Fuzzy Communications

I’ve been speaking to the Lord lately about the fuzzy communications I have with Him.  I sometimes have a hard time determining whether it is Him speaking or my own agenda I hear rattling around in my head.  I don’t know about you, but discerning God’s voice has always been a need for me. I want to know that when I hear something inspiring in my head or in the world, that it is of God and not some human suggestion that is doomed to fail if I try it.

My life is a continual search for truth, as it is for many, but dang, sometimes it’s a hard search providing questionable results.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching the last six months–trying to find out where God wants me…what He wants of me…who He wants me to commune with…what he wants me to do.  Its confusing to understand when you have a brain that processes like mine.  Up in that cabeza of mine it is busy all the time!  My mind is like a little sewing factory, with machines clattering, people frantically sewing, and factory foremen and women milling around and barking out commands like “Be quiet!” and “Get to work!” and “Aren’t you done with that, yet?”  It’s dizzying up there on the mezzanine, looking down on all this and knowing it’s going on inside me.

Can you say CHAOS?!

So here is what I’m up to now: Asking God to please give me a clue about what the knowledge of His will is for my life is and the courage to live it out.

Simple, right? But not easy!

The Healing Journey has helped a lot with the “getting engaged and working on that spiritual disconnect” piece of my personally chaotic life, and I’m thankful that I signed on for the program this year.  Through TJH, I’ve been given a workable method for dealing with some of my confusion.  I’m moving forward and making progress. Yay!

What I’m still having a problem with though, is being able to definitively hear God’s voice over my own. I guess that’s part and parcel of the struggle that comes of meshing the divine with humanity–God speaks, but it gets all twisted up in my frail and human perceptions of things.

Today, though, I felt a glimmer of hope as I came across a devotional that seemed to speak very directly and with godly import about my confusion.  I’ve included that devotional below for all of you to read and some of you to absorb.  Soul searching is hard work, but I think it’s beginning to pay off.

Truthfully:  Almost everything written in this devotional speaks to my soul about work I still need to do. Lord, help me as I set about it today. No more stalling, no more avoidance, and no more procrastinating.

Sin makes you stupid, and I don’t want to be stupid, so I guess I better deal with the sin. Now! Today!  Let’s go!!!!

Enjoy the following, and if you find it convicting in any way don’t feel bad. I did, too!

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The following is a devotional from a favorite book of mine entitled: Inspiring Faith 365 Days  a Year:

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Hebrews 12:1

Why wilt though defer thy good purpose from day to day?  Arise, and begin in this very instant, and say, “now is the time to be doing; now is the time to be striving; now is the fit time to amend myself.”  Unless thou dost earnestly force thyself, though shalt never get the victory over sin.  –Thomas a Kempis

The easiest step and the hardest step is the first step.  What’s keeping you from getting started? Why are you wallowing in a self-destructive attitude or habit that deep down you want to be rid of?

  • Someone you won’t forgive.
  • A temptation you run toward rather than away from.
  • An area of your life that is weak and needs strengthening.
  • A sin from your past that needs restitution.

Is it laziness?  Is it procrastination?  Is it stubborn pride?  Is it a sense of defeat before you even start?

Today is your day. It won’t be easy, but you can succeed, with God’s help. Take the first step.

Lord, we’ve lived with defeat too long. Please help us make the move, the first step toward recovery and a new life. Amen.

For the Wondering Ones

I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.  Jeremiah 32:40-41

 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you… Deuteronomy 30:15-16

What is the upside to being a Christian?

Have you ever had that question put to you?  Why bow to God? Why worship at His feet? Why care anything about the suffering and sacrifice involved in being a “good Christian”?  People wonder. They wonder why they should change anything about their lives when those lives are good: When the crops are coming in heavy, when the Nasdaq and the Dow are ticking up, or when the bank has made it possible to purchase their dream home. When all is going well, changing course doesn’t make sense.

It seems silly to unbelievers that they should believe in an unseen God, especially one that requires change.

As Christians, we know that our God is full of mercy, and aren’t we glad for that?! He’s loving and forgiving, and it takes a lot to get His ire up.  All that compassion and longsuffering should not be taken for granted though, because when our God has had enough, bad things happen.

He can be furious.  He can act in anger.

Jeremiah knew that there were seasons with God when a good healthy fear of Him was right and appropriate. But unbelievers don’t fear, do they?

Today, let’s not be so afraid of God that we shake with fear over what He might do next…He is not capricious, and He is slow to anger. But let’s be mindful that God won’t always suffer sinners and their bad behaviors, either.

Let’s not see how close we can come to angering Him and seeing His wrath displayed. Instead, let’s seek to live lives worthy of our great king, respecting His power and obeying His commands.

Our God is kindness and mercy, but He’s also justice and wrath.  Let’s approach our time with Him today with both sides of His majesty in mind.  He deserves a balanced kingdom, full of faithful children. Today, let’s do all we can to give Him that and more!

How do you answer those who wonder about God?  Do you have an answer ready, for when the bad stuff happens and people finally wonder about whether or not they need to have more faith?

 

 

I need to party more!

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Rejoice in the Lord always, and I will say it again: Rejoice!  Phil 4:4

Whence comes this idea that if what we are doing is fun, it can’t be God’s will? The God who made giraffes, a baby’s fingernails, a puppy’s tail, a crook necked squash, the bobwhite’s call, and a young girl’s giggle, has a sense of humor.  Make no mistake about that.  –Catherine Marshall

The following is a devotional from the book, Inspired Faith 365 Days a Year, and is titled:  Time to Party!

Do you think of parties as wholly unspiritual?  Do you think of time spent enjoying the company of friends as “wasted” or idle?

Jesus himself was criticized sharply for attending parties. One of His most famous Bible stories was of a son who wandered far from home, squandering all his father had given him. But when he did finally come to his senses and return to his family, the father’s immediate response was to throw a huge party to celebrate having his son back home (Luke 15:11-32).

God has created a rhythm to life that involves work and worship, yes, but also play.  Sure, some people need to rein themselves in and play a little less. But God has given us reason to celebrate, and we should devote time to rejoicing as an act of worship.  So, go ahead and throw that party sooner rather than later. It could be just what you—and your friends—need to draw closer to God.

Are you someone who loves hosting others in your home?  Can you train me to do it, too. I wanna party, but I never feel like I’m good at it!

Another Piece of My Healing Journey

One day this week I was reading from Scripture and when done reading I began to meditate.  In that place of solitary meditation I envisioned myself laying in the palm of God’s hands.  It was the only place I could think of that was safe enough.  They were huge!  His hands were positioned palms up in my meditation, and together, like you see when someone holds out their hands to have them filled with popcorn or grains, or maybe candy.  These hands, they were big like a swimming pool, and I was floating in the middle of them.  Way down, at the bottom of this God shaped bowl, was I, lying on my back and looking all around. The walls of this pocket were high; higher than any looter or rioter could climb–higher than any ladder could reach.  High enough that I could imagine nothing that could successfully make it over the top of them.  At the bottom of this big set of God/pool hands, I knew I was safe.

I looked around.  Everywhere I ran my hand was softness. There were ridges, too, but even they had a softness and a strength to them.  God had fingerprints!  I could see them in my meditation, and palm prints!  Amazed, I touched them.  The texture created by the ridges was unique.  I stroked and stroked the material they were made of and commented to myself how lovely it felt. There, in those hands, I finally realized the immensity of our God.  He was a fortress I could run to and be absolutely safe, just like the Bible says He is.  I had no fear lying there. None. And I didn’t feel rushed, either.  I remember thinking how big and powerful and unable to be harmed were those hands, and then a feeling of intense love and devotion overtook me.

I’ve been on a healing journey the last few months and its brought up a lot of junk; hurts and memories of the past.  I’ve had to think hard when processing these memories about what I truly believed about God, in the here and now.  When I was left alone with people that weren’t the most trustworthy of folk, where was God?  All those months I sat staring at the wall, depressed and despondent in my twenties, where was God?  When I fumbled the ball and sinned big, and hurt people in my wake, where was God? Why didn’t He stop me, them, us from hurting each other?  Didn’t He love me? Didn’t He care?  Could He not remember I was there, alone, abandoned, trying to figure it all out on my own and losing ground daily?

What has eventually come to me as a result of my journey is the truth that because God loves me so much, he’s given me free will.  And because He loves the world, too, He’s given them the same.  Some days we’ve misused it and that’s what we call sin.  It makes for a lot of sadness in this place, and more than a few scars.  But this is the good news in that bad tale.  A little bit of hurt can’t destroy me, and a little bit of disappointment can’t break me.  It takes darkness to discern the light, and as long as I’m resting in that Light and His power, I don’t ever need to be afraid.  Bad things will happen sometimes, because God loves us and allows us to use his FREE, no-strings-attached love gift however we want.  Regrettably, we often use it for our own pleasure (even pleasure born of evil).  Does it hurt when we misuse God’s gift?  Yes!  It always hurts, but it does not, cannot, permanently destroy me.

I truthfully don’t know why or how the hurt I do, or the hurt that is done to me, is prevented from permanently destroying us.  I only know that because I carry the mark of Jesus on my soul, it is.  Nothing can ruin me forever.  Not my stupidity. Not my selfishness. Not my confusion, and not my status as offender.  God’s love is as big as His pool hands. Bigger! It’s not in man’s power to overcome it.  Not by a long shot.

I don’t have meditations of this sort often, but this time I did.  I’m also gaining back my ability to dream at night. Haven’t done that in forever.  I’m glad for it.  I need the reassurance this time of mediation brought to my weary heart.

Recovery is hard work, and it’s messy, but I’m all in.  Sincerely, ALL IN!  How about you?

When has God calmed you after you were reminded of a hurtful event in your past?  Are you convinced, truly convinced, of God’s mercy and grace for you?

Why Pray? Why Meditate?

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Today I’m thinking about prayer and meditation, and how it opens my soul to receive from God those bits of information about me and my world that are most helpful in navigating that world.

In praying, I let God know what’s bugging me, how I feel about myself, the struggles I’m having today, and the fears that go along with those struggles.  I get it all out with him, because yeah, what is the point in holding back?  My God is my creator, a being who is able to see straight through me. He already knows what I’m thinking, and how I’m processing all the information that is coming in to me from a fallen world.  He knows when I’m feeling defeated, just as clearly as He knows my name.  He knows, too, when I’m feeling cocky and prideful.

Is “cocky” a word I should use as a woman of God?  Hmmm, I’ll have to think on that for a while.

Back to my writing on prayer and meditation…

When it comes to this practice, these things I know:

God wants me to talk to him, so I need to be doing it on a regular basis. It’s always good to keep the lines of communication open, especially with an all-powerful being who loves me as much as my God does.

The enemy doesn’t want me to pray, so he will fill my mind with distractions as soon as I begin. Evidence of this: My question about using the word “cocky” when writing about pride. The enemy wants me to bask in my pride, because when I do, I forget all about God and him.  In those moments, life is all about me, me, me, me!  Listen:  I am pretty special, but not that special.

I regularly hear from God when I regularly make time to be with God.

The truths God speaks to my soul during meditation on his Word are so true I cannot escape them. They are powerful and packed with wisdom, and come in the most convincing and gentle ways.  Even though correction comes gently to me from God, it also comes forcefully.  I know that I know that I know He has spoken when my heart is set on hearing and my mind it turned toward Him.

Spiritually speaking, there is not much I could do that would benefit me more each day than to pray. It also helps my fellows, as I hear from God what to say and what not to say to them when they have ruffled my feathers. Dun, dun, dun!

The regular practice of prayer makes me less fearful about talking to God. I don’t go days without praying–almost never have, but when I did, coming back to it was hard and meditation was impossible.  Regular practice of this discipline offers huge benefits, as I openly share real needs without fear.  Because I pray every day, all day, I’m not afraid to say anything to God in our times together.  Again: He already knows what I’m thinking and doing, so why would I not discuss it with Him?

Note: the discussion part of prayer and meditation is for my benefit, not God’s.  I need to get it out, let it go, turn it over.  Prayer helps me do that.  Prayer is my release valve and worship machine.  I love it!

Finally, regular time for meditation sharpens me as a believer. When I take time to slow down, reflect, listen and write (because God often speaks to me through writing), I hear all kinds of things that put my mind at ease.  God’s message to his children is one of hope.  He is a powerful king, with absolute rule over his kingdom and because He is, his assurances are rock solid.  On Him, you can depend!!!

I have never met anyone like my God.  All others are mere copies on the original and not half so magnificent!!!

Do you pray and meditate daily?  What is the best part of this discipline for you?

What they think…

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I think we would all be better off if we repeated this mantra on a regular basis…

What they think of me is none of my business!

Again.

What they think of me is none of my business!

And again, please.

What they think of me is none of my business!!!

You’re right, it is none of your business, and you’ve been thinking about it wayyyy too much.

Listen, this is what you need to focus on: What God thinks of you!!!

Community is important, and our fellows provide us a great service (when they are working for our corporate good), but there are lots of skin bags out there that are full of nasty, stinkin’ dirty garbage and they want to heave it on you.  Don’t let them!

Stand up, raise those holy hands to the sky, turn your face up to God and your ears to the OFF position, and praise your Holy Father who made you just the way you are and could not love you more, no matter what you did.

Believe me, that voice that says you need to be anything other than what God has already asked you to be, it’s not Him!!!

Time we turned down the volume on our opposition, and turned up the grace.

God loves your imperfection, your weakness, your scars, and most of all your faith in Him.  You are beautiful in His eyes, and don’t you forget it.  His opinion matters, not theirs.

Lean in to the Savior and receive the truth today.  You are ENOUGH!!!!

When have you felt you had to try harder and work smarter to win God’s love?  When did you realize that was a big, fat lie?!

To my Critics

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I’ve been told numerous times lately that what others think of me is none of my business.

I’m working on internalizing that.

Working on acting as if…

Working!

Do you wish your critics would mind their own business?  How good are you at accepting people as they come to you, and not trying to change or improve them?

Friday Devotional

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.  He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.  Psalm 55:16-18

Encourage one another…  1 Thess 5:11

In our nation today many oppose our standing president.  Sad as it is, the people of this nation are fairly evenly divided in their opinions about who ought to be sitting in the White House, and who definitely ought not.  All the rancor and division this past election cycle has caused can be upsetting, but it isn’t anything we should worry ourselves about.  As children of the Most High there is never a time when we trust in men to make things right. Never!  Even good men are persuaded by their passions and pride, and even good men make bad choices from time to time.  Knowing this, we have learned to trust in our God, and not in men.  It is a lesson Jesus learned too.

While speaking about the temple and God’s plan to put away the old and usher in the new, Jesus fascinated people and many began to trust in him.  They trusted because of his miracles and the power they recognized in the things he taught about the Lord.  But John’s epistle says this about Jesus:  But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew human nature.  No one needed to tell him what mankind is really like (John 2:24-25).

Ouch! 

That hurts.  It hurts because we know He’s right.  Human nature has a bloody past, and there’s no denying it.

As our nation moves into the next phase of growth God has planned for her, let’s not make the mistake of trusting in any man or woman to bail us out of trouble.  Let’s not depend on humanity to save us from ourselves.  Today, let’s lift up to God the problems we have with divisions and the lack of grace and forgiveness we see in action around us.  Today, let’s trust in nothing but our Lord–the One who saves us, evening, noon, and night!

To the only True God and Mighty Savior be all praise, forever and ever more!!