Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ministry of the Unnoticed

Blessed are the poor in spirit. — Matthew 5:3

The phrase we hear so often, “Decide for Christ,” is an emphasis on something Our Lord never trusted. He never asks us to decide for Him, but to yield to Him, a very different thing.

The thing I am blessed in is my poverty. If I know I have no strength of will, no nobility of disposition, then Jesus says — Blessed are you, because it is through this poverty that I enter His Kingdom. I cannot enter His Kingdom as a good man or woman, I can only enter it as a complete pauper. (Oswald Chambers)

Understanding my poverty...that I am nothing of myself. I have not earned the title of "Christian" or "Child of God." I cannot earn this. This is actually comforting because if I could earn it, if it were up to me and my abilities or my goodness to enter the Kingdom of God...I would surely fail. I must recognize this and understand my poverty. This poverty makes it impossible to decide for Christ, because being a Christian is really all about yielding to Him. (We are back on that "surrendering of our rights and allowing him to work" theme that the Lord keeps hammering home to me)

I know what I am, in and of myself, with decisions. I am not saying that I am a fickle person. No. Not at all. There are things that I have decided long ago. I have decided that I would not use drugs or alcohol. I have decided that I would never be unfaithful to my husband. I have decided that I would always pay my taxes. I have decided that I would never cheat or steal. I have decided that I would commit to being a part of a community of believers in a get the picture. I did decide to follow Christ when I was 14 years old. That was a decision and commitment. I don't think that is what Chambers is talking about here. I think he means that we are people. People who fail...who get side-tracked. Get busy and forget or don't bother to take the time for prayer and worship and study. We are people who disappoint others that we love because we are not perfect. If it was up to my power of consistent decision, I wouldn't make the cut.

Instead, I yield to him. It is a constant learning curve. Yielding is surrendering our trust in ourselves and our own ability to get us there and trusting instead in His ways of getting us there. I cannot control everything that happens on this earth. I cannot stop the storms from coming my way. I cannot stop the tsunami from hitting me blindside and turning my life upside down...wounding me. I cannot make others around me understand my struggles with a mood disorder. I choose to raise my children the best that I can possibly raise them, but I cannot ultimately decide for them how to live out their lives. I must yield to Christ. When it hurts, when my life is in pieces...and when everything is going great, I must yield to Him. (Sometimes the latter is actually the hardest time to yield to Him)

In yielding to Him in this way, we serve in the Kingdom of God in the best way. If we yield...we serve.

Which are the people who have influenced us most? Not the ones who thought they did, but those who had not the remotest notion that they were influencing us. (Chambers)

Who has influences me the most for Christ here on earth? Simply by yielding up their lives to the Lord and living for Him? A quick look at my memory: Mrs. M DeVries, Mrs. J DeVries, Mrs. M Lamberts, Mom and Dad, Mrs. Lowater, the O'Learys, J Rowell, R Chinnici, A Falke, C Lazenby, C Meitner, W Connell, G Pulver, B Miller....

On that list there are only 3 men. Not that men cannot have a godly influence on me...but it shows me how important it is for women to have other women in their lives. I think most of these people would be surprised to find themselves on the list. They are ordinary people. They lived ordinary lives. None of them are famous. I cannot help but wonder if I have been of any influence to anyone. I know that this devotional discourages us from wondering about that, but I do. Have I touched anyone? Have I made any difference?

We always know when Jesus is at work because He produces in the commonplace something that is inspiring.

I guess that I can atleast claim that I am commonplace, and perhaps by being so, Jesus can be at work in me and around me...and even through me.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Selling All I Have

When he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. —Luke 18:23

Yesterday's devotional seemed so familiar that I went in search of the archives to see if I had looked at it another year. It turned out that I looked at today's devotional in 2012, which is very similar.

What am I going to pull out of it this year?

Has God’s Word ever come to you, pointing out an area of your life, requiring you to yield it to Him? Maybe He has pointed out certain personal qualities, desires, and interests, or possibly relationships of your heart and mind. (Chambers)

My mind. My heart. My mind works overtime quite often. It rants and raves about things I can't do anything about. Things I can't change. My heart is often disappointed when I have higher expectations in my life. I often feel like I have a right to hold on to these rants and disappointments, but the Lord has shown me that I do not have that right. I must yield it to Him.

It's really hard to yield sometimes, but you know what? It's even harder to live life not yielding it to Him.

“Sell all that you have…” (Luke 18:22). In other words, rid yourself before God of everything that might be considered a possession until you are a mere conscious human being standing before Him, and then give God that. (Chambers)

Selling all I have isn't enough. He wants me. And what does that mean? What does it truly mean to give myself fully to Him? I can't give myself fully to Him until I "sell all that I have." What do I need to sell?

  • Anger
  • Bitterness
  • Memories that bring regret or grief
  • Pride
  • Resentment
  • Brokenness
  • Disappointment
  • Expectations
  • My time
  • Mental health issues....and pride again
  • Secrets
That is just a quick list the Holy Spirit has just shown me. Each of these can be broken down. I need to be authentic and transparent. I haven't always been this.

Here's another thought that Chambers adds to the end of the devotional.

Discouragement is disillusioned self-love, and self-love may be love for my devotion to Jesus— not love for Jesus Himself.

Loving Jesus is the ultimate goal. I can't do that without selling the "junk in my house." The junk listed above. All that stuff is the fruit of self-love.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Learning to Listen...and Obey

…Jesus…said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me." But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. —Luke 18:22-23

Today's devotional, my friends is amazing. I'm thinking, what could I possibly add to that? It seems as though Chambers says it perfectly...and clearly. I can relate to it and can think of specific examples in my own life. Times when I heard Him speak to me and I didn't like what I heard. Just like the young ruler, I went away sorrowful.

Here are some gems from today's devotional.

Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear.

Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him— He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.

Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life.

I can think of a couple of very specific times when the Lord spoke to me clearly. I didn't like what I heard Him say. I wanted what I wanted. I didn't want to do things the Lord's way...I wanted things my way instead. I made excuses for the words I heard. I told myself it was my imagination. Both times when I heard the Lord speak to me it caught me off guard and I said, "What?!? Was that you, Lord? What did you say?" I wanted more clarification. I wanted to hear it in a more comfortable way. Both times, my startled reactions were met with silence. God never has to repeat Himself. He makes Himself very clear the first time. We don't always have to understand why or how...just believe and obey.

The first time He spoke to me directly, I really didn't like it...and went and did my own thing. I did what I wanted instead. I have looked back in repentance, sorrow and regret. I paid the price for not listening, believing, or obeying. I still pay the price in sorrow and loss, just as He predicted I would. But the last line of Chambers' devotional struck me. Here it is:

One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.

It is not the Lord that throws that failure into my face, but it is I. I throw my own failures back into my own face and I need to stop this! By doing this, I have not accepted the Lord's forgiveness, grace, and mercy. He's over it. He has moved on. I'm the one who is stuck with not forgiving myself.

The second specific time that I am thinking of was a time when the Lord's words brought me sorrow. I didn't want to accept them as truth. In fact, I protested and argued. I didn't believe. I didn't think I could bear what he told me would come true. For a long time it was a source of sorrow and I asked, "Why, Lord?" But slowly over time His words brought me comfort and I saw them as loving protection. They have also brought me assurance that what He says stands firm. I can firmly rest on what He tells me is so.

I am ever so grateful that He didn't just give up on me or zap me when I chose rebellion, whining, and disbelief. He is so patient. His words eventually bore fruit.

Photo by me: Adirondack Mountains.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

He Knows My Name

He calls his own…by name… —John 10:3

This is this world that has a current population of approximately 7.4 billion people, He knows not only my name, but He knows each and every one of us by name. I'm a librarian at a high school with approximately 800 students. I struggle with those names. That's one thing I wish I was better at, but 4.7 billion people?!?....not to mention the billions of people who have lived and died!

But Thomas doubted, saying, “Unless I see…I will not believe” (John 20:25). Thomas needed the personal touch of Jesus. When His touches will come we never know, but when they do come they are indescribably precious. “Thomas…said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ ” (John 20:28).

I have experienced His personal touch, on a couple of occasions. Those moments have been amazing. I haven't always appreciated the personal touches when they came to me because sometimes they came in the form of a message that I didn't want to receive. I didn't like what He said, but years later when I looked back and saw how his messages came true...I have been amazed. Other touches left me this one.

There was another time where I was touched with His power and it was actually frightening. I was 12 years old and going through some personal doubts. I was laying in bed, with my hand resting on the headboard. I said to the Lord, "If you are real, God...then touch my hand." I instantly felt a tingling in my hand that grew stronger and stronger and then flowed through my entire body. I swear that I levitated a bit off the mattress. It really was one of the most frightening experiences I have ever had. I remember crying out to Him that okay okay, I believed. I wanted the sensation to stop. It did after only a second or two. My heart was beating out of my chest. I went downstairs and wandered a bit around the house and got a drink. When I had settled down, I went back to bed. I know it sounds silly, but I always avoided resting my hand on the headboard after that. Even all the way up through high school and when I returned home as a young adult before moving out. For years I told no one and since then I have told very few people about this experience because I was sure that no one would believe me. It just seemed too incredible! How do you tell people you levitated off of a mattress?

As frightening as it was, it was truly precious. He knew my name. He heard this little 12 year old girl and cared enough to show her exactly how real He is! I admit that I was also being a little cocky and He really put me in my place!

I can name more times like this one...and this one too.

I could tell more. These experiences have come few and far between...but they show me that God sees me as an individual. He notices what is going on in my life. He cares to stop and speak to me.

He knows my name.

Photo of me by my husband. Reading at the Adirondack Reader in Inlet, NY.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Blessings Through Raindrops-The Discipline of the Lord

Because I am a bit of a night owl, I will sometimes be up past my bedtime, poking around the internet and reading. Sometimes I even pull up Oswald Chambers' Devotional. Last night I did that and posted. Then today when I pulled it up, I noticed that it was the same devotional I had done around 11:00 or so last night. That is because whoever is in charge of the blog I link to in order to get to the devotional is not a nightowl apparently and makes sure that it is updated for the following day before they go off to bed. That saying: Since I did today's devotional last night, this is yesterday's devotional that I will do today.

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him. Hebrews 12:5

When the Lord disciplines you like that, let Him have His way with you. Allow Him to put you into a right-standing relationship before God.

So...I'm supposed to just sit there and take it? Yep...that's what the devotional says. That really is surrendering your rights. There's actually more to it then simpy sitting back and taking it. The scripture says that I'm not to be discouraged. I can think of another scripture that tells us to trust in Him, not to try to attach your own human understanding to your situation, and to also acknowledge Him in everything-even when life sucks (Proverbs 3:5). Everything the Lord plans for us has a purpose. I've got to keep believing that. I do believe that. In the thick of things certainly is easy to say..."Why?" Heck! Even after things settle down a bit it's still easy to say, "Why?"

I know that we will not always understand things on this side of heaven. What is the purpose of life? Is it to have everything go right all the time? We make our plans, and then everything works out and we live happily ever after? If that was the case, what would ever convince us that we really need the Lord? The things in my life have often served to convince me that I need God.

  • Mommy's best friend committing suicide. Having to shoulder that at age 5.
  • Scary outbursts of anger that my brother exhibited when I was just a little girl. His drug abuse, alcoholism and rebellion affected us all.
  • Feeling like I had to hide that from people.
  • Two policemen knocking on the front door in 1983 to tell my family that my older brother was found dead in his apartment in Dallas, TX
  • Being side-slammed by a mental illness in college and then consequently losing someone who had been my best friend.
  • Suffering for years with anxiety that was crippling. Not knowing what my problem was.
  • Getting married and then having one financial issue after another happen to us. It was like being in a choppy sea...trying to keep your head up.
  • Not being able to find a job...
  • Having someone suddenly tell you that your dad has only 3 months to live at most...and then see him die just 3 weeks later.
  • Your mother having dementia. Trying to figure out with your siblings how to care for her and keep her safe. (Thank you my big sister! I'll be forever indebted to you and your selflessness)
  • .....

Really? Is that it? That's all? I don't see a concentration camp listed here...or wrongful inprisonment! I don't think I've really had that rough of a life and I don't think this is a list of discipline from the Lord. What does that song say? Sometimes our blessings come through raindrops.

It's all part of the work being done on me.
Am I fully prepared to allow God to grip me by His power and do a work in me that is truly worthy of Himself? Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me— sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me. But He has to get me into the state of mind and spirit where I will allow Him to sanctify me completely, whatever the cost.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24New International Version (NIV)

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

okay...bring it!

P.S. I know I have people who are reading this blog. Please comment. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Falling Prostrate Before Him

When I saw Him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then He places His right hand on me and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades."    Revelation 1:17-18

I delight in knowing that there is something in me which must fall prostrate before God when He reveals Himself to me, and also in knowing that if I am ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God. God can do nothing for me until I recognize the limits of what is humanly possible, allowing Him to do the impossible.

(Words by Oswald Chambers)

Evidence of New Birth

The answer to Nicodemus’ question, “How can a man be born when he is old?” is: Only when he is willing to die to everything in his life, including his rights, his virtues, and his religion, and becomes willing to receive into himself a new life that he has never before experienced (John 3:4). 

The Lord has a way of driving it home again and again. Why can't I seem to get this right? I slip into my painful thinking over and over. It is a battle that never lets up! I get so exhausted from fighting it!

It's all about continual surrender. Life isn't fair. It downright stinks sometimes...and I actually have it pretty darned good compared to many in this world. It's because I sometimes still hurt inside over things that happened before. And the enemy will sneak over and start reminding me of how life was unfair to me and that it would be nice if......blah blah blah! And I fall for it.

I need to stop this!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Thinking of Prayer as Jesus Taught

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.     
I Thessalonians 5: 16-18

The emphasis of today's devotional is learning to pray continually and believing that God answers all our prayers. I am learning once again how to pray continually. At one time, I got it....but then it slipped away from me and now I must relearn it. I really like some of the things that Chambers writes in his devotional today.

The correct concept is to think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts. Our blood flows and our breathing continues “without ceasing”; we are not even conscious of it, but it never stops. And we are not always conscious of Jesus keeping us in perfect oneness with God, but if we are obeying Him, He always is. (Chambers)

God answers prayer in the best way— not just sometimes, but every time. However, the evidence of the answer in the area we want it may not always immediately follow.(Chambers)

...and it might not be in the way we were hoping He would answer....but we must always trust that He answers in the best way. I have a memory of begging the Lord not to take someone I loved away from me. I pleaded and begged and cried out again and again. He answered that prayer in the best taking that person I loved away from me. By accepting the truth of this...that God knows best goes along with yesterday's lesson of surrendering my will to his. My right to what I thought would bring me the best marriage. The best happiness. It's hard to do this. It's handing over all of the controls to Him.

For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Matthew 7:8

What does this scripture mean if it doesn't necessarily mean that we always get what we want? It means that we can be assured of an answer. That if it doesn't make sense to us...that we must trust  Him and eventually a door of understanding will open. We need to knock and ask and believe.

Here's something else that Chambers writes:

The danger we have is that we want to water down what Jesus said to make it mean something that aligns with our common sense. But if it were only common sense, what He said would not even be worthwhile. The things Jesus taught about prayer are supernatural truths He reveals to us.

I've experienced the supernatural and it is so cool! I believe you, Lord. You are doing a supernatural work in me. Thank you.

(Photo by Jennifer Boyer, Flickr Creative Commons)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Good or the Best?

Today's devotional is all about a specific truth that the Lord has recently been driving home to me. Isn't that the way? Do you ever notice it? The Lord will show you some truth in scripture during your quiet time. On the drive to work, you turn on the radio...and a pastor is preaching the same point using the same scripture. On Sunday you show up to church guessed it. Same truth....maybe in a different scripture...but the same truth of the Lord. I'm quite often in the remedial class of the Lord...where lessons are repeated often before I grasp them.

The Lord has been showing me that to follow Him I must surrender my rights. My right to fairness. My right to be understood. The right to have a misunderstanding from long ago clarified. The right to live in a house that is neatly trimmed out with fresh paint. Yes...I know that last one sounds silly....but that one hits home for me. The scripture today is about how Abram and Lot came to a place where they had to decide who ended up with what piece of land to live on. By rights, Abram should have had first dibs, but he surrendered that right to Lot. Lot chose the more fertile land. Abraham took what was left.

So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” 

Genesis 13:8-9

From Chamber's devotional today:

....if you are living the life of faith you will exercise your right to waive your rights, and let God make your choice for you. God sometimes allows you to get into a place of testing where your own welfare would be the appropriate thing to consider, if you were not living the life of faith. But if you are, you will joyfully waive your right and allow God to make your choice for you

This has been a particularly difficult discipline for me to learn. I hesitate to even write the particulars here. For by writing about I taking hold of my right to communicate the wrong committed against me years ago? And if I do I have an alterier motive? Am I hoping a certain someone would read it and the truth would be told to him? I've already plowed ahead where I should not have in the past. I thought I had the right....but I should have surrendered it to the Lord. I paid the price. Look what eventually happened to Lot after he chose to pitch his tent close to Sodom. He was swept into the the sinful beliefs and points of view they held. Lot knew the Lord and was spared....but only barely escaped the flames. is never my right to hold a grudge against someone. In this case...I have held a grudge against my mother. I have dishonered her by rehearsing my anger against her. "Forgive me, Father."

I placed the picture of my mother remind me that she was a godly woman. She wasn't perfect. She caused me a great amount of pain...but I must not hold onto that grievance.

Something else that Chambers points out:

Whenever our right becomes the guiding factor of our lives, it dulls our spiritual insight. The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best. In this passage, it would seem that the wisest thing in the world for Abram to do would be to choose. It was his right, and the people around him would consider him to be a fool for not choosing.

Quite often God's way doesn't make any sense. It is at those times that it is particularly difficult to surrender my rights. I don't understand the wounds He has inflicted upon me...but I must yield myself to Him and his choosing for me.

This is what He calls me to:

...“I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless.

Genesis 17:1

Monday, March 7, 2016

Surrender...and being thankful for the fire of affliction

To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else. 

We must surrender all pretense that we are anything, and give up all our claims of even being worthy of God’s consideration.

Once we have done that, the Spirit of God will show us what we need to surrender next. Along each step of this process, we will have to give up our claims to our rights to ourselves. Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?(Chambers)

This is the up my rights. My right to be heard, my right to tell my side of the story, my right to have people understand me, my right to a fair hearing, my right to stay angry about things I can't change, my right to hang onto unhealthy thinking, my right to keep poisoning myself with my obsessive thinking. 

We will suffer a sharp painful disillusionment before we fully surrender. When people really see themselves as the Lord sees them, it is not the terribly offensive sins of the flesh that shock them, but the awful nature of the pride of their own hearts opposing Jesus Christ. When they see themselves in the light of the Lord, the shame, horror, and desperate conviction hit home for them.(Chambers)

It is so is my pride that is the problem. That is the root of my sin. My pride was hurt....and I, in my sinful human thinking, believe somehow that I have a right to be relieved of that arrow to my pride. I believe that somehow it should be fixed. That I have rights and I become obsessed by it.

"Lord Jesus, I surrender this pride...this demand for a fair hearing while I am on this earth. To be vindicated. Oh gave me a burden to bear. It is heavy....but I must bear it because it is the test that will help me come forth as gold. To answer that prayer I lifted up to you many years ago....that you would make me into a godly woman..."no matter what it takes." You heard my prayer and answered me. You bent down and listened to me and then you placed me into the fire of your affliction. Do I have a right to argue the fairness of it to you, Lord? Do I have a right to choose what affliction I face? No. You are God and I will trust you. You give and take away. Holy Spirit, fill me up. Empower me against the lies of the enemy who seeks to drag me down...into the miry clay. It is all my pride. The enemy knows my pride and how it was wounded. He stabs at it regularly. Oh Jesus...I want to be victorious over this! How do I get the victory when I fail again and again? be thankful for it? Is that what I hear you saying? The hard eucharisto? Thank you for the trial you put me through. Thank you for the fire of your affliction. Thank you for the misunderstandings and the accusations and the pain....I hate thanking you for these things. I want to be obedient...but it is so hard to do. How can I thank you for it? ...oh Heavenly Father, bring me to that place of thankfulness and joy."

If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you. (Chambers)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Finding victory over the itch of the enemy!

…in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses. —2 Corinthians 6:4

The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you.(Oswald Chambers)

Ephesians 6:10-18New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
I'm guilty of getting bored and lazy with keeping up my walk. Then my guard gets let down, and Satan sees his chance to attack me. He is constantly looking for that foothold to grab onto so that he can then drag me into the dark woods. He knows me. He studies me. He knows my life story and therefore understands which footholds work best on me. My foothold wouldn't work on you...nor yours on me. We don't share the same hearts-aches or struggles or histories. He knows our soft spots.

Don't let your guard down! Keep up the good fight. You can't fight alone. You need the Holy Spirit and His power to come out victorious against the enemy's wily ways. No other quick fix will do. No other remedy. No other "do it yourself" power will work. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can overcome his attacks. He wishes to plunge us into spiritual bondage. He'll do it if we give him a chance.

The Lord gave me an interesting analogy today regarding this.

In March of 1994, I was attacked by a vicious dog. This dog was out to hurt me. He meant business! If not for the owner pulling the dog off of me, I would have been hurt much worse than I was. Even after only a minute or less of attack, my left calf and ankle were badly wounded, and I also had a nasty bite on my right ankle. I ended up in the doctors office. The wounds got cleaned out and bandaged up. I was instructed on how to change out the dressings and given a prescription of antibiotics. For several weeks I walked with a limp and had nightmares. Then I decided that enough was enough! I was not going to spend the rest of my life frightened of dogs, or plagued by scary dreams! I happened to have many positive experiences with great dogs. I wasn't going to let one dog ruin that. The nightmares ceased. I healed and life went on. However...I have scar tissue and nerve damage on my left calf some 22 years later. This scar tissue sometimes itches so badly that it is enough to drive me up the wall! If I start gets worse and worse. I have tried lotions, creams and vasoline. Sometimes there is temporary relief...but usually within a couple of hours or even less, it starts up again. After doing a bit of research I decided to try an essential oil blend. It worked! It is the only thing that brings hours and hours of relief! It's a smelly miracle. I don't always appreciate smelling predominantly like cloves...but if that's what it takes, I'll do it. Even so....sometimes I get lazy. It starts itching while I'm laying in bed. I don't feel like getting up, finding what I need and using it: a messy oil diluted in a carrier oil. Instead, I reach for the cream on my night stand. An hour later I'm scratching again. Why won't I ever learn? I get up, go smear a bunch of smelly oil on my leg....crawl back into bed and sleep soundly!

There are no substitutes when the enemy is grasping for a hold....aggravating you with the itch of painful memory, resentment, unforgiveness,...whatever your particular itch is. The oil of the Holy Spirit is the only relief from it. Call on Him! Get into the truth of his word! Put on the armor of God for battle. Persevere though His power. Now! Don't reach for the cream on your night stand...get up!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Determination to Serve

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve… —Matthew 20:28

I am really seeing that service and kindness to others is such a beautiful thing. That is what I want to be. Beautiful inside and kind. I just remember how kind and what a servant my father was to others. He was that way because of his love for the Lord. His relationship with Jesus was so vibrant and real. At his passing, I heard many describe my father as righteous. That has really resonated with me. At my passing, I only want to be seen as righteous. I just want to be beautiful on the inside. I see the path that the Lord has brought me on. It has been a painful trail that I have walked, but I see some of the benefits. I am much less judgmental towards others. I am more empathetic than I used to be.

But the chief motivation behind Paul’s service was not love for others but love for his Lord. If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people. But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another.

So true that our motivation can be only from the Lord and our love for Him. I've already been disappointed by people...some of them very close to me.

Last week I had a difficult time with my emotions...I was fine as long as I stayed busy. I knew that I would be facing some anniversaries of pain last week. Every year at this time, I struggle with memories of rejection, being misunderstood, and devastating loss. I have imaginary conversations with people that run through my mind...over and over again. The pain just squeezes my heart and soul, although it has been many years since the onset of this pain. As I was saying, I am fine as long as I stay busy. Work is wonderful at these times...but as luck would have it, it always seems to be winter break during my struggle time. I work at a school, so winter break comes. I made plans to be busy. On Monday I would have coffee at a friend's house. On Tuesday I would go shopping. On Wednesday I would meet a dear friend for lunch. I wasn't sure what I would do come Thursday...but I figured I would stay busy one way or another. If I am busy....I cannot think. If I do not think...I cannot ponder life's events. If I cannot ponder, I cannot remember. If I cannot remember, it will not hurt. It's all fine, well and good....if one does not have to crawl into bed at night. That is when the enemy strikes. I struggled all week long...every night in anguish. On Saturday night...I was again in anguish...even tears rolling down my cheeks because I couldn't quiet the painful memories that assaulted me. That was when I knew that I must go to Prayer Central the next day at church. Prayer Central is a quiet room at our church that anyone can go to after the services. There one can receive prayer for anything. So I went there, and a woman named Lucy prayed with me. First I told her a   brief version of my story. The one I feel the most pain from in my life. I prayed and she prayed. I again forgave people who hurt me. She prayed that I would be able to remember this event without pain. That it would become something that simply happened...and it would no longer bring me such sorrow. The crux of the prayer was that I would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to withstand attacks from the enemy and be victorious over him. She has a Pentecostal background and inquired as to what I thought about tongues. I am open to receiving tongues if it will bring me closer to Jesus. If it will help me pray in the Holy Spirit and be saturated with Him. I left, without having received the gift of tongues, but I must admit that I have felt a tremendous amount of freedom since going there. I feel a peace that I haven't felt before.

The path the Lord brought me on has showed me over and over again that I am completely dependent upon Him for everything. A sound mind, sustenance, love for others, the ability to forgive, to serve...the strength to trust in the Lord during the darkest moments of my life. I don't think that any of the events have been an accident. I think they have been planned all along. My life verse had become Job 23:10. He knows the way that I take and when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.

I want to be gold. Becoming gold comes at a price. It doesn't come easily. It comes with fire and water and burnishing. It comes with pain. It comes with frustration. It comes with desertion. It comes with abandonment. But the lessons are beautiful in the end. The results are thankfulness, kindness, empathy, passion for the hurting, servanthood. The Lord is making me into something. He is making me a servant...just as He was a servant.

Paul’s understanding of how Christ had dealt with him is the secret behind his determination to serve others. “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…” (1 Timothy 1:13).  I remember what I was. Along the path, I haven't always seen the results. Spiritual growth and change is S.....L.....O.....W. It is a process. It is a journey. Just when we think we have made it and we can see the summit, the clouds come and cover the view. It rains. The path is muddy. We are gasping for breath. We aren't sure if we can make it. We have to take a detour. I'm on a journey towards gold...towards being proclaimed righteous...toward being a servant to all. I could never have guessed that my journey would have taken me on such rough and rocky places...with glimpses of beautiful streams and waterfalls and hearing birds singing. I don't know where the path will take me next...but I trust that the Lord is with me. He is making me. He is taking me to higher places.