Monday, July 30, 2012

Are You Overcome or an Overcomer?

If I am not fighting to keep my faith, I am losing it. But fighting is uncomfortable, and unpleasant and to be honest, involves the ongoing fight to overcome feelings of fear.

I've been writing about faith a lot since I am in a season of facing down some of the fears I have 'just put up with' for my entire life, thinking they were 'just part of life' for me. After all, I have never not had them. (and I wont mention my age!)

One of those fears is what I call, 'The Beginning of Everything Anxiety". This one includes the fear of arriving late to an event, the fear of stepping into an already-gathered crowd, the fear of being reprimanded (in certain circumstances) and the fear of failing. And if that sounds ugly, well, it is.

I don't always have it, mostly in new or unfamiliar situations. But it is especially present when something depends on my oversight. As in the case of putting on an event or giving a talk.

I was greatly encouraged by a message I heard recently that clarified that fear is going to often and likely be present to some degree when God asks us to step into something that we are unqualified for. Something requiring FAITH in His grace (enabling) to come through. Grace calls us into our fears. Usually the thing requiring faith is right outside of our comfort zone and that is why there would be the feeling of fear.

At the threshold of 'He calls and I must answer', is where the mind-battle/ heart-battle is fought and, with the help of the Spirit of God, won. The victory comes from knowing and believing God, His strength, and His promises. At the threshold is where I stop my thoughts of my own inadequacies producing fear and replace them with the truth of God's sufficiency...ever-present help in trouble, refuge, who gives strength to the weary, who enables the mouth to speak, who leads and guides His people. The Spirit must work in my heart to receive the truth of God's faithfulness. He is the revealer of God to my heart. 

Daily the challenges come, and the opportunities to walk forward in the truth. To throw my fears under the bus!

"In the Christian life you’re either an overcomer or you’re overcome, a victor or a victim. After all, God didn’t save us to make statues out of us and put us on exhibition. He saved us to make soldiers out of us and move us forward by faith to claim our rich inheritance in Jesus Christ. Moses said it perfectly: “He brought us out … that He might bring us in” "~Warren Wiersbe (Be Strong)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

God is Romantic~HE IS!!!

After all, who created ROMANCE? The definition of 'romantic' I am referring to is fifth in the description: displaying or expressing love or strong affection.

In this season, my life of intermittent living...between my 'real life' in Wisconsin, with it's work and challenges of moving and closing my shop-as-I've-known-it (as well as 'life-as-I've-known-it') and my 'romantic' life in Montana, with little responsibility, much wonder and beauty and leisure-like-I've-never-known-it!!!

...I can only wonder, NO, MARVEL at the love of God. He is romancing me here in Montana!

When I drive back 'home' to Belt, MT, a short 25 minute drive from Great Falls, the is sooooo blue, and the mountain ridges a darker hue of blue which my camera does not capture, much to my frustration...

And then there is this past-Sunday-trip through Glacier National Park which has {this photo of} St. Mary Lake at it's East entrance. Who has ever seen such wonder, such color, such majestic glory? Okay, many I realize! But I wonder, did they KNOW that God was ROMANCING them???

The CREATOR of YOU and ME LOVES us so much He gives us these stunning displays of His glory, He actually gives us UNDESERVED FAVOR in EVERY SINGLE BLESSING!

Whether it is the birth of a child {wonder-of-wonders}. Eyes that see!!! {The eye is so intricate and has the ability to capture what NO camera can!!!} Ears that hear the sound of rushing waters, birds, words, music...legs that move, a body that functions, a roof over our heads, ...all are GOD's gifts.

~All are GOD romancing YOU and ME!!!~

I wonder if the driver of THIS CAR that I captured on the top of Going-to-the-Sun Highway knows how much God LOVES them whose transportation reflects sunshine? {Or do they love their car more than the One who gives good gifts to men? And, if I had that car would I be willing to give it if He asked me to? Would my heart pass that test of loving the Giver more than the GIFT?} James 1:17
My past holds moments of darkness, despair and loneliness...and all the while, there was this romance. This LOVE of our FATHER in HEAVEN drawing (John 6:44), wooing, and {finally with this~often~ slow-of-heart woman} winning me and I am so thankful He is tenacious in His pursuit, and passionate in His love. 

The cross shows me, but I am slow-of-heart to get it. The Cross where Jesus hung-innocent, but crucified, HE who was UNDESERVING of WRATH endured it...would buy me back! Me, DESERVING of WRATH

While I was still a sinner, He died for me. (Romans 5:8) Not when I was all cleaned-up. But while I was gross. Ugly. Selfish. UNBELIEVING. He died for me so we could have this romance. He and I. He is LOVE. 

Love is going all the way for its desire, a RELATIONSHIP. {How far will I go for a relationship?} Luke 15:4

The CROSS. I go there often. It's where I receive forgiveness again. Because I mess up. I fail. (1 John 1:9)...I go there daily actualy. To receive grace again, and forgiveness, and healing.

Grace is unmerited favor. Giving ME what I do not deserve. This beauty, this wonder, this love. May I be a grateful recipient by giving my whole self to His heart and His service. There is NO OTHER worthy response.

How have you been romanced by the Lover of your Soul?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

They Make It Seem So Easy, The Radio People

But it is not. Not to me when I'm there!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~Joshua 1:9

Today I had my third "wee gig" on the radio. Only this time it is a pre-recorded spot for (she said perhaps) Friday. The first time I was asked to be a guest on Susie Larson's daily radio program on KTIS 'Live the Promise', it was spur-of-the-moment because we were supposed to do lunch. Her and I and our friend Tami. Susie happened to be doing a show with the audience as the guest so she wanted a few 'in house' and she asked us to join her. 

I left with a desire for a 'do-over' because it all happens so fast and I felt horrible for not letting the mispronunciation of my last name fly. Could I have missed the voice inside saying, "Hush woman!"? Add to that, I am a slow processor of information, and in hindsight, I  know I could have done better. I could always, always do better (There is that voice, 'not good enough').

I am learning to be okay with good enough. Learning that is a slow process for a recovering perfectionist. 

When 'on the spot' processing, I feel like a turtle trying to run with a rabbit. {Which is actually true of my running!} I'm not sure if it is anxiety from feeling the need to be efficient with words, well aware of my 'um's and my 'ah's since they were pointed out to me in the past... or if it is just me being a Baloo. {Think: Jungle Book}

The Spirit reminds me that when I walk by faith I can trust that my meager offerings will be a demonstration of the Spirit's power through me. (1 Corinthians 2:4) I pray. I pray.

I want to question God about opening up these doors that I am not so comfortable walking through and then I remember His words to Moses that went something like this: "Who gave you your lips?"

I get done, and having felt the nerves, I feel that familiar sense of guilt, or is it regret... or failure? I try to shake it off staying busy putting my groceries away and moving on to the next thing. 

I talk to Jesus. Lord, forgive me for trembling. Again. So often there, and yet THANK YOU that you chose me to speak of my faith in you and may it encourage someone else who is struggling in their faith and waiting on you to move a mountain for them!

I will, by His grace, keep moving forward through the open doors despite my feelings and trust that He who made my lips also directs them as He directs my steps. (Psalm 37:23 and Proverbs 20:24). 

He says, when I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10) and I find that to be a great relief!

Joining Duane Scott in Unwrapping His Promises here: 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

On Sacrificial Love (of the Mothering Kind) and Leaving a Legacy

I attended a funeral today of a woman very special to me named Emily who left a strong faith & family legacy...I met at her house for several years with her daughter and other friends for Moms In Touch and we prayed for our kids/ grandkids and their schools, teachers and classmates. 

In hearing today of the impact of her life, I found myself pondering my own mother, myself as a mother, my daughter as a mother....and asking myself, 'what kind of legacy am I leaving?' I consider my need to be intentional, alert, and most importantly prayerful. ~Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain~ Psalm 127:1

We need to make sure our kids know He is Lord and He LOVES them, and desires their obedience for their benefit and well-being as well as for His glory. ♥

I also had this thought today when hearing of Emily's sacrificial giving of her time, love, and resources. (Frank and Emily had five children and took in several foster children, gave to the community and blessed their neighbors among other acts of love)...and the One who gives time, love and resources...

{The chorus of this old song by Michael English} 

"There's not a victory without a fight, theres not a sunrise without a night, theres not a purchase without a cost, and theres not a crown without a cross..."

Peter wanted to keep Jesus enshrined in His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration, and he wanted to keep him from suffering when he was told of Jesus' impending cross-death. When Peter rebuked Jesus, Jesus turned around and rebuked Satan. How stunned Peter must have been! (Can you imagine Jesus turning around, looking at you and saying 'Get behind Me Satan?') Peter wanted to prevent the suffering that Jesus was going to go through. It's a very natural human thing to want to prevent suffering... 

...but we would not have a resurrection without the cross.   

Then Jesus made sure His followers knew that we would need to bear our own daily cross on the way to glory...when He said, 'if any man would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me'. Luke 9:23  

I have come to understand at this empty-nest stage of life, that a mother's heaviest cross is the one of allowing her children to suffer at times for their greater good...and then I think of God who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son...and I grasp a greater measure of understanding of that Amazing Love and Amazing Grace...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Activate Faith: Remember What God Has Done.

In THIS (fill-in-the-blank) situation, what does FAITH look like? How do I go about activating it?
It seems to be the theme of life right now here. In every area, facing wide open spaces in the vast unknown...

When God called Abraham to leave his family and go, he didn't know where he was going either and I keep reminding myself that I don't have to live in a tent in a desert. (!!) I don't really know if Canaan is a desert, but that is what I picture in my mind from photos I have seen of Israel. I probably should do some research on that. After all, it was the Promised Land. A land "flowing with milk and honey"...I wonder why I think of it as a desert? 

I wonder too if that is the problem with we-the-people and faith. We believe wrong things about God and His promised provision. We doubt He is good when life hurts? We have pictures in our mind of what things "should look like" in a given situation and when it isn't like that we get shook up and fearful.

When Israel was facing one of their faith-failures for forty days for fear  of a 9' man-beast, I can't say I blame them for seeming so wimpy. I do that. Though I have never faced a Goliath, I have faced other such large obstacles that threatened to topple me.

Like mountains of medical debt after the birth and surgery of our son, mounting bills, little income, loss of job...One year our SS statement shows we made somewhere around $10,000.00. We look at that statement, and ask "HOW? How did we manage that year???" I remember friends bringing me groceries, Dale's parents giving us selling us a car cheap. Clothing donations from our church and hand-me-downs from family members.

There is only one answer to the 'HOW?' question. We were the blessed recipients of grace. Grace is unmerited favor. Blessings for the unworthy. That was us. If there was a fiscal responsibility class, we would have failed. We had no power to sustain ourselves or make any more money. The Lord knows how hard we tried, all the routes our minds and our creativity took us. Dale always said, "We have more month than money!" He was right. But we made it. We prayed a LOT and had others praying with us. In our fear, we activated faith by prayer and remembering the works of God.

~And this I call to mind (remember) in the times of the vast unknown: The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made. Psalm 145:13 (and the entire psalm really!)

And grace. Beautiful. Wonderful. Grace.
From the fullness of His grace, we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16

Have you noticed that giants are the things that threaten to take us down on our way to the places of promise?