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Archive for January, 2011

Our Creator Has Made Himself Plain to See, Romans 1:19

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.   Romans 1:20

Our Hope in The Season’s 

Spring is a reminder of Your promise,
 for those who share the joy of Your New Life.
Weary though the winter months have made us,
each season without words can testify.
chorus
Your thoughts of beauty in the flower;
Unseen You make Yourself known.
All Creation reveals Your Power,
You’re evident to all,  by what You’ve shown.
 Summer yields the fullness of Your harvest.
Warmth is in the air, we play and sing.
but surely as the coolness turns to Autumn,
the falling leaves return again in Spring.
repeat chorus

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;

no sound is heard from them.

Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.”

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My Love Story
 
My love story is also my testimony, Revelation 12:10-12.  It’s the story of how the Light of Truth exposed and then transformed my wrong thinking.  This is the story of the freedom I have from the bondage of my destructive actions as I learn walk in the Way to Life.
Looking back, I can see my insecurities and ego had full reign.  It wasn’t until I learned to humble myself that I found my security in God’s Love.  This doesn’t mean however that my insecurities just laid down and died.  On the contrary, attempting to turn from what had control over me only made me aware of the struggle.  I now see my ego as the enemy, continually attempting to regain control.  I’ve learned that it’s the persevering that strengthens and matures, James 1:4 .
It was during a literal and spiritual struggle that God changed the meaning of Jacob’s name to Israel, Genesis 32:28Genesis 35:10, One who struggles and overcomes.

To Those who Overcome, Revelation 15:2

I wanted to know how to overcome like those who did not love their life or shrink back from death, Revelation 12:11  Y’shua’s overcame and this was His testimony  before Pilate, “…for this reason I was born and for this reason I came into the world, to testify to the Truth…” John 18:37
The religious leaders, those who had the scriptures memorized, did not recognize the Incarnate Truth.  The Eternal One the Scriptures testified about, John 5:39Isaiah 9:16; (Isaiah 7:14; John 1:14) were blind to the Truth because of their ego’s, Psalm 10:4.
To Testify to the Truth
   There is a reason each one of us is born into this life, a much bigger picture than our limited view is even capable of imagining.  Somewhere beyond our finite logic and five senses.  There’s a spiritual wisdom that is so contrary to our ego and our own way.  It goes against every fiber of our human nature and teaches us to completely humble ourselves in reverence to an Awesome, Unseen, Mighty, Fierce, Fearsome, Wonderful, Compassionate and Merciful Creator Who Loves each and every one of us exactly the same.
My Story
That leads me to begin my own unique story.   As a child I had a strange goal, not to go to Disneyland but to be baptized into the Christian faith.  I call this a good example of reverse psychology since the biggest reason for my desire was being told I had to wait until I was eighteen.  My Aunt had taken me to church on Sundays from the time I was about four years old and I had two grand-mothers who influenced me.
My parents had hoped to raise their children differently. Their own religious upbringing was very strict so they gave me and my brother the freedom they didn’t have.
Eventually my weekend trips with my Aunt ended and my dream of being baptized, temporarily forgotten.
Unfortunately for me,  I was able to make a huge mess of my life before I turned eighteen.
During my freshman year of high school I slipped right in with the kids who liked to smoke everything they weren’t supposed to and drink until we were sick.
I met my first husband at 15 and got married at seventeen.
When I turned 18 I remembered my goal of getting baptized.  This was also about the time I found out that I was pregnant with my daughter. The news shocked me into reality, and scared me enough to straighten up, immediately.  I loved this baby girl, sight unseen, and I wanted nothing more than to be a good mom.  My husband and I both tried going to a few different churches but ended up separating for the final time soon after my daughter was born.  I moved in with my now dearest friends who were Seventh Day Adventist.
Finally Baptized
I did finally get baptized at the age of twenty and all was good at the beginning.  I loved everything about the SDA church; the rules, the traditions, the potlucks, the music, I guess it was the fellowship with people that made it feel like I was part of a big family.  It wasn’t long before I started feeling the pressure to get married to a “godly” man so my now two year old daughter would grow up with a dad.  By the time I was twenty-two I gave in and married a man from an exceptionally strict SDA family, who was also divorced with three children.
Breaking My First Rule
It was about four years of trying to conform completely to all my expectations; attempting to cook vegan vegetarian, no television, no movies, no music with a drum beat, no jewelry, no more wearing men’s clothing, all the sheets washed and floors mopped, home-made bread baked, food prepared and believe it or not I loved everything on that list, but I just couldn’t keep up.
Little did I know I was about to rebel in a subtle but very big way during a little trip to the mall.  I deciding to re-pierce my ears.  I was with my now six year old daughter and the tiny gold earrings she wanted also caught my eye.  Maybe subconsciously I knew the consequences but at the time I just wanted it to be okay for my daughter and I to buy matching earrings.
The news traveled fast through my little church community and it wasn’t long before I started getting phone calls telling me “not to return to church.”  Mothers were upset about my bad influence on their daughters, and the topper was that God would never forgive me for piercing my daughters ears.  When I continued to go to the Wednesday night prayer meeting the Pastor sat me down and told me that all he saw when he looked at me were the (size of a pin head) earrings I was wearing.  I didn’t understand how my church family could cast me out like I had turned evil.  I knew I was the same person with or without the earrings.  I felt like they must have never really cared about me.  Even though it was only a handful of people who said anything to me, I believed everyone wanted me to leave and never come back.  At that time I had related God to religion so I believed that God felt the same way  about me as they did.
A Desperate Attempt to end the Torment
   A familiar depression revisited me, like when I was a teenager. I’d shut myself in my room right when I got home from school.  Sometimes hiding the fact that I was stoned  but always because I was trying to drown out the emptiness and dullness of my life with the loud noise I called music.
This incident triggered that same hopelessness I’d experienced back then.  I felt trapped by the decisions I’d made when I committed to the religion and the marriage.  I’d given in to the pressure of getting re-married to a “godly” man in the church, I had to quit the job I loved, working at a Hospital laboratory, because I couldn’t keep up with the kids and the household chores while my husband was out of town working.
Another divorce wasn’t an option.  I began to believe the tormenting negative thoughts of how bad I was until I couldn’t get out of bed anymore.  One morning I gave into to my nagging desire for some relief from the torment I felt.  It was like I was in the eye of the storm as I calmly walked into the bathroom.  It was so quiet as I contemplated the details that I could hear this thought in my mind, “die to yourself and live for Me.”  I remember how instantly I had hope, like I was free, as if I’d heard, you don’t have to kill your body to die to this feeling of hopelessness.
A Road Trip to Freedom
Well, Looking back, I can see how badly I misunderstood what dying to my self meant.  The only thing I cared about was myself and finding the freedom I thought I needed so I could be happy.
I packed my car and told my husband that my daughter and I were leaving for six months because I needed a break.  We drove from Washington straight through to Arizona, so excited I couldn’t sleep and drove straight through.
 I felt really blessed as I got a job my first day out looking, in a hospital laboratory.  I was so relieved and happy and I kept thanking God, not because I was asking or even searching for Him or His help.  I think I was thanking Him because He was allowing me to find happiness.
Finding Happiness
And I did find happiness, I’d never felt so happy, everyday was blue skies, I joined a gym and started taking aerobics classes.  The gym was were I met a very attractive man teaching my Tuesday and Thursday aerobic classes and he was even playing contemporary Christian music.  I’d never experienced infatuation like I did when I saw him.  I thought about him all the time and couldn’t wait to see him.  It wasn’t long before he asked me out on a date.  My heart skipped a beat when I saw him and I melted when he looked at me.  And again I thanked God because now I knew what true love felt like.
The only thing true about true love is that it’s infatuation and it makes you blind for sure.  I remember going back on everything I’d told myself I’d never do again.  He eventually proposed and told me I had to become the same religion he was.  I put my foot down firmly and said no, I had learned from my last experience not to ever become religious again, but as usual, I gave in.  I became Lutheran and we got married when I was twenty-seven.  Our wedding was like a fairy tail and I continued to say a quick, “thank you,” to God for blessing me to feel so happy.
That Mountain Top Happiness is Always Temporary 
Unexpectedly, but to our delight I got pregnant with a son the first month of our marriage.  Shortly after the news of my pregnancy I began to notice a gradual downhill slide from that Mountain top high.  By the time our son was a toddler,  I heard those dreaded words, “there’s someone else” and “I never loved you.”  I never saw that cliff coming and I fell much lower than any high of happiness could have made it worth.
The Blur of Stress
I kept busy living  life, just existing in self-preservation mode, working overtime and taking night classes, my thirties flew by in a blur of stress.  Now I was a single mom with two children.  I had just enough belief in God to blame Him even more than I’d thanked Him and I mean for everything; all the pain and suffering in my life and in the entire world.  This numbness wasn’t like the depression I’d experienced previously, it felt more like a hardness, bitterness with a lot of underlying anger.
During this time I’d been sending my daughter to visit her dad and step-mom in Oregon off and on.  One day at work I got that dreaded phone call that she was in the emergency room and wasn’t expected to live.  When I arrived in Portland she was alive but they said she may need a liver transplant if she survived.  She didn’t really want to die but the nurse didn’t give us any hope because she’d seen many girls who’d taken a handful of Tylenol in an emotional moment and three days later they go into liver failure even after regretting what they’d done.  My daughter did recover but I returned home without her even though I was sure she’d choose to return with me to Arizona.  Apparently she loved everything about Portland Oregon and the counselors told us that at high school age the friends she’d finally made were most important.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I was diagnosed with Basal Cell skin cancer that required surgery.  This left me with an ugly scar on my chest and another dreaded shock.
I realized I needed some counseling even though my depression had never returned I had a numbness that seemed to replace my emotions.  I wasn’t even taking any medications but it seemed like I’d succeeded in deadening my feelings naturally.   The counselor suggested I rent a sad movie in hopes that I’d be able to make myself cry until I made “donkey noises,” and to enroll in a single parents class at Grace Community Church.  A  few weeks into the class, the Pastor, (Jeff Meyer) asked me why I didn’t go to Church?  I told him how I felt about the hypocrites that go to church and he said, “there’s always room for one more.”  He told me that he never looks at the people and all their problems.  He only looks at how he can help people.  Not only did I get his point but the thought of helping people really appealed to me.  I went to church that next week trying to see people as being as needy as I was for some kindness.
Tailor Making My Own Religion
About the same time a co-worker told me about  some Western teachings of Eastern religions that had really helped her and I jumped in with both feet.
After years  living my own way, feeling pretty self-sufficient, I turned on my radio one quiet evening and heard, “there are people tailor making their own beliefs these days…”  It was so freaky because I’d been doing just that, picking and choosing.  That was the night it finally hit home.  I could really see the mess I’d made of my life by doing things my own way and I was more than ready to give up and let God show me His way.
I’d moved across town and found a church called “Word of Grace”.  One Sunday morning I was sitting near the back of a packed auditorium yet I clearly remember how it felt like the Pastor, (Gary Kinnamen), was talking directly to me.   Again the message was about ordering my own life by picking and choosing what I thought was true.   I’d never felt such a spiritual touch on my heart, tears started rolling down my face.   He was summoning people to come forward if they wanted to re-dedicate their lives and instead of leaving so nobody would see me crying, I went forward.  It felt like angels were ushering me on both sides because I would have never done that on my own.  When I got to the front the pastor shook my hand and a woman prayed for me.  She gave me a Bible and I walked away totally bewildered, wondering all the way home if that was God and why and if He could really love me.
God really does draw us by His loving kindness, Jeremiah 31:3.
I read that Bible and very slowly I began to believe God really must love me and that He had never given up on me.  It was like He let me go my own way and then turned all the bad into something that cultivated good in me; a great appreciation, humbleness, compassion, forgiveness and love.  Those who have been forgiven much love much, Luke 7:46-48 .   The lies I’d been believing were also slowly being exposed by the Truth I was learning.  I’d wake up thinking about His Love in the morning, the littlest things reminded me of His presence during the day and my last thoughts at night were  focused on Him.  God became My greatest delight!  My favorite thing to do is still to search for Him, in His Word, in His creation, in silence, in music, in laughter and especially in pain.
This was just the beginning of my spiritual hunger and thirst that intensifies more and more as I read and study the Living Words of God, Hebrews 4:12.
Now, in view of all life’s difficulties, I can personally testify to the Truth of God’s Faithfulness, Provision, Comfort, Mercy, Compassion and Loving Kindness.
I didn’t have a heart full of love for people before I knew His Love, especially the people I didn’t know.  Now I do!  I didn’t care about anything but my own happiness and now I genuinely care about everyone I meet.  I was full of  bitterness and holding grudges, now I pray for the people who hurt me and I ask God to bless them the way He blessed me to finally understand the Truth of His Love.  I was impatient and now I’m learning to be long-suffering.  I was always in a hurry and now I stop myself when I’m in a rush and discipline myself to slow down to God’s pace.  When I prayed my short one-sided prayers they were all about me and what I wanted God to do.  Now I can’t get enough time to just be alone with Him.  I’m not the same person that I was and I’m bursting at the seems to share everything His Spirit is teaching me.
Has this transformation been easy? No, following Jesus means choosing the difficult way but He is my Strength.  Try loving your enemies and blessing those who curse you or swallowing your pride and being humble.
How great and how huge, how awesome and almighty is our amazing God!!
His plan is perfect even if it includes pain, suffering and death!  We don’t have to like it or even understand it, we only need to trust Him.  He turns the pain and adversity of life into the very thing that produces the beauty of His Spirit in us.
2 Corinthians 4:17 “Our light and momentary affliction is ever more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting glory.
Rom 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 8:18  I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No test, (trial, temptation) has overtaken you that is not common to man.  But God is faithful not to let you be tested beyond your ability to endure, with the test He will provide the way out, that you may be able to bear it patiently.
 James 1:2,3 Rejoice when (not if) you encounter trials of various kinds.  Be assured that the testing of your faith brings out endurance and patience.
1 Peter 4:12  Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trails you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so you may be over joyed when His glory is revealed.
Psalm 34:18  The Lord is close to those with a broken and contrite, (penitent, truly and humbly repentant) heart.
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices that please God are a broken and contrite heart.
Revelation 12:11 says, “They overcame him, (the accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
His Love is True, Everlasting, Healing and Transforming.   It’s what drew me out of my bondage of deception and taught me what dying to myself really meant.  I wanted the easy way,  I just wanted to be happy.  I was always in a hurry, rushing and stressed out.  Exhausted and running on empty I just kept spiraling downward on a path that seemed normal.
All the noise, confusion and disorder had drowned out His voice of peace deep inside me, saying; relax, just wait, come and rest with me, be still and know that I am God, slow down, be slow to speak and quick to listen, in quietness and trust is where I renew your strength.  He restores my soul as I sit with Him and soak in His Love, it covers over a multitude of sin and in His presence I’ve found fullness of joy!

Thank You For Your Love

CCDE-GFEED
This love I know-because you taught me.
CCDEC-FEDCD
My spirit sings-with joy in Your embrace.
CCDED-FEDCED
I gladly bow my life to You in worship,
CDDCEDCBC
   to know Your mercy, loving kindness and Your grace.
  
Chorus  
I thank You for my new heart,
With the hardness gone
I can feel Your Spirits touch.
I thank You for my new song,
May Your Name be known so the world can sing along.

 

Mark 5:19 says “Go to the people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you.”
So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, Ephesians 5: 26.

 

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Love Casts Out Fear

Love Casts Out Fear

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but full-grown love, perfect, complete and whole, casts out fear.  For fear has punishment, and whoever is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love.

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is set on You: because he trusts in You.

Earwig story

One night as I lay in bed trying to memorize Isaiah 26:3 before I went to sleep, hoping I could fall asleep with it in my mind. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning feeling something brush across my face, I reached up to swipe it away with my hand and it disappeared into my ear. I was still thinking it was a dream, but the bubbling sound soon alarmed me to full consciousness. I got up and started shaking my head like you would to get water out. Then I put some alcohol on a Q-tip and stuck it in my ear. That was a mistake, I didn’t know what it was, but now I could tell it was mad. I started moaning in fear as my imagination had it borrowing through my eardrum and into my brain.   My husband heard enough to get up and see what was wrong. I grabbed him, trying to remain in control as I shrieked, help me something is in my ear, get the vacuum!! Thinking he was getting the vacuum, I turned toward the sink, took a breath and tried to calm myself while the infuriated bug was moving faster and faster against my eardrum. In a moment of calm, I opened my eyes and saw a bottle of tea tree oil right in front of me.  I’d put it there earlier that morning. I stuck in another Q-tip and just went around the outside of my ear canal, and an earwig fell out into the sink. My husband, standing behind me the whole time, quickly picked it up and crushed it between his fingers.  The proof that I wasn’t just having a nightmare was flushed down the toilet and we headed back to bed.  I had to sleep with earplugs the rest of that night, and I felt a little disillusioned.  Aren’t we supposed to have guardian angels? I was meditating on Isaiah 26:3 when I went to sleep, why would God allow me to have such a “terror” in the night.

Psalm 91:5 “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flies by day.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 “And the Lord said, He it is that doth go before thee (He’s gone ahead of you), He will be with thee, He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: Fear not, neither be dismayed (don’t break down).

I argued with God that it was humanly impossible for anyone to have perfect peace when they think an earwig is going to burrow through their eardrum. But Isaiah 26:3 kept returning to my mind each time I disagreed.  finally I understood that God does not ask us to do anything “humanly possible”.  It was when I thought my husband was taking over to help that I calmed down and it was that moment of clarity, or presence of mind, when I saw the bottle of tea tree oil directly in front of my face.  If my mind had been set on God, knowing He goes before me, He is my shepherd. He already knew I would be unharmed, but even if my worst fear had happened, He had prepared me, “set my mind on Him”. After that experience I believe it is possible to have perfect peace, whether it’s public speaking, getting that dreaded phone call of bad news, or some catastrophe. Our flesh may still react, our adrenaline may still pump, our heart may still pound, but we can choose to trust Him.

He has promised us His perfect peace that will even surpass out understanding if we set our minds on Him. Philippians 4:7

Mark 5:36 … “Be not afraid, only believe.”

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Love

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Love
 
A word like no other, it is said to be even greater than faith and hope.
Love is higher, deeper, longer and wider than we are able to comprehend.
Love is awesome, boundless, changeless, delightful, eternal, faithful, glorious, generous, gracious, healing, immaterial, immeasurable, immense, immortal, incomparable, incomprehensible, indescribable, ineffable, infinite, invincible, invisible, irresistible, life giving, majestic, magnificent, marvelous, mysterious, radiant, splendid, sufficient, sweet, terrifying, truthful, uncontainable, unfathomable, unchanging and unsearchable.  You get the picture, it extends far beyond the limits of our finite imagination.
Every heart desires this kind of love, it’s been written in our innermost being, its recognized by every tribe, language, people and nation. We marry for love, we live for love; some have even died for love.  But this kind of love is not human love, its supernatural love.  Similar to a mother’s love for her unborn child, one that loves without any reason or return.  Supernatural love is even greater, it loves its enemies, prays for those who persecute, returns kindness for insult and  gives two when forced to give one.  Love covers over all wrongs.
The spiritual fruit of this love is affection (friendliness), charity (generosity), and benevolence (goodwill toward all men).
Love comforts, heals, breathes new life, gives us hope, conquers fear, and teaches us to care for others. Love is unity, compassion, it helps bear one another’s burdens (difficulties), and it’s selfless. Love makes us able to forgive; it’s humble (unassuming) and meek (nice). It’s childlike, it gives grace and mercy, it brings joy (gladness of heart) and strength, it never fails (gives up) or forsakes (leaves), it’s faithful (true), just (fair) pure (holy), eternal, never-changing, it’s peace (tranquil, calm), it’s goodness, it’s faithfulness, and gentleness. It’s patient (long-suffering), it’s kind (nice), and it does not envy or boast. It’s not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on it’s own way. It’s not irritable or resentful. It’s not excited about wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
Love is the Kingdom of God; it is His will for earth as it is in heaven.  Love is Truth; it’s the salt and light of the world.  Love is wisdom, righteous and pure. Love sanctifies and redeems us. Love reconciles us to God, Who is the true meaning of the word love.  He is the author and the source of all Love.
“He who does not love has not become acquainted with God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8
Love’s Song

Love is all we need, more than the breath we breathe.

It’s Love that reconciles us back to the One who first loved us.

Love is who He is, Holy, Pure and Righteous.

Love’s the way of truth and life, a light that gives us hope.
Love is all that’s good, His world misunderstood.
Love, although unseen, it has been written on each heart.
Love is what prevails, it’s never-ending, and never fails.
 Love that gives us joy, that still calm peace within the storm.
Love gives us self-control, it heals and makes us whole.
Love, the unassuming childlike faith that has no pride.
His Love calls us to rest, it’s the object of our quest.
  Love has turned our sin and death to life and victory.
 It’s Love that cast out fear, His will made very clear.
Love gives us His own strength and power as we humbly obey.
Love’s that still small voice, He’s given us a choice.
It’s Love that sanctifies us by the mercy of His grace.
Love’s long-suffering, so patiently enduring.
Love, the Author and the Source of love.  Who He Himself is Love.

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