Be Ye Glad...Oh Yes!

Be Ye Glad...Oh Yes!

As we were beginning worship one morning at church, I was arrested by the beauty and the message of a song I hadn't heard or sung for many years.

Those of us who were young adults during the late 60s into the 70s and 80s may remember "Be Ye Glad" as a peaceful balm to our souls. So when those opening words and melody penetrated my consciousness, I had to stop and reflect on every word.

In light of all the upheaval in the world, along with the upheavals in your own world, why not take a few moments and listen, reflect on the message, and even sing along….

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TBT: Walking in the Dark...

TBT: Walking in the Dark...

Are you going through the dark valley today, my friend? Have there been oppositions, losses, stresses of many kinds looming all around you?

Darkness, darker than the dark?

I'm with you...especially this week...

But this morning, in the midst of it all, moved by an inner Mover, picking up a volume dating back many a year, there was balm for my exhausted, beat-up soul.

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Joy for a Suffering Soul: Just Be Held!

Eighteen years ago ... right about now, our family began to walk through the trial of our lives. Our precious son Jeremy began to have obvious issues that led to a diagnosis of thyroid cancer on February 13, 1998.jeremy My goodness, he was only 20 years old, athletic, handsome, healthy (or so we thought). As his mom, I experienced pain that I had never felt before or since. I watched my gorgeous "baby boy" walk through the trial of his life with courage and grace, despite his normal fear.

As I now look back to that time, the one thing I always say is "God carried us!" And I guess that is all I can say ... we were held and carried! And there is a bittersweet joy in that kind of deep trial ... when all there is to make it through is HIM and His loving Presence.

Willam and me, baby

So here's another song to add to our "Joy in January" series. It's a song for seeming un-joyful situations and periods in life.

So if you are going through what seems to be the "perfect storm," pause here, let go, ... and let yourself be held!

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ']

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And now for a shameless advertisement at the request of my business manager (a.k.a. my husband John):

At the risk of appearing self-serving, I want to invite you to read my book, The With-ness of our God: Relationship in Every Dimension,...not because I wrote it but because it reveals a God who is intimately and securely united with us in every possible way.The-With-ness-of-our-God-cover-temp-3-210x300

If you are struggling to feel connected to the Lord, though you may know in your head you belong to Him, please consider this little volume. In it you will receive manna for your heart, not just your head. You will find not only simple, practical instruction, but also meditation, stories for application, questions for journaling and just pondering...and more.

Or maybe you aren't struggling but just want to go deeper...this is for you too. You can dive into the deep or stay on the surface...your choice.

And the book is very accessible and affordable. You can purchase on online (see links). Locally, volumes can be purchased at BellHOP Cafe for just $14.00. And I've priced the ebook at the lowest allowed, $3.99 or even less on some on-line sites.

So please take a look and consider walking with us on this journey into The With-ness of our God: Relationship in Every Dimension.

And thank you for your grace!

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksDn82ujvc0']

Publisher website: www.janloyd.com

On my blog with links to Amazon etc, endorsements, outline, excerpt, pdfs of other resources and leaders guide: http://www.abranchinthevine.com/with-ness-of-our-god/

 

Running my Unique Lap in the Race of Faith (Part 2)

Well, friends, we have come to the end of our class called "Running the Race of Faith" at Patterson Park Church this fall. Some of you have joined us and followed along. Since we have taken some detours along the way at "A Branch in the Vine," click here for Part 1.

Now enjoy the remainder...and keep on running!

4.  My success in running depends on my focus.

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of  faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”   Heb 12: 2-3

See Lessons from a Family Vacation: We become like what we focus on.  Glory and grace when we focus on HIM!

5.  Submission to my “Coach’s” training program is key.

--His process is "discipline" (complete child training):

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

--His motive is love:

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,

--His method is ruthless, but fatherly:

And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but...

See The Father's Pruning

--His goal is holiness; family resemblance:

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

--His result is fruitfulness--righteousness, peace:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

See Return to the Vineyard: Reflections on Growth

--His exhortation is "cooperate":

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Heb 12: 4-13

See Love's Abiding Harvest

6.  I must be a “team participant”.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12: 14-17

It's so easy to get bitter over life's hardships and the "irregular people" in our lives...even "irregular Christian people."  Yes, there are fellow teammates who just don't get it...actually we may be one of those at times, huh?

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen entitled, "Stepping Over Our Wounds."

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on [a.k.a. run on].  The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there.  Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or "the discarded one."  Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them.  It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on [a.k.a. run on]. Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen.

Conclusion

Do you see what all this means -- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running -- never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed -- that exhilarating finish in and with God -- he could put up with anything along the way:  cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that will shoot adrenline into your souls. Hebrews 12: 1 - 3  (The Message)

Running my Unique Lap in the Race of Faith (Part 2)

Well, friends, we have come to the end of our class called "Running the Race of Faith" at Patterson Park Church this fall. Some of you have joined us and followed along. Since we have taken some detours along the way at "A Branch in the Vine," click here for Part 1.

Now enjoy the remainder...and keep on running!

4.  My success in running depends on my focus.

...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of  faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.”   Heb 12: 2-3

See Lessons from a Family Vacation: We become like what we focus on.  Glory and grace when we focus on HIM!

5.  Submission to my “Coach’s” training program is key.

--His process is "discipline" (complete child training):

You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;

--His motive is love:

For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,

--His method is ruthless, but fatherly:

And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but...

See The Father's Pruning

--His goal is holiness; family resemblance:

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.

--His result is fruitfulness--righteousness, peace:

All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

See Return to the Vineyard: Reflections on Growth

--His exhortation is "cooperate":

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Heb 12: 4-13

See Love's Abiding Harvest

6.  I must be a “team participant”.

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears. Hebrews 12: 14-17

It's so easy to get bitter over life's hardships and the "irregular people" in our lives...even "irregular Christian people."  Yes, there are fellow teammates who just don't get it...actually we may be one of those at times, huh?

I love this quote by Henri Nouwen entitled, "Stepping Over Our Wounds."

Sometimes we have to "step over" our anger, our jealousy, or our feelings of rejection and move on [a.k.a. run on].  The temptation is to get stuck in our negative emotions, poking around in them as if we belong there.  Then we become the "offended one," "the forgotten one," or "the discarded one."  Yes, we can get attached to these negative identities and even take morbid pleasure in them.  It might be good to have a look at these dark feelings and explore where they come from, but there comes a moment to step over them, leave them behind and travel on [a.k.a. run on]. Bread for the Journey, Henri Nouwen.

Conclusion

Do you see what all this means -- all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we’d better get on with it.  Strip down, start running -- never quit!  No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed -- that exhilarating finish in and with God -- he could put up with anything along the way:  cross, shame, whatever.  And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.  When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that will shoot adrenline into your souls. Hebrews 12: 1 - 3  (The Message)

Two Truths to Count on in Trials

shepherd
shepherd

Surely goodness and steadfast love shall follow me all the days of my life... Psalm 23:8PAIN!

Bloody! Cutting! Unrelenting! and Soul-numbing...or is it? 

For me, pain has a way of sifting through the non-essentials of life!

And I find my soul awakened abruptly from its numbing slumber to longing, loss, grief, confusion, perspective...

...but most importantly, the presence of GOD.

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.   C.S. Lewis

In pain as in joy, I'm learning to hold onto two truths that are my unchangeables:

GOD IS GOODThe LORD is good...

I AM LOVED...and His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

And it seems the enemy of our souls always assails at those two points with hislies.  It happened in the Garden, and it happens every day in my life and in yours.  We are just dull to recognize it.

But I'm hear to affirm by faith...

God is GOOD!

God's character is often bought into question when we face the "hard things" in life, like sickness, death, broken relationships, financial reversals, and so on.

When our son and daughter went through serious health problems (cancer and what turned out to be benign tumors) within months of each other, it threw me into incredible pain and confusion:

reflections on Christ - crucifixion
reflections on Christ - crucifixion

"How could this be happening to my children!?  What kind of toxic waste dump have we been living in!?"

And I struggled on...for a long time!  Finally, it was Jesus' words to His disciples, the night before He died, that stabilized me:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

But why all the suffering?  God's Word tells us that because of the Fall, everything and everyone has been suffering:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:21-23

God's plan hasn't been stymied because of man's fall into rebellion.  God is weaving all things in our lives into His eternal plan in Christ.

tapestry, front & back
tapestry, front & back

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29

As Bible teacher Kay Arthur says,

Everything in our lives is filtered through fingers of Love!

And that brings me to my second "Unchangeable"...

I am LOVED and you are too!

We all are seeking perfect love...loving and being loved in a real and deep way.  This is God-given.  But I get myself into trouble when I expect perfect love from another person, or I try to live up to others' expectations simply so that they will love and accept me.

The realization that I am loved with an everlasting love by the Lover of my Soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, enables me to let others off the hook.  It also frees me to admit and repent of my failures to love...and then forgive myself.

house
house

Maybe this is part of what we each must go through in adulthood in coming to grips with our "parent issues."

In a perfect world, all of us would have been parented by perfect parents who met all our needs.  But in reality, none of us has...though some of us have had some pretty darn good ones!

But in finally coming to grips with our grief and loss, we can forgive others for not loving us as only God can.

It's at that moment that you and I can fully embrace God's incredible, perfect love for us...and embrace our life, choosing to love with the love with which we have been loved by God.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing,... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing— nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable —absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:35-39 MSG

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 ESV


Two Truths to Count on in Trials

Surely goodness and steadfast love shall follow me all the days of my life... Psalm 23:8 PAIN!

Bloody! Cutting! Unrelenting! and Soul-numbing...or is it? 

For me, pain has a way of sifting through the non-essentials of life!

And I find my soul awakened abruptly from its numbing slumber to longing, loss, grief, confusion, perspective...

...but most importantly, the presence of GOD.

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.   C.S. Lewis

In pain as in joy, I'm learning to hold onto two truths that are my unchangeables:

GOD IS GOOD The LORD is good...

I AM LOVED ...and His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

And it seems the enemy of our souls always assails at those two points with his lies.  It happened in the Garden, and it happens every day in my life and in yours.  We are just dull to recognize it.

But I'm hear to affirm by faith...

God is GOOD!

God's character is often bought into question when we face the "hard things" in life, like sickness, death, broken relationships, financial reversals, and so on.

When our son and daughter went through serious health problems (cancer and what turned out to be benign tumors) within months of each other, it threw me into incredible pain and confusion:

"How could this be happening to my children!?  What kind of toxic waste dump have we been living in!?"

And I struggled on...for a long time!  Finally, it was Jesus' words to His disciples, the night before He died, that stabilized me:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

But why all the suffering?  God's Word tells us that because of the Fall, everything and everyone has been suffering:

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:21-23

God's plan hasn't been stymied because of man's fall into rebellion.  God is weaving all things in our lives into His eternal plan in Christ.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29

As Bible teacher Kay Arthur says,

Everything in our lives is filtered through fingers of Love!

And that brings me to my second "Unchangeable"...

I am LOVED and you are too!

We all are seeking perfect love...loving and being loved in a real and deep way.  This is God-given.  But I get myself into trouble when I expect perfect love from another person, or I try to live up to others' expectations simply so that they will love and accept me.

The realization that I am loved with an everlasting love by the Lover of my Soul, the Lord Jesus Christ, enables me to let others off the hook.  It also frees me to admit and repent of my failures to love...and then forgive myself.

Maybe this is part of what we each must go through in adulthood in coming to grips with our "parent issues."

In a perfect world, all of us would have been parented by perfect parents who met all our needs.  But in reality, none of us has...though some of us have had some pretty darn good ones!

But in finally coming to grips with our grief and loss, we can forgive others for not loving us as only God can.

It's at that moment that you and I can fully embrace God's incredible, perfect love for us...and embrace our life, choosing to love with the love with which we have been loved by God.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing,... None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing— nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable —absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:35-39 MSG

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 107:1 ESV

[youtuber youtube='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnetYx_9450']

 

The Father's Sandpaper

Tears-150x150-1
Tears-150x150-1

It's a precious relationship...but why is it so hard...and painful? We keep "missing" each other!  Maybe we don't "get" each other?

I keep trying to respect boundaries and be "circumspect" in what I say and do...and then it comes:  stuff from the past, mistakes in the present...at times, I am responsible...other times, I feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Not the sweetness and light I keep hoping for!

Lord, why?  Why is it so hard?  How do I navigate this relationship?

Then comes His still, small voice:

This relationship is Sandpaper in My Hands to shine you up...to get those rough places smooth!

sandpaper
sandpaper

Now how can I argue with that?  Thank you, Lord!

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects[actually, beats to a pulp!]... At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain.Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:7,11 Message

Many of you are going through difficulties of every kind...excruciating, even life threatening health problems, mental and emotional heartache, relational stresses, and the list goes on. We have no idea what the Father is doing in His sovereignty.

But one thing we can count on is that He is shining us up more and more to look like His glorious Son Who indwells us.

So let's embrace Him and our life and believe with all our hearts that nothing is wasted in His almighty, loving Fatherly Hands.

nothing is wasted, jason gray
nothing is wasted, jason gray

PLEASE click on this link to view an awesome video of this song: Nothing is wasted -- Jason Gray

The hurt that broke your heart And left you trembling in the dark Feeling lost and alone Will tell you hope's a lie But what if every tear you cry Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

It's from the deepest wounds That beauty finds a place to bloom And you will see before the end That every broken piece is Gathered in the heart of Jesus And what's lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

nothing wasted
nothing wasted

You might also like to look at "In Pain...two Things I Know"

The Father's Sandpaper

It's a precious relationship...but why is it so hard...and painful? We keep "missing" each other!  Maybe we don't "get" each other?

I keep trying to respect boundaries and be "circumspect" in what I say and do...and then it comes:  stuff from the past, mistakes in the present...at times, I am responsible...other times, I feel like I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

Not the sweetness and light I keep hoping for!

Lord, why?  Why is it so hard?  How do I navigate this relationship?

Then comes His still, small voice:

This relationship is Sandpaper in My Hands to shine you up...to get those rough places smooth!

Now how can I argue with that?  Thank you, Lord!

It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects [actually, beats to a pulp!]... At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. Hebrews 12:7,11 Message

Many of you are going through difficulties of every kind...excruciating, even life threatening health problems, mental and emotional heartache, relational stresses, and the list goes on. We have no idea what the Father is doing in His sovereignty.

But one thing we can count on is that He is shining us up more and more to look like His glorious Son Who indwells us.

So let's embrace Him and our life and believe with all our hearts that nothing is wasted in His almighty, loving Fatherly Hands.

PLEASE click on this link to view an awesome video of this song: Nothing is wasted -- Jason Gray

The hurt that broke your heart And left you trembling in the dark Feeling lost and alone Will tell you hope's a lie But what if every tear you cry Will seed the ground where joy will grow

And nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

It's from the deepest wounds That beauty finds a place to bloom And you will see before the end That every broken piece is Gathered in the heart of Jesus And what's lost will be found again

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

Nothing is wasted Nothing is wasted In the hands of our Redeemer Nothing is wasted

From the ruins From the ashes Beauty will rise From the wreckage From the darkness Glory will shine Glory will shine

You might also like to look at "In Pain...two Things I Know"

My Weakness, His Strength...nothing wasted!

Have you ever wondered what the key to life is? How do I live this life called "Christianity"? I know I'm saved by grace through faith so heaven is in the bag, so to speak. But what do I do in the meantime...just try my best with a bit of God's help? And what about all that suffering? What's that about?

I don't know about you but my trying and His help added in (if I pray correctly and don't mess up in the meantime...a.k.a. "sin") have never really worked for me.  There is no joy, no peace, no abundance, no rest...all that Jesus promised, right?

This is what I know: it's His strength in my weakness! His resurrection Life in my humanness! And it's in the deepest of trials, that we need to know this deeply and truly.

Read More

"Never more than I can bear"-- Oh, really?

"God never gives us more than we can bear!" For some reason, I've been hearing that a lot lately, have you?

I don't know about you, but in my experience, it has been the opposite! God regularly gives me more than I can bear...and I'll tell you what I think is the reason.

As I now like to say, "I'm a tough nut to crack."  I'm a pretty strong personality! So for a lot of my Christian life, I've believed that it's my strength and know-how and abilities and wisdom, coupled with the blessing and help from Above, that will get the job done...successfully...even in the spiritual realm. I've eaten over and over again from the "Tree of knowledge of Good & Evil" thinking that was God's will and way!

But now I know differently. His way is His strength in my weakness! Not His help in my weakness! HIM doing it and being it!

Tears-300x198
Tears-300x198

Little by little I have been learning this, not just through Scripture, but through life experience. And the crowning lesson in it all wasn't my own mysterious anaphylactic reactions that lasted years, not the sudden deaths or disabilities of our parents within a 8 month period, not the everyday pressures of mothering, homeschooling, and Bible study teaching. No! It was the cancer of my beloved son and the health crisis of my darling daughter all within months of each other that truly brought me to the end of thinking I had anything to add to life.

When someone marveled at how we made it through, I replied, "The Lord carried us!"

And so little by little over the years, the truth of what I have been seeing in the Word has come to life:

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Gal 2:20 NLT

It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit.  2 Cor 3:5-6a NLT

But we have this treasure [the indwelling Christ] in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.  2 Cor 4:7-12 NASB

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. 1 Cor 15:10 NLT

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5 NLT

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Cor 12:8-10 NLT

My weakness, His strength 2Cor 12
My weakness, His strength 2Cor 12

Even the following verse, which comes pretty close to our cliche, still says to me that it's not about my strength with His help.  The "way of escape" is HIM...otherwise I could never endure it:

No temptation [trial, testing] has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted [tried, tested] beyond what you are able, but with the temptation [trial, testing] will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. 1 Cor 10:13 NLT

What about you, dear friend?

Just when you start feeling like you have the parenting thing tied up, has a new phase begun that knocks you for a loop?

After doing all the healthy stuff for your family, even more than what others do for themselves and their kids...Bam! Does a serious diagnosis enter your lives?

Or what about just the everyday stuff -- frustrations, noise, dirty diapers, crying, calling for mama? Pressures from schedules, deadlines? Difficult relationships...irregular people in your life?

Or what about your own human weakness, lacks, frailness, handicaps? Do you continually fall into the trap of thinking you can handle it with some help from God?

Oh really?  How has that been working for you?

O suffering child of God, turn from your own will and your own way and surrender to HIM, your Way of Escape, the One who will carry you through, so that you can endure even the unendurable, the unthinkable:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.Romans 12:1-2 NLT


trials
trials

Surprised by the Voice that I long to hear...in the hard

My sheep hear My voice...

This week I'm in New Jersey, caring for my 91 year old mom so that my care-giver sister can get a much needed break.

Mommy & Me on the boardwalk in Belmar

Mom has a number of health issues that have caused her to slowly, very slowly, deteriorate. Someone has called this period of life that many of us "baby boomers" face as we care for our aged parents, "The long good-bye." And it certainly is...and it's hard...very hard...and for a number of reasons.

First, of course, is the fact that our beloved one is declining and suffering in the process. That's hard to watch.

And my precious Mommy (as we sibs still call her) is developing backwards, so to speak.  She is declining back through the stages of human development, and that's hard! Hard to witness and hard to adjust to, especially relationship-wise.

The child becomes the parent, and the parent becomes the child.

mom, sibs, & me Aug 2012It's also hard because of the physical energy and personal sacrifice involved in the care-giving.

It's a privilege in so many ways to be able to "give back" to one who has sacrificed all for us. But for those of us who aren't naturally gifted in the care-giving, serving gifts, it can also be particularly difficult...even humanly speaking, distasteful!  For instance,  the need to wash and toilet the person goes against most sensibilities, to be perfectly honest!

Well, this week the Lord met me in the hard-ness of the serving.  As I was helping my precious mom in her embarrassing needs in the restroom, as my back was hurting and the smells and required care were overwelming, as everything within me was yelling, "This is hard," the Voice that I always long to hear broke through.

You are doing this for Me! I am in your mom! So you are serving ME!

Oh wow, Lord! Of course! You said,

As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers [or sisters], you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40 ESV)

You are doing all this to ME!

I was serving HIM! Yes, the King, the Lord, the Master! Wow, what a privilege... not only to serve my darling mama, but in the serving, to be ministering to my Jesus!

As my heart took this all in, I remembered another time, years ago, when I sacrificially served. It was joyful and hard...very hard...in the same way.  But the thing that was especially hard was that I wasn't thanked in any way, though others were.

As I was sitting outside on my porch, "licking my emotional wounds," enjoying the weird "delight" of self-pity ("I can't believe that they didn't even thank me!"), the Voice that I always long to hear broke through,

Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your master. (Matthew 25:23 ESV)

Oh my! I was undone!

HIS "Well Done"  was worth it all! Much better than all of the thank you's and recognition on this earth!

So dear friends, members of the sandwich generation caring for beloved aged ones and moms and dads pouring it out for the beloved young ones and everyone else in between, hear this from the Voice that in reality you too always long to hear,

...as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Well done, good and faithful servant...Enter into the joy of your master.

Amen!

Daily Dying for Daily Living

dying to live

dying to live

I'm dying...little by little...not just physically (aren't we all because we are aging?), but also in many  and various ways. Everyday I die in some way, emotionally, volitionally, relationally, physically, occupationally or... My dreams may die.  My goals may crash to the ground and take me with them.  Right now, I'm going through a bit of that with the death of a vision.

Are you dying too, dear friend?

If you are living on this sin cursed earth, you too are dying every day.

But there's company...and there's hope.  Let's talk about it...

We are in good company.  The apostle Paul died every day.  Listen to his words from Holy Writ:

I die daily...

...always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus...

...we are afflicted in every way,...perplexed,...persecuted,...struck down,...always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus...For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake...So death works in us..." ...that I may know...the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death... (1 Cor 15:14; 2 cor 4:10, 7-11: Phil 3:10 NASB)

And Jesus Himself said,

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone... (John 12:24 NASB)

What is dying?  Death means separation. Physical death is separation of the body from the spirit.

But there are other separations, aren't there?  In the sense we are talking about, there is separation from our our dreams, our desires, our self-life...our self-will, our self-determination, our self-effort, our self-absorption...You get the idea!

death & resurrection

death & resurrection

Our self-determined dreams and visions and projects need to die.  And even the God-given ones must be placed on the altar.  Why? So that the Living God can resurrect HIS Life from the deadness of our flesh-tainted existence apart from Him!

And that's our hope. And a great hope it is!

Here's the rest of the story:

...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:10-11 NASB)

...always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (2 Cor 4:10 NASB)

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the lifeof Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. (2 Cor 4:7-11 NASB)

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. (John 12:24-25 NASB)

Knowing Christ! Touching HIM! That is Life indeed!

Join me, O dying friend, in this prayer of relinquishment:

Dear Lord,  we gladly (though painfully) die, even to our current projects and dreams...that we may know You, Whom to know is life eternal...this day and every day!  We freely turn from our self-determination and self-absorption and joyfully give...

Glory to You Steve Green

What do I possess That You did not give to me? What mysteries are clear to me That You did not explain? When did I share truth I had not received from You? What good works have I performed That You did not ordain?

Chorus Any strength I have Any good I do Comes from the life I found in You So in all I am And in all I do I give the glory to You

How do I express My love and may gratitude? For all I am and ever will be All depends on You Where in the world would I be Had You not reached out to me? All the good I have in life Can all be traced to You

(Chorus)

From the strength to obey Your Word when I hear it To reaching out in love It’s all a gift of the Holy Spirit, Coming from above

(Chorus)

I give the glory to You


Walking in the Dark...

Walking in the Dark...

Are you going through the dark valley today, my friend? Have there been oppositions, losses, stresses of many kinds looming all around you?

Darkness, darker than the dark?

I'm with you...especially this week...

But this morning, in the midst of it all, moved by an inner Mover, picking up a volume dating back many a year, there was balm for my exhausted, beat-up soul.

Read More

Death works in us...Life in you!

LORD, Is it necessary for someone to die in order for another to live?

You should know!  Remember the Cross?

...for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:2

Is the joy that another might live?

Is that why as moms we come to "death's door" to birth life into this world?

And is that just a picture of a deeper spiritual reality?

Is that why we need to admit our failures? own our mistakes?  grieve our inabilities?  release our expectations?

And even "take the blows" when misunderstood? mistaken? misjudged?

But You know all that too!  Remember the trials and beating?

 “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him... Matthew 26:62-63,67

But it's so hard to die so that another might live!  So hard to chose love over self-protection and self-justification!

And You know that too, don't You?  Remember Gethsemane?  Remember the Father's will?

And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” ...He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:39, 42

Is it so that the healing life of your Risen Self can do its life-giving work in another?

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation... Heb 5:7-9

Now it's my turn, isn't it?  Is that what Paul meant when he said,

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church...to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col 1:22,27

May it ever be so in my life also, O my sacrificial, crucified, risen, obedient Savior...only through Your indwelling LIFE!

 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 2Cor4:6-12

You may also like In Pain...Two Things I Know

 

 

 

HE KNOWS...in Every Devastation, Every Stress, Every Loss...

He Knows
He Knows

If you are suffering today, pause here...He Knows, He has suffered too,  and His promise is comfort...

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.He comforts us in all our troubles... 2 Corinthians 1:3-4a NLT

Take the truth of God's knowledge and watch-care over you deep into your soul.

You are not alone! 

He Knows...

*Thank you, dear Kitty, for sharing this moving song!

What to do when the days are dark and there's no consolation...

Have you played the "waiting game"? Barely a month after our son's cancer surgery, while we were starting to breathe again and recover, our daughter came to me with a suspicious area in her body.  We went to Jeremy's cancer surgeon and, sure enough, a tumor...actually 2 tumors!

Since she was so young at the time and so as to not put her through what could be needless surgery, we played the "waiting game."  We waited to see if the tumors would shrink on their own, thus indicating them to be benign.

Those were a hard two months...waiting, dark, not knowing.

As I was struggling with the the horrific possibility of having two kids with cancer, I asked the Lord one dark, early morning,

"I know you are doing something, Lord, and I don't have to understand it all. But how, as Mom, do I make it through?"

Clear as a bell in the darkness of pre-dawn, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart,

Go to the place where you and I live together and nothing can touch.

That's the place of immunity..the place of peace and safety...though it seems all hell may be breaking loose all around.

It was months later, after Beth's surgery, that the Lord reminded me that there was another Gospel story that speaks to this "waiting game" we all eventually play.

So when your days of dark trial drag on...and there's no comfort...and the heavens are as brass...you've invited Jesus into "your boat" in prayer and so have your brothers and sisters...remember...there's another boat story...yes, there really is...

Another Boat Story

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”

So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).

But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

Let's stop here for a moment.  Jesus was asleep at the stern (back) of the boat...now we are talking not down below, but at the surface of the boat...head on a cushion...sleeping as sound as could be...with a storm (a.k.a. windy, wild, dangerous) all around! The disciples are panicked and desperate!

Equally are we shocked and desperate when we are in the midst of the darkest of dark in our lives, and our Lord Christ is silent...asleep, as it were, to our panic and desperation...despite repeated cryings and prayers.

So we too join in,

Lord, don't you care that I'm drowning?

We might ask ourselves, how could Jesus, the man, sleep when all storm-hell was breaking loose all around Him?

Jesus lived in oneness with the Father, and He knew His Father was in control of all things.   So He could rest! He could live from His place of immunity...the place where He lived in union with His Father...and nothing and no one could touch!

And we can too...we can rest in the oneness we have in Christ our Lord.

That being said, let's go back to our story.  Let's see this One in whom we dwell and Who dwells in us...

When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!”

Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.

A great calm! Peace!  What we need for our souls, is it not?  Did you notice what He did to bring everything to that state?  He rebuked the wind,

"Quit it, wind!"

And the wind stopped...

Then He said to the waves,

"Hush! Be quiet!"

Then the sea became as glass...

Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

Mark 4:35-41 NLT

And we too often respond the same way, don't we?  As if we are unbelievers!  Where is our faith (Luke 8:25)?  Don't we have any?

Jesus had said just a mustard seed-size faith.

Why? Because it isn't about the size or strength of  our faith.  Rather it's about the Awesome Person, the divine Christ, Lord of heaven and earth and everything in between!

So join me in saying over and over...even out loud...

I rest in You, Jesus!  I rest in You! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Lord!

I can cling to Him, cocoon IN Him, rest down in Him who dwells at total peace in me.

As long as He is in the boat, there is Peace, because He Himself is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14).

Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,


Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,


What matters beating wind and tossing billow

If only we are in the boat with Thee?

Hold us quiet through the age-long minute


While Thou art silent and the wind is shrill

Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, are in it;

and the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will?

Amy Carmichael

Under His Wings...the place of Immunity

When in the deepest of troubles...when there is no consolation or comfort...go to the sacred place where you and the Lord live together and nothing can touch...the place of union with our God through Jesus Christ by faith (Colossians 2:9-10 ESV)...and rest in Him who rests in you (John 17:20-23 ESV)! Hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8b

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. Psalm 57:1

Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!  Selah Psalm 61:4

He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. Psalm 91:4

Jesus' desire:  ...How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Matthew 23:37b

Inviting Jesus into your stuff...no matter what!

Since our last post, have you been inviting Jesus into YOUR boat...whatever that may be right now? Immediately after realizing that Jesus wanted to be invited into MY boat (my everything), two other familiar Scripture passages came to mind.

I was thankful for this, because I had had the fleeting fear that I might have been too metaphorical with the "boat story."  But the Holy Spirit confirmed His rhema with these passages:

The first was the story of the two grieving disciples on the road to Emmaus on Resurrection Day.  They were discussing the events of the previous days, when a Stranger began walking with them.  This Stranger began explaining from the Scriptures why the Christ had to "suffer these things and enter into His glory."  Let's pick up the story right there...

… And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

 And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.  But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is getting toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them.  When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:25- 30

There it was again!  He acted as if He were going on UNTIL they urged Him to stay.  Does that amaze you as it does me?

Then this second passage came to mind:  the letter to the lukewarm church at Laodicea.  This church was so self-sufficient!  They thought they were "all it" and had everything they needed.  But Jesus told them basically, "You don't know how needy and bankrupt you really are!"

Let's read:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:  ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Rev 3:14-22

There it is again..."I'm standing here knocking on your life...and I won't come in UNLESS (if) you open the door (a.k.a. boat).  If you open to me, invite me in, I will come in.  Then we can have intimate fellowship together!"

I know...we usually use this as a salvation verse.  But it isn't primarily that, because it's to the CHURCH at Laodicea...that means believers too!

So then this simple truth dawned upon me:

No matter how old you are in the Lord, Jesus wants to be wanted by YOU!

Now that really blows my mind!  Does it yours?  The Sovereign God, our Lord Christ, wants to be wanted!

Next time, I'll tell you what happened when I began sharing this story.  But in the meantime,...

Invite Him into YOUR boat, dear brothers and sisters! Urge Him to stay! Open the door!

Why? Because the Lord wants us to experience His presence in our life situations: our emotional upheavals, our wounds, disappointments, the lies we’ve believed, our joy & sorrows…everything!  Then we can know that He is truly adequate for everything we may face in this life.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

For Bible students:

Here are some questions to explore:

Look at each of the three passages: the Boat story (Matthew 14:22-33); the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-30); and the letter to the church at Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22). [Try to answer the questions right from the texts of Scripture]

1.  Who was responsible for the circumstances in each Scripture passage?

2.  What/Who blinded the believers to the Lord’s presence &/or identity in each passage?

3.  What is the purpose or reason (Why?) for the Lord’s desire to enter into each situation with His people? [You might want to use the composite text from part 1 or Mark 6:51 for the boat story]

Bonus thought question:  Are there some things the Lord will NOT do unless asked?

Take a look at these scriptures: James 4:2 Matthew 7:7-11 Deut 29:29 Is 55:8

What other Scriptures come to mind as you meditate on this question?