Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Mornings are for the Deep Places

The flames flicker a bright dance in early-morning darkness; my favorite time of day.
Before words.
Before decisions.
Before dilemma.
When the day’s an empty canvas.
It’s my quiet, undisturbed heart-to-heart time with the One who calms and comforts. I think about how He’s brought me through yet another difficult week; a time of confusion and pull and demands. I think of how He’s been there from the start and how He knows every last detail and how it’s all worked together to bring me to this place of peace and contentment.
It’s taken years to shake off the dust and debris of the past.
It’s taken a mountain of faith to believe I could.
I run my fingers through my messy hair and rub the sleep from my eyes. The fire crackles and the coffee soothes and I settle into the blessing of the moment. And there lies my Bible, still open from yesterday’s “WOW moment” when He brought me to the perfect scripture:
“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
    let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,

    but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back

    and made their furrows long.
But the Lord is righteous;
    he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” (Psalm 129)

“My heart is not proud, Lord,

    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.” (Psalm 131)

I praise God today for the freedom found only in Him. My chains are gone and I’ve been set free! Great is His faithfulness to His children. We are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Deut. 31:8)
And as I add another log to the fire, I watch the flames dance to the rhythm of my thoughts. I realize that my flame, my heart on fire for Jesus… will forever burn.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hold Only His Word

I wipe the sleep from my eyes and jab the logs into flame. The first sips of early morning coffee warm me from the inside and I consider the day ahead.
And in that sweet, peaceful moment, I realize how contentment comes at a price. How a heart at peace; real, life-transforming peace, doesn’t just happen with the sunrise. It’s a choice. An effort. A conscious climb out of the pit and toward the Son.
This time of year, amid holiday cheer and merriment, emotions run deep. The piercing flame of deep-seeded pain, sadness, loss…memories and scars of the heart best locked away…somehow rise to the surface.
It’s in those quiet moments when the carols stop playing. When the lights no longer glow. When we’re left alone and vulnerable to the enemy’s best work. It’s in those moments we could either allow ourselves to be overpowered and overcome…or overtaken by the Savior.
The past couple of years I’ve known pain and anger like never before. I nearly drowned in hurt, frustration, anger…abandonment.
But God didn’t save me from sin
merely to spend my days consumed with pain and anger,
all the things that are not of Him.
He has better things in store for me…and for you!
It’s a choice.
It’s life with Him.
Or it’s defeat.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
(Philippians 1:20-22)

I think of holding God’s Word in my hands. I hold His laws, His promises to me, His truth. And through open fingers I allow that which is not of Him to run out. All the sadness, pain, anger, worry, even the memories aren’t there for me to dwell on anymore...simply because I've made a choice to reflect the love of God to those around me. He's saved me! He's brought me through! And He continues to do so each and every day!

I do pray you’ll join me in celebrating this season of our Savior’s birth. Hold only His Word in your hands and let the rest trickle through your fingers...washed away forever.

Be blessed,

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Great is Thy Faithfulness!

'creek' photo (c) 2005, mmarchin - license:

The voice that draws me to church speaks loud some Sundays. It’s the One behind the voice who knows my deep need to be still before Him in worship. To bring it all and leave it at His feet.

So, I brought the sin; the dirty, ugly reminders that still have me wiping tears… even after all these years. They’ve silenced my praises and stolen moments of joy; moments when I should have reminded myself that sin no longer owns me. Yet there I was heart laid open raw and weak before the cross. Tears streaming as the words of hymns and worship songs chased away the dark.

And then these words…

You’ve. Already. Been. Forgiven.

Why do I do that to myself?
Why does anyone?
Being “born again” means that I’ve been given a life of freedom with Christ because He, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Creator of all Heaven and Earth has forgiven me! His grace is sufficient! (2 Cor. 12:9) That sin is not mine to take back, so why relive it? I’ve given it over to Jesus and He’s already paid the price!

I brought Him my hurt, too. Pain from the deepest wounds laid open raw and strong. Pain and sadness that can’t be hidden behind strained smiles and “Oh, I’m fine. Thank you for asking.”
Yes, that kind of pain.
I brought it all.

But the tears still come.

Tears of thankfulness for the mercy He has shown to unworthy me.
The unexplainable love. Faithfulness. Grace.
The many, many blessings
            …graciously given to unworthy me.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


'Perfect autumn sunshine' photo (c) 2008, Jenni Douglas - license:
 They seem to come in the early morning hours. All the fears, failures, worries, things left undone and needing my attention. They roll into my thoughts like annoying tumbleweeds gathering debris and strength; and joy for the new day is somehow lost in the haze of it all.
One by dusty one, they remind me about that unanswered prayer. That dream that hasn’t yet happened. That call or message not yet received.
But God’s Word…
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
(1 John 5:14-15)
I’m learning that there’s perfecting in the waiting. Assembling all the necessary elements of dreams and prayers takes time and that one little word: yet….is huge! By adding "yet" to the end of these frustrations, the control is taken from the enemy and given right back to God! 
Because of Jesus, we have a “yet”!
Because of His unending and undying love for us, our “yet” is always there…waiting to be revealed at just the right time.
Because of Him, I can rejoice because “It hasn’t happed YET!”
“I haven’t gotten to where I want to be YET!”
“He hasn’t quite answered that prayer YET, but I know He’s working on it.”
Because of Jesus, yet is a beautiful and powerful word.

Many Blessings,

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Out of My Element and Trusting God

'Leukemia Ball 2008' photo (c) 2008, David - license:
The grandeur of the room caught me a little off guard. The invitation said “dressy attire,” but I have to say, between the butler, the pre-printed name cards all in a row, the roaring fire in the massive stone fireplace and ornate columns, the many, many tables draped in pristine white, the servers parading through like little robots in single file, the sparkle of pure silver and crystal gleaming from each table and the abundance of apparently well-to-do dinner attendees…I felt a bit out of place.
I spent the next 3 hours very held in, feeling restrained, stiff and uncomfortable. I leaned in to hear perfect strangers trying to make small talk, but their voices mixed with a hundred other conversations taking place about the room.
I smiled an uneasy smile, sipped my iced tea glass dry and wondered why I ever decided to show up to something that clearly wasn’t “me”. What was God thinking to direct me to such a place where being myself would probably raise a few eyebrows and maybe even get me a follow up postcard stating that after careful consideration, perhaps I wasn’t a good fit for their group.
Have you ever felt like that? You find yourself in a situation or an environment where you feel like you’ve been transported to a completely different planet and your only flight home has just left? It’s the stuff bad dreams are made of.
But God…
God has a plan and I know it.
I believe in it as I live it each and every day.
I may not have the answers today; may not have a clue as to why I would find myself at such an event, but the answers will come – they always do.
I’ll have that aha! moment where all the pieces will fit together and make perfect sense. That moment when I realize how He truly is in each and every detail of my life including the decisions I make.

Lord Jesus,

I want to thank you for every situation in which I find myself. Thank you for every experience and every lesson learned. I pray for your continued presence in my life and for walking with me through this journey. You are so good to me!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
(James 1:2-8) NIV


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