Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas with the Shepherds

I was challenged this morning to read the Christmas story in Luke 2 and try to envision myself in the midst of the scenes. My eyes were drawn to verse 18 where it says, "and ALL who heard it were astounded and marveled..." (emphasis mine). It wasn't just the sentimental or the uneducated that marveled. ALL who heard marveled! O Lord, how many times have I read the account of the birth of the King of kings and swallowed the familiar without being astounded? How often have I not marveled? I asked the LORD to allow me to join their ranks and truly see the Christ Child. I was not disappointed...

As I read the first four verses, I couldn't help but wonder if the country was ablaze with discontent and complaining as people were inconvenienced by long journeys - often on foot - to register in their hometowns. Were the rumblings all of raised taxes? Or was there an underlying excitement of reunions with family and friends? Was Joseph stressed out? Did the details of travelling with his young, very pregnant wife leave him feeling frazzled? Did he wonder if he could do this thing that the LORD had called him to do - parent the Son of God?

And what about Mary? I remember making sure that the nursery was just so for the birth of my children. The curtains matched the bedskirt. Every inch sparkled and I was well prepared and well stocked - the product of many hours of prenatal classes and help from my mom. Was Mary disappointed with the filthy surroundings where she would have to give birth? Was she disheartened with the bed in which she lay the Son of the Most High? Or was she so enraptured with the tiny face that held the Promise of all generations that she was oblivious to all but her Messiah?

What about the words "the days were accomplished" that she should deliver? Don't you just rejoice in the reminder that God is accomplishing your days?

And shepherds... Praise the Lord for shepherds! Our nativity scenes depict them so calm, well-mannered and serene. I had forgotten that they were the ruffians of society. Shepherds were rowdy, uncivilized men of despicable character! They weren't even allowed to testify in court! Their language was course and vulgar. They were feared by those around them but they feared no one. They fought off wild animals who would prey on their sheep! But tonight, these men were terrified! A single angel - accompanied by the glory of the Lord - made these men tremble with terrible fright! And no doubt... the glory of the Lord revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai caused his human face to glow so bright that he had to veil it from the Israelites so that they could approach him unafraid! And oh the message the angel brought... What glad tidings of great joy - and to ALL people - even shepherds like them! Despite their tough exterior, these men shared our legitimate need to be accepted.

Can you imagine, after all that, to suddenly have a heavenly host appear? Now I'm not sure what a heavenly host looks like but the Amplified translation calls it "an army of the troops of heaven" and a "heavenly knighthood"! How much more could these men take? I like to think that God was putting the exclamation mark in history as His angels were heralding the coming of the One who alone could bring peace to all men. I marveled (praise the Lord, I marveled) that it doesn't say the angels disappeared as suddenly as they came! Instead, it says that the angels went away from them into heaven. I can almost picture the shepherds watching the heavenly multitude gloriously rise high overhead and slowly fade into the recesses of heaven as their song echoed in the night. Shepherds such as these had never known peace among men in their life! I bet they "made haste" to find the Christ Child!

Don't you just chuckle at the scene on the streets of Bethlehem? What a spectacle the shepherds must have made searching. I likened it to a gang of modern day misfits, you know the kind you avoid at all costs, frantically moving up and down the streets of my quiet neighborhood bubbling over with animated talk of angels and peace as they searched for a baby of all things! I wonder how many people talked to a shepherd for the first time that night. Oh the grace of God who was making it so clear that His loving-kindness was extended to ALL of us, no matter our background, vocation and rough edges! And they found the Child "just as it had been told them." How profound! If the Deliverer was found just as they had been told, they could trust the message of deliverance was just as true to the angels' words! Even peace and salvation and acceptance to shepherds!

My edges have been a little "rough" too lately. That's really an understatement! In the hustle and bustle, planning and preparing, those closest to me have heard such grumbling and complaining! But like those shepherds, the LORD took me to the manger!! And just like them, I too returned glorifying and praising God for all the things I heard and saw!

This morning, I sat down to READ the story of Christ's birth. Instead, my Faithful Heavenly Father told me History, "His" story! May Christmas never be the same again!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let It Snow!

Today, despite the bitter cold, I am so grateful for snow!

In the midst of this journey of obedience - or lack of it - that I am on, the Lord reminded my heart of the completeness of His forgiveness. I got off track. I rebelled. I heard His Voice and yet I gave in to the lusts of the flesh. Beyond enjoying a Christmas treat or two, I devoured one sugary food after another in a vain attempt to comfort myself as I miss my dad and to console myself in the vicious cycle of binging and then condemnation. The result - fatigue and uncontrolled emotions.

Last week, the Lord, in His graciousness, took me to the story of the Prodigal in Luke 15. I heard His Words with my head but they bounced off my heart! "When he came to himself" the son realized that there was complete provision with his Father. He said, "I will get up and go to my father and I will say to Him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called Your son..." So he got up and came to his Father. But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness for him; and He ran and embraced him and kissed him fervently... The Lord runs to meet us when we turn our eyes towards home.

His Father quickly called for the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and the ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. Here's where I refused the story line. That's what the Lord wanted to do for me but in my self-loathing (which is really just another form of pride - frustration because I can't seem to do for myself) I refused the robe of righteousness, the ring that symbolizes His authority to act as His child and to have my feet fit with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (see Ephesians 6). I rejected His offer - even subconsciously - and remained in squalor.

I've felt so lost! Instead of living free, I've been whining and wishing for things to be different. Finally, this morning, His love broke through my haze. I was outside shovelling snow. The air was crisp and clear and a velvety white carpet covered the ground. All of the sudden, I found myself marvelling at the beauty. The Lord spoke, "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18.

Yes, just like the ground under the snow, I was covered in dirt. The effects of life had got me dirty but Christ's righteousness covers me as with a beautiful white robe. His covering makes me white as snow. The Lord invited me to reason it out with Him. The price for my righteousness had already been paid. Receive the robe, Karrie. Live as a child of the King!

That's why Christ came to earth that first Christmas. He came "to bring good news to the poor... to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed... to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come... To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory." Isaiah 61:1-3

Once again, the Lord has brought about the promise for which this blog is named...

I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise... the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me... In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears... He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me... He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because he delighted in me. (from Psalm 18)

Thank You for the snow this morning, Lord! Make mine a white Christmas, Jesus!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Journey of Obedience...

Well, I'd like to invite you to serve as a witness to the wonderful works of our Great and Mighty God. By His design, I am on a journey of obedience. These writings will serve more as an online journal. May you observe His tremendous faithfulness as I share of His grace to me - a sinner - yet His child...

Friday, November 14, 2008

What Awesome Responsibility!

I am so grateful that what the Lord directs, He empowers! For years, I lived intimidated by the Proverbs 31 woman... "capable, intelligent and virtuous". Who was she? What did she look like? For "she is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls." O Lord, how do I become her? Please make me her!

The Lord loves a request like that! I am convinced, by experience, that He is willing to turn worlds upside down - for the better - when we come to the place of letting go! It is His pleasure to teach us and transform us. I think often times He's just waiting for me to stop telling Him how to do it! He renews our minds as we spend time in His Word. He sends wise counsel to help us walk in the Truth. And He gives power to take a leap of faith and follow it up with one baby step after another! Proverbs 4:11-12 says, "I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble."

Do you know what virtuous means? I was reading Proverbs 12 in the Amplified Bible and when I got to verse 4, it said, "A virtuous and worthy wife [earnest and strong in character] is a crowning joy to her husband, but she who makes him ashamed is as rottenness in his bones." I commented to the Lord that I didn't really know what virtuous meant but I proceeded to think "well, I guess it means earnest and strong in character" and kept going... The Lord stopped me in my tracks! "You just told Me that you didn't know what virtuous means! Aren't you even going to stop and look?"

The word translated here as virtuous is the Hebrew word "chayil". It means a force of means or other resources, strength or power applied (for good in all 3 cases where it is translated "virtuous" in the OT: Ruth 3:11, Proverbs 12:4 and Proverbs 31:10). It comes from the root word "chuwl" which can mean to cause to dance OR writhe in pain, to bring forth OR fall grieviously, to be born OR to wound painfully. Wheww! As wives, we have such HUGE responsibility! We can cause our husbands to dance with joy or wound them painfully! We can be used of God to birth and bring forth tremendous renewal in them or we can cause them to fall grieviously! In other passages, this same word is used as a military term, such as when speaking of Gideon in Judges 6:12.

Lord, may I use all of my resources, applied for good, to bless my husband. May I go to war for him in prayer. May I comfort him and make our home comfortable. May I be his number 1 cheerleader and encourage him every day. Help me to rise while it is yet night and get spiritual food for my household. May I serve him as unto You. May I gird myself with strength, spirituall, mentally and physically for this God-given task. Lord, You have poured out Your favor upon our home and I praise You! May I be a crowning joy to my husband and may he dance with joy! In Your strength and Your power, Amen.

Friday, November 7, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes...

Have you ever felt like you're all alone in the battle? Like no one knows what you're dealing with? What mountains the Lord is asking you to climb? May I speak a word of encouragement to you today! I am completely in awe of the magnitude and grace of our God!

This morning, while driving my children to school, we saw a young woman on the sidewalk whose actions prompted a conversation in the van. The issue that prompted the discussion is not important but what came out of my son's mouth blew me away! He said, "Mommy, could we pray for *Theresa, that she would be able to stop doing what that girl is doing?" Now, if the comment had come from my daughter, I would have been blessed but I'm sure that I would have missed it for the huge God-thing that it was. The fact that my son thought of Theresa and wanted to pray for her to be free from this could only have been a prompting of the Holy Spirit. I answered, "for sure!" and we proceeded to pray.

After I dropped the kids off, I was still marvelling that my son would call us to prayer for this and I wondered what might be going on in Theresa's life today that the Lord would bring this issue to the forefront. I called her and told her what had happened. I hoped that it would bless her to know that someone was thinking of her that day but I also hoped that she wouldn't be offended by the focus of the prayer. She seemed glad to hear from me but didn't say too much. Not long later, she sent me a message...

That very morning, she had just been talking to the Lord and asking Him for strength to deal with that exact issue! Praise His Name! Not only does the Lord want to say to you that He is strong enough to take you over the mountains in your life but He's also able to raise up an army of warriors to pray you over to the other side! Nothing limits Him! He even speaks to 10 year old boys and transforms them into mighty warriors for the Kingdom! I can't wait to tell my son!!

*name changed

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Love You, LORD...

It's Friday, and though I haven't been consistent, I write on Fridays. This morning, I planned on writing but I didn't know what to write. Perhaps I didn't feel like tackling the topic that first came to mind, perhaps the dust and clutter of a busy week was too distracting, it's hard to say but I have struggled to just sit and begin putting thoughts into words. I put on my favorite worship playlist and started tidying my living room. Soon I was singing along...

Can I tell you that I love my Lord?! He is so good to me! I didn't have one of those quiet times this morning where He shared something earth-shattering. The sunrise wasn't brilliant with color. It's an ordinary day but how extraordinary that He cares for me!

I can't imagine a day without Him. How awesome is that! I don't always walk in obedience. In fact, some days I turn aside from the things that He has called me to and yet He never turns aside from me. That's a True Friend! That's a Lord worth loving! How gracious He is to me and I love Him!

Some days loving the Lord is like the excitement of new found romance! Others like the wonder and awe of a love that has lasted through the tests and turmoil of life only to emerge stronger. Today, it is comfortable. Like two old lovers, sitting silently side by side... just comfortable companionship.

Lord, thank You for loving me. Thank You for being beside me every day. Thank You for the days when our conversations ignite such revelation of Truth that I can hardly keep up! Thank You for times when Your Presence is so tangible that I'm at a loss to describe the wonder! And thank You for the peace and contentment that comes from living life, the moment by moment ordinary stuff, with You! Living life in the Presence of the Almighty God... how amazing! I love You, Lord! May I love You well today...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Driving For Two

Recently, I spent a few days in Houston, TX attending a conference and visiting a friend. Coming from a small, Canadian community, the life and pace of such a huge, American city is very different for me... especially the traffic. I can go clear across our city, from one side to the other, in a matter of 10 minutes... sometimes less, depending on the "traffic". I know each street. It's mostly 2 lane traffic. It's easy to maneuver from one place to another. On the massive freeway systems of Houston... it's quite a different story!

I was very hesistant to take the wheel and drive there. In fact, if it hadn't been for necessity, I never would have gotten into the driver's seat. With only the vaguest idea of where I was heading, I pulled out behind the van my friend was driving and joined the masses on the speedways that are a hallmark of so many American's lives.

I was anxious to the point of being nauseous but I just started talking out loud to the Lord. I asked for His angels to patrol the 4 corners of the car. I asked Him to make me incredibly alert to every detail, to guard and direct those that were whirring past on either side of me... Gradually peace began to descend upon me. Our conversation began to be about the peace that was enveloping me in the midst of an incredible alertness. The Lord was about to teach me a life lesson.

He asked me if I trusted my friend that was leading me through the jungle of vehicles. Of course! You see, she is no ordinary friend. She is really more like my sister. I know that she always wants the best for me and that she would lead me on safe paths. The Lord probed a little deeper. Did I trust her driving? Yes! Not only was I completely at ease when she was behind the wheel but I also realized that I was trusting her that morning to drive for herself AND ME! She was signaling clearly for each move that she needed me to make. She was mindful of the vehicles on either side of ME and making sure that the way was open for me to follow her. She knew that I didn't know exactly where I was going or what turns were necessary to get there, but she did. She was commited to me safely arriving at our destination. She was driving for two!

Then the Lord asked the question. "Child, will you trust Me to drive for two?" I had so much trust in my friend, a mere person with imperfections and failures just like me. Did I not realize that I can trust the Lord of lords and the King of kings on this journey of life? I profess to. Was I really living like it?

You see, when following Becky, my eyes were glued to the back of that van. When she breaked, I breaked. When she moved, I moved. I didn't know the direction we were going to go but I knew who I was following and nothing and no one was going to come between those two vehicles! I followed close on her heels. How much more can I trust the Lord! He sees the end from the beginning. He knows every turn in the road of my life. He knows every pothole and detour. Even the others travelling that same road. I don't need to know the whole route in advance. I didn't question the turns that Becky was taking me on. Why do I question the Lord? I can trust Him to get me through to the destination!

And He said to them, Come after Me [as disciples--letting Me be your Guide], follow Me... (Matthew 4:19a)

Lord, may my whole being follow hard after You and cling closely to You; Your right hand upholds me. (see Psalm 63:8)

And Lord, just like I asked that day for You to make me incredibly alert, Lord, cause me to be incredibly alert to Your leading. May I be attuned to Your every signal. And Lord, may I be faithful to pray for the other "drivers" on this road of life. May I intercede before Your throne for them as they journey home... So be it, Lord! Amen.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Sun Still Shines Behind the Clouds

The Lord is so good!

Life felt pretty stormy last week. You know those weeks. We all have them. Somehow our expectations don't line up with the reality of our situations and we become discouraged. My heart had grown impatient. I felt like the Lord had forgotten me. I was miserable.

Add to that the fact that we have been experiencing nearly constant rain... cold, gray days... When was the sun going to shine?

I know that the Lord is my Source but I had lost perspective. I turned to other comforts - that don't truly satisfy - and my time "with the Lord" was all about me. My complaints. My prescriptions. I was busy telling the Lord how I would do it if I were God, rather than settling in and receiving grace for the moment from the One who is faithful.

I still smile when I think of how the Lord got my attention. I had asked Him to wake me in the morning. He is the best "alarm clock"! My eyes opened early and peaked at the clock but the after effects from the sugar I had eaten the night before quickly closed them. A few minutes later they opened again. Almost. One more time and I was up. Oh, I'm so grateful for His persistence!

I made my way down the hall. As I came to a window, I was instantly awed by the most breath-taking sunrise! The whole sky was streaked with the most brilliant shades of peach and orange! It wasn't just a shading by the horizon - the whole sky had been transformed! I was overwhelmed by the beauty. I stood frozen and just basked in the gift!

The Lord knows how much I delight in a sunrise! It's my favorite view and my favorite time of day. I knew that He had painted it just for me and I worshipped Him. How could He be so gracious to me when I had hardly been a friend to Him those last few days? Can I tell you that tears are streaming down my cheeks as I write this? His grace still amazes me!

I went and sat down in my living room. I call it "our" spot - the Lord's and mine. It's where we sit together. We talked. He spoke and my focus was restored. He has absolutely mind-boggling power and He's at work in my circumstances. He hasn't forgotten. I can trust Him to be God.

I'd love to tell you that I got up at this point and walked in freedom and joy - but when I got up and looked out the window, I saw that once again the clouds had settled in and it looked like rain. "Oh, Lord!" I cried... not another gray day! But then I noticed something... behind the clouds was a faint white ball... the sun.

It was still shining as brilliantly behind the clouds. It's warmth was still heating the earth. It was still rising and setting... as instructed. It was still causing things to grow. The sun was doing "it's thing" and so was my Lord!

In the midst of my clouds, the Lord was still at work! I have been awed by His splendor before. I've seen His hand move in my circumstances. He's been growing me. Today was no different! What was I going to focus on ? The clouds? Or what I know to be true? He knows where I am. He knows what I need - better than I do. He is faithful. I can trust Him. He is God!

And by His grace, I walked free... singing in the rain!

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7)

The Son still shines behind the clouds!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Loved by My Beloved

I wasn't sure that I was going to share this entry on the blog... it's more like a journal entry. What the Lord showed me yesterday was intensely personal and yet not for me alone. The same sentiments of love that He expressed over me are His Words to you. The following is simply the dialogue between the Lord and I yesterday - Good Friday - as we considered "Day 80 - Please, Father" in Beth Moore's book "Jesus, 90 Days with the One and Only"...

"Karrie, settle in with Me. Just as you love to testify to My Father's greatness, so do I!"

We read Mark 14:32-42. I encourage you to take a few moments now to read these verses before you continue. Some quotes from Beth...

"Never minimize the moment by thinking God couldn't have removed the cup. Do not subtract God's freedom of choice from this picture. God could have chosen to reject the way of the cross. After all, He is the Sovereign of the universe."

"That God could have stopped the process yet didn't is a matchless demonstration of love. Can you think of anyone for whom you'd watch your only child be tortured to death?"

(No, Father.)

"Luke's Gospel tells us His sweat dropped like blood, a condition almost unheard of except when the physical body is placed in more stress and grief than it was fashioned to handle. Do we think God sat upon His throne unmoved?"

"Like a body that rejects a transplanted organ, the human body of Jesus Christ was practically tearing itself apart. The full throttle of divine impact and emotion was almost more than one human body could endure. The stress had nearly turned Him inside out. I do not make this point to emphasize His weakness. Quite the contrary. In fact I find the scene recorded in John 18:6 portrays His incredible power. When Jesus told the crowd, 'I am He,' even overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, the proclaimed presence of Jesus Christ knocked the mob to the ground."

"Your God-ness could not be diminished for a moment, in or out of that prison of flesh. Lord, don't let us forget You, who submitted Yourself to the hands of sinful men, were very God."

(Lord, I am so selfish, so hard-hearted. If left unchecked, by You, I would attempt to reduce the God of the universe to a mere equation based on the variable of me... I'm either obeying badly - because I don't want to obey enough or because I've been so disobedient that I'm in bondage - so You couldn't possibly love, bless, touch me... or I've been 'better', drenched in legalism, so maybe now I'm deserving of Your love, blessing, rescue, the knowing of You... Lord, when I reduce You to being reactive to me, I attempt to remove Your deity! Oh praise You that that's impossible! Lord, please forgive me. You knew me in light of this and such great despair wrestled with such great love that You sweat drops of blood. When Your Daddy, Who also loves me, said 'I choose not to remove this cup.' You wouldn't allow me to stand condemned and You replied, 'I am He.' Lord, according to Your Word, that's Who I want for my Bridegroom.")

"And Karrie, you're who I want for my bride!"

Overwhelmed to tears...

(Lord, may I walk in the deep, personal, intimate relationship with You - Who sacrificed it all - to declare me Your choice as "Bride". I accept! May I learn how to live this marriage out with You, my Beloved! Please teach me, show me, guide me, teach me. May my gift of obedience to You be just an expression of my love for You!! May I give - devote - my life's energy to walking where You walk and to pleasing You. Your love for me ALWAYS guards and protects, nourishes and nurtures, extends to and blesses me! Your favor rests on me for I am Your beloved!)

I had been anxious about singing at the Good Friday service. The song that I was singing hadn't been my first choice - but it was His! It's called "At the Cross" by Hillsong and some of the lyrics are "Oh Lord, You've searched me. You know my ways. Even when I fail You, I know You love me..." As I was saying, "I'll let them hear our love song..." the Lord corrected me saying, "No, I let them hear Our love song for I've placed you there to sing."

I began to get ready to leave. The Lord and I continued our dialogue. I was asking Him for opportunity to write/testify to the Father's greatness through Christ. I wondered back to the way our conversation began that morning. The Lord interrupted my thoughts...

"I testified to My Father's goodness when I spoke of Him not exercising His freewill to remove this cup. You were worth it, Karrie!"

I have never felt more loved...

Good Friday will never look the same. I will never be the same. What about you?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rise Up and Walk!

"'Man, your sins are forgiven you!'... But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, answered them, 'Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and walk? But that you may know that the Son of Man has the power and authority and right on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, I say to you, 'arise, pick up your bed and go..." (see Luke 5:20-24)

The Lord called these words to my mind this morning as we were talking over the last number of days. I've been in a season of battle. One of the battlefronts has been speaking the Truth to myself when my emotions have been telling me something different.

For example, my emotions have screamed at me, "this is too hard!" The Truth is "now what I'm commanding you this day is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach." (Deuteronomy 30:11) Or, "I can't do this!" needs to be defeated by "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) I could give numerous more examples but the Bible says that I'm not being tempted by thoughts that are uncommon to man. You probably can fill in the blanks because you hear the echoes of lies yourself.

Well, I've been struggling with all my might to combat these lies with Truth. Part of me recognizes that there's progress in this - at least I'm fighting! I've spent most of my life rocking on the sea of my emotions. But the Lord revealed to me that I've slipped back into that performance-based "got to get it right so that I deserve His love" mentality instead of admitting to myself that I'm incapable in my own strength and deferring to the Almighty One.

God is so good! He knows that I like to see the picture. The battle began and I raised my Sword high and shouted the Truth! Then, as war raged around me, I lost sight of my Commander and the ground I was taking and saw instead every one of my imperfections. Before long, I was no longer advancing declaring "victory is the Lord's" and raising Sword and Shield but I was cowering on the battlefield, hiding under a shield that I was no longer using properly.

There is a vast difference between standing on the Truth and walking by faith. If I've spent a lifetime retreating, standing on the Truth is a good start, but the Lord has so much victory for us. Christ died so that our victory could be complete!

Just like the paralyzed man in the verses above, I have been paralyzed by my defeats rather than remembering that I'm forgiven. Grace (undeserved favor & spiritual blessing) is lavished on me just as I am. I've been redeemed! The ransom has been paid for me to walk free! And He said, "Arise... and go..."

Lord, I'm learning! I used to look longingly towards Egypt and retreat to there at the first sign of battle. Praise You that I have been able to stand on the Truth of Your Word. Forgive me for focusing on my errors and not Your prevailing might. Lord, Your Strength is at my constant disposal to advance! May I arise from this place where I had fallen and go to the place You are calling me to. Please fix my eyes on You. You are the Author and Perfector of my faith - my Commander and Chief - and You will never forsake me. In faith, I'm getting up and following You... so be it!

May you be encouraged by the following verses as I was. I hope they remind you of the strength of your sword, give you courage to once again dust yourself off, arise, raise your shield of faith and keep on taking ground! The battle belongs to the Lord!

"Now faith is the assurance (the title deed) of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality (faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses)." Hebrews 11:1

"By faith, Abraham, when called to a place he would later receive as his inheritence, obeyed and went. Even though he did not know where he was going." Hebrews 11:8

"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the (victorious) God of my salvation! The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet (of a deer) and will make me to walk (not to stand still in terror but to walk) and make (spiritual) progress upon my high places (of trouble, suffering or responsibility)!" Habakkuk 3:18,19

"For we walk by faith (we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk) not by sight or appearance." 2 Corinthians 5:7

Friday, March 7, 2008

Pressing On

Recently, the Lord has been impressing the words of Philippians 3:12-14 upon my heart and mind. Paul has just finished speaking on counting it all loss compared to the all-surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. Then he says, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on…"

I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I often forget that God Himself doesn't expect me to be perfect. When I fail - and prove I'm not - I'm tempted to listen to the lie of the enemy that says "you'll never get it right". Paul's words strike right at my heart. That's not the right response! I'm called to press on! The original Greek word "dioko" instructs me to eagerly seek after and earnestly endeavor to acquire the ultimate completion of what is yet wanting in me - in order for me to be made whole.

Did you know that for this same reason, Christ has also laid hold of me? As I eagerly seek Him, Christ, by His holy power and influence lays hold of my mind and will, in order to prompt and govern it. His desire is that I come to perceive and comprehend His good, pleasing and perfect will. What a partnership! I haven't got it down pat yet - but praise God - I'm learning!

I've really been having to practice this lately. I've been face to face with a situation that I have been in before - and not done well! My first thoughts were "no, Lord, not this. It's too hard. I can't do it." But He is so gracious! He takes hold of me and says, "this is what we're going to do. We're going to forget what is behind. We're no longer caring how you dealt with this before. You are not the same person that you were then. You are a new creation in Me. You've been radically transformed." Can I just add another "praise You, Lord"!! By the working of Christ's mighty power in me, I'm determined. I'm going to press on!

Is it going to be hard? For Christ? No. For me? Possibly. The implication given in the original text is that it is going to involve stretching myself. Is it my natural reaction to press on based on the Truth of God's Word? Not quite yet but He's changing that! It's still tempting to react based on emotions like the fear of failure. But Christ's voice faithfully echoes in my mind verses like "Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. Yes, I will uphold you with my righteous right arm." (see Isaiah 41:10)

Do you know what else that I learned about the forgetting? The Lord showed me that I need to forget how others have responded in the past too. Forgiveness involves offering other people a clean slate.

And you know what? With every step I take - even baby ones - in the right direction, I am getting closer and closer to the prize! I'm looking for a "well done good and faithful servant"! He's not looking for perfection - just a heart willing to trust that He knows what's best and respond with obedience. Praise the Lord - that comes with great rewards!!

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:12-14

Friday, January 25, 2008

Knowing God

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. Philippians 3:8a

The Lord is so infinitely precious. The knowledge of Him is like a limitless mine of the most valuable treasure! The more we mine, the more treasure He reveals in Himself and the more we become aware that there is an endless supply to be revealed with each new day.

As a child, I knew about God. He was a commonly talked about Friend in our household. We regularly went to His house but other than the occasional interaction with Him, He remained the Friend of my parents. As a teenager, I knew that I wanted a friendship with Him as well. I told Him so and He invited me to spend as much time as I would with Him but despite the fact that I professed to want to really know Him, I poured my energy into other things that showed my true priorities. When I ran into the darkness and saw its power, I fled to God. He was there all of the time, guarding me, yet not forcing Himself into my world. All it took was a call to Him and He rescued me! I chose Him as my Friend. Very slowly, my priorities started to include Him but He was far from being my priority. Though I knew His Name, address, some aspects of His character, I preferred to talk to Him on my terms about my needs. I wasn't a good listener. After all, I told Him what I needed. As long as He listened to me, I didn't even realize that I never stopped to hear Him speak. I wouldn't have even recognized His voice.

Now, any other friend would have given up on me long ago but my God is no common friend. That's what makes Him God! He knew that I was immature - a baby really. He saw me through loving eyes and was forever patient with me. He loves me so much that He was willing to wait until my attention would be turned to Him. But oh, how much I missed out on!

I am so grateful for the circumstances that prompted me to begin to spend time with Him. Just the smallest taste of His companionship left me hungering for more. He was so much bigger, so much more interested in me than I had thought! When my world started falling apart, when trusts were shattered and when those I sought security in were all destroyed, He became my world. When all else had been stripped away - He was more than sufficient! I had no one who could fully understand me, but He did. He understood the words behind the tears. In fact, He said He collected them in His bottle. I learned the sound of His voice. I remember the first time I heard it and knew it was His. There is no more beautiful sound! He would call me away from the chaos and would sit with me. He showed me how to get through each day. He kept me from getting lost. He was always beside me. He walked with me. More often than I know, He carried me. He became my closest Friend!

Now, our friendship is ever deepening. We live every day together. He never leaves me or forgets about me. He's never too busy for me. Sometimes I get distracted from his Presence but He's so patient with me. There is nothing that I enjoy more than beginning each day with Him. He watches over me all night and then wakes me. We talk to each other. Sometimes we just sit silently. Sometimes, we laugh or play wildly together. He is so multi-faceted! He loves to reveal Himself to me and I love to pour myself into knowing Him! It blows me away to think that the God of the Universe is my constant companion!

I used to think that this sort of relationship with the Lord was at best for the select few - and for me impossible. But I am learning that He delights in the foolish things of this world. He delights in His friendship with a common, conservative country girl who in spite of herself, had her eyes turned to Him and is forever changed! I can't wait to see the treasures of His Personality that He will show me today! Are you common? Unworthy? It doesn't matter. We all are. Let me introduce you to the most uncommon of friendships... Come, meet my God!