Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Jack Squat

The title of my post is exactly what I really know about love.

I love my people as much as a wife and mother can possibly love them.

However my love has limits.

Who knew?

We began our study of Hosea this past Thursday.

Worst fears confirmed.

Conviction has not left me.

As I have read the scriptures and done the homework in our study book I realized that I love so selfishly. is our awesome God's love:

Love is patient and kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast
and is not proud.
Love is not rude or self-seeking.
Love is not easily angered.
It keeps no records of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil.
Love rejoices with the truth.
Love protects.
Love trusts.
Love hopes.
Love perseveres.
(1 Cor. 1: 4-7)

And....this would be my lived out version of love:

Love is hurried and nice when nothing is wrong.
It tries not to envy others but fails a lot and doesn't really feel badly about it.
My love boasts when I do easy things or
when I want others to notice my achievements.
Love is only rude when it has to be...
especially if someone is needlessly rude to me.
Love seeks my way first and then worries what others will think.
My love remembers the reasons why I can't trust people.
My love doesn't really delight in evil...unless it contradicts with
things I like to watch or say or think about. 
Love rejoices when good things happen to other people...
and then I wonder when it is my turn.
Love protects only those I deem worthy.
Love trusts up to a point.
Love hopes as long as it doesn't feel stupid or embarrass me.
Love perseveres until I grow tired or bored.

I sit here mortified of the truth that is staring back at me from this screen.

God alone is capable of loving us with this crazy supernatural love described in the book of 1 Corinthians.

Because His Spirit lives inside of me I can choose to love that way also.

Not all the time.
Not perfectly.

But how about more often than now?

That would be a nice start.

Love is the basis of Christianity.

So why are we Christians so lousy at doing it?

It is the scandalous word that causes sinners to pause and wonder.

Are we really loved?

The answer is undeniably yes.

Jesus came to show us love.

A love we had never known.

A love so shocking that the enemy chooses to help us question it.

What is most difficult in your life at this moment?

Crippling fear?
Unending bills?
A person?
A situation?

Whatever your thing can only help it.

To know and believe that you are loved beyond your wildest dreams will free something bound within you.

What I love about our Lord Jesus is that He intends to teach us how to love by doing the hard work first.

Romans 5:8 states it beautifully, "but God demonstrates his own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Think about your sin.

Really think about it.

If many thoughts don't immediately come to you...then hear me: you are in serious denial.

Sadly we (and I) have become so familiar with our sin and our selves that we can scarcely separate the two.

Hate to break this to you but, just like me, you are a filthy wretch.

ANYTHING good about us is Jesus.

If you have a good clean thought.  It is because of Him.
If you forgive someone.  It is because of Him.
If you choose joy...
If you step forward in faith....
If you think kindly towards others....
If you obey something so difficult....
If you exert self-control....

Give credit where credit is due.  JESUS.

The Spirit of Almighty God equips you.  He works in you to do His will.

Now back to love.

It is this simple.

When your sinfulness is fresh on your mind.
His love washes over you like sunshine on your face.
You smile~ because how can you not?
Your sin should shake His love.

But it doesn't.
Not one little bit.

When you walk in a love you did not earn...
you are free to give that same love to others.

Admit it.

You don't know jack squat about selfless love either.

THAT is the love that changes the world.

Teach us Lord to trust a love we cannot fathom.
Help us to wallow in it.
It blows me away that You would place Your love within me and entrust the likes of me to spread it to others.
I mess up so much.
But Your love never shrinks back.
It never fails.  Even when we do.
I love you Lord.
As much as I can at this moment.
But I am made to love even more.
Teach me.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Blank Pages of Life

It has been difficult to think about writing this post.

I fear that any effort to describe what God spoke to my heart is going to be futile.

However...I press on....feeling strongly that others of you out there may need a bit of encouragement just as I did.

Leave it to the God of Heaven to speak it to me just days ago while I walked my big ol' puppy dog.

It was a rare morning free from the duties of children.

After savoring quiet time, coffee and a slow pace I set out to pray and walk our dog, Jasper.

I had made an entire lap around our neighborhood.  Jasper was enjoying the walk tremendously as if he knew there was really no hurry.  Prayers for friends and specific situations had lingered on my lips with each step.

As I neared my own house I offered up prayers for my own children.  I asked God to make them courageous and bold for His Name sake.  I asked that they would be individuals of faith and strong character.  I specifically asked the Lord to help them know the  HE is the author and finisher of the story of their lives.

Even as I spoke the words to the Lord he showed me a glimpse of myself.

(I know that is hard to understand.  Believe is also frustrating to try to explain.)

What I saw was myself standing before the Lord God with my own life story in my hands and the pages were blank.  My expression sad and doubtful.

Here I was asking God to help my children know that He is authoring the journey of their lives.  And yet I have somehow stepped away from believing it myself.

What God wanted to do was help me.

The pages in my book feel empty these days.

Days stretch into weeks and weeks fly by into months and before I know it life is going by and it seems that my purpose is going with it.

My story has become mundane.

More than that my eyes have begun to wander and look at others. I even use the wicked measuring stick of comparison. Yuck.

Somehow I see life and joy and purpose happening for others.  Their stories seem vibrant with hope, adventure and possibility.

Then I look back at my story.

It seems void of those things.

My story seems to have stalled out.

Sadly I even start believing what I feel.  I begin to fall for the lie that God is no longer writing any words in my story.

The days that pass are simply blank pages.

I believe this overwhelming feeling that grips me is what happens when hope is deferred.  Proverbs chapter 13 verse 12 speaks of this.  This verse describes the heart of a person becoming sick because of hoping for something day after day.

Over thirteen years ago we believe God spoke to us.

When our daughter was born severely disabled from a birth injury we cried out to Him.  He answered us.

The answer He gave us was unbelievable on every level.

~I am going to heal your daughter. Simply believe what I say.~

It is more difficult to believe His words today than it was then.


Thirteen years is why.

I still change her diaper 6 or so times a day.
I still hook up a tube to her belly and give her milk to sustain her life and health.
I carry her in my arms just as I did when she was an infant.
I seek to understand and communicate with her because she can cry, yell, laugh, or babble.

My heart is sick because my hope is deferred.

God has chosen it to be so.

So it feels like the story I thought would be written by now is not only on hold...but fear says it will never be finished.  At least not finished with a miraculous healing.

I believe God allowed me see where I have drifted.  Unknowingly.

My pages are not blank.

God is always at work.

However when my eyes look at the circumstances of everyone else instead of being fixed upon Jesus Christ I cannot see correctly.

In other words comparison dulls spiritual vision.

As believers we have eyes that should be able to see and discern spiritual things.

The more I entertain doubt, jealousy of others, comparison, and envy my spiritual eyes lose sight of what He is writing in my story.
*****Thus giving the enemy a perfect opportunity to pounce on my feelings******

When my eyes are fixed and focused on the person of Jesus Christ my spiritual eyes are sharpened I begin to see words appear on those blank pages.

Carnal eyes cannot see the work of the Spirit.

John 14:17 are the words of Jesus Christ. He is talking to his followers about the Holy Spirit.  He says, "He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

Wallowing in my pity and limiting the scope of my vision to the lives of others is a very quick way to disturb the work of the Holy Spirit in my own life AND to distort my spiritual vision.

Isaiah 26:3 says that a mind fixed on God will be kept in perfect peace.

There is no perfect life.

But His peace is perfect.  It can settle and satisfy me when nothing else will.

Maybe you are like me.

Maybe you are quick to look around and compare your life with those around you.
Maybe you feel as though He has forgotten you.
Maybe what you thought would be has not happened.
Maybe the pages of your story seem blank.

Empty of purpose.  Empty of peace. Empty of His Presence.

I will ask you the same thing that the Holy Spirit gently asked me.

Where is your gaze?

If your eyes stay focused on tv, social media, movies, gossip and the lives of others then trust cannot see what God is writing.

Your spiritual eyes cannot help but be dull to His supernatural activity.

Know this....He is always writing our story.  

I needed to be reminded that I was looking in the dark.
My pages only seemed empty.  His words have always been there.  
My eyes have simply been looking everywhere else....

His presence and the light of who He is illuminates the story of my life.  Words appear on the pages that seemed blank.  

Words of purpose.  
Words of promise.
Words that are weaving the remarkable story of making you more like Jesus.

He is faithful and true.

Stay fixed on Jesus fellow warrior.

Come what may your story is meant to be miraculous.