Welcome to Heartsprings, where I share what springs forth from my heart for God and His people. I pray that what you find here blesses you and draws you nearer to your Heavenly Father who loves you like no other.

In His love,
Brenda :-)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sacrifice or Comfort - God's Intention for Us

Something I've noticed recently that I was not so aware of before, is the desire for comfort among Christians.  Books are full of explanations of God's love, grace, and mercy.  I read constantly about how God wants to comfort and protect me.  About how He has a plan for my life and He wants to make my way as easy as possible.  All around me I watch my brothers and sisters in Christ give a hearty "Amen!" when a pastor in the pulpit preaches about suffering with Christ, then they go home to their easy chairs and T.V. remotes and enjoy their comfortable lives.  I know this because I have been guilty of the same.  The older I get, the more I want to be comfortable - both physically and emotionally.  As a Christian, however, is this what I am called to?  Is comfort what any of us are called to?  Is it even something God wants for us?

"Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." -Hebrews 5:8 
Christ Himself suffered, so how can we who follow Him expect any less?
"Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin," -1Peter 4:1 
As Christians, our purpose should be the same as Christ's.  If we are truly emulating Christ and being His ambassadors in this world, then we will be hated as He was hated and we will experience some suffering at some point.  It is unlikely that we will be crucified as He was, since that is no longer a common practice, but there are Christians all over the world who are being tortured and martyred for the sake of Christ.  "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." -Romans 8:17  Theirs is not a life of comfort.  Christ's life was not one of comfort.  I'm not saying that Jesus never experienced comfort in His lifetime or that we shouldn't, but it certainly was not His objective and it should not be ours.
We should never be afraid to step out of our comfort zones for God.  His calling surpasses any fleshly needs or desires.  The beautiful truth there is that when we drop it all to answer God's call, He will provide all that we need.  He comforts us when we need comforting.  "For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ." -2 Corinthians 1:5  
Our comfort in Christ, however, is not necessarily earthly comfort - creature comforts.  While I do believe that God provides for our physical needs when necessary and sometimes our physical wants just to bless us, I do not believe that our physical comfort in this world is His priority.  So, what type of comfort are we talking about?

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort," -2 Corinthians 1:3  The word "comfort" in this verse that tells us God is a God of comfort, is from the Greek "paraklesis" which means: "exhortation, admonition, encouragement". (1)  God is the God of all "encouragement".  When we are depressed He is there for us.  "But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus;" -2 Corinthians 7:6.  When we are tired and disheartened, He revives us.  "This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me." -Psalm 119:50.  He encourages us to continue fighting the good fight with the hope of our eternal salvation.  "Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace," -2 Thessalonians 2:16  

Following Christ is an adventure and adventures can be anything but comfortable.  They can be fraught with uncertainty and danger.  The difference in the Christ adventure is that He is our constant while so many circumstances are uncertain.  We are protected from eternal danger by His sacrifice on the cross.  We will face many dangers here on earth, and we all will eventually die in the physical sense, but our souls are held in Christ and no danger can befall us there.  For the earthly dangers, we are given the Holy Spirit by God to strengthen and encourage us.  We are never alone in anything we face, physically or spiritually.  That knowledge alone should give us the courage to step out of our comfort zones when we are called to do so.  We can all be brave hearts, ready and willing to boldly follow Christ wherever He leads regardless of the outcome.  After all, we know the outcome is victory in Jesus.

1. (Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for parakl─ôsis (Strong's 3874)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 26 Dec 2012.)  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Remember Who You Are

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." -Matthew 5:16
"Not only must you rejoice, but your joy must be made manifest.  Men must see and know your joy and, seeing it, know without any doubt that it springs from living with Me.  The hard, dull way of resignation is not My way." -God Calling devotional

After hearing the results of the presidential election, I felt physically sick.  I was angry and just beside myself, really, that's how upset I was.  I knew even before the results were in that God was in control and He would allow who He would allow to be our president.  My reaction, however, did not reflect that belief.  God allowed me my little temper tantrum....for a few minutes.  He then proceeded to remind me that His plan is in motion, not mine.  He impressed upon me that what I am to do now is to lift up my head and continue along the path that He set me on.  Then, this morning, He dropped the little bombshell you read above on me.  Not only am I not supposed to grumble and complain about the  state of this country or our leadership, but I am to rejoice.  "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!" -Philippians 4:4  I have nothing to worry about or be afraid of.

I thought about that for awhile.  Rejoicing when my heart is heavy is asking a lot.  That's not my natural reaction, of course.  God is calling me to an eternity-minded response.  My heart doesn't need to be heavy.  The battle is already won and I am on the winning side.  The Creator of the universe, the orchestrator of all history, is my Heavenly Father who loves me completely and unconditionally.  If that can't make my heart sing, nothing will and I have a serious heart condition.  So, while the world grumbles and complains about where this country is headed, I and my Christian brothers and sisters can dance and sing because we know where WE are headed.  The big, eternal picture is so much bigger than one presidential election or even the fate of a single country. Those of us who study our Bibles know where it's all going to end up anyway.

God has a plan and if I want to be a part of what He's doing and not what the rest of the world is doing, then I need to spend my time drawing near to Him and following His direction.  I need to focus and not be distracted by the world because that's exactly where the enemy would have me.  I need to be thankful for who Christ is and who I am in Him, and I need to rejoice so that my light will shine in this dark world during these dark times.  God wants to use me and you to draw those who really do have a reason to be worried and afraid, to The One who can protect them and alleviate their fears.  That's who we Christians are; protected and fearless.  I, for one, need to start acting like it.

Father, forgive us our double-mindedness and our fleshly weakness to focus only on the circumstances.  Strengthen us, Lord, and raise us up to be the light in this dark world that you intend us to be.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and the joy of the Lord.  Send us where You would have us go and direct us to do what You would have us do.  And Father, Thy will be done in this country.  Give us ears to hear and hearts to obey, for Your glory.  In the mighty name of Jesus I ask, Amen.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Perfect Resource

When you have questions or a problem, where do you go for help?  Is your first instinct to go to your friends, family, or even a neighbor?  I know mine is.  I don't want it to be.  I want my first instinct to be to go to my Heavenly Father.  "O' Lord, hear my plea for justice.  Listen to my cry for help.  Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips." -Psalm 17:1

I read that verse this morning and thought about how I sometimes pray with fervor because I'm worried that God won't answer my prayer as quickly as I would like Him to - or as obviously.  God knows everything!  He knows me better than anyone, including myself.  Who better to take our questions to than the answer Himself?  I asked myself why I took my problems to my friends and family first.  The answer I came up with was, "because they answer me faster and it's not as difficult to hear them."

We are such a microwave society.  We want it all and we want it now, and we want it just the way we want it.  We are so spoiled!  I don't know how many times I've sat down and attempted to be still before God only to battle a million thoughts running through my head, and a need to be up and doing something.  Task oriented, microwave woman.  That's me!  If I would only be patient long enough, and quiet long enough to hear His answer, I would probably be a lot more successful in my life.  My Heavenly Father knows what all I need to do in a day.  He knows exactly how much time I need to accomplish each task, and He knows which tasks really need accomplishing.  I need to trust that He's not going to derail my day because I took the time to sit and listen to Him.  In fact, He will redeem my time.  I know that because He's done it faithfully in the past.  How soon I forget though, all He's done for me.  Sigh!  All to easily, I forget and fall back into my "chicken with her head cut off" patterns.  I'm just being honest here.

What if I practiced a little self-discipline and made myself take ALL my questions and problems to Him first and actually waited on His answer?  I wonder exactly how that would turn out?  Would I be spending all my time sitting around being still and quiet?  Hahaha!!  That's a funny picture to me.  I think I'm going to make it an experiment.  I'm going to write all my questions and problems down in a journal, and for the next week I'm going to take every last one of them to God and no one else (unless He tells me to seek counsel from someone in particular).  I'm going to ask for His help and do my best to sit still and listen, and when He tells me to get up and go about my business while I'm waiting, that's what I'll do.  I'm going to trust Him solely and completely.  Wow!  That actually sounds a little scary!  I'm going to do it though because I know that He is the perfect resource for ALL I need to know, so I'm going to put what I know into practice.  How often have I NOT done that?  That's an entry for another day.  I'll let you know how my week goes.

Brenda  :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maintenance or Mess?

I just had to share this because the simplicity of it is just so profound!  A quote from the devotional "God Calling":  "It is as a race.  Nothing must daunt you.  Do not let a difficulty conquer you.  You must conquer it.  My strength will be there awaiting you.  Nothing is too small to be faced and overcome.  To push small difficulties aside is to be preparing big troubles."  

That last sentence struck me the hardest.  So often it's the big challenges that I really see needing to be conquered, when in reality, they probably started with something small that I ignored.  How awesome a thought is that?!  I mean, I'm sure there will always be big things to confront that were big to begin with, but how much easier would things be if we knocked out the little things when they first confront us instead of letting them grow?  See what I mean about profound simplicity?

 I don't know about you, but I am notorious for complicating things.  I have a dear brother-in-law who loves to tell me to stop thinking so much.  He says I over-analyze and complicate things all the time. What IS that?  Does it come from my seemingly inherent need for drama?  (I've been called a drama queen more than once in my lifetime and have given birth to several of them  :-/ )  Let's analyze this - if I let some small trial grow until it's more like David fighting Goliath, that's much more dramatic, isn't it?  More dramatic is more fun, right?  Well, not always if I were to be really honest.  Actually, I think as I get older drama becomes more tiring than fun.  If I really think about it, I HAVE been steering more toward simpler things these days.  So, maybe I WILL confront things more while they're still small.

Something else that crosses my mind; oftentimes when a small annoyance shows up I find myself putting off confronting it simply because I have bigger things to attend to.  Does that ever happen to you?  I put it on the back burner and add it to the list of things to get to "later".  "Later" could be later that same day or it could be a month into the future (more times than not it's at least a week or two "later").  By then it could have grown into a level 1 emergency!  Hmmmm.......I think there must be a solution here I just don't see it right this moment.

Let's analyze some more.  :-)  I know I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and the Holy Spirit is my Helper who recalls things to my mind.  Maybe I could pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help me get to things sooner.  Maybe I could make myself a note of some kind or set an alarm in my smartphone and make it act like it really is smart!  That would take two seconds and probably save me a lot of time down the road - two seconds well spent.  If, however, I'm not in the middle of something really important like making sure my homemade syrup that I'm making for my homemade pumpkin pancakes doesn't boil over, then I could handle it right away.  By the way, making sure syrup doesn't boil over is very important.  You don't want to deal with the alternative - talk about a sticky situation!  Heehee!!

All kidding aside, I would really like to go through my day with more awareness of the things coming at me and an intention to deal with even the smallest of challenges right when they challenge me.  I think a lot of times as a mom I'm dealing with so many different things at once that sometimes I just duck or block without even really seeing what I just avoided (put on the back burner).  Does that make sense to anyone?  Something else I've noticed that seems to be diminishing with age is my multi-tasking skills (that sounds like a whole article in and of itself).

I think the bottom line might be focus.  Like a racer is focused on his race; his breathing, his pace, the finish line.  I need to be more focused on my race.  I need to see the things that come like hurdles on the race track and bound over them rather than letting them trip me up.  I have God's strength to help me with that so I might as well use it.  I would much rather work with God to maintain my pace and overcome obstacles than end up in a heaping mess just inches before the finish line.  How sad would that be?

Heavenly Father, strengthen me to run this race you have set before me with energy and focus (and maintaining my multi-tasking skills would be really great) so that my life honors and glorifies You.  I thank you for all the tools You have given me to do all that You have called me to do.  In the amazing name of Jesus, Amen!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Transparent Testimony

I have been a devoted follower of Christ for seventeen years now.  I guess you could call me a spiritual teenager.  My spiritual upbringing occurred in a wonderful church where I had several beautiful, godly women as mentors.  Eleven years into my journey, God did something incredible that I am still processing.  He ripped me away from my wonderful church, and my beautiful mentors and friends, and dropped me in the middle of the desert.  Well, central Texas, to be exact, but it may as well have been the Mojave to me.  It's actually amazing to me how much insight He gave me beforehand, and yet how shocked I was when it all actually happened.  I knew God wanted to do a new thing in me, and He wanted to take me to the next level with Him.  I also knew that I would be following Him into the desert, and that there would be trials.  Knowing something in your head, however, is a far cry from the actual experience of it.  I really had no idea what I was in for.

The list of things that I have experienced in my six years of "exile" is extensive.  Things I never could have imagined and can't really begin to list here.  Partially because it would take a novel to fill it all and partially because a lot of it would just bore you.  I will say this though, every area of my life has been shaken and rearranged.  Everything I believed has been questioned.  The very essence of who I am as a person has been dissected and examined under a microscope.  Some of the trials have come directly from God and some have been a result of my response to what God was doing.  Needless to say, I didn't always respond positively.  What I want to share with you today is a sort of epiphany I had this morning about being who God made me to be.  A result of the microscopic exam, perhaps.

Let me provide a little insight first.  I spent a lot of my life being very insecure and intent on doing things "right".  I grew up under a very critical dad and was heavily influenced by a perfectionist grandmother.  So, when it came time to be a Christian I looked around for someone to model.  I guess out of habit, I looked for "perfection".  I looked to people who looked perfect on the outside.  Fortunately, most of them were also beautiful (I have come to learn that no one is perfect) on the inside.  My insecure little brain, however, associated the outer appearance with doing it "right".  I decided that being a good Christian meant dressing well, perfect hair and makeup, and perfectly manicured nails.  After all, that was how my grandma always presented herself and that was how I was taught to present myself as well, even before becoming a Christian.  It was a perfect fit.  Don't get me wrong, I did understand the gospel and actually submerged myself in Bible study.  I also thought being a Biblical scholar was the way to superior spirituality.  I needed to be the perfect package, remember.  My trip to the desert changed all of that.

In spite of my superficial perspective on Christianity the Lord managed to lay a strong foundation, through those beautiful mentors I mentioned, that I was able to rely on while being buffeted by the enemy in the desert.  I really can't begin to tell you how badly I was shaken by what God was doing, and that was the point.  Unfortunately, the enemy used all the questions and doubts that arose as a virtual playground.  I will be very transparent here and tell you that I have not grown like I could have these past six years.  I have doubted God.  I have disobeyed God.  I have been angry with God.  I was in a tailspin and couldn't seem to stop it!  All the weaknesses in myself that I thought God and I had worked through, resurfaced.  I cannot remember ever being more confused and frustrated than I have been since  being uprooted, and I don't think I have ever cried so much in my life.  I have always known that God was in control and I have always chosen to believe that He has a plan for my life.  I have had to remind myself so many times of all the truths I know about God because there was such a strong pull to stop believing.  Yes, stop believing.  There were times when I thought it must be so much easier to just stop reminding myself and do something to change my circumstances on my own.  God was just not working fast enough and He was not relieving my pain, confusion, and frustration.  I have reached the end of my rope several times in the past several years.  If I had a dime for every time I said, "I can't stand this anymore!", I would be buried in dimes.  Somehow, all of the inner turmoil magnified my need to do it "right".  Probably because everything seemed so "wrong" to me.  The ironic thing is, the more I tried to do it "right", the more I had to try to do it "right".  I could NEVER seem to do it right.  I couldn't do marriage right, motherhood, Christianity, myself......nothing.  The battle between spirit and flesh has never been more apparent to me than it has been these past few years.  My spirit knows that I can do nothing in and of myself and yet my flesh is determined to make everything "perfect".  I know that God's plan and timing are perfect, but my flesh wants to do it in her time and according to her plan.  The battle raged in every area of my life.  It has been..........tiring!  Then this morning, the epiphany.  Seven simple little words that came out of nowhere; "What if you're not doing it wrong?"  What?!

Could it be possible that God didn't create me with a cookie cutter?  Is it possible that there are more important things than having your house spotless and being perfectly coiffed?  Could it be, just maybe, that not making your bed every morning is not a sin?!  What?!  Maybe this whole thing with God - this Christianity - is really and truly about relationship and outer appearance has nothing to do with it, not even a little?  It shocks me to know how shallow I've been, how self-reliant while thinking I was relying on God.  A wonderful pastor friend of mine once used the term, "glory seeker" to actually describe himself.  That phrase struck a chord with me because I am guilty of the same.  I have always wanted to be important and well loved.  I have sought the approval of man more than the approval of God and thought that doing everything "right" was the way to obtain it.  Knowing that I was already important to and approved of by God was head knowledge.  My heart hadn't bought it yet.  I think my heart is just now starting to really believe it.  Being a Christian is not about looking the part.  It's about loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength regardless of what anything looks like.  It's about being sold out to the One who deserves all you have because He gave His all for you.

All those years I tried to fit myself into a mold that I thought was "right".  I was not being completely true to myself or to my Heavenly Father.  I wasn't trying to discover who He made ME to be and what HE wanted me to look like.  Don't get me wrong, I like my share of "cute", but I put way too much stock in it in the past.  So, with you as my witness, as of today I am breaking the mold.  I will no longer try to fit myself into someone else's shape.  I must let go of of pre-conceived ideas about everything and embark on a new journey with God - discovering what He has for me now and who He intended me to be all along.  "Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead", - Philippians 3:13  It is imperative that I keep moving forward and leave the past behind - every today as soon as it becomes yesterday.

Walking with God is an amazing journey....all of it.  The mountaintops, the valleys, the dusty roads, and the lush meadows.  It all goes together.  One cannot be appreciated without the other.  God never promised me a rose garden, but He did promise to always be with me and He has been.  The reason I could come to the end of my rope several times is because He kept giving me new rope - a lifeline - and here I still am.  More hopeful than I have probably ever been, and possessing a deeper understanding of who He is and what He's really all about.  We still have a lot of work to do, but a major hurdle has been  jumped with the destruction of the mold of "rightness".  Hallelujah!  Onward to further discovery!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Easy Joy

"In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore."
 -Psalm 16:11

I think I have finally learned something about the joy of the Lord.  I cannot MAKE it happen.  I do not enter into the fullness of His joy through effort.  For years I struggled to understand the whole concept of "The joy of the Lord is your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10) and what exactly that joy was supposed to look and feel like.  The keyword here being "struggled".

I am by nature, a melancholy personality; analytical, perfectionist, the glass is half empty, etc.  Joy and happiness don't always come easy to me partially because I try to wrap my brain around them rather than just experiencing them.  I need to understand WHY I should be happy, and I wait for something terrible to happen that will destroy that happiness.  Sad, I know.  I also know that I'm not alone in that.  There are a lot of people like me in that way.  I believe we've been conditioned by bad things happening in our childhood or early adulthood.  Just when things start looking up.....wham!  A tragedy or just plain hard times come to knock us down again.  Why bother with happiness or joy when it's going to be short lived anyway?  Kind of like bed-making.  Why expend all that energy when it's just going to be messed up again in a few hours?  Okay, maybe those things aren't really even on the same plane, but there's a little correlation, right?

The funny thing is, I have always wanted to be happy.  I have spent a good part of my life with happiness as my goal, and did everything I knew of to obtain it.  I have never wanted the dark cloud that so easily comes my way.  I battle it constantly and always have.  I would catch glimmers of optimism, joy, and happiness, but it was never enough.  I have and do want more.  I want the joy of the Lord to be my strength and I want to bubble over with optimism and hope.  I have several friends who are like that.  They make you smile just by being in the same room with you.  Their light is contagious. Unfortunately, I can't be with them 24/7 so when I leave their presence the light fades.  I'm a Christian. I'm supposed to be joy-filled and hopeful.  What kind of testimony is a black cloud?  No one wants any of that.  That was part of the head game I played with myself and that nasty devil loved to perpetuate it. The truth is, Christians are still human.  We will always have challenges and things to overcome on this planet.  No human being, Christian or not, is happy and joyful one-hundred percent of the time.  It's just not humanly possible.  Unless you live with a person, you're just not going to see all the down times.  Most people will put on their happy faces in public and only show you the good anyway.  We all want to look as though we have it all together and our lives are perfect.  Even if someone's life is really, really good - it's still not perfect.  I think I have finally convinced myself of that and have stopped comparing my life to others.

I'm not going to blow sunshine and tell you I've discovered a quick-fix and I am now one of those bubbly Christians I mentioned earlier, but I will tell you what I have discovered.  I need to stop struggling.  I need to stop trying to wrap my brain around everything God is and does (because it's not possible anyway) and simply "be" with Him.  That's where the joy is and the more I am with Him, the more His joy permeates my being.  For example, I have recently taken to memorizing Scripture again.  I pick a verse for the week and each day I fill a journal page with that verse, sometimes saying it out loud as I write it.  Guess what?  I am noticing a change in my attitude!  I am feeling more of His joy deep down inside.  If I keep going like this, I may one day be bubbling over like I've always dreamed of.  It's a process though.  That's not to say it can't happen overnight.  God can do anything.  For me, however, I've needed the lessons that the process has provided and I'm looking forward to more because I know I will need more.

One of the lessons I have learned is that there is a lot of joy in the little things.  In the middle of my day, remembering how much He loves me.  Listening to Christian music while driving in my car.  Noticing things like clouds, trees, flowers......His amazing creation that He created for us!  I can't look at a beautiful sunset and not smile in awe.  The joy is all around us as well as inside of us and the only effort necessary is to notice.  That's not much effort at all, and it's certainly not struggling.  How crazy is that?!  We humans tend to make things so much more difficult than they need to be.  I am terribly guilty of that.  What a waste of energy!  I think I may put a sign up on my bathroom mirror to remind me every day, "Keep it simple.  Joy is easy."  Amen!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Love in Peace

A quote from my devotion this morning:  "Success is the result of work done in peace.  Only so can work yield its increase.  Abide in Me, and I in you, so shall you bring forth much fruit.  Be calm, assured, at rest.  Love, not rush.  Peace, not unrest."

Amen!  This is what I need!  I get so worked up over all the things I want or think I need to do, and how quickly I want them done, that I end up running around like a chicken with my head cut off and bring forth only stress - no fruit.  How much of what I keep myself busy with is even necessary?  I think that's a good question and one I should ask myself every day.  How often have I worried about something only to have it taken care of with little to no effort on my part?  Quite often, actually.  99.9% of the time I worry for no reason.  Actually, 100% of the time, worry has no good purpose - there's no real good reason for it.  What does worry get us; ulcers, premature gray hair, high blood pressure?  I don't see any of that as good.  My grandma used to have a plaque on her desk that read, "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."  I have found that to be incredibly true.

I actually experienced the truth of my devotion's quote just yesterday.  I was forced to relax a bit yesterday due to some physical constraints.  I spent quite a bit of time in the Word yesterday morning, and purposefully pared down my to-do list and slowed my pace.  I chose to relax and give God some control (baby steps, you know.  Giving him all control is the goal and I'm not quite there yet).  As a result, I had a very nice day and actually got more accomplished than I thought I would.  I was much more at peace.  Don't get me wrong, I get a lot accomplished most of the days that I'm forcing it - all revved up and stressed, but I'm always grumpy and super tired by the end of the day.  It takes a lot of energy to be totally in control and being stressed all day will wear you out.

Something else I read this morning:  "Have no fear for the future.  Be quiet, be still."
I wonder if I create these unreasonable to-do lists, and push myself to accomplish so much in a single day because I have a fear of the future.  I'm afraid of the time when I may be able to do even less than I can do today.  I'm not getting any younger, after all.  There will come a time when I have even less control over my life than I do now, and that thought terrifies me.  What if I'm not here tomorrow and I leave my family with a big mess?  Then there's the fact that I want things to be a certain way and they're not that way yet.  I have always wanted a nice conversation area on my back deck complete with a fire pit table for those chilly fall nights, and to go with that I want a perfectly manicured backyard.  Neither of those things exist yet and my days are numbered.  I'm over 50, you see, so who knows how much longer I have.  Kind of like a bucket list, I have these things that I WANT to get accomplished and something in me is driving me to the point of stress over them.  In the short term, my house HAS to be neat and clean and my refrigerator and pantry well stocked for the weekends.  So, my week is filled with housecleaning, cooking, and baking to-do's.  More than I can usually get done in a week, partially due to the physical constraints I mentioned earlier, so my "has to" never really gets accomplished.  I'm just spinning my wheels.  Lightbulb moment!!  The physical constraints frustrate me, they hold me back and I can't let them win.  I have to prove that I am just as capable as I ever was, even though the truth is quite the contrary.  That puts me in mind of a three-year old saying "I do it!" to a task that is obviously too much for him.  The need for independence and control over our circumstances is a strong part of human nature.  It emerges early, and it comes on strong.

Well, I think I've learned some things here today.  I am very prideful, stubborn, and a control freak.  I need to remember the day I had yesterday and relinquish every day to the Lordship of my Heavenly Father.  I have to give myself permission to rest in Him, have no fear for the future (or present circumstances), and quiet my stubborn little 3-year old inner self.  "Love and peace"is not just a hippie mantra, it's Biblical!  When we're at peace, we actually have time to love God, love others, and love ourselves because we're not rushing from project to project obsessed with the idea of worldly success.  Success that really matters, success in God's eyes, is being at peace and loving.  Sigh.....just saying those words makes me feel more peaceful.  :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

His Richest Gift

"The water that I shall give him...shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." -John 4:14

The gift of eternal life.  Of all the gifts that our Heavenly Father extends to us, that is the richest of all.  How sad that so many turn away from it.  I picture God extending His hand to a man and in His hand is the most beautifully wrapped gift anyone has ever seen.  I see that man looking at the gift as if there were something horrible inside it, and he turns and walks away.  I see God's heart breaking.

I believe the man simply didn't understand.  His blinded, distrusting eyes didn't see a beautiful gift.  They saw bondage.  Man often mistakes worldliness as freedom and God's gift of salvation as imprisonment.  He sees life with God as a set of rules to adhere to; solemn and devoid of fun.  The truth is exactly the opposite of that.

The things of this world; money, prestige, physical lusts, those are the things that enslave us.  They bind us in chains of addiction, fear, doubt, distrust - sin.  They blind us to the truth of God's gift.  They may feel good in the short-term, but leave us empty in the long run.  True freedom comes with peace, strength, love, and a sound mind - the wrapping that God's gift comes in.  Life with God is THE adventure, and until you know God's brand of fun, you haven't known fun.  He has a sense of humor and He is the most creative of all beings.  God possesses a depth of kindness, grace, and love like nothing we've ever experienced.  A "set of rules" is religion.  God is about relationship, NOT religion.

Eternal life is what God is offering.  In return He asks for a relationship with us.  With each one of us individually.  A personal, eternal life-long friendship.  Who wouldn't want to be friends with the most powerful person in the universe who loves them unconditionally and wants only the best for them?

I want to run after the man and make him see that the gift he turned away from is truly the most beautiful gift he would ever receive.  The trick to that is that the man has free will.  God will not force anyone to accept His gift. The man gets to choose for himself.  I can only pray that he changes his mind and comes back for the gift.  You see, as long as that man lives there is no expiration date.

Are you one who walked away from God's richest gift?  There's still time to change your mind.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Sneak Peek at My Next Devotional - "A Lover Like No Other"

"You turned my lament into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, so that I can sing to You and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise You forever." -Psalm 30:11-12
This portion of scripture creates such a beautiful picture for me. It looks like my daddy coming to my rescue and turning something that was meant to hurt me into something good.  He picked my crying, dirty self up out of the mud; cleaned me up; and kissed all my boo-boos.  He made me beautiful and joyful so that now I sing instead of cry.  I sing out of a grateful heart to my hero, my Daddy, my Abba.
Would God do that for me if He didn't love me?  Somehow I doubt it.  He has nothing to gain but my love and gratitude.....and maybe a small amount of entertainment from my singing if I stay on key.  I have nothing of real value to give Him in return.  Even my love is not as pure as His and hardly worthy of the King of Kings.  Still, He seems to want it.  He seems to want me.  He wants relationship with all of us.  So much so that He's willing to pull us out of the muck, clean us up, heal our hurts and give us joy.  That's love, man!  To do all of that for nothing but a little love and gratitude?!  I think God gets the short end of that stick and we get a sweet deal!  
We get a relationship with The Creator of the universe, and all that that implies.  We receive unconditional love, divine guidance and direction, protection (nothing comes to us without crossing His desk first)......the list goes on.  It's amazing what all God has for His children who are called by His name and created for His glory (Isaiah 43:7).  The sheer joy of being in His presence is more than we deserve.   "You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures." - Psalm 16:11. 
Regardless of whether we deserve it or not, our Heavenly Father stands ready to rescue us when we call, and work what the enemy meant for harm in our lives into something good.  That makes Him more than worthy of eternal praise in my book.  How about you?