A Promise from God when Parenting is Difficult

I’ve been reading Psalm 18 lately.  I love so much of what it says, but the fact that it starts in verse 1 with this:  I love you, Lord;
    You are my strength.

Well, we’ve definitely needed strength at our house lately.  We have a 2.5 year old son.  If you have ever had a 2.5 year old, chances are that I need not say more.  And I won’t.  Just that we’ve need some wisdom up in here as to how to discipline our child.  Not according to another person’s method, but according to how God created our baby boy to think and relate and operate in the world.  I realize that the things God put in him, and how his personality is today, are what will make him effective in this world for the Cross of Christ.  And that is why we are here and that is why God gave him to us.

So, I’m praying and thinking about all this and asking Jesus for all kinds of peace and wisdom and patience for my husband and I as we face each day.  On Sunday, when I got to church I flipped to Psalm 18 again, and these verses leapt off the page as they often do when the Holy Spirit highlights them for you.

Psalm 18:34-36

34 He trains my hands for battle;
    he strengthens my arm to draw a bronze bow.
35 You have given me your shield of victory.
    Your right hand supports me;
    your help has made me great.
36 You have made a wide path for my feet
    to keep them from slipping.

HE TRAINS MY HANDS FOR BATTLE.  (v. 34a)

That’s exactly what I’ve been feeling.  We’re in a battle, not necessarily with our child (although there are moments) but we are in a battle with our own flesh, and the world, and the enemy of our souls, too.  Godly parenting is not easy.  And the Accuser would much rather we take the easy route and give-up & give-in because then we no longer receive the training we need for future battles.

HE STRENGTHENS MY ARM TO DRAW A BRONZE BOW.  (v.34b)

When I think of a bow, automatically I start thinking about arrows.  So, immediately, by the power of God my mind went to this scripture:

Psalm 127:3-4

3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.
4 Children born to a young man
    are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.

Bow and arrow.  And this is what I heard the Lord tell me in my spirit…

We are all 3 in training.  Training is never easy.  My husband and I are being strengthened to draw a bronze bow, as we are training up our child in the way he should go.  If we don’t go through the hard training, our arm will not be strong to pull this bow, last I checked bronze is quite stiff.  But the whole entire point of pulling any kind of bow is the arrow being launched.  And our boy is a gift from the Lord, he is His reward to us, he is like an arrow in our hands.

I don’t know about you, but we want an arrow coming out of our bow that is effective in life, we want our arrow to have a heart for the things of God, to love God’s Word, and to take up his cross and follow Jesus wherever He leads him.  Our arrow is the most important thing that God has EVER entrusted to us!

And back to Psalm 18:35-36, God tells us the results of the training and the strengthening:

You have given me Your shield of victory.

Your right hand supports me;

Your help has made me great.

You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping.

What a good God we serve!  A creative and thoughtful and wonderful and mighty and smart and Holy God!  This is exactly the reassurance that I needed.  I needed to know that The Lord is with us, even though I knew it in my head.  Sometimes when our human mind is at such a loss for answers and in such desperate need for endurance and patience in a situation…we need the Holy Spirit to highlight something so unmistakably that we cannot miss it.

And He does that.  And He uses many avenues, but His Word is paramount.  If I had not been searching Him in the scriptures, I would not have received this and I would not feel the strength I do today to continue on in the training for the battle.  Our God is promising us that if we will continue in the training, He will strengthen us to pull this bronze bow.  It is not easy, it takes endurance and patience to gain the strength needed to launch this little precious and awesome arrow.  God will give us victory, His right hand will support us, it is by His help that we can be great at what we are doing, and it is the path He makes for us that keeps us from slipping.

Lord, we want to be on Your path, not another’s!  We want to be faithful to the assignment that You give us.  We want to be great parents, and we can only be that if You are the One we are training under.  You know our children, it is You who knitted them together, and we want to hear from You everyday, and especially on difficult days how to walk this parenting thing out.  And we need discernment from on High as to picking which battle we will engage.  I ask You, in Jesus Name, that every mom or dad reading this would be supernaturally filled with wisdom, patience, and endurance.  We need You, Jesus!  And, Lord, that the Peace of Christ would rule in our hearts, and the Peace of Christ rule in the hearts of our children.

This prayer of Paul’s in Colossians 1:11-12b comes to mind, I pray this for all of us:

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father

I am filled with joy today.  Not because my child is easy to handle today, in fact, he is still asleep right now.  But because I know God is with us.  I know that if we ask Him for anything according to His will, that He will give it to us.  And I know that our God loves our little arrow more than we do.   Bless you today as you walk this thing out…He is worthy & He is worth it, Love Y’all!

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Who is your #1?

Listening to a message from Bethel Church, Redding this morning…had to share this quote from Pastor Bill Johnson on being a true worshiper:

In my own journey with the Lord, I’ve changed the description a little bit, this is how it works for me: #1 God, #2 Family, #3 Church, etc…I changed it. God is number 1 and when He is number 1, there is no number 2. My love for my wife is a part of my offering to God. There is no vacation from #1 to do #2, my love for children/grandchildren is all a part of my expression of worship to God. If I take a vacation with my kids, that is a worship expression. I’ve been learning to capture every single part of life and bring it into the scope of what is an offering, what I can actually give to the Lord as a fragrant offering to Him, for His glory, for His honor. No longer a separation between secular and sacred. Obviously there is still that emphasis that I take care of my family, but never a vacation from #1 to do #2.

I felt the Lord tell me on the morning of Jan 1st this year that He was going to teach me in 2014 how to be a true worshiper. It was based on John 4:23 when Jesus tells the woman at the well,

But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

I love this quote for that reason. I want my motivation and outcome in everything I do, in every area of my life, to be as unto the Lord (Col 3:23), as a representative of Jesus (Col 3:17).  A life so given over to my Father in Heaven, so surrendered that there is complete congruence.  A life that worships Him in Spirit and in Truth.  Amen.

Consider the Wild Flowers: How God Broke me out of my Striving

consider the wildflowers1

So, I have woken up two mornings in the last seven with the scripture out of Luke 12:27 on my mind, and specifically where Jesus tells us to “Consider the flowers of the field…”

I love blueletterbible.org because you can learn things about the original language and delve deeper into the knowledge of God’s Word, and you don’t need a degree!  That’s what I love to do when The Lord gives me a particular scripture to meditate upon.

Luke 12:27 NIV  Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

The word, “Consider” here means:  to perceive, remark, observe, understand, to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon

That word for labor in Greek is quite interesting, too.  See if you can relate.  It means:

to grow weary, tired, exhausted (with toil/manual labor or burdens or grief)

Goodness. I’m not sure I know what to say about that because almost every woman I know has some level of exhaustion or weariness going on in their body or their mind or both. Are you tired?  This whole idea of growing weary and tired and exhausted because of toil, burdens or grief pretty much covers the spectrum in our lives.

I have always loved hard work. I was the kid who amongst all my friends would wake up instead of sleeping in on the weekends and in the summer because (and I quote myself here), “Why would I spend half the day sleeping when I can get things done?” and so is my life. I like to get stuff done, I am by nature an accomplisher.  Don’t get me wrong here, I love having a strong work ethic because so pervasive in our world today is a serious lack of work ethic. But, our 2 year old runs around the house singing the catchy phase from a Gatorade commercial where they sing, “Haaard….work!, work!” And often he will tell my husband and I when he’s playing, referring to himself in the 3rd person, that he’s “working so hard.”  I do love it, and I believe that Jesus Christ was into hard work and strong work ethic.

But, there are 2 things The Savior did that we often miss…

#1 He was about His Father’s business. He was not about His own business and then asking God to bless it. No, He was about the Father’s business.

#2 He pulled away, set Himself apart in the inner room of prayer, and He rested.

Luke 2:49 (AMP)  And He said to them, How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business?

Really, truly – what is it that we are occupied by?

I will confess to you that I get occupied by a lot of things that are NOT my Father’s business. And previous to the Fall of 2010, I was WAY busier than I am now and I want to tell to you that I was about my own business. Literally. I’m a business-owner, and my hard work was aimed almost entirely at being a total and utter success. And, looking from the world’s perspective, I was and I was accomplishing good things. I wanted to help more people, and I wanted to spend my time making it possible for others to live healthy lives and teach them how and to be available. I was co-leading a bible study, I had even started to do some speaking engagements at churches and women’s groups teaching the Word of God, and I thought that I really loved people. All the while, I was ignoring my husband, with my laptop securely placed on my lap staring at the screen and typing away every waking moment that I wasn’t actually at my office or outside running.  Hard work.  And it was hard.  It was hard on me and hard on him.

In late September 2010, I remember as clear as day when I was driving into town, and praying out loud as I very often do when I’m driving by myself, I heard the Lord say to me, “Why don’t you just quit striving?” And it marked me forever. It was as clear in my ears as if He were sitting right there with me in the flesh. Have you ever experienced that? If you have, you never forget it.

Immediately I knew what the Lord was asking me to do. He was asking me to leave the business-coaching program that I had been a part of for the past 4 years. Because of my perfectionistic type-A personality and sin pattern, being a part of that group was causing me to be extremely stressed and focused on building my earthly empire. My own sin was the root of my striving.

Here’s a direct quote from my prayer journal on September 25, 2010 where was apparently compelled to make a list of the things on which I spent my time (we were in the middle of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s bible study called “Seeking Him” which I suppose prompted me to ask this question of myself and therefore come up with this honest answer:

“I spend my time: (and here I listed 15+ things that were grossly self-centered and worldly, you can fill in the blank with your own list), and on and on and on and on. It’s relentless this schedule I’ve made of my life because it doesn’t quit. There’s always more to be done and more to plan and more to think about and more to strive for. But, Lord, all of that chokes out You. And I would ‘say’ that You are my purpose for living, You are my joy, You are my passion, You are my life. And when I read that list I just made, I know it’s true, it’s more about me than it is about you. My thoughts, my dreams, my plans, my opinions, my knowledge, my tastes, my perceptions, my feelings. What do those amount to? Filthy rags, dirty garments. All of what I consider in my humanity to be ‘so good’ is trash & rubble before my King. Most of it is chaff that will be instantly consumed by the Holy Fire of your perfect and righteous judgment. And rightly so, Lord, because You are I AM…”

Internally it was the most awful existence of self-centered living and striving to make my name great, all the while on the outside I was kind and loving and helpful and concerned and loved Jesus, and loved His Word. Duplicity at it’s finest…double-minded in all I was doing. To quote from my prayer journal again, this time from about a month later (this was after God broke me out of my striving once & for all) it reads, “Father, I confess to You my duplicity, my walking down 2 paths, straddling the fence of the Word & the world…” And I was, and He was not going to let me keep straddling the fence.

You see, The Lord was not done asking me questions. Within about a week from asking me if I would quit striving (He gave me a few days to realize that I WAS striving, and that was the reason I was so worn-out). By the way, for a wellness doctor to feel worn-out and it not be fixed by a run or a green smoothie, IT IS GOD GETTING ONE HARD-HEADED DAUGHTER’S ATTENTION, and I’m so glad He did.

So, one morning I was on my way to meet some of my sweet sisters from our Tuesday night bible study in my office parking lot, because we were car-pooling to the True Woman 2010 Conference in Ft. Worth.  And I had no clue that God was about to show me His Glory in a way that would CHANGE MY LIFE FOREVER. So, I was driving the 20 minutes it took to go 7 miles on that winding little road we call Fallcreek Hwy, and I heard the Father again as if it were out loud, asking me, “Will you put it on the altar?” And I knew exactly what He was talking about again.

He meant my practice as a whole. All the things I was spending my time on. He meant the business I had worked so hard to build and pressed so hard to maintain for the past 4.5 years, he meant the very thing that I staked my livelihood upon, He meant the thing that had become an idol in my life, He was asking for me to place Clearview Chiropractic Life Center on the altar, and trust it to Him.  If He provided a ram great, if He didn’t, I would have to sacrifice it all and allow it to die.  I’m not sure how I can explain what a BIG deal this was to me, and my Father knew it was.

Later that night and the next day I had an encounter with God (much like what Isaiah did) except I didn’t actually see His train or smoke fill the temple but I definitely perceived it, and my oh my did I come undone and realize I was ruined.  As Mary Kassian talked about the pervasive cult of feminism that had entered our world in the 60’s and 70’s, and how my generation (even those of us in the church) had been so engrossed in a culture where it was accepted and even expected from young women to live exactly as I was living (self-promoting, self-endulging, self-centered, self-seeking, self-everything because after all, we don’t need men to do anything for us, we can accomplish our way into feeling worthy…) – that we no longer even saw our lives for what they were. We were all little frogs in our own little boiling pots never knowing we were in the waters of self-destruction.

I want y’all to know that I staunchly THOUGHT I disagreed with the idea of feminism. True story: my best friend & I watched Disney’s Mulan when we were about 16 years old and we were utterly disgusted with the girl-power message. I didn’t hyphenate my name when I got married, I have brothers whom I adore and I got along with all the guys in college.  I didn’t hate men and I absolutely wanted them to open the door for me. But, I had a wrong belief about my own self.  I thought too often about myself and thought too highly of myself. And I was in that boiling pot fixing to destroy my life, until Jesus rescued me. He rescued me before I ruined my marriage, and He rescued me before I defamed His great Name, and before we had a child. He broke me free and rescued me.

Praise.  His.  Name.

And I’m about to tell you that I have never, ever, ever wept like I did that night when the Holy Spirit, through Mary Kassian, challenged us to repent. I was overcome by His goodness and His grace, but before that, I was overcome by repentance. I laid on the floor of that prayer room inside the convention center and wept until my eyes were swelled and my abs were sore. And when I walked out, I was free.

I was like a heroin addict that put it down and never used again. Oh I’ve been tempted no doubt, even as recently as last month, but when you have been a captive as I was to self and worldly thinking, and your Savior has broken your chains, you do not soon forget the magnitude of it. I know what those chains feel like and the Holy Spirit makes me sensitive to hearing those shackles clankin’ if they even come near.

He asked me to quit striving and lay it on the alter, and so I did.

I quit advertising. I quit the coaching program I was in that continually pushed my type-A perfectionistic-bent self to accomplish more. I put my laptop down at home and had conversations with my husband. I quit analyzing and statistically obsessing over my practice. I quit striving.

And you know what? I started loving.

I would have told you that I loved Jesus, and my husband more than anything previous to that encounter with God. And that I loved my family and my friends and my patients. But, until I laid that burden on the altar, I couldn’t love anyone fully. So much of my life, my thoughts, my energy was tangled up in that thing, that thing of making my own name great, that it was strangling my relationships that mean the most to me.

And I started loving the people God sent into my practice for help and healing. I didn’t need or want anything from them anymore because I was being filled by God’s sufficient grace and love and abundant power. I no longer took on the guilt of someone who didn’t want to get well. I was free to love and serve and give because my emotional and intellectual wellness was found in my Savior, no longer in how other people responded to my will. It was the beginning of death to self.

I quit trying to make all the decisions in our house. I let my husband lead.

The scary thing is that all the time I was striving for things related to my own business, I would have told you that I was about my Father’s business.

Have you ever done that? Been so blinded by the enemy’s twisting that even good gifts from the Father, and callings He puts on our life somehow become the idol you are committed to instead of Him?

The child(ren) you prayed for?

The husband you couldn’t rest until you had?

The bible study you were determined to lead?

The choir you felt lead to join?

The business that you felt called in to?

The volunteer opportunities?

Y’all ,the thing we give most our mind and energy to is the thing we worship.

Get this, there is another place where we are told to “Consider” is in Hebrews 3 (it’s the same exact word as we saw in Luke to consider the wildflowers).   Oh, I know this will bless you as much as it did me!

Hebrews 3:1-6 And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about(same Greek word for ‘consider’) this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For He was faithful to God, who appointed Him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entirehouse. But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God. Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

Are our lives an illustration of the truths God wants to reveal to the world?

We should all want to be and even strive to be faithful servants in God’s house! But, did you catch v. 3? The Person Who builds the house deserves more praise than the house itself.  And v. 4, the One Who builds everything is God.

It does not matter, my friend, what good thing you are striving to do or accomplish, even if it is a noble and worthy cause…if the created thing is getting more praise/time/attention/love/thoughts, etc. than the CREATOR, something is amiss. Repent. You will be blessed. I am and I was when God revealed my duplicity.

We do not have time on this earth to waste it wearing ourselves out being about our own business, or even about the Father’s business in our own way & our own will. We must be about His business, in His way, according to His will – and to be about His business is to be about Him, and the way to be about Him is to be in the inner room of  prayer & about His Word…

The fact that God’s Word is alive and active is all the truth we need to take the next step with Jesus. It is through His Word that He will reveal places in our life where we are straddling the fence of the Word and the world.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

If there is any question as to whether what you’re toiling at is God’s business or your own, go to His Word and go to Him honestly in prayer. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposed mine. There is no lie from the enemy that can keep us blinded when we are continually exposing ourselves to the Light of the World. He will break us free, our chains will fall off if we keep exposing ourselves to the Truth.

Studying the Bible is the most mind-stimulating and heart-changing activity on the planet. According to the authority of the scriptures, and by the powerful Living Word, God communicates to us exactly what things we can assuredly be blessed by fixing our eyes & mind upon. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. It is His utter kindness that leads us to repentance. No greater gift has He given than His life laid down that we might repent and be made free.

Bless you today, my brother and my sister. Let God access the areas that you think you have or need to have under control. Let Him show you what’s really wearing you out, physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. Be unshackled by His Word and by His Spirit, in Jesus Name from your striving.

Consider the wildflowers, for they are decked out in more splendor that the greatest and wisest of kings, and they don’t toil and stress and work themselves to exhaustion. Consider Jesus, the Author & Perfecter of our faith, Who pulled away from the busy-ness and entered the inner room of prayer with the Father regularly, and He rested.

What Songs have Ministered to You lately? I have 3…

 

truth guitar

I have always been moved by certain music, granted I can’t sing a tune to save my life, but I do love music and I am moved by it.  But, the thing is (as I get older and continue to grow in wisdom and fall more in love with Jesus)…I pay MUCH closer attention to the words!  If a song doesn’t line up with God’s truth, then I can’t listen to it like I used to, even if it sounds really good.  Now, with that said, some songs may be fairly neutral, and then some songs I just grew up listening to that I just flat-out enjoy because they have good memories attached to them.  For example, “Guitars and Cadillacs” by Dwight Yoakum, now I love that song!  Makes me want to two-step with whoever will do me the honor!  BUT, when it says, “guitars, cadillacs, and hillbilly music are the only things that keep me hangin’ on,” clearly that’s where I draw the line.  I just can’t belt out those lines like I used to.  Praise Jesus, I have Someone better to keep me hangin’ on!  But, you get my point.  I have listened to things in my past the now make me want to heave at how I grieved the Holy Spirit, praise Jesus for growth in wisdom and for His grace.  Words have power, and music has power, too.

And when TRUTH gets put to music, that is power to the soul!

In my office, we play contemporary Christian music all day long.  OFTEN, my patients will find me humming or even singing the words (to myself, of course!) and it keeps me focused on Who deserves my praise and Who I am really working for each moment.  Well, yesterday, it really occurred to me how there have been 3 songs lately that have just really ministered TRUTH to me in a way that was significant.  For someone who loves worship music as much as I do, it seems a bit funny to only list 3.  Even after I thought of these 3 songs, there is another one playing even as I type that I think deserves mention!  When is the last time that God’s truth changed you?  Was it in a bible study, a song, or reading His Word?  Oh Lord, give us ears to hear what the Spirit is saying!

The first song that came to mind is “How He Loves” by David Crowder Band (words written by John Mark McMillan).  Two years ago in April, my husband and I lost our first baby in the first trimester.  In the most appropriately astonishing demonstration of His love, the Lord spoke to me in a dream in the early hours of a Tuesday morning about what we were supposed to name this child, and gave me very specific scriptures to confirm it.  We officially knew our baby did not live on Tuesday night.  Meanwhile, my Tuesday night bible study sisters were praying for Justin and I, and God’s grace did abound, as it always does.  I’ve never felt pain like that, neither physically nor emotionally.

God’s sovereignty proves faithful, because my best friend Julia and I had tickets to Beth Moore’s conference in Little Rock 3 days later on Friday night.  I did not know if I should go or even if I could go, and thankfully with much brokenness I went.  And my friend was by my side, and my husband gave me his blessing, and my God beckoned me get up off the couch of my suffering and meet with Him 6 hours away in a coliseum filled with thousands of women…and He saw me, and He ministered to me, and He healed me.  And though I remember the subject Beth taught on (fulfilling our calling)…God used this song to tell me how much He loves me.  And I soaked in these lyrics, and He bathed me in His grace, and as tears billowed out of my body, indeed I knew and I believed that…

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

From that second, and praise His Name for the rest of my life, I will know His love deeper and stronger than I ever could have without the weight of that storm and His mercy.  He is The Restorer, and oh how I love Him back!

The 2nd song is “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United.  I was listening to my friend Ashley lead us in this song at a women’s conference this past January.  These lyrics, repeated over & over in my ears and riveted my soul,

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Strangely, while she sang, I was sitting down while everyone else was standing, and I was praising God with my eyes closed tight, and I heard the Holy Spirit deep within myself saying over and over again “my answer is Yes, my only fear is You.”  And every time I hear that song, those words come to my mind and I am reminded that saying YES to Jesus is what He wants from me, and the only fear I should have is Him.  He is Holy and He is good and His ways are right.  Always.  And He calls us out upon the waters, just as He did with Peter.  Our eyes fixed on Jesus means we stay above the waves, and our eyes off Jesus and on our circumstances means that we struggle and fear ensues and we feel overwhelmed.

That is how I was feeling coming in to this conference.  Overwhelmed by decisions that needed to be made at work, the temptation to return to my previous struggles with striving and driving toward the world’s view of success, and just needing God’s wisdom and freedom desperately.  And as truth put to music usually does, it spoke God’s Word to me and the Holy Spirit confirmed it, and I was set free.  Not set free from the reality of decisions that had to be made, but lifted above those circumstances to walk upon the water, wherever He would call me, taking me deeper that my feet would ever wander and making my faith stronger, and the thing that just slays my soul…In the Presence of my Savior.  He is right here lovingly leading me to a place where my trust in Him no longer has borders.  Oh, He is so good and He is so very much my ever-present help in time of need!

The 3rd song is “Blessed Redeemer” by Casting Crowns, actually I didn’t even know this was a Casting Crowns song when I first heard it.  Our choir did a beautiful rendition of this song at Easter, so much so that I had to download it.  Easter was different for me this year. It was perhaps more real to me as a 33 year old woman than in any previous year of celebrating our Savior’s resurrection.  Surprise?  Coincidence?  No, I’m pretty sure 33 is significant for obvious reasons here.  And as they sang so beautifully, these words pierced my heart like the sword pierced His side,

Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer 
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree 
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading 
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree.  And I believe that I did, like never before.  I had just finished the book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, called The Wonder of His Name, where she took us through 32 life-changing Names of Jesus through the lenton season (the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday).

When you know someone by their nickname, it’s different than when you only know them by a formal name.  For example, when someone calls me “Shar” or one of my other nicknames, I know that they have been through some LIFE with me.  I love how Jesus has so many Names in God’s Word.  It speaks to the magnitude of His Person, doesn’t it?  Each Name causes us to know Him more, and the more you know someone, the more you hurt when they hurt.

That is what I felt when I heard the choir sing these lyrics.  And I was glad to feel His pain, because that makes the reality of His Victory over the grave and death and sin that much sweeter.  He did it for me, and He did it for you, and He finished His work so that we might truly live.

It amazes me how God can use the most likely or the most unlikely ways to speak His Word to us.  It is to our great benefit to fill our minds with truth rather than lies.  The world has every possible twist to truth available if we will listen, yet our Father pleads that we:

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 12:2 NLT

What and who we listen to matters.  It could be music, it could be news, it could be conversations with certain people at work or at home or even at church.  Pay attention to the things you allow your mind to dwell on.  God cares what we meditate upon and he cares what goes into our mind as well as what comes out of our mouths.  Now, you will undoubtedly find me singing along to Guitars, Cadillacs again someday…maybe even while my husband pushes me around the dance floor (I wish he loved to two-step as much as I do, but alas he does NOT!)…but the tunes I allow to influence me day by day are God’s Truth set to music, and I believe that has made all the difference.  It is one of the profound ways the Lord has used to transform my mind FROM conforming the world’s way TO following Him and really loving His ways.  So, let’s tune-in to what God is saying through His Word and through hymns and songs that contain the truth of His Word.

So, what songs has God used to speak His truth to you lately?  I’m so curious to know!  Use the comment section and testify 🙂

Perfection Savored

I don’t make a habit of snapping pictures while driving, although it has happened before…at least this time I was in traffic sitting dead still on I-35 headed north into Dallas last Saturday night. And off to my right I glance up and I see this:

perfect

And I’m just fixed on it. No, it wasn’t the honeybaked ham I was drawn to…I had actually just feasted on Turkish food for the first time in my life (which was phenomenal by the way!)

No, it was the way these 7 words were strung together in a ham advertisement that slayed me. I just stared at it, and believe me, I had plenty of time. Even traffic can be a great gift from the Lord. If we set out each day to listen to Him, it really is amazing the things that we will see and hear from Him. This was one of those moments.

Savor every moment of a perfect Easter. Savor? Savor. It means to enjoy or appreciate something completely, especially by dwelling on it.  Wow.  The Lord was showing me something He wanted me to dwell upon.  How often do we truly spend time & savor something that the Holy Spirit reveals to us?  Oh Lord, give us ears to hear.

Then, all these scriptures start running through my mind of our perfect Savior, Jesus the perfect & spotless Lamb, the Author & Perfecter of our faith, and be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.  Jesus lived the perfect life, suffered the perfect penalty of God’s wrath, died the perfect death, and perfectly overcame the grave resurrected, then perfectly revealed Himself to hundreds of witnesses over the next 40 days, gave the perfect promise of the Holy Spirit who was coming when He returned to the Father, and ascended leaving his followers with the perfect commission to advance the gospel.

P. E. R. F. E. C. T.  That’s what He came to be for us.  He was and He is and He is to come again. Perfect.  In His perfect time and by His perfect will, Jesus is perfection. Are we savoring that? I mean, really – do we enjoy that? Dwell on it? Do we completely appreciate what He did?Easter IS perfect because of Jesus Christ resurrected and alive!

He didn’t forget anything, didn’t miss any steps, He took no short-cuts, He did not evade the pain or the suffering. He took on the full weight of our sin and our lack – that He might perfect that which in our humanity we desperately need forgiven and filled.  Do you know how much you need Him today?  We will experience His presence deeply when we acknowledge our cavernous requirement for Jesus, our Savior.  Let’s allow the magnitude of this holy passion week to overwhelm our senses so that we can truly know what it means to savor every moment of a perfect Easter.

As I studied this idea, I ran across this scripture:

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the Champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame.  Now He is seated in the place of  honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility He endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. (Hebrews 12:2, 3 NLT)

Are you weary? Consider Jesus, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, which I assure you was anything but joyful!  Yet He looked ahead to unspeakable joy on its way, believed God, and He endured… because God always comes through with joy for His children.

Do you need to endure some suffering right now?  Jesus disregarded the shame that the enemy orchestrated that day.  Brother, Sister, I beg you to endure…disregard the shame that your enemy wants you to feel…and know that when you endure, it pleases the Father to sit you in a place of honor for His Name’s sake.  And the place of honor is always place of joy!

 James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”

And in 2 Corinthians 4:14-17 Paul tells us,

“We know that God, Who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to Himself together with you.  All of this for YOUR benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. YET – they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

What an amazing promise, and I believe someone needs to hear this today: God is not slow in coming to your rescue. Your suffering and hardship are creating a glory that vastly outweighs the difficult circumstance.  Is God’s grace reaching more and more people because of your life?  That is why we do not give up.  He renews our spirit daily.  It’s worth the struggle – Jesus is worth it, my sweet friend…you were worth it to Him.

Jesus endured perfectly that we might endure. Jesus perfectly overcame that we might overcome.  And Jesus loved perfectly that we might live our lives inspired and directed by His love.  I pray that our minds and hearts would savor that perfect truth this Easter!