Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Precious, Honored, Loved

You are precious in My eyes,
and honored, and I love you.
Is 43:4
It is time to leave some old thoughts behind--
thoughts we got from paradigms,
judgments, prejudices, and systems--
not just because they are old, 
(for that in itself would be fallacy)
but because they are wrong.
So many today walk around with thoughts
of shame, rejection and inadequacy
because systems were in place that
led us to make conclusions wrongly.

We live in a world that causes us to 
continually evaluate our status.
As Christians, it is easy to proclaim
that we are not comparative,
that we find our identity in Christ alone.
But very often, that is not our reality.
We are affirmed by one we esteem
and our sense of value increases.
We are criticized by one we esteem
and our sense of value is diminished.

We evaluate our looks, our careers, our marriages,
our relationships, our finances, our children.
Not necessarily in a vacuum--
but how each compares to others like them
and where we stand after the evaluation.
Because each of those change and shift,
our sense of value is fragile.
One day, we take inventory and all is well.
It can all change in a moment.
A confrontation, loss of a job, 
a bad decision, a relational challenge
can all confirm that we are inadequate, 
a failure, flawed, unlovable.

Organized religion can also act as 
a defining value system,
keeping us stuck in the good/bad cycle--
one day honored by authority we esteem
and so conclude we are valuable,
the next day disregarded by the same
and therefore unworthy--
if we are not careful to keep Christ and
His words about our worth ever before us.
We are each responsible for stewarding truth.
Our identity is rooted in Christ and
what He says about us.
He says we are each precious,
honored and loved by Him.
If we can be swayed to believe otherwise,
there is a system in place that 
may have its roots in idolatry.
Some thoughts are so deep rooted 
in abusive and unjust life experiences 
that counseling may be needed 
to heal wounds and help make the shift  
to thoughts that align with His word.
But for many, it is time to simply recognize
that our thoughts and His thoughts 
about us are not the same.
And ours need to change.

My feelings are second.
Much faulty reasoning occurs
from surrendering to feelings.
Today I am holding on to truth.
I am precious, honored and loved
by my Father.
Any other conclusion is unacceptable.





Monday, March 24, 2014

I Was Lost, But...

"'But. . .
I love that word. 
Sometimes I think the whole gospel 
swings on that word. 
(I was lost but now I'm found.
Was blind but now I see.)
It means things can change." 
~Bread of Angels by Barbara Brown Taylor

If we use the analogy of our lives as story,
being written chapter by chapter, 
we can better see that a story 
never ends in the middle.
When reading a book, we see the number
of pages before us and know there is more.
 We expect there to be dramatic turns, 
usually at the end of a chapter.
They are there to keep us engaged,
turning the pages to find some
measure of resolution to the "crisis."
Good authors don't necessarily 
tie things up in neat little packages. 
They help us find redemption and hope as
the story unfolds with all its twists and turns.
Jesus is the Author of our story, and
the one thing we can trust is that He is good.
We often find ourselves in a dramatic turn; 
we are nearing the end of a chapter and 
haven't yet turned the page.
We have to remember that the One
writing our story is not finished writing.
He is drawing us forward with Him to see
how He will work it through to redemption.

We may currently be lost, hopeless, discouraged,
depressed, fearful, sick, poor, lonely, or sad.
BUT, there are other chapters before us.
The gospel of Christ is about transformation--
not only the the power to change 
but the grace to stand in the process.
We don't always go from lost to found
in the space of one page.
Often it's a journey of many chapters,
some things coming together
only to fall apart again.

I am ever learning to trust my Author.
It may be in the wilderness 
where He tells me that, 
although I feel incredibly lost,
I have actually found what He 
was leading me toward.
That particular chapter was perhaps 
about finding Him in places 
I had never looked before.
In a dry, desert place He led me 
to a spring of water.
I was lost, BUT now I'm found.
Again.
The story is not over.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two Trees

"In God's strength, we can make our
circumstances pay tribute to our soul.
We can even take the 
darkest disappointment, 
break it open, and discover 
a precious jewel of grace inside."
~Henry Jowett

Every day is a battle to see 
who or what will win.
Will circumstances claim the victory
or will we stand in the face 
of all that is happening and, 
having done all that is asked of us, 
continue to stand?
The greatest victory is standing and
believing, despite all we see that
might say otherwise, that God is good.
"Let God be true 
and every circumstance a lie."

God's goodness can be mined out of
all our challenges if we allow His voice
to teach us and lead us.
I too often eat off the tree of the 
knowledge of good and evil,
trying to reason and make decisions 
based on what I see.
It's easy to hold circumstances up to
expectations and define what I see.
But do I go to the Tree of Life and
ask Him to show me what He sees?
Often I miss that step.
It's easy to judge from the wrong tree.
We can easily decide that loss, suffering, 
wounding, rejection, and sickness are evil.
But living from the Tree of Life requires
that we make our decisions,
not based on what we see,
but by His voice.
Christ lives in us and He wants us to
 live our lives through His indwelling presence.

I have been taking some circumstances,
and all my judgments about them,
and bringing them to the Tree of Life.
His grace is leading me to some
different conclusions.
His love is washing over me and 
telling me there is another side to the story.
His view is the only one that will allow me
to take every circumstance and 
find the jewel of grace that will 
bring glory to His name.
His love always leads me back to Him,
which is something the other tree
will never do.

"An ounce of love is worth more
than a pound of knowledge."
~John Wesley

Thursday, March 13, 2014

All My Springs

All my springs of joy are in You.
Psalm 87:7

I so easily hand over control of my mind
to things going on around me.
But that's not how it is supposed to be.
Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.
Galatians 5:16
When we submit to the Holy Spirit, 
we are not tormented by our emotions
and our reactions to the things around us.
When I spend time living in places 
of sadness, pain, fear and confusion, 
then the Spirit is not leading.
Other gods are actually before Him.

I remember going to the doctor's one day,
worrying about the results of a particular test.
The Holy Spirit clearly said to me,
"If that doctor has more power to take away 
your fear than My spirit within you, 
then that doctor is an idol to you."
Ouch. I had to spend some time 
in the car talking with the Lord about that,
repenting for placing my trust in a doctor.
God is ultimately in control of my life 
and I needed to allow His peace to wash me.
"Lord, whatever happens, I trust You."
True joy is having our assurance 
deeply rooted in His goodness.
I sensed the Lord smile when 
the doctor gave me a good report;
I had already believed His. 

When we allow thoughts, emotions 
and energy to be consumed with 
whatever is going on around us,
we gradually give away our joy.
Happiness may depend on what is happening,
but our springs of joy are eternally present.
All of them, always, are found in Him.
Jesus continually withdrew from life
to get alone with His Father.
He felt sadness, anger, disappointment
as He walked upon this earth.
But His feelings didn't alter His joy.
His springs of joy were found in His Father.
I don't need to walk around in unreality,
pretending that everything is perfect.
True joy doesn't come as a result of
being happy with what's going on.
It comes out of relationship with God.
In fact, true joy knows no other way.
Nothing about joy is natural.
It is supernatural trust in God's 
love and goodness.

Joy has the power to burn out 
whatever comes near us.
It is time for joy to burn up fear.
It is time for joy to burn up sadness.
It really is time to stop allowing 
anything else to control me.




Sunday, March 9, 2014

Strengthened


My child, Christ Jesus is kind, 
and you must let Him make you strong.
2 Tim 2:1
What an encouragement to us!
All day long we are confronted 
with opposite spirits,
one always looking to tear us down and
the other always there to strengthen us.
There is fear to haunt us, 
doubt to weaken us,
despair to drain us.
But greater than all these, 
there is grace to strengthen us.
He is kind and He wants us strong.

We must recognize that we live in
a world system that is ruled by darkness,
and we will be affected by that world.
But Jesus announced the good news
that He overcame the world.

In the midst of all things that make us weak--
fear, discouragement, sickness, loss, 
sadness, disappointment, confusion--
there is a strengthening grace.
We bring Him every vestige of weakness,
knowing our strength begins there.
Instead of focusing on those things 
that point to weakness,
we sit in His presence and become
strengthened by His grace. 
So much better...
"It is good for the heart to be
strengthened by grace."
Hebrews 13:9
.
Today is a good day to remember that
Christ Jesus is kind and 
He wants to make us strong.
He invites us to "Come."
His grace is sufficient for every
kind of strength we need.
Those who wait on the Lord WILL
renew their strength.
Isaiah 40

So grateful for these kinds of promises.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Whatever

Focus your thoughts...
Phil 4:8

There are hordes of thoughts waiting 
behind the gates in our minds,
begging us for entrance. 
We have thoughts about our 
day, work, family, responsibilities. 
We have thoughts filled with fear, grace,
disappointent, hope, darkness and truth.
And everything in between.
We must decide which ones come through
and which ones must be sent away. 
We have to choose wisely 
because, really, our lives depend on it.

We are told to think "whatever"--
and the biblical whatever is a bit different
than the cultural whatever.
Whatever is true, whatever is respected, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, 
whatever can be loved, 
and whatever is well thought of. 
Whatever is good and 
worth giving thanks for, 
think about these things.
Phil 4:8

"When the world's all as it should be,"
our thoughts more naturally align with these.
But when there is an area or two
that is challenging and maybe not
what we had hoped for,
our thoughts can go quickly south.
Our thoughts can become anxious, 
fearful, resigned, hopeless, dark.
Our minds get there more by
wandering than by thinking.
We think, How the heck did I get here?
One unchecked wandering thought at a time.
Today I have recognized 
some of my thoughts must go.
Once allowed access, 
they don't go voluntarily.
They must be displaced.
I am going to think about whatever.
This is a very conscious process.
I have to list things that are true,
worthy of gratitude, that are good,
things that can be loved.
I have an abundant supply of those things.
Other thoughts have tried to 
convince me that simply is not true.
Liars.

Those with sound thoughts 
You will keep in peace...
Is 26:3
I may not have control over everything 
going on around me today.
But I have the ability to control my thoughts.
Today I am going to think whatever
and bind my wandering mind to Him.
The Lord has promised that He will  
keep me in perfect peace.
I have great need of that today.