Saturday, January 30, 2010

Which Way?

There is a way that seems right to a man,
 but in the end it leads to death.  
 Proverbs 16:25

For some reason this verse keeps coming to mind. Until now, I have not taken the time to meditate on it, letting it fly out of my mind as quickly as it came in. But as I sit here now, I see that...
It. Is. Powerful.

Have you ever noticed that Pontious Pilate looked at Jesus before he gave Him over to crucifixion, and said "what is truth?" (John 18:38) I find it so astonishing when I come to that part in the story because He was staring the Personification of Truth in the face. He was breathing the same air. He probably touched Him. He had no understanding that it was the Majestic King of Heaven standing before Him.
Amazing, isn't it? 
Truth was right there and Pilate missed it (HIM)!

 Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."
John 14:6

Truth. It is a refuge for some and an enemy of others. It is either the Rock one stands on or the Rock that crushes.

Does it blow your mind as it does mine? Jesus=God=Truth=The Word. To diminish Truth in any way is to diminish God.  What an offense! We were created to glorify and magnify Him. 

So....there is a way that seems right to a man...what a man believes to be right may not be right at all...seems right implies that it isn't right, though the person going in that way believes it to be so. I visualize it kind of like going down a road and the bridge is out ahead... just over the crest of a hill. It may seem right, but in the end...over the hill is death...unless you find out it isn't the right way before you get there, and you turn around.

But where do you go to find the right way?

Ah, look again at: John 14:6 Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."  Not only is Jesus the Truth. He is also the Way! The only way He says.
Salvation is found His way, not the way we think is right.

Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
Psalm 40:11

Look at this one!
Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Psalm 86:14

And this one takes my breath is Jesus' prayer to the Father:
Sanctify them by your truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved...
Acts 16:31

Believe in the absolute TRUTH, the only WAY, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ...and you will be saved!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Break Down My Friend

Have you ever tried really hard to hold it all together, and the harder you try, the worse it gets?

John 12:23-25

Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

I was sitting in the parking lot of the highschool a few years ago. I was a mess. We had returned from our mission trip to New Orleans with our youth group. Our family had been in a battle for the previous several months with our daughter and an ex boyfriend. The situation seemed to be on the wind-down when we left for the trip; which helped a little since they were both on it. He had a new girlfriend, but I still felt uneasy.

I saw them sitting together on the bus, I cautioned her to keep her distance knowing things had the potential to flare up, but she felt things were okay and wanted to be nice.

Mid trip brought a conflict however, which resulted in the pastor taking them aside and telling them to have nothing to do with each other, to go through adults if they had anything to say to each other. But during our leaders meeting, he pursued her to "apologize" and she kept walking away in obedience to the Pastor's instructions. It was "just what the devil ordered" for bringing stress, pain, and misunderstanding. It resulted in rebuke from several of the kids toward Kayla and her friend. I felt the need to confront a few of the young women who were "infringing on my battleground" and knew very little, if anything, about what had been taking place in our lives prior. Admittedly, I acted out of my anger, and should have been more gentle.

To shorten a long story, when we got back, we were "the bad guys". Both Kayla and I were frowned at and ignored by several who had been on the trip. We refused to defend ourselves and chose instead to be ridiculed or thought ill of rather than disclose information that could hurt others involved.

But it hurt. Both of us. Bad.

So I was sitting in the parking lot that day, feeling the heavy weight of this burden, when a song came on by Gersh (I think he only ever made one cd, and I owned it for me. That day.) The lyrics go something like this:

I have been watching you
and this is hard to see
brave, brave player in your tragedy
you think if you're strong enough
just last long enough
well that's not enough
to calm the storm in you

my friend
you don't even realize
how hurt you'be been
to this
the best thing you could ever do is
fall to pieces
fall into the loving arms of Jesus
and breakdown
well this hurts so much
we all love you so
can we tell you something
 you already know
He is strong enough and
tough enough
you've told others that before
you've held out long enough
this time you're the
one He is reaching for
{repeat chorus}
{repeat chorus}

And I did just that. I broke down with Jesus there in the truck with me. In sobs of freedom, I felt so relieved to put that burden on Him. I was in process of being that seed that dies again. Of dying to myself and not doing what I had every desire to do, and that was go defend myself.

In doing so, I was blessed to experience the sweet presence of Jesus that day, I was able to rise up and be His. To know His love would uphold me and my daughter no matter what. He proves to be our defender in every battle we let Him fight on our behalf. Sometimes like with David running and hiding from Saul, we have to wait longer than we would like, but He works in our hearts... He has in mine. I trust Him more today than before

I think all has now been forgiven. We have all moved on. Kayla is married to a man she met on that trip. God is good.

I just finished reading this book:

I highly recommend it for anyone who feels walled in and needing to have a heart-revival.
There are blessings in brokenness.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rivers of Living Water For My Liberty

I have been ashamed of my story. Because I "knew better". But as God has delivered me from the ash heap, and I walk in more victory, more freedom, I know He wants me to tell it. Sometimes I fight against longing for those days back. A redo. But the closer I get to the Lord, the less it matters.

John 7:37-39

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive...

I found my life depleted that fall of 1999. It was the year I put Kayla in 4th grade in public school. I thought life would slow down, but it didn't. I had prayed diligently and received confirmation that it was God's will for her to go to school, but there were still gnawing anxieties about it. I continued to homeschool Ethan in his second grade year. We walked Kayla to school every morning and as I left her, I felt empty and insecure.

That same fall, my sister moved to our town. After deciding to have a weekend boutique in my home, she offered to help me craft. I thought it was an ideal plan. I could school Ethan in the morning, she could come and I could start her on projects, and I could join her when Ethan was finished with his work. Then we could pick up Kayla, do dinner, and family time in the evening. But it ended up being alot of pressure to keep things on the agenda for her to do.

Surmounting issues continued to arise in my life that fall. My husband was working on building the Excel Energy Center in St Paul, MN. They were on mandatory overtime and Saturdays, so his patience was very thin. We were experiencing strain on our relationship for the first time in our 16 years of marriage.

My best friend wrote me a letter telling me that she was done inviting me over for dinner because we always said "no". The reason I always had to say "no" was my husband was too depleted to go anywhere after work, and never wanted to leave the house. I had explained this to her, but looking back, I wonder if it was more of my busyness that was the issue. I don't know.

The last leg on the stool to fall was my mom and mentor had a very difficult issue arise at her church that sent her reeling, and depleted as well.

Eventually my well was dry. I remember quoting Phillipians 4:6,7 to anxious for nothing...and the peace...will guard your heart and mind...but. I didn't apply it. It was as if I couldn't, didn't know how.

Jeremiah 2:13

"My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."

I didn't realize I had forsaken the Lord. The truth was, I was walking in self-reliance,  trusting Him with only a little piece of my heart. The following year would take me to a place of complete and utter brokeness. I would experience dark terror from the enemy haunting me with accusations of my inadequacies and lies that the Lord would never accept me back. I would finally come to the end of myself. Again.

I had lived in close relationship with the Lord for 10 years prior, I had once before been in a dark, dry place like this for a brief time, and been lifted out with the loving arms of Jesus. But I forgot the things He taught me in that valley.

2 Peter 1:12,13  So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body..

Aftter getting through the boutique in November, helping with Kayla's play at school before Christmas, and the holidays that year, I didn't have the extra work any longer. I kept thinking things would get better. I couldn't figure out why I was struggling so much. I sought help, but everywhere I turned for refreshment was a dry well. I called my pastor to pray. Dry. I went to a counselor. Dry. I was doing better that summer as I hosted a Bible study in my home with 3 other women, but when fall rolled around, they were too busy and once again...Dry.

My problem was unbelief. And a desperate need for Spirit filled people to come along beside me. I think everyone in my life was in a drought during that time. I longed for fellowship with people who were walking in the Spirit. I would get small amounts of refreshment at times, but mostly continued to trudge along in that desert.

My healing came from four significant things: First, daily mega-amounts of time sitting in the Presence of God, reading His word, and listening to Him. Second, an older woman inviting me to her house to pray once a week. And third, a woman's weekend confrence that I have continued to attend for seven years where there were workshops with Living Water flowing freely...and finally obedience. I kept doing what I knew God wanted me to do.

The Lord met me in those places and began to rebuild what he had allowed to be torn down. To "renew" the mind means to tear something down and then rebuild it. I was in process of restoration.

As in any restoration project, it takes time. But with diligence, effort, commitment, patience, and an Expert Builder. I arose from the wreckage; today I have a secure foundation.

His Truth has set me free. His Spirit is my source of everything. I no longer live, but it is Christ living in me. I walk by faith, not by sight. Not perfectly, but mostly...more victoriously. Daily. I hold His hand. He has made me to know His love experientially, what I only knew a small amount before I had been forgiven so much. I don't think I will ever forget again that without Him I am nothing. He is wise in allowing trials to purify His children. He knows what they produce...for His Glory...He is so good.

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Value of Vision

I got impatient with Ethan yesterday morning, he was late getting to the kitchen again. We have had consecutive days of cutting our time short in the morning. The time we spend chatting, reading the Bible and praying. I too, have been sleeping too late.

Time to reel it in, reestablish meeting the goal I have of doing this before school.

Continually playing in the back of my mind is the value of having a vision or in more practical terms, a goal. Having the benefit of age (Yay! there are benefits!!) I can look back over my life, and look around at the lives of others that I am aquainted with, and see the good and beneficial things that have been accomplished as the result of keeping one's eyes on a goal. I also can see the results of not having goals.

As a mom, my main goal for my children is to see them loving the Lord and honoring Him with their lives. I desired their purity of heart and action, and for them to have their own genuine faith. That goal guided my choices in every decision~personal or parenting. By the grace of God, I established a morning routine of reading the Bible and praying with them before school. This has proven to be very beneficial in many areas. It serves to keep us humble before God, to remember He is in control, and we need Him. It also helps us keep short accounts with one another. If there is a conflict in our home, praying together causes us to humble ourselves; it is hard to pray with pride lingering in our hearts. To my delight, I am seeing the fruits of the decisions I have made in pursuit of my goal.

Acheiving goals always comes at a price. Often it is a fight to the finish. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly the goal served to get me up out of bed to have time to spend with my kids. Often, as in the case this week, our routine would become lazy and we would see the amount of time we had together in the morning diminish. I would then make a point of reeling it in again, and reestablishing ample time.

What I am noticing now as my life turns this corner toward empty nest, and I see the fruition of my vision, is the Lord showing me the need to have a new or revised vision.

I have been feeling a bit swervy recently. Things that I have relied on to motivate me are not there. It isn't that I don't have some ideas floating around my periphery, because I do. I have had several dreams simmering on my mind's back burner on the course of journeying to this destination. I have some things I am wondering about letting go of. I need a fresh revelation, a new vision.

So what now? How does one "get a vision"?

As a Christian, my vision has to come from the Lord. Since He has become Lord of my life, every goal I make falls under His vision for my life. It is the same vision Jesus had that motivated His daily decisions.

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 6:38

1. Pray.
"What is your will Father?" is the first step in getting/aquiring your vision.
2. Passion.
Next, recall your dreams, your passions, your desires...trusting that God has planted them in you.
3. Purpose
Cross check that with what value there might be in bearing fruit for eternity.
4. Pray some more.
Pray for a vision, pray that you will hear the Lord and have a heart to do His will.
5. Wait.
Wait trusting that God will reveal and plant the vision in His time.
6. Walk.
Continue to walk by faith setting daily goals as you wait on the greater vision.
7. Write.
Write down what the Lord is showing you, talk it over with those closest to you.

Whether we write a book, run a marathon, throw a wedding party, build a house, or start a business; whatever we acheive, it is because God has given us a vision, and the means to accomplish it. Our part is to be in tune with Him, and to be intentional about keeping our eyes on the vision He has given us.

Let your eyes look straight ahead,
fix your gaze directly before you. Prov 4:25

1. the act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight.
2. the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic vision; the vision of an entrepreneur.
3. an experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency: a heavenly messenger appearing in a vision.

I would love to know what goals the Lord has enabled you to accomplish!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Summer and Winter

Chilly doesn't come close to describing the weather here. It's down right bitter cold! I have the privelege of staying indoors, and enjoying the cozy delight of wood heat. The daytime high was below zero. Not sure how far, I didn't bother to pay attention, but instead browsed a few of my summer the one above. 
How quickly I do...
In the summer, at wind-down time, I find myself longing for the autumn chill to come, and the grass to slow down it's growing. Tired of taking the mower out every week, tired of intense labor in the garden. Of course if you have followed my 2009 journey, you know I put double effort in this summer for the September wedding in our yard.
Looking back...
I enjoyed the extra effort. It was rewarding to have a lofty goal, take the steps to reach it, and then see it come to fruition. Funny, I didn't have to deliberate very much over my to~do list (like I often do) since there were so many tasks, I had no time to mull it over. I just got up and got to work! I had to set some things aside in order to put more of myself into the task. Some things that were valuable. Like friend time. Like blogging.
But now that it has passed, I am working on restoring those things that I set aside.

And now I am reminded...
To enjoy the one I am in. I do get tired of the cold, and the sand from the icy sidewalk coming in the house on our shoes every day. Bundling up big every time I go out. Starting the car 15 minutes before leaving the driveway. Scraping ice and snow off the windshield...
The snow is beautiful. I love sitting in my kitchen watching the birds on the deck fluttering from their "buffet" to the tree to eat their tiny morsel, and then back to the buffet again. I love seeing my men bundle up and do the tasks they have to do despite the weather. It is heroic to me...while I sit in the house, and have my coffee.
Ethan is running a chair lift tonight at Wild Mountain.
I always felt sorry for chair lift operators when I was they blew on their hands to warm them, and rocked side to side to keep their blood moving...
God bless them!

I have so many rich reminders of God's goodness to me... 
I am so glad for changes of seasons!
I am so thankful for wood heat!
I am deeply grateful for my heroic men!
Supremely thankful for the beautiful day He gave us for the wedding!
In January.
In Wisconsin.
Only God.
How about you? What blessings come to your mind in January?

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 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 55:9-11

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Word

I wanted to share my word for 2010. I have had "words" in the past without really asking for one, just leaning into the Lord, it would come. I recall a few years back, they (okay more than one word!) were, "be strong in the Lord" and "abide in my love". All year, the Spirit would remind me.

I had many opportunities that year to practice those things. And I grew in them.

This year, I kept hearing "trust". Well.......I hear that one alllll the time! But I think since I have been appointed as Woman's Ministry Leader in our church this year, it is quite appropriate. I am by no means qualified to pull together ladies, cast vision, organize, weed out, or whatever the Lord has planned...I praise Him he gave me a team. That I can count on a group of women to walk with me through the journey. I am excited. At times I feel afraid I wont __________. Did I mention we don't really have a current women's ministry? We have deaconesses who do visitation, and communion, and card sending. So we will be expanding. Somewhere...

As I sat with the Lord New Years Eve, these are the sub categories under trust that He gave me:
  1. Eliminates fear.
  2. Depends on love.
  3. Is aware of a strong Defender.
  4. Stands firm, fixed and immovable upon Truth.
  5. Praises in the storms and in the joys.
  6. Keeps eyes fixed on Jesus.
  7. Maintains composure in the face of disagreement or conflict.
  8. Knows dependence is on the Holy Spirit for everything.
If you feel inspired to pray, I would like to kiss thank you!

Here is my verse:
I will lead the blind (that is me!) by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; (a major relief that He will guide me!) I will turn darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. (I am thinkin' He might mean inside my heart :o) These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

What is your word?

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Heart's Cry

Happy New Year! A favorite book of mine is "My Heart's Cry"...longing for more of Jesus, by Anne Graham Lotz. Found among the pages of inspiration is a "passionate cry" by an anonomous author that I want to share with you for the new year. Maybe you have heard it before. I have read it to several people, and some recall hearing it read at Promise Keepers.


I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. the die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. the decision has been made. I am a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away or be still.

My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.

I wont give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go 'til He comes, give 'til I drop, preach 'til all know, and work 'til He stops me. and when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me-my banner of identification with Jesus will be clear.

We can all find a few challenges in there~no?