Silly Me, Short Question, Strong Answer

 

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On  Monday’s  for two years, I’ve been blessed to be part of a group of people from about a dozen different  churches who meet (and have met for fourteen years) in a home for three hours to sing worship songs and speak scripture, as they sense inspiration to read it, as intercession for  the salvation – true reverent, thankful relationship with Jesus as Savior, Redeemer and Lord of their lives – of loved ones, friends, organizations, governments, nations, and even terrorists. These very ordinary people are amazing, and we feel God’s Presence every week,powerfully. I know His heart is to see the lost brought into God’s great love and forgiveness through Jesus, so  it’s not surprising, I guess, when we share God’s heart and love what He loves, that He shows up.

Some days we are mostly about intercession. some day’s it’s mostly worship, and some days, God’s Holy Spirit makes it  about us and the changes and  truths we need to embrace. These people  are transparent,  openly admitting where we blow it, and the bond we feel with each other, as well as with Jesus,  is amazing. Last  Monday the morning flowed into the word that God wants to do something new in each of us. Several shared about “God-incidences” in their lives, with one woman saying with a  laugh that she knew what  she said to another person HAD to be God speaking through  her, ”Because I’m not that smart!”

While we were in a time of  silence and listening, I “heard” a brief thought, prefaced by  the difficulty I had that morning of getting an earring through the shrinking hole in my left  earlobe, while thinking how ridiculous (even though widely accepted as common sense) it is to think  I/we make myself/ourselves more beautiful by poking holes in parts of our bodies and hanging  jewelry in or from them. Does that make me more  beautiful to God? If it doesn’t, what does our Heavenly (and relentlessly patient) Father think is true beauty? Hmmm…. this is offered as a “whadayathink.” I heard it for me and share it with you for your own reflection:

The most beautifying “thing” I can put on is
complete reliance on Jesus to be my acceptance before God–
yes, my covering, but not just my covering for sin,
He is my cleansing from sin.
Just As I Am in Him,
renewed into the creation God intended all along in me;
I am beautiful to God.
My face is washed clean from shame BY the  Father’s Love.
am delighted in; I am chosen.
HIS  beauty becomes the radiance in me,
a mirror polished to reflect Jesus,
like a still pool,  a cup holding Living Water reflecting ABBA’s Glory. 
Lord God, Father, help  me  remember and believe who You say I am to you and what  You see and You place within me, so I know my true identity and what truly matters, in Jesus’ name, amen!
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A Butterfly on Half Dome

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I walked into the customer service waiting area at the car dealer’s, waiting for an oil change for my car. Ah, American that I am, with people in nearly every chair in the waiting area, where was I to sit? Sitting down next to a complete stranger seems like an invasion of their privacy. I looked around, then did the un-American-cultural act and sat down next to woman who was watching the television screen on the wall to our right.

Local morning news, a reporter interviewing a botany professor at the community college. I helped myself to the  free coffee, then picked up the book I’d brought, but the video of a monarch butterfly on the news caught my attention, and I casually turned to the woman sitting to my left and said,”Wow, the migratory story of monarch butterflies is incredible.”  I shared what I knew from my time working at  the zoo, and she  agreed with me that the fourth generation of monarch butterflies traveling from their winter birthplace hundreds of miles back to the place where the first generation great-grandparents had started was nothing short of miraculous.  I ventured,”I KNOW that’s no accident of evolution;  that’s the hand of a Creator.”

She smiled and readily agreed, and that began a forty minute conversation that turned deeper than either of us expected, I’m sure, when we drove to the dealership that morning.  She’d grown up in Phoenix; me,too. Shirley is part Native American and part Hispanic, married to a man from Kokomo, Indiana.  Hmmm….. “We were just in Kokomo  two months ago  for a wedding,” I commented. More  commonalities emerged, including butterflies and beauty in nature that points to an  intelligent, loving Creator God, and before we  knew it, we were talking about deep things of our faith in Jesus. I held her hand and prayed for one of her family members, and she received the prayer gladly.

The service  person returned to tell me my car was ready, smiled, and added,”But you two ladies can continue with your conversation!” She stood as I got up and we hugged each other, knowing full well  that our meeting wasn’t accidental. I didn’t get her phone number, but I know we exchanged something  more  valuable that morning. Both of us felt God’s deep love and presence, and I felt the Holy Spirit leading me higher in  my climb with Him up steep slopes of God’s path for me, “Hind’s Feet On High Places.”

I’m always floored by God showing up through the “cracked pot” and ”empty hose” that I am, and I always know it’s ONLY God who’s doing the connecting and work. Often I marvel and wonder that a Holy, Righteous, Almighty God somehow chooses and desires to move through the mass of organic matter that is me. It MUST ONLY be because I/you/we invite and welcome and, many of us, desperately long for, God’s very own Holy Spirit to  come indwell me/you/us. I generally don’t “wax religious,” because repetitious religious ritual means next to nothing. My faith is relationship with my Creator andSavior. Still today I proclaim”Solo Deo Gloria”, to God alone be the Glory!

 

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LordRepeat them in our day, in our time make them knownin wrath remember mercy…Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3: 2, 17-19 NIV

I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
 he shields all who take refuge in him.31 For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?32 It is God who arms me with strength    and keeps my way secure.33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;    he causes me to stand on the heights.34 He trains my hands for battle;    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.35 You make your saving help my shield,    and your right hand sustains me;    your help has made me great.36 You provide a broad path for my feet,    so that my ankles do not give way.  Psalm 18: 1-3, 31-16 NIV
In the often barren, rocky places I’ve walked in the past eight years (including the times I’ve wandered off the easier path He had for me), God  has continually come alongside me to refresh me with His Presence, His “winks,”  and I am  grateful every time! Shirley at the oil change was another “kiss on my cheek” from our faithful,  ever-present Lord, King, Friend, Savior, and Guide.
Then Job answered the LORD and said, 2″I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Job 42: 1-2 NAS
Dominion and awe belong to Him Who establishes peace in His heights. Job 25: 2 NAS
Whew, am I glad for this promise! I do NOT have the power to mess up God’s plans for my life! I may – make that certainly –  have delayed them, or  taken a harder road than I  needed to, to come into God’s plans for me, but no, neither you nor I have wandered so far from God’s path and purposes, power and loving care that He can’t come beside you, rope Himself to you, and lead you even up on the steep, high places safely.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33: 1, 4-11, 16-22  NIV
Surely, Shirley was God’s  reminder to me of His  ever-present, ever-powerful love. Eight years ago I began a long journey with this song, believing  then for a quick, victorious end that I have yet to see, and here I am again, leaning into the ONE who’s roped me in with HIM as I climb to higher places than I can see, even now.
A “…BUT…” to pray: Lord God, I admit I’ve probably made my journey harder.  I know I’ve lost sight of You when ______________________________________________ BUT You’ve never lost sight or track of me, and I can see you carried me when _____________________________, so I will to will, I want to want, what You  know is best for me. Lead  me, Savior Jesus, Holy Spirit, Father God, and help me to stay close to You behind Your shield and to hear Your voice and follow where You long to take me. In Jesus’ name, amen, and Holy Spirit, I’m listening __________________________________

 

 

 

A point of clarification

In case  anyone wonders about my motives in posting this blog for the past 8 years, after today’s Worship Intercession group – anywhere from 15 to 30 of us from across, and I mean ACROSS,  denominations and ages –  where we sing intercession for three hours over those  who don’t know  Jesus as LORD and Lover of their souls, I earnestly want everyone to know that this is about what GOD does in my life. It’s not about my power or glory or fame, but GOD’S.

I truly am blessed by Robin Mark’s music, and this song expresses my desires in writing:

We passionately sang this today, some of us on our feet, hands lifted, in joy!Those who can’t stand worship just as passionately from their chairs! No formula, no “liturgy,” no right way or wrong way or tradition, but simply passionately prayed intercession and love.

I’ve never before been part of group of people so dedicated and committed, earnestly desiring what God desires: that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE,  comes to know the great, unsearchable love He offers us through relationship with Jesus as Redeemer, Savior, and LORD!

What a blessing to join our hearts, spirits and voices every week! Loved ones, friends, organizations, churches, states, nations, our “enemies” – Three hours of loving prayer isn’t enough, ever! Enough said. Solo Deo Gloria!

 

 

 

It’s SOOO not about me, part 2

IMG_0708This was absolutely incredible, absolutely God. An electrician just  came to give me an estimate  on doing a  repair to the house, and in very short order God revealed a deeper reason for Alonso  coming. He’s a young Believer, solidly loves  Jesus,  and I was honored and so glad that when I prayed for him, he felt the presence of the Holy Spirit speaking into his heart. Only God can make this kind of  connection, and pardon me  if you don’t agree, but this qualifies as a “daily miracle”of God’s connecting, gracious love.

How often does this happen when a handyman comes to give you an estimate on something?

  1. GOD, not I, scheduled Alonso to be the electrician who came today.
  2. GOD, not  I, guided the conversation from a very general mention of Jesus into a deeper connecting as fellow Christians.
  3. GOD, not I, chose the  words to speak through prayer to Alonso to minister  some healing and encouragement to his heart.

DO YOU KNOW THAT GOD INTIMATELY KNOWS WHAT  YOU NEED? I hope you begin to realize that truth now, andthis eternal one:

I am the  true vine…. Remain (abide) in me, and I will remain (abide) in you. NO BRANCH CAN BEAR FRUIT BY ITSELF; IT MUST REMAIN INTHE VINE. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain (abide) in me. I amthe vine; you are the branches. If a man (or a woman – this means person, not gender, so ladies, dont get huffy) remains in me and I in him, (s)he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.   John 15: 1, 4-5 NIV

BUT it is also true that  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4: 13 NIV

DO YOU REALIZE THAT GOD WANTS TO MOVE THROUGH YOU TO CONNECT WITH SPECIFIC PEOPLE HE DESIRES TO BLESS, ENCOURAGE,  ADVISE, EVEN WARN IF THAT’S THE NEED? I hope you begin to see that you are God’s unique skillfully, lovingly wrought creation for his specific purposes now.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

DO YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD WILL GIVE YOU THE  WORDS, THOUGHTS, THINGS HE NEEDS YOU TO CARRY TO SOMEONE? I hope you begin to truly believe that he  will supply all you need according to his riches in Glory in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19) It’s through you, but it ain’t about you!

DO YOU BELIEVE GOD  WILL BRING THE PERSON OR PEOPLE YOU NEED INTO YOUR LIFE AT YOUR TIME OF NEED?  Ok, now this should be a “no brainier” YES! The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. 7“In my distress I called upon the LORD, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears.  2 Samuel 22: 6-7

6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him And saved him out of all his troubles. 7The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.…Psalm34: 6-7

Just an amen, thank you, Father God, gracious LORD, for showing me your ARE here with me, wherever here is! If you use me, you also hear me, and you also care VERY MUCH about me! Thank you for every manifestation and moment and connection of your unfailing love and presence, in Jesus’ name,Yaymen!  (my new word)

It’s Not About Me!

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Interesting – today I’m wearing the  same outfit that I didn’t remember I was wearing in this photo  last year!

Short and sweet, I hope, today. If I remember correctly, the opening sentence of Rick Warren’s book The Purpose-Driven Life was “It’s  not about you.” That thought must have sent shuders through some folks who desperately needed affirmation that their life mattered, but the  deeper truth of this sentence is actually very affirming. I’ll be the first to say unequivocally that anything, and I mean anything and everything,  I’ve ever “done for Christ” came straight out of the power of the Holy Spirit and not out of me. BUT God did move  through me, and if that isn’t affirming, I don’t know what  could be!

I remember praying for my neighbor Lisa one morning when she came to my front door, and as I prayed, her eyes widened and she said,”I felt something just lift off me!” I  didn’t feel a thing, but what I felt didn’t matter a whit; what mattered was that God’s Spirit WAS ministering in power in Lisa’s heart, mind, and spirit. Where I came into the plan of God’s purpose was in being a willing, available empty vessel – and yes, that matters. God says so in his Word.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength'” (Revelation 3:7–8).

“…not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.'” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

“I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

I’ve heard so many friends protest  that  they can’t “do anything for Jesus” because they don’t have the talent, the gifting, the courage, the boldness, the time, the Bible verses quickly in their memory, the resources.  Well, that’s the whole point of simply being available and willing: God DOES!

Yesterday my friend Debbie asked if we could go down to the park I’ve been visiting  for the last year, to give out some small Bible’s  she had and a page of wonderful scripture verses, along with some granola bars. We met Shawna, Patrick, and Clare, prayed with each of them, gave out theBibles and scripture sheets, granolabars,soap,handlotion,and prayerfulloy the love of God, talked, shared, and were so blessed ourselves! I was so  glad, so moved, that Debbie wanted to go! Truth in advertising here, it’s only been in the last year that I’ve found  the joy of meeting with, getting to know, and sharing some practical things like food and soap  with the homeless. It’s only in the last two years  that I screwed up my confidence in Jesus IN me enough to start  asking people I meet  on the street if there is anything I can pray for them. I had no problem for decades praying for my nice “church lady” friends, but  with strangers? It only took me 45 years to come into the realization that people are people, people have  needs and hurts, and many people DO want to know there’s a God who actually cares about THEM.

What has it cost me? Getting over myself mostly, getting over  the ”what if’s” like what if they reject me, what if they look at me like  I’m loony, what if they think I’m some kind of religious fanatic weirdo. I  can imagine – because the Bible tells me so – that  some people thought  Jesus was an irreligious fanatic weirdo  when he  said things  and did  things that ran counter to the purely legalistic thinking that ran through much of Israel. Touch a  leper? Talk with a “woman of the streets”? Publicly forgive an adulteress? Say a foreign occupier Roman centurion had great faith? Eat with a tax collector?

Jesus lived our example:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2: 5-11 NIV

Even for Jesus, it was about revealing the Father in him. When you receive Christ as your Savior and God’s Holy Spirit comes into you to take up residence and  begin creating a new person in you,  you can count on it that God wants to move in your life and through your life, to do the same thing: reveal the Everlasting Father God.

No one can argue that the apostle Paul,  arguably the most powerful missionary in the early church,  was filled with God’s Spirit after his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul himself considered all his  education and wisdom and position as worth nothing when it came to  truly being effective for God.

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan,to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12: 5-9 NIV

What mattered was that he was available and willing to let God’s Spirit move through him.

And it’s never, ever been about me. THAT is what’s so COOL and absolutely amazing when God does move  through simply just ordinary me, and it humbles me even while it affirms to me that God’s love is there for me. AllI’m saying  today instep  worrying that you don’t have what it takes to share Jesus’ love  with  your neighbors, your colleagues, strangers in the grocery store. If you have  Jesus, you have everything you need and more to share his love, compassion,  grace, forgiveness, strength and power. I double dog  dare you to give it one try, ask God to show you someone  you can carry some of his love to, and  just do it,  even do it scared, and be ready to be amazed at  what happens!

A  “…BUT…” to pray: Okay, God, I am scared to step out and tell someone about Jesus, I am nervous about meeting someone outside of my own”group”, I do think I dont’ have enough ____________________BUT if you nudge me, I  will trust YOU in me enough to get over  _________________________________________________________ and try _________________________________________________. Please feel free to show up and show me who YOU are IN me! In Jesus’ name, amen!