while my family naps - resting my soul with a good book, articulating and thus imprinting on my heart what God's been teaching me by posting on this blog, being refreshed and/or spiritually challenged through, or a combination of the above with maybe something else thrown in occasionally.

Sunday, February 19, 2012 I found  myself plain worn out - physically, emotionally, spiritually...

It had been a long week and I was tired of it all -- tired of the pressure for progress with Grandpa moving in, tired of conflict with multiple loved ones, tired of the spiritual battle...

As I thought about my Sunday afternoon, my heart sank heavy - none of my usual activities sounded restful and rejuvenating...instead they felt heavy and I needed to be lightened.  I didn't want to just go through the motions and I couldn't discern what would God would want me to do.  Nothing sounded good except that Cheesecake Factory Brownie Cheesecake from Pancho Villa restaurant.

I went to hang my purse up and noticed the DVD in the pocket that a friend from church let me borrow to preview for DS...Cars 2.  I do not like the idea of watching a movie on Sabbath -- an escape that numbs my mind and heart instead filling it with the Life-giving Truth of God and His Word, but...Cars 2 sounded good to this 31 year old mama on this heavy afternoon in February!

For some reason God gave me a peace (no guilt!) I would not have expected - a peace to drive 24 minutes round trip and spend $7 (including tip) on a slice of cheesecake! (those who know this Scottish thrift know that I normally don't have peace about that kind of "waste" of time & money) and the freedom to watch a purely entertaining film.  It was a peace that said "This isn't emotional eating and this isn't an escape - this is the freedom I'm offering my beloved daughter because I love her."

And the even more pleasant surprise...I felt refreshed afterward!  I know those things don't give life in and of themselves and so I was expecting to feel about the same when it was all said and done.  (Which happened minutes before DD woke up from her nap and the call of motherhood rung again - thank you , LORD!)    But in the LORD's faithfulness, He is the One who granted the freedom and He provided the refreshment.  Cheesecake and a movie wouldn't be refreshing for me each Sunday, but when Guided by the Giver, there is even refreshment for "The Intense" in a quiet afternoon with dessert and Disney.

What a beautiful lesson, thank you, dear Father!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jesus Mountain - Adventure of the Christian Life

How do I articulate this?

I tried at our Mom-2-Mom last Thursday (March 1, 2012) and I really feel I botched it, so I'm going to try in written form...

It's the articulation of where I am in my Christian walk.  What I learning from God right now.  But how do I say it without sounding self-debasing or self-righteous, over-analytical or judgmental?

I want to know Christ, I want to live out His righteousness...(Philippians 3:8ff)  But to say that implies that I don't and does that come across as arrogant or belittling to someone who views me more spiritually mature than themself?  "If she doesn't think she knows Christ, then she must think I really know nothing."  No, no, no not at all!  No, I feel like I am the babe in Christ, learning how to drink this basic spiritual milk (1 Peter 2:2): Knowing Christ, living out His righteousness instead of my own "assets" (Philippians 3:7 - do I really!?! my pride deceives me!!!)  I may have been able to articulate truths for my Theology 404 class that my heart hasn't fully embraced yet.  Yes, yes I know & deeply believe the truths of His life and death and resurrection...this Easter, I want to really know it.  What does that take?  I think that takes many Selahs.  And the Selahs of the failures of fasting in Lent may just help with that.

A new Lesson to Learn for the Adventure.

For me, it's been 31 years of breathing on this earth and 16 years of those knowing Christ as my personal LORD and Savior.

16 years of hiking the mountain with God - first three years: very slowly, very flat terrain, establishing myself as a committed hiker; the next four years during college: charging that mountain, gaining a significant working knowledge of that mountain, being captivated by the breath-taking views, growing stronger by the dryness of the valleys, enjoying to minor peaks as I keep looking toward that Ultimate Peak of Heaven; two year post college: more peaks, more navigation skills, still quick pace, learning some of the finer tuned skills - growing in heart knowledge and not just head knowledge, finally committed to daily learning from The Guide Book; the last seven years: more dry valleys, more rocky terrain, more heart knowledge, more opportunities to apply the head and heart knowledge, more slips, stumbles, scrapes, blood, bruises - a more seasoned hiker to weather the storms but maybe also able to see the Hope of the Peak a little more clearly through the fog.

So, is this where God has me now after 16 years?  (For the timing and pace and lessons and challenges and victories and even smaller goals of everyone's journey to the Ultimate Peak is so very vastly different!)  We all start the journey on this "Jesus Mountain" with the Maker-Messiah Himself.  And depending on our background and personalities and opportunities to learn and what type of learners we are etc, etc, depends on how much and how often we take the lead and when we let the Maker-Messiah navigate for us.  How well do we listen to Him or do we think have been anointed the one to figure out this path now that The True Anointed One has gotten us started?

It has been my experience that echoes the stories of Scripture that the more we stay in step with the Maker-Messiah the more peaceful our trip, even when we have to weather storms.

But oh, that is so hard for this self-sufficient traveler!

So, I think this is where Maker-Messiah has me -- during this Lenten season -- at a place where I want to have a deeper understanding in my heart of hearts of my sin that sent Him to be sacrificed and the significance of that sacrifice.  Oh what deep lessons that will take a life-time to continue to wrap my heart around!

John Piper's The Passion of Jesus Christ: 50 Reasons Why He Came and Died has been a resource I've tried to slowly work through to break down the self-sufficiency of my heart.

I did not Make me or any of my talents and I did not Save me nor do I sanctify myself in any way.  Hmmm...that mysterious process of sanctification...I know in my head that it is all because of Christ's work, but my heart lives as if something of the sanctification part of salvation relies on my work..."work out your salvation" says Philippians 2:12.  "For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose," says Philippians 2:13.  It's a both and.

Maybe it has something to do with Tim Keller's words in the "Heart: Three Ways to Live" section of  "Gospel in Life": "We need to not only repent of the bad things that we do, but we need to repent of the reasons we do good things."

"All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD." (Proverbs 16:2)  Oh, how it seems like even the good things I do and want to do are tainted with impure motives or reasons.  Purify me, LORD Jesus, purify me!!!

So maybe if I stay more in step with my Guide on the mountainous trails of life, I will see more clearly the path -- maybe I will want to stay away from the sin that sent Him to be sacrificed and maybe just maybe I will understand more His righteousness that I can receive through the power of His resurrection and maybe when I slip and stumble on the rocks (temptations to sin in thought, word, or action!) of the trail, I will know they were necessary to point me back to my Guide & Savior - the Only One who can & did walk the trail without slipping in order to save us and thus is the Only One I should link arms with as I navigate this Jesus Mountain called "life".  It's this truth of the Grace of Christ in the midst of Failure that seems to be the key Lesson of the LORD for me on this path of the Jesus Mountain.

The Jesus Mountain is Glorious no matter which trail you are on - the beginning trail head holds so much Glorious anticipation, the steady climb gives you opportunity to enjoy His Glorious scenery, the rocky terrain & valleys gives you opportunity to cling to the Glorious One into whose Glory you are climbing!  Keep hiking fellow traveler!  Keep hiking in Him and through Him and for Him (Romans 11:36)!

Friday, March 2, 2012

God's Helping Us Sweep - Little Learners

As I'm sweeping up the kitchen crumbs enough to feed a family mice for the week, DS4 says, "Mom, I want to help you sweep!"  Now what mom wouldn't want to hear that!  But it gets even better than that...there we are each with broom in hand, sharing the dust pan when he declares,

"Mom, God's helping us sweep."  

And I say, "How do you know that?"

"Because He's in our hearts."

"You're right!"

"He helps us with everything." (the emphasis of an energetic, passionate four year old shining through)

"Yes, He does give us the strength we need for everything we do."

And isn't this the lesson I'm learning: 1) Surrender Self-Sufficiency                                            
                                                       2) Any strength I have is the result of Christ's sacrifice

May I Learn through Child-Like Faith!