Give.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1Jn 3:16  Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

Thinking of these scriptures this morning while I was talking to the Lord about giving. Its pretty simple really, He gave, we give. I remember listening to a message a while back about entering into the spirit of giving, entering into the character of Christ. I found myself asking the Lord to help me give more of myself. Which is a weird prayer request I know.

I am 32 years old. I still think that you get what you give. I have battled lately with being a consumer, even in my thoughts. ‘Its all about me’ .. I remember my Dad asking me when I was a teenager, ‘Do you think the world revolves around you?’ I thought, ‘well, ya, duh. Who else should it revolve around?’ I didnt have a clue.

Mat 10:8  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.

What has been given to me? Am I giving anything back? Anything at all?

I really think the Lord wants me to give it all. And I dont mean this like, ‘Sell everything you have…’ Giving of yourself is actually harder than selling everything you have in my opinion. Just like giving of your time is harder than writing a check for a need.. Another message I was listening to recently talked about Adultery, using it as an example of giving. I finally got ‘it’ that maybe the reason God doesn’t want us to commit adultery is because its giving only a part of yourself to someone. When the pattern set before us is to give it ALL. In marriage we give ALL of ourselves to one person for the rest of our lives. Kind of like we give all of ourselves to God. He doesnt want part. But all.

Act 20:35  …It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Sitting here wondering when I will figure out that God, my creator, knows better than I do. I dont need all the answers, I have enough in the life He left behind. I am believing today that if I choose to enter into the nature of Christ’s giving, that I will be transformed. And I dont mean doing it because I know I have to, but really asking for the desire to give wherever I can. Show us today, Lord ways that we can give more of ourselves. To you, to our communities, to our families. This is my prayer for today.

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Narrow is the way..

Yesterday this phrase kept scrolling through my mind, ‘the de-santification process has begun’. You know the movie Santa Clause? I dont know if it was 1, 2, or 3 but its when Tim Allen begins to lose the magic. He starts losing weight, stops being able to tell who’s been naughty or nice. You know, he’s not going to be Santa anymore.

As I thought more on it, a new phrase scrolled through my mind, ‘the de-sensitization process’. It’s the point where we start losing the magic too, (if you will.) I listened to a message by Rob Bell this week. In it he said, ‘We get the idealism beaten out of us.’ This almost knocked the wind out of me-I could relate.

But if Im not careful, I can see how this process could begin. Actually if Im honest, it probably already has begun. Losing a little bit of the fear of the Lord. Things that used to be ‘magical’ or full of wonder are now just not so much anymore. Someone new comes along with that feeling, all happy and I say to myself, ‘uh-huh, just you wait.’ Honestly, I just dont have the energy. I find myself telling the Lord, ‘Lord, look at all we’ve been through, do you need me to make you a list? I will!’ But the Lord patiently just waits for me to throw my tantrum and remains faithful. He gently reminds me of His disciples, what they went through and even Himself went through.

This is not where I want to be, or find myself. I have a master I want to be pleasing to. I have been bought with a price. When I do get my head back in the scriptures, this is all I find. Words of comfort, encouragement and promises of what is to come if we hold fast. The answers are all found- in Him. All the magic is still found-in Him.

Heb 10:23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

1Jn 2:25  And this is the promise that he made to us–eternal life.

2Pe 3:13  But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

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XXX Church

I love the work this church is doing. I mean, I love it. I don’t have a porn addiction but if I could, I would work for this church. That’s how much I believe in the cause. Look at the stats. Porn addiction is bigger than you think it is. If the stats are true, I know people addicted to porn. Men and women. I just think its very courageous for these people to do what they do. Helping to break the chains that bind so many in secret sin and keep them there.

While browsing their website, I saw this poster they had on a picket sign. Looks like they go to porn conventions and set up a booth there. You would think this would be insane, which it is, but it has helped rescue people and their testimonies are on the website too.  The poster said, ‘Jesus loves Porn Stars‘. That is a poster probably half of Christianity today would struggle with even if they said they didnt. But I got it.

Jesus loves us enough to save us and not leave us in our sin. He loves us to life. His kindness leads us into repentance. It doesnt matter what your sin it, its ALL sin. Its ALL wrong. Its ALL contrary to the gospel. So if you think you are better than these porn stars, think again. They may have gotten in over their heads but there is a multi billion dollar industry supporting them. Someone is watching. Even if you arent watching, whatever your sin is, its still sin.

This verse is always with me.

Rev 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

If you are fearful or unbelieving, you are lumped into the same group as a murderer, the abominable and a whoremonger. Look up the definition of a whoremonger. Interesting, huh?

When I saw that poster I breathed a sigh of relief. He does love porn stars. He loves us all. And He uses each other to be his arms and feet. XXX church also loves porn stars, enough to help them out of the pit of self-destruction they are in.

Makes me want to do more for his kingdom today. Lead us, Lord. Even into uncomfortable places-to be a light for you.

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Love.

I was listening to this song on the way to church today. Is your grace still strong enough? Have you turned your face from us? Have we hurt you far too much? Do you still look down in love? The part that got me was ‘How can you still love us the same?’

We cant help but look at our lives with human eyes and brokenness. My love has limits, God’s love is endless. I cant even understand the love he has for me which is probably why I love the Kim Walker song ‘How He loves us’ so much. Its so re-affirming. Because we love with this wretched human heart, we can only think ‘God cant love me, because if I were God, I wouldn’t love me.’ There seems to be no way around this thinking.

Of all the wonderful things Jesus does for us, teaching us how to love should be at the top of our lists. We learn from his love toward us, we learn what grace is. People love each other sometimes with a selfish love, a self seeking love, or a manipulative love. A Godly love is a love that transforms you and your sense of what love is and how it was meant to be given away.

His love is a million things that I am not.

Rom 5:7  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–
Rom 5:8  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Maybe that is why Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they know not what they do’. I feel like Jesus says this about me every day.. I believe that His grace really is sufficient. That His power really is made perfect in my weakness. I readily admit my ability to love is sometimes at best warped and dysfunctional. I admit my weakness and rest on His promise that His power is made perfect in my weakness.

I pray that the Lord keeps leading us deeper into His love. He knows how deeply we need Him to transform us.

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A closed spirit.

Sometimes the Lord speaks to me through our many, many books. We go to used bookstores and buy books cheap. I think a musty old book smells wonderful. The one I picked up the other day is ‘The key to your childs heart’ by Gary Smalley. We bought it at McKays for .75 cents. (the price tag was still on it.) Im almost done with it-Gary Smalley is a good storyteller. I like when in parenting books, we get to read real life situations. Its also good when the author has adult children that actually still likes them or have a little good fruit to show for all their ‘wisdom’. 🙂

The author opens the book up with the thoughts of how a spirit can be closed. How things can happen that close a spirit, or we as parents can do something that closes our child’s spirit. I have seen this happen in Bradley, at the cause of me and as Smalley described it, I have felt it happen to me as well.

Smalley talks about being a child swimming in the ocean and would observe sea anemones. They have soft, wavy tentacles and look so beautiful. But as a boy, he would sometimes take a stick and poke at them. The anemone would always withdraw its sensitive tentacles and close up until it became a shell to be protected from further injury. He relates this to the human spirit when we become offended. The anemone at first was completely open and vulnerable. But something happened and it became closed up and withdrawn.

He then goes into ways to notice when your child’s spirit is closing. Body language and resistance to conversation. He may argue, or become withdrawn. He may not be responsive to affection or seek things opposite to what your values are to upset you.

After noticing the symptoms of an closed spirit in your child, he talked about ways this can happen in marriages, in dating, in friendships, in life. How we can be offending and not even realize it is hurting someone. We need to realize we are doing this and attempt to resolve it or the spirit can become like a cement wall closed up as these offenses pile on top of each other closing off the spirit completely.

Five ways to re-open a spirit: (you’ll have to get the book, as these methods are a chapter in themselves.)

  • Become tenderhearted.
  • Increase understanding.
  • Recognize the offense.
  • Attempt to touch.
  • Seek forgiveness.

“True restoration is confession of wrong plus forgiveness granted.” I liked that quote because it requires both parties to act. And how we all at some time will be the one confessing, or the one granting. We may have hurt our child, or someone more than we realize. This will take time and possibly going over these 5 steps multiple times to completely reconcile. Becoming soft, understanding and admitting we are wrong is completely necessary. Persevere until we can touch and seek forgiveness. This may take time.

I really enjoyed these chapters in the book. I have been an offender and I have been offended. Neither of them is a good feeling. Mostly whats helping me, is to realize how tender the human spirit is and how it needs to be treated with kindness, tenderness and love. I dont want to raise children who have closed spirits and I dont want to be closing the spirits of my friends or those around me, unknowingly.

Help us, Lord. Those of us with closed spirits and those of us who have the sticks in our hands and are poking others causing them to close up. We need you.

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In Him..

I was listening to the Bible Dramatized in the car today while we ran errands. I didnt know I would enjoy it so much but the different voices really added a lot to the story. This came on:

Joh 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

What stood out to me was Jesus’ promise of peace. He didnt promise peace in the world. His promise of peace was- in Him. In Him is our only peace. When it started raining and storming today, my kids ran inside to us. (They were playing outside..) I want to be found not running aimlessly, all stressed out about my problems. But run into Him, where all the peace and comfort in the world is.

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Altars of Remembrance.

I know, its been almost a year since I last blogged. At least it feels like it. Ernie is going to revamp my blog soon, he has been learning WordPress in the last few months. Until we get it hosted elsewhere, I will just blog my thoughts on here.

The past year has been one of struggle, searching, and change. Our church, our lives, have gone through a lot of change, which sometimes feel like you are on the back end of a rubber band. Sometimes you can feel like you arent sure where God wants you to be. It can uproot you and make you feel unsettled. But maybe thats how He wants us to feel. So He is leading and we arent. Sometimes it helps to go take a walk through the land and revisit the altars of remembrance. Thats what I did Sunday.

I had been feeling ‘Thankfulness’. So when our pastor got up and began the service with that, it wasnt like, I fell off my chair or anything. I mean, we are in church. Thankfulness is a common theme in our services. But along with this thankfulness I was feeling, I kept feeling to remember.  As the choir sang, it began to overwhelm me. I looked around and as my eyes fell on every single face, I was reminded of something they have done to impact my life.

Our pastor talked about ‘living stones’. Which we are. But my mind wandered back to the Old Testament. Oftentimes when a victory was won, when God revealed himself in a big way, an altar was built with stones.

Why?

Probably because as long as humans have been around, we have known how quickly we forget goodness. Our minds gravitate towards whatsoever things are not lovely. The drama comes more naturally, the negativity seeps in, the worries consume.

Watchman Nee says that our relationship with God is not just vertical, but also horizontal. As I walk along this road, I am finding that he is so right. God reveals things to us through our brothers and sisters in Him. We cannot just sit alone and be ‘all good’ with God. We were made for fellowship with Him and with others.

As I walked through the land on Sunday I saw living stones, living testimonies to Gods goodness. I saw people who have been through the biggest struggles in their lives and have kept the faith. I saw friends who have come running with comfort when I have been in need. I saw the faces of the most forgiving people on Earth, I saw the times when I have NOT acted like a child of the new creation, how they have forgiven me and loved me anyways. I saw the hands raised that belonged to people who loved to use them in service to my King. I saw in a few quick moments, that my life has been sewn into these people. They are living examples of His commitment to me.

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