Monday, December 13, 2010

Fall

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:23-24


A few weeks ago, I tripped and hit my chin on the sidewalk. Prayers began to flow over me as fast the blood flowed from my little head. I was quickly mended and healed in miraculous ways, without bruising, infection, and pain. As much as God allowed the cut, He provided the salve.

Many things came to mind. First, I had an entirely new personal perspective of the thorns of sin that drilled into Jesus' brow. My gash was so small, but it was enough to bleed profusely. How much more did His cut up, beat up, sliced up head bleed with no help and only hurt? I had mending; He had murdering.

Second, this physical fall brought forth physical blood. Sin always leads to the shedding of blood. Sin bleeds me to death until His blood leads me to life. I will fall, He will save. I will bleed, He will heal. I see the physical manifestations of my fall; how much more does the Father see my suffering spirit?

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. – James 5:16

Third, after I fell, I was driven to familiar friends like a child to parent’s embrace. Just as the first moments of sin resulted in humanity’s hiding, sin brings on the shame. When my heart, however it is, is revealed to a trusted friend, shame loses its power in my friend’s prayerful embrace. I was meant to be known, healed, and held in love in all times of life. He knows and He provides; I must trust and receive.

Even God’s own Son fell beneath the weight of sin; so certainly do I. God’s own son rose with scars, so certainly do I. No one is exempt from the bleeding; no one is excluded from the healing.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christ(mas) Call

Moses and Aaron then went into the Tent of Meeting. When they came out, they blessed the people; and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. Leviticus 9:23

What if your father was President of the United States? Three years ago, I watched Jenna Bush call her father, President George W. Bush, before a live audience. As his daughter, she called to show how easy it was for her to contact the most powerful man in the county. She approached him with respect, confidence and playfulness – even a little “fear and trembling” over his response to such an impromptu call. The audience, regardless of personal agreement with the President, was thrilled and honored to be in the presence of such power, albeit vicariously.

Jenna asked her dad, "Are you mad?" He responded, "No, not at all, I'm glad to talk to you." The host asked if the President would like to say Merry Christmas to the audience. The President responded, “I do want to say Merry Christmas to your audience, and I want to tell my little girl that I love her.”

This display reminded me of a much more powerful conversation with the Most High God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Ruler of all nations and how we neglect such an honor to call upon Him. If entering the Oval Office is a thrill, how much more then is entering the Holy of Holies at the invitation of the Awesome and Almighty King? Does fear keep us from the thrill of His conversation, as He waits on us to call?

Our “audience” wants to know, “Is it easy to call God?” They are awed by His Presence, but lack the intimate access of being His child to personally experience the conversation. Our Father responds with words of peace to the world and love to our hearts. He says, “I want to tell the people ‘Merry Christmas,’ celebrate my Son’s birth, but to the one who called on Me, I want you to know that there is no reason to fear my wrath only because you are my child and I love you very much! Enjoy my Presence and teach others to do the same through my Son.” This is Christmas.

Click here to watch Jenna Bush call her Dad, Pres. Bush

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Marked

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8-9

John Eldredge writes: “As Eugene Peterson said, ‘We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and an end, we have a plot, we have characters.’ Story is the language of the heart.”


“Mom really likes this author” my sister exclaimed during a Women of Faith Tampa conference. Two weeks later, I would have the honor of serving at the Women of Faith Ft. Lauderdale conference. “I have a GREAT idea!” she said. “I will buy his book, mail it to you, you can get it signed by him, and that will be her Christmas present.” PERFECT! And so it came to pass that book was bought and signed to be her gift.

Sometime during the night, I spilled coffee onto the book. Thankfully, the stain was only on the outer edges. The inside pages, however, remained pristine and without a trace of trauma. Still, I was mortified. There was no covering or cleaning this mess. The signed book was irreplaceable! The stained cover was irreversible. It is to be given "as is."

…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

My choices will never change God's Sovereignty of my story. Though my cover is stained with humanity, my heart is signed with Holiness. He cleanses me internally, He changes me externally, and He carries me daily. My stains are not in shame, but are part of the tapestry that calls to other beggars to read of His grace and mercy.

I am a story book irreplaceable. His Son’s signature is irrevocable. I am bought, signed, and delivered to be the perfect and personal gift from the Son to His Father. This is also the gift presented to the world: His Perfect Word written inside this imperfect cover.

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

Click here for "Heal the Wound" by Point of Grace

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Watch and Wait

But those who wait for Yahweh will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run, and not be weary. They will walk, and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Psalm 39:7

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him; To the person who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25

The service has started, but she remained distracted. Her eyes kept daring towards the door; she was obviously waiting on someone to join her. She was not going to be engaged, enthralled, or enjoying the moments of worship until her friend arrived and was by her side.

Watching her, I wondered…”Do I seek You, Jesus, with as much anticipation and attention? Is my focus on the service or watching for my Savior? Do remain uneasy until You are engaging me?”

Beth Moore once noted: “One day it dawned on me: no wonder we are so exhausted…we are waiting on everything except Him…’those who wait for YHWH will renew their strength.’ Those who wait on anything and everything else will be drained of their strength.” I am certainly living proof of that.

Personally, I wait on: words. I wait on emails. I wait on texts. I wait on calls. I wait on conversations. I find myself waiting on others’ words, even if they are about my LORD, before I wait on my LORD’S WORD.

Paraphrasing, one author notes: “’wait’ and ‘hope’ are two words in scripture that weave together into one binding rope; in fact they are often interchanged.” What I am waiting on reveals where my heart’s hope truly lies. For example, waiting on another’s words before God’s Word reveals my unbelief in God to be my priority, my passion, and my power of life. Who do I search for, who do I long for, who do I hope for?

He lives and breathes in me – yet I have made Him so commonplace that I cast aside His Presence for much less securities, comforts, and loves. “Seek first, His…” and then “all these things” will truly be every gift and favor God intended them to be in my life…but only after I am satisfied by His Living Water. Priority of His Presence brings to life the joy of His gifts. A simple truth eroded by distractions that turns my heart from His face…a moment here and there, then again here and there. Simply He says: “Wait and watch for Me. Love Me. Trust Me. Desire Me. Worship will flow as I hold you close and you hold close to Me, child. Just look for Me and You will see, I am already here.”

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

El Roi

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: "You are the God who sees me," for she said, "I have now seen the One who sees me." Genesis 16:13

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.  Jer. 31:3

So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20


My friend saw this picture of my nephew Mason and exclaimed: “Oh, I just want to hug him!” You really, really do just want to scoop him up, hold him, and just love on him! Nothing brings a more beautiful smile to both the holder and the held. Upon those words, my heart wondered: "Is this how you see me, Abba?" Immediately my Abba whispered…”Yes! That is exactly what I keep saying of you, Michelle.” Those words kept resonating again and again…”Oh, I just want to hold you…oh, feel me holding you.”

That day my Abba was calling, I was visiting my nephew for his birthday celebration. Celebration quickly turned to concern as Mason fell very ill. He remained ill for almost two weeks. For days, Mason would wake from his sleep and find the energy to walk around until he found his dad. Then he would fall into his dad's arms, rest, and wait for his healing to come.

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. Psalm 18:6

When our hearts are a mess, we tend to want to hide until we are more "presentable" and more "desirable" to be held. Hagar was a mess when YHWH found her. The wayward son was a mess when his father held him. David was a mess when EL SHADDAI rescued him. Reminding me all the more that however I am, He still sees, He still holds, He still comforts, He still heals..in every way. Both, when I am happy and "look good," and when I am an absolute mess in every way. Just fall into His arms and let Him be Dad. Always.

So much of this truth is in Psalm 139. Take each line out of familiarity and read with Him. See with Him.

Psalm 139
1 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
5 You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God! Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
20 They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD, and abhor those who rise up against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Storm Stories

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Cor. 1:3-5

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16

And I'll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands for You are who You are no matter where I am – Casting Crowns


The thunder rolled and the rain pounded against the glass. I waited a few more minutes until the storm passed and then got in the car and headed home. The clouds from the storm formed a brilliant and gorgeous sunset! You know the kind – with pinks, purples and oranges streaming through the remnants of gray. The new asphalt was a smooth canvas of puddles, filled with the reflection of the beautiful sunset! Looking up or looking down, beauty was everywhere…because of storm.

When I am given a new heart, I am meant to reflect the Light of Christ. That light is often most beautiful after a storm. Problem is, I tend to hide my puddles. They are dirty and dangerous in my view. From my friends’ view, however, they are exactly what reflects His power, His provision, His presence. Changing my perspective to His perspective, I can move from seeing the messiness of my struggles to the mastery of His tapestry – His beauty reflected in my puddles!

He gives us these “storm stories” to reflect Him in ways others can relate, not to hide Him away until a “prettier story” emerges. He is the beauty that emerges through our clouds, making His story all the more glorious through our lives; just as they are, just as God intended.  Are we looking to reflect Him as He is in our lives authentically or to reflect ourselves in a better light, a better life, a better story with more sun and less mess? For Him to rescue, there must a storm to rescue me from. Both sides of the story are to be told for His glory to be known.

Only His Spirit opens my eyes to see Him in my storm. Only His Spirit moves me to trust Him to be more than I know, to truly be more than I can imagine. Only His Spirit calls me to courage to confess.

Share struggles. Praise Him in the storm. See Him in all.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Worship

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3




Praise and Worship

From the moment I start my car, praise music flows. Recently, I’ve noticed that as the familiar words surround my hearing, my thoughts wander off to affairs of the day or plans for the night. Wait...Praise of the Most High God is flowing, where is my worship?

Praise is the thread throughout the day, but has it become so familiar that I lose sight of the One I praise? While the holy, powerful, glorious Name of God reaches my hearing, my mouth is preoccupied with the absolute trivial and fleeting selfishness of my day. Stupid stuff while splendor sounds. No wonder the rest of my day is caught up in selfishness; I am given moments of worship and I waste the moments on me.

He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’ Mark 7:6

It’s not a matter of legalistically worshiping God at every turn. It’s a matter of being aware of God, all around, and responding to Him in love and worship. Creation shouts of His glory! Do I see, do I join, do I worship with?

From Levite to Love

When the Jews reached the temple gates, after ascending 14 steps on the southern end of the temple walls, they had only one, single, solitary thing on their minds: worship. These days when our church worship service begins, I find that I often have many things on my mind. The familiar songs begin and my mind goes into auto-pilot instead of being caught up in the awesome, beautiful, powerful Presence of the Most High God! One who loves and listens, delights and devotes, creates and cares.

Praise begins with prayer and prayer begins with praise. Constantly as breathing..only by His Spirit.

My heart determines my worship. Taking captive every thought, to worship, brings down every stronghold. Trusting in Him, keeps my mind steadfast on Him, in worship of Him. Here is His peace, His power and His Presence. When I come, loving Him. “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." Mark 12:33

John 10:10 notes that the enemy seeks to steal, kill and destroy my worship of the Most High God. Jesus restores my abundant life in pure worship of Him! Praise Him with my words, my thoughts, my rest in Him.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Desire

All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. Psalm 38:9

"What do you want me to do for you?" Luke 18:41a

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

“Nothing dictates our lives like our desires.” – Beth Moore

“Beneath the desires of my heart is the heart of my desire.” – Beth Moore

In the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Captain Jack Sparrow carries a compass. Unlike any other, this compass doesn’t lead to destination, it leads to satisfaction. Captain Jack explains, “It points to the thing you want the most.”

What do you really want? Your heart laid in your hand, what would your compass reveal as the desire of your heart?

Like the chest that contained the captain’s heart (Pirates 2), we bury our hearts, our desires, our hopes, our passions in the details of our days. We long for a passionate love relationship with God and with others, but slowly the sands of life bury us deeper and deeper from true life.

“How do I dig out my heart?” John Eldredge notes, “’How’ is God’s department; ‘what’ is His question for me.” He continues, “The way towards true life is not abandoning my desire, but entering more deeply into the heart’s longings.”

There will be stormy seas and shipwrecked relationships. There will be false maps and betraying voices. There is much examination and discernment as to the heart of God and the deceptive desires. The truest treasure is found in the love relationship with my Captain, and He charts my way from the helm of my heart.

Where does the compass lead? What do I really want?

Bonus: Desire by John Eldredge. If you dare venture...make this your next read.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Manna

Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Hebrews 9:3,4

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10


Hidden within the Mercy Seat of Love were three items. 1. The timeless Law spoken yesterday. 2. The provision of life today. 3. The way of leadership into tomorrow. Just as the veil to the Holy of holies was torn by the Lamb’s Blood, so is the veil of my life torn apart by His Love. The more His Presence fills the Seat of my heart, the more I reveal His Word, His Work and His Way in and through my life.

For me, the most personal of these is the gold jar of manna. Like many, I relate the story of the Israelites gathering manna in the morning to gathering the greatest provision of all, God’s Word, for my day. Whenever needed, I can reach into my jar of clay and receive His Breath and Bread.

Recently, though, manna has come to me as moments…dozens and dozens of miraculous moments that display God’s constant provision in the details of my days. The more I hold onto these moments, the faster they dissolve into ruin. The more I celebrate God's moments of provision, the more I enjoy the miracles of His Presence. Again and again.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. –Lamentations 3:23

A Scripture on a Facebook post. An encouraging email. A text. A phone call. A song. A smile. A touch. A glance. A child’s laughter. A friend’s time. I love you. How are you? I’m praying for you. I cherish you. Little moments, huge moments all mix into the drudgery of laundry and dishes and deadlines and, and, and…

Some days are silent. Those moments are when He personally provides His Presence. His Word. His song. His touch. His glance. I love you. I cherish you. I am praying for you. All moments beyond my sight, but more intimate in my heart.

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 4:7

I may feel like my little jar is running on empty, but the truth is, abundant life is mine every moment of the day. The more I cherish in His moments around me, the more "manna moments" I can give to others.

Listening to Him in study of His Word. Loving Him in the moments of life. Leading others to the Promised Land of His abundant life. Law – study. Live – piety. Lead – action. Seek Him. See Him. Show Him. All wrapped in His never ending Mercy and Grace.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lost and Found

When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:17-20

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love. Robert Robinson, 1758

GILL: Besides, you got your dad out there looking for you. Bet he's on his way right now.
NEMO: Not my dad…
BRUCE, the Shark: Now there's a father looking for his little boy.

I tend to wander off. My grandmother loves to tell of when I was in grade school and she lost me in Woolworth’s. Apparently, I had determined that we were finished and I was waiting for her outside the store! As a teen I would walk along the beach for miles, not thinking twice that anyone would wonder where I was. I was wrong. My parents did wonder and worry until I returned. My reputation precedes me. Last month at Disney, my sister told my niece “not to be like Aunt Chelle and wander off.” So, Madison and I both were watched very carefully in crowds.

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." - A.W. Tozer

I generally don’t live moment by moment, in view of my amazing, passionate Father always running to me. Always desiring to hold me and kiss me. Wow. I know this as a fact, but don’t live this as belief. When I decide to wander off, I am not thinking of Him at all. How much more would my wandering lessen if my sights were set on the unseen, until my heart felt the unfathomable?

When I do come to my senses, (again and again) is my drive to come to Him for my relief or for our relationship? Seeing Him for all that He is changes me in all that I am.

Had the prodigal son had any thought that his father desired him to come home as his son, not his servant, it may have quickened his steps to reunite with him. He only thought of his sins, never of his sonship. Once Nemo realized that his father really was searching for him, it completely changed his drive to reunite with him. Again, he only thought of his father’s disappointment over him; not realizing his father’s desire for him.

But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?" Genesis 3:9 From the very beginning, He is a Father searching for wanders. That is His nature of love. Even in this moment…for me.

Should I wander, He is always near. But to see Him as He is; holds and keeps me being here.

Click Here for You Invite Me In


Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Battle Lies

"Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" Isaiah 6:5-8

"God does not condemn me, Satan does. God convicts me so I can see my error, surrender to Him, pucker up and kiss it good-bye!"- Beth Moore, Measureless Love

Wounds Wept

Sacrifice is a glorious moment of God's victory, and an announcement of my vulnerability. This Sabbath, I brought my sacrifice, gave it one final kiss goodbye…and the enemy was watching. No sooner had I left the temple doors did his attacks begin. As a friend once said, "The enemy meets us at the gates." Does he ever. He likes to wield his favorite weapon: ½ truth of what I see turned to a lie that I feel.

“Whatever is denied cannot be healed.” –Brennan Manning
“A wound that goes unacknowledged and unwept is a wound that cannot heal.” – John Eldredge


I saw and wept over the wound, as I gave it into the Wounded One's healing hands. God, in His mercy, showed me the process and promise: An intended lie became a battle line. Eden had come to the cross for truth and victory.

Tables Turned
As with Isaiah, I came to the face of Holiness..no one else, just Him…and cried of my shame. As He answered with a burning coal from sin’s sacrifice, He brought truth both of His love and my life.

The voice said, “Some days you will disappoint. Some days you will hurt. Some days you will walk alone. Try as you may, you can never totally keep that from happening; it’s just how life rolls.” That may sound harsh, but to me, it was a relief to face the truth that imperfection is inevitable, so I can rest in His love. Simple and profound. Speaking my language.

Then the weight shifted. From weight of me to weight of glory: “But I am your constant. I am here to take every moment that bears down on you, so that we, just you and Me, can walk through. For real.” There is so much more. But, for a moment, desire enveloped disappointment as a tangible reality.

Disappointment to Divine Appointment
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

A few moments after holding my own tears, I held the tears of another who cried in joy over found freedom! I shared words that came straight from God – of His Sovereignty, of His Hope, and of His Love. He took me, literally, from my pit to His pulpit. From feeling alone to feeling atoned. From crying in shame to crying His Name. From wanting to run away to declaring His Grace.

I fall face down in worship, thanksgiving, and praise to the One who rescued me! His voice of Truth spoke freedom in me to speak freedom through me. Constantly.

Click here for "Everything Falls" by Fee

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spirit Fall

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. Revelation 14:2

"The hosts of heaven are sure to hear a thunderous rumble as boulders (of pride) roll off our road to freedom." – Beth Moore

“As I was praying for you, God gave me a dream about you” began my friend Alyssa (Alyssa and I haven’t seen each other since college…yet, this night, God literally connected us in a dream). She continued:

“There was a beautiful waterfall in Boulder, Colorado. I have no idea why in Boulder, but it was very clearly, Boulder, Colorado. You were at the base of the waterfall, waiting. Then I saw the hands of God cup your face. The look of contentment and adoration on your face was amazing!”

That was it. That was the dream. But, that was enough for me. Sitting as His feet. Gazing into His face. How I pray for those "Mary Moments." I know that He is my contentment, my adoration, and my song. But to be there, oh wow. Lord, oh how?

This past weekend I realized why it was the town of Boulder. God had some “boulders” to remove…really remove…before I could join Him at His Spirit fall. Boulders of approval. Boulders of fear. Boulders of unbelief. Boulder of insecurity. Boulders I have tried to move myself. I've tried for myself, not for Him. Once HE moved them: glory to God in the Highest. His Presence is my dream come true.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. - Zephaniah 3:17 Drenched in His delight, and He in mine.  Silenced in His love, singing in His eyes. Words cannot begin to describe. Seek Him; He finds. Oh, He finds.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

God’s Positioning Spirit

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 4:12

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.   John 10:27

To say that I am directionally challenged in a huge understatement. In most cases, I make sure to get very specific directions to get from Point A to Point B. Yet, when I come to fork in the road (or an approaching exit), I didn’t get directions, and I have about ½ a second to decide my destiny – I tend to go with logic.

Such was the case driving to West Palm Beach from Orlando, Florida. I-4 East or I-4 West? Well, I’m heading toward the Atlantic Ocean, so east it is. I soon realized by my surroundings that I was going to wrong way. I then pulled off of I-4 to look at a map (finally) and ask for directions. Finally I was heading the right direction towards home. The money and miles were a waste, but the lesson was learned.

Life is a constant journey and logic can be very dangerous as a direction; especially at the moment of decision. “This road seems to be going right where I want to go: security, love, acceptance, relationship and fun.” I had been with the Guide for years, but His Map stayed folded up on a box. Pride took me down a path that, years later, ended at an exit ramp and a crash landing. Totaled my heart. Took years of repair.

At the end of the road was the Map and the Guide. The years were a waste, but the lesson was learned. I may speed and swerve. I may crash into consequences. I may get distracted and miss my desires. But with every mile, I know that logic lies and the Lord loves. He is my only hope for Home.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Two Dads

"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty    2 Corinthians 6:18

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

“Whenever you are ready, your Father's house is waiting." Rev. K.K. Devaraj, Mumbai, India to orphaned children, drug addicts, and prostitutes.


Earthly Papa

My dad divorced my mother when I was five. Though I come from a divorced family, I never thought that my father abandoned me. I simply thought that a normal life consisted of not living in the same house as my father. Not having constant conversations with my father. Not revealing my heart to my father. I would only visit him on weekends, with a little more time and attention on Christmas Day. Blessings were bountiful when we were together and life carried on as usual when we were apart. Sound familiar?

When we hear the name “Father,” we often tend to view Elohim Abba the way we view our earthly papas. This is not conscious. This is not consistent. But it is natural. Whether our earthly fathers were abusive or adoring, the truth is that our papas are parables and our Father as incomparable. As He is, not as I imagine He should be. I have a choice in laying down all of my life before my Eternal Father. Either my experiences can determine my view of Abba, or my Abba can direct me through my experiences.

If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith; but nothing can ever upset God or the almighty Reality of Redemption; base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God… Faith based on experience is not faith; faith based on God’s revealed truth is the only faith there is. – Oswald Chambers

Elohim Abba

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. I John 4:16

"The Christian confidence that you and I can approach God as Father is the unique and pressing gift of the Son" - Jill Carattini God is Holy. God is Perfection. God is Love. He is Everything; with or without a relationship with me. Then there’s a gift received. A shift in me. Immediately. The Father of the Son becomes my Father. Love beyond knowledge, beyond comprehension, beyond measure. He resides above all as infinite and He resides in me...most intimate. His greatest delight and desire is to hold me. Wow.

Now, with all of this truth of Who My Father is...how do I relate to Him as Dad? My friend Beverly reminds me, “Just keep trusting Him with everything, crawl into His lap and let Him brush your hair with His strong fingers, feeling His grip holding you close to His heart, and His heartbeat becomes yours.”

Click: Francis Chan (from Crazy Love) talks more on Abba's lap

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Abba

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship (adoption), and by him we cry, "Abba, Father!” Romans 8:15



“I love when she calls me Daddy. Melts my heart every time.” – David Mitchell, Father to two year old Belle who is battling cancer.


Abba, I belong to You. – Brennan Manning

Dastan was caught stealing. He was terrified. He tried to run, of course. But a criminal’s consequences will always find him out. This day, however, he was under the gaze of the king. Just as the sword raised to smite him, the king’s right hand raised to save him. The king’s left hand raised to receive him. In an instant, Dastan was offered redemption and adoption. The famished had a feast. The beggar had an inheritance. The king became his father; the orphan became his prince. Dastan deserved death; the king gave him destiny. Raised in royalty. Lavished in love. Hardships of humanity will never steal his identity. Saved. Chosen. Redeemed. Loved. Son. Heir. Prince. Forever.

Dastan’s story is my story. Each of us begins in the market. Orphaned from day one by our separation from God. We are condemned by a law that we cannot keep. We try to run away and hide, but we will never our run our consequences. We are brought before a merciful king. His right hand, scarred with salvation, is lifted to save us from death. With His left hand, the King extends to us the option of adoption. Either we deny the king our sonship (and ourselves His Home), or we accept His amazing grace to call Him Abba Father forever. To accept His offer, we admit to our crimes, look Him in the eyes, and sign in Jesus’ blood. Then we are lifted on His white horse and taken to our inheritance. Dastan’s story is fable; our story is forever.

This is only the beginning, but it must begin to be. He created me to love Him, but I choose my destiny. Taking His hand, my journey begins. Love takes me in. (Click here for Abba's adoption song): When Love Takes You In by SCC

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Deathly Swallows

And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:9

“Maybe the truth of the Adam and Eve story, maybe the greatest power of the story, is not so much that it happened, but that it happens.” Rob Bell

Pelicans are especially vulnerable to oil. Not only could they eat tainted fish and feed it to their young, but they could die of hypothermia or drowning if they're soaked in oil. - AP

Along with having oil-slicked feathers, the pelicans gather food in their normal feeding grounds and feed it to their babies. They don’t get CNN, NPR or the Gulf Times. They are completely unaware that death lurks inside the fish that they are feeding to their young. Can you imagine the outrage of finding out that you routinely bought oil-stuffed fish at the market, fed it unknowingly to your child and your toddler died as a result? You had no idea, but it never changed the results: death.

Yet, everyday we swim in death. We eat death. Then we feed it to our family, our friends, our co-workers, our children. We are deceived that our portion is pure. But really, it's filled with death. The first feeding started with the First Family:

Deception: "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." – Genesis 3:4-5

Delivery: When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6

Death: Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned; -Romans 5:12

Today’s Catch:

We are, in fact, born with “oil on our feathers and toxins in our mouths.” How then shall we live? We are not hopeless to die because into death we are born.

Unlike pelicans, we can choose to come clean and eat clean.

“…every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! – Hebrews 9:13-14

Unlike pelicans, we can choose feeding grounds of death or life.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. – Proverbs 18:21

Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you. Proverbs 23:6-7

From these verses comes the phrase: “a man thinks in his heart, so is he” and I might add, “so he calls to his friends to eat and drink from the tainted well of his heart.”

Unlike pelicans, we can choose to feed truth or toxins to the world around us.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7

I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. Psalm 89:1

From my mouth to the multitudes, I choose pure.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Spill Solution

Everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean, but it shall be purified with water for impurity. But whatever cannot stand the fire you shall pass through the water. – Numbers 31:23

At least 6 million gallons of crude have spewed into the Gulf, though some scientists have said they believe the spill already surpasses the 11 million-gallon 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill off Alaska as the worst in U.S. history. -Bluestein and Brown, AP


Problem.
Purity cannot abide with contamination. For example, obviously oil and water don’t mix. Even one drop causes the pure to become impure – affecting the water and every living thing around it. How much more damaging is gallons of gushing oil pouring into pure waters; constant contamination? We see this first hand in oil spills on the open seas, but how much more impurity contaminates our souls...every moment of the day. Disasters of environment are mere reflections of disasters of the soul…and they are everywhere.

We were born with BCUs (Broken Contamination Units). Like oil in water, sin is not under our control. Even a drop of disobedience results in death. No exceptions. Man tries in vain, but he is not able to contain the flow. Eventually, it will kill him and damage everything around him.

Purity.

There is only one way to contain the sin from spilling out. Jesus' Blood is the only tried, tested and proven purifying solution. This is the one who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. – 1 John 5:6,7

In the beginning, God sanctioned water as the cleansing agent. The water itself was only a tool; man's obedience to immerse in the water was the door to purification. At the moment of the Saviour’s death, water and blood mixed to provide the ultimate door to purity. Just by asking for the solution, we are given the purity from contamination and the seal of salvation. His Word keeps the purity in place; our prayer keeps the purity in practice.

So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word. - Ephesians 5:26

Proof.
Once purity is within, it flows without. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." – John 7:38 Everywhere, everyday. Just as constant as the river that flows before the throne of God. May we be one, just as the Father and Son are One. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb – Revelation 22:1

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sight and Sound

I will cry to you when my heart is overwhelmed. Psalm 61:2

Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Psalm 55:5, 8, 16

“The witch is mean and I don’t like her.” - Madison

When my three year old niece Madison encounters anything scary, like a Disney villain, she instinctively keeps her eyes fixed on the fear, but places her hands over her ears. She silently soaks in every moment, until the scariness passes. We only have two hands to block out one sense, which do you choose?

What about when the horror is every moment of our lives? For example, disease, death or divorce? I think we respond like Madison. We sit in the dark. We stare at the terror. We scream at the situation. We cry fear instead of faith. We focus on the moment instead of His face. We watch fear like a hawk; we miss watching our Father like a child. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18

Not only do we continue to focus on our fear, but we also choose to cover our ears to God’s calming and comforting peace. When we refuse to listen to Truth, the nightmare grows darker and darker with lies.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33 Real life nightmares will come to be our reality. Yet, Jesus tells us to take "heart" that He has overcome each one. We must hear Him to believe Him; never more urgently than in the middle of the storm.

My choice is always from my heart: stare fear in the face with faith, speak praise over pain, and listen to truth over terror. I will cover myself in garments of righteousness, lifting trembling hands before His throne of Sovereignty and Peace. This is my only hope in my present trouble. It may not take away the terror, but it will shelter me in the storm.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Touch

Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." John 20:27

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain" Revelation 5:6

Seeing is not always believing; but touching erases all doubt. By design, intimacy requires closeness, and the closest human experience is touch. I know this, well…first hand.

The most powerful moments in Israel came from a simple touch.Viewing the Jordan River was beautiful. Immersing in the Jordan River was breathtaking. Approaching the Western Wall was intriguing. Touching the ancient stones was indescribable. Moments of touching authenticity brought an intimacy that my heart could only know through my hand. There is a time where we watch from a distance, but then there is a moment when we touch for ourselves. From doubt to destiny.

I know Thomas understands. The name “Thomas” is synonymous with the word “doubt.” Yet, Thomas was the only one invited into intimacy for his honesty. To touch His Wounds...what a powerful moment! 

From this moment through all of eternity, Perfection Glorified chose to keep these scars. Everyone doubts. Could His eternal scars be, so that we all "see and believe"?

Turned from Upper Room to Throne Room, my moment stands with Thomas’ moment: My decision in faith, leads to my declaration of glory, and my blessing in belief.

My Declaration of Jesus as Lord: Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  John 20:28

His Declaration of me Loved: Then Jesus told him, "Because you (Thomas) have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those (me and you) who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

The paradox is that we won’t touch these eternal scars unless we first believe…for Jesus brought to us a much greater gift – He brings us the touch from within.

“Reach out and touch My scars whenever you doubt Me at any time, in any way. Stop doubting and believe, again and again and again. Place your hands here…and here. Feel the scars, pressing you against My pierced side. I will never leave you, but I will intimately touch you now and through eternity.”

His scars testify of one word: Believe.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Stain

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. – Psalm 51:7

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

In heaven, things are not stained or broken; everything is as it was meant to be…As George MacDonald prayed, "Gather my broken fragments to a whole . . . Let mine be a merry, all-receiving heart, but make it a whole, with light in every part." But you can't do this at a distance; you can't ask Christ to come into your wound while you remain far from it. You have to go there with him. - John Eldredge

A stain. I’m not sure how it got on my new shirt, but it’s there and it’s obvious. No problem. I will just spray on the stain remover solution, let it soak in the detergent and wash. Three times I “washed and repeated,” but yet it remained. Now I’m not sure which is more irritating: the stain or the removal process. Getting a stain out requires more than just applying the removal solution. The solution must be rubbed in. This takes participation and persistence. Only then can the stain dissolve to be washed away.

“…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Philippians 2:12-13

God noted the same thing in my own stained heart. My heart is cleansed in His Blood, but it daily contracts stains that require confession for cleansing. He wants to talk to me, very specifically, personally, and sometimes painfully, about my stain. I must participate with Him until His peace comes. I may stare at the stain, talks to friends about the stain, and even reads the label on the "stain removal Bible". But to rub in the solution feels more like salt in wound than a healing balm. It's too much to touch.

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. – Revelation 19:13

To wear the white linen, I must touch the red robe. I must press through the pain to know His healing. I am responsible for bringing my stains to Jesus’ cross; He is responsible for removing stains through His Blood.

Only His Amazing Blood removes stains. Rub It in.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Monday, May 3, 2010

Red

Love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8 

By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast Ephesians 2:8-9

I have an awful driving record. I’ve totaled a car or three and have built police stations with speeding fines. You’d think I’d be rehabilitated, but alas no.

I was approaching the intersection to turn into Walmart. I was just stopping in to pick up bread for a communion meal. As I come to the intersection, the lights go from red to green…except for the turn light which remained red. Out of habit, I focused on the green light and turned left. Immediately I realized what I had done: I just ran a red light. My first thought (not for my safety, ironically), was “Yea, no cops!” ½ a second later, I thought, “Oh, this intersection has those cameras!” ½ a second later I pray, “Lord, give me grace.”

How often this describes my sin life. Being a Christian forgives my sin nature, but does not exempt me from sinful behavior. Though my intention is sacred, my attention is scattered. Keeping with the law is good; keeping with the Lord is freedom. With sinful action I am not exempt from consequence and cost. My confession doesn’t remove my guilt, but it does bring it before the One forgives.

After sinful behavior, my first thought is: “Who was watching? Who will condemn me?” Then I am relieved to see that no one was around to “catch me in the act and charge me for my actions.” Oh, but there is the only One Who is ever right to judge the sins of my life – Jesus. Not to punish, but to teach. Lord, give me grace. Grant me what I don’t deserve, Your mercy.

“Do you know what you did?” “Yes, Officer, I do know.” “You know you have to pay the fine because there are consequences to shattering the standard, but the points will be removed from your record.” “Why, Officer?” “Because you acknowledged your wrong action and the Chief of Police has agreed to take on the ‘permanent record’ of anyone who confesses and accepts his forgiveness of all offenses. Whether or not you were intentional, the law remains broken and someone, either you or the Chief, has to reconcile it. Either he fixes your record for you, or you pay for it forever. There are no other options, and if there were, they wouldn’t satisfy fixing the broken law. These are not points of punishment, but options of forgiveness. ”

Wow. How much more am I apt to focus on such Giver of grace? How quickly do I forget the reality of grace and eternal costs?

Sin may seem like our minor infraction, but that’s because we are deceived into thinking its severity is based on our determination of “right and wrong.” Sin is not based on the moral mind, it’s based on the heart’s holiness. There are no “minor and major” offenses because there is no “minor or major” separation from Holiness. There is no “time served or parole based on crime severity or good behavior.” The penalty is death and we choose the ruling – “death already served or death for eternity.” This is a very real choice we all make. Ignore the citation, but someone still pays.

Most of us know the salvation, but forget the Saviour. Most of us pay the fine but forget the cost.

Lord, help me to know the severity of my sin to know the wonder of your grace.

Enjoy Him, Michelle mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Water to Wine

…and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now." This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. John 2:9-11




Sip the cup.
What an amazing gift! $12 seats to opening night of the opera Carmen! Such a wonderful night for such little cost! Naturally, the first question is “Where are the seats?” For such a great deal, I imagined that the seats were on the edge of the universe. But, who cares, it’s opening night and I’m going to the opera!

Cheaper wine is served later when it is less appreciated. Cheaper seats are located further from the stage. We don’t think twice about it. It’s just how life “rolls.” Imagine the surprise when the first the cup reaches the lips….

Saved the best.
Upon arrival, we got the tickets from will call. The seats were in the Orchestra section, 11 rows from the stage! $120 seats for $12! Wow! I immediately knew that this was one of those “water to wine” moments. Out of nowhere, He takes an already amazing event with natural expectations and elevates it to the very best possible! All because He can! He got my praise and thanks for His glorious display of favor, and I received the blessing of His Presence throughout the night. Fleeting is the moment, but forever is His Presence.

Serve and see.
Many may not know where such favor comes from, but as His servant, I know. I also know why He brings such moments of miracle: that our Father be glorified and that we may put our faith in Him. Mark 2:12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

He also showers us with gifts simply because He loves to delight His children…and in such creative ways! Splitting seas and orchestra seats! We expect so little and receive so much! Oh, and the greatest upgrade in the universe: Heaven. Throne room seats. Whispers are as rushing waters and colors are indescribable! All as a gift from a Friend. He paid, I praise. He gives, I receive. My water to His wine.

Take the ticket, receive the joy, rest in His grace. If even for a moment, of Eternity, foretaste.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Via Distraction

Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:27

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. Luke 9:23


In Jerusalem, Israel the Via Dolorosa is the “Way of Suffering.” It is a crowded, uphill pathway that Jesus is said to have walked from His place of trial to His place of crucifixion. In 2,000 years, some things have not changed. Crowds still line the noisy path. But today, instead of angry mockers, they are vying vendors.

I kept looking around thinking, "This is my life. Everyday I walk the sacred steps of Jesus and everyday my steps are pulled with constant distraction."

Deny the Distractions.
If you walk this sacred road, you are a target. Distractions are everywhere from beginning to end, left and right. So much temptation surrounds us to "scan, shop, socialize," etc. The issue was not to deny shopping, it was to deny distraction. Denial of self is not suffering, it is salvation.

As with my life's journey: the place is the venue, the purpose is the value. The first focus is Jesus, the following focus is people. The first focus is my freedom, the following focus is their freedom. Often all in the same moment.

Take up my Cross.
"Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies." 2 Corinthians 4:10 Every day I am called to take up my cross – in confession and conviction, never condemnation. Sin's suffering is a cross that I already carry in me through the sacrifice of Jesus. His cross drags through my daily moments and encounters.

Whatever our day may bring, whether or not there's suffering, we all carry the cross inside and we all face the pulls of life.

Follow Me.
As we walked, we had to keep our heads down and our ears in tune to our guide’s voice. Exactly like following in His steps today: keep humbled, hear His voice, walk as He guides.

Every day is a Path. Every turn is a distraction. Every step is a choice: Daily desire, denial, and deliverance. Until stone turns to gold, Blood flows as I follow.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beauty of Bubbles

It is not service that matters, but intense spiritual reality, expecting Jesus Christ at every turn. This will give our life the attitude of child-wonder which He wants it to have. -Oswald Chambers

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

My nephew Mason worked so hard at getting the bubbles just right, that he never looked up to enjoy them! “Mason, look up,” we’d say, but to no avail. He was busy. That is me as God’s child; I am so busy “producing beauty” for others to enjoy, but miss the entire reason God brought me to that moment: to enjoy Him.

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Luke 10:39-40a

Just as Mason needed to bring the bubbles and as Martha needed to bring the bread, I am needed to "bring the beauty." But, just as Mason needed to soak in the joy and Mary chose to soak in her Savior, I am needed to "be still and know that He is God." Otherwise, what a moment lost on my heart's distraction!

We are either preparing for or practicing in His Presence! What loss is mine when I never look up to receive my Redeemer; what joy is mine when my lamp’s oil blazes with His brilliant Light! (Matthew 25:4,6,13)

Is this moment in preparation or in celebration? Still and soak in the wonder, dear child.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love Note

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

I checked on my texts account today and found that I was way over my limit. I called ATT to assess the damages. What I heard was the divine.

I explained to the service rep that I had a lot of email texts from Sunday and was wondering how much it was going to cost me. In her distinct Virginia accent, she said, “Let me tell you about my text from Sunday. I wasn’t even thinking about Valentine's Day or any of that. I got a text from a number I didn’t know that said Happy Valentine’s Day. Be blessed. I had never heard of that number, so I’m sure that message was from God. I can't tell you how much that "mistake message" wasn't a mistake at all, it was a miracle to my week."

She went on to talk about how God is all around in the big and little things. She talked about in the intricacies of thousands of animals, just the animals, God shows His handiwork. And He sends her a note – through an unknown angel – to remind her of His love for her. Then she quoted her favorite verse…the verse that I read just this morning: “His mercies are new every morning, great is His faithfulness.” Lamentations 2:23 "Every morning," she said with joy.

She was just thrilled to share her story with someone who didn’t think she was crazy. I told her that I'm sure I was more thrilled to hear than she was to share! God knew that her heart needed to be reminded of His love. There are no mistakes or coincidences. Whatever the natural world may try and dismiss, her heart heard Him; and He knew that she would receive Him.

God was the operator, connecting that call; I’m sure more for me than for her. God is the ultimate operator making connections in my life day after day; most that I am completely unaware of. The customer service rep. The co-worker. The Facebook “friend.” The parent. The child. The shoe salesman. On and on and on. Connections without even trying, just from living out from under a rock.

That call was 23 minutes long. 3 minutes was spent on me, 20 minutes was blessed on me. I was charged for the texts, $2.30. Each message was of loving conversation between family and friends. But the greatest message came today: a vivid visual of one woman’s heart who couldn't wait to share the message that God Himself sent to her: I LOVE YOU! Her life was broken down, but her heart was full of love. Her voice spoke volumes as her words praised Him.

His reminders are all around if we are willing to seek Him first and let all other things be added to the details of our days. Watch for Him, and He will speak to you. Or even text you. Or email you. Then storyboard you to share His love.

Read His Word. Seek His mercies. Share His love. How do you see Him revealed all around you?

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Friday, February 5, 2010

Piano Prayers

I adore symphonic scores! Like millions over the centuries, nothing moves my heart like music. This week, I attended a small symphony concert featuring piano concertos, much like in the video posted below. Before entering, I asked God for more than just soaking in the sounds; I wanted to encounter Him through those moments of symphonic power. Surely God was here, and I did not want to miss Him (Genesis 28:16). He, of course, desires to reveal Himself in intimacy, majesty, beauty, and power.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfriY1o07rU&feature=related

The pianists were world traveled. The maestro was world renowned. The symphony was world stopping. In this concerto, the piece calls for symphony to silence while the pianist played solos. The conductor turned to face the pianist as he played. He smiled and reveled in the sound! Though was he already knew the piece, he delighted as passion poured from note to rapid fire note. The symphony then resumed and melodic majesty melded in, once more, with the pianist's performance. Sometimes together, sometimes alone, but always creating incredible music.

Then everything changed. I no longer saw the pianist at the bench; I saw me.

The symphony was my life. Each member had a different place, passion, and personality that added to the tapestry of my days. I saw family and friends playing the heartstrings and booming brass. They may not always seem to play in concert and cohesion, but in the end, they come together to create the soundtrack of my life.

In the center was both Composer and Conductor, God Himself. Not a note falls without His direction, and all would be in chaos without His guiding hand. I only play with passion when I only play for Him: no one else. Sometimes my prayers are in concert with the externals of my life, and sometimes He silences the externals to hear my prayers. He looks directly at me, smiles and revels in my voice. I only need to be present to play.

At the end of the piece, the applause was booming with cheers! In some cases, the applause is heard to the ear of the pianist; in some cases the reviews are not heard until they have left the stage (eulogy over encore). Whether those watching over my life respond or not, the conductor listens and responds with joy.

After the piece was over, the conductor reached down and lifted up the pianist to an embrace. Though I know His embrace now, this is more the scene after my final notes are played. He holds me before all of Heaven and Earth and whispers, “Well done.”

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nations and Neighbors

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. Luke 10:34

I was reading Beth Moore's notes on Luke 10 last week. Beth took a 2nd look at these infamous travelers from Jerusalem to Jericho. First was a Priest. Next was a Levite. Last was a Samaritan. The thought was that the Priest and the Levite were, probably (though not recorded as so) traveling from Jerusalem and their worship in the temple there. They leave the worship of God to encounter a broken man…and ignore him. Their reasons are irrelevant as the result is irreversible: a man remains broken. The Priest and Levite’s worship was essential to know God; their response to human suffering was essential to make Him known. The rescue comes from a most unlikely source: the least liked is the most loving. Maybe righteousness is more about ripped robes than rehearsed rhetoric.

Here’s the other thing that stood out to me: the Samaritan was just walking the road. He wasn’t on a mission to help a group of suffering people; he wasn’t looking for a bloodied victim; but when he saw one he responded with everything he had. Response was not from religion; response was from his heart. He chose to respond before he arrived at the need.

We are sometimes called to go to where the need is – maybe taking in just a taste of everyday suffering through a mission or relief trip. God calls us to seek and to serve, and lives are forever impacted by obeying His call. At the same time, we are called to respond to the broken lives that surround us everyday. Maybe a smile and hello is the oil and wine needed to bandage a wounded heart; wounds we don’t even know exist. Maybe it’s a little off the top (tithe) that God multiplies in ways that we can’t begin to imagine (respond in faith before the need is in sight). Maybe it’s a cup of coffee or a moment of listening to a hurting friend. Look around on the road.

"Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me." Isaiah 6:8 "Who will go for us?" It is not a question of God singling out a man and saying, "Now, you go." God did not lay a strong compulsion on Isaiah; Isaiah was in the presence of God and he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him but to say, in conscious freedom, "Here am I, send me." –Oswald Chambers

Here’s what got me: do I even ask what I can do? Do I even muster the courage to ask God “What do YOU want me to do; where do YOU want me to go?” Mostly, no. I respond when the need comes to my attention, but I usually don’t take the initiative to talk with God about my looking for broken people. My focus is distracted, as Martha was, instead of choosing the better, like Mary. Both worship and work are essential - worship first, then the work will follow. Just being in His love causes me to respond in love.

When I feel like "I'm not enough, He reminds me: "That's right, you are not enough, but I am." When I see Him as He is, then He’ll work through me as I am. Once I cast my eyes from my own hands to His holiness, then I see Him, I hear Him, and I'm passionate to serve Him. And so I ask, loving Him and loving others: “Who do you want me to be; what do you want me to do?” And He answers, perfectly.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Love in Loss

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

I can live without understanding everything. –John Maxwell

Loss is loss. I know of people who have buried the “tents and times” of loved ones this week. When you experience loss yourself, this brings a horrific new perspective to the death toll that goes across a TV screen. Suddenly, it’s not a number, that’s a life. That loss is someone's mother, someone’s father, someone’s sister, someone’s brother. A life is gone; yet multiple lives remain in emotional, mental, and physical suffering of their own. We mourn millions at once; they mourn one in the millions.

I am blind and ignorant, but I can pray. I can pray for the healing of the suffering and the comfort over the mourning; and I trust God to be all. The Spirit speaks according to our faith, not our understanding or our experience. It’s about relationship.

Carry You to Jesus – Steven Curtis Chapman.
I will not pretend to feel the pain you’re going through

I know I cannot comprehend the hurt you’ve known
And I used to think it mattered if I understood...
But now I just don’t know
Well, I’ll admit sometimes I still wish I knew what to say and I keep looking for a way to fix it all
But we know we’re at the mercy of God’s higher ways and our ways are so small
But I will carry you to Jesus He is everything you need I will carry you to Jesus on my knees
And if you need to cry go on and I, I will cry along with you
I’ve given you what I have but still I know the best thing I can do is just pray for you

Whether an earthquake wipes out a nation or a car crash crushes a child, each is a loss to someone. Global suffering is reminder to those of us who remain: pray, help, cherish, and love in whatever opportunities we are given. One is no more important than the other; each life, mine included, has its own sufferings and struggles. Where there is suffering, may there be service. Constantly.

Just in the last few minutes: I read of one child suffering from brain cancer and her parents needing sanity and wisdom to save her precious life. I read of one woman who is preparing to be taken over by brain cancer and leaving her family for her Father. One of my own family members is suffering from cancer, and may be gone before Spring. That’s just in the cancer category. I have one friend who is filled with toxins and emptied of finances. I have another friend who is overflowing with grief that is ripping her heart to shreds. I read of a suicide attempt. I read of a slave shipped. There are thousands, one by one, that are without water, food, family, clothes, shelter…in dozens of countries across the globe; including, and not just the one, that is on the news.

How are we to survive under the weight of such suffering? Take it to the only One who can handle all of it. Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:39. He took on all of us for all of time; not just what we decide as “bad things;” He took on every lonliness, every hurt, every heartache, every cry, every pain, every death. Everything. He took on all so that I could give Him all.

Praise Him. Petition Him. Worship Him. Wait on Him. Work with Him. He leads us, not to crush us, but to have us experience Him in the depths of our own hearts to reach into the depths of our neighbors’ lives.

Love is a lifestyle. It’s practiced in the huge and in the tiny moments of life. Faith without works is dead James 2:20. So is love without life. Know love. Show love. You will always live as you truly believe.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com

Monday, January 11, 2010

Walk

"And He walks with me and He talks with me; and He tells me I am His own." C. Austin Miles

In less than two months, I will take a trip that will have me walking all over creation (or at least the hometown of the Creator). I really need to get in shape for this. Running in the airport alone may do me in. So I’ll be power-walking over the next couple of months. Of course, it had to be in the winter. Brace up and lace up; here I go!


Stand. New shoes were an absolute must. Walking hurts more than it helps, of course, if I don’t have the right shoes. It’s more than useless, it’s damaging. In prayer, I need the right attitude of the heart. If I don’t walk (or run) to God, Holy and Awesome and Powerful Creator, with the humility of heart and respect of reverence when I stand before Him, them my prayers are not only not heard, they are as damaging as a Pharisee who believes that he is doing the right thing by His choice, not by God’s conviction. (Long sentence; longer conviction). Prideful prayer is a deceptive death.

Start. The hardest thing to do is to actually start, especially in the most undesirable conditions. For me in walking, it’s cold outside. For others in prayer, it’s a hurricane inside. Procrastinating in walking will be a future pain to my feet! Procrastinating in prayer is a present pain to my life. If I can be persuaded to keep silent in my praise and petitions – hour by hour and day by day, I will never know the benefits of God in me. It takes effort and it takes sacrifice, but it’s everything. Then He said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Many times we have no idea how to get started in prayer. We have every desire, but no idea. Beth Moore notes, “What to do when you don’t know what to do: Praise God.” First, we are to begin the approach to the King with praise. Then Queen Esther answered, "If I have found favor with you, O king, and if it pleases your majesty, grant me my life—this is my petition." Esther 7:3

Second, we are to begin our battles with praises to God. After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever. As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” 2 Chronicles 20:21-22

Third, praises to God silences the accuser. Psalm 8:2 “From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” If you don’t know how to begin, come as a child. If you don’t know how to come as child, ask God…and in that question, you just began to pray.

God sent reminders along the way. I saw a police car and thanked Him for His constant protection. I saw homes and thanked Him for His constant provision. I felt the wind and asked for His Presence in a friend’s difficult and dark night. “Lord Jesus, be with my friend. Her face is now against the wind. Tears stream down, set her face toward Yours. Wipe away her tears, hold her in your arms.”

Stop not. Part of my goal was to be consistent. I didn’t want to push so much in beginning that I lost momentum on the return. My father simply stated, “Discipline is when you don’t stop.” Prayer is a continual conversation. Prayer is not a grand statement at the beginning of the day, but many conversations throughout the day, both talking to and listening to God.

Oswald Chambers notes:
The measure of the worth of our public activity for God is the private profound communion we have with Him. Rush is wrong every time, there is always plenty of time to worship God. Quiet days with God may be a snare. We have to pitch our tents (live our lives) where we shall always have quiet times with God, however noisy our times with the world may be.

He is more interested in our relationship than our rhetoric. For the One who knows our hearts, He wants us to know His heart. Constantly. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12

Focus. "...but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead," Philippians 3:13. Breath by breath, step by step, I am always looking and walking in one direction or another. May it always be toward Home; always toward Him.

Enjoy Him, Michelle
mlpack1@yahoo.com