Monday, November 30, 2009

Living Loved

I have been reading this book on and off for a while. It's the one pictured to the right. I have picked it up on and off over the past few months. And I will probably be reading it over and over for months to come because of the truths that are saturated in this book. It is a must read for anyone. He is simply talking about how to live loved. And he describes how Jesus did that just that throughout the New Testament. It is beautiful and has left me once again, undone. I have picked it up this week after it sat on the shelf for a month or so and it has really helped settle some of the things I was struggling with last week. So I find this to be a good follow-up to all my ranting and raving last week. God is so faithful when we ask for Him to cut through the fog that keeps us from experiencing His presence. Last week, I was in a fog and felt confused, but the fog is lifting, "Praise Jesus!" And I'm thanking God for all the encouragement from you who have read and responded to my blog posts this past week. God has had His fingerprints all over your words of truth and encouragement.

So moving along, here's a section from this book out of a chapter called "Trying to Earn Points with Someone Who is No Longer Keeping Score". This has really just penetrated my heart and I pray that as you take it in, let it begin to take root into your every day life. This is His heart's desire for us and it is my heart's desire for my life to reflect His glory and grace in our lives:

Freedom to grow in him comes when you recognize that his love for you isn't affected by your actions.
Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more...and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love. Our only choice is whether or not to LIVE loved, trusting that his eye is on us and that he can work out in us everything he desires.
That is the challenge of life in God's kingdom. He has done everything to demonstrate his irrefutable love, but he will not make us live there. We can still live less loved, pursuing our own agenda with our own resources and in the process not only destroying ourselves, but hurting others as well.
The choice is yours, and it can't be made once for a lifetime. This choice is made EVERY DAY in every circumstance in which you find yourself.
So back to my own words, here's another concept that I am trying to grasp. Have you ever considered that even the worst circumstances have actually come through His love and grace? In order to have the heart of Jesus, we are to be given the opportunity to respond as Jesus did, even in the worst circumstances. When Jesus was breathing His last breath on the cross, His last words were, "Father, in your hands I commit my spirit". Even in the greatest agony and pain of the cross, He still trusted His Father's love for Him and completely gave Himself over into His Father's hands. And that trust came out of His relationship with His Daddy. What a beautiful picture of relationship.
And to think God wants us to have that kind of relationship with Him too. Amazing!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rising Hope...

Things are a little better but still have some confusion and aimlessness that has not completely gone away. When I try to pray, my thoughts seem disjointed and like my words don't makes sense to me, but I have to trust that God still knows what I'm trying to say. He knows my heart better than I. I'm thankful someone does for sure...especially Him.

Last night, I had a great heart-to-heart with my husband. We seem to be going through similar frustrations and confusions and I don't find it coincidental now that I know it is happening simultaniously between the both of us. So my conclusion is, our home as a whole is under attack. That's the only conclusion I can come to. But it's not the kind of attack that is obvious to a job loss, or a death in the family, or a sin issue that has surfaced again, or someone doing wrong to us. It's a subtle, almost unidentifiable thing, which is almost more frustrating. I think the enemy is trying to attack our character and make us doubt that who God says we are in Him is actually true, which makes us doubt God too.

A few weeks ago, Tim and I were challenged and felt very convicted in some things in our lives that we felt we need pray over. Just some different approaches on how we are to do things, what we are to do about them, and what our purpose is in them. What needs to go or what needs to change, so we can be wholeheartedly in the center of God's will?  We were in one accord about what we need to pray about. It seemed clear of what God wanted our focus to be in our prayers for our family. So I don't find it just coincidence that the enemy is trying to distract us from what seemed so clear to us a few weeks ago. Now it seems like a distant memory and there's a sense of "maybe we just aren't cut out to do what He wants" in my mind. And the enemy knows as long as we entertain that thought, we are sure to stay bound up and in a fog, only to remain outside of God's perfect plan. I have to remind myself too. God doesn't walk away from us. We are always the ones walking away if we so choose.

One more thing I want to add. As my husband and I were talking last night, something came out of my mouth that I hadn't really thought of before and it really has penetrated in me since last night. I believe God spoke it through me because it came out of nowhere and my husband even took pause when I said it.
I basically said that if we are this miserable when we feel God has distanced himself from us, doesn't that say a lot about how strong our bond is with Him? What a great gauge for us to know where our relationship with God is. That gave me hope really right where I needed it. I need to know the bond is still in tact, even if I feel otherwise. Because on the contrary, if I didn't really give a second thought to feeling a distance from God in my life, that should say I obviously haven't have enough fellowship with Him to notice the difference.

I think I feel some hope rising...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brutal Honesty

I am feeling discouraged right now. I feel everything that I touch here at home just falls apart before me. I'm very ADD (literally)and it shows in every area of my life it seems. I'm unorganized, my kids are walking tornadoes, it makes me irritable and cranky, my mind is exhausted from it all, my flesh feels very strong all the time, and the things I want to do I don't, and the things I don't want to do, I do. I can't respond to conflict or affliction the way I'd like. I pray, pray, and pray more about the things that are heavy on me. I want to yield it all to the Lord but I still very much get in the way. I am very selfish with my time and am very weary at home and my husband and kids are suffering because of it. Yeah, I can choose to not be, but will that really be the answer? Really? Because I'm still ultimately selfish and weary.

There's desires I've had for a long time that are not being met still. I give them over, take them back, give them over, take them back. I don't want them anymore but something in me just can't let go no matter how hard I try. It's eating me up. I acknowledge that the enemy is coming at me, that I live in the flesh still and this is all pride talking...bleah, bleah, bleah. But where is the POWER that God promises? I want to carry that power with me and I just don't see it anymore!!
People talk to me all the time about the encouragement I give them, and I'm so glad to know that God is using me somewhere, but I still feel that when it comes to my home envirnment, I am falling oh so short! I don't want to hinder my children from growing in God's love because of my mistakes, or my flesh that wants to come out at any opportunity. I am always walking around with too much burden around here, and it's wearing me down minute by minute. I'm not experiencing the joy still that the Lord promises. I guess I've forgotten how to live that in this part of my life. It used to be there. Where did it go??? All I wanted to be was a wife and mommy when I was young. And God blessed me with an amazing husband and 3 beautiful girls. So what has happened?

I have friends who are hurting so bad right now through the worst circumstances anyone can ever go through. There's people I love dearly who are going through health issues that I can't fix nor make them fix. My children have a very large lack of respect for me right now and though they love on me and want me to love on them, they completely don't respect my authority or the boundaries we try to set before them. How long will I be beating my head against a wall in the areas that I want to experience victory in or where I want my kids to have victory? Will I have to always sit back and watch others want to experience victory where there isn't, even when I pray fervently for it?

That song "How long will you forget, Oh Lord", by Michael Card keeps coming in my head by the way.

So moving on, another thing is, Tim and I have felt convicted about wanting to love others as ourselves more, to go out to the world and be Jesus in skin to others, to shine Jesus light to those in the darkness, whether its family, friends, neighbors, or strangers. Well, the truth is, I am scared to death still about sharing Christ with the lost, with developing new relationships that I feel I don't have time for. I am overwhelmed already at the things set before me in my own home. Yes, once again, these are all things the enemy wants for me to continue to feel or believe so I won't be effective "out there". And yes, they are lies, but they are so real and feel so true in my life right now. The real Truth seems so hard to grasp. Like I hold it for a second, then it slips right through my fingers. Why is it so much easier to believe lies than Truth? Why?

Hope is still a word that I grapple with. The Word says hope never disappoints. Well, I wish I could believe that truthfully. Hope seems to always be paired with expectation to me, and I can't seem to separate the two. And if I am to put my hope in the Lord and nothing else, what does that mean? What am I hoping about Him? He has already accomplished everything, right?

Like I said, I'm being brutally honest about the things that go through my mind these days. These are the questions that pop up as I read Truth, or try to believe it. I'm tired of kidding myself and others about the things that still entrap me. And I'm tired of feeling entrapped by them. I've had glimpses and real experiences of freedoms in my life, but why don't they remain? I need to find where the Bible talks about that exactly. I'm sure it's there, but if anyone has some places to guide me, let me know. I need help there.

I just read the "faith" chapter in Hebrews, where it talks about all those who walked out on faith and were counted as righteousness because of it, but then at the end, it says they never actually saw the promises that God spoke to them or us about. What?? I know we are still living out some of the promises God has spoken of back then, but honestly, my reaction to that wasn't that great. I know we are a microwave society that wants instant results, so maybe that's just my impatience is coming out as unbelief. But that's just what stirs up. One more thing I grapple with!

For anyone reading this, please lift me up in prayer if you will. I need my brothers and sisters in Christ to rise up and battle with me. I don't want to give up, but part of me has nothing in me left. But maybe that's right where God want me right now. I don't know. Just please pray for me.

"You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry..." Psalm 10:17

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Your Own Understanding

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." Psalm 3:5

A verse we have all heard many times. I read it yesterday for the thousandth time as I was going through a review study of "Lies Women Believe". I finally stopped at "your own understanding" and decided to ask the Lord to reveal MY own understanding so that I can begin to remove more obstacles that are preventing me from trusting Him. Because according to that verse, our understanding will get us nowhere., He answered me. I pulled out my journal and started writing down what "my own understanding" really means...LIES. And the ones God revealed to me are those really suttle thoughts that quickly come right after you read a truth, hear a truth, or even are talking to someone or even God about truths you are trying to believe. I have been beating my head against a wall lately about why it is I still am not living life the way God intends. Why I'm still falling short. Why I still am not acting out what I say I want to, what I tell others they should believe or receive.
The sermon we had at church Sunday was all about hearing God speak to us and to not just be hearers of what He says, but to let Him do through us what He says He wants to do. To let him reveal His love to us the way He wants. God's word is true in every aspect of my the Bible says. But why I am not living as if it's true? Well, I finally have realized that I'm still believing those suttle thoughts that the enemy wants me to think aren't there, the ones I just brush off. That I really just "subconsciously" think but don't realize I'm actually believing them based on my response. Um, yeah, those suttle thoughts are actually my biggest hurdles, even mountains that are getting in my way.

So here's some examples of what I wrote down that God revealed:

1. If I say, "God, speak to me today about what your will is in this situation, or what it will take for me to follow you with all my heart", that little voice says "You can't handle what God is going to tell you. You'll fail at it. It'll just be too hard". And most of the time, I agree, and stop listening to God!

2. If I start thinking about calling a friend in need, or reaching out to some lost neighbors or friends, that voice says "what if you scare them away, or what if you say the wrong thing, mess up the relationship or even mess up a relationship before it's even started". Makes sense to me, so I agree...ouch!

3. When I want to start discipling my kids or sharing God with them more, that voice says "do you really think they'll listen? What if they think you aren't making any sense? It might just be a waste of time. Maybe they just aren't ready to hear yet." I say yeah, probably....then I cave.

So you get the picture. But what if I turned the tables and answered back to the lies:

1. "Will my kids really listen to me? Will the really understand anything I'm teaching them? What if it is a waste of time"

Answer back: Jesus said "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven". Matt. 19:14
See all the "me's" in the doubt? It's actually true that if I depend on my own abilities, yeah, I'll mess up and they probably won't listen. But if I can draw in His power and let Him penetrate their hearts, that's when the receiving happens.

2. "What if that neighbor or friend rejects me? What if I mess up the relationship by trying to bring Jesus into it?" Ouch!!
Answer back: Since when did Jesus mess up friendships? I may mess it up, but He won't if I let Him speak through me.

3. "What if what God tells says to me is too hard to hear or I fail?"

And this one takes us back to my first point of Truth:
"Trust the Lord with all our heart and lean not on your own understanding".

Now to just believe it and live it!

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Un-doing

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9-11

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5

As many people do, I have been guilty for a large portion of my life of falling into the trap of self-pity and condemnation over not measuring up to some standard I give myself when it comes to my responsiblities of life...mainly as a wife and mom. I beat myself up daily to the point of near self-destruction sometimes. And lately, it seems my weaknesses have become more and more prevalent. Like glaring in my face...all the time! It's ugly and I feel I am fighting a fierce battle that has come against me in this area. Fierce! But here's the deal! I'm DONE! Done fighting in my flesh, done striving! Done thinking I can figure it all out! Done trying harder! But did I say I'm done fighting? No! But I'm not fighting alone. I'm letting God in to fight for me!

The verses above has been my life-source the past few weeks. And there have been some small victories already over my own fleshly responses due to applying these verses to those lowest, weakest moments. For an example, when I have clearly messed up in how I talk to my kids, my husband, or lacked faith once again over our finances, and when the word "failure" wants to haunt me and enter my mind over and over, I answer back "His grace is sufficient". "Because of Christ in me, when I am weak, then I am strong" ."For His power is made perfect in my weakness". That is such a quandry to many of us. How is that true? How does that work? The way we become stronger, is recognizing our weaknesses, then yielding our weaknesses to Him...and I mean all of them. What prevents us from doing that? Our friend Pride. Who likes to admit that they can't do something on their own. Who? To hand them over minute by minute, day by day, until His power has become a reality in our lives is not an easy task, but the Word says it is necessary to find that abundant life He has promised.

I have felt the Lord impressing on me to literally let some things that I have tried to be in control of fall apart, so that I can see clearly where I have no power in my own strength. Then I can clearly give Christ the power where power is due when those things come back into order. Because I know it isn't me doing it. It's been tough. As the devil tries to throw the failure card at me over and over. I mean, it is true that apart from Him I can do nothing. But praise God that I don't have to depend on myself to do anything. PRAISE GOD!!

But where I come in is where I WILLINGLY AND HUMBLY let Christ be in control of me in every aspect of my life. Not just during my quiet time, or when I send a prayer up here and there. Or when things are going great around me. But in EVERY moment of my day. Talking with Him all the time, fellowshipping with Him as I do dishes, or cook dinner...yielding to His instruction or guidance when I am about to lose my temper with my kids or have a bad thought that will take me on a slippery slope. My flesh wants to control me in all of these things and we know where that leads. Romans 7:714-25 explains it all. But He didn't die on the cross so I can stay there, Amen?
So it's time to let the cross and it's power take over in everything. Everything! When He said apart from me, we can do nothing, He meant it! I think we'd be amazed at what He can do through us if we just give Him the reins and let His power rest on us the way He intended it. I'm sure I'm in for a long road ahead with this un-doing, but I can't wait to see what God can do if I'd just get my flesh out of the way and let Him take over 100%.

Lord, I pray for your consuming fire to burn away all the fleshly passions and desires that have run my life. Your love is enough for me! You are enough for all of me! May the life I live reflect who You are, and who You say I am in Christ!