Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Heavenly Presence

I am currently listening to a song by the Newsboys, "there is nothing like your presence, Lord, here we stand in awe!" This is how I felt this morning, as I went to God before His Throne again. Each time, I learn how awesome He is, His mercy overwhelms me, His grace overtakes me.
My prayer this morning, I will say, was completely for myself. I left my list for others behind this morning and I grabbed the feet of Jesus and I stayed there for a long time. I asked Him to bring to my heart and to my soul strength, understanding, Joy, wisdom, rest, revival, restoration, and revival. I feel like I need all of this every day so that I can further His Kingdom, His way. I asked for His presence to fall upon me, His arms to wrap me and to never leave me, not ever. His truth. I fell into silence, just to listen.
Every time I hear the voice of Jesus I am amazed. EVERY TIME. Little me, He is taking the time to speak to me, He loves me. He assures me that He will be my restoration, my understanding, my revival and my strength. He led me to Psalms 21.  In Psalms 21 David is talking about how God has done this very thing for him:
"You have given him his hearts desires, and You have not withheld the request
of his lips. You met him with the blessings of good things.
He asked life of you, You gave it to him
length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your Salvation
Splendor and majesty you place upon him
You make him Joyful with gladness in your presence"

All these verses spoke to me and answered my prayer, and my hearts desire. God continues to Say That Again to me over and over, every day. He continues to listen to my heart and meet me with blessings. I stand in His presence with awe, before His throne in total awe. I come before Him broken, and He completes me.
In His Heavenly Presence I will Say That Again--God you are my Revival, Restoration, Renewal, and Rest.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Stunning Crown

This morning was one of those soul-launching mornings with God. I have imagined myself in my son's little sling shot and being launched over to the Throne of God, landing not so gracefully at His feet with all my stuff as I blubber to Him in a language that I think the Holy Spirit can only figure out. God, in all His wonder and extravagance kindly lifts me to my feet and holds me. He wraps me in His kindness, He hears me, and this morning as I gave Him all my stuff this is what He said back to me:
"Bethany, do not be afraid, I am here with you, you're solid Rock, steady and sure. I have captured you. I am leading you on a lighted path, and even though to you it seems to have many crooked corners, I have your hand and will not allow you to fall off my path.  You are on my Holy Road. You are walking in faith on my Holy Road. I have guard rails on each side to protect you. I hear that sometimes you are afraid, yet I am bigger than all those things. I AM YOUR GOD."
And, then I knew to read Isaiah 62. In Isaiah 62 there is a beautiful verse; "You'll be a stunning crown in the palm of God's hand, a jeweled solid cup held high in the hand of your God."
And further down I read, "Your Savior comes, Ready to do what he said he'd do, prepared to complete what he promised."
I like how God reassures me all the time in His Word. He directs me, He tells me to not be afraid, and He reminds me that I am in the palm of His hand, and it is there that I can dance, confess, love, and allow Him to fulfill His promise in me. I am a stunning crown for Jesus because this is His promise to me, He holds me in His Hands!
Jesus, Say That Again, You have Captured me In Your Hands so that I can be Free In You. Thank you for this gift.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Holy Road

There  will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road. It's for God's people exclusively--impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. 
Isaiah 35:8
Say That Again Jesus, Keep me on The Holy Road

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Journal Workshop

Yesterday I was blessed to spend the day with a lovely group of friends. We made journals, lots of journals. The journals are for Captured Freedom, the speaking ministry. We sat around the table at our ministry house, Agape Celebration, and we glued, cut, folded, and repeated, lots of paper! The best part, we engaged in each other's lives, we talked, we laughed, we joked around. It was a lot of fun.
I put a lot of glue on a lot of paper. Really, it's the job I trusted myself with the most. Others had the tricky job of centering paper on cardboard, and I knew that would not be a good job for my off-center brain, friends readily agreed. Others did some quick and fluent cutting with scissors, I thought it best that I stay away from the scissors, since I tend to randomly swing my arms and hands about. Others, folded paper, and I did try this job, but found that even though I did it well, I did it painfully slow. Yup, glue is my thing, I could make crazy designs on the cover, it didn't have to be in any particular order, I could change it up every time, and it didn't even have to be the same amount each time----perfect! Still, even with all this freedom, my friend next to me got after me a couple times over my glue methods!
God is an incredible God. All the personalities that He has made. Just in that room, there were so many women, so many talents, and with all of us together, so much fun! As I watched everyone, listened to everyone, it really amazed me to realized how far God has brought my heart. And, I felt so thankful to Him for bringing all of them into my life. When people show up, it feels like God is showing up, and His Spirit soars. Evidence of Him spills throughout the room, and life explodes.  I like how God gives me the opportunity to be in the lives of other women and to experience their way of doing things. I like being accepted for my silly ways, and accepting others.
Jesus, Say That Again to me! Because of the way You always show up in my life, and the way You always accept me, and love me, I am seeing You in others. I am learning to be like You. Jesus, Keep Saying That to Me, over and over again through my friends and family, and teach me to Say That Again to them!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Men's Group

This morning I visited  a men's group at our ministry house, Agape Celebration. As I was driving there, I was talking to God about my visit and asking Him to give me wisdom. I have a lot of experience with women's groups, but not with men. I was expressing to God that I needed Him to speak guy language  through me, because I was feeling clueless. How can I express the value needed for their group, and instill the foundations of relationship? My need for Jesus to work through me and to speak His words overwhelmed me.
By the time I got there and we talked it all went well. At least I think it did. And, later when God and I were talking again He led me to one of my favorite verses, Ecclesiastes 3:13-15:
"God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time-but he's left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he's coming or going. I've decided that there's nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That's it--eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It's God's gift.
I've also concluded that whatever God does, that's the way it's going to be, always. No additions, no subtractions. God's done it and that's it, That's so we'll quit asking questions and simply worship in holy fear".
Well, I had to smile, because for me to stop asking questions would be a true miracle! I love the part though where this verse says "make the most of your job" and that is where God led me this morning after meeting with the men's group! It's like He was just telling me that it's His gift to me and it will go HIS way no matter what. He is in control, so it's okay. He is the one that put the group together in the first place, He made all the arrangements and set everything in motion, He moves in and out of each person there, He will use me while I am there and touch each life. I just have to worship Him. When I worship Him, I will get the most I possibly can out of life, and it will be absolutely beautiful to my soul.
I may not know what God is going to do tomorrow, but right now at this very moment, I know that He is here talking to my heart.  Right now, this moment I know that He led me this morning during the group, and He led me to this verse, and He continues to lead me moment by moment. If I talk to Him, He will lead me. If I worship Him; the conclusion is, all good, even in the bad, because it is well with my soul.
So, Jesus, Say that Again, You make everything beautiful, when I worship you!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Odd-Ball

My confession today is that even though I am aware that I am often the Odd-Ball, it doesn't matter to me!  I remember thinking at some point in my life that I would just like to be able to "fit in" with the people around me. I would like to be able to speak, and be comfortable, and just be.  But, now, as I move through my life, I am seeing that Jesus is not calling me to be comfortable. He is calling me to speak through the trial, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling, and He has never called me to "fit in" .  He didn't fit in, He isn't typical. He doesn't see anything the way the world sees things. His thoughts are not the thoughts of man. He would be considered an Odd-Ball.
I still have those days when I think "I'm not going to keep doing this!" And, God whispers back, "Yes, you are! You are a daughter of the King, no one can take you out of my Hands, Bethany. You are Captured, You are wrapped, I have you, now GO!" And, as odd as it seems to me, I go. There are some days that each hour is a step of faith for me, because I'm not exactly sure what He wants me to do next. And, I keep asking Him questions, or giving Him thoughts that may seem odd or silly, but I need to know: "God, do you want me to go visit this friend now? Do you want me to say this now? God, is this true? God I'm thinking these thoughts, what do you think? God, I'm heading this way, but I'm so unsure right now, stop me if I'm wrong! God, I need you to fight for me, send help! God, I'm so emotional right now, take all these emotions before they take me! God, don't let me down now! Jesus, I confess, I don't know what to do, speak to me!"
The daily, unending conversation with God. Say That Again, Dear God, answer me when I call, You are my life line. You and only You. Odd.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Wanderer

There are times, I feel as if I am wandering around in the desert. That is not necessarily a bad thing, I happen to like the desert. It's dry, it's hot, it doesn't snow in the desert.  I am always warm in the desert! But, on the other hand, I am wandering, with a feeling of getting nowhere! This is how I felt yesterday. I spent a lot of time asking God these questions:" Where the heck am I going? Why are you asking me to go the direction I am going? And, how long are we going to head this way?"  He didn't give me an answer, really. Except that He continued to say that He wants me to be open to His love, to work on breaking down the wall around my heart, and to allow Him to reveal truth to my soul. To me, that pretty much is going to take a lifetime. I guess I may as well settle in. He wants me to surrender, stop being so darn stubborn, quit complaining. All those things I do when I find it challenging to let go and let God!
In my devotional this morning I read about the endless love of Jesus. I read how there is nothing, absolutely nothing that I can do to get Him to STOP loving me, and how I am called to have that same kind of love for others. Really? The exact same kind? I'm back to love again, and as I wander in the desert and think about love and ask God to enable me to love others in that way, I wonder if I can? I feel loved like that by my husband, and I want to feel loved like that by others, but when it comes right down to it, do I? But, here's the bigger question, do others feel loved like that by me?  Am I able to allow Jesus in my heart enough to love others that much? Or, am I just so busy wandering around, that love is on the back burner, wander, wander, wander....
Oh Jesus, Your Spirit is all Power, all joy, all I need.  You are love and you have me Captured IN your hands; it is safe there. I need you. Say That Again, Jesus, when I wander all about, capture me with your staff and bring me into your hands.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Rebel

I have the reputation for being a rebel. When Jesus came into my life, it felt good to me to know that I was a rebel, saved by grace, captured in His Hands. And, it has always been my desires to never rebel against the will and love of Jesus, but instead to rebel against sin and the ways of the world. As a rebel, I've praised God for the safe haven he has provided me in my husband, my home, my children. And, the Rock He has provided me in His love, His promises, His steadfastness and His faithfulness.
 The book I've referred to a couple times before, Beautiful Outlaw, describes Jesus as a Rebel. He does not conform to the world in any way. His standard compares to the Father alone, and nothing else. He does not worry about what others think, He speaks truth, He walks in truth, He lives truth.  His life is not about Himself, but about the Father. He loves others.  He is an Outlaw because He really does not keep all the rules, He simply loves. He does for others what their hearts need to have done. Some people do not approve.
I want to be this kind of rebel. I want to have a heart like Him. I want to go after love as if my life depends upon it. I want to rebel against the world in such a way that all I see is Jesus, my focus is to love others as He does. To praise Him always.
So, as I have thought more about this today, being a rebel. And, as I have considered who Jesus is, a rebel as well. It brings a smile to my face. It has been a tender thought to recognize His kindness to me in providing the safety of my husbands gentle arms, my children that love me, my friends that surround me. These are all precious gifts from a loving God.
So, yes, I am a rebel saint, saved by a Jesus that walked a rebel walk on earth! Say That Again, Jesus, live a life that rebels against sin, and walks in love.

The Journey

Yesterday was a planning day at Agape, we set dates for Spring and summer events. It was fun. We had lunch and the conversation was good. I enjoyed it because I saw concrete evidence again of how God is working at Agape. It wasn't that long ago that I prayed for Him to bring a team of women into my life, and now I am surrounded with lovely women that want to help.  I am amazed by the way God works, and how quickly He works.  When I am able to step out of the way,  it goes so well! It's exciting to know that He uses me and others to expand His territory and to plan events for Him! This is a journey God has invited me to go on with Him, and it is a day to day ride, an adventure. On this journey, He has asked me to look into my heart and open it deeper and deeper to Him. He has asked me to look into my past and give it over completely to Him, so that when others come to me, I will know how to help them. He has asked me to speak my story, write truth, continue to live in truth and reconciliation with others. He has asked me to face the wall and allow Him to tear it down.  This is an exciting journey, and a scary journey! 
Come join me! What is God asking you to do today? What is your journey?
Say That again, Dear Jesus, we are walking the journey together.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Kiss

This summer my husband and I will be celebrating our 30th anniversary, this is a big deal to me. I want a party, and a family trip. I don't know if I will get what I want, but I can wish!  Our son took us out and did a photo shoot for our anniversary pictures, I asked him to. It was a lot of fun. And, there were a few awkward moments too.  Our son, being all professional and adult, was busy telling my husband how to pose and how to kiss me! Awkward! My husband and I had the giggles. For me, it was a challenge to wrap my brain around the fact that my son was the photographer, giving tips! He did a great job!
God has kissed my life with many blessings. As I work through the trials of my life, I recognize the blessings, and for this I rejoice.  Even on the days when it feels like despair, and I do have those days, I will choose to tell of the ways He has kissed my life with blessings. I know that God is good, that His love is forever, and that I am His daughter!
Say That Again, Jesus, Kisses from the King are revealed  in many ways, thank you!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Motive

So, I finally finished my book, The Pursuit of God. He ended with this: "It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he thereafter do no common act."
After reading this, I worked on some of the passages I've been entering into my journal and I've noticed that many of my favorite scriptures are about love.  The question I then asked myself was this, "Is my motive always love?" Without the motive of love, I have built the wall around my heart, it is because my motive has been to protect and to be safe!
I had a conversation with a friend the other day about this very thing, the core lie that keeps me, all of us from   stepping closer to the reality of Jesus. For me, it's the need to be safe. And, even though I believe He is my safety, I have become so accustomed to figuring things out all the time so I "think" I will be safe that I end up in a cycle of leaning on my own understanding, my motive is to be safe, that is a selfish motive.
If I am able to keep my motive focused on love and surrender in Christ, He will enable me to know safety. He will make every action that I take something that glorifies Him. My motives of love and surrender will tear down the wall around my heart rather than add more bricks to the wall. He will continually sanctify me, brick by brick.
Love, I'm finding is action, and is God Himself. God in me. For me to show God to others, to live Him, I must allow Him to penetrate the wall, and BE my motive. I am finding this to be challenging on some days. There are days that I do not feel safe. There are days that I desperately need to feel MORE loved. There are days that I feel like I don't have love to give! These are the days my thought pattern has to be at the level of deepest surrender where I am saying to God "You, oh God are my only motive!"
Say That Again, precious Jesus. You are my motive, therefore you are my safety. I will surrender to you today!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Pesky Project

We meet with a group of lovely people every Wednesday evening and have dinner together. Members of this group involve children, several children. Loud, lively passionate children. After we eat, the adults sit down and discuss a book we have been reading, the children---well, we are still working on helping the children find things to do that are fun and quiet.  So, I had the bright idea that I would purchase them a cardboard castle, one for the boys and one for the girls.  The picture looked really cool, and in the description it told me how the children could color the castle and then play inside, and all would be well.  I didn't read the part about putting the castle together.
So, today, my friend and I pulled all the pieces out of the box to put together the castle.  Once again, I have to say, she is organized, I am not.  Puzzles are lovely once they are put together, but before hand, not so much. I am a puzzle, my brain is a puzzle, I really do not need to add to the mystery, so the castle was instantly a pesky project in my book. My friend agreed as we were challenged to get the pieces to stay together, and by the time we got all four walls up, we realized we had put the front door on backwards. Oh, well! Pesky, pesky, pesky!
With teamwork and a lot of diligence our efforts paid off and we now have two houses for the children to play in and color this evening. It will be fun. They were Pesky. But, I had fun even though they were pesky. We laughed and worked our way through the difficulty--together. It was team work, support and love. Because of the support of my friend, she turned the pesky into fun!
God asks me to walk in a manner worthy of my calling. He wants me to come along others and make their trials, their pesky days lighter. To be in fellowship on a daily basis and to love them. My bright idea turned into a pesky project but my friend came along beside me and made the pesky project a much lighter load. She walked in a manner worthy of her calling.
Jesus, Say That Again to me, give me strength to walk worthy of my calling!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Hot Date

The first date I had with my husband was to a donut shop. We walked into the shop and he said to me, "You can have any donut you want!" This was impressive to me because I was not use to getting anything that I wanted, so to be offered such a deal was very attractive. Any donut that I wanted, and as many as I wanted too, oh, the choices! Our relationship only blossomed from there on out, and 8 months later we were married. Now, it's been almost 30 years.
 He took me on a date, and I'd have to say he is still a hot date! He told me that I could have whatever I wanted, as I browsed the menu. It was pretty nice. God has blessed me with a man that loves me deeply and has kept me in a place of safety and care. This is what I have needed. God told my husband years ago to take care of me, and that is exactly what he has done, he has done it well. He has obeyed God. Because he chose to obey God, I trust this man, and I feel loved. And, because he chose to obey God, I trust God and feel loved by God! Now, that is a hot date!
So, today I am thanking God for the man He has given me. He is a blessing to me and I love him very much. And, I know that Jesus would Say That Again to my husband, and to all the husbands, "take care of your wife, love her, guard her, protect her heart!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Next Brick

The Pesky Packets are still in my life and I worked on them for a couple of hours today. I managed to get a pretty good routine down, I would even venture to say I was organized. It was nice to get a stack of them all done.  I have also been thinking about the wall that has been tightly built around my heart, the wall God has asked to penetrate. The wall that I have slowly been allowing God to take the bricks from, and toss them.  It is not easy at all. Sometimes I take the brick back and put it on the wall, cementing it on.  Sometimes I just gaze at the wall and read the bricks: Fear, Rejection, Abandonment, Pride, Envy, Despair, Abuse, Pain, Isolation, and heartache.  There are a lot of bricks, some of them I cannot even name. Some of them I have dealt with, and now I have brought them back to look at them in a different way, from another angle on the wall. I have asked for Jesus to give me His view of my wall, and to let me see the root of the wall. It's flesh, it's sin, and it's life. The truth is though, as a child of God, His Saint, I know that He has won my battle. He has taken my bricks, pulled me up out of the mud and set me in the heavenlies. I like it there. I rejoice in my position there, yet I have those days that I still insist on grabbing the bricks and building a wall around my heart to self protect. Why do I do what I do not want to do? This is a very old and familiar question...
For me, I do not want to go through the pain of being hurt, again. Rejection, perceived or real, is rejection to my heart and it hurts. It takes me back to the rejection of childhood and I don't want to go there.
And so, God continually tells me, I will not reject you. I will not leave you, forsake you, or ever be without you. He tells me this everyday. He is constant to remind me to trust IN Him, and steadfast in His ability to prove trustworthy. I am slow to take my steps, even though He is so very faithful. I obey, yet I get afraid. He holds my hand, and He chips away at all the bricks, gently telling me that He is with me.
So, today, as I step again with Him I will continue to remember that I am Captured IN His Hands. Free to give to Him all that I am. My focus is Him. He can continue to take the bricks and show me truth, revealing my heart to Him and to others. I will step, and I will live, I won't pretend it's easy.
Say That Again, Jesus, You are taking down the bricks I've built around my heart, and revealing truth more and more each day. Thank you for being my God.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Meek

This morning I continued to read the book my son loaned me, The Pursuit of God. It is a small book, but deep and full of wisdom. It is taking me a long time to read and my son keeps asking me if I have finished it yet. I called him the other day just to say "I love you" and woke him from a deep sleep. His first question in his drowsy state was "did you finish the book?"
In my reading this morning, the chapter was about meekness and rest. The author, A.W. Tozar addressed the issue of burdens, the burdens we carry, our internal burdens of the heart and the mind. The kind that are crushing and heavy, like pride. Ewe...really? Pride?
I found his next words convicting: "As long as you set yourself up as a little god to which you must be loyal there will be those who will delight to offer affront to your idol. How then can you hope to have inward peace? The heart's fierce effort to protect itself from every slight, to shield its touchy honor from the bad opinion of a friend and enemy, will never let the mind have rest." He goes on to offer relief by explaining: "The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort."
I had to ask myself some serious questions. And, humbly bow before Him at His throne. Even though I have prayed for Jesus to be my Mighty Defender, my heart has still been offended, and wanted to find many ways to self protect. As I have taken out the bricks of the walls that are built around my heart, pride has been written on many of those bricks. And, as I hand the bricks to Jesus, I'm asking Him to crush them, I don't want them back, I don't want to rebuild the wall! I am praying for meekness, and the knowledge that the One that resides IN me is greater, and that is all that I need. He protects my heart, as I have said, my Defender.
I am learning that life is full of many long lessons, and it takes awhile to learn them. I'm walking up the spiral staircase, round and round, facing similar issues in different ways as I go round and round. Learning from my Jesus, for only He is worth my effort.
So, Jesus, Say That Again to me. You are my Defender, You are molding me to be meek before You. I come to You, surrendered.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Toilet Bowl

There was a tip on a program that I was listening to that if you use mouthwash in the toilet bowl it cleans just as well as toilet bowl cleaner. This came in handy for me this morning as I noticed we were out of cleaner. I always go to the dollar store to buy toilet bowl cleaner, it works perfect and its cheap, only a dollar! But, as I've mentioned, I've been a homebody lately and shopping has not been at the top of my list. We do have mouthwash under the sink in our bathroom, so I snatched it and proceeded to the toilet. My husband, in his wise and frugal voice was sure to tell me that it would be cheaper to wait and just go to the dollar store later and buy the cheap dollar store cleaner rather than use our mouthwash to clean the toilet.  But, the toilet was dirty, I wanted to see if it would actually clean it, and I thought it would be nice to have that fresh minty smell coming from our toilet!! So, I dumped some mouthwash into the  bowl, and I scrubbed away with the toilet brush. And, yup, the bowl is now very sparkly, and minty fresh. I wouldn't want to dip my tooth brush in it or anything like that, but it's pretty clean, shiny! Now, that was a good tip. I'll still get to the dollar store eventually and stock up on bowl cleaner: it will make my husband happy.
I really have nothing today to compare this story too. I just thought I'd share. Actually, the one thing that does come to mind is that my thoughts have been in the toilet, and I need God to pour His minty fresh breath over them!! His life, His blood, His all.  I pray for this everyday, and He does this for me. Yet, still, I find that there are those times, depending what is going on in my life that I end up back in the toilet bowl and I need to spend more time on my knees, praying in surrender to Him. Because I am His, His child. A daughter of the King, Complete IN Him. Covered in His Love. The process sometimes feels long and strenuous, but I believe it is already won, the enemy simply wants to make it as hard as possible. I refuse to stay in the toilet bowl forever! My faith, trust, love, relationships, and hope continues to grow, even though I do not always see it. He continues to promise me that He will never leave me or forsake me, He will always love me, and He is always there to snatch me out of the toilet bowl!
Say That Again, Jesus, You are here, you have promised so much and I'm Captured IN Your Hands, not in the bowl!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The One Hundred Passages

In my journal every morning I've been adding my favorite bible passages. My goal is to get up to one hundred passages which I think I will exceed that. It's been a lot of fun to write them in my journal and recite them. They are passages that I have held dear to my heart, yet some of them I have not thought about for awhile, so it's been nice to review them and write them down and be reminded of them again.
This morning, in Psalms 40:11, I read  "Now God, don't hold out on me, don't hold back your passion. Your love and truth are all that keeps me together."
When I think of this and what it is really asking I'm taken aback. God! don't hold back your passion! What does that look like for me? If God were to give me ALL of HIS passion, how would that change my life? How would it impact my family and my friends and my neighborhood? Is He holding back? His love and truth do hold me together, but what about the days that I FEEL like I am falling apart? And, I do have those days. I am frustrated with those days. The days that I am believing something that is not truth and I have to search inside for that false belief. The days that I have to pray for Him to reveal to me where I am misguided and ask Him to give me wisdom and discernment. "His love and truth hold me together"
For me, on days like that I come to this truth "I will never leave you or forsake you" or, in Isaiah, (the name of my grandchild due in May) where I focused a lot this morning, "I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness. I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you." And, again in the Psalms, "O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you healed me."
His passages of truth and love are endless before me, constantly reassuring me of Who He is, calming my soul. I don't always hear Him right away, but that doesn't mean He isn't there! In psalms 37:5 I read this: "Quiet down before God, be prayerful before him."
Yes, Jesus, Say That Again to me as I come before Your throne of grace and mercy. Quiet and prayerful.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Love

I left dishes in the sink this morning, in soapy water, and more dishes on the counter. I didn't have time to get them washed before the trek to school.
After dropping the kids off at school I came to Agape to work on some of our pesky packets, yes, we still have some. They all look so nicely organized on the counter that I wonder what my faithful friend will think when she returns and sees that I was "helping." She may decide that I am pesky!
I called a friend to check on her, wanting to make sure she was doing okay and to let her know that I love her.
Love, I've been thinking about the word, and the need we as people have for love. The need I have to be loved. It has occurred to me that the need is insatiable. And because it is insatiable, I spent many years building many walls.
If it weren't for God, all of them would still be there. Some of them still are.
I'm beginning to understand what God meant when He said to me that He wanted to penetrate my heart. He wants to break through the walls. He wants me to see them, and allow Him to tear them down. Brick by brick. He wants me to allow Him to love me more, and allow others to love me more, and allow myself to love!
He wants me to believe it can happen!
Here's the problem. As He knocks down the bricks, I pick up a new one and plop it on the wall. I leave bricks randomly laying all over the place, just like the dishes. And, I find them throughout the pathways of my brain, pesky bricks! Faithful friends and family come along to "help" me, but I randomly toss bricks their way too! Yet, I, just like everyone else long to be loved.
The Love, deep unconditional love. The kind of love Jesus has for me.  This is the way He has asked me to love others, but do I? Is this the way I love myself? Love others as you love yourself. hmm, possibly a good place to start. The Love of myself would include grace, mercy, forgiveness, etc  all that Jesus gives to me.  And, in turn all that I want to give to others and want others to give to me. Acceptance. I want to be accepted, loved, just as He accepts me and loves me. I want Him to work through me so I can remove the pesky bricks--all of them!
Jesus, Say That Again, You love me unconditionally. You want to penetrate Your love through my heart so that I can serve You more fully!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Walk of Faith

It seems that lately I have found life to be a little more challenging when it comes to that walk of faith.  I've been talking to God a lot about trust and faith and delving into the root of what those look like for me. They have been conversations between God and I throughout the day, and sometimes I feel like He gives me an answer, other times I just sit there with a frustrated knot of questions.
Yesterday morning as I began my adventure with God I started with my book that I've been slowly working through, The Pursuit of God. The section I read was all about Faith. It starts out with this "Faith is all important in the life of the soul. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith will get me anything, take me anywhere in the Kingdom of God, but without faith there can be no approach to God, no forgiveness, no deliverance, no salvation, no communion, no spiritual life at all." The chapter moves on to talk about what faith is, coming to this conclusion: "Now, if faith is the gaze of the heart of God, and if this gaze is but the raising of the inward eyes to meet the all-seeing eyes of God, then it follows that it is one of the easiest things possible to do."
It shouldn't have been a surprise to me that in church yesterday the sermon was about, FAITH!  And, this morning when I asked God what He wanted me to read He directed me to Philemon 1:4-7 "Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, 'Oh, thank you, God!' I keep hearing of the love and faith you have for the Master Jesus, which brims over to other Christians. And I keep praying that this faith we hold in common keeps showing up in the good things we do, and that people recognize Christ in all of it. Friend, you have no idea how good your love makes me feel, doubly so when I see your hospitality to fellow believers."
Then, of course, when I came to our bedroom this morning to talk with my husband he told me that the chapter we would be studying in our Wednesday group from a different book was on FAITH! Hmmm....I have this feeling that God is telling me something!
I did take a step of faith this weekend, actually I feel like I'm taking steps of faith everyday.  But, sometimes, there are steps that are bigger than others they feel scary to me. Risky. I come from a place of never wanting to take risk, never having relationship, always running. Now, it feels like I'm walking this faith line where I'm surrounded with risk, relationship, etc...Wait, isn't there something about fellowship in that verse above? I'm the one that prayed for relationship and in faith I stepped out. I'm the one that prayed to see the heart of God, and with that comes risk. What's the risk? For me the risk is that I will get everything--forgiveness, deliverance, salvation, communion, fellowship, love, hope, courage, boldness, strength, and that He will ask me to use it! And, He has, now I must walk in FAITH!
Jesus, Say That Again, You have given me so much, You give faith too, as I gaze upon your heart. Thank you!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Dangerous Dog

Our Stinky Dog now has a new label, she is The Dangerous Dog. Because of her episode a couple weeks ago, her noble efforts to protect  me and the kids, she is now considered "dangerous." And, her actions were dangerous, what she did was completely wrong, although she didn't think so.
The last couple weeks since her heroic act, at least that's how she looked at it, she has not been doing well. She basically lays on her new doggie bed by the fire place all day. She has a very hard time walking, and it's very hard for her to get up and down the stairs. It's a challenge to get her to go outside, or to move around through out the day. She does like to wag her tail when I talk to her, and she knows that we are trying to help her be comfortable.
Sometimes I look at life and see that my view has been greatly altered my experiences.  I think danger, when in reality they are simply trying to help me. But, because of the experiences I have had in life, my brain says "dangerous" and I don't want to trust. I have found this to be a frustrating road to walk, because even though I may want to trust and  say "safe" it feels like I just can't! Wow, just like that verse in the bible. Why do I do the things I don't want to do? It's in Romans, anybody know what I'm talking about?
So, today as I think on these things my prayer is that God will continue to reveal truth to me and that He will continue to be my safety and I will know more each day Who He is. Say That Again Jesus!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Stirred Pot

I haven't done a lot of cooking lately. I've made soup. And, I cut up some potatoes to help a friend. Other than that, it's been sandwiches at our house and cereal.  Fruit and salad. It's all good. So, the pot I'm talking about is one of those pots that I thought was all nicely settled, but like life has showed me before, it's not actually settled at all. Someone came along and stirred it up, and with that stirring I am seeing that I have more work to do with God.
Does anyone out there ever wonder if life gets easier? Because I'm thinking that if I am committed to living a life deeply rooted in love, grace, mercy and God's light, then there will be a constant state of growing and learning. It will never be easy. The pot inside of me will always be stirring, constantly alerting me to something that I need to change about myself, an area that needs to grow, ways I need to pray. That stirring will be fixated upon needing more of God, wanting deeper relationships, improving myself in Godly ways---stirring the pot, and allowing others to stir the pot.
That's not to say I won't have joy and all the fruit of His Spirit. The gift of His Spirit can coincide right along with the stirring of the pot. That, I suppose, is the beauty of it all.
Say That Again, my Jesus. I give you the pot to stir, to settle, to do with as you please.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Dishes

Our dishwasher is broken. The counter is full of dirty dishes. Last weekend a friend was here and she washed the dishes for me, it was very thoughtful. I wash the dishes, too and so does my husband. The kids wash them as well. But, this week, not a single dish has been washed. I've filled the sink with hot sudsy water, put the dishes in the water, and walked away. The dishes are still on the counter, building up. I wish I had a dishwasher. I have chosen to sleep instead of wash dishes this week. Or, a couple times I chose to cuddle with my son, or read to my daughter. We still have clean dishes in the cupboard so it's not crucial to wash the dirty ones! I am learning that there are some things that are crucial. Love, relationship, time with the ones I love. The dishes? I'll get to them.
I often ask myself what it would look like if Jesus came to visit. He would come in our house and I'm sure He would want to engage in a rousing game of basket ball. We have a hoop in our foyer. He would write something engaging on the walls in my children's bedrooms.  And, He would sit with us in the family room around the fire, eat pizza, and talk. I don't think the dishes would be high on His list either. He would want to know about our day, and our hearts. He would love. This is what I want.
Jesus, Say That Again, without love life is meaningless. Show me how to love.