Wednesday, June 20, 2018

To Remain

We talk about the courage needed to leave a place, the strength to move out into uncharted territories. We admire those who take to change like a boat to water, dipping their oar in for the next new adventure. This is the stuff of revolutions and gold rushes. But sometimes it takes just as much strength to stay put as it does to go. It's not easy facing the same dishes piled up in the same sink, the routine work week, the interminable habits that of course you don't have but that the people around you use continually to sharpen your character.
Remaining takes commitment. It puts up with the mundane. It chooses to love even when the glow of newness has faded. Remaining knows the value of longevity, loyalty, and hard work that eventually pays off. To remain is to know your labor is not in vain. It's to live with hope.
If we were to wake up in the era of John the Apostle, we would witness an upheaval from within the church, new and vogue ideas about Jesus were circulating---ideas contrary to what had been taught from the beginning. We'd see people leaving the church for "higher enlightenment", attempting to pull others with them. 
In response to all the tumult, Johns plea was simple: Remain, Dwell, Abide. Don't leave the steadying truth that you know for the sparkle of new philosophies or the swell of cultural tides. Remain within Jesus and the fellowship of his Bride.
The practice of abiding is never more difficult than when we're surrounded by a host of other vines from which a lot of bubbly people are hanging--all happy in their flesh and darkness. You know, when everyone else's vine appears more thrilling than the one you're attached to. You look around and begin to believe the lies of the Enemy--that the way of Jesus is limiting and that his followers are outdated.
Suddenly you have this overwhelming pull to tie your branch up to that new belief system, the married man who's showing you attention, the higher paying job that will take you away from your children, the extra drink, the glance at pornography. We deceive ourselves into thinking new, interesting branches will offer more nourishment, so we spend our time hopping from vine to vine, looking for another place to dwell.
For a season I toyed with what it might look like to try to play in both places; a toe in the church and my heart in the world, but this is not what abiding means. Rather, such a lifestyle means a crack down the center of your being. Ultimately I couldn't live torn like that for reasons that have a whole lot to do with the mystery of abiding in Christ and Christ abiding in us. Because of this truth the Lord never lets me break away, and I'm forever indebted to Him. Praise God for us in Him and He in us, the latter being the most powerful of the two. 
Perhaps you are in a similar position. You're wondering if the message of the gospel is really all it promises to be. The Christian walk you've known seems tired while the lust of the flesh appears to gallop across the fields with vigor and excitement. 
But, the annointing that the world boasts of is counterfeit and its fleeting. It's not the real thing which is why the Apostle John says, "Do not let anyone deceive you". There are deceivers out there and people get deceived. One of Johns greatest passions was to keep the fellowship of the community intact, reminding the church that the constancy in Christ far outweighs the temporal electricity of those who'd move on for more "enlightening" ideas.
As I grow older, the more my heart yearns for stability. Not stagnancy, mind you--rather Immutability (constancy; being fixed) I long for what will never change, all that's constant in Jesus, promises that never fail, fellowship that will carry on for as long as forever. In a world of ceaseless change and dissenting opinions, how grounding it is to know that we can know. Especially when social spheres, media, and culture timelessly seek to persuade us to question our faith, to doubt Gods truth, to adhere to His Word selectively. 
I can hear John calling out to his readers, "Dear little children, don't let the deceiving voices make you doubt what you know! You know His truth. You've confessed the Son and so you have the Father as well. Remain right where you are. This is your home. I know the voices are familiar, people who were once close to you. But don't forsake what you've heard from the beginning--the gospel that rung so true the moment you heard it, the moment it changed you."

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Who Is Guarding Your Door

Who Is Guarding Your Door?

There are many who may know this about me but then again there are many who do not! I have wrestled most of my life with trying to feel accepted and worthy and good enough, you know all the lies that the enemy of our souls would try to whisper in our ears. You know, " you're not or will you ever be smart enough because you didn't get a college degree"! Or, "you don't have enough money so people won't ask you to go out to places with them". " No one will listen to what you have to say because you don't know anything"!  I have given place to those feelings, even nurtured them at times and they still had me shut behind a door of unhappiness and misery. I fell deeper and deeper into the trap of becoming a "people pleaser". That's right, a people pleaser! I thought that if I could get everyone to like me by doing whatever they wanted or whatever they asked of me, then I would finally find that love and acceptance that I so desperately sought after. Here's where some of you are maybe shaking your head either because you know that's a foolish way of thinking or you're shaking your head because I've just described you! I was held prisoner for many many years behind this door of lies and deceit that the enemy had constructed in my mind. And the real truth that kept that door secure in my thoughts was the guard that stood outside of it. You see, the guard was there to make sure that nothing else got in that door and to also make sure that I did not get out! The name of that guard was " fear"! You see this thing in my life, the people pleasing, unaccepted, unworthy and miserable person was trapped behind a door of my own choosing. That's right! I chose to stay there. I chose to allow the guard outside that door to call the shots. You see I think that guard was an " agent" of sorts, hired to keep me attached to the inside of my false thoughts. Hired to keep me inside that horrible place so that I would never know the freedom of security and acceptance and love and worthiness. My guard was doing a great job of keeping the atmosphere of fear around me so that I would never know freedom from those lies. Here's the good news though my friends, I got out! I had to do something to get out and that was make a conscience effort to turn the knob on that door, open it and walk out. That's it! Here's the light that came on for me that flooded my dark room of unhappiness. Isaiah 8:11-13 "The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, don't call everything a conspiracy, like they do and dont live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heavens Armies Holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe". That was it! I had been thinking and acting like the rest of the world. I was being held captive by fear in a prison of lies that the enemy had fed to me. I had even thought that it was INDEED a conspiracy against me to make me feel like a failure in this life! I was living in dread and then the light came on! "Make the Lord of Heavens Armies HOLY in your life. He will keep you safe"! My defining moment came when I reached for the door knob of change and flung open the door to freedom and walked right past that guard saying, "He will keep me safe". I can't tell you how that made me feel exactly but I can tell you that I wanted to walk more and more in it. It became a "confident knowing". The more that I spoke the Word of God into my life and didnt listen any longer to the lies that were trying to flood back in, the stronger I became. I no longer live in dread of that guard at the door! I no longer live behind that door but I am free to walk in and out as I please with the Lord of Heavens Armies by my side. No guard in sight! Be at peace today my friends because if God tells us to walk in something, he will empower us to walk in it. He will indeed keep you safe when you make the choice to walk boldly and confidently past that guard and out of your door and into freedoms heavenly light. Choose, darkness or light? Prison or freedom? It is going to be your defining moment I think.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Maid In America"

There are some days, and really not that many I have to admit, that I feel the drudgery of cooking, laundry and scrubbing the toilet! I do it all the time because that is just a part of my life and most of our lives but some days it just gets to me. I then find myself slipping into "pity party" mode and I begin to grumble about being everyones "maid" and servant. Yes, I know fully in my heart and so does God, that I'm not anyone's maid BUT someones wife and mother and very much needed in the whole big scheme of things around my house. My part, really, is to keep things moving and in "ship shape" order so that our lives can run smoothly. And. . . . . for those of you who are thinking, "what about your husband and kids, do they do anything?" Well the answer to that is "yes" they do but that never stops me from whining about it from time to time. We all have our moments when we forget or just get tired. As long as we don't stay in self pity mode too long and get our hearts and minds back on track, we should be fine. It's when we stay in that mindset, entertain it a little, grumble about it and then start plotting a strategy on how to get around it that we get ourselves into trouble and get "stuck". We can, I believe, get disgruntled, upset, tired, weary and worn by the mundane tasks set before us but we have to realize that they are also a part of life. We must put our minds back in drive and keep on truckin. We must be determined to keep moving forward. But really, we have to pray and ask God to help us adopt a servants heart and attitude because we are only doing harm to ourselves when we get an attitude of "we deserve better"! Cleaning, cooking, laundry  and "Yes" cleaning the toilet can be done with gladness and a song in our hearts. We are Gods "hand maidens" and everything that we do down to the dirtiest jobs should be done "as unto him". I am blessed to live in a home not a hut. I am blessed to drive a car not a herd of sheep. I am blessed to sleep in a warm bed not on a mat on a dirt floor. I am blessed to live in a land of freedom not enslavement and I am blessed to freely be able to worship my God. Sadly, everyone in this world does not experience all of these blessings that I have. But this "Maid in America" does!

Insight insert: I truly believe that God desires for each of us to really "see" our value and worth. Your value is or never will be in the things that you do such as your job or a talent that you may have. You should never be defined as what you do, for example you might say, "I am a doctor", so that should lend you more respect and honor and that's who you are! But guess what? You would be wrong because "a doctor" is what you do, your job, it is NOT who you are or who God made you to be! You had to go to school to learn to be a doctor but who you really are is the traits that God gave you to define you. You may be kind, caring, funny, or maybe even very wise so that should be where your value and worth lie. I would ten times rather be stuck in an elevator with a wise, caring or funny person instead of someone with a 4.0 GPA who has no common sense. All the education in the world would never compare to the value of wisdom or kindness. What are the attributes that you have been blessed with? This week if you have the opportunity to introduce yourself to someone new, make sure you say, "hello, I'm Jane and I am happy to meet you. (even if you are a Dr., you need not mention it. Try going it on WHO you are)!

Scripture:   Proverbs 31:20. She's quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. MESSAGE
Proverbs 31:26. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Only One Life

Today, for whatever reason, two lines of a poem that my dad used to recite came into my mind. It went like this, " Only one life, twill soon be past, Only what's done for Christ will last"! I have very vivid memories of daddy reciting this again and again and a slightly blurry memory of it on a plaque that mom had hung somewhere in the house. Now that was an easy 50 or more years ago and here it is popping up in my head once more! When this happens I ALWAYS want to take a closer look! Upon some Internet investigation ( I am fondly called the "Google" queen by my children) I found the poem. The poem is called " Only One Life Twill Soon Be Passed" by C.T. Studd. It beautifully paints a picture in words of what our lives should look like! "Give me Father a purpose deep. . ." speaks volumns of why we live, depressed, defeated lives. We need a purpose! Most of us, if we were totally truthful, would say that our lives on a daily basis most probably revolve around some shallow, self-serving purpose that brings us to a place of emptiness in the end. We work long hours to earn more money to buy the things that we truly don't need! We rent storage buildings to store the excess of items that we just can't seem to part with! And we waste hours on our cell phones or "Facebooking" on our computers playing games that will only pull us back into wasting more time the next day! NO PURPOSE! That is an endless highway to nowhere that will only leave us craving to get to the " happily ever after" place that doesn't even exist on that road. Another line reads: "And from the world now let me turn". . . . .lovingly directs us to turn away from the shallow things that the world tempts us with or offers to us served on a silver platter! Just how do we lay all of those things down and turn our attentions toward the things that we need to do that DO matter? It won't happen overnight but it CAN happen. You didn't get to this place in one day but you can stop and turn around and go the other direction before its too late! First, you need to ask God to forgive you and then ask him to help lead you in the right direction, the direction he has been pulling you in all along but you have grown numb and resistant to. We truly have become a wicked people that have turned to our own ways, self-centered and selfish! This is our wake up call I believe!  I'll make this more personal if I may, " Only YOUR life, it will soon be past, ONLY what YOU do for Christ will last"! Lay it down (your own stuff and agenda) and make a difference in someone else's life from now on. It is NOT about us and the self gratification that we can experience ( the world will lie to you with that philosophy) it is about Christ and him working through you to change the lives of others. So, "thank you" daddy for reciting that poem and "thank you daddy God" for inspiring Mr. C.T. Studd to write it so that it could ring in my ears the heavenly tune of repentance and renewal! You revealed to a poet what truly was important and now I share it so that it can come full circle to you! The poem ends with these lines, " And when I am dying how happy I'll be, if the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee"! 

insight insert: Have you found yourself caught up on the carousel of the mundane and self serving? I know I've been on that carnival ride and found that I grew more weary riding it! Get off!!! It's time to realize that this life that we have been given is short and comes to a halt way more quickly than we know. Examine your daily "doings" and ask yourself, "are these things being done for anyone else's good or for my own good? Are my daily tasks to bring joy and encouragement to others lives or is what I am doing just bringing joy and satisfaction to myself?" Don't get me wrong, we all need times of rest and relaxation to refuel and go on but that is not what I am speaking of. The daily majority of your time routines that eat away at your time and are of no earthly or Godly benefit whatsoever good is what I refer to! This week, look at your life through a much larger magnifying glass than you would normally use and allow the Spirit of the Living God to show you what mundane carousel to step off of. Now, tune in and hear what he has to tell you and move on it! You only have one life!

Scripture: Ephesians 5: 15-17. "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of The Lord is".

Psalm 39:4-5 " O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few hand breadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all of mankind stands as a mere breath!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Crazy Quilt of Our Life

Recently a dear dear friend was talking to me about making quilts. She is an avid quilter and has many quilting projects just waiting to spring to life and wrap their corners of artistic love around someone’s heart. 
In our conversation I shared that there was a quilting expo in the town very close to where I lived and suggested that she should come and we could go together to see the beautiful and very professional side of this art. Surprisingly she told me that she doesn’t like going to those shows and expos because they remind her how very inadequate her work is next to the quilts in the professional arenas. Well I was taken back a bit by her response but after she explained I could understand how she may have arrived at such a conclusion.
She told me that while she loved making quilts, cutting out triangles, squares and circles, she could never perfectly line up the corners and the points so that they looked flawless. Her hand quilting stitches weren’t perfectly the same length and stitch spaces weren’t quite consistent. When she would go to the expos and look at the perfection and the high quality of the show quilts it only proved to make her feel very “less than” in her talent. 
As I was thinking about her feelings and the parking spot where she had parked her final thoughts and opinions I was deeply concerned. I have seen some of her projects of love that she has stitched and shaped and given life to and I have to tell you that by professional standards that they would most probably never be placed in the arena or the expo center venue. But  I can also tell you this, by the standards of quilters that have traversed the landscape of this country and have stitched pieces of their hearts and pieces of their old tattered calico skirts and homespun shirts, well, her quilts speak “home” and “hearth” to me. Their imperfections remind me of how very imperfect I am and we all are. The stitches and their “unevenness”remind me also of the uneven paths that we all have been called to tred. Sometimes those paths are easy and sometimes not so very easy! With her long and short stitches you see the times when she may very well have gotten sleepy as she stitched into the wee hours of the night just to finish her project. The points of her stars may not have been sharp and the bars of her log cabin squares may not have been perfectly symmetrical but neither are our lives. We search too often for pure perfection and all that is required is our best ability. It says in the book of books, “ my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Our weaknesses, our imperfections and our edges that do not line up quite right are all of the things that shape who we are. We can give it our best ability and newsflash. . . . . .we will never become perfect. Wiser and more skillful, yes, but never perfect! That description was reserved exclusively for the Lord of Lords. God gives us grace so we must also give ourselves some grace, some room to fail and get back up and try again. Those times when we fall and get back up are the times that prove to build character and strength. We learn to live our eneven, patched worked lives moving from strength to strength. In the end it produces in us a beautiful pieced and stitched together work of art called “our life”. 

So I share here with my friend to look at the beautiful quilts. Look at all the perfect corners and straight and consistent stitches. See how beautifully the color choices are and how they take your breath away. But my dear friend here is a final “factoid” for you to remember. I can most probably guarantee you that if you looked at each very closely you would still find imperfections and if you spoke to the quilter they would probably share the areas where they had to make “do-overs” because the corners didn’t line up. There was most likely a price to pay for their beautiful creations so don’t look at what you see as perfection and think there were no errors. Your “ errors” tell the story of how imperfect we all really are and your quilts when complete declare, “I Persevered till the end”and that’s what saves us and declares His glory in us. What a beautiful quilt every time, stitched with love and pieced together with grace!  Now THATS a show quilt!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Followspot

You know, I think I’ve finally narrowed down my life’s job description if you will. I really have! I’m serious here! I believe my purpose or job description would be “followspot operaror”. If you are not familiar with this particular job then here’s the description. 
FOLLOWSPOT OPERATOR: Person who operates the followspot (spotlight) which follows someone on the stage. This job takes a great deal of practice. A historic term for these spotlights is “limes” and they were operated by a “lime operator”. The first followspots used
Limelight as the light source. The phrase “being in the limelight” refers to being in a followspot beam. 
So, I am a ‘followspot operator’! My job and purpose is though, not to cast the spotlight on myself or anyone else but to shine it on God! There! You probably knew I was going there but please just follow me a bit further if you will.
Today in my church service they were singing a worship song that said, “ show us, show us your glory. Show us, show us your glory Lord”. Well, my brain went to “what exactly is the glory of God anyway?” So here’s the abbreviated version. 
The glory of God could be defined as ”the radiance of His holiness, His Worth and His valuable perfections. 
So, it is our job for us to think and to act as to make Him look as glorious as He is! To make His glory visible. We are to live so that others would be able to say, “God Is Glorious” not “Jeannie is glorious”. It is my purpose or job description to “spotlight” his holiness and great worth and perfection through my life without being in the “limelight”. I am to be the “followspot operator” and follow him, keeping Him in the spotlight as He is of course the main character on this beautiful stage of Creation. 
It says in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven”. 

It is all about God being glorified! He’s the one who’s to be in the spotlight and not us!  We are the “followspot operators” and we need to operate that spotlight to make Him look glorious and trustworthy and shine the light on His infinite worth. “Holy Holy Holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory”. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Morning Glories

Just before the sun peaks over our horizons, the morning brings us a quiet, pristine sort of calm. Did you ever wonder what it would be like if the day could remain like that all the way through to the sunset in the evening? What if the days' quiet were never broken by the crowing rooster, the whistles of trains, the dogs barking, the roar of traffic on the expressway or simply the ring of a cell phone. Sweet bliss you may say. . . Heaven come down!!! We all need to dream about the refreshment of quiet from time to time and actually take time to drink it in here and there but it's in the busyness and the workplaces of our day that we actually learn and grow. You really can learn lessons from the customer who was rude and chews you out! You really can glean from the mistakes you made in your checkbook. . . . And. . . You really CAN grow from the death of someone very close to you! Life's enrichments always come with a cost but the value of the experience is almost always priceless! The customer who was rude may have caused you to become determined to show kindness to others regardless of the situation. The error in your checkbook may make you more acutely aware of your expenditures and teach you a hard lesson in frugality but one you will hopefully be better for. That loved one who passed away may be the hardest lesson ever, but it probably made you very aware of enjoying every minute you have with those you love and those that are still within arms reach. The lessons that are "lived" are the bricks that form who we are and who we become. If our day never had any trials or challenges it would be glorious for a while but we would never be prepared for that pothole in the road or that car at a standstill around the curve. The "glories of the morning" are always there early but the glorious gift of the day. . . . Well. . . It holds treasures that can't be bought!

Insight Insert:  Have you been meaning to write a letter to someone and you have procrastinated doing it? Have you been meaning to call that special person, maybe a dear old friend or family member but it became very convenient to shelf it somewhere in your mind? Are those "thank you" notes that need to be sent out still lying on the table? What keeps you from doing these things and possibly many others? Time? Possibly! Or maybe you feel that it's been so long since you meant to do that thing that it would be an embarrassment to you now to carry through with it! This is your week! Now is the time! I don't even think I will have to tell you how good you will feel after you have done it either! Now, go, seize the day and enjoy the glorious feeling that God intended you to experience.

Scripture:  Jeremiah 29:11.  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, pans to give you hope and a future. NIV