Thursday, December 31, 2009
My move is to trust with all of my heart. Then He makes my path straight. Three components: Trust God alone. All of my heart. He straightens. I don't straighten my path, ever. He does. I trust, He straightens. Oh, how I live days upon days trying instead of trusting.
Last week I received this text from a frustrated friend: "I wish that he would just share life and not try to be someone in a non-reality existence that he's created in his head." Exchanging his greatest desire for relationship for the fantasy of perfection that never exists. He lives isolated, but safe.
I can relate. I struggle with trying to construct how I am supposed to live my life, especially in relationships, and I miss the more simple bliss of just sharing life.
In an answered prayer to the Spirit's cry, God moved the conversation from my head to my heart. My Love leaned over and said to me, "Baby, why are you constantly trying to create perfection in your mind and control in your life, knowing that it'll all fail? Just share life with Me; that's all I really want." From there, I can truly share life with others.
One of my continual struggles is with the Pharisee within. As Beth Moore notes, "My head already knows all that...tell it to my heart." My deepest desire is to BE Mary of Bethany - sometimes quietly at His feet soaking in His Word. Sometimes to smash my alabaster box of life so my sweet dreams can touch Him. Just to really share the constant, beautiful and dirty details of life. The tears, the laughter, the raw honesty of words and worship.
I do not study His Word to try and better my life or even to live a life that pleases Him. I study His Word to know Him intimately; to know how to share all that I am with all that He is. Even after all this time, it remains a daily struggle of control...and He will keep me in that struggle until I let go of everything that holds me from holding Him. Constantly. Someone wrote, "When the illusion of control disappears we become men and women of prayer." Illusion vanish into intimacy. John Maxwell said, "The best thing is to be totally lost, only then can you be totally found." Who will lose one's life, will find it in Him (Matthew 16:25). Lost and found am I.
"Without faith, it is impossible (never going to happen) to please God." Hebrews 11:6. Day in and day out, I try to please God by leaning on my own my own understanding. There is no faith. There is no truth. There is no trust. There is no love. There is no heart. There is no peace, no joy, no passion, no relationship. I create in my mind that there is all of these things and I look to live up to them. Please understand that all of these already exist to the fullest measure in my heart, but not in my life because I allow my "head" to cloud my heart and all that is within.
Pharisee. Perfection. Delusion. Waste. I am filled with the union of the Creator and Christ of all that is, yet missing true Holiness that infiltrates every detail of my human life. Pea-brain intellect against Infinite Wisdom. All over my own stubborn control craving. The loss is mine alone. The choice is mine.
Love. Passion. Joy. Grace. Purity. Satisfaction. Completion. All that I am given breath and heartbeat to know moment by moment. Everything I've always wanted is here now.
I have so much to learn face down on the floor. As I find love, I share life. Natural a breathing. "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." Psalm 27:4
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I received a new phone yesterday. It’s a HUGE improvement over the duct taped “dinosaur” I've been destroying lately. I had just about succeeded in the dinosaur's demise when the new one came in. Perfect timing.
The same day I received my new mode of communication, I received a moment of revelation. What dinosaur of discipline has carried my communication with God lately? Oh, how I’ve tried to destroy it with distractions and tried to hold it together with righteous rags. What am I holding on to, especially when a better deal is free? Perfect.
Part of my prayer is my confession of time wasted in selfishness, static, and silence when it comes to my conversations with Christ. Those are all legalistic symptoms of lacking passion. I look at the prayer phone and see some great stuff: applications that I read about in the manual and I have loaded into my life; but I they aren't fully integrated into my heart drive. I excuse them before I use them. Apps like Prayer over Desperate Needs, Studying His Word, Reading Writings of Saints, Giving of Treasures, Serving of Time, etc. Though freely available, they come with a personal cost of time and attention. They are wonderful apps that enhance my life, so what’s so hard about pressing them into my heart and letting them transform my life as I really desire?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
One of our severest lessons comes from the stubborn refusal to see that we must not interfere in other people's lives. – Oswald Chambers
My friend said, “When my heart and mind return to me, then we’ll talk again.” Months gone by; months to come. There's is always a crisis, a weariness, a storm, a circumstance, and a hope - but not an arrival. I'm not holding my breath, just holding a heart.
Some storms can only be experienced alone, whoever is standing at our side. It doesn’t mean that we ARE alone, it only means that we feel that way, and there is no one who can comfort us. Nothing is more frustrating than feeling helpless.
Nowhere is there greater faith than one who believes the unseen God in the blinding storm: He has our complete hearts, our minds, our beliefs, our words, our service, and our prayers. We wait, wondering if time and eternity have finally come to be one in the same. We wait in one of two states: walking in helplessness of what we see or hopefulness of Who we know.
Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship. Humanity mourned; then moved to Holiness. If the one man most known for suffering immediately begins to worship, then how much more can I learn to face a crisis facing the Face of Comfort?
For the family or friends standing by, we are desperate to speak silence over the suffering, but it is us who needs to listen in silence to the only One Who Is. He can only speak through me when I hear Him speak to me. Waiting in the pouring pain, we are not there to change the circumstance so suffering is stopped; often we are to be there just to be there. We are there to listen and hold. We are there to watch and pray. We are there to worship and to praise. Circumstances do not change God; but praise and worship changes our perspective of God.
I find myself praying for a change in circumstances, without praying for a change in me. I find myself asking for the words to say, instead of listening to the Word speak. I find myself looking to be the one who comforts, instead of simply looking to the One of Comfort. I find myself listing the immediate proposals instead of trusting His intimate promises. He doesn’t look to bandage us with answers, He looks to bind us in His arms.
Hope is not answered questions; Hope is Christ Himself revealed in the intimate moments of our lives. Those may be healings, those maybe restorations, those maybe relationships, those maybe anything that the Father and His Child are to endure and experience together, but those are always to His glory alone.
In the cases of Jacob and Job (both who worshipped in their waiting), El Shaddai restored their lost dreams into living realities. With sights shifting from earthly children to Eternal Father, God glorified Himself, then restored their lives beyond their deepest hopes and dreams.
In human silence there is only Holy Sovereignty. Ask your deepest desires while delighting in Him. Not holding my breath, just holding His heart.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I have a friend who has three cats...and a husband who is severely allergic to cats. The fact that he cannot breathe has finally brought her to consider giving away one of the cats (yes, only one). There is deep affection for the felines, to say the least. A family observer noted:
“I’m afraid that she holds onto the cats, literally, as her affection; affection that she should be giving her husband. In the meantime, she robs both her and her husband of true affection.”
He is not abstract. He is not a fantasy. He is not a dream. He is mine and I am His. He is my affection and I am His. He is my desire and I am His. He is my love and I am His. He is my Covenant and I am His.
He is a jealous God; am I jealous girl? (Joshua 24:19) Do I guard my heart from anything that robs me of His incredible love song and tender hold? Do I remember His intimate love that is closer than every breath I breathe?
He places people, creation, delights and desires as reminders and reflections of His affections in my life; never as replacements, never as robbers, never as idols – even for a moment. He is a God who blesses and lives to delight my life with gifts from His hand, but He is a jealous God who will crush idols that keep me from Him. He was crushed, so that they are crushed. He’s that serious about it.
Unveiled. Unraveled. Known. Loved.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
In June of 2009, the North Korean regime sentenced the journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, to 12 years of hard labor for illegally entering the country. Laura Ling, told her sister by phone that she and another journalist violated North Korean law.
The journalists raised suspicions about their guide and wondered if they had been "lured into a trap." "We didn't spend more than a minute on North Korean soil before turning back, but it is a minute we deeply regret," they said."We broke the law, we are sorry, and we need help." They were held in isolation from each other, gripped by fear that they would be shipped to one of the infamous hard-labor gulags in Kim Jong Il's Communist state. Laura Ling told her family she was treated humanely.
Both were pardoned following talks between (Bill) Clinton and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. "When we walked in through the doors, we saw, standing before us, President Bill Clinton," she said, pausing with emotion as she placed her hand on her chest. "We were shocked, but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end and now we stand here, home and free."
(Upon their return to US soil they) rushed to embrace loved ones. Ling, her voice sometimes shaking with sobs, only talked about the pair's gratitude to all those who worked for their release. "We could feel your love all the way in North Korea," she said. "It is what kept us going in the darkest of hours, and it is what sustained our faith that we would come home."
It's a very powerful story, and she (Laura) does want to share it," Lisa Ling told CNN (Excerpts of CNN articles, 6/09-8/09)
A powerful and personal story, but not exclusive. Beyond imprisonment, slavery, or martyrdom, in one stage or another, this is a story of every human life. This is the story of my life. Illustrate the immortal.
We may walk willingly over enemy lines. We may be lured by the enemy posing as our friend. Without exception, we all decide and walk right into regret. The choice to sin is human nature; the to choice to stay is horrific nurture. Circumstances are not to be blamed; we all choose the chains and face the cross.
The women faced 12 years of hard labor for one moment of decision. Not to minimize any amount of time of human horror, but this is nothing in comparison to Eternity. Sin knows no mercy and is never a light sentence. Though we may not always see or feel the effects, there is punishment inflicted day after day, sometimes year after year, on a heart that is remains chained up to human isolation from God. The greatest horror is to constantly be caught in my own choice with no control to change.
There is absolutely no way to save yourself: no matter who you are, who you know, what you know, what you have done, what you have said, what you have not done, what you have not said. You cannot reverse sin and you cannot free yourself from sin. Hopeless and helpless, you cry out. The key is who you chose to cry to. Clearly, your judge has no mercy on your plea. In fact, he hates "from whence you came." He may even use you as a trophy in his cages to demonstrate his control over you life; if nothing else, to taunt your beloved "homeland." He may treat you humanely or horrifically, but your enemy has complete control over your captivity as long as you never cry out for a Savior.
"We broke the law, we are sorry, and we need help." In one sentence, these women stated the cry that has brought freedom to millions, including my own wretched life, since the beginning of breath. Isaiah said the same words when he faced the Most High God:
"Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" Then flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin forgiven" Isa.6:5-7.
What if these women had said, "no, we're fine here, thanks"? Yet millions remain, right up to their punishment, imprisoned by their own choice. Millions look to "call death's bluff," as if they had any say so from their dark cells. The sit in the lie, that "you will not die." Until they actually see the gallows, they don't believe that they exist, therefore they believe that they have nothing to turn "from" or no one to turn "to." Until there is Holy Light, the mind believes that this dark cell of sin is either a "phase" or a "pleasure." Eyes remain blinded until they are forced open to face eternal death. This is not a spook story to "get you to behave." This is glimpse of our destiny based on our decision.
Luke 16:23-26 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
Upon confession, salvation comes. Though these women had to wait for their hero, the ultimate Hero is a only a breath away. He is humanity's gentlemen, extending the offer of freedom to all who will receive. There is no talk, no negotiation, no waiting. Salvation comes; and from the most surprising "savior." In this case, these women were shocked to see a man of such prestige stoop down to their rescue. But without a word, just to see him, they "knew instantly in their hearts that the nightmare of their lives was finally coming to an end." Their gratitude left them trembling, yet talking, of his heroic rescue. Oh, how familiar to know that moment of freedom, gratitude, and trembling words!
Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering." Mark 5:33-34
How amazed I am that the King of Creation and glory chose to risk everything to rescue me! More than rescued, I am healed and free from the suffering of sin. Trials will remain and temptations call to imprison me, but I will never enter the enemy's captivity of judgement again. Just as one decision eternally damns us, one decision eternally frees us. Our cry is not what saves us (all sacrifice and glory belongs to Jesus) but it does bring us into the Reality of redemption. "I've broken the law, I am sorry, I need help." Help came, I am FOREVER FREE, and I have a powerful story to tell.
These women noted that it was the savior who saved them, but it was the "love...in their darkest hours...that sustained their faith that they would come home." Pray for the captives. Just we all once were, each are helpless and hopeless until their Savior comes. Yet, He remains the God of all comfort until that day. Whether they are thankful to you in their day of deliverance is no matter; they will join you in Eternity as forever free.
They rushed from captivity into freedom; into the arms of their deepest loves. Max Lucado writes that when we see Him face to Face, God rolls back the sleeves of His robe and personally applauds our arrival Home. Thousands all over the earth applauded the return of these who strayed and were ushered home. How much more will the heart burst at the sound of the King's applause and warmth of His eternal embrace. Oh, how much more! Saviour come!
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Monday, August 17, 2009
Very democratic, diplomatic, and disappointing/contradicting. Carefully stated, Senator, but it only creates a vacuum of indecision which creates a volcano of disaster.
Even in mentioning the action of abortion (without mentioning the unborn), the Senator only addressed the actions of those outside the womb (serving the selfish), so I will keep the response to those as well. Forgive repetition and rambling, but these are the concerns.
I strongly agree with education; particularly regarding the horrible consequences of personal guilt associated with abortion (not mentioned above) along with the alternatives that are mentioned above. I also favor the education of those who decide justice in cases of life termination.
Translation: I hate murder, but I don't think that government should interfere with anyone's CHOICE to kill or not kill (they can't interfere, but they can influence). Contradiction: If there never was a life terminated, then why abhor abortion? If there was a life terminated, then why is one life's termination treated differently than another? It's supporting the act of a mother murdering her own child ("I abhor the fact that Susan Smith's children died, but it was her children to do with as she pleased. It was her choice of her own flesh and blood and so we cannot act as a governing body"??). Where is the line drawn according to the above beliefs?
It rains on the just and unjust alike - our choices don't always determine our destinies, but they do lead us down a road of certain results. People choose to save and experience overflow. People choose debt and experience bankruptcy. People choose to pray and experience satisfaction. People choose drugs and experience addiction. People choose life and experience joy. People choose abortion and experience guilt. People choose truth and experience freedom. People choose crime and experience prison. These results are not true 100% of the time, but by choosing these behaviors, the chances historically steer in the directions of these consequences.
People have the right to choose their own action (regardless of who it affects), but it remains the government's responsibility to bring consequences to a morally wrong action. By not bringing a consequence to an action, then two disturbing effects tend to take place: society believes that their choice is acceptable and consequences still emerge from immoral behavior (It's kind of like a child never being told that the stove is hot, therefore believing that it must be ok. The child then finds out, too late, that it's beyond "wrong" and it's painful). Such pain can be avoided.
The question is not of choice, it is of consequence.
The government can and should encourage both the benefit of abstinence and adoption as well as the disaster of abortion. Omitting a complete education leads to irreversible effects of personal guilt (as well as "abhorrent" child deaths) that grows out of control in a society. Seen or not seen, realized or denied, the devastation does exist and the remedy requires a full knowledge of the choice's consequences. This education may not stop the murders, but it will make a statement of morality. This, the government agrees, is essential.
I am disturbed that this man makes laws, but thankful he's not a lawyer because he would be awful at it.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Matthew 14:29 "Come," He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
We must never put our dreams of success as God's purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end.
What is my dream of God's purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.
God's training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.
God's end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious. -Oswald Chambers
Am I looking for the shore's destination or the Son's salvation?
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. The only way to know hope, is to know Him. God is not holding out on me; He's waiting on me. He is giving me a future and a hope right now. Standing between His plans and my "future" is my choice of immediate intimacy. He gives everything to me and I give everything to Him; He receives me as His love and I receive Him as my life. THEN, I will know Him. THEN, I will live out His relationship with me in the details of my days. As the saying goes, "the future is now."
Whether the seas are raging or resting, where are my sights set at this moment? Personally, my sights are constantly searching the shoreline...searching for that "ship to come in"...searching for satisfaction like a hurricane wind. That ship may be financial, it may emotional, it may be physical, it may tiny, it may be huge. It could be anything that the moment desires.
In reality, I am already satisfied and the ship is a mirage. A ship desired is not a ship required when walking on water! Every moment, whether I walk or sink, depends solely on where my sights are set. Peter's choice then is my reality now. My sights (body, heart and mind) are constantly set somewhere (water, shore or Savior) at any moment. Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
The waves (trials, circumstances, distractions, etc.) can be very real, overwhelming and even deadly. The question is not whether or not I see them; the question is whether or not I see ONLY them. They are temporary, but they are tempting me from the Eternal One. If I am determined to either rise above the waves or dismiss them altogether, I am still focused on the waves! It's not about the waves, it's about walking...simply because He says "Come!"
More real than the spray that drenches my face, is my Savior's love that holds me in Grace. Whether dark nights or clear days, He remains to soak in my praise. No matter the sight change my view, to behold and be held in this moment's Truth. -mlp
This is the plan; this is the hope and future: to call on Him, pray to Him, seek Him and we will be heard and found. What Brennan Manning calls the "now here." This moment may be a savage storm or a calm cruise. Either way, if I am straining to see the shoreline, I miss savoring the Savior. The moment is my gain or loss, depending on where I lift my eyes. Where does love lead me look? Right now, Who or what do I seek?
What are you looking at?
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Ephesians 2:7-10 Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and the saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (MSG)
A friend asked, "What if I get to heaven and find that I missed the life that I was supposed to live?" I believe that this is a question that many ask, but ask amiss. In reality, I don't think we are asking "when I get to heaven" as much as we are asking "when I leave earth." The difference is this: Heaven has no time - past, present or future - therefore, these will not be a concern. The question stated is actually a worry over our future becoming our "failed past." In other works, we are presently concerned about our future living producing our past's legacy. Talk about pressure! We haven't even got there yet and we're questioning whether or not we lived life "right." Matthew 6:34 "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." (NIV) We are to live to live a life that glorifies Him alone. With this as our vision, He is our victor.
"God cannot be disappointed," that same friend told me years ago. By that nature of God, whatever our choices are, when we stand in His arms - known as He is known - we will hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness." (Matthew 25:21 NIV) We will hear these words not because we are good or faithful in our choices or accomplishments (because that would be prideful) but because He is good and faithful and lives His life through us (that would be humility). When we trust Him and obey Him, others experience Him through our lives.
Side note: Please keep the eternal perspective in mind. The preceding verses state that, "After a long time, the master of those servants returned and settled account with them." (Matthew 25:19 NIV) God is intimately involved in our lives and I believe that He will have a personal conversation with us about our "eternal lives in our human experience." As we see and understand it on this side of time, this will be future event with discussions of our past. However, in the reality of experiencing this eternal moment, it will be a part of an eternal discussion in an eternal relationship. Think of it as our greatest desire - eternal conversation with out Deepest Love. The only way to be cast into darkness is not to obey His request of investing our lives in His Son - it is a choice of eternal relationship, not temporary works. Other than that, we will not face condemnation for a nonproductive life, but an intimate conversation of our eternal relationship with Jesus and how that is lived out. It's a discussion our spirits have now and in all eternity. (This is my own thought on an "Eternal view" of "earthy works." I keep in mind that I was "created anew in Christ Jesus to do good works" Eph. 2:10 says and I'd better be doing them. I don't do good works to gain my Master's favor, but to fulfill His purpose, as He already favors me through His grace. For me, living out my relationship with Him is my only motivation to be about my Father's business and His business is to draw all men to Himself through His Spirit).
Start with our beliefs, not our behaviors. We are called to view our choices from God's perspective Who is residing within us, not from our limited perspective hoping that "it's enough." One is relationship, the second is religion.
"I'm only human, how is that possible?" Not only is this possible, it is commanded by God. Deuteronomy 30:11-14"Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up on heaven, so that you may ask 'Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea and get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the Word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it." (NIV)
"How are we to find that within us which seems to constantly elude us?" We have the power for proper perspective within, we must humble ourselves to ask and receive. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:5 (NIV)
"So, if I ask for wisdom as to His will, and He gives generously, then why do I still not have a clue as to what I am supposed to do?" Most all of us are looking for the top of the puzzle box, not so much today's puzzle piece. Box tops arrive when breathing departs. 1 Corinthians 13:12 "Now we see but a poor reflection, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (NIV)
He never asked us to try and figure out the full picture (what we call "His Will") and arrange our lives, piece by piece, to complete the masterpiece in our minds. When we call Him Saviour, He said that we are already His masterpiece because He IS the full picture revealing the portrait of Himself, piece by piece and work by work, for His glory alone. Our hope is not in placing the pieces correctly, our hope is in HIM who guides us with enough wisdom and love...just for today - not the next 5 or 50 years, but just for today. The next piece may not come tomorrow, but we are satisfied in our Painter, not in our own picture.
Knowing Him is the piece we search to find; obeying Him is placing the piece into our empty spaces. Just for today, ask for just one piece and the wisdom to place it according to His Will. Trust Eternity to create the tapestry of your time.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Friday, July 17, 2009
"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us."1 John 4:11-12 "He has given us this command, whoever loves God must also love his/her brother/sister." 1 John 4:21
"Here I am, distractions aside, wanting You to change my life" - Anthony Evans
How we love God is expressed in how we love others. My expression of love to others is also my expression of love to God. These are not two different paths, but one. Intertwined, and often, unnoticed by ourselves - but intimately noticed our loved ones: 1. Jesus and 2. anyone we communicate with at any time, even strangers.
I am terribly distracted. You would not believe how many sites I have flipped through before finally completing this blog, an email, a devotional...it's crazy. And that's just this hour. That's aside from personal conversations with people, and above all, a personal conversation with God. It's not ADD, it's just being distracted by everything (there is a medical difference and caffeine is not the culprit...yes, I'm sure). It's like I'm surfing channels on my eyes - from one interesting station to another and back again. There is no focus where there is no...be right back.....
I was anticipating meeting a friend for the first time this past weekend. We had emailed for weeks and finally our "paths crossed" for a few minutes in a busy cafe. We talked for a few minutes. She is such a joy and an wonderful work of God! A couple of other friends approached and then it hit me - distraction. I introduced the two sets of friends, but then got lost in a side conversation. I never intended to ignore anyone, I just got distracted. Not for long, but for long enough. I felt horrible for being distracted and knew that I would feel uncomfortable, maybe even unwanted or undesired, if a friend's attention seemed so insincere as to lose focus. It wasn't in the intention of the moment, it was in the intimacy of the moment - at whatever degree that may be. This may seem more dramatic than it really was, but it was certainly a wake up call as to how my mind's eye wanders away from the present moment and loses so much, even with the best of intentions.
It was a wake up call. How distracted am I with Jesus? Too much. How does He really feel when I am meeting with Him and loving our conversation, but another "more important moment" catches my eye. I may introduce them to Him, but the catch comes when I get lost in a my "side conversations" - whether it is with others, myself, my computer, my phone, etc. - that I lose focus on Him. I am not asked to ever neglect any of these; I am asked to never neglect Him in any these. Pray continuously, not legalistically, Paul says. It's not about time, it's about relationship. It's not about condemnation, it's about passion. It's not a mental concept, but a spiritually controlled life.
My priority is my passion and it is reflected in my relationships. I notice the paths are one: I am distracted with my personal relationship with God AND I am distracted in how I spend time alone and with others. When I am focused on His love, I am focused on being His love to others.
There is a clear order (both in priority and charge): 1. He loves me and I receive His love (often the hardest step is to fully receive Him if we are distracted and not seeing Him as He is). 2. His love lives in me (the unfathomable and unfailing love of God Who IS love, lives inside my finite and fallen self). 3. I love others by HIS love, not mine (this is impossible if we are trying to love others with an infinite love through our finite hearts alone). 4. His love is made complete in me (the measureless love of God is made COMPLETE in ME...WHEN I love others with HIS love. It is a crucial and pivotal moment for me and everyne around me as the love of God moves from "when" to "who." Constantly.). 5. I love God, I love others - regardless of who "others" is - there is no difference or division, but my life is all one path of divine love. The results are immediate - one way or another.
Wherever I am, I am constantly in relationships with God, myself and others and I have a constant choice: to wait on Him and to walk in His love. Start at His Feet, then walk with my own. As I walk step by step, I impress the path with our scars of love.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Before the daily storms roll in, I’ve been enjoying the morning sun on the shorelines. God sometimes speaks through the seas, He sometimes speaks through the skies, but this morning, He spoke through a dog (a talking donkey definitely would have been a bit much before my morning coffee kicked in, Numbers 22:28).
The dog’s master threw the Frisbee around the beach for a few minutes. The dog faithfully retrieved it and returned it to his feet. Then the master threw out an even greater challenge that required greater sight and stronger endurance: he threw the Frisbee into the ocean.
With a bit of hesitation, the dog did what he was designed to do: he went after the prize, with waves crashing in his face and no sand to stand on. He started out wandering away from the goal. This was obviously something he had not done before. His master called his name and pointed in the direction of the goal. He followed his master’s lead and headed towards the floating Frisbee. He got right up to it, sniffed it, then turned and swam back to shore without retrieving it.
WHAT? This was it – this was what he was after, what he struggled to capture, the fulfillment of his design, and he strives to retreat! The master pointed to the goal again and again and called for the dog to live up to his name – retriever! Once again, the dog obeyed and returned to the Frisbee. He refused it for a few more minutes, while treading only inches away. Finally, he gripped it and returned to shore with the satisfaction of fulfilling his purpose. From then on, the dog faithfully retrieved the prize. After the first taste, he knew to return for more.
I thought of how we were made to worship. It is our calling and our choice. We will always venture out to satisfy something, it's our design to desire. We are called by our Master to find the ultimate satisfaction – often without seeing our goal and exerting our strength. At first we wander away, but He continues to call our name; guiding us to our purposed destination – the worship of our Creator. Finally we get right up to His Face, but then strive to retreat. It truly does not make any sense, but there we are – empty hearted, treading water, and running away.
Once we finally capture our heart's desire and worship God, we know to return to Him every time, no matter the lack of sight or strength, according to His call. We just have to take hold, taste Him, and turn hearts to Him every time He calls our name.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Before every Pixar film is a “short” film which is often very moving. The “short” before the film UP is called “Partly Cloudy.” I didn’t expect this one to be such a mirror of my own heart.
Basically in this story, storks deliver every baby every born, human and animals alike: the babies are formed by the clouds and each cloud has its own delivery stork. The story zooms in on a special pair, Peck the stork and Gus the cloud. Gus’s babies are the rather dangerous, but necessary: alligators, porcupines, rams, sharks and electric eels. Peck faithfully, and painfully, delivers as his job requires – getting rather beat up, bitten up, or bushed up in the process. He longingly looks over at the other storks’ deliveries of puppies and kittens, understandably so. Yet he remains through the pain to fulfill his purpose. At one point it looks as though he has abandoned his friend Gus for a more comfortable position (and Gus does not respond well to this rejection). But not so – he was simply looking to guard himself against the pains of his purpose. He carries on, guarded and guaranteed, in faithful service to his call.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
"Like a beggar blessed, I stumble in the Grace, reaching out my hand for what's always." - Margaret Becker, Clay & Water
A recent encounter with a beggar stayed in my mind all week. This time, I wasn't pondering poverty or provision (though Jesus spoke on these more than any other subject), but wondering about asking. I thought of how much I am blessed by God, the incredible access that I have to the amazing favor of God, but there is an ocean of need in my life that I don't bring to Him. My life is filled with details desperate for His Presence, yet my prayer stays silent to the Provider of All. Do I not see Him?
My perspective, resulting in either loud cries of praising or wailing, often changes with my circumstances (I praise Him in all things, but I desperately, constantly seek Him when life turns downward - oh, how much I have in common with the ancient Israelite!). Thanksgiving and petition. He is my breath and my heartbeat, how could I not be "desperate for You" in constant worship of Who He is? Not His blessings, Him.
The man asked me for money because I had cash in my hand from a returned purchase (cash is rare with me - I debit EVERYTHING). He watched and knew that I could provide exactly what he wanted. We KNOW that God can provide for us. I have heard a couple of atheists say, "If I prayed, I'd ask for this...hint, hint (could you pray for my desperate situation)" Yet, we ask not or ask amiss (James 4;3). Please indulge a few thoughts from Oswald Chambers:
1.Everyone who asks receives . . . —Luke 11:10
Ask if you have not received. There is nothing more difficult than asking. We will have yearnings and desires for certain things, and even suffer as a result of their going unfulfilled, but not until we are at the limit of desperation will we ask. It is the sense of not being spiritually real that causes us to ask. Have you ever asked out of the depths of your total insufficiency and poverty? "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God . . . " ( James 1:5 ), but be sure that you do lack wisdom before you ask. You cannot bring yourself to the point of spiritual reality anytime you choose. The best thing to do, once you realize you are not spiritually real, is to ask God for the Holy Spirit, basing your request on the promise of Jesus Christ (see Luke 11:13 ). The Holy Spirit is the one who makes everything that Jesus did for you real in your life.
"Everyone who asks receives . . . ." This does not mean that you will not get if you do not ask, but it means that until you come to the point of asking, you will not receive from God (see Matthew 5:45 ). To be able to receive means that you have to come into the relationship of a child of God, and then you comprehend and appreciate mentally, morally, and with spiritual understanding, that these things come from God.
"If any of you lacks wisdom . . . ." If you realize that you are lacking, it is because you have come in contact with spiritual reality— do not put the blinders of reason on again. The word ask actually means "beg." Some people are poor enough to be interested in their poverty, and some of us are poor enough spiritually to show our interest. Yet we will never receive if we ask with a certain result in mind, because we are asking out of our lust, not out of our poverty. A pauper does not ask out of any reason other than the completely hopeless and painful condition of his poverty. He is not ashamed to beg— blessed are the paupers in spirit (see Matthew 5:3 ). - My Utmost for His Highest
2. "Ask, and you will receive . . ." - John 16:24
When a person is born again from above, the life of the Son of God is born in him, and he can either starve or nourish that life. Prayer is the way that the life of God in us is nourished. We look upon prayer simply as a means of getting things for ourselves, but the biblical purpose of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.
We complain before God, and sometimes we are apologetic or indifferent to Him, but we actually ask Him for very few things. Yet a child exhibits a magnificent boldness to ask! Our Lord said, ". . . unless you . . . become as little children . . ." ( Matthew 18:3 ). Ask and God will do. Give Jesus Christ the opportunity and the room to work. The problem is that no one will ever do this until he is at his wits’ end. When a person is at his wits’ end, it no longer seems to be a cowardly thing to pray; in fact, it is the only way he can get in touch with the truth and the reality of God Himself. Be yourself before God and present Him with your problems— the very things that have brought you to your wits’ end. But as long as you think you are self-sufficient, you do not need to ask God for anything.
To say that "prayer changes things" is not as close to the truth as saying, "Prayer changes me and then I change things." God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things. Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person’s inner nature. - My Utmost for His Highest
The beggar lied about who he was and his situation in life, all in desperation for a little momentary monetary ease. I was reminded that as God's child, I may try to hide (more by silence than false confession). Of course, I can never hide any part of me and the only one that I hurt is myself by not engaging in an intimate and vulnerable relationship with the true love of life. Eternal satisfaction only comes in living out of the anointing of His favor - not for who I am, but for Who He is and Who has chosen me. I know this, but yet I continue to hide my life away on a moment by moment basis. Why fear favor?
"When you do get through to abandonment to God, you will be the most surprised and delighted creature on earth; God has got you absolutely and has given you your life." - Oswald Chambers
Find me at the feet of Jesus - reaching for His scars that saved me. Find me as a servant, bowed to my King. Filled in His love, satisfied in His Grace, yet in desperate need of His Presence and Embrace. Perspective of passion - to live the life anointed by God - first for me and Him in our relationship, then for His love, glory and truth to flow through me to others - however small or grand, personal or fleeting - those encounters may be. Abide in Him.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Only the sensitivity to His Spirit can reveal the idols that tear me from being pressed against His heart. Jesus asks me, "What do you want?" - not so that He knows, but so that I know. I desire to answer completely and honestly, "I want YOU, I want YOU!" - but I my attentions and affections may reveal otherwise. May my idols be crushed at the cross of Jesus and my worship be favored at the foot of His Throne. Praise to the One who testifies to the Truth!
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Tithing the Tongue
“If I have found favor with you, O King...this is my petition.” Esther's first words were directly to her husband and respectful of her king. She knows to touch the scepter before speaking the tongue.
Like Esther, My King and my Husband tells me that my request will be given (John 14:13, Matt. 6:33). His Spirit tells me to seek His Favor and speak His Name first and forever in my prayer. Respect before Request. Praise before Petition. Hallowed be Your Name, O King.
Expose my Enemy
Esther 7:6a Esther said, "The adversary and enemy is this vile Haman." Esther calls out the one to be expelled. The enemy must be exposed to be extinguished. Silence softens the blow but tightens the cords of deception, especially in the denying the details. Complete confession is not condemnation, it is essential communication. Do not deny the dark and do not deny the Light – confess them both and call them all out loud - condemning the viper and praising the Victor constantly before the King Jesus.
Two as One
Esther 7:6b Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. From idolized to unified, the terrorist becomes terrified. Beth Moore notes the intimacy of the unity of the king and queen: “two people sharing life as one." In John 14:20 Jesus said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” The cross of Christ was so that He and I could share life as one – in perfect intimacy. Though I am in Covenant union with Him, I must constantly choose devotion to Him; both for my intimacy and victory.
Falling for Mercy
Esther 7:7b "Haman was found on the queen's couch begging for mercy" and sealing his death - all in the same moment. Decisions in the dark deepen the dagger in the heart.
Isaiah 6 brings us to another man's falling before Royalty: a prophet before God on the throne. This servant of God (completely opposite to Haman) still calls out his conviction in the Presence of the King. Isaiah's confession brings mercy; not for his status, but for the lamb's sacrifice.
Fallen before His Throne, His Mercy Seat, I am never misunderstood or met with rage, but fully known and welcomed. I deserve to be hung on the gallows that I built with beams of pride, jealousy, deception, greed, anger and unbelief. My confession is this: that the Perfect King Himself has been crucified in my place on the gallows built for me. Mercy is received; only because of the Lamb's sacrifice.
If I have found favor with You, my King, and if it pleases Your Majesty, grant me my life - this is my petition. This is my cry, fallen on the lap of love.
Enjoy Him, Michelle
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
In Esther 6 and Luke 4, it is pointed out the two kings were found to be reading (or read to), literally, the story of their lives. After the reading, both men made proclamations to be fulfilled according to their reading - King Xerxes to have a man honored, King Jesus to have Prophecy fulfilled. Proclamations following these revelations were central in "setting captives free." This catalyst of chronicles in the lives of both kings was immediately preceded by days of intense sacrifice and submission to God: the Jewish people fasted and prayed for 3 days; Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days. Fasting, Prayer, Word, Deliverance. A model for deliverance in me.
Esther 6:6 When Haman entered, the king asked him, "What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?" Now Haman thought to himself, "Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?" We quickly condemn Haman's haughtiness of his own honor. I am more convicted by his haunting in my own mirror. Haman's conclusions of his world led to the presumption his words - immediately to be eaten in the presence of his enemy. Look at it from his perch on the pedestal. He was correct in his facts: there was no one above him and he had no reason to believe that anyone else would be honored besides him. Had we not had the complete story, we might have been blindsided as well. Oh, how this illustrates my life far too many times. Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust the LORD with all of our heart and lean not on our understanding. Do I trust my heart or mind? I take the facts of life and expect the most logical outcome: "I have a great resume, I will get a great job; I am favored by my boss, I will get a raise; Kids definitely love me, I will certainly have my own; I have a great personality, I will never feel alone...etc., etc." I, I, I....all based on what I see (which is fact), not WHO I serve (which is Reality). Who do I love, Who do I honor, Whose words do I speak and Whose heart do I reflect?? These are crucial questions of momentary reality more than abstract theology. Especially when the moment is white hot.
The "signs of salvation" - Riders Mordecai and Jesus.
Deliverance was on their minds.
In both cases, Passover was near. Either the Jewish people had just observed (Esther 3:12) or were about to observe (Luke 22) their highest day of remembering their deliverance by God's hand. In both cases, this was a day desperate for deliverance.
Salvation was in their cry.
One going from ridicule and sackcloth to the king's praise and finery:
Esther 6:11 "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!"
One going from praise and honor to ridicule and stripes:
Mark 11: 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" 10"Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!" "Hosanna in the highest!"
In both cases, the Jewish people certainly saw one person: their knight in shining armour; their king in salvation's announcement. THIS IS THE ONE who the KING delights in (as the Father has spoken of His delight over is Son). "Hosanna" - literally translated from the Greek: The , means "Save us, we beseech thee." One Dictionary translation is: hosanna interj. hallelujah! (used to express praise and adoration to God); deliver!, save me! (request for God's deliverance) n. shout of praise to God, appeal to God for deliverance.
Royalty was in their sights.
Both men went from riding in the streets, to the king's side (Esther 9:4, Hebrews 12:2) - all because they obeyed God, honored God, loved God, worshiped God; all under looming death. Mordecai rode the king's steed. Jesus will ride His own steed into Jerusalem again as King of Kings and LORD of Lords - no one ever before or after Him.
Who is your true knight, your true king, your true savior? Who do you see and believe? Who do you praise and honor? Who do you trust and love? Who are you reading now?
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I keep hearing, again and again and again, of very extreme living conditions. Health failing in ourselves or those closest to us. Finances failing and collapsing all around us. Relationships on the rocks, to put it mildly. These aren't headlines, these are everyday lives of very dear friends. This is their everyday, every moment reality. Yet in those very storms of life, I hear of God moving in the most meaningful ways - not just placing money in an account or having a spouse's temper simply cease, but His moving in the intimate moments in between lightening strikes and hail pelting; His moving heaven in the heart while we breathe the air of earth.
Do not be disillusioned, but see today for what it really is: maybe average, awesome, or atrocious. But also do not be deceived and see God for Who He Is: He is the amazing Author of Life and LIVES as an all surpassing power in this clay jar (2 Cor. 4:7)
Because Christ is meant to be our delight, our joy of living. He is the bridegroom for crying out loud. He is the dance of life. He is saying, there are moments -- there are moments when it is understandable that you're fine but I've got more for you than that. I want you to delight yourself in Me." - Beth Moore
A review on Brennan Manning's powerful book, Abbas Child, paraphrases "the moments" of our lives as this:
Once we experience this present risenness of Christ we become convinced that life is not, and cannot be, meaningless. A keen insight is seeing that Christ is risen and present now in our lives. Not just an event in the past, or a glorious future occurrence (the second coming). This is crucial, because it changes how we view our savior. “Here and now” is more powerful and more relevant to our daily living. Or, as the author put it, “faith in the present risenness of Jesus carries with it life-changing implications for the gritty routine of daily life”. For in seeing Jesus resurrected and alive in our lives, even this very day, reminds us that God is truly with us.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed.
Do you know any "happy captives?" Anyone is not under the freedom of Christ's Redemption is a captive, according to 2 Tim 2:26. Often they seem to be ignorant and/or quite happy with their captivity ("The greatest trick the devil ever pulled with convincing the world that he didn't exist"-The Usual Suspects) They are basically under "spiritual stockholm syndrome" and not only are they happy with their captivity, they will adamantly defend it.
I met one of those people last week via an online blog session. In short, he called me and any other believer ignorant, insane, and mentally ill for believing that the Bible is the actual Word of God. In one instance, he accused Christians of "cherrypicking the Bible," but only wanted to focus on selected passages in his discussions. In other words, he presented a huge double standard, by demanding that people get out of their "narrow-minded box" while at the same time absolutely refusing to look at Scripture in a COMPLETE context. As I repeated that there is more to God than a few chosen lines of Scripture, this man repeated his mantra that he did not believe Scripture as the Word of God. I was saddened by this man's anger towards Scripture and tightening bonds of his captivity. His choice to stay in bondage fueled by Scripture screamed at him in anger and not in love. He sees God as a threat instead of the Truth.
The one thing that this man mocked, but did not argue with, was this proclamation from another sister of ours: "The truth is that Yeshua is the Messiah and EVERY TONGUE WILL CONFESS AND EVERY KNEE WILL BOW. When you take your last breath and you face eternity ........you will KNOW that what Yeshua did on that cross is the only atonement for our sin. He IS our only hope. He IS worthy of all praise. Hallelujah! Glory to the Lamb of Yahweh forever and ever!"
Enjoy Him, Michelle
The Hebrew words used in Psalm 140 for Violent Men is Hamasim. When one looks up Violence in the R. Alcalay Complete Hebrew English Dictionary the Hebrew words Alimut, Paraetz, and Hamas are found. When looking from the Hebrew to the English the words translate as follows: Alimut - Violence, Terror, Terrorism Paraetz - breach, Gap, Trouble Hamas - to frighten, terrify, confound, stun, confuse, perplex (Esther 3:15, "the city of Susa was in confusion") All of these definitions are from modern Hebrew. http://www.standingstrong.org/index_files/StandingStrongHamas.htm
Even this terrorist group of Hamas (or another terrorist group, Hizballah) in control of a government does not possess the power to simply choose one day to wipe out a people in a single swipe. Even Hitler took years. There is no comparison for such anger, power, and sick disregard for any human life than in this day the ring was pressed to seal the fate of thousands. A plan, a parchment, a seal and a drink and the deal was done.
Suffice to say, we know people, if not ourselves, at this very moment who are very familiar with getting the news and waiting for the worst. All while praising God every step of the way. I wondered how a night of praise and prayer suddenly shifts into a whole new realm of reality when our circumstances so drastically change. Do we praise Him more? Less? Same? With more passion and fervor or with depression and fear? Do we sing of deliverance of the past, but deny the power of the present?
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
In the same way, Salvation does not physically change us, it spiritually changes us. It manifest from spiritual to physical in our everyday lives. It doesn’t change how we are as natural humans, it changes how are as “holy humans.” Salvation's first and greatest result is sight altering – God can see us in light and love, and for the first time, we can see ourselves in light and love - from shame in death to intimacy in life. Salvation is Life from death.
In Salvation, our eyes are not closed to our sinful ways, our eyes are opened to our saving grace. Sin is completely destroyed and we are very aware of the snake’s taunts to alter our view of our lives (“did God really say….”). Responses to taunts are not always correct (“…and you must not touch” was not in God’s instructions) and therefore leave more room for a foothold and stronghold to be established. Simply, we must know His Word to obey His Word and to answer for His Word when questioned. False or varying interpretation is not an excuse, it is an entrance to deception. We never lose our salvation once it’s received, we lose our sight of salvation under the guise of circumstance and selfish ambition.
Choice. Shame. Blame. Consequence.
Sin did not cause physical death, however, a consequence of sin was God's image-bearer being prohibited to eternal physical life. Man was created as an eternal being, but not given eternal physical life at his creation. He was given the choice, apparently, with the tree of life. That choice was removed when he choose to eat of the “other tree” instead. Clear instructions were given: “you may eat of life, not of knowledge.” One or the other. The test is not of “knowledge or ignorance” and being denied full use of our minds, but of obedience. “Choose first the kingdom of God (life) and all these things shall be added,” the Creator said. "Any man who lacks wisdom, ask for it" James notes of God.
I note the gardens of choices – the first Garden where man chose disobedience and the second where Christ chose ultimate obedience. At the entrance of the Eden garden, an angel was placed to guard against eternal physical life; at the entrance of the Tomb garden, an angel was placed welcoming us to eternal resurrected life!
I've recently heard other insights. Thorns and thistles were produced as a result of the Fall. Thorns and thistles were covered in the Creator’s blood to redeem us from that very curse. The first act of God following His conversation with His children was a blood sacrifice to cover their shame (consequence of sin). Jesus despised his shame, hanging naked on a cross, became the final sacrifice to cover us all.