Monday, July 27, 2015

SPAM?? - CAPTCHA GOTCHA


OK, so there's this verification thing on blogs.

It's called Captcha. 

But did you know it stands for this:  "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart".

It's a way to screen out spam comments.

Usually, one only needs to check a box to confirm that you're not spam. (While trying not to be personally offended at the implication that you would ever be spam even if given the chance!  Totally kidding!!)

I don't know why I get all nervous waiting for the green check mark.  Or why I then get all excited when it appears.  (As if I was ever in doubt???)

But, sometimes the verification asks for a second step.

In this scenario, you are shown a photograph, and then asked to check off all the other photos that are in the same category.

OK, honestly, this is a difficult task when you are "reading-glass-challenged" like those of us who have reached…um…wonderful middle age.

I have found myself squinting to even see what the photos are!!

Then, the second challenge is the category itself.

I have been known to fail on my first attempt.

Once I was asked to check all the boxes that were sushi.  As I squinted, I checked off the boxes that I thought were photos of sushi.  Then I was informed that I had somehow failed.

Huh?

What did I do wrong?  

Did I mistakenly check off a spring roll, or a tiny hors d'oeuvre, or…what the heck WAS that anyway???

Or, how about the category of meat.

Don't "tiny bits of something white in a salad that look like chicken" count? Or, excuse me, should that have been considered for the incorrect salad category?

Sometimes, after encountering a few of these Captcha moments(which I am not fond of capturing) – I find myself inordinately hungry for really random food.

Not so great.

Especially when there's no sushi in the house.

Suffice it to say, that I also used to struggle with the verification method that asked you to type in the number you saw in a photograph.  Can't tell you how many times I looked, and scanned, and peered…and yes, squinted…trying to determine what the numbers actually were.

Is that an 8 or a 3?  A 1 or a 7?

Where's a magnifying glass when you need one?

Now, I have to admit that I did enjoy the old verification method of one or two words that you had to retype.  I had fun imagining what the gobbledygook words might mean.

Like gobbledygook.

And, I enjoyed the occasional actual word(s) that snuck in.

This was especially fun when the two words formed a rather funny phrase. Like *heroic lizard* or something else ridiculous – (I just made that up).

(By the way, what is a heroic lizard anyway?  One who keeps his tail?  Or one who burns his belly by refusing to do those funny lizard push-ups on hot cement?  Or what about the one that refuses to move when I scream??)

I digress.


But really, all this has got me thinking…

Two thoughts come to mind.

First of all, we are not spam to the Lord.

He has saved us, and we belong!

There is no need to add to His gift of salvation.  There is nothing we can ever do to make His love for us greater or less.  We are justified by our faith, and the verification is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

What a comfort in a world that is becoming increasingly more impersonal, more dangerous.

It is an age of social media, where people "connect" but often never get beyond the surface of "look good, talk good" posturing.

It is an age of identity theft, when people try to "steal" who we are.

It is an age where many are bullied, many are persecuted, many are hatedjust because of misguided stereotypes and preconceived judgments.

It is an age where we can get *lost*…

No need.

For we are intimately connected to the Lord God Almighty.  

The One who knows all about us, way beyond our surface.  The One who promises that we are never in danger of losing our identity as His children. The One who is infinitely kind and compassionate to each and every one of us.

No more judgment, no more condemnation.

For we are held securely by Our Redeemer, the One who *verified* us when we opened the door of our hearts.

Green check mark completed!


The other thought I've had is that there is no confusion in Him.

Captcha has sometimes confused me with their numbers and their photos.  I find myself struggling to understand what I'm seeing.

And in this tired old world, with its many "mixed messages"it's easy to get confused.  We are constantly bombarded with conflicting viewpoints.  And how widely the meter of public opinion swings.

Sometimes humans can be so na├»ve, so gullible, so willing to follow…

Confusion could reign, if we were not given the sure beacon of Truth.

The Bible is the perfect antidote to a world gone mad.  

We are cautioned against listening to false teachers and untrue teaching.

And we do this by reading, studying, contemplating, memorizing, internalizing Scripture.  By making ourselves intimately familiar with it.

We are promised that if we seek wisdom, it will be given to us.

Let's take God at His Word (literally!).


So, my friends, as we negotiate Blog Land, with all its idiosyncrasies, may we remember these two things…

We are not spam.

We need not be confused.


OK, one more thing…

We are eternally *verified* by The One who *captcha-ed* us and who has said forever…

"Gotcha."

Sorry.

The heroic lizard made me do it!! 





Hey!

I passed the test!


I got the green check mark.

 Thumb's up!! 



"Know that the LORD, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalm 100:3, ESV)

"'My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.  No one can snatch them from the Father's hand." 
(John 10:27-29, NLT)

"If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." (Romans 14:8, NIV)

"Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence." (Ephesians 3:12, NLT)

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." 
(Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

"You, therefore, dear friends, having been warned beforehand, must continually be on your guard so as not to be led astray by the false teaching of immoral men nor fall from your own steadfastness." 
(2 Peter 3:17, WEYMOUTH)

"Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit.  You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world." (1 John 1:4, NLT)

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5, ESV)

"By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path." (Psalm 119:105, MESSAGE)

"Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God's will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17, AMP)

"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:13, ESV)



How does knowing you belong to God *straighten out the paths* of life?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYS, SMALL WONDERGOOD MORNING MONDAYS, GRATEFUL HEART MONDAY, REFLECT LINKUP, MOM 2 MOM MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, WORDS OF COMFORT MONDAY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, RA RA LINKUP, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, INTENTIONAL TUESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, WISE WOMAN, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY,WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, JOYHOPELIVE LINKUP, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, THE (NOT JUST) HOMEMAKING PARTY, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, BELOVED BREWS, EVERYDAY JESUS, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, SHINE, HEARTS FOR HOME, LOOKING UP LINKUP, THURSDAY FAVORITE THINGS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, TGI SATURDAYS, WEEKEND BREW



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, July 20, 2015

WATCHING A MIRACLE UNFOLD


Yes.

This is what it feels like.

Wanna hear about it?!

As many of you know, a little over two years ago, life changed.  It was at that time that it became very apparent to my siblings and I that we needed to step into our parents' lives.

We began a sort of tag-team visitation schedule that continued until my dad fell and landed in the hospital.  Ten days later, he passed away.  This left my mom all alone, after nearly 62 years of marriage.  She was so very scared, so we spent the first six months or so after Dad's death shuttling her around.

This worked for a while, but then everyone became exhausted.  So, we went back to a visitation schedule, with days that Mom spent on her own.  A few months ago, as Mom became increasingly more fearful and confused, we knew we needed to do something more.

But…WHAT to do?

Mom wanted desperately to stay home, and yet, she didn't want to be alone. The dilemma arose when she also wasn't keen on having a *stranger* come in to help out.

Oh, the prayers that went up to heaven in the last several months.

Until…

Until God intervened, and we saw a miracle unfold.


Watch the dominoes fall...

A few months ago, I was down visiting my mom, and I got really sick (domino #1).  Too sick to drive home on the day I had planned to leave.  I stayed a few extra days (domino #2).

Because I was still in town, my brother opted not to come over to Mom's on his "regular" day (domino #3).  Instead, on the spur of the moment, he decided to head down the coast to an outlet store to buy some hiking boots (domino #4).

While there, he decided to try to have lunch with one of our cousins (domino #5).  (My sibs and I have only three first cousins – Dad being one of two sons, and my mom being an only child.  Therefore, we are more like siblings than cousins!)

She was having lunch with our other cousin, and my brother joined them (domino #6).

Of course, they asked all about how their special Auntie was doing.

My brother related some of the struggles we were facing (domino #7).

A bit later in the conversation, my brother asked one of my cousins how her job was going at a local surgical center (domino #8).  (She went back to school to become an R.N. after her boys were grown). 

She then informed him that she wasn't doing that anymore.  She was now working as the RN Case Manager for a company that does in-home caregiver placement for the elderly (domino #9).

I think time stopped at this point…

(I know if I'd been there I would have heard a choir break out into singing!!)

She offered to help us find a caregiver for Mom.  

Incidentally, she mentioned that if this lunch had happened a very few weeks later, she would not have been able to personally help us, as a new franchise was opening in Mom's county, precluding her ability to manage Mom's case (domino #10).


Fast forward to last week.

One thing after another fell rapidly into place, and my mother now has a wonderful Christian woman spending time with her.  

A woman who *just happens* to have lost her own mother.

A woman who *just happened* to hear about a job opportunity through someone she knew, who *just happened* to hear about it from our cousin.

A woman who *just happens* to have experience taking care of elderly people with cognitive challenges.

A woman who in her interview *just happened* to mention her father's passing, and how they played his favorite song at his funeral – "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."  A song taken from Lamentations 3:23.  A verse that *just happens* to be on my dad's headstone.

A woman who *just happens* to be supervised by our cousin, who will personally be managing my mom's case and visiting her on a regular basis.

A woman who *just happens* to be able to cover all the shifts with Mom.

A woman who has stepped into our lives like she's always been there.


My family is standing in awe.

Rarely have I seen such a direct answer to prayer.

I am humbled by it, so very grateful for it – still standing in disbelief at how this has all worked out so perfectly.

The other night, I was talking to another cousin (who has been part of our *care team* for Mom).  We were talking about the *miracle* of this whole situation.

And then she said something that has really stuck with me.

She said, "You know, Sharon, very few people get to see something this miraculous happen.  Few get to see an answer to prayer so directly linked to God's intervention.  I tell you what.  I told Him the other night that no matter what He asked me to do in my life going forward, I would do it.  I am His servant."

After I got off the phone, I couldn't stop thinking about what she said.

First of all, I am rather stunned at all the *just so happened* moments in this journey.  At each turn in the road, there was something that "just happened" right when it needed to happen.  

Like a wonder-full chess match, God was moving each piece into place.  

God works = CHECKMATE!!


I have seen His hand at work like that over and over again in His Word.  

The Bible is full of these moments:

"Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream…" (Genesis 41:1, NASB) – Joseph

"Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns…" 
(Genesis 22:13, NASB) – Abraham

"Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river…She saw the basket among the reeds…" 
(Exodus 2:5, ESV) – Moses

"Now the LORD had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah." 
(Jonah 1:17, NLT) – Jonah

"Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?" 
(Esther 4:14, NLT) – Esther


Even in the life of Jesus and His disciples, there were many, many *just so happened* moments.

Yes, at each twisty turn in His life, there was Someone at work.

The same Someone who is at work in our lives.

There are no coincidences in the believer's life – these moments are *God appointments* divinely orchestrated by the wise Providence of our Lord.

Not serendipity – but sovereignty.


Now, the other thing that I've really been pondering is this:

When I hung up the phone I thought to myself, "Yes, you have seen a miracle.  Now what are you going to do about it?"

I've been pondering.

What did people do when they saw the miracles of Jesus?

Reactions were mixed.


Some were grateful, others were thankless.

(Remember the ten lepers who were healed?)  

"One of them, when he saw that he was healedfell to the ground at Jesus' feet, thanking him for what he had doneJesus asked, 'Didn't I heal ten men? Where are the other nine?'" (Luke 17:15-17, NLT)


Some were awed, others were skeptical.  

"But despite all the miraculous signs Jesus had done, most of the people still did not believe in him." (John 12:37, NLT)


Some wholeheartedly believed that He was who He said He was.  They instantly grasped onto His offer of salvation.

"And many who were there believed in Jesus." (John 10:42, NLT)


Others were threatened by Him, and began plotting to kill Him.

"Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus." (Mark 3:6, NIV)



So, what am I going to do?

Praise Him, thank Him – of course.

Tell others about it – yes indeed.

But I want to do more than that.

I want this Divine Intervention to infuse my faith with more faith.

I want it to make a difference in how I trust God.  

I want it to deepen my understanding of God's faithfulness.

I want it to bring me peace as I face other turmoil in my life.

I want to KNOW more than ever, that God is in control, that He still sits on His throne, that His ways are wise and good and timely.

I want to believe…

Oh Lord, please help my unbelief.


I cannot end this post without one last perfect moment.

My mom's new caregiver has a name very similar to a member of our family, sometimes confusing my mom.  My sister was joking with her about it the other day.  The caregiver suggested, a bit tongue-in-cheek, that we could always call her by her middle name.

"What is your middle name?" my sister asked.

Are you ready for it?

"Oh,” she answered, "It's Grace."

Well yes, of course it is!

God, You are amazing.





Sweetest Mommy.

Full of Joy.

Blessed by Love.

Watched over by Grace. 



"It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness." 
(Lamentations 3:22-23, AMP)

"Blessed be the Lord, Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day, even the God Who is our salvation!" (Psalm 68:19, AMP)

"Commit everything you do to the LORD.  Trust him, and he will help you...Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act...Day by day the LORD takes care of the innocent...The LORD directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand...He will keep them safe forever...The LORD rescues the godly...He saves them, and they find shelter in him." (From Psalm 37, NLT)

"Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." (Psalm 55:22, NASB)

"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." (1 Peter 5:7, AMP)

"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.  In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP)

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Romans 8:28, NLT)

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think...to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21, NASB)



Have you ever witnessed a miracle?  Please share your story!



Linked with:

PLAYDATES WITH GOD, SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYS, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, MOTIVATE & REJUVENATE MONDAYS, GRATEFUL HEART MONDAY, REFLECT LINKUP, MOM 2 MOM MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, WORDS OF COMFORT MONDAY, SHARING HIS BEAUTY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WISE WOMAN, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, JOYHOPELIVE LINKUP, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, BELOVED BREWS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, GRACE AT HOME, TELL HIS STORY, SHINE, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, HEARTS FOR HOME, LOOKING UP LINKUP, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAYFELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, LIVING PROVERBS, TGI SATURDAYS, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, July 13, 2015

NOT A FAN OF PAIN


Nope.

I am a pain wimp.

Last week I had gum surgery.

I was so nervous that I had "The Hub" come into the room with me.

At some point, trying to be encouraging, he said to me, "Just think of it like a vacation."

To which I retorted, "Perhaps a vacation to Death Valley in the middle of the summer, with no water, and a cactus to sleep on."

Later, he also asked if it was possible to put some Novocain into my head so I wouldn't think and worry so much.

To which I (jokingly?!) replied, "I changed my mind.  You can leave the room now."

How I appreciate "The Hub" – he always finds a way to make me laugh in a tough situation!


Let me tell you, the whole procedure was nothing like I expected.  It took a long time, it was very uncomfortable (even with the fun pain-killing shots), and there was so much tugging and pulling and grinding.  A lot of pressure was applied to my teeth and gums – which I realized was a LOT of pressure when the dental assistant placed her hand under my chin and pushed it up to counteract what the dentist was doing.

I kept my eyes closed the entire time.

When it was (finally) over, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief.

So, I'm four days into recovery.  

For the next two weeks, I can only eat soft food, and only chew on one side of my mouth.  Which requires a lot of mental concentration, and an inordinate amount of time to eat, as it's such a habit to chew on BOTH sides. And my mouth doesn't open very wide.  (Maybe I'll lose some weight??)  

Pain, yes, but thankfully it's manageable with some ibuprofen.


But, I tell you what, the whole experience has me thinking about pain.

I know many of your stories out there in Blog Land, and I know that many of you are physically suffering.  Some of you are dealing with chronic pain and life-sapping conditions that refuse to go away.  Some of you are fighting cancer or another debilitating disease.

Some of you are going through painful emotional loss – either through grieving the death of a loved one, or the awful ache of a prodigal child, or the despair of a broken marriage.

Some of you struggle with the agony of unremitting anxiety, or the dark cloud of depression, or some sort of other daunting mental struggle. 

Pain – it takes such a toll.

And, for the believer, there is additional pain that terrible underlying thought that crosses every honest mind:

"Why does God allow suffering?"

It's a question that's been asked since man was cast out of the Garden.  And it will be asked until all things are made new.  It is a mighty stumbling block for those who do not believe in our Savior.

But it trips us up, too.

I have no real answer – I struggle with it.

I've thrown that question – WHY? – at heaven on more than one occasion.

Haven't you?

But, have you ever thought of pain being a protective mechanism?


Many years ago, I read a wonderful book on this issue of suffering – Philip Yancey's "Where Is God When It Hurts?"

I was particularly impressed with the beginning, when Yancey discusses his time spent with Dr. Paul Brand.

Dr. Brand was a great medical missionary.  And most of his work was concentrated on helping people plagued with leprosy.  He was the first physician to understand that the disease of leprosy did not actually cause the rotting away of tissues.  Rather, he discovered that it was the loss of the sensation of pain that made sufferers susceptible to injury.

He once said,  "If I had the power to eliminate human pain, I would not exercise that right.  Pain's value is too great."

(Dr. Brand also co-authored with Yancey, "Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants" (1993), republished in 1997 as "The Gift of Pain.")


I remember how I used to think that God banishing Adam and Eve from Eden was cruel, mean, heartless – that it was a great punishment.  It took me a long time to finally understand that it was, instead, salvation.

Pain is a sign of God's love. 

(Yes, even as I write that, I am cringing.  It sounds wrong.  But I believe that it is the toughest and best kind of Truth).

You see, pain tells us something is wrong.

C.S. Lewis, in his great treatise on the issue of suffering, "The Problem of Pain," says this:

"Pain insists upon being attended to.  God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains.  It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."


Yes, perhaps the toughest lesson of all is this – 

God allows pain to accomplish a greater good.

And one of the *greater goods* is knowing that something is, indeed, wrong in our lives.  And this *wrong* can only be made right by the righteousness of a Savior.

Tough love – but Love still the same.


However, and this is my opinion, I think it's all right to tell Him the truth when we communicate with Him about our pain.

I think it's OK to be angry, or disappointed, or frustrated, or sad, or afraid, or disillusioned, or even crushed and broken.

Recently I was part of a Bible Study that studied the life of David.  And I was particularly moved by the whole passage when Uzzah was killed for touching the Ark.

I know all the "biblically correct" reasons that this happened.

But what I found most interesting was David's reaction.  The Bible states it this way:

"David was angry because the LORD's anger had burst out against Uzzah…David was now afraid of the LORD, and he asked, 'How can I ever bring the Ark of the LORD back into my care?'"  (2 Samuel 6:8-9)


David, who thought he was doing a good thing, and who was praising the Lord for His goodness, stunningly encountered pain.

And he reacted with anger and fear.

But at this moment, David was presented with a choice.  He was at a crossroads in his faith journey.

Would he turn away from, or would he turn toward God?

Would he abandon the Lord, or would he instead abandon his preconceived notions about the issue of suffering?

David had to move beyond devastation.


When we are confronted with blazing pain and suffering, we need to do the same thing.

We need to understand that there is something far more important than having a feel-good life.

God wants us to BE good.

Like His Son.

Who, thankfully, also struggled with pain.

And questioned it…twice.

(I have a feeling that His conversation with God was much longer than this. But Scripture records Him asking twice for God to change His mind.  I love that.  It gives me permission to question, too – more than once!)

"And going a little farther, He threw Himself upon the ground on His face and prayed saying, 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will [not what I desire], but as You will and desire'...Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, 'My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.'" 
(Matthew 26:39, 42,  AMP)


Questioning, yes – turning away, no.

Begging for relief, yes – spurning the purpose, no.

Pleading for another way, yes – disobedience, never.


So, in our dearest Savior Jesus we have the example of how to deal with our pain.

I believe we are allowed to not like it, to wrestle against it, to struggle with accepting it.  

I think we are invited to be completely honest with our Creator.  Not disrespectful, but straightforward…

"Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence…" (Hebrews 4:16, PHILLIPS)


Other translations say "boldly approach."

And why can we do that?

Because of Jesus.

The word "therefore" means "for that reason; consequently."

Example – This is true, therefore we can do this other thing.

And the beginning *true* is this:

We have Jesus – our High Priest – who understands it all – who has passed through the worst sort of pain – and entered into glorious reward.

We can follow His humble example through suffering(not liking one single moment) –  for a greater good – (our transformation) – and one day enter into our eternal reward.


Pain hurts so bad, Lord.

Help us, we pray, through the struggle.






Tools of the Trade 



"Then the LORD God said, 'Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil.  What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it?  Then they will live forever!'  So the LORD God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made." (Genesis 3:22-23, NLT)

But man was only sent to till the ground out of which he was taken.  He was sent to a place of toil, not to a place of torment.  Our first parents were shut out from the privileges of their state of innocency, yet they were not left to despair.  The way to the tree of life was shut.  It was henceforward in vain for him and his to expect righteousness, life, and happiness, by the covenant of works; for the command of that covenant being broken, the curse of it is in full force: we are all undone, if we are judged by that covenant.  God revealed this to Adam, not to drive him to despair, but to quicken him to look for life and happiness in the promised Seed, by whom a new and living way into the holiest is laid open for us." -- (From Matthew Henry's Commentary)


"...he will send them a savior and defender, and he will rescue them." (Isaiah 19:20, NIV)

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11, ESV)

"For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning.  Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]." (Hebrews 4:15-16, AMP)

"Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:17, NIV)

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7, NIV)



What are you going to do at the crossroads of suffering?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, GRATEFUL HEART MONDAY, REFLECT LINKUP, WORDS WITH WINTER, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, MOM 2 MOM MONDAY, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, TELL HIS STORY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WISE WOMAN, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, THE (NOT JUST) HOMEMAKING PARTYBELOVED BREWS,  EVERYDAY JESUS, GRACE AT HOME, SHINE, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, HEARTS FOR HOME, UNITE, LOOKING UP LINKUP, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, JOYHOPELIVE LINKUP, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAYWEEKEND BREW, TGI SATURDAYS, LIVING PROVERBS, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, July 6, 2015

I AM A BLACK SHEEP


Seriously.

I have on some occasions pulled the wool over someone's eyes.

I have been known to count myself when I can't fall asleep.

When asked how I'm doing, there have been times when I've answered, "Not baaaaad."


I even wrote a poem about me:

Mary had a little lamb,
Its fleece was white as snow.
Her sister, Judy, had another lamb,
Whose fleece was black as coal.

Now everywhere that Mary went,
Her lamb was sure to go,
But Judy’s lamb was wont to wander,
And its favorite word was, "NO!"

Mary's lamb was never lost,
And always chose to obey,
But Judy's lamb was an ornery sort,
And always chose its own way.

Mary's lamb was nice and good,
And gladly gave its wool,
But Judy's lamb kicked up a fuss,
Struggling to push and pull.

At the end of the day, Mary's lamb
Was just as sweet as can be,
But Judy's lamb was not so quite,
For you see, her lamb was me.


Yeah, I'm a black sheep.

Every family seems to have one.  That one person who doesn't quite fit into the mold, or toe the line, or obey the rules.  The one person who just kinda gets out of line.

Now mind you, I wasn't a bad girl.

I just had *mess-ups* in my life.

I was born into a wonderful family.  My parents were both believers, same with all four grandparents.  In fact, I was surrounded by a very large extended family, and almost to a person, they were also strong believers.

I myself became a believer at the age of 3, got baptized at 14, and attended church faithfully with my family.  I even graduated from a Christian college.

I had some rather innocuous disobediences growing up – who doesn't? Minor offenses like breaking curfew, or an occasional fib, or some questionable boyfriends.  But overall, I was a good girl.

However, as an adult, I stopped attending church, and fell out of fellowship.


Somewhere along the way, I kinda got lost.

I became a lonely girl.  A confused girl.  

And finally, a girl who was hurt, tired, and wanting to come *home.*


At some point in this journey, I found my way back to the Lord.

I read through the Bible for the first time.  And somewhere in those pages, I was reconciled once again to the Savior who, though I had moved away, had never left me.

It was at this time that God literally "came knocking at my door."

One day, I happened to be standing in the driveway.  At this precise moment, a couple walked by the front of the house.  They stopped...

"Are you going to be selling your home?" asked the wife.  "We've been curious about all the construction going on."

"No, just doing some remodeling," I answered.

At this point, the couple approached and struck up a conversation.  

Turns out that they lived only a few blocks away.  And, in the course of talking, the wife mentioned that she was part of a neighborhood book club, and invited me to try it out if I liked to read.  I chuckled, and confirmed that I was a voracious reader.

So, the wife and I went to get some paper and a pen to exchange information.

I had noticed that her husband's hat had a cross on it, and I casually mentioned it to her.

"Why yes, I'm a Christian," she said.

"Me, too," I said.


Now she invited me to join her Bible Study.

I said I'd think about it.

You know, you'd think that I would jump at the chance to *rejoin the ranks* and gladly begin to attend her Bible Study, and maybe even start going to church again.

But, when you feel like a *black sheep* – it's hard to take that first step toward home.

In fact, in my conversation with her, I had briefly mentioned that I wasn't attending church, and had wandered from the Lord for a while.  She didn't make a big deal out of it, for which I was so grateful.

And then, as she was walking to rejoin her husband and continue on their walk, she quoted this verse:

"'Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten…'" (Joel 2:25, NASB)


I was really pretty floored.

The New Living Translation says it this way:

"'I will give you back what you lost…'"

And let me tell you, those words were like a balm to my spirit.  Like a life preserver.  Like a cup of water to a thirsty soul.  Like a light shining into the deepest darkness.

Those words gave me hope.

I remember thinking to myself, "Could God really do that?"

I am chagrined to tell you that I still resisted the idea of going to Bible Study.  But, in the end, I did go.  And I cannot begin to tell you how that changed everything.

One little black sheep decided to go home.

And a gracious and loving Father ran to greet me with open arms and a warm embrace.

All these many years later, I still hold that verse very dearly in my heart. For indeed, I have truly found out that God, our Great Redeemer, can give it all back.


Of course, the battle doesn't end there.

Even now, the father of lies does his best to bring up the past.  

He tries to overwhelm me with guilt.

He tries to keep me mired in regret.

He constantly strives to remind me of my *black wool.*

But when this starts to happen, I remember the heart of the One who has been so good to me.

He keeps me looking forward.  He keeps me looking at Him.  

And over and over He washes me with the Truth of His forgiveness, mercy, grace, and love.


So, to all you black sheep out there – or even you guys who are only a little gray – rest assured that you're not alone.

There's a whole herd of us, and we're all ornery and stubborn and prone to wander.

Even those of us who follow the Lord can still find ways to meander off the path, to refuse to yield control – and we can find ourselves caught in the thicket of defiance and disobedience. 

But might I just remind you of something?

There is a Good Shepherd who loves you and wants you to come home.

He is willing and able to forgive ANYTHINGand He is ready to offer His unmitigated grace, His compassionate mercy, and His boundless love.

He's got a hug waiting.

And a fresh, clean outfit of wool tailored just for YOU!



Baa baa, black sheep,
What color is your fleece?
Praise the Lord, it's white as snow,
And I am clean, in peace.


Yes, indeed, He CAN redeem it all!


FLEE TO THE CROSS AND STAY THERE!





Just me, Sheepie,
hanging out
with the
Lion of Judah!! 




"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us." -- Anne Lamont



"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9, ESV)

"For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.  He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." (Psalm 103:11-12, NLT)

"'Come now, let's settle this,' says the LORD.  'Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.  Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.'" (Isaiah 1:18, NLT)

"'For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.'" (Jeremiah 31:34, NIV)

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin!   For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me.  Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment...

Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.  Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit." (Psalm 51:1-4, 9-12, AMP)

"Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." (Psalm 51:7, NLT)

"Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7:24-25, NLT)

"Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt.  I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.'  And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone." (Psalm 32:5, NLT)

"...forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward." (Philippians 3:13-14, AMP)

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1, ESV)

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36, ESV)



Are you still *blackened* by any sin – big or small – that you've never laid down at the Cross?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, SMALL WONDER, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, LIFE GIVING LINKUP, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, GRATEFUL HEART MONDAY, FIND STABILITY, REFLECT LINKUP, WORDS WITH WINTER, THE ART OF HOMEMAKINGMOM 2 MOM MONDAY, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, UNITE, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYS, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WISE WOMAN, WOMEN WITH INTENTION, TELL HIS STORY, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYFROM HOUSE TO HOMETHOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, BELOVED BREWS, EVERYDAY JESUS, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYSSHINE, HEARTS FOR HOME, LOOKING UP LINKUP, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIPMAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, TGI SATURDAYS, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"