Monday, December 31, 2012

Count My Blessings ~ Even the hard ones

Recently, I was visiting with a friend and we began to reflect on the blessings of the the last year. This is my short list ~ a  Godly husband that loves and supports me, three great kids, family and friends that are amazing, a new and unexpected job for me with an organization that I love... the typical list that goes on and on. Then they gave me a challenge: "look back and find God in the hard stuff ... and keep finding Him when new hard stuff happens in 2013."

Here goes:

Twice this year our boys have had accidents in the truck. First on our Anniversary and then again on the last day of term finals at the high school when we got blasted with this winter's first big winter storm. Both times the truck spun 180 degrees and slid backwards and sideways into a ditch. Both times there was no oncoming traffic, the truck missed a telephone pole, the truck stayed upright and didn't flip. Both times our sons came home safe. God is GOOD.

Twice this year we had vehicles that needed unexpected and significant repair. The Pilot's suspension broke in a dangerous way, on a day when I was driving across the Cities while at the same time cell phone reception for Verizon went down for the several hours. I made it home safely. The repair was costly but possible. All of our vehicles have at least 150,000 miles on them, and yet they continue to get us (car payment free) where we need and want to go. God is Good.

I ended up with a really bad dental issue. A crown failed, I ended up with a cavity that went from the base of the crown to the underside of my jawbone. The root canal that had been done on that same tooth also failed and I ended up with an abscess that stretched along the top of my jawbone and sinus cavity. But we found a specialist that got me on some strong antibiotics to clear up the infection. Oral surgery included two bone graphs on my upper jaw (not covered my insurance) but the rest of that procedure and all of what will happen next year should be fully covered by insurance. Treatment and recovery will be a long process. But it is possible. God is Good.

After planning a family hiking/camping trip to the Appalachian Trail for the summer of 2012, one of my son's and I both had injuries the week before the trip. My son hurt his knee playing basketball at teen camp. We were able to get him to the hospital and a specialist (while at teen camp) and confirmed that he had a severe sprain and would not need surgery. I rolled my ankle the same day (with an audience of hysterical jr. high girls) but again, nothing real serious. We had to modify what we did, how much we walked and how much we carried, but we had a blast. Even saw 2 black bears, but not up close and personal! God is Good.

Matt's had issues with his back for several years. It sucks. Good doctors and good meds (both covered by our insurance), exercise, a new inversion table and preventative care have helped. God is Good.

Our children. They are tweens, teens, young adults. Trying to figure out life, God, relationships, college and other mysteries. They have each made many choices this year, some have proven to be good and solid ~ others have ended up being opportunities for growth (all be it painful and hard.) Sometimes we are able to be the parents they need in the moment they need us. Other times we have failed and had to seek forgiveness and do our best to make things right. All of us are still learning, growing and seek God. God is Good.

We didn't make it back to Arizona this year. It was a hard choice. Instead, our teens did the HS Band trip in the Spring of 2012, we did a family trip to the Appalachian trail this past summer and we will go to Guatemala with our oldest sons in Feb of 2013 as part of a Jesus Film ministry team. We miss our Arizona family. We love them. They support us, love us and miss us too. We hope for a trip in 2013. God is Good.

A dear friend in her 90's who went with us to church every Sunday for the last few years went home to be with Jesus this fall. She filled a hole in our heart and life that we didn't know we had. We are thankful for the time God gave us with her, and we are so glad that we KNOW she is now home. God is Good.

After 9 1/2 years with our family, our beloved boxer, Angel died on Thanksgiving morning. We know we did all we could. She was with us when death came. We loved her as a family, raised her and did life with her together, said goodbye together and miss her now. It's still hard. God is Good.

Matt and I have been trying to go on a date for over a month.  Every time we set up a night something happened. Work forced Matt to stay and work an extra shift. All I want is a night alone with my man! But work is very short staffed. Some changes at the plant regarding who does what  went into effect in late October and have caused a shortage of staffing in Matt's area.  It is a shortage that will continue until at least the spring of 2014 - yep you read right - this will be our reality for at least another year. But Matt has a job. A very good job. Matt will be able to work there for as long as he chooses. He is paid well for what he does and for what he knows. We have health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, prescription coverage, a 401K, paid time off, a pension. In a time where many of our friends and family wonder and worry about employment, we have peace. God is Good.

At the beginning God is Good. In the middle God is Good. Even when I don't feel it God is Good. While I don't understand it God is still Good. When I am hurting God is Good. In the end God is Good. Amen.

The Last Day

So here we are. The last day of another year. A good time to look back, a good time to dream ahead.
And so on this last cold December morning in 2012, the house is quiet. The fire is burning and the den is warm. My coffee is poured and my Bible is in my hands.

Psalm 86

1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you. You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
  • Actually today I feel richly blessed and not poor and needy. You are my God, and You have extended to me mercy and grace that I can hardly understand. Help me God to continue to put my trust in You, and help me to remember that trusting in myself is the quickest way for me to end up in trouble.
 5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.  Hear my prayer, Lordlisten to my cry for mercy. When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.  All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
  • Forgiving and good, abounding in love.  Where would I be without Your forgiveness, goodness and love? Thank you God for listening to me. There is none like you. You are the beginning and You are the end. There is no authority above You or beyond You. You will be honored. Every knee will bow.
 11 Teach me your way, Lordthat I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.  For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.
  •  Teach me your way, Lord - Shape my heart and mind to be teachable. I want to turn to you first and trust you fully. An "undivided heart" ~ remove those things in me that distract me from You. Remove those things in me that do not honor You, or reflect Your character. I want to soak You up re-present Your character to others. Your love to me is great, and it has transformed my life. When I praise You will ALL of my heart and glorify Your name FOREVER - there is no room for selfishness, self-centeredness or self importance. I need my eyes, my heart, my mind - my everything to be fully focused on and surrendered to You God.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you.  But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.  Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
  •  But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  This simple verse sums up so much truth. Your character is consistent. 
I don't know what You have in store for the next 12 months. My guess is that some things will be fun and easy, while others will probably be hard and scary. I don't want to rush ahead of you, and I don't want to lag behind. I want to walk right next to You. I wanna hold Your hand. I wanna be close enough to hear your whisper and brave enough to obey. Love You God ~ and I know You love me too :-)


Friday, December 28, 2012

Lamest Saying Ever!

I met a woman this week that lives just up the road from me. In the course of chitchat we came to realize that we have some things in common. We are both married, we live in the same area, and we chose the area for similar reasons. We both have 3 sons, and the ages and spacing of our children is nearly identical. However, her boys are 1, 4, and 6. She is still at the beginning her parenthood journey. She's writing the chapter on childhood. She had questions like "when will it get easier", "when will they get along better" and "when will I not be sooo tired all of the time?" I smiled. She didn't want to hear the truth, she wanted encouragement and support. Those pages in our book are already written. There was laughter and tears and not much sleep! There were family snow fights, cross country road trips,  and various falls, cuts and visits to the ER. Bed time stories and night time prayers, dinners around the table, moves, new schools, new churches...just life. It was hard. It was fun. It was great.

This unique year at the Wilson house. It's a "season" that feels like it is full of "lasts."  Next spring our oldest son will graduate from High School, and the Spring after that our middle son will do the same. In May our youngest son completed the 5th grade and moved into the middle school building, we have finished our time in the elementary school arena, and are now the proud parents of tweens and teens. In June our family took what may end up being our last big family trip. This fall we watched our oldest boys preform on the marching band field together for the last time. A few weeks ago we took what was probably our last trip to the mall for "family Christmas shopping." This might have been our last Christmas morning with all three of our wonderful sons.

It happened so fast. Matt and I have tried to enjoy every "season and stage" with our boys. We were never the people that said I can't wait until they are past the baby stage, or the toddler stage or in school.  We looked on purpose for what was special at each moment, and did our best to enjoy it and ride the wave. Some days were better than others. Such is life. I am sure great things are still to come for our ever growing and ever changing family; yet today it still feels bittersweet. Our goal was to take the boys God gifted us with and help them grown into loving, functioning, productive, independent, dynamic Christian adult men. They know we love them, believe in them, support them - and we really want them to have lives that are bigger than our basement when they are 30!

"Give them roots and give the wings." That's gotta be one of the lamest sayings ever! But as we continue to take off the training wheels and encourage our young men to choose the path of adulthood, I can see that the lame saying has a seed of truth. I asked my Grandma Betty and Grandpa Dick once not to long ago when it got easier as a parent. They paused for a moment and then said this "It doesn't get easier, it's just a different kind of hard. Just keep trusting God."

That wisdom brought me back to this verse:

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you and watch over you" Psalms 32:8

God will continue to teach my sons, and so will I.
God will also be teaching me. Life as the parent of adult children, won't be the same as life with teens and tweens, but it will still be good, crazy, stressful, frustrating, funny, amazing and blessed. Very Blessed.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hey Now, Don't Judge Me by my Flip Flops!

It's been another crazy upside down week.

It's November, well actually now it is Dec, but the weather seems more like early fall or mid spring. Mornings have been chilly, but afternoons just keep getting better and better. Today we may hit 65! So what's a simple girl to do when the weather goes warming sideways in what should be a cold and cruel time of year? Well this girl dug out her capri's and cute flip flops and painted up her toes cute as could be - then headed out into the world for 3 full days of appointments :-) There were puzzled looks, and even a few questioning comments. I'd just smile and say "Hey, don't toes wont see the sun again for another four long months." Usually we'd both laugh and move on to whatever business needed to be settled.

On Saturday I had the privilege of going with our oldest son for a follow up college visit. It was a great day for a visit with more beautiful weather as a special little gift from God. I had on jeans and open toed platform strappy shoes with a cute little red short sleeve sweater. I looked and can confirm with great confidence that my toes were the cutes ones there. Again, several times I was asked about my shoe selection for "this time of year" and again I simply smiled and replied, "Hey don't toes wont see the sun again for another four long months." We would laugh and then return to the fun of watching our kids continuing to explore the possibilities of college life.

At the end of the day the two of us loaded back into the car and headed back to the highway for the 150 mile drive home. We stopped along the way at a random Walmart to pick up a few things I would need for church the next morning. As we were standing in the line to check out, I discovered that the bag of cookies I was holding to purchase had been opened and mostly eaten :-( Who does that? I was ticked. My son offered to run back and get me an unopened bag while I continue to wait in the line. So off he went and there I stood - stewing and waiting in the slowest check out line ever in the history of Walmart.  The cashier seemed nice enough, though she didn't chat at all with her customers. And the customers were pleasant too, though none were in any kind of hurry to be anyplace but there. Then it happened, just as my cashier was about to start my order, another cashier came buy for something. My lady said to this other employee as she walked past "Hey did you here about 'so-and so' in the fabric and craft depart? She is gonna retire at the end of the week! She's retiring?" The other woman said back flatly "yeah, I know." My cashier blurted out, "but she's retiring! She's not much older than me and she's retiring! Must be nice. What's up with that anyway?" What happened next was quick, but I am glad I didn't miss it. The lady she was speaking to stopped, and I mean completely stopped, looked her straight in the eyes and said "she has lung cancer, she's dieing." Then she turned on her heal and walked away.


How many times have I done that too.
I know a piece of the story. I see things from afar. I think I am smarter than I actually am, only to discover how little I know or truly understand.

Heart check in the middle of Walmart - ok God. I'm listening...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fragile On My Forehead

Fragile on my Forehead

That is how I feel. That is what I am sure people would see today if they just looked close enough. It's a handle with care kind of day, week, month, season. The details don't matter ~ I know that God knows the whole story. When will the rain stop? When will each new day not feel like it is all up hill, uneven and jagged? There is just so much hard stuff right now. I guess you could say it's harvest time, but what is being reaped is the fruit of poor choices, foolish decisions and outright plain and simple sin. Free will can really stink sometimes. The people I love hurt. I can't fix it. I feel powerless.  I cry out to God, when will I hear your voice? I know that faith is not feeling based, in fact sometimes faith is the exact opposite of what I am feeling.

Insights from my Bible reading: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit ~ Romans 15:13 and then Find rest O my soul in God alone, my hope comes from Him ~ Psalms 62:5  I wrapped up with So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law of the Prophets ~ Matthew 7:12

Joy, Peace, Hope.  These things all feel so far from me today. Draw me close today.

My heartache, My struggle, My chaos, My world. Me, Me, Me, Me, Me.
I know that these days are just a few pages in story that God continues to write.
God I know that you can use these pages for your glory.

But it still hurts. It's still hard. I don't like it. It's not fun. It's not easy. It's messy. You are patient when I am slow, when I falter, when I fail, when I am human. You love me beyond measure. Help me God. Let me see the people that you bring into my path today the way you do. If they have fragile on their forehead and in their heart, let me mirror your compassion and your love.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Please come with...

Have you ever had a time where you just felt like you were at the end of yourself?
Sunday School answers don't always bring comfort in the midst of real life struggle.
So life is still real...and it still can be hard.
What I need is some face time with my ABBA.
I need answers. I need hope. I long for comfort. I long for truth.

I crack open my Bible again - to the place we left off yesterday. Once again God shows up right on time - His time. So this is how I process Moses' experience from long ago and apply it to where I am today. I can't say its deeply theological, but more deeply personal. It's not the historical context, but instead the context of this moment in Moses' life and how it can parallel my moment too.

Exodus 33:7-15
Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.
            Alright - so meeting with God is important. It's not just something for the leadership, but something for every follower. And this meeting didn't take place in the middle of chaos. It was a place set apart. It was a place where seeking God was the purpose. God - help me to be intentional in the ways I inquire of You.

 And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent.  
            When the leader and judge of the people sought out God - the people noticed.

9As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent.
             When Moses sought God, God showed up - and the people knew it. The people would follow the example of their leader and they would also worship.

 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
             Wow! God didn't just show up, he spoke with Moses as one "speaks to a friend". I want that! There's a big difference between getting a lecture or receiving orders from the boss  and talking with a friend.

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’       
            Preach it brother Moses! God, you gave me this job but none of the details. I am clueless God. God, you have told me that I am your girl and I believe what you say is true.

1If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”
            I need to know you more God. I want to be more like you. The deeper we go together, the more I will become who you created and intended me to be. You have a plan for me and for your people. Please help me God to have your eyes - speak your truths and be your hands and feet. Let me advocate for those you have put in my path God. Don't give up on us God. Even tho we sometimes still struggle with sin, we are Yours and we want more of You.

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
            This is what I hear God saying... " I've got your back. I am gonna be right there with you. It's mine plan. I will provide. I know you don't get it, and you don't have all the details. You don't need to have all the details. Take a deep breath. It will be ok."    AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST - I don't rest when there is stress. My mind just doesn't shut down. For me to rest, my mind must be at peace with God. Sometimes there is not peace in my circumstance, but there can still be peace in my heart - a peace that comes only from God.

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.
              If You don't go with me God, don't make me go alone. If this is not Your plan God, don't ask me to do it.

Today God, make my words your words. May I speak only what you would direct and then shut my mouth. Give me your eyes God, and help me to see the people You bring into my path as you see them. As people spend time with me today, let them get to know you a little more. If I am the only Bible they read today, let what they read be Your truth.

Monday, October 29, 2012

When I Pray Psalm 37 what I am saying is...

So this was one of those days. I read Your word and you whisper gently in my ear. You know me well God, so you know that I don't need a heavy hand today, I already have a heavy heart. Genesis to refresh my mind with the truth I will teach in a few hours. Exodus, where we currently travel together. James, as I continue to hang out in faith application and get ready for my next ladies group and then to the Psalms. Not for study; not on the read it sheet; just the place I am drawn these last few weeks. I am in no rush. As my heart crys out to you God, Davids words echo mine. So I am gonna pray them to you God, as I apply them to me.

Psalm 37

Don’t worry about the wicked
    or envy those who do wrong.
             Ok God, so it's not about anyone but me. Me and You. I wont worry about them and you, I will keep my focus on me and You and this journey we are on together.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
    Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
             You are judge God, and you will take care of it.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
             I know that you know all that is going on. Help me to remember what stuff is yours to handle and what you actually want me to do. Help me to stay focused to the tasks you have actually given me. Don't let me be distracted by anything else. I want to be faithful to the things you have laid on my heart.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
             I want to enjoy our time together Lord. I want to close my eyes, breath deep and smile. 
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.
            God please keep working on me. Transform my hearts desires to the things that honor and glorify you. Not my will by thy will Lord...
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
             Let my actions reflect your will and not my own.
             Let everything I do bring honor to you.
    Trust him, and he will help you.
             As I depend on you God, I know that you will provide what I need. I don't want to hold anything back.  
He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
    and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.
Be still in the presence of the Lord,
            Shut my mouth, quiet my mind and let me hear You.
    and wait patiently for him to act.
            Your will in Your time - God help me to remember you never show up late to the party.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper
    or fret about their wicked schemes.
            I don't need to focus on the wrongs of others - I know you know all about it God.
Stop being angry!
           My anger does not please you.
    Turn from your rage!
           The words and actions my anger produce doesn't please you either.
Do not lose your temper—
    it only leads to harm.
            I can control my mouth, my thoughts, my actions. It wont be easy, but it is for my good.

I can't do any of this without you God. It will be your strength, not mine. Where I lack desire God, please increase it. Tonight I long for your tender love for me. Draw me close God.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Give Ear To My Words Oh Lord

The last couple of weeks have been ... I don't even know the words.

God, I have witnessed Your blessings at their best.
I have witnessed sin's ravaging at it's worst.
New life has been created, and a child we be born --- and I join in the rejoicing!
Another struggles with the pain of pregnancy loss.
A friend was called home to glory - and I miss her.
You have used medicine and doctors to heal and restore for one family; yet another waits and seeks You although it seems that healing on this side of heaven will not be a part of Your plan.
A job secured, a job lost.
A marriage created and blessed by You; families crumbling from within.

I love your faithfulness. Your Word speaks so well. You gave me David's words today, and they ring true in my heart.

Give ear to my words, Oh Lord, consider my meditation. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God; to you alone do I pray. My crys you will hear in the morning. Oh Lord in the morning will I direct my prayer unto you, and I will wait in expectation. 

This verse is salve for my soul. I first learned this truth as a campfire song at a camp in Prescott Arizona. As I sing these words to you God, I can smell the pine trees and feel the cool mountain air. I recall the lessons of my youth that you have proven true time and time again in my adult journey of faith. I know You are not far from me. I know that I can not even begin to perceive Your knowledge, or Your understanding.  I just need an extra portion from you today...some extra love, some extra peace and some extra wisdom. I am glad we are starting the day together God. You know the details of what this day will be. I want to seek you first. In all that is this day - let it honor You.

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you Oh Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ever Seeing

Well I thought my study of the Names of God had just about come to a close - I thought - but I didn't really seek out God's thoughts on the matter at all. Over the weekend I finished my through the Bible in a year reading goal, and it only took me 18 months! While mulling over what to do next, I was inspired to once again start at the beginning - so look out Genesis here I come :-) It was there I discovered not one but two more names I had not yet had the chance to meditate on.

The first was in Genesis 16.  Hagar is being treated horribly by Sarai. Sarai had decided to move ahead of God's perfect timing regarding the covenant child that had been promised to her and her husband Abram. Sarai became impatient and insisted that her maidservant sleep with Abram so that they might conceive a child. Sarai suggested it and Abram agreed - what was he thinking? Now, I am guessing that Hagar had no say in the matter. She was a servant, and in that time there were no rights allowed to servants - they did as they were instructed. Hagar slept with her bosses husband, got pregnant and then got bitter. I can understand that. Sarai also got jealous and bitter - after getting exactly what she had asked for. Sarai is unhappy, Hagar is unhappy, and my guess would be that Abram was not very happy either. Sarai began to make Hagar's life miserable, so Hagar fled. She ran away from her persecutor and ran straight into an encounter with an angel of the Lord. God knew her circumstance, understood her heartache and frustration and yet He still had a plan for her and her unborn child.  "she gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her 'You are the God who sees me; I have now seen the One who sees me' "

I find great comfort here, as I am reminded that God is is aware of my every need; He is all present, all knowing and all understanding. God sees more, knows more and understands more than I ever will. What I can understand is only a result of the gift of understanding that God has given to me. How arrogant of me to think and behave like there are things I need to explain to God. Sarai thought she knew her need (and how to meet that need) better than God, so she set out on a path of her own. It was a path that lead straight to heartache and destruction. I need to be wise enough to learn from the mistakes of my Old Testament sister - or I will also surely face the disastrous consequences of my own plans. I can also learn from Hagar. God met with Hagar, and revealed His intimate knowledge of her circumstance; but then God sent her back and instructed her to have a right attitude toward the woman who was so horrible to her. There is every indication that things stayed tense between Hagar and Sarai. Sarai had no love for Hagar's child. I am not sure there was any visible improvement in Hagar's situation after her encounter with God - but Hagar was changed. Like Hagar, in the midst of my most challenging circumstances, is the thing God wants to change most me? Will there be no visible change in the details of my life? Will the difficult people remain difficult? Will the health issues remain? If work, and family, and church, and friends, and finances all stay the same, can I still believe that God is  El Roi - the God who sees my need, is constantly present and completely knowing and understanding?

God grow my faith and trust today. Thank you God for seeing me, and thank you concerning Yourself with my needs today. Amen.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My On Call Doctor.

I have a great family Doc. We have gone to him for 10 years and we all like him. But he has crazy hours. He never works weekends, or any Wednesday (which always seemed to be the day my kids got sick), or any nights. He is great when he is there. But sometimes I will call the office seeking assistance and he will not be there. He can't hear me or meet my need. He is unavailable.

Jehovah Rophi - Jehovah Rophe - Jehovah Ropheka - The Lord Heals.  Long fancy hard to say words. But what does it mean to me? How does this name of God as my physician and healer shape my relationship with Him and is authority in me?

I have seen the healing hand of God where physical illiness and disease abound.  My sister had hodgkins lymphoma in her mid twenties, but has been cancer free for more than 5 years. A close family friend was radically and divinely healed from systemic matastisized cancer just a couple years ago and she uses each day to share God's story of love in her life. Just this spring another family friend in his early 30's fought testicular cancer and is now in remission. Praise God! Praise God! Praise God!

Yet, there are times when the healing hand of God seemed still. Allergies, asthma, arthritis, back problems, biopsy's, bone fractures, cancer, depression, diabeties, eating disorders, heart failure, hernia's, high blood pressure, infertility, joint injuries, kidney failure, lingering cronic health issues, liver failure, miscarrage, mental health issues like bi-polar disorder, parkinsons desease, thryroid issues...all of these have touched the lives of the people I do life with just this year. None of these things were cured. My friends and their families still suffer with the lingering effects of these conditions. There has still been illness, there has still been death.

"The word "rophe" appears some sixty or seventy times in the Old Testament, always meaning "to restore," "to heal," "to cure," as a physician, not only in the physical sense but in the moral and spiritual sense also. Jehovah here pledges to His people (conditional upon their obedience) to always be their "Healer." Our Lord (the Great Physician) still "heals" His people today of their spiritual illnesses (the disease of sin) through obedience to His inspired Word (See Matt. 9:12-13; Lk. 4:18; Lk. 5:31-32; Rom. 6:16-18; 1 Tim. 1:15). " The Names of God by Mike Riley

I am excited by this name. God is literally my always on call Doctor. But His healing isn't just limited to the physical. He can heal my heart, my mind, my emotions, my marriage, my relationships and my soul. 

God is  in the practice of healing marriages, families and friendships. Nothing is ever broken beyond what God can repair. 
God has the power to heal emotions and set free sisters and brothers in Christ that are bound in shackles by the hurts of yesterday. No wound is ever so deep that God cannot heal it completely.  God's power extends to His ability to heal the minds of His children who are stuggling with addictions, depression, anger and anxiety. Medication is a valuable resource, but only God can heal the root of this problems. God is not in the business of just treating symptoms.  God's authority provides for the spritual healing of men and women who are hurting and searching for real meaning and real love from the One True God. Praise God, no sin has ever stained so deeply that the the Blood of the Cross can't wash it away!
Sometimes I can see and understand the manner in which God heals. Sometimes I cannot. God is God and I trust that He knows what is best. I trust that he has a plan. I accept that He has no  obligation to share the details of His plan with me - but I don't always like it.

My take away for the day: Nothing is ever broke beyond what God can fix. The only limit to God's healing power are the limits I create in my mind. In all things I do have the opportunity to bring glory to God my Creator. So now I am gonna be a big girl. I'm gonna keep that Dr's appointment at the OBGYN today that I've already re-scheduled twice. And regardless of what happens I know that God's got it under control, and He will be glorified.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Peace...Part 2

So this week we have a special speaker at Rock Island First Nazarene. Norm Moore. Gifted speaker, amazing heart for the Lord. We would drive great distances to hear him, so to have him at our home church is a gift. I don't know what he spoke of Sunday morning - I was with the kids learning more about choices, sin and God's Epic story. But last night our focus was on Isaiah 9:6b

 "and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, PRINCE OF PEACE."

Don't you just love it when God is talking with someone else about the same things He keeps whispering in your ear? Ya me too. It really is amazing to me to know and see God work like that. The following is my breakdown but not an outline, or a word for word account. It reflects what God is speaking to me as I process thru the seeds that were planted.

So Pastor Moore lead off with these questions: 1) Is there peace in your heart? 2) Is there peace in your mind? 3) Is there peace in your home? 4) Is there peace in your church?

"Peace I leave with you, MY peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" John 14:27

1) Peace in my heart - are things settled correctly between God and me?
2) Peace in my mind - who's voice do I hear?  Do voices from my broken past and lies of the devil drowned out the truth my heavenly Father speaks to me now?
3) Peace in my home - Well, there are people who live there besides me. They think their own thoughts, make their own choices, and have their own ya, peace at home is sometimes problematic.
4) Peace in my church - Again, its a church filled with people. You've heard the saying "where two or more are gathered there is conflict".  The same types of people you have at your church, we have at ours. We are human. We are flawed. We are a group of people trying to figure out how to journey together toward deeper relationship with God, but we are not perfect. Sometimes we forget that we are all part of the same body - and no part was meant to function alone. But our love runs deep, for God and for each other.
Then Pastor Moore transitioned to what I will call peace breakers, peace stealers, peace inhibitors. It's not pretty. The bolded words are his, what follows is my application of what he said.

Unconfessed Sin - actions, thoughts, attitudes. Where there is unconfessed sin there is not peace.
Unsurrendered will - when I usurp my authority, plans or priorities over Gods there is not peace.
Unforgiveness of self and others - when my hard heart says to my stubborn mind that my sins against God or others sins against me (or the ones I love) are too big for the cleansing, healing, restoring power of the Blood of Jesus Christ - there is not peace.
Grudges and the desire for vindication or revenge - when I hold my desire to "settle things" over God's ability to handle things in His way and in His time, there is not peace.
Selfishness - When my desire for my way above the needs of others or the desire of God determines my actions, attitudes, conversations and thoughts, there is not peace.
Pride - When my ego prevents me from apologizing, or accepting anther's apology, there is no peace.

Pastor Moore also had us practice saying a few phrases "I am sorry. I was wrong. I don't have to have my own way. Please forgive me."

Jehovah Shalom - the God of Peace; Jesus Christ - the Prince of Peace.
The God of Peace does His part - He has extended Himself to me and He is Peace.
The Prince of Peace - Well, He wants me to do my part.

I can choose if my heart is troubled.  I can choose if I am dismayed. I can choose if I allow things to creep into the depths of who I am and become peace stealers, peace breakers and peace inhibitors. This may require me to offer some sincere apologies and seek forgiveness of God and others. This may require me to reconcile with God the truth that some people will never admit their fault or offer an apology - and yet I must still forgive. It's not about releasing them. It's about releasing me, and stepping back into the stream of peace - true peace - that only God can provide.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nothing Changed But Me

So this past evening can only be described as one of those moments were God clearly said to me OK - WATCH THIS - PAY ATTENTION, WE HAVE STUFF TO TAKE CARE OF MY DEAR DAUGHTER.

The last couple of weeks have been stacked full of some of the longest and most stress and conflict prone days I have faced in quite a long time. I sent out an email that ended "pray for me please, it's been a long day". The instant reply was "it's only 10:15am." I wasn't really sure that God was paying much attention so I decided to fill Him in on the glorious details that He may have missed. I am hormonal. I am sleep deprived (Matt's working midnights - so neither of us are sleeping well) There is tooth drama, family health concerns, people issues, car problems. My days are not filled with the things we in the average chick flick. No music in the background, no pathway of rose petals, just real life with 19 loads of dirty laundry and dishes that don't wash themselves. My journey is full of people who are sometimes just like me. They are fighting, kicking and running themselves ragged just trying to keep their heads above the watery complications of life, depending on the strength of self instead of the provision of God. And all of their splashing and thrashing is making waves that are intensifying the rocking my own cute little boat.

Today I began my assigned reading  for the next 2 weeks in a study group that has just started to "Journey thru the Book of James". Since I am the one that gave the homework, I knew what it was - the second half of the first chapter. You know the "quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry for mans anger does not bring about the righteousness God desires" part. Then as part of our preparation for spiritual revival, there was corporate prayer at the church this evening.  Prayer is foundational, fundamental and not optional in the life a Jesus follower. And let me tell you we prayed... we cried out to God to dwell in our hearts; we sought God's power and wisdom and revelation; we petitioned for our church family to grasp how wide and long and and high and deep is the love of Jesus and to be rooted and established in His love; we hunger to know His love that surpasses knowledge and to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:13-19) We prayed for our church, for our leaders, for our family and our community. And God said to me "Give me that person, that problem, that worry. I got it. Be filled with my love, my power, my indwelling."  When God's love fills my heart, my mind, my soul - there is no room for anger, fear or doubt. For me there was Peace, a calm that only God could provide. Nothing had changed - except me.

Then I came home, did the wrap up the night thing, made Matt's dinner and sent him off to work. Said goodnight to the boys in stages, as they each made the long treck from the TV or computer to the bedroom. Started the dishwasher, returned a few emails, shuffled the 12th or perhaps the 13th load of laundry for the day and then finally did what I should have done first thing this morning. With no excuses left, no chores or children calling my name, I turned off the noise of the day and opened up my personal study on the names of God. Today's name - which I read for the first time tonight is Jehovah Shalom - My God is Peace! The note says "not a peace found in any situation, but in the person hood of God. Not the absence of conflict but the relationship I have with God in the midst of trials, difficulties or hard times."

Well look at that. He did know. My God is the God of Peace. This is a promise and a statement of fact. A unique name of God given to Gideon in the midst of a faith changing moment. Gideon had chosen to set conventional wisdom aside and fully surrender to the will and way of God. Moreover, God's way did not fit nicely into a predictable pattern of conflict resolution or cost/benefit analysis. And He didn't wave a magic wand and poof the the issues that Gideon faced away - there was real work to be done, but it was God's work done God's way. So I wont sit around and wait for God to wave some random magic wand in my direction either. Problems will continue to roll my direction from time to time, unexpected hardship will creep up. But at the end of the day I know that regardless of how wind whipped and tossed around I feel, God is holding me safely in His hands;there is love; I am calm;there is peace; He is my peace.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Chains Are Gone...

The Lord says: "Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, (Jehovah M'Kaddesh) who makes you holy."
 (Leviticus 20:7-8)

"My chains are gone, I've been set free. My God and Savior has ransomed me. And like flood His mercies reign. Unending love, amazing grace."

Jehovah M'Kaddesh - God who sanctifies. With this name of God, I can boldly declare that I AM SET FREE. The chains and bondage of sin's power are broken and life with a pure heart by the power of indwelling of the Holy Spirit is possible.

 There is no sin that is stronger than the power of God. No habit, no addiction, no past wrong that stains too dark for the blood of Jesus Christ to wash clean. There is no inner struggle, no emotional or mental wound that is too deep for God to be able to heal. God wants to clean up my heart, make it like His, transform me from the inside out and use me for His purpose. And when God forgives, heals and restores, He does it fully, completely and permanently. But I have to do my part. It requires my full surrender to His power, authority and will. God is a gentleman. He will never force Himself on me. He doesn't manipulate. Jesus freely and fully has provided salvation - forgiveness of my sins. Now, God calls me to something more - full acceptance of and surrender to His Lordship. God wants everything. My dreams, my fears, my failures. My relationships, my future, my finances. Nothing hidden, nothing held back.

To claim God as sanctifier, to ask Him to fill the heart, soul, mind, spirit and body of a believer fully and completely for forever is a moment.  The moment a believer completely surrenders to God everything that is, was or ever will can for some be highly emotional. For others, it is a choice, a logical next step in the Christian journey that focuses on the understanding that this sanctification is something God desires for all of His children.

To claim God as sanctifier is also a lifelong process of obedience and relationship. God desires for the process to continue into eternity. Staying in His will, staying under His authority, continuing to give to Him all of those little parts of me and my life that I want to hold onto - it's a day by day choice.  Each day I choose. Today do I stay close to God? Today do I live my life by His standard? Today do I seek first His kingdom, His righteousness, His will? Today do I believe that His way is not just better than mine, but that His way is the only way?

Jehovah M'Kaddesh - today I call on you to continue to sanctify my life. I give to you my husband - who you gave to me. I give to you my children - because they are yours, and my love for them pales in comparison to yours. I give you my family - and I ask you God to be undeniable real in their lives today. I surrender to you the details of my day - I have a plan, but God I want to seek your purpose. Don't let me miss your voice God. Amen

Friday, September 7, 2012

50 Shades of . . . Sin

Jehovah Tsidkenu - God our Righteousness

But what does that mean for me?  Merriam Webster defines righteousness as acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin. Ok - that is more workable but I'm still not really there. So I'll just review what I know about the righteousness of God (Jehovah Tsidkenu).

 I live in a world that says "all things are subjective and there is not clear right or wrong", and thus it is usually the popular opinion of the culture and or my government that sets standards of rightness or wrongness. These are moral laws, and they can shift. Shades of Sin. Shades of right, degrees of wrong. There is a difference between stealing an apple to feed your hungry child and embezzling your companies retirement fund.  To abuse an animal is wrong and you will face heavy fines and jail time, but to abort a child is not - it's considered a health care choice. My employer must pay me a fair wage for the time I spend at work; but making a few personal calls, commenting on a few face book posts, updating my fantasy football stats or march madness brackets, scanning Craig's list, amazon, and YouTube - just to clear my mind a bit and refocus - well, that doesn't hurt anybody. I don't call it "cheating" when google or my best friend helps me write a paper or finish my homework - its cooperative learning. And EVERYONE knows it's only speeding if there is a cop with a radar gun on the road I take to work!

Yet, I know that God sets the standard for all of His creation, and His standards are timeless and unfaltering. This is divine law - God's law - the highest and most holy standard. God's righteousness is directly linked to His holiness. Righteousness is the behavior that follows holiness. But more than that it is a result of the way that my relationship with God impacts and alters me from the inside out. I can fake how I act on the outside, but I cannot fake who I am on the inside. Apart from God, my character will never reflect His holiness. Righteousness is a gift extended to me from God. By grace thru faith I am saved - it's a gift from God to me - and it's not at all about me - so there is no room for me to brag. God extends His forgiveness to me - Jesus bridges the gap and covers all that was wrong and broken, all that separated me from God.  Everything God has ever done or ever will do is fully and completely right and righteous. God is always faithful to His standard of holiness. He doesn't discriminate. He doesn't excuse "wrong" for the greater "right." 

And you God are calling me. You want my heart to be like yours. You want our relationship to be deep and personal. The more people spend time with me, the more I want them to see you God. Continue to do your work in me - from the inside out.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hey, it's me - God - and I've got this

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.  I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” Genesis 17:1-2

El - Shaddai = All Sufficient God; Almighty God; the God who sustains and nurtures His own; the God who can handle any circumstance that challenges His people

In the Old Testament, this was a primary name God used to reveal Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Genesis 17:1-2 is the first recorded example we have of this name description, and it is used again in several other OT Books of the Bible. As God reveals each new name, He also reveals a new facet of His holy character and personality. With this revelation, God displays His ability to handle any situation that His people may find themselves in and His desire to help and bless His people. In Abram's case, the situation was that both he and his wife were very old and had never been able to have children - and yet God was promising "countless descendants". Completely unthinkable by our standards, yet totally within the scope of God's power and plan.

God reveals a part of Himself in the scripture above. He basically says "Hey it's ME, your God who can meet all of your needs in all things. Don't get tripped up by the problems, obstacles and delays. You just stay faithful to what I am calling you to and let ME handle the rest. Be faithful to ME, obey ME, do life with Me and be holy and I will make an unbreakable promise with you to help you, meet your needs and bless your family beyond your wildest dreams."

I don't know about you, but there have been times when God has whispered some pretty big, scary, and seemingly impossible dreams in my ear. And sometimes I let myself get tripped up by problems, obstacles, doubts and delays and I get discouraged. I do not claim the power of God; instead I focus on my weaknesses and faults and I give a strong hold to Satan - the great deceiver. I listen to Satan's sweet lies, I buy into his fears, and I let him sway and taint my thoughts. When I let Satan have that level of mental power, my faith ALWAYS suffers. I need to make the mental choice to stop focusing on my weakness and start standing in God's power. I need to replace my doubt filled thoughts with the powerful truths of God. If it is His plan - then He will provide His power. Period.  He is after all the all sufficient God - and He wants to draw me close to Him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Most Loved

Jehovah-Elyon = The Lord God Most High; supreme and sovereign God; most loved God; being above all others in in character, importance, excellence and authority.

This name demands my praise.
In the Old Testament, when this name was used it showed Gods power and complete authority over all pagan gods. This name of God was used when His people obeyed and accomplished tasks and victories that could only be attributed to His power and authority.

Sometimes I face struggles that are bigger than me; financial stress, marriage stress, health issues, kids that are growing up way to fast. Some days it feels as if everyone wants a piece of my time, my attention - even my soul; there are days when even in the midst of my best effort I am acutely aware of how what I have to offer is so much less than what is needed. It makes feel like I am being wrapped up in a blanket of impossibilities drowning in the sea of the unachievable. There are days when I feel like God is too busy or too far or too quiet to really understand what's happening in my little world.  This is when I am tempted to trust in myself, my understanding, my plan. These are days when I want to walk forward and hope that God will catch up with me later. And I have. And it was bad.

These are the days when rather than do what my old nature dictates, I must instead call on and cling to my Jehovah Elyon. For He is "supreme and sovereign" - His word is the last word and it is always right. He is "most loved God" - He must be the one thing I love most, I love best, and I love with every part of me. He is "above all others in character, importance, excellence and authority" - He speaks it into being and it is. When I struggle with my will, when I am tempted to chase after all those things that are less than God's perfect will for me, these are the times when I will call on Jehovah Elyon and He will hear me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ruler Over All

Adoni - Exalted Lord, ruler over all; signifies ownership and mastership on an individual and corporate level

Exalted - raised or elevated; in highest standing

Lord - The proper name of God; ruler; leader with complete power or authority; a leader of great influence

 Jesus my Savior is easy. It's all about what Jesus did for me. I don't deserve it; I can't earn it; I can choose to accept or reject it. The end. It is freeing and it feels good. My pride is on the line, but admitting my shortcoming isn't hard, and accepting that Jesus paid the price for my sin once and for all provided freedom I had never before understood.

 Lordship is what trips me up. Not just my Savior, but my Lord. This new name for God indicates a position change in my heart, mind and soul. Lordship - when I admit and embrace that God does both desire and require to be the boss of all of me. He wants to steer the boat, drive the car, or prune the vine - pick the word picture that works best. The bottom line is that God is in charge of all of it. My family, my marriage, my money, my career, my kids, my friends, my hobbies and my junk. There is no place that is off limits; there is not part of me that I willful keep separate from God. Lordship comes when I say "God, make me like you in every way, in every place and in every part of my life. I submit to your authority, I submit to your will, I submit to your way."

That's usually the point when my sin inclined nature rears it's ugly head and screams "I am the boss of me! I have my rights! Who better than me knows whats best for me?" And so God I cling to your truths. "For the word of the Lord is right and true, He is faithfully in all He does" (Psalms 33:4) "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him: (2 Sam 22:31) "And we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:16-18) "Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from His mouth and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be restored" (Job 22:21-23)

So today God, I claim you and call you my Adoni. You are my Lord and I will fully submit to your authority in all things. Shine your light on the dark shadows that separate me from you. Continue to transform me into the girl you created me to be. Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Worthy of My Worship

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he has known my name. 
 Psalms 91:14

So I was working on something totally different this morning and smack dab in the middle of that, God put this verse from Psalms 91. I am pretty sure it was just for me. I am pretty sure it was His little way of saying "Hey! Remember me? Remember what I asked you to do?" God's cool like that :-)

So here is the "new" or rather very "old" name of God for the day. Jehovah Elohim. From what I have gleaned it's a plural title for God. It references the Trinity, and this name for God is used over 2500 times in the Old Testament - so clearly it was and is pretty important. It's a title that carries with it the meaning of God's divine majesty and worthiness of worship and praise. It sets God the Creator apart from and superior to all other false gods. It emphasises God's un-ending power, His limitless strength and His unwavering faithfulness through out time and for all of time.

That's a lot to chew on.

Divine majesty and worthy of worship and praise. Above all false gods. How does that play out in my everyday life?

To worship is to attribute worth/value and praise. God is worthy of worship. He expects it and He isn't happy with me when I don't honor that. And worship is all about God and not at all about me. It's not about the music, or the seating arrangement; and it's not about checking church off my list.  Do I study His word - not just read it? Do I obey? Is my prayer time filled with praise or is it just my limited vision wish list? Do I know my place as His follower and His place as my leader? 'Cause the leader sets the tone, makes the plan and is the one who is actually in charge. Is my prayer intentional and specific? Is worship what I do from time to time, or how I live from day to day?

And what about false gods?  Is there room in my calender for what God wants to do? Is the yard work, or the fishing trip or the weekend softball/football/baseball/basketball/wrestling/soccer tournament really more important than the time that God expects for me to set aside to honor Him? Is the overtime really more important than the Bible Study Group? Is finishing the scrapbook page, the words with friends game or the next chapter in that great book I am reading really more important than investing in the lives of my husband, my children and the people God has planted in my life? Why is Sunday morning the only "me day" I have to sleep in? Do I protect the special time that God has called me to set aside for HIM as fiercely as I protect my me time, my hobby time, my NFL/MLB/NBA time, my workout time or my just relax and do nothing time?

OUCH - now I know why it wanted to not study this name, and I think I know why God prompted me to.

You alone are worthy of my worship and my praise. Whisper in my ear when false idols try to lure me away from you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's My Name

It's the first thing I filled out on every form I have ever been given for school, work, the doctor, even Church. It identifies me. I have a formal name - Trisha Ann Wilson. I have my genealogical name - Trisha Ann Barnes Wilson. Some of my friends and family call me Trish. Matt and my moms (all of them) almost always call me Trisha. I also have names like wife, sister, aunt, cousin, daughter, friend, and the one I hear most often, mom. Each of these names reflects a part of who I am in relation to the person using that particular name for me. In hearing the name that they use for me, I also hear what my relationship, interaction and connection to them truly is. There are also private names that I have; nicknames if you will, that have been given to me by the people I hold most dear - my husband, my family, and my closest friends. And I have given these names to people too - it's not casual - it's intimate. It's not commonly known - to know these names is to know me on a much more personal level.

Prayer is something that is close to my heart. As I seek to spend more and more time in the presence of my Creator, I have found that prayer is becoming not I thing that I do, but a way that I live. Jesus thought it was so important that He took time to walk us thru how it's done in Matthew 6, and the first few lines of that teaching outline have taken my heart into a new and exciting search. Matthew 6:9 says "Our Father in heaven, hollowed (praised) be your name." That got me thinking - what are the names of God, and what do they mean? How can I praise God's name if I don't know it?

I am not a theologian. I do not speak or read Hebrew, Arabic or Greek. I have never read any of the original translations of the Bible - and I don't believe that I ever will. Instead I have sought out - thru books mostly - the wisdom of men and women who can read the original texts. I am trying to learn thru their understanding the deeper meaning of the names of God that are sometimes lost in our modern day translations and interpretations. At this time I most frequently use the NIV 1984, the KJV and NKJV, the NASV, the NLT and the Message. If you find I have made an error, please let me know. No one knows better than I just how flawed I am - and I am always looking to learn more about my amazing God.

Jehovah & Yahweh - in every book I have read these are the first to names discussed. The most intimate and sacred names of God. When Moses wrote the name LORD in all capital letters, this was the name he meant. It is the personal name of God for His people - ancient Jews didn't speak it or even write it. Even now in Jewish text it is often written ~od. When Moses asked God who he should tell the people had sent him, God said tell the people "I Am".  These names remind me that my God is the God that has always been and will always be. When all else falls, fails and crumbles, God will still be God. He will still reign. He is consistent, unchanging and everlasting. Not created by man, and not dependant or defined by man. I can count on Him. He's not gonna change His mind, His personality, or His character. He is bigger and more complex than I will ever be able to fully or perhaps even partially understand, yet He chooses and desires to be intimately available to me if I choose to be with Him.

Just that thought takes my breath away.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Mess

Life gets messy. Life gets hard. Sometimes it's not fair and it hurts - a lot. Sometimes we make bad choices and have to deal with the natural consequences. At other times, we are innocents that are impacted by the poor choices of others; and then there are things that just happen for no understandable reason at all. When life begins to crumble, we search. People are not looking for cookie cutter answers. Fortune cookie feel good sayings don't comfort a heart that is aching or a family that is close to breaking. Big, complex, and painful problems rarely have quick, easy and painless solutions.

I love the Bible. But sometimes what I need to hear isn't another retelling of a great event like - the parting of the Red Sea. There are days when what I need to hear is how God parted a "Red Sea" in the life of someone I know. A REAL GOD, WHO IS REALLY INVESTED AND INVOLVED and MAKING CHANGES IN THE LIVES OF REAL PEOPLE I KNOW RIGHT NOW.

1 John 1:1-4   New International Version (NIV)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete.

I love this passage!

"That which was from the beinning" I let my mind just sit there for a minute. God always is, always has been and always will be. "Which we have heard...seen with our eyes...looked at...and touched." It's personal, first hand knowledge. "we proclaim to you the eternal life...what we have seen and heard, so that you may fave fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and His son Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete" Good news is news that is shared.  When I find a good sale I text all my best girl friends; papers with an A+ get hung on the fridge; I send out announcements for births, engagements & marriages.  All of that is good. What God has done for me is great! He delieved me from sin. He removed my guilt and shame. He healed what was broken. He restored what was lost. He filled in my soul the emptyness than only HE could fully and competely fill.

It isn't magic. The problems are still there, and the heart ache too. Sometimes I still don't know what to do next, or say next. There are days when I feel like things can't get harder, like I just can't do, or be, or handle one more thing. Sometimes I am tired, and numb, completed worn out, rung out and spent. There is conflict every way I turn and I cannot make it better - peacekeep is my name and walking a tightrope is my game. On days like these I need to spend time with 1John 1 people, and I need to remember the times when God has held my hand and carried me like only a daddy can. God is so much bigger than all my junk, and with Him there is always hope.

Now I need to listen to what my friend John says, and I need to tell people what my God has done for me. Not a story from a long time ago, but a page from my life. Yep, sometimes it is still messy, but God is faithful and he can handle my mess.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Pharisee in me I see

Great Big Thank You's to Pastor Larry - You have given me and God much to talk about together today.  If you don't already have some place to be on Sunday mornings at 9:30am I would highly recommend spending some time with the NO WALLS group at RIFCN. And if you do have someplace else to be, I would recommend you rethink that personal choice so that you can join us!

Mark 2:23 - 3:6
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”  Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

This passage of scripture is where our little group hung out and spent some time this morning. We are working our way thru the book of Mark, it's not a's a journey of discovery. The focus of the later part of our discussion was the intention of the Sabbath - and I will ponder that more in the coming days, but today where my mind and heart lingered was on the behavior of the Pharisees in the above verses.

Jesus and his posy were walking thru some fields, they were hungry, and so they participated in what may be the first documented case of "drive thru" or in this case "walk thru" dining. They didn't go out of their way to find food, the food was there and they needed to eat. It's like when you are hiking in the forest and come across some wild blueberries or grapes...or when you are riding your bike on the Mississippi Trail and happen across Whiteys Ice Cream... or when you are driving to wherever and see that the Starbucks drive thru is open with no waiting - same thing right? Only this time it was on the Sabbath and there were rules about such things. Another time Jesus came across a man in need of something He could offer ~ healing. But again, it was the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship and not work.

In both cases the Pharisees watched, waited and pounced on the idea that rules were being broken. Jesus was doing things they didn't like or approve of. Jesus wasn't playing the religion game by their rules. Jesus was challenging their standard behavior. He was friends with people who they would avoid. He would touch people He knew were sick and unclean. He didn't turn away from the people who needed Him most and He didn't mind stepping on and over a few rituals in the process. Jesus was rocking the boat. The Pharisees were not very happy with Jesus, and after re-reading verse 5 a few times I am pretty sure that Jesus wasn't very happy with them.  These smart men were so focused on their precious rules that they missed entirely how God had provided food in a moment of hunger and dynamic physical healing to a person in true need. These Pharisees where blinded by their own limited understanding, by frustration and by anger; they could not see the real and active work of the One True and Living God because they were focused on the wrong things.

Oh Snap!

There it is. How many times have I also chose to focus on the wrong things and in the process missed seeing and being a part of dynamic stuff that God was doing? (Maybe it wasn't being done the way I wanted, or maybe the "wrong" person was leading.)  How many times has my anger or personal conflicts kept me from being willing or able to see any good in a situation or person? (It's never good enough, or right enough for me to be happy or content.) How many times have I sought to find the fault or shortcoming of another and willfully and completely overlooked any positive attributes?( I do after all know who they are, how they behave and I am quite certain it will not change.) How many times have I sought to protect what was comfortable to me and the cost of someone around me in need? (This is the way we do it here, this is the way we like it here, and we don't want to change it here.) If I looked closely at my actions or listened closely to my words, how often would I see in me a Pharisee? Can I get so stuck in the ritual, that I loose sight of my relationship with my Creator, Savour and Lord?

God, help me to start today with clear eyes and a fresh heart for you. I want to look for your hand at work in my life and the lives of those around me. Cast out the fear that creeps into my thoughts when you move in ways I don't expect or understand. Turn my frustration to compassion. Melt my anger with your mercy and love. Soften my heart and strengthen my determination to submit my will to Yours. Amen.