Forgiven

When I hear the word ‘religion’ I cringe. I don’t want to say the cliche ‘it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship’ but it’s true. A persons relationship with Christ is pivotal to the Christian faith.

I’ve been thinking a lot about people who think they have a corner on truth. Everyone who worships a certain way says they have the truth. How can we possibly know we are right? Or are we all kind of following along blindly because if we look up, the vast questions can overwhelm us?  I’ve always told my children that if we hold the truth then it will be able to stand up to the questions.

I know people much smarter than I am have already tackled these questions so I will focus on the one thing that stands out to me, forgiveness.

Christ came proclaiming to be God (the “I AM” prophesied in Isaiah).  While many people try to say he was just a prophet like other religions have, he professed to be God. This gave him the power to forgive sins. He didn’t come saying ‘you have to do this or that in order to follow my religion and gain favor with God’. He said ‘go and sin no more, your sins have been forgiven’.  This was the requirement for salvation. To accept forgiveness because after generations of God’s people failing to follow the Commandments, it was obvious no one could make it on their own.  To realize that God graciously allowed us to fall on our face to help us see that we can’t do it on our own. We need his help.

We don’t have to pray facing a certain way or a certain number of times per day. We don’t have to wonder if we’re living right because if we don’t we might have to come back as a rat.  We don’t have to wonder if we have the truth. No one else could have said ‘go, and sin no more’ with authority other than the God of the universe.  We are forgiven and set free and because of that we gladly become slaves of righteousness for His names sake. Not living for our own gain, but to proclaim His name because if we don’t, the rocks will cry out for us.

Isaiah 43:1-25

But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.
Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”

Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.”

Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

“Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.

“I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.

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Rebellion

I read recently that someone considered running away from God instead of to Him when going through trials, to be based in self righteousness.  I really don’t think this is the case. I believe it is based in rebellion.

Self righteous – the unfounded state upon which one considers themselves to be morally superior at all times.
Rebellion – the action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.

 The self righteous person feels morally superior.  When I am rebelling against God I do not feel morally superior.  I run away from him for multiple reasons. One is that I’m angry and am challenging God’s authority in my life. How can he allow me to go through the things He is putting me through?  Another reason would be that I know I am failing and can’t see my way out of the box I’ve put myself in to know that He loves me anyway. Finally, I am the first person to preach grace to another and the last to apply it to myself.

 When I run in the opposite direction it is generally because I don’t know where I can place my trust. I’m not placing it in myself and flaunting that attitude. I feel alone. Lost. Wondering what to believe. I’m begging and daring God at the same time. Praying He will prove me wrong.  Expecting the worst. Hoping for the best.

If there is anything I’d like to attack it’s the heart of mine, it is the rebellion that so often compels me to run in the opposite direction of where my help comes from.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

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A Life Lived Fully

I love THIS song. My heart soars as I listen and think about how I long for this kind of life!!  My heart cries out “Oh God PLEASE let me live fully for You!”  “We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive.”  I want THAT!

Then I realize dinner needs to be made and the dishes are still all over the counter from last night, my youngest runs screaming through the house still in her pajamas, I have gotten all of 2 subjects for school done, and have to leave in an hour to go to an activity for my oldest, while my hubby is working late.  And I wonder what this really means for me.

Extraordinary living in an ordinary time and place. Where God has placed me.

This is where I am. Learning the disciplines of organization, time management, and self control. Fighting for the fruits of the Spirit in my life. (and wondering why I have to fight for them when they are gifts….another post, another day) Fighting the darkness that threatens to overwhelm me when I’m not diligent with discipline.

Prayer accomplishes more than we think it does. An extraordinary life may be lived quietly. A little encouragement here, a prayer there, a challenge given without even realizing it. Because God works through His people and we don’t even know He is using us. We are called to just keep walking the path chosen for us.

I Corinthians 9:19-26

For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

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Feelings Lie

The lesson I am learning is to never trust my feelings alone.  Feelings will lie. Just because I feel or don’t feel something doesn’t’ define it’s authenticity.

Yesterday I was sitting with a friend at the library, when a Hindu lady who teaches Sanskrit started talking with us. Since I had intended to conversationally tackle the issue of how some people can feel at peace while believing a lie (in the face of God’s truth in the Bible) it was not a time where I was feeling particularly solid on my beliefs. She asked why I homeschool and continued to attempt to ferret out what I was afraid of.  Coming face to face with that was a ‘Wow! Fear is what I have been struggling with’ moment.

But I don’t homeschool out of fear. I have had to face the fact that at times I want to shelter my kids from the world, but ultimately I don’t keep them home to bind them to a belief that you have to ‘just accept’ as truth. I actually keep them home because I want them to ask questions and have the freedom to find the answers, with someone who loves them guiding them. I don’t think keeping our kids in a cult like state will keep them from sinning.

We also talked about the linear-ness of life. How we keep going and accept where and who we are while moving forward if we find we were wrong in something.  I believe she put it that, ‘if she finds a new truth, she accepts it and moves on’.  Another “Ah-ha!” moment.  Accepting that what I did then, I did because of what I knew or believed, and now I can move forward because my eyes have been opened to the truth of what I didn’t see before.  The failure’s of the past are great lessons but are just that, lessons to be learned from not shackled to.

In the course of our conversation she mentioned that in life there is only one constant, death.  (she called it the ‘mist’ and it took about 3 times of me looking confused for her to say the actual word, but that’s ok)  There is no one born who won’t die. And that is the truth.  There is one who came back though. And people saw him. Only one who came back never to die again.

I have been struggling with fear.  I can’t say I won’t ever again but when  you look at life and don’t fear death, I think the moments of slogging through life become a little more clear.  I can enjoy the moments I’ve been given and not be afraid someone won’t remember me or what I’ve done. It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that at that moment, when I was struggling to care about what was right, much less live it or teach my children, I was able to stand for Christ. Because I was standing for truth.  Not just a belief I have or something I hang onto when times get tough like a rabbits foot, but reality.

I will struggle because I can see my sin. I don’t’ ever want that struggle to end. It would mean I am blind to my sin and I believe that would be akin to living death. A sort of putrid peace that I can lie to myself about but never trust.  But in my struggle I don’t have to believe that everyone around me  can see me clearly while I can’t. That their frustrations at my faults should define me. I will fail everyone who I wish to cherish.  But if I can keep pointing them to Christ, to keep showing them that there is One who will never fail them, then I have succeeded. In my weakness, He has become strength.

In my struggle I can also rest, knowing that He will show me my sin as I continue in prayer. That IS rest. Beautiful rest in the Rock that will never move. My shelter in the time of storm. Why do I always run away from Him instead of to Him, prolonging my time in the ‘slough of despond’? Thankfully He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me and I have never understood this more fully than today.

Hebrews 13:1-21

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.  Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear;
what can man do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.  We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.  So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things. I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will,working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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Defining ‘Best’

I want to just stop and drink life in. To treasure the moments with my little ones and store up memories. I can’t.  Not the way I’d like to anyway. My mind can’t seem to hold onto much, while life’s pace hurries me forward like a conveyor belt. As I hurtle along trying to do my best, it can get confusing trying to determine what is ‘best’. What exactly is ‘best’ for myself and my family and how does that affect how I live in, and relate to, the world around me?

Does having the ‘best’ for my family mean preparing quality food? (and what IS quality?) What is the cost associated with that?  What about quality education? (again, what does quality mean here?)  And the cost literally and emotionally?   How about finding the ‘best’ church?  And again, the cost?

It feels like anxiety, fear and doubt can run me ragged unless I am vigilant. Unless I keep my guard up at all times, I will be swept away with the rising tide of the next fad or someone else’s “conviction”. A drink for health here, a diet there, a petty grievance allowed to fester, a question pondered without prayer.

I don’t want to worship my body.  I don’t want to worship food. I don’t want education to take the place of character in my children.  I don’t want church to become just another task to accomplish.

Sometimes being vigilant means figuring out how to be content with where God has placed me. Sometimes worshiping the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind is to wait on the Lord while just “doing the next thing”.  Sometimes the best thing I can do for my family is simply to pray, asking the Lord for the wisdom to walk in His ways and to accept His ‘best’ for me.

Luke 12:1-40

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

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Objective Subjectivity

There are times when I get bogged down by life. It’s nothing I can really put my finger on and honestly, if I step back, I have nothing to complain about.  However, as much I am able, I refuse to be hypocritical. And since I’ve started preaching another gospel to myself, I can’t very well write about the opposite. So you might not hear from me until I’ve worked through some of it.

Hypocrisy comes in many forms and while I say I want honesty, I am not always willing or able to be objective. Rather than focusing on objective truths about the Lord, I find myself listening to the subjective voices in my head.  Those voices can be actions or words from others that I have allowed impact me;  I can say on the outside that I understand and might even want to, but the inside seethes with feelings of frustration and impotence.  The voices can be the apparent evidence of my unworthiness based on the outcome of my life at the moment;  not the goals I’m working toward, but the perceived truth of the moment.  The voices can be from the past, reminding me of failures and struggles that have never really been overcome.  The hard truth is, if I stay here long enough my shit stops stinking and I forget that I’m wallowing.

These voices are my subjective truth, Things I have allowed into my life to shape and mold me. Not the objective truth of God’s Word.  At times it is hard to apply objective truth to my subjective life. And sometimes I don’t want to.

In these moments people encourage me to start being thankful.  It is a start. To begin thinking of the truth of God’s word and the work He is doing in my life. But it’s not sustainable for me without a lot of cheer leading.  Reading blogs and posts about walking with the Lord are great, but that will never sustain me like God’s Word and prayer will.

This post challenged me today.

Hebrews 4

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.  For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,
“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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Truth in Context

Truth be told these posts are mainly preaching to myself. Over and over and over. Truth is truth and can’t be swayed by my feelings. This is the reason I post Bible passages instead of a verse or two. I like to have context as well truth.

Thanksgiving is a means to this end as well.  Giving thanks for what the Lord has given me.  And the Lord has indeed blessed me!  Yet, my brain still manages to turn the truth inside out, if I let it.  I realize that He has blessed me, but on the inside I still feel the press that I am not the person I should be.  That the Kara Tippets of the world deserve to live! Because they have found peace and joy and are able to share it with others.

The truth is that I am often just putting my head down and plowing through my day.  Making decisions I’m not sure are the best, but reminding myself to rest in the knowledge that my God will guide. After I fight with myself to start working, I often find relief in the simple tasks that are required of me every day.  To forget about the questions for a moment and instead to just seize the moment that I have been given.  Giving thanks for the beauty of God’s truth in the context of my world.

While the li-de-di-de-di’s still make me laugh, I believe this song has a great message.

Ecclesiastes 9

But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.  For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.
Let your garments be always white. Let not oil be lacking on your head.

 Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.  For man does not know his time. Like fish that are taken in an evil net, and like birds that are caught in a snare, so the children of man are snared at an evil time, when it suddenly falls upon them.

 I have also seen this example of wisdom under the sun, and it seemed great to me.  There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siege works against it.  But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.

 The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

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Fighting Uphill

There are times I find myself crying and thinking I want a thing. I can’t stop crying and sobbing. Then that thing doesn’t work out and there is relief. (Which can take years longer than I would like but it eventually comes).  At the time I probably couldn’t tell you that I was crying because I was in conflict. I would just say that starting (or ending) something is always a process. Afterwards I can really see that the Lord was leading in my Spirit and I couldn’t see it. PRAISE GOD He leads!! Praise God I can rest knowing He will lead even if I’m fighting for the opposite thing in the opposite direction, thinking it’s what He wants for me.

I will probably continue to fight because that’s just who I am. But knowing, resting, having absolute assurance that He will NEVER let me go. He will NEVER abandon me. Hard peace. Hard joy.

This is different from the struggle with sin. That will always be an uphill battle. And I am never to grow weary in doing good. This IS a struggle with sin. Sin so deep down that I can’t even see it. And it is being brought to light through the Lord’s loving discipline. I am not to grow weary in doing good. I guess there is a lot more to come to light than I had ever imagined.

A few months ago, I was at a point where I felt that I couldn’t believe in God. If He was who He said He was then I shouldn’t have to be fighting this hard. I gave up.  But when I tried to fully give it up, the still small voice asked me about my children.  So I said I would continue teaching them the truth, because that’s what I knew it to be, but it must not be for me.  However, like this man‘s experience, God would not stop pursuing me.

There is a hard line in everything that the Lord won’t let me cross.  In marriage, in raising my children, and with church.  What I wouldn’t give at times, to be able to cross that line and join the others that have found a little bit of relief from the struggle. But for whatever reason, I have not been allowed. I will continue this journey and pray the Lord helps me fight the hard battles, not because I am guaranteed a win in this life, because it is what He has called me to do and I will honor Him.

Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

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Freedom to Fail

I get so tired of the struggle for discipline. It seems it would be easier if the Lord would just tell me what would be best for me and I know if I failed He would forgive, but I would have a goal to work toward. ” I need to be this weight, get up at this time every day and go to bed at this time.”  I have been given the freedom to fail instead.

In that failing and getting up and struggle to learn what the Lord would have me learn, I am being refined. The dross is being purged and I am confident that He is making me more like Christ.

With the new year upon me I am feeling the urge to set goals.  This is a great thing to do but I want those goals to honor the Lord more than honoring me. I want to set a weight loss goal or any other goal, and have it focus more on Christ than on myself.

The only way I know to do that is:

Pray: with full confidence that at the right time I will know.  That even in my not knowing there is knowledge that God is guiding my steps.

Trust: that He has it all worked out and all I need to do is focus on Him. That He will move me if I’m not going in a direction that fully honors Him.

Wait:  Not stopping, but in that quiet place of my soul where I meet Him every day, waiting on Him.

This Psalm talks about so much more than silly weight loss and keeping my house clean but this is the path the Lord has set me on. I will walk it to the best of my ability because that is what will honor Him more than anything else.

Psalm 37

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.

The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.

The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.

Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.

The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.

But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.

I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.

Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.

The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.

Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.

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Joy in Sorrow

I was thinking. While the last post was written with heartfelt sorrow, there is joy and hope there as well. I pray I conveyed that as clearly. As much as I long for my true home there IS beauty here.

I’ve heard people say that ‘we couldn’t know the beauty without the pain’.  I don’t know about that. I know without the pain, I wouldn’t seek my Savior instead of myself, and my joy in the beauty wouldn’t be as complete.  Christ knew true beauty before He came to earth.

What I am often looking for is a reason for the pain. Sometimes it feels so pointless. What I need to remember is, with God nothing is pointless. He is giving me chance after chance to look to Him for my strength. When I am weak, His strength will shine through. Not when I think I’ve had enough and think I am weak. When the lover of my soul sees that I am ready to fall on my face before Him in worship and truth.

Remembering and trusting in God’s promises encourages and challenges me.  I think of Mary Poppins when the kids asked her if she would always stay, she said it was a “Pie crust promise. Easily made easily broken.”  God’s promises are not easily made and they are never broken.

A promise: He will never leave me or forsake me.  Deuteronomy 31:6-8 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

A promise: God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

A promise: We will all one day stand before God. The just and the unjust.  Acts 24: 14-15 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

A promise: God will pursue us.  Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

God will pursue me. Relentlessly. What a blessing!  This post encouraged me today. God’s promises will never be broken and He will never leave me.

 Hebrews 10

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

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