Here God is again …

IMG_1778God surely knows how much I/we need Him, His Presence,  His affirmation,  His love in my life/our lives.Today again, perfect timing in the midst of a “goof” I made in the time of an  appointment. Being over an hour early, I decided to run to the bank to take care of something I’ve needed to.First the map app on my phone directed me toward  the wrong bank (and my duh, when I didn’t see the first entry was an ad, not the search I’d  put into my phone). I did a quick course correction, found a branch of my bank, and met with a friendly, positive banker, then had to leave the bank while the request was being processed to go back to the appointment, which was a great connection with an accountant who is a man of faith.

An hour there, then back to the bank, but the banker I’d worked with was at lunch. Okay, pop across the street to Taco Bell, and oh look at that: the second bank I needed to visit had a branch right on the  same corner!  Check off that from my list, hop across the street, meet quickly with the banker with the change all finished.

Hmm… now can I go to the county offices to see about getting a new passport? I slip right in, find out what I need, and the clerk tells me that there’s a Costco just down the street where I can get my necessary photos at one-third the price of the drug store. Super! Drive down to Costco, have the (why are they always so unflattering?) photo taken, and then I dutifully stand at the corner of the counter, right at the entrance to the store, while I wait for the pictures to be processed. Less than five minutes into my waiting time, who should come pushing a cart  right past me but Kate, a friend from a Christian singles group and Sunday School class whom I haven’t seen in three years!

Coincidence?  All of those other errands and timing, my mistakes included, had to happen in exactly the  right timing for me to be there when Kate came into the store!

Yes, it was wonderful to see Kate, catch up with her, share a hug and how tightly we’ve both had to hang onto Jesus through troubled times. but the deeper message to me was God’s reassuring message, “I’m still here beside you, with you, still in control, and I still love you deeply! And yes, I  am able to lead you even in what you think  are your ‘mistakes!’”

Oh, thank you Jeremiah for speaking the truth: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

And thank you, David:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the Lord’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!  Psalm 32: 8-11 NIV

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.
10 Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.  Psalm 143:8-910 NIV

I take to heart today the acronym I heard on the radio yesterday: I truly am a DORK –  Daughter Of the Risen King!

God Almighty, good Holy Spirit, again and again shows me he’s doing exactly what he says he will do. God keeps his promises, and his Word IS his true and faithful promises!

A “…BUT…” to pray: Lord, Holy Spirit, sometimes I think I must be the biggest  goofball on the planet, and often I  don’t feel your presence or your love, BUT you promise to lead me, so help me FEEL you in my heart, because you know how much I need that reassurance, help me trust you even when I don’t trust myself and can’t feel you beside me, and help me know you keep your Word and ___________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________, In Jesus’ name, amen, and Holy Spirit, today HELP me to listen and hear you _______________ ____________________________________________________________________________________.

 

 

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One Thing I Know

One Thing I Know

 

This is just a quick post, but so important for all of us. 

 Two weeks ago God woke me in the morning with the words “You are worth fighting for!” immediately in my mind and heart. So true, not just for me as a woman in terms of relationships, but for all of us as the chosen and won by Jesus. God fought for us with the greatest,most powerful weapon in His arsenal: His love for us incarnate in Jesus!

 Those words were on my lips when a friend called not two minutes later – literally just after I turned my cell pone on -to cry out to me with a desperate need that had her ready to take her life.  Thank you, Jesus, that you made the connection between us and gave me resources to help! Yes, when we call to Him, He will answer! And we,set free, are his answer to another’s cry for help to know they matter to God.

 Isaiah 62:4-5 tells us: No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (My delight is in her) and your land Beulah (chosen, married); for the LORD will take delight in you . .. as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

 To say I am worth fighting for would sound arrogant except for this truth from God’s own mouth! He backed up this word with his own blood, Y’shua, Jesus!

 Knowing my value, I can give value extravagantly even to those whose actions toward me don’t put them in the “deserve it” category. Because I am fought for and won, I can fight for the value and validation of others. In terms of marriage, this is what gives a wife the power to love with unquenchable fire.The way to the depths of a woman’s heart is not through gifts and dinners, but through valuing and honoring her as someone worth winning and protecting. Men,this gives you a woman whose heart will never fail to support, encourage,and fight for you as the warrior heart in her rises. 

 It amazes me how God fashioned us for each other – yet it’s only out of knowing how GOD values us that we are truly set free to be what He means us to be to and for each other. I embrace this truth as my identity, an identity no one’s actions or words or attitude toward me can take away. How that sets other people free from the requirement to be my validation! 

 We give each other a priceless gift when we take our identity from God.Not arrogance,but bought and set free receiving!

My “. . .BUT . . . ” to move: Other people have failed me, cut me down, and rejected me when they placed their demands on me to be their source of value. I’ve done the same thing to others, BUT GOD you tell me I am worth fighting for, and because I embrace your truth, I am set free to _____________________________________________________

Mr "Good Wrench" and "Good Advice"

Sorry all that this is just a quick glimpse into what the Spirit said to me Tuesday, August 15. Driving to work I heard Lysa Terkeurst and Amanda Carroll on KLOVE radio, Lisa talking about her new book Unglued and about ratcheting our anger when we’re repeatedly offended. 

Oh, Eureka! Exactly what my beloved did over 34 years and more of our life together: put his arm to the wrench and ratchet down on the nuts of anger, bitterness, contempt, offense, unforgiveness, wounding, and self-preserving seeking on the tires of his life, so tightly that he can’t let go of his wounded emotions and cultural-norm “look out for yourself” choices. No wonder he’s stuck!

A very able engineer, he always warned me and our sons not to let a tire dealer use the pneumatic wrench to snug down the bolts on the nuts of our wheels too tightly, or we’d never be able to break them loose if we had to change a flat on the road. Ah, but beloved, you did just that, and I almost did until I saw the lies I was believing about your motivation in the things you said and did, and started believing that you DID love me in the ways you could. 

Oh, the PNEUMA of the Holy Spirit to break free the lock-down on our “lug nuts” and fix our flats, give us re-treads or just plain new tires to keep us moving in God’s direction and purposes! This may be a copyrighted phrase, BUT I praise ” Mr. Good Wrench” Jesus and the Holy Spirit to do the releasing for us what we can’t do ourselves if we let him!

And the “good advice”? Disclaimer: I am no one’s Savior, I’m heartily glad Jesus took that role upon himself, and I surrender that right and role to him. I was wondering, though,  how Jesus would have responded in the Garden of Gethsemane to, and how our lives now and forever would play out if Jesus took the advice of, some solid psychologists and counselors who ought to have been there in his agony instead of the snoozing Peter, James and John. Can you hear their advice to him, like the advice given to me?

“It’s time to look out for yourself.”
“Do what’s best for you.”
“Take care of yourself.”
“You can’t change them. They have their own free will.”
“You need to establish healthy boundaries for yourself.”

And the best one, the one I hear caregivers say at the preschool every day : “Just walk away.”

How would YOU have counseled Jesus to respond in his situation?   What if he had? Aren’t you glad he didn’t?

I AM!

So flying in the face of what sounds “right” is our fully functional, not dysfunctional, Lord and lover of our souls Jesus.


Here’s the world’s best “. . . But . . .” to pray:  I was lost in my selfishness and self-seeking frantic attempts to validate myself and find love, and I’ve wounded other people in the search, BUT JESUS YOU DIDN’T WALK AWAY! You thought of me and gave yourself, and in YOUR GIFT I have validation and amazing love now and forever! Jesus, Mr. Good Wrench, put the arm of your love on the lug nuts of my anger and bitterness over ____________________________ and break me free, change my heart, fill me with the penuma – air- breath – of the Holy Spirit so my heart is free to love ________________________________.

All I Have is All He Is

The Word in the middle of silence. The Word in uncertainty and no clear path. The Word in pain and grief. I hate to admit it, but so many times I have cried out to God that I need more than scripture; I need a visible sign of his hand at work in my battle. But there have been no signs. Oh, there have been apparent breakthroughs that turned into closed doors, promise stolen, and plenty of those. Friends see visions, have dreams, receive miracles . . . but not me. All I have is God’s Word from verses that have leaped out to me.

Is that enough to sustain me/you in the deadliest battle and hurricane-strength storm? Maybe that’s what I’m here to learn. I don’t know for certain, but maybe why I’m here is to tell someone else going through Heck that God’s Word IS enough. Right now I’m listening to a live worship CD “Let Your Healing Flow” with an inspired prophetic song/word from Andre Ashby: “My word is sure, and it will stand forever and evermore. My word is sure and it will not return void unto me, for I am a faithful God and I see your need. And I’m drawing near to you, I’m drawing near to you to touch you, to heal you, to make you whole. My word will stand forever. Come boldly unto me, come boldly to my throne of grace, for my grace is sufficient for all you need. Come boldly unto me, come boldly, for I will prove myself to you, I am a great big God. There’s nothing too hard for me, there’s nothing that I cannot do. I am all you need, and I’m here for you.”

And he’s all I have. I have no power to change my husband’s choices, his stubborn selfishness and hard heart, his rebellion against God, newest betrayal and full-speed-ahead hardened will to divorce. All I have is God’s Word that I have been praying and confessing over communion every morning for the past year. BUT I know that Jesus is the Living Word, that he is his word – who he is IS his Word – that God watches over his Word to perform it:

The LORD said to me, ‘”You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” Jeremiah 1:12

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth . . . so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 10-11

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. Psalm 130: 5-6

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Almost every moment of every day, as soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I am aware of my complete helplessness to change my circumstances and the heart and mind and will of my beloved husband. BUT I am not falling into the void, even though I feel like it many times. Even though the word some days seems like the thinnest thread I cling to on the edge of a bottomless abyss and I can feel the winds of destruction swirling up from the depths, YET my life is not determined by my husband’s choices, so says my God’s word:

The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. BUT the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33: 11

I am God, and there is no other . . . I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. Isaiah 46:10

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

And the word tells me this much of God’s will for sure: rejoice in the LORD always and in everything give thanks. He promises to be my shield and sword (Genesis 15: 1 and Deuteronomy 33: 29) and he will fight the battle for me (Exodus 14:14 and 2 Chronicles 20: 15,17)

Not much from me, but much from the Word today. All I have to give you is all I have to live, hope, trust and rejoice in: God’s Word is God himself, and he cannot and will not deny it, no matter what my circumstances look like and no matter who wars against me. God is love, his love endures, and the purposes of his heart will bring me victory somehow, some day, some way, for sure.

So I will bless my enemy and pray for the one who bitterly abuses me, because God’s word tells me to, and I know the Spirit will pour out upon my husband every spiritual blessing and weapon against deception from the coals of the altar of Heaven, where Jesus lives as the great high priest to speak and decree and make intercession and send his living word for him, and for me, too.

Does that give you something to cling to? I hope so. My greatest praise to God and the greatest work of my life may just be trusting in his Word and living in the peace, hope and victory it brings, and encouraging some other grieving heart to do the same. Whoever you are, I love you, and I pray for victory for you, too.

A ” . . . BUT . . .” to move: Jesus, all I hear is silence, all I see are closed doors and looming defeat, BUT you are your Word, and you promise to deliver on your Word when I confess it and cling to it. Because I know you don’t lie and you don’t dishonor your Word or your people who believe it, I will hang onto this thread knowing that your Word is stronger and more powerful than hammered steel. I will trust you, even when it doesn’t look like I should, and I will rejoice in all you are. Amen!

You own ” . . . But . . . ” to move: Jesus, I feel desperate, lost, without hope, BUT I trust that you _________________________

A Miracle-working God

Rose Jackson© 1/2009

The miracles began to unfold when the problem became a crisis. I got the phone call on Monday afternoon. “Mom, Emily’s bleeding. They’re evacuating her to Hong Kong.” He paused, the anguish breaking Eric’s voice,” I don’t know if Evan and I will be able to go with her.” A cold jolt ran down my back and momentarily paralyzed my breathing. “I’m on my way,” I exhaled, my thoughts speeding off in dozens of directions. How? Where? Who could help?

Emily and Eric were working and studying Asia. Expecting their second child, our daughter-in-law was 29 weeks into the pregnancy. After episodes of spotting in her first trimester, things had been going fine. Until now.

Emily had started spotting again on Sunday, so she and Eric went to the hospital while their three-year-old son Evan stayed with friends. Things took a drastic turn on Monday, and the hospital staff told Emily and Eric they weren’t equipped to handle such a premature birth. Both the baby and Emily could die. The closest hospitals equipped for premature births were 350 miles away in Hong Kong. How could they get there in time to save the baby’s life? At this point of desperation, when none of us could do anything but pray, God delivered miracles.

Looking back on them now, it’s almost like peering over God’s shoulder as he marked off a checklist:

Make a corporate jet “coincidentally” available and close enough to fly in.
Make the jet big enough for Eric and Evan to go along.
Connect a colleague in Hong Kong quickly with an ambulance to meet them there.

Getting to Hong Kong was just the tip of the iceberg of impossibilities. Which hospital? Was there a hospital with a bed available and staff available for whatever might happen? Where could Eric and Evan stay indefinitely on their meager resources? Who would take care of Evan?

On the other side of the world, I bought an airline ticket while my mind whirled with my own questions. How could we afford this? What about local currency? A miracle itself, my passport had just come back in record time the week before, but did I need a visa to get into Hong Kong? Where would Eric and Evan be? How could I find them?

“Call Julia” flashed through my mind. We’d met Julia six years earlier when we lived briefly on the East Coast. She was from Hong Kong. Her parents still lived there. Could one of them possibly meet me at the airport? Was Julia even home? I was set to fly out at five in the morning. Making a connection would take a miracle. God’s checklist:

Move us to New England in 1997 so we meet Julia.
Be sure Julia is at home on Monday night.
Ensure Julia’s mother is available and willing to meet me at the airport.
Provide a phone number where Julia’s mother can contact Eric and find out where he is.
Send Emily to the hospital with the best neonatal intensive care unit in all of East Asia.
Provide an affordable apartment in Hong Kong for four weeks.

“What-if’s” swirled through my thoughts. How would I recognize Julia’s mother Linda, whom I’d met only once? I tucked Julia’s wedding photo in my carry-on, held my husband close, and tried to get a few hours of fitful sleep. Thirty-four hours later across the Pacific Ocean, I saw a small hand waving a sign that read “Rose.” Amid a sea of people I thankfully hugged Linda, who had taken a taxi, bus and subway across two islands far out of her way to meet me. One hour later I leaped out of a taxi to embrace Evan and Eric in the middle of a narrow, dark street between canyons of buildings. Eric smiled and said, “Welcome to Hong Kong . . . Grandma!”

Born by emergency C-section, little Elsa weighed two pounds fifteen ounces. Doctors guardedly told Eric and Emily to expect Elsa to be in the NICU until her original due date, even if she didn’t develop complications. Now our needs were less critical, but real, nonetheless. After the first four weeks, where could we stay that would be close enough to allow Emily and Eric to make twice-daily breast milk runs to the hospital? How could they afford rent when Eric already had paid the hospital thousands of dollars? How could Eric and Emily continue their studies without their books? The miracles continued:

Connect Eric and Emily’s Hong Kong colleague with a friend who worked for an elder in a local church.
Through that that church provide an apartment, rent-free, for Eric and Emily for two weeks.
Make another apartment available rent-free for six weeks beyond that.
Bring friends through Hong Kong with Eric and Emily’s books and some of Evan’s best-loved toys.
Protect Elsa and keep her infection- and complication-free.

Three weeks passed, and we had so much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving that we weren’t too disappointed by our oven that didn’t work and the turkey dinner we couldn’t afford at a local restaurant. We were content to find turkey sandwiches at a nearby deli, but God, who had pulled off huge miracles for us already, had two small, delightful ones still on his list. At the church we attended the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a genial woman with twinkling eyes turned around to offer, “Would you like to come to our apartment for Thanksgiving dinner? It will only be chicken, but I have a can of cranberry sauce!” Astonished, we delightedly accepted. After church, one of the members told this woman she’d bring over a complete turkey dinner from the outrageously-priced restaurant, where she worked! God must have winked as he checked off:

Provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, down to pumpkin pie.
Supply for free a small Christmas tree complete with lights and ornaments.

The most amazing miracle left the NICU two weeks later, and one week after that, one month ahead of schedule, little Elsa Faith was released from the hospital, well on her way to becoming the bright, beautiful, unstoppable toddler she is today.

Is it a miracle when friends drop their own agendas to make critically needed things happen that you can’t arrange or do for yourself? Is it a miracle when strangers go out of their way to meet your needs, both the desperate and the simply encouraging ones? Is it a miracle when you’re moved across the country to meet someone who will fill a unique need in years to come? Is it a miracle when the cells of a tiny body grow healthy and strong despite being thrust suddenly into a hostile environment?

Technically these extraordinary, ordinary provisions – even taken together – may not be miracles, but they certainly felt like miracles to Emily, Eric, Evan and me! This much I do know: when my loved ones or I am in formidable, urgent, grave need that’s beyond our capacity to fill, I’ll take my miracles any way God wants to conceive, create, and deliver them!

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. . . . For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . . . your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Psalm 139: 9, 13, 16-17

A “. . . but . . .” to pray: Loving Father, so often when trouble strikes, my first reaction is to cry out to you, “Why are you allowing this?” and fly into panic mode, BUT again and again you have proved yourself faithful and mighty to provide everything my loved ones and I need. The world is not too large, no emergency is too difficult, AND no heart-cry is too insignificant for you to care, provide, heal, and bring victory. I will remember that in the needs I face today. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

Your own “. . . but . . .” to move/pray: Loving and living Father, I fear that ___________________, BUT I choose to put my confidence in your compassion and your power. trusting you will _________________________. Thanks that you will meet all my needs in amazing ways – and I surrender my expectations to your greater wisdom and limitless love. Amen!