Pushing Back on Feelings

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:1b-3

I write a lot about feelings in my devotionals.  I do this because of all the things in the world that might leave us shaken or imbalanced, feelings take first place.

Although they shouldn’t, feelings dictate the strength or weakness of our faith many days.  

Today, I’m taking a few moments to confront my feelings.

I’m putting them on notice.

I’m telling them that they aren’t running this show. Jesus is!

I’m saying it with conviction.

I’m making concerted efforts to step outside myself for just a minute and realize, if only briefly, how much God has done to ransom me back from darkness.  He would have done much more if I’d needed Him to, but I didn’t.

He is enough!!

Today, let’s stand in the truth that we are redeemed individuals, that we have a power greater than all others guiding and directing us, and that we don’t need to push, pull, wrestle, demand, cry, cringe, flinch, or be fearful as we move through the next eighteen to twenty hours.  All we need to do is focus our attention on The Savior, and let him do for and with us what we cannot do for ourselves. Just that. Nothing more.

How do you put feelings in their place?  When have they gotten the best of you?

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Prophetic Drawing-Part 2

I promised yesterday that I would share with you the impressions I received from God when I did some prophetic drawing for the first time last Friday. The image that came into my mind when I drew for Aaron with two A’s was this:

drwg

When I gave my drawing to Aaron and went over it with him—my impression of what God “might” be saying—he was a bit overcome. He had to excuse himself from the table and go blow his nose. He then returned and told me that the drawing very much resonated with where he was in this phase of life.

My Impressions Regarding Drawing No. 2

As you can tell from the drawing, this picture has to do with strength and godliness. It also has to do with sight or clarity of thought. Each element meant something else to me.

The muscled arms: Strength of character, determination, perhaps faith.

The Stained Glass window behind the figure: Aaron, in a sacred space. God seeing him and knowing him.

The maze in the figures chest: Confusion, and maybe distractions.

The face without eyes: Again, confusion; a lack of ability to know the goal or the steps to the goal.

The block head: Truthfully, I’m not sure on that one. I was thinking Minecraft when I drew it.

The gift box at the bottom of the picture: It contains eyes. Eyes missing from the figures face.  A gift of sight?  That’s what I felt it meant, anyway.

My impression of what God was saying to me as I drew for Aaron, was that he was going through a time in his life that was confusing for him, that he wasn’t able to see clearly now where he might end up or even the steps to take along the way, but that in his confusion God was with Aaron. Furthermore, clarity was on the way, and when it came it would be received like a welcomed gift. I felt Aaron was a strong person, in character, determination, and perhaps faith.

As I spoke with Aaron, he confirmed that much of the picture spoke to his current situation. He’s going away to college in two weeks, and although he has chosen a career path, he’s not sure it is the right fit for him. He feels unsure about his educational future, or even the choices he has already made. I told him that I felt strongly that even though he felt confusion and uncertainty right now, God had him wrapped in a sacred place; that perhaps even the confusion itself was of a sacred origin.

Of course, I can’t know Aaron’s future and I had no wish to try and coax him into anything or infer that I knew God’s revealed will for his life as a result of those few moments I spent drawing with him in mind. All I knew that night was that I had prayed for another person, asked God to guide me, meditated so I could hear Him more clearly, and drew an image that did, in fact, bless another. It was a pretty cool experiment. One that definitely required me to get out of my comfort zone, set aside all that I thought I knew, give up words for images, and be open to a new experience.

When have you worked hard to keep an open mind? When was the last time you tried something outside your comfort zone?

Prophetic Drawing

The other night our local coffee-house offered a free session focusing on prophetic drawing. I was intrigued. I tagged a friend on Facebook regarding the session and she was interested, as I predicted. She wanted to know would I go with her. I decided I would.

I’ve never done any prophetic drawing; never even really heard of the art, but I was willing to try. You see, I’ve been repeating the same prayer over and over for about three weeks now: God, please enable me to set aside everything I think I know, for an open mind and a new experience. Help me see the truth about my mental obsession, before I overeat or under eat. Amen.

I have food issues.
I’m currently fasting sugar in my life.
It’s not always a fun experiment.
I need lots of help to stay clear of the stuff and focus on other things.
Life things!
Things that come easy to others, but not to me.
Especially when I’m eating sugar it is tough for me to think about anything other than my next “fix”.

PROPHETIC DRAWING AS A DISTRACTION

So, the night came and I went to the session on prophetic drawing. I was half an hour early and turned away, because the café was not yet open. I could have left then, but had made a commitment to be there, meet my friend, let go of all I think I know to embrace an open mind and have a new experience. This, I determined, was that experience. I stayed. I sat in my car and read. Finally, the time for the shop to open arrived and I went in, ordered a Chai Tea and some small thing to eat for my supper, then waited.

The process for this prophetic drawing experience was explained:

This was to be a practice in blessing others.
Stranger others, for I knew no one there. My friend had not yet showed.
We were to choose someone at our table of three to four others. Strangers.
When we had chosen a person, we were to spend several minutes in prayer and meditation.

Our focus in prayer was to reach out to God and ask for an image to fill our minds.
This image was to be our blessing for another. A Stranger.
When we had the image in our heads, we were to begin drawing.
We had crayons and colored pencils before us.
As we drew, we might receive other images. If so, we drew them as well.
Once  the drawing began, we could stop and ask questions.
We were to ask them of our chosen partner in the experiment; the one for whom we drew.

“Does this resonate with you?”
“Does it have any meaning in your current circumstances?”

This was not an interrogation, it was a way to relate a blessing that mattered.
I was off to a slow start, not really understanding what I was to do or how to do it.
Others felt the same.  We asked our session leader, and he gave more instructions, but I don’t remember what they were.

A First Drawing

First, I drew for a woman sitting next to me, Abi.
The image I drew was of the word: Waiting.
I outlined the word, then drew images above the letters, below them, or over them.
When I was done, I asked Abi, “Does this resonate with you?” and I listened to her story.

It did resonate.
It did have meaning.

The bigger blessing, beyond my drawing for Abi and the significance of that, was that Abi and I connected. We shared a story that had similar overtones. I understood where she was in her life right now, what she waited for, and how hard it is to wait. After just a few moment with this lovely creature, I was feeling blessed myself.

I wanted to try again.

A Second Drawing

I chose my next stranger.
I prayed.
I meditated.
Words came. Again. They always do when I meditate.
This time I sensed God say in my spirit, “You are familiar with words. They come easily, but this experience is about drawing. Use the words to formulate the thought, but stretch yourself to draw the image.” I listened. More words came, then an image. I began to draw.

This time my blessing was for a young man. Aaron, with two A’s. That delighted me. Blessed me. I told Aaron that I have a grandson by the same name, spelled with two A’s. The following is the image that came to me when I prayed to be able to bless Aaron on Friday night. Tomorrow, I’ll explain the image in greater depth, and share some of the impressions I had when the drawing was done.

Don’t judge me for my drawing style, okay? I’m not an artist, merely a doodler.

drwg
Have you ever heard of prophetic drawing? Have you ever drawn an image with the intent of blessing a stranger with the finished product?

We Need More Hosea Men

Hosea

You did not choose me, but I chose you. John 15:16

He chose us because He loves us, and He loves us because He loves us. He does not love us because we are lovable, but only because He is love. John Stott

The following quoted material is reprinted from one of my favorite devotionals, Inspiring Faith: 365 Days a Year. The remarks below the quoted material are my tribute to Hosea type men everywhere.

“Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke to His people through prophets. Some of the prophets were great orators. Others, such as Hosea, communicated truth about God’s love and judgment through dramatic events in their own lives.

Hosea was married to an unfaithful wife. She bore the sons of other men. She left him and lived as a prostitute. When she lost her beauty and charm and was sold into slavery, what did Hosea do?

The unthinkable, of course. He acted like God.

He went to the market to redeem her. He bought her not as a slave but to make her his wife once again. In this act of supreme commitment and mercy, Hosea showed God’s people that God still loved them-even though they were not faithful to Him. He loves us the same way too!

Heavenly Father, Your love never fails. Thank You for redeeming us when we were not faithful to You. Amen.”

Some of you know that I’m a child of divorce. I’m not sure at what age a child of divorce handles the losses caused by the act well, but I know that the aftermath of my parents separation (both emotionally, and physically forever), left bruises on my soul that took a long time to heal. The remarriage of both of my parents soon after divorcing also speaks volumes to how well, or not, I coped with two years of big life changes at the ripe age of five.

When I was in my twenties and starting a family of my own, some of the issues related to abandonment came up again for me. I sought medical help for hair that was falling out by the handfuls. The medical professionals (because yeah, there was more than one), told me that the hair loss was directly linked to anxiety and the pile upon pile of stuff I hadn’t yet learned to process in healthy ways.

Through the years, I’ve discovered ways to deal with my personal brand of chaos, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve also learned that just about everyone has their own suffering piles to work through—for injury knows no economical or spiritual boundaries, and affects us all.

What does all this have to do with today’s devotional, you ask? Just this:

Today’s devotional has made we want to want to share with you what I’ve discovered over the years–that this world has within it men who have chosen to live like Hosea and love like God. Men who don’t walk away, don’t give up, don’t give in, and have somehow figured out a way to stay the course through the thick and thin of marriage, misery, and the mystery God has prepared for all those who partner with imperfect women.

These men have not only redeemed women out of bad life choices and/or unfortunate situations, but have also cared for and loved those children other men left behind when they walked away from relationships or marriages. I salute these strong ones today…the faithful few, who because they love God first, take to heart His call to be love in this place–not just with words, but in deeds.

You Hoseas, please know, you’ve made the forgotten ones believe again. Today, I’m praising God because of you.

Have you been abandoned, betrayed, left behind? When has a man stepped into your life and suddenly made you believe again?

 

Trying to Humbly Serve

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:5-6 NKJV

Encourage one another… 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The following quoted material is borrowed from the Bereans devotional. Reflections on what they wrote are provided below the quoted portion.

“Those with humility submit. Their dealings with other people are very restrained.

It is interesting that Peter says, “be clothed with humility,” which in Greek literally means “put on the apron of humility.” An apron is a symbol of service. He is likely thinking back to the last Passover with Jesus, where He “took a towel and girded Himself.” Then what did He do? He served. This leads to what humility produces next: The humble choose to serve. They do not fight—they serve. They do not judge—they serve.”

service_scrabble

This habit of humble service is a tough one to master, and especially so for anyone who hates the word: Submit.  I don’t hate the word, I just don’t like the action sometimes.  I especially don’t like it when I have a plan in mind and an agenda I’m hoping the Lord will approve and move quickly into action.  When He asks me to accept his plan instead of promotion my own (His ways being higher than mine), that is when my feathers get ruffled.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my Lord, and I ask Him all the time to grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. It’s that knowing the difference part that trips me up.

Some days I want to know the difference, and some days I don’t.

That’s just plain truth!

I guess I muse on Christian character and my own traits so much because I’m trying hard to be the person God wants me to be.  I pray about change, a lot. But here’s the thing: God is the one that has to bring this change about in me, right? I can’t do it. If I could, I would have by now. Granted, a lot has changed about me over the years, but there are still deep pockets of resistance inside, too.  We all know it, so why not admit it?

I want to be humble, but I find myself too interested in my own best interest to pull it off sometimes. Maybe you feel that way, too?

Part of the Bereans devotional included above caught my attention this morning because of its talk about humbly serving, instead of fighting. I agree with the writer on that effort and goal, and find that service is a much more fulfilling way to move through life than fighting ever was. I’ve tried both, and believe me, I prefer serving.

My opinion:  We’ve had enough fighting on this planet to last a million lifetimes.

What I know:  Satan loves to foment discord!!  If he can isolate us because of our opinions, he is giddy with delight.  I can so understand why God cast him out of heaven.  A devil and a snake, is he, and our best defense against his ploys is prayer.

How can I pray for you today?  What would you most like God to do for you, right now?

Casting Pride Aside

always_stay_humble_jackie

Cast your cares… Psalm 55:22a

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Psalms 55 teaches that God will never let the righteous be shaken.

Is that true?

It is, but it’s one of those promises that includes work for us.

Living a righteous life requires us to first surrender our souls to Jesus, then develop a habit for casting away from ourselves anything that doesn’t please God, isn’t provided by God, or makes it impossible for us to fully trust God.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time (1 Peter 5:6).

This humbling habit is the part of casting that we stumble over, isn’t it?

We have trouble…

Humbly admitting our wrongs.

Humbly asking for help.

Humbly waiting on God.

We struggle with…

Humbly thanking those who have rescued us.

Humbly asking what we might do for an other.

Humbly assuming our place, when it fails to be lauded, praised, or even recognized.

Humbly sitting down and letting others speak…that’s one uberly difficult habit to learn for anyone who has a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality.

We are a prideful people. So were the ancients. All their pride made them susceptible to attack by the opposition. Pride still makes us susceptible today.

Be alert and of sober mind (1 Peter 5). Why? Because your enemy the devil prowls…looking for someone to devour.

Should we be afraid? No. But we should be actively casting away from ourselves all those things that strangle or choke out God’s light and will in our lives.

How do you define humble for you?  What more do you need to cast off to develop this habit for being humble before God and your fellows?

3 Things That Keep Me Saying YES!

yes-no-hand
To say yes, you have to sweat and roll up your sleeves and plunge both hands into life up to the elbows. It is easy to say no, even if saying no means death. Jean Anouilh

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:7-9

I daily read from a devotional entitled, For Today.  Today’s reading started out with these words: “It takes no effort, no risk, no investment of myself to stand back and not participate in life. There is no chance of me being disappointed.”

I thought about that for a while and agreed that a life of doing nothing is pretty safe, but is it how we believers are to live our lives? I think not.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

The Lord bids us to do three things that are pivotal to our salvation:
1. Trust Him in all things.
2. Look for Him in all places.
3. Follow Him into the future.

If we will do these three things, just these three things, we will spend our lives saying YES to opportunities, and NO to the devil’s schemes.

Today, lets keep things simple.

Let’s trust God, fully.

Let’s follow Him, exclusively.

Let’s praise Him, only.

Oh, and let’s say yes, Yes, YES to whatever He asks us to do.

Are you saying YES to God often enough?  What needs to change in your life, in order for you to YES more often?

Discord or Harmony?

The fairest harmony springs from discord. Aristotle

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15

“How we humans hate discord,” penned the writer. “We have a talent for creating it, but we don’t like it.”

Isn’t that the truth!

Even when there is no sign of strife in our lives, we have a tendency to create it. Some of us practice this habit more than others, but the sad truth is that we’re all guilty of being agents of discord at one time or another. The answer to lasting peace and harmony is found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature (Colossians 3:5).

How do we do that? How in the world do we stop fighting for our rights and begin the search for harmony? Colossians 3 has the answer again, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” vs. 15a

We let Christ rule when we make the decision to trust Him with our futures.

We let Christ rule when we become confident in Him to provide all our needs.

We let Christ rule when we surrender every outcome to His loving and providential care.

The question occurs: Do we trust Jesus with our earthly lives as much as we trust Him with our eternities?  The answer defines our faith.

When we cease fighting, demanding, and cajoling in order to get our way, we begin to know a harmony that not only springs from discord, but overcomes it—a peace that passes understanding.

What are you fighting for, and do you believe Jesus can get it done without your help or angst?  How much confidence do you have in His power, versus yours?

 

JJ Heller

I just discovered JJ Heller. Where has this couple been all my life.  Their music is so authentic to me.  Love them!!!  Maybe you haven’t discovered this couple yet, either.  If not, please take time to listen to this message from them today.  I promise, you’ll be blessed.