life

On the edge of that glad surrender (RVSD 1/13)

On the Water’s edge…..

Free Image of a Boy Fishing on the Beach. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.comI stand on the shoreline with my son, who wiggles about more violently than the worm I just skewered with a fishing hook.  As I attempt to remove slimy worm deposits from my fingers, my boy impatiently scans the lake before him, looking for signs of the hungry fish he has come to catch.  I smile at the energetic five-year old, dancing about beside me. He looks like he is about to pop out of his skin from  excitement.  I hand him the freshly loaded pole, but before I can launch into a “fish hook safety” lecture, a worm whizzes past my cheek plopping into the murky water that laps at out bare feet. Ripples race across the surface of the water like sonar, alerting the unsuspecting fish to our presence. Before the last expanding circles have had time to disappear, my son eagerly begins to reel in his line.

Hold on there Owen, I admonish. You have to leave it out there a while and wait for the fish to bite. He looks at me with a mixture of frustration and disbelief. He does not understand why nothing has happened. He has endured the waiting game for five grueling seconds, and in his opinion, countless fish should be floundering at our feet.

I Peter 5: 6-7 ESV

Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God

So that at the proper time he may exalt you.

Casting ALL your anxiety on him

because he cares for you.

The Happy Exchange, that Glad Surrender….

I am not unlike my impatient son. I stand at the water’s edge, my hands filled with the “things” I desperately need to cast from weary shoulders.  I have come with burdens and the need for direction and assurance. I am impatient to rid my flesh of the “old way of life”. My spirit is eager to make a very lopsided exchange with the Father who cares deeply for me.  My son understands a fish is so much better than the slimy worm dangling  helplessly from his pole. I recognize that what He asks for and offers in exchange is so much better than the “things” that collect both spiritually and physically in my cluttered life. As I stand at the water’s edge, hands grimy with the things of this earth, my soul cries out “Father I believe, help my unbelief!”

I am humbled by the fact He is willing to take the little I have to offer and in exchange give what is His in abundance to pour out. Refreshing currents of hope lap at my tired feet as I recall similar visits to this  shore. I recount vivid moments in time when the healing waters of his grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness washed away the black ashes of pain, discouragement, and weariness. Beauty has always emerged from beneath the ashes.My mourning always turned to dancing. Exuberant songs of praise lifted high, the fruit of prayers offered up as sacrafice from a needy heart.

I stand on the shoreline with my Father, impatient for those needed moments of spiritual exchange. He looks deep within my heart, gently admonishing me to let go of the “things” that smother life and energy from my breast.  Some burdens are relinquished with the childlike eagerness of my impatient son. Others are harder to cast away, for I am ever reluctant to relinquish control. Then there are the “things” I have no clue how to sever from my life. The weakness of humanity can be so very frustrating! How easily I forget that I don’t have to be strong. How often I chaff over my inability to conquer on my own.

The ripples of his grace faithfully pull at the sand beneath my weary feet. The foundation I once clung to yields to the faithfulness of His steadfast love and without effort, I find myself drawn one step closer to He who is Peace. The Sweet relief of His unfathomable mercy pours over my parched heart as The Comforter gently whispers, “Remember my daughter, weakness is not a curse, but a window that invites humility as its sacred guest.”  I smile as I Peter 5:6-7 echoes in my mind….. Humility ushers us into that grand arena of opportunity, where room is made for the mighty Hand of God, and where the needy is exalted.

Today, I will unfold my chair and settle comfortably at the water’s edge. I am not sure how long my prayers will dance across marcandangelthe surface. His gift, that sweet exchange between earth and heaven might take place before the ripples have time to fade. Then again the echoes of my longing heart might disappear beneath the surface of His faithfulness, long before I receive His answers. I am here for the long haul. I have no idea if I will receive deliverance from my weaknesses, answers to my questions, or direction in my wanderings. Perhaps today my catch will not be answers, but rather grace sufficient to endure. The moon might rise before I reel in my line, heavy with His Divine exchange. The stars might keep diligent watch with me throughout the night, but one thing I know, I will not walk away from His presence disappointed. I will cast my line into the vast ocean of His abundant grace and mercy and I will wait for that happy exchange, that glad surrender! Worms for fish…grace for the redeemed.

Psalm 39:7 KJV

And now, Lord, What wait I for? 

My hope is in thee.


Covered in Grace

The amazing sunset photo used with permission via: http://www.marcandangel.com/2009/02/25/how-to-make-all-the-difference-in-the-world/
Other Photos used w/ permission:  http://www.clipartguide.com/_pages/0512-0705-1013-3712.html
Advertisements

Learning to live with a heart that is broken but a life is not.

Living with a Heart that is Broken, but a life that is not!

Beth Moore at Living Proof Ministries is hosting her women’s summer Bible study. I signed up at Women’s Bible Cafe to join over 600 women who will participate in this study via online and community small groups. We are studying the book of Nehemiah and using Kelly Minter’s book Nehemiah: A heart that can break. 

There is still time to join over 600 dear, like-minded, passionate “Siestas” in Christ. You can follow along personally, join a virtual small group (what I am doing), or hook up with a group in your area. Check out any of the above links for information.

Brokenness isn’t an activity your normal human being would sign up to experience. Everything about the word screams run, but when we are straining to “see the unseen”, and to live for the “Eternal” versus the temporal, brokenness should become our hearts desire and aim.

Over the next few weeks I will post thoughts and insights gleaned from this study. My heart has all ready been blessed as I have joined in prayer with women I have never met, yet feel great love and compassion for. What a powerful image six-hundred women, on their faces before the Lord, crying out for brokenness, evokes!

To ask the Lord to break my heart with the things that break His, is a daring prayer. It is not a self-seeking desire to suffer for the purpose of winning the praise and accolades of man, nor is it an attempt to obtain righteousness through works. The desire to have a heart, broken by God, is a desire to see and feel as He sees and feels. It is a prayer to have myself moved out-of-the-way so I can see and be moved by the pain, suffering, need, and hopelessness of man. A heart, broken by the Spirit of the Living God, is to posses a heart that mourns over the destruction that sin is wreaking in the hearts of fallen man.

 

Today, as we studied the prayer and heart of Nehemiah found in chapter 1:1-5, A verse kept coming to mind:

Psalm 17:15

15 As for me,

I will behold thy face in righteousness:

I shall be satisfied,

when I awake, with thy likeness.

I believe this desire should be the heart and sum of all we strive to do and be as children of God. A broken and contrite heart He will not turn away! Would you be daring enough to embrace the cry, “Lord break my heart?” Can you utter with me. in Your brokenness, let me become Your likeness, and in Your likeness there let me dwell satisfied?

The truth and reality of the fallen world we live in is  that everyone we will be broken.  The question we must ask ourselves is what will we allow to break us, sin or a Savior?

 

Matthew 21:44

And whosoever shall fall on this stone

shall be broken:

but on whomsoever it shall fall,

it will grind him to powder.

The world will crush and break us ruthlessly, our Heavenly Father breaks us with love, compassion and a divine, God glorifying purpose.

Only One can promise fulfillment with abandonment, and bring beauty from ashes. Only one Master can satisfy and fulfill the desires and yearning of the yielded and broken heart.

Lord God Almighty, posses and reign my heart and life. Make is soft so that it weeps when you weep, delights when you
delight, and breaks at what breaks yours. O Father, I shall be satisfied only when I awake with your likeness, when there is less of me for the world to see. Amen

My Prayer for you: Truth

Truth….will set you free

Truth:

We are told to acquire it, no matter the cost, and to never relinquish it once it is in our possession.

Proverbs 23:23
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

God delights in the man who posses it.

Psalm 51:6
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

God is near the man whose conversation is guided by it.

Psalm 145:18
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

True worship requires it.

John 4:23
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

It brings freedom.

John 8:32
“and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

A relationship with the Father is made possible by it.

John 14:6
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

It brings sanctification and cleansing.

John 17:17
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.

It holds our faith and everything we believe and confess together.

Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

He demands that truth resides in our inward parts because He is the Truth, and the center of our life is where He delights to dwell. For the lost, afflicted, weak and needy, no other word contains greater meaning, power, hope, or reward? Jesus Christ the Way, Truth, and Life purifies the sin afflicted heart and unshackles the weary and groaning prisoner. Once given free reign within the heart of man, the liberating power of truth ignites the irrepressible worship of the redeemed.

Truth may be intangible and unseen, but it’s fruit and the effect of its presence upon the heart and life of mankind is not. I praise the Lord, because we have seen the truth, and felt its imprint seared eternally upon our hearts, life, and marriage. My prayer for you today has been that you would be empowered by the truth that  brought you liberty, and that you would cherish the truth that transformed your life. I pray that you would cling tightly to it, be guided by it, and live your life according to it. May you weigh every thought, impulse, and decision with the light of Truth. May He guide your heart and mind today and as you seek truth may you find the sweet presence of He who is Truth!

My prayer for you: Taste and See

My Prayer for you: That you might see

Psalm 34:8

In scripture we find numerous paradox’s. We are admonished to “see the unseen” and we strive to do so because we know that one day the physical realm we live in will pass away.  The paradox of living for the unseen and eternal versus the physical and temporal is a hard concept to grasp and implement in our lives, but it is a discipline we endeavor to master because it has significant and eternal ramifications.

With this in mind, this verse has always intrigued me. John 4:24 states that God is a spirit and therefore must be worshiped in spirit and truth but in Psalm 34, David encourages us to taste and experience that God, a Spirit,  is good.  Our relationship with Christ affords the amazing opportunity to meld the spiritual with the physical.

God the Father sent His Spirit to dwell in the souls of redeemed man and because the Spirit of the Living God dwells within me, I can abide and walk in the spirit. It is truly amazing to be able to experience “The Truth” dividing asunder the cords that once imprisoned me, and to see His Spirit at work in my life.

My prayer today has been that together,we would walk in the power of the Spirit. My prayer is that as a couple, unified by the Spirit, we would experience and taste the very real and present goodness of God as He works in our lives to draw us to Himself.

My Abba, Papa, Daddy Father

Romans 8:15 

For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
When I think about adoption, I envision an eager husband and wife nervously awaiting for the arrival of the child they will soon call their own.


The journey they have taken to get to this point involved mounds of paperwork. They have made innumerable sacrifices both physically and mentally in order to obtain the right to call another’s baby their own. They have endured a grueling waiting game filled with unexpected twists, turns, and disappointments. Soon they will take that special child in their hands and walk away not just husband and wife but mother and father.


I can’t fathom the feelings or emotions parents experience when they have literally laid everything on the line in order to adopt. I am humbled by the testimony of men and women who have sought out not just the abandoned and orphaned but also the sick, diseased, and “unwanted.”

 


Recently, I stumbled upon a site seeking parents for “unwanted” foreign children. All the children on this site had health issues ranging from mild to severe, but the profiles that broke my heart were those of older children who were months away from being removed from the adoption agency’s system. These orphaned children were painfully aware that if no one came forward, their next birthday meant an end to their hopes of ever finding parents and becoming part of a real family. Age thirteen wasn’t a day they looked forward to because t didn’t mean a driving permit, but rather that an institution or street would soon become their new permanent home.


While I can not fathom the feelings, emotions, or pain of these children, in a spiritual sense I am not unlike them. The amazing thing about my story is that when the Lord formed me, chose me, and called me to Himself, I was not a beautiful, innocent,or lovable infant, I was sick and marred by sin.  I was unlovable, “Father”-less, and destined for a life of depravity on the “streets and institutions” of this world. My prospects weren’t just a life of hopelessness but of judgment and death.


Then the Lord of the Universe stepped in. Christ didn’t just collect money to purchase the right to adopt me, He didn’t fill out paperwork in order to declare Himself worthy to redeem my life, He did something infinitely grander. He became my Abba Father through the blood of His son.


If led by the Lord, it would not be hard to exhaust our life savings or make the required physical sacrifices necessary to adopt a baby, but never in a thousand years would I consider sacrificing my own beautiful children in order to adopt and redeem a diseased, mentally broken vagrant living in jail.


As we celebrate Father’s day, and as I reflected upon the blessing my father and my husband David has been to me, I want to take a moment to reflect upon the one who has given and sacrificed infinitely more for me. He is my Papa, my daddy, and He delighted in me when there was nothing to delight in. He loved me when I was unlovable, sacrificing the priceless for the worthless.


Thank you Father for your grace and mercy, and for your unspeakable love for me. You have withheld nothing from my life except the judgment I deserve.  All I have ever needed you have bountifully provided. May I walk worthy of the new name I bear, and may my life be a living example of the liberating power of a loving Father!

My Prayer for you: Perserverance

Power

Isaiah 40:28-31

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.

I am not sure why, but when I think of the word power, the first image that comes to mind is a pink bunny with earphones and a drum. I am sure glad that in real life, my confidence and source of strength and power doesn’t come from a man-made consumable battery or bunny for that matter.

God isn’t just powerful, He is power. The ability to create the universe by commanding it into existence is sheer, raw, unparalleled power! I can barely keep my head from popping off when all three kids clamor at the same time for my attention, yet the God of the Universe can listen intently, personally, and intentionally to every prayer being uttered, by every soul crying out to Him, while at the same time holding all things together by the “Power of His word.

This is my Papa, my Advocate, my Benefactor, my source of Strength and Might, and according to His Word, Power endues to His Children power,  so that they can be renewed, mount up, soar, run, and walk.

Today my Husband, I am praying for the anointing of the power of the Lord upon you. Weather He asks you to fly, run, or simply walk, may you draw upon His Power. I pray you do not get discourage by your own weaknesses and limitations, for in those moments of God ordained humility, His strength flows freely and His grace will rest firmly upon you. I look at you and wonder what the Lord has in store for you, for us. No matter that He asks of you, and where He calls us, His Power will be present. May you follow hard  and finish well, and may your life bring glory and honor to Him as His power is made perfect. Amen

Credits:
Image Credit: M16, the “Eagle nebula”  NASAESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

My prayer for you: Numbered Days

Psalm 90:12

 So teach us to number our days,

that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

There have been moments in my chaotic life when I have dreamed about the extraordinary lives of the pioneers who traveled across the vast expanses of our country. While these families endured extreme hardships, suffering under conditions  that would bring many of us soft, spoiled, Americans to our knees, their lives were simple. There weren’t TV sitcoms, internet, Facebook, Twitter, gym memberships, practices, and even blogs, to occupy every waking moment, just life and living. Their daily schedule went something like this – Do what you have to do to survive or you will starve and your family will perish.

Today we don’t just work to put food on out tables and clothes on the backs of our families, we have careers. We hang titles before and after our name to identify who we are, what we have, and what we want to accomplish. We have collections that identify our passions and gym memberships to increase and showcase our physical prowess and abilities. We no longer number our days, but rather the activities we can pack into them.

Jobs are necessary, and fun activities that keep us healthy and bring our families together are not a sin, but often times we forget why we are here and more importantly where we are going. Somehow scrambled among the necessities and excesses of life is the secret of true significance and balance and we have to find it, strive for it, esteem it and live for it. Today my prayer for David is that He would be able to walk through the day with an “Eternal”  “Forever” perspective.

Father, you would not ask us to see with eyes we are not capable to possessing. You have told us to strain for the sweet glimpses of the unseen and Eternal. Truly our days are numbered, our opportunities waning. Give David the wisdom to live in the present life and physical world you have placed him in, but let his gaze be fixed upon the you, and your Eternal purpose and plan for his life, family, and business. May the passion that drives him each day be the desire to see and proclaim the Glory and power of your Name! As David deals with physical people, schedules, deadlines, money, bills, needs, and blessed fruit of his labor, keep his head clear, his sight sharp, his heart pure, and his desire for you burning like a devouring flame. Help him prioritize not only his schedule but also his goals, relationships, aspirations, dreams, and desires. Give Him wisdom and lead and guide Him through his days. Amen

A to Z: U is for Overcoming Unbelief

Unbelief

Hebrews 2:18
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

When Jesus walked this earth, we are told He was tempted and suffered just as we are. Our pain and suffering moves Him with compassion. Our Father understands our pain, weaknesses, and needs but what He will never tolerate nor allow is a faithless unbelieving heart. He is True and Faithful and in Him is no deceit or variableness. He has never failed to prove Himself to be who He has proclaimed Himself to be,  nor has He ever failed to fulfill the promises He has given us.

 

Unbelief  is an extremely dangerous thing to harbor in our hearts, and scripture spells out clearly what happens when we allow unbelief to take root and grow in our lives.


Dangers of Unbelief:

1. God can not work in a heart of unbelief

Matthew 13:58
And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

2. A heart of unbelief leads to a heart of stone & Rebuke from God

Mark 16:14

Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

3. Unbelief steals our peace and keeps us from finding “rest”

Hebrews 3:19

So we see that they were unable to enter (into rest) because of unbelief.

Unbelief = Heart of stone = God’s Rebuke = No Rest….

Hebrews 3:5-30 (ESV)

A Rest for the People of God

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 (I)As I swore in my wrath,
They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned,whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

 

When my faith falters and the trials and burdens of life press down upon me, I find victory to overcome unbelief by remembering, recording, and recounting the goodness of God. My history with Him is the lifeline of my faith. He has never forsaken me or withheld His love or goodness. Who He was yesterday is who He will be today and tomorrow. There is no room for unbelief. 

 

What has become bigger in your life, your problems or the “Solution” to your problems?I Overcome unbelief by switching your focus from the problems to the “Truth.”  Remember yesterday’s A to Z! “The truth will set you Free.” Hear His voice, believe His words, overcome your fears, pain, anxiety….

A to Z: Overcoming Insecurity

Insecurity

1. Not sure or certain; doubtful

2. Inadequately guarded or protected;unsafe

3. Not firm or fixed; unsteadyLacking stability; troubled

4. Lacking self-confidence; plagued by anxiety

When I was a teen, I came across a story in the Readers Digest I will never forget. The setting was a small village in the Middle East. In this village lived a handsome young man who’s family was both wealthy and prestigious. His presence caused quite a stir among the single women when it was announced that he had begun the search for a bride.

This town was filled with many beautiful women. Some of these beauties possessed great wealth of their own, while others could claim only beauty. This town was the home of another figure. She walked with hunched shoulder. Her eyes remained fixed sullenly upon the ground as she shuffled silently by. She was the brunt of the scorn and criticism of all the other single women in the village. When speculation and wagers rose regarding the lucky bride this man might chose for a wife, the name of this dejected girl was never suggested, unless it was to make  her the brunt of a cruel and heartless joke.

The record for the largest price any father in the village had ever received for a daughter, included four camels. Would this man’s offer equal this? Weeks passed and soon word got out that the man had made his choice. For days the single woman eagerly spied from behind their windows, in the hopes they might see this dashing young man approaching their tent. They diligently searched their father’s eyes for any clue that he had been the honored recipient of a generous  marriage proposal.

For days whispers of “Did you hear?” or  “Do you know who?” flew from household to household yet the name never surfaced. Then a mysterious woman arrived. She appeared to be a stranger yet she looked vaguely familiar. She was gracious and beautiful, commanding the attention of everyone she met. She was stunning in every manner, and her eyes brimmed with the confidence and poise of royalty. Word soon got out, this mystery woman was the lucky one chosen by the young man. Who was she? Where did she come from? Wait, isn’t that ……… the villagers began to mutter? Their surprise was replaced with wonder but nothing equaled the astonished reactions when they received the next piece of news regarding the couple. The wealthy, dashing, handsome young man had paid not four but seven camels to make this outcast his bride!

A wise man from the village approached the young couple weeks after their marriage, no longer able to resist the mystery of the seven camels and the woman’s transformation. Why did you offer seven camels for the outcast of the village he asked? The groom smiled and looked lovingly at his bride. I watched my wife go about her life when no one was looking, scorning, or mocking her. I saw a beauty and worth inside that no one else knew existed. She was like a flower not yet bloomed. I paid seven camels for her because I wanted her to know how beautiful, worthy, and priceless her life was. My gift was but water to a thirsty flower, enabling her to thrive and be who she truly was inside, the woman you now see before you.

Insecurity, we all struggle with it in some form or manner. I have struggled with insecurity my entire life. Everyone I met became my personal measuring stick. No matter how spiritual, athletic, friendly, or successful I was, there was always someone better. I was a prisoner to my insecurity, and it transformed me within and without, but not for my good.

Years later, I look back upon those insecure years and realize how distorted my focus on life had become. I was looking to broken and fallen mankind for worth, value, meaning, and acceptance and they could not provide that. The broken can not heal, the sinner can’t save, the unrighteous can’t make righteous, the blind can’t lead.

I was like that hunched and dejected woman in the story who’s life was transformed by the unspeakable gift of a lover. I was bent and marred by sin, yet He looked upon me with love and paid the ultimate price to give me a new life, purpose, and love. He who was Beauty and Holiness, Majesty and Glory, sacrificed His most treasured Son, that I might  be transformed. The day my heart grasped the extent of the sacrifice the King of Glory made on my behalf, my life was transformed. I belong to Him now, not for the price of seven camels, but for the price of His Son. He is my beauty and confidence. His pleasure is now my desire and aim. Because of His love for me, I am learning to overcome my insecurities. Because of His sacrifice, a desire courses withing my heart to please Him, not man. Praise the Lord for His unspeakable and priceless gift that liberates me from the bondage of insecurity. May my life reflect the reality of His Gift and Love for me!

“9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you,

asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will

in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,

 fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work

and increasing in the knowledge of God.

11May you be strengthened with all power,

according to his glorious might,

for all endurance and patience with joy,” Col 1:9-11(ESV)