God's Gift from His Heart

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
Grace is a Gift from God and it is nothing else.  Our salvation is a part of that grace.  When we try to make God’s gift into something that it is not, we are forcing a square into a round peg – possible, but very difficult.  If we try to make grace into something other than a gift, we are trying to work for our salvation.  It turns salvation into slave-ation.
Humans are constantly trying to force nature to obey us.  We pave roads and parking lots; we build cities and towns.  But if we stop working to keep things the way that we want them, nature takes over.  Houses crumble, parking lots become grass fields as trees break up through cracks in the concrete. 
God’s grace is like this.  If we don’t try to force religion upon ourselves – but just walk and talk with God, building a relationship with Him, naturally – then we learn what UNFORCED grace is.  We can accept God’s gift at face value and understand that there are “no strings attached.”  God’s gift is Himself, and it is grace that allows this relationship to happen without being forced.

Sensitive? Get over it!


Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble.  (Psalm 119:165 AMP)
The day before Halloween this year, some of the punk kids in the neighborhood thought it would be funny to redecorate our church with spray cans.  They painted the handicapped signs, other church signs, and the area around the dumpster as well as the back doors of the sanctuary.  They wrote things that were juvenile, and would easily offend the delicate sensitivities of those with high moral value.
But, my question is: Are Christians supposed to have delicate sensitivities?  In movies and TV, the person displayed as the most easily offended at parties and in workplaces seems to be the Christian.  How much truth is there to that?  Too much.  I remember once that someone at my church was “offended” that people weren’t cutting the grass often enough because dandelions showed up on Sunday mornings to greet the parishioners.  What causes church split ups except that one group becomes offended by the other’s song choice, dress, seating arrangement, or when communion is taken?
If Christians were not so easily offended would the punk neighborhood kids have found it so fun to poke at their sensitivities?  If instead they could expect the church to forgive them and believe the best for them wouldn’t it take away their fun?
And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert Him whom they ought to trust and obey and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue another with hatred. (Matthew 24:11 AMP)
Because one person in the church becomes so easily offended, they turn their back on the church then they turn their back on Jesus.  These are the last days.  We’re living in them.  Because so many in the church don’t read the Bible for themselves, we don’t know and love God’s law, so we become easily offended.  
How do we become offended?
Synonyms for Offended are: Insulted, snubbed, affronted.  One definition of offend is: to break a commonly accepted rule or principle, causing insult, upset, annoyance, or resent.  And there we have the problem.  When we come to God we are to dispel all our pre-conceived notions of what is commonly accepted and believe the best of everyone.  This is Love:
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening. (1 Corinthians 13:7 AMP)
If we truly believe the best and endure without weakening in all circumstances, then we would become hard to offend.  So let us not let Satan have this foothold in our lives.  Today we live in a society where being offended rewards you not with a “get over it,” but instead with an accusation of intolerance on the offending party whether they had malicious intent or not.  But I’m here today to tell you to “get over it.” And be willing to take on the offense of another and bear it up.  As Christians, our first calling is to love and in order to do that, we have to endure whatever insult comes our way and believe the best of the one who insulted us.

The End of the Month

My First Nano finished as a huge success.  I've never written a novel to completion although I've had about twenty attempts.  The hard deadline that Nano provided for me proved to be just what I needed.  Like a kick in the pants, Nano gave me a goal.

After 16 days of "writing abandon" I completed my 50K - I would have finished sooner, but I came down with a monster cold while simultaneously running around the Virginia Horse Center for our State Finals Horse Show.  Amazing since I shook in my boots the first time I sat behind my laptop's keyboard and sat down to write a novel.

After several 30 minute word sprints to keep me motivated, on Day 26 I completed the novel.  79,046 words of a first draft.  Granted, the draft is ROUGH as a cat's tongue, but it's a full length first draft!

Day 27 - I took a much needed day off.  But my son bugged me to death about getting the chance to read it, so I published it as a quick .pdf and put it on our Nook for him  to read, warning him  that it may contain sentences that don't make sense and I slip into first person now and then when I didn't mean to.  He said, "I don't care," and read half the book in one sitting.

Day 28 - The editing begins!  Friends warned me that it may take 6 months up to 4 years to edit  novel, and I wanted to leave it on the computer and never touch it again.  I edited the first 3 chapters and ended up adding 1K more words of description while removing about another 500.  As I complained about how rough my novel was and how I didn't know whether or not to finish it, my son chimed in "It's great!  I don't know what you're talking about."  And that 11 year old shot of  courage will carry me through a little while longer.

Soon I'll be asking friends if the'll do a beta read for me - already have one or two takers.  If you'd like to give an opinion, drop me a line!  Thanks!

Nine Things

The Nine Things
-that I am thankful for as a child of God
1. God loves me more than a mother loves her infant child: The Lord answered and said: Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will never forget you. (Isaiah 49:15 AMP)
2.  God has the scars that prove His love for me: Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of my hands; (Isaiah 49:16 AMP)
3. God has separated me from my sin: As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12 AMP)
4. God gives me an inheritance with Jesus: And if we are His children, then we are His heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (sharing His inheritance with Him); only we must share His suffering if we are to share His glory. (Romans 8:17 AMP)
 5. God hears and answers my prayers:  For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps knocking, (the door) will be opened. (Matt 7:8 AMP)
6. God has promised not to save me only, but my whole family: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into his keeping) and you will be saved, (and this applies both to) you and your household as well. (Acts 16:31 AMP)
7.  God is always aware of what I am going through, He never misses a moment: He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved: He Who keeps you will not slumber. (Psalm 121:3 AMP)
8. Jesus understands everything that I am going through because He has gone through it, too: For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. (Hebrews 4:15 AMP)
9. And because God understands, he always provides us with the means to overcome our temptations: He (can be trusted) not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation, He will (always) also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently. (1 Corinthians 10:13 AMP)

NaNoWriMo & Continuous Training

Hi Everybody!
Sorry I haven't posted as often as usual.  I've been trying to get a lot of things done for editing my book "The Prodigal Life" so that it will be available in softcover.  Also I'm finishing up my 3rd book, "101 Notes of Thanksgiving" so that it will be available at least at Smashwords this week (I'll let you know when it's ready).  And now, NOVEMBER 1 is tomorrow, and I'm participating in NaNo.  For those who don't know, November is National Novel Writing Month.  So I have committed myself to write 50,000 words toward a new novel this month.  As such, I'll be taking a break from this blog - but I will try to post a minimum of once/week!
Here's my post for today:
Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
In our walk with God, we never stop learning.  If we think we have “arrived” spiritually and stop walking with God in prayer and study of His word, then we will deteriorate and slip back into becoming like the rest of the world.  It’s so easy to slip back into the ditch from which we came.
When we come back from the “backslidden” position, it’s often harder to recover the position that we once had, and the struggle to regain it is so much harder.  The first time I lost weight by relying on faith, the weight shed from me like melted butter, and it was so easy to follow the Lord.  But this time, although it’s a struggle, amazingly I’m finding myself closer to Him than I ever was before!
If Paul in this letter can say that he’s still working on and still pressing forward, than think about how much farther we need to go before we have “arrived.”  Heavenward is the word that he uses to describe his goal. 
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
If my focus is on my budding relationship with Jesus, and I seek His kingdom first, then everything else will fall into place.  This bond that I am building with my Jesus needs to be so strong that no reward system becomes more important than the friendship and love that we share.  The weight and the freedom from addiction that I know He will help me with will come in His time.  For now my faith needs to be focused on learning and being teachable, realizing that there is no “arrival” point on this Earth.

God's Armor Daily

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.   Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)
I have carpal tunnel syndrome.  My wrists ache when I’m tired and will become sore and numb in my sleep if I don’t wear wrist braces to bed.  This is fairly manageable compared to some stories that I’ve heard of others.  But there are times when I’m tired of taking on my nightly routine, and just want to go to sleep without those braces of support on.
Then I always wake up in the middle of the night numb and sore in my arms.  You’d think that I’d learn that I need to put on my support every time, not just sometimes.  They are a necessary part of my life.
The armor of God is a necessary part of the Christian life.
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Standing in place is so difficult when the enemy is overwhelming.  When everything in you tells you to run screaming in fear, it takes faith and trust in your armor to stand.
 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (Ephesians 6:14)
When you have the truth of God surrounding you and His righteousness over your heart, you can have faith that He is with you.  With His promises over you, you will find the ability to stand.
 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15)
Shoes of peace can only be fitted to our feet when we walk in forgiveness.  We are to be forgiving of others as well as seeking for others to forgive us.  In this peace, we will be ready.
 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  (Ephesians 6:16)
With our faith and trust in God, only then can we remember that no matter what lies Satan throws at us, they will be diminished in His strength.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17)
Our salvation gives us the mind of Christ.  And the sword of the spirit (The word of God) is our only offensive weapon.  By His words, the enemy is defeated.
So just as when I try to spend my day without the support of my wrist braces, if I try to live without God’s armor for support, I will be numb and endure pain.  It’s only through faith, truth, and the word of God that I can trust and stand in life every day.  Otherwise I’m just opening myself up to suffering.

Lesson from Mimosa

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” Luke 13:18-19

As I walked my path today, I was really struck by all the Mimosa trees.  I see them every time, but apparently God wanted me to learn a lesson from them today.  Mimosa trees were originally from China.  They have fern-like leaves and branches, and produce fragrant pink flowers in the spring.  Because it’s fall, they have multiple brown seedpods where those flowers were earlier in the year.

What struck me about them today is that they are strong, fast growing and hardy trees.  They are how I would like my walk in Christ to be.  Last year, the church had tried to cut them back, even kill them.  But even though a trunk was all that remained of many of them, they flourish still.  I could even see the scars of where branches were removed on the trunk, but looking at the tree as a whole, I’d never guess it was injured.  Also, the fact that they reproduce so rapidly along the edge of the woods is astounding!

Adversity and injury can be a killer to spiritual growth.  When they come we have two options, to lean on God and grow out of it.  Or we can reject Him and stop growing.  “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Right?

Oh that I could be like the Mimosa, and flourish in spite of adversity.  I would like to grow quickly and show the world the beauty that God is making of me, and share Him with others so that the seeds that God gives me will spread and reproduce!

Speak Up!

That my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:12 NIV)

There are so many different kinds of Christians.

The Pharisee wears all the right clothes and facial expressions, refuses to do anything “fun,” and is too good to behave in a human way.  They were born in the wrong era.  Hating to get their hands dirty, they are quick to point out the dirt in others lives.  When someone has a problem they know they don’t want to talk about it with this person, because they will only find more guilt piled on top.

Like a secret boyfriend or girlfriend, the second kind of Christian keeps Jesus as their secret.  They live pretty much like the rest of the world, but keeps from cursing, drinking, or other small vices in hopes that someone might see their witness and notice they are different.  Usually, no one does.  When a friend has a problem, they usually don’t even think about coming to this person for help.  It just never crosses their mind.

Then there is the down and dirty Christian.  The true Jesus Freak.  This one can’t stop talking about Jesus to the point that people are sick of hearing about Him.  The funny thing is that when someone has a problem they know they can rely on this Jesus Freak for help.

The funny thing about all three of these “Christians” is that I have been all three.  And in pretty much the same order. Right now I’m in my Jesus Freak stage.

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. (2 Corinthians 9:13 NIV)

Being an open Christian is sometimes hard and often scary.  The world thinks of all open Christians as being like the Judgmental Pharisee type.  The funniest thing for me is that when I was in this stage, I had never even read my Bible, but I sure went to church every time the doors were opened. 

The world needs us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To work and be fruitful for the Lord is what is required.  God wants us to be light and salt.  If we hide Him in our hearts, who will ever know the secret? 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. (Hebrews 13:15 NIV)

And that is the secret.  In this passage from Hebrews lies the formula for becoming the best sort of Christian.  When you open your mouth, do not be afraid to say His name.  But!  When you open your mouth, be sure that praise is what comes out continually!

Think about it!  If when you say His name in praise, how can you then be judgmental?  If you say His name in praise, how can you not bring healing? Do not hide behind your silence or your judgment. Bring about the JOY of the Lord by being a Praise Warrior for Him!

Eyes Right

EYES RIGHT
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4 NKJV)
My prayer walk has been along the same path for the past couple weeks.  It starts with a lap around my church and ends circling a patch of woods with a semi-busy road to the side.  I like walking in a counter clockwise direction around these things. 
Today I found myself searching through nature for some sort of word from God that would show me that He walked with me.  My neck actually started to cramp a little bit because my head was turned constantly to the left, inside the circle that I was making.
Then suddenly it occurred to me that I was too busy looking out for my own self interest.  I was too busy trying to find a word of knowledge for myself that I was forgetting to look at the people who were driving on the road to my right.  I neglected my prayer and intercession time.
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:16 NKJV)
The first time I came and committed my walk to God, He nursed me like a baby and gave me so much help.  He told me today that this time, He expects me to help others.  He will not allow a self-focused relationship with Him.  Every blessing He gives: He expects me to give away and not keep for myself.
So as I turned my eyes to the right and breathed a heavy sigh, I asked for forgiveness and began my intercession.

Still Under Construction

photo by scottchan via freedigitalphotos.net

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
In our walk with God, we never stop learning.  If we think we have “arrived” spiritually and stop walking with God in prayer and study of His word, then we will deteriorate and slip back into becoming like the rest of the world.  It’s so easy to slip back into the ditch from which we came.
When we come back from the “backslidden” position, it’s often harder to recover the position that we once had, and the struggle to regain it is so much harder.  The first time I lost weight by relying on faith, the weight shed from me like melted butter, and it was so easy to follow the Lord.  But this time, it’s a struggle, but amazingly I’m finding myself closer to Him than I ever was before!
If Paul in this letter can say that he’s still working on and still pressing forward, than think about how much farther we need to go before we have “arrived.”  Heavenward is the word that he uses to describe his goal. 
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
If my focus is on my budding relationship with Jesus, and I seek His kingdom first, then everything else will fall into place.  This bond that I am building with my Jesus needs to be so strong that no reward system becomes more important than the friendship and love that we share.  The weight and the freedom from addiction that I know He will help me with will come in His time.  For now my faith needs to be focused on learning and being teachable, realizing that there is no “arrival” point on this Earth.

God's Spurs

This is a sampling of the book I currently have in progress, called "Jesus & Horses: A Devotional for Horse Lovers" -
Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or to the left; remove your foot from evil. (Proverbs 4:27-28 NKJV)
Horses do not naturally go in straight lines.  They tend to weave to the left and right as they move, like any wild prey animal.  Even when they follow a well worn path created by other wild animals, you should notice that the path is rarely ever straight.  This is a survival characteristic among prey animals.
When a rider first begins to train a horse, she has to teach the horse to go straight.  With gentle nudges between her leg and hand, the horse slowly begins to learn his boundaries.  Some horses need a great deal of coaxing to learn straightness.  Some will even require spurs to become more sensitive. 
A well trained horse is a straight horse.
Humans are much the same way.  We wander and become easily distracted, rarely going in a straight line.  But if we listen to God’s gentle nudges, we too can learn to go straight.  God, like a rider, may have to use increasingly hard “nudges” to get our attention.  But He is a kind trainer who wants us to become sensitive to the smallest cue.  I pray that we remain sensitive to His gentleness, so He will not need to bring out His spurs.

The Color of Blood

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

My walks are tactile experiences.  I listen, I look around, and I am drawn to touch almost everything.  The fall colors are starting to bloom, and God prompted me today to pluck a waxy red leaf and contemplate it on my walk.

The leaf was blood read, with a few black spots on it.  It was imperfect, yet beautiful.

It made me consider the blood of Jesus, and how His blood washes away the black spots on our souls, making us shiny, beautiful and new.  This drew me to the words of a song I've been listening to lately where it says, "From His wounds we drink salvation."

Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:54

Blood is a disgusting thing.  It smells awful and stains things terribly. There are people who faint at the sight of it.  But over all it is an offensive thing.  The very idea that we "drink" His blood is offensive and sounds cannibalistic.  But Jesus said that we are to do it if we are accepting His salvation. 

It's easy to imagine how many people find this point to be a stumbling block.  How accepting something so "vile" in their opinion could be unheard of for them.  It is amazing how Satan perverts what God has ordained in the world's eyes.  The idea of vampires and other blood-sucking monsters searching for eternal life comes to mind. 

But God has made laws from the beginning of time that are ancient and unchanged that Blood is the necessity of redemption.  Oh that we will not find offensive or perverted the laws of God that bring our salvation.

The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow;
      Let Him be your fear,
      And let Him be your dread.
      He will be as a sanctuary,
      But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense
      To both the houses of Israel,
      As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
      And many among them shall stumble;
      They shall fall and be broken,
      Be snared and taken.”  Isaiah 8:13-15

Lesson from a Spider's Web


During my walk, I felt a prompting in my heart to go stand on this small piece of concrete slab sitting under a tree and to pray for the people that I’d seen during the walk.  As I headed in a straight line to the slab, I ran directly into an unseen spider web.

You have to understand that all along the walk I had seen at least 10 different spider webs.  Orb weavers have this talent for setting up their delicate netting in obtrusive places literally overnight.  All along the way, they’d been perfectly visible and easily avoided.  Then when I set out to go to a specific spot that I felt a prompting to go to, I run right into a giant web.

Of course, being a female, I freaked out a little bit.  Ran my hands through my hair and got the stringy, sticky goop out.  I thanked God that the spider was still scurrying around the unbroken portion of the web on the tree branch, likely lamenting its breakage.  But even more, I felt my heart sink.  I felt like it was a small failure on my part.  That maybe the prompting didn’t come from God, since the path wasn’t perfectly cleared of all obstacles.

Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:14 NKJV

Immediately, my thoughts received correction.  Jesus warned us that the way is difficult. When has anything great come easy?  If Christians go about feeling like every problem in the path signifies a bad direction, we’d stay in bed under the covers! 

So I shrugged off my initial shudder and obediently stood on the concrete block to pray.  But it got me thinking, how can we know what is a prompting from God and not a desire of our own making?

  1. What would I gain by doing what my heart prompted?  If the answer is nothing, than you can be more certain that it’s not a selfish one.
  2. Does the prompting align with what I know about God?  If the prompting asks you to do something you know God would never ask, then you can be sure it’s not from Him.
  3. Will others gain from my obedience?  If the answer is yes, it is much more likely that He ordained it.
  4. Would Satan have a motive to stop me from being obedient in this?

For my prompting in this venture, I had nothing to gain.  God would want me to pray, and others would gain from my intercession for them.  And yes, Satan has a motive to stop me.  So in this particular instance I was right in continuing to be obedient even though an obstacle blocked my way. 

We all wish God would remove every obstacle from our path, but sometimes the obstacles are there to help us to grow stronger.  I pray that I will be obedient when a bigger obstacle arrives.

Hurry and Worry


Autumn road-oil painting.jpg (263281 bytes)

As for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd who follows You… (Jeremiah 17:16 NKJV)
On my walk this morning the fall colors were quite a distraction.  A pleasant one it was, but still drawing my eye from the path on more than one occasion.  As I circled around my church this morning, there were several people rushing from parked cars to the church building in a hurry to get to a function that took place this morning.
As I prayed for the people in the building, I was prompted to pray for them to not be in a hurry, and not to allow worry to overcome them.  Then it occurred to me that these two actions are sisters, and often go along hand in hand with each other.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6 NKJV)
In order to be in tune and on the same wavelength as our God, we are to be patient and to wait on Him.  When we are in a hurry, it causes us anxiety, and gives us a false feeling of being in control.  It actually causes us to worry – worry that we’ll be late, worry that we’ll be an inconvenience to someone else, worry that we’ll miss out on something important.  Since Jesus told us not to worry, shouldn’t we also not hurry?
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope. (Psalm 130:5 NKJV)
God constantly asks us to wait for Him.  But in our hurry we often leave Him behind.  Taking these morning walks with the Lord as my companion is reminding me to make time to slow down.  I pray that you’ll find ways to slow down and shove hurry aside as well!

My Morning Walk


Green flowers with Rocks

Enoch walked faithfully with God; Then he was no more, for God took him away. (Genesis 5:24 NIV)
Yesterday I bought a book called PRAYER WALKING FOR SPIRITUAL BREAKTHROUGH by George Mcvey.  The concept of prayer walking is both interesting and biblical. Enoch and Noah walked with God; Daniel walked along the river and prayed.   As I read the book I kept getting the prompt that this is how I should get to know my God better.  I needed to do this, too.
I knew that I needed to leave my iPod behind.  This is a tough one for me, since I never leave home without it.  I listen to praise worship and have Audible books which I listen to good teaching as well.  But for the past few days I also felt the prompting to be still, to be quiet, to listen, and to really get to know my God.  I’m reminded of that old Gospel song:
 I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on roses
And the voice I hear
Falling on my ear the son of God discloses.

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known – Charles Austin Miles
So I left my iPod behind and prayed before leaving the house that my ears would be open to His prompting.  As I walked, I heard the birds singing a chorus.  It was a little after 8 a.m., so the dew stuck in little droplets to every blade of grass.  I started the trek around my church, praying for the people who work and attend.  Talking to God out loud, I pictured Him walking with me. 
This is when I had a vision. Suddenly I noticed that I was walking at an exercise pace, a fast march.  In my head I pictured God speed walking with me with a sweatband on His head, both of us out of breath and barely talking to each other because we were concentrating on the work out.
God told me to slow down.
A second scenario came to my mind.  I saw the picture of a courting couple strolling along, hand in hand, getting to know each other.  And God told me that this is what we were doing.  He was courting me.  Our relationship up to now was one of love letters and conversations on the “prayer phone” but it’s always been a long distance one.  Now He wanted to court me into greater intimacy with Him.
The realization was amazing, and I understand now why so many biblical men “walked with God.”  In this fast paced world of hurrying through morning devotionals so that you can get on with your day, no one walks with God.  Even back in Noah’s day it was likely a rare thing!  So I know now why this is a necessary thing for me. God wants a more intimate relationship and to get that, I’m going to have to let him court me. 
I can’t wait for tomorrow morning.

My New Mantra

So yesterday, someone pasted this Mantra on Facebook, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head.  If there is anything that I want to be in life, it is a friend of God and a threat to my enemy, Satan.

You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:14
So what have I been doing to make that happen, and what do I need to do to accomplish it.  I thought about that this morning in my time with the Lord.  And here is what I was told:

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

I need to pray more, and in a way that keeps me focused and still.  I spend too much time not being still in the Lord, trying to read His word instead, and worrying about how to serve Him (like Martha) instead of just listening to Him like Mary.

John, the beloved disciple, was always leaning on the bosom of Jesus listening to Him.  He describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved.  And the word he uses more in his gospel than all of the other gospels combined is "BELIEVE."  Not do, not work, not serve, just believe.

So when I look at this mantra, it makes me want to pick up my sword and start slashing.  But God has told me to choose the better part and be still, get to know Him, and become someone worth fearing.

Unconditional Love

  Matthew 7: 7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

When I was a child, I always got good grades.  A natural self-starter, my parents never did anything to motivate me, because getting straight “A’s” was my personal goal.  But my brother, on the other hand, needed a lot of motivation.  One of the things that they did to motivate him was to offer a reward for good grades.  A “C” would get him $5, a “B” would earn him $10, but an “A” would garner him $20.

But it seemed that no matter what they offered him, he just couldn’t do it on his own.  So although he rarely earned the rewards that were willing to give, he remained their son.  Even though they couldn’t give him the blessings of the money they wanted to give him, if he asked for help in anything that he needed, he would receive it just as readily as I did.

 Matthew7: 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

My parents took care of my brother’s needs.  They even took care of his wants.  They loved him because he was their son, and his behavior and ability to do what they wanted had nothing to do with their love.

God is greater and loves us in an unconditional way in which may parents were not even capable.  If you’ve been having trouble, like I have, asking for what you need because you haven’t “behaved” perfectly – ask anyway!  God’s love is not conditional upon your behavior!

Come to the Harvest

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Luke 10:2 NIV)

God’s fields are ripe for harvest! Are we standing at the fence looking at the field or are we in it, getting our hands dirty?  I believe that this particular verse is overlooked by the average Christian.  They think to themselves “God has not called me to missions, so it doesn’t apply to me!” 

I believe that this scripture applies to all of us.  We are all called to teach!  We are all called to use our talents to further His kingdom and help bring in the harvest.

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16 NIV)

Some of us are called to write fiction that will plant seeds.  Some of us are called to sing songs that water those seeds.  Some of us are called to expound upon scriptures to fertilize the seeds.  And others are called to preach or evangelize and bring in the harvest. 

Regardless, there is work to be done!  God has given us the means and strength to do it in the blessing of His Holy Spirit.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”(John 7:38 NIV)

Did you know that the Dead Sea is dead because it has no outlet?  The water comes into the sea, but has no means to leave it, so it is stagnant.  If you are sitting there, receiving from God but not letting the “water” flow from you to help others, then you are stagnant. 

Are you like a river of living water, flowing?  Or are you stagnant like the Dead Sea?

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Jesus is with us and will help us do what He has commanded.  God wants us to proclaim His word: whether it’s through our mouth, song, pen, or actions – He has called you to His harvest!

Right Motives

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 NIV)

Too many people do biblical things because they want a result.  They do things just to get what they want.  Although there is a reward for obeying God and we reap what we sow, we need to do things because we love God and He asked us too.  So that when we are not getting the result that we want when we want it – we will keep doing what is right and good, because our motive is pure. 

God is interested in “Why” we are doing things, it is important to Him.  So getting something for me is not a right motive.  God will take care of me as long as I keep doing what I’m supposed to do.

God is telling me to renew my focus in this blog.  I need to be focused more upon Him and less upon my own needs.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33 NIV)

By seeking God first – doing what I know is right and strengthening my relationship with Him, then everything I “want” will fall into place.  Usually this happens when the “importance” of what I want dissipates.  When this no longer becomes important to me, that is usually when I receive it. 

God doesn’t want me to have faith in Him, because He can heal me.  He doesn’t want me to love Him because He can save me.  He wants me to love and have faith because He loves me.  What I need to do is no longer care about anything else.

Oh Lord that you would help me to keep my eyes focused on You!  Teach me to love You and keep Your commands, for no other reason.

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. (1 John 5:2 NIV)

More and Now

2 Sheep outside a barn in New York State
For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but hose who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:5 AMP)

So how do you tell the flesh from the Holy Spirit?  There are two demands of the flesh that are in conflict with God.  First, the flesh always wants MORE.  It is never satisfied.

A leech has twin daughters named “Gimme” and “Gimme more.”  Three things are never satisfied, no, there are four that never say, “That’s enough, thank you!” – Hell, a barren womb, a parched land, a forest fire. (Proverbs 30:15-17 MSG)

I don’t know about you, but when I think about what is described here, I want nothing to do with any of them.  But these are really just imagery and synonyms for what our flesh is like.  It is like a barren womb, a forest fire.  It constantly demands more.

But God wants us to be satisfied.  His Holy Spirit longs to take away our thirst and hunger for righteousness.  He wants us to have joy and fulfillment.  The flesh demands fulfillment, but it can never find it.

The only way to overcome the flesh’s demands is to deny it.  From the start, with no compromise, it must be refused.  If you give in just a little bit, just this one time – you’ll find that it is only the beginning. The flesh will always demand more.

He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)

In order for His Spirit to increase in our lives, our own desires and importance must decrease.  The only way that this is possible is through denying the flesh.

But what other demand does the flesh have?  NOW! The flesh wants what it wants right now, and will not wait for it!

But those who wait for the Lord (who expect, look for, and hope in Him) shall change and renew their strength and power (Isaiah 40:31 AMP)

God tells us to wait upon Him over and over in the Bible.  He tells us not to be weary in waiting.  He instructs us to be prepared and watch for Him.  And He promises that He will not be late.

The flesh is full of impatience and demands more, now.  But God wants to give us fulfillment if we will wait for Him.  So what is the flesh demanding that you give it today?  If it’s asking for more and wants it now, don’t give in!  Instead find a way to wait upon the Lord, through prayer so that you can live according to His Spirit.

Miracles


Yesterday my dog was kicked by a horse, and presently one of his legs is paralyzed (that's a pic of him).  I have a friend who has a knee injury that’s been bugging her for a long time.  And one of the pastors at my church fell off a ladder three weeks ago and is still suffering through rehab. 
As I have been praying for healing for all of these, it’s gotten me beyond the route prayers that you kind of just say without really thinking about it.  And instead I’ve been thinking about the miraculous process of healing.
Jeremiah 32:17 – Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You.
The process of creation must be more difficult than the process of healing.  In creation, God makes something from nothing.  Whereas with healing, God takes the things that have already been created and changes them miraculously through the rebuild process.
Job 10:11 – You have clothed me with skin and flesh and have knit me together with bones and sinews.
God takes those parts that we are made of and “sews” them together.  He restores.  He heals. He makes all things new again.  All miracles come from God.
In this world, everything is in a state of atrophy.  Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, death and decay have entered the world.  In my opinion, a miracle is anything that is the opposite of decay – the opposite of atrophy.  When things that should be falling apart start coming together – that is a miracle from God.
So all healing is miraculous.  God’s handiwork is evident in the birth and growth of a child.  When we pray for God’s healing each and every time, it’s a miracle we ask for.  So today I am asking for miraculous things.  But nothing is impossible for my God.

The Source

Weigh In Wednesday – Start: 266 Last Week: 254 This Week: 255
So I gained a pound.  Overall this week, I’ve been stressed, but I didn’t get into stress eating.  I’ve been not unfaithful, but half-hearted.  I’ve said before that God does not reward half-hearted faith, and here I am: evidence of that fact.
I have been having a bout with depression this week.  Some of it I can blame on the miscarriage I had earlier this year, just like I can blame some of this extra weight that I’m carrying as a part of the fact that I was so recently pregnant.  But the thing that I most need to realize is that I cannot truly blame anything or anyone more than pointing the finger at myself.
I’m the one that let my focus slip off of Jesus and started looking at the tangible ground.  I am the one who listened to Satan’s suggestion that I think about the past, and lament for my future.  You see, I was honestly born to be a mother.  I know it in my heart, and it comes so naturally to me.  My son is 11 years old, and so far I have no regrets in my parenting. I’ve not reached those crucial teen years yet, but I hope that the relationship that I’ve developed with my son will stand firm.
I didn’t want an only child.  I wanted a few children, two or three, spaced out about five years or so apart.  We ended up waiting ten.  And when we were finally pregnant last fall, I was elated.  Then when we miscarried in March, I was floored.  I still mourn the loss. 
So I know that I’ve opened this foothold for Satan.  I’ve been depressed all week because I’m not pregnant.  I’ve been berating myself for my past loss, and Satan has been whispering in my ear about how I’ll never get the chance to mother another child.  So I’ve been worrying about tomorrow.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.( Matthew 6:34)
The source of my depression has been in my worry.  My faith has been wavering over this one point, and it has affected every other point in my life.  I have been making wrong choices today, in my daily walk, because I have been letting myself become focused on a negative future: One that may never come to fruition.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life, or a single cubit to his height? (Matthew 6:27)
Will my worrying make me pregnant, or change God’s mind about whether I will have another child?  What am I doing with this self-focus?  Don’t I trust Him?  Don’t I believe that He will always do what’s best for me?
I can really relate to the barren women of the bible who wanted children –and I keep forgetting that God has already blessed me with one.  Why am I so selfish and self-centered?  Ugh.
So Satan foretells a barren future.  I believe him and become selfish.  Then I berate myself for my self-centeredness.  And so goes my cycle of depression.  I thank God for this blog, because it helps me to at least be reminded once per day while I’m writing where my focus should be.  And remembering God helps me to think about what He is already doing in my life.
God gives us grace for today.  He tells us to trust Him about the rest.  He tells us to believe Him for the best.  So get thee behind me, Satan.  Today I commit to God, and stop worrying about anything else.

Where does my help come from?

photo by Kate Pedley
This week I have been struggling with depression.  I’ve been really down on myself and every little thing is setting me off on an emotional rollercoaster.  I’ve been finding that I cry at the littlest things.  Usually I consider myself to be fairly tough skinned, but this week, I feel like my skin is made of paper.

Because I thought I was fine in this area, Satan has decided to prove me wrong.  Satan has been having a field day giving me a battle with the spirit of depression.  I don’t much feel like doing anything except clinging to God who is the only one who loves me unconditionally.

I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let (my) foot slip – He who watches over (me) will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over (me) will not slumber nor sleep. 

The Lord watches over (me) – the Lord is (my) shade at (my) right hand; the sun will not harm (me) by day nor the moon by night.  The Lord will keep (me) from all harm – He will watch over my life; the Lord will watch over (my) coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121 NIV)

Remember when I said that depression is a ME focus?  It is only when I lift my eyes up to God that I can recover where my focus should be.  I need to remember again that this battle is not mine.  I cannot deliver myself from the enemy – he is too strong for me.  But he is not too strong for my Lord.  Oh Lord how I praise you and thank you that you don’t forget me and know what I am going through.  Thank you.

Fear Hides Talent

For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.
Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.
After a long time, the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.
So he who had received five talents came and brought the other five talents saying, “Lord you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents beside them.”
His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.”
He also who had received two talents came and said, “Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.”
His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things.  Enter into the joy of your lord.”
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, “Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground.  Look, there you have what is yours.”
But his lord answered and said to him, “You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not gathered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:14-30)
God gives us many talents, some we are given at birth and others when we come to know Him.  Either way, He expects us to use them and to multiply them.  All of us are called to teach.  In one form or another we are called to do it.  Song Lyrics teach, poetry, writing fiction, teaching our own children, volunteering in the nursery - wherever our calling and talent lies, we’ll be teaching. 
So what is this story about?  I’ve meditated on it and this is what God has shown me.  It’s all about fear.   The bible admonishes us to be courageous, and counsels us to have no fear over and over in many ways.  The exact phrase, “Do not fear” appears fifty-one times and “Fear Not” appears eleven times in the NKJV.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2Timothy 1:7)
Whenever we are afraid, that feeling does not come from God.  He gives us Peace, not Fear.  Fear is the opposite of faith.  Who has ever prayed for fear?  But we pray and need to pray constantly for our fear to be removed.  Additionally we need to act in spite of our fear at times.
In this parable, there are three servants of the lord.  The first two servants are given more and greater talents because their lord knew them to already be trustworthy of them.  Likely they had already proven themselves to work hard for their lord and had already not let fear overcome them.  These two are like those who work in the mission field or at least in positions that are in front of others, like preaching.
They worked diligently and brought in a bounty of other talents by encouraging others to use their talents for God as well.  They were faithful and brought God a multiplied harvest.  So they were trusted with more responsibility.
The third servant was given a talent, and hid it because he was afraid.  He feared that he would lose his talent.  He may have feared public speaking, making a spectacle of himself, or maybe even going to foreign lands because of airplanes, disease, or needing to learn a new language.  He may have believed that he was not smart enough, or that God didn’t give him enough talents.  Regardless, he let his fear keep him from moving.
When his lord returned and said – “at least you could have left your talent with the banker so I could have received interest,” the lord was telling the servant that there were little things that he could have done.  He could have been faithful in small ways.  If foreign fields were the source of his fear, he should have served in the church.  If public speaking, then he could have mowed the church’s grass and passed out bulletins.  But the point is that he could have done something, whatever it was that God called him to do.
I don’t believe that passing out bulletins is enough work for God’s kingdom.  What I do believe is, if this servant had been faithful here, out of his comfort zone, then he would overcome his fear and found himself stepping even further out.  He would learn what pleasure there is in serving the Lord outside of our house or even our church.
The point in this parable is to not allow fear to keep us from serving.  God expects us to DO something.  We can’t do everything, but we can do something.  And each little thing that we do will have an impact for God’s kingdom, even if it only makes us trust Him further and become more willing to have new faith in ourselves and in what God can do.  So what small thing can I do for Him today?  I pray that I will do it.