Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Which One am I?

I don't know about you, but sometimes I need to hear the Truth. Truth that's not watered down, or made palatable. Some meat of the Word to chew on, and not "baby food" Christian speak. I think a lot of the time we don't want to present God's Word in a way that "offends". Especially to new Christians or unbelievers, so a lot of the time it's a lukewarm Gospel, and we know how Jesus feels about that. "Lukewarm" can be unappetising and tasteless. So here is what God is sharing with me today.

Version: NAS

Luke 17:11-19

11. And it came about while He was on the way to Jerusalem, that He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12. And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13. and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy (pity) on us!" 14. And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed. 15. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16. and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17. And Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine-- where are they? 18. "Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" 19. And He said to him, "Rise, and go your way; your faith has made you well."
I really love taking apart a scripture passage, verse by verse. Nothing in the Bible is included without meaning. Each and every word and phrase; every "jot and tiddle" (Matthew 5:18) of the scripture has impact. It's up to us to read and pray over it and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it's meaning for us.
In verse 11 it says that Jesus was passing between Galilee and Samaria, and we know from earlier study that Samaria was a place that was not frequented by Jews. Samaria was a "mixed" religious nation. Part Hebrew, but "contaminated" with worldly values. Jews looked upon Samaria as a place to avoid and have nothing to do with. Where Samaria is located, to get from one part of Israel to the other, the Jews had to go out of their way around it to avoid it, when "passing through" Samaria would have been the logical and easiest route.
What came to my mind is that we often walk a path that is somewhere between "the spiritual" and "the worldly". It says in the Bible that we are not of the world, yet we must live "in" the world. It's easy to be a Christian, yet feel comfortable walking "between" the two mindsets. Sometimes leaning one way or the other. Who here hasn't had a wonderful worship experience on Sunday, to then wake up on Monday morning with a bad attitude and feeling like "the world" is what's ahead of us for the week?
Leprosy in Old Testament times was considered a picture of "sin". Associated throughout the Bible with heathens and those who were outcasts of the Jewish community. Today, this scourge is not found in most countries or settings. Poor nations without the ability to provide hygiene needs are usually the only places it can be found, but in Biblical times it was common to see "camps" and communities of lepers, banding together to live with and care for one another. No one else would help or come near them. Lepers were required by law and religious statutes to not mingle in society and to actually announce their whereabouts by saying that they were "unclean", and keeping their distance.
Makes me think that there are many of us today that walk among the rest of society that are religiously "unclean", living in deep sin, but wearing a face of  "religious" normalcy, passing through the crowd, no one knowing that our lives are decaying and infected with sin and worldly attitudes. We may look like the rest of the crowd, but inside we are being destroyed, eaten up with unclean ideas, practices, and relationships.

Evidently the lepers in this passage recognized Jesus, because they called Him by name. They cried out in a loud voice, "have pity on us". Makes me wonder if they were asking for healing or just pity. Here's where it can get "touchy" with those of us that are believing for healing. If it doesn't occur right away, do we just put our belief aside and say, "well, OK, we're not healed, but Father, would you just "have pity on me"? The lepers were always asking people to help them as they had no means of supporting themselves. They had no food, clothing or help at all, unless relatives brought them food and supplies. They were used to "settling", not being healed, just asking for pity.

This is where the rubber meets the road. I'm not just talking about "physical" things here, but relational, spiritual, emotional healing, as well. Have we gotten used to being sick, lacking, hurting? Are we comfortable in it? Is it easier to just ask for pity than to keep faith and trust God for His timing and plan? To keep believing that God will do as He promises?

Jesus says "Go show yourselves to the priests", because it was up to the priests to verify their healing. The priests were the ones that pronounced them "clean" so that they could rejoin society. The priests would have to see the miracle and then allow them back among the community. Basically Jesus was saying to them. "I'll do better than pity. I'll heal you. Now have faith and go do what needs to be done." And as they went they were healed.

Belief, and faith, and action. What if when Jesus said now go show the priests, that they said "yeah, right!"
I don't think they would have been healed, but they chose to trust Jesus and do as He said. They were all healed, but only one came back to thank Jesus. Since he was a Samaritan, maybe he had not been a believer. Maybe he was of the world. Jesus will heal those who do not know Him, because He loves us all. He wants us to recognize that it was not a twist of fate, or some strange occurrence. No, the God of the Universe, loves each of us, and He desires that we thank Him and turn to Him for Salvation.

A thankful heart and a voice to praise. Ready to give God the glory and credit for all that He gives to us. Big situation or small, His hand in our lives and circumstance deserves a loud shout of praise! Thank you, Lord! Don't let me settle for pity, when I can have "healing".

love in Jesus,

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pursuing God

I imagine you've noticed that I haven't been posting as much lately. Hard to miss. There have been some projects that God has put in front of me. Not all outwardly seemingly God sent, but yet I know they have been. Starting blogs for a few of my business friends, taking a trip to see our kids, doing some much needed projects around the homestead, and then let us not forget, aging parents that seem to be needing more attention and time.

Just like you, I live in the real world of fixing dinner, doing laundry, housework, and needing to be productive in daily life. Sometimes I haven't felt very "productive" in the real world, so when I get a fresh breath of energy and momentum I try and "run with it". But in doing so, I don't want to neglect this special place that God has given me to communicate with you all out there. (If I haven't checked in with you lately it's not because I haven't thought of you all.)

I'd be misrepresenting myself to say that I'm praying 24/7, reading the Bible for hours a day, or going to church 7 days a week. I've been there, and yes, there are "seasons" for that. For extended periods of time I've been in relentless pursuit of God, but just as in normal earthly relationships, there are also times of "comfort" and constancy, and contentment. That's not the same as backsliding, or losing touch, or lack of commitment.

Just saying that today, after knowing it was time to do another post, God sort of corralled me from my projects. He sat me down and gave me a scripture to look up. Sometimes He speaks a scripture verse to me, book, chapter, and verse. Most of the time I'm not familiar with it off the top of my head. Today He said to me "Mark, third chapter, 10th verse."

Version: NAS

Mark 3:10
"...for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him."

Seems as though I've not been "pressing in about Him" as much lately. I've been trying to adjust myself to the fact that I have some health issues and that I'm still on meds and it all restricts me. Even though from reading my other blog, you might think I was a whirlwind of energy, truth is I'm not. Some days are good, others not so much.

I'm trusting God for my life and health, but some days I just try to put it aside and keep doing "life". Positive thinking is not an effort for me. It's always been preferable to the alternative, and besides God isn't into "woe is me". That's not faith, nor is it a godly testimony.

I guess my thought that I'm getting today is to not lose the "pressing in"  anointing that God bestows upon us. He puts it there for a purpose. It's to accomplish His purpose for us. Right now I don't want to lose track of the momentum that God has for me, here at this Bible Study, or for life in general. I don't want to be complacent, or lackluster in whatever it is God is calling me to do.

And you know something really funny (as in strange)? When I opened my Bible to Mark 3:10, not only was it underlined, but dated "5/19/04"; a year after my heart surgery. And exactly 6 years ago today. Who says God isn't "timely" and aware of our exact need?

It's been a long seven years, but I'm still here and I'm still Pursuing Him. Most of the times that Jesus healed it was when someone "pursued" Him. The blind man, the leper, the woman with the issue of blood, the centurion, the synagogue leader with the sick daughter; many many more, God saw their dedication and drive for Him; their faith and action, their desire to stay in the race. I want to be one of those people of faith. Not complacent, but in pursuit.

If you have never read "The God Chasers" by Tommy Tenney, I highly recommend it. It will get you out of your rut and make you put on your shoes.

love in Jesus,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Little Life Lesson

Today, I have one of those "practical applications" of God's Word. Sometimes God uses certain situations and things to teach us a lesson. He works with us and matures us, and just when we think we have Him figured out, He does something that surprises us.

Back in March, I wrote a post entitled "Set Free" in which I discussed a little problem I have had in the past. I want to share an update on that post. I'm all about honesty, so here I am. I will share with you a certain revelation I have had within these last couple of months.

The Following is an excerpt from that post from March 3, which ironically, (or not) is my Birthday. Hope you find this as interesting as I do.

Galatians 5:19-21
19. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20. idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21. envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Getting rid of our old fleshly nature was God's job and gift to us at the cross. He changed our nature, supernaturally, but it is our responsibility to change our "behavior", by putting to death the "deeds of our body".

I, and all of us for that matter, exhibit certain bad habits, sinful actions, and problematic behaviors, even as a born-again child of God. All we have to do is take a look at that scripture from Galatians 5 to see some of the biggies.

... I cannot drink. When I do, I turn into someone else. Someone who I don't care to be. I cannot hold liquor and I frequently made a fool of myself. Actions, words... oh my, I was a mess. So, I don't drink.

I love the taste of wine, and a variety of other alcoholic beverages, but I cannot just have one and be done. Nope, I just keep going. There are other reasons I don't drink: medications, and a promise I made to God when our daughter was going through a tough time. I know it's just not something I need to do.

Now, having said that, I don't have any problem with anyone else, so this is not about you all out there. It's my way of confessing my own problems. If you can enjoy yourself with a great glass of wine, or find a drink at a get together is a social indulgence, then I find nothing wrong with it, but for me... I couldn't control it. I wanted one or two drinks everyday. Then it got to be a bottle of wine, you get the picture? For me, it didn't work.

The same principle would hold true if it were 5 candy bars a day, a pack of cigarettes, or 2 liters of soda. It's not a moral thing with me, but a health and behavior issue. I don't want to be controlled or dominated by any thing. And there are certain things that for me are just not worth jeopardizing my relationship with God. I know it's wrong for me, so I don't do it.

After what I know now these many years later, could I drink responsibly? Probably. I think I could use discernment and maturity to my advantage, but I just don't want to go there again. So, as I said, I make no judgement on others, I just know it's not the best for me.

So today God led me to this chapter in John for what He wanted me to share. Funny, I thought. But Truth, none the less.

John 2:1-11
1. And on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2. and Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the wedding. 3. And when the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine." 4. And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come." 5. His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." 6. Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. 7. Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8. And He said to them, "Draw [some] out now, and take it to the headwaiter." And they took it [to him]. 9. And when the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10. and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when [men] have drunk freely, [then] that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now." 11. This beginning of [His] signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

A few weeks before Easter, when many devout Christians are "giving up" for Lent, God started talking to me about something in particular that I had given up in the past, and that was drinking. Eleven years ago, God had dealt with me about letting it go, and asking me to be responsible for behaviors that I had fallen into. So for eleven years I did exactly what He had asked of me. Not a problem. As I stated, nothing is worth having it come between you and God.

I had mentioned that it was not a moral issue, but one of behavior, and I also said that I just didn't want to go there again. Thing is, God asked me if I was really "free" with that line of thinking.

Now, I know I have many different readers here, of all denominations and beliefs. But since this is my blog and about me at the moment I'll give my opinion... Jesus drank wine. There's no way around it. I've heard all the arguments that it was really grape juice etc. but in all actuality, it was wine. No refrigeration, water was not too plentiful...people drank wine. AND they were expected not to overindulge or to let it lead to other problems or situations. We all have our opinion on this. So we may not all agree...
but...Jesus drank wine.

So when God asked me if I was really "free" in regard to this particular situation and line of thinking, I had to admit that my fear of what I might do, or not be able to control, was really a bondage, not a freedom. Now some of you out there might not believe this, but God invited me to have a glass of wine Easter Sunday...a glass. Not a bottle...a glass.
Guess what?... I didn't become a monster or a raving maniac or a tipsy exotic dancer. I had one glass of wine with my dinner and I survived.

No more fear, no more bondage...I was right. I am able to walk by being led by the Holy Spirit. I'm not going back to the old way. I've learned my lessons, and I'm not afraid.

I love the above passage from John 2. It is so rich with so many levels of different ideas and revelations. Jesus' first miracle...and it was at a wedding. It was a sign that He was the Messiah. It is a "picture" of the marriage supper of the lamb...He was in charge and in control...even in something as basic as a wedding celebration. He fills us with His new wine, the Holy Spirit leads and directs, and He desires our lives to be filled with Him.

So, after all these years, a little confession that I was struggling in sharing, ended up being a key to walk out of a fear that I really hadn't considered that I had had. Walking in freedom...means depending on Jesus to lead. Not making the call ourselves, but waiting for His perfect timing and direction.
Just a little practical application here in my life, and a look at what I call, "being real".

love, in Jesus,

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Better Late than Never

I've had some thoughts in my head the last few days about what I wanted to say about Mother's Day, and I felt like I really needed to speak from my heart concerning how being a mother has changed my life.

When I was young I really didn't have a lot of big dreams or aspirations. I knew in my heart getting married and having kids was what I wanted to do. I'm a nester and homebody, so a house and the white picket fence is what I dreamed of...a husband, a home, and a couple of kids.

I've come to learn as I've matured and worked in church ministries, that no family is perfect. Some of the people you see setting in church on Sunday morning all spiffed up and smiles are the same people that 30 minutes ago were yelling, fighting, and fussing at their kids. If anyone says they come from the "perfect" family then all I can say is, "Praise the Lord, and I hope you're not in denial".

Without getting too personal I will say, like many of you, that while I had a good and relatively happy childhood, it was not without it's problems and dysfunction. Problem is that I didn't realize the fallout from that "dysfunction" until I had already married and had two kids of my own. Dysfunction, (there's that word again) has a habit of revisiting itself on future generations. Things that happened to our parents in their youth unfortunately come down on the kids. Our parent's lack of parenting skills most likely were learned from their parents and so on.

If you've read my blog for awhile you know that I would really love to have some "do-overs" in my life. Where were the parenting classes I so desperately needed? In reality, I probably wouldn't have attended them. We never think we need the help until "life" lands on us and we're on the ground.

For most of my life I suffered from a lot of misinformation about God. I was afraid of Him and didn't have a concept of how much He really loved me. It's amazing how screwed up we can be if we don't have that one critical piece of information. God loves us. God loves us...

So in thinking about a few things that I wanted to pass along of what I've learned by being a mother, I will share the most important ones to me; seemingly small, but powerful concepts.

1. The old phrase from "Love Story" is totally inaccurate. Nice byline from a movie, but totally wrong! "Love means never having to say your sorry".  Horse doody. God showed me after a long and painful separation from my younger daughter that at times we have to be willing to say "I'm sorry" and mean it. Even if you felt justified in your actions and attitudes. It's not how you perceive something, it's how the other person perceives it. If she felt I didn't love her or had hurt her, I better be willing to take responsibility by admitting my own mistakes. And you know what? I had made some. I just didn't see them until we started the dialogue. There is something about hearing those two words that start to mend and heal relationships. Ownership of words and actions...good place to start.

2. Don't lie or cover up with your kids. Be honest and keep them informed. They're smarter than they look. That doesn't mean you have to give them gory details. Just be willing to talk to your kids about what's going on. Secrets and coverups are the devil's playground. My parent's generation is a good case in point. Family secrets can be so destructive. My mother found out when she tried to get social security at age 65 that her sister was really her mother. She had been the product of "date rape" back in the early 1930's.  Not a new scenario. Things were covered up, people went to their graves with that secret, and it had my dear mother reeling for months. I didn't know my grandmother as my grandmother, nor my girls their great grandmother. Always just an aunt; a loving one, but still just an aunt. I had a really hard time forgiving missing out on that relationship. My mom's hurt was visited upon me.

3. Take the time to do the little things. Don't always be in such a hurry that you miss out on the sweet and precious moments that we can have with our children. Being "present" and in the moment has been difficult for me a lot of my life. Don't get me wrong. We have had great times and laughs and so many memorable moments. I just wish I'd savored them more and considered the impact that would have on my girls and husband. A dirty floor can always wait. Work and projects and all the other non-essentials can never be compared to making cupcakes, taking an afternoon in the park, or going for a drive to see new places and things. Live in the present. In reality, that is all we really have.

4. Don't live your life through your children. Don't put pressure on them to do things you never were able to do. Don't put expectations on them that cause them to not be their own person. Let them explore who they are and who God is calling them to be. Respect that at an early age. We're all different, with different talents and dreams and desires. Don't confuse what you missed out on to be something that your children may enjoy or even be good at. Give them space to be who God is calling them to be...then be happy for them and celebrate their own accomplishments.

5. Learn to put others first...it's not all about me... enough said.

6. Be kind. If there is a raving maniac living inside of you, get a grip. Think of how we speak to our children and other children for that matter. Tender hearts can easily be broken or stepped on. This is something I needed help with. Anger, frustration, my own hurt, etc. comes out of me pretty matter of fact. I am changing, I just wish I would have done better when they were young. So many hard or harsh words that cannot be taken back. That is where #1. comes in. Learning to say you're sorry and then doing the right thing.

7.Trust God with your kids. They are a gift; and God loves them more than we could ever possibly love them. He knows their needs better than we do, but like any gift, He has expectations of their care from us; feeding, sheltering, loving them, teaching them. But there comes a time in their lives when we have to back off and let God have the reins. That's when prayer and trust kicks in. And sometimes sleepless nights. This is where knowing God's Word and Promises will help when nothing else can. Speaking the Word over my kids in their bedrooms when they are not home. Being on my knees on their behalf, then letting God take over. I have first hand proof that it works.

8. And then knowing that when they become adults they can be your best friends. My girls have weathered their own storms. They are now women that I respect and love and they nurture me. Having them in my life has taught me the values I was sorely lacking.

Thank you God for blessing me in life. It may not have been perfect but I love the scripture that says His mercies are new every morning... and they are.

Love, to all of you,
Have a blessed Mother's Day.


Monday, May 3, 2010

You're Not What You "Feel"

Last post we talked a little about our values and our personal goals as indicated by these eight areas...our finding "success, significance, fulfillment, satisfaction, happiness, fun, security and peace". 


We discussed how our belief system could "be off a few degrees" and it not matter alot in the beginning of our Christian walk, but the further we go in life and maturity, then the more critical it becomes that we believe the Truth of God's Word and let it affect our personal goals, decisions, emotions, and our life in general.

In the past I've used the phrase "in the natural". To me this means how we all think, myself included, as a "natural human being"...i.e. our natural man's way of thinking; thinking as someone who is not impacted by God or the Bible. As Christians, it's so important to let The Holy Spirit direct our thinking, because our "thinking" then acts as a chain reaction to determine our attitudes, actions, decisions and life.

I know many Christian people who love God, but have a hard time letting Him direct their thinking. They are slaves to their Natural Man's emotions. Many times they think, act, and then behave just like a person that doesn't know Jesus Christ. We all have lapses at times...we think or say or behave in ways that are not Godly. But hopefully, eventually, the Holy Spirit convicts us of these attitudes and behavior so that we can repent and ask God to help us not continue in what we have given in to.

One huge thing I've learned in my life is that the answers to these questions, "in the natural", seem to change at different stages of our lives. What my answers would have been at 18, 28, 42, 50, and now are all different. Just as God directs our lives, so He leads and maneuvers us on our paths.

I told you last post that I would honestly evaluate the eight areas of my life, and then share them with you. First I will tell you how I would answer the questions "in the natural", then I will tell you how I would, and do, answer these questions as a woman who loves the Lord and desires that He be in control of my thinking and life. Hope you took the time to look at these eight areas honestly and prayerfully, then let God show you how to let Him affect your thinking.

1. How successful am I? I would be more successful if...

Honestly, I'm 57 years old and at times I feel like I've missed the boat. Eleven or so years ago God put a heavy call on my life for ministry. I haven't talked about it alot, but at that time, (and still) it was in the area of healing, both physical and emotional. He called me to a prayer and teaching ministry and instilled in me a great passion to teach about prayer and to pray for the sick. He gifted me with a few powerful Spiritual Gifts in the area of Faith, the Prophetic, and hearing His voice. My life radically changed. I had been a lazy Christian for years, but over a period of about a year, I had been thrown headfirst into a powerful relationship with the Holy Spirit.

He consumed me and my life...in the best way. There were times when I would pray for people and God would meet them in a powerful way. Healings would happen, prayers would be miraculously answered; He would give me information and words of knowledge that impacted people and their physical health... and I was in profound awe of what was going on.

Fast forward these last 10 years. I am the one walking by faith for healing of a severe case of hereditary cardiovascular disease. I've been close to death several times, and seemingly on the outside looking in, I appear to have "missed it". Yet I know I have not. I may not be doing what I thought I would be doing 10 years ago, which would be having a  public "ministry", but yet I am doing exactly what He has led me to do. This Bible Study.

So if I would let my "natural thinking" affect how I feel I would feel like a complete failure.

2. How significant do I feel?

Well, I know I am loved by my husband and children and family. A few close friends are causing me to feel better about who I am and what I'm doing, but if I was looking through the world's eyes I would have to say that little 'ole me just isn't very significant. But the Truth of God's Word says if I had nothing, absolutely nothing or no one, I would still be significant in God's Eyes. Thank you, Lord!

3. How fulfilled am I?

There are times when I feel extremely unfulfilled, like I am missing my calling in life. Yet I know that if I wake up everyday and give my life to Jesus, that I will be doing what He wants me to be doing. Thinking about it that way, I need to be "fulfilled" and content with Jesus and what He is asking me to do at this moment in time, not worrying or planning or trying to figure out some other scenario for my life.

4. How satisfied am I?

Ditto for the last answer. I want to be satisfied with what God gives me daily to do. If that's cleaning house, working on my antique space, meeting and talking to people, being a good wife, mother, and friend, then that's what I want to be satisfied with. He puts people in my path that I can pray for and find relationship with. He gives me great satisfaction in the small things in life. My husband and girls mean everything to me. I used to be constantly striving for what was coming next. I'm not that way so much any more. My personal walk with God is the most important aspect of my life.

5. How happy am I?
6. How much fun am I having?
7. How secure am I?
8. How peaceful am I?

Happiness, fun, security, peace...? Just like the other answers, they can all be affected by circumstances, mood, how I'm feeling physically that day...a variety of other things, but my answer is always the same. Put God first and don't let anything else get between me and Him. If I do that, and take time to pray and listen each day it all comes down to the same elemental answer. Jesus is my priority. He is my Rock. He is my Hope and Answer. If it weren't for Him I wouldn't be here right now. I know that. And because of that, He leads, I follow, and I try not to let "feelings" own me. I look to Him for my understanding and I ask Him to "adjust" my feeling and emotions to His way of thinking, not mine. Much better that way. He has a way of putting it all into His perspective.

If you haven't yet had that one on one time with God concerning these eight areas of your life, think about my answers and then give Him time to speak to your heart. I guarantee that what God has to say can change your outlook on life, circumstances, and your future.

Love in Jesus,