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?




Monday, June 29, 2015

HERE'S TWITCHIN' AT YOU - GRRR!


OK, I had a really hard time getting to church this week.

The alarm went off – (about ½ an hour before I had to get up – not a morning person!) – and I started to wrestle with myself.

Inner dialogue:

"The Hub" isn't going this week, so it's all right if I stay home, too."

"I went to Bible Study on Tuesday."

"I have to drive down to see my mom tomorrow, and I don't want to start out tired."

"I have a headache, more sleep would help."

"God will understand."


Maybe it was that last argument that convinced me to get up and get dressed and get going.

Once there, I decided to do something different this week.

I sat in the second row with a friend of mine from Bible Study!

She said she liked to sit up there because it kept her from being distracted by other people and other things happening around her.  Sounded like a good reason to me.

So yes, I broke out of my little mold, and ventured to the front of the sanctuary!  

Settled in, I was READY for church.


We begin our service with announcements, and then we have a time of singing.

OK, so now I discover some of the reasons why I do not sit in the front. For one thing, the music is really loud.  Which was distracting.  And then, I started to *inspect* the worship team.

New inner dialogue:

"I really like his boots.  Black, clunky.  I wish they made something like that for women."

"Wonder whose kid that is on guitar?"

"How loud are the drums behind that plexiglass?"

"I think I can see through her skirt.  Wait, no, just a trick of the light."

"The communion table looks handmade.  Wonder who did that…"


Oops!

Back to concentrating on the songs.

"I wonder if people are looking at my back.  Do they think I'm fat?"

Back to music.

"Huh, I never noticed those speakers at the bottom of the platform. Or are those heat registers?"

Music, Sharon.


So, you get the picture.  My mind was wandering, rambling.  Roaming around like a hapless hobo stuck on the Trivia Train.  

Then it came time for the sermon.

Determined to stop this crazy meandering, I pulled out my Bible, opened my notebook, put on my reading glasses, clicked my ballpoint pen, and got into my *pious listener posture.*

And then it happened…

A stupid eye twitch in my left eyebrow.

You know what I'm talking about.  Those annoying little tics that wiggle of their own accord.  Sorta like face hiccups.  So, I tried to rub it – no good.  I tried to wiggle my eyebrow up and down – nope.  I even gave it a few little punches – absolutely no good.

Twitching continued.

Now, I might just insert here a moment of praise.  I was thankful that it was my eyebrow, and not my eyelid, that was doing the twitching.  Could you imagine if every time the pastor said something wonderful, I winked at him???

"Amen, Pastor!  (Wink, wink…)"


I looked up this ridiculous phenomenon.

"Although the cause is generally unknown, it may be associated with:

Fatigue, Stress, Caffeine."

(Which is totally weird, as I wasn't tired (HA), stressed (puh-leeze), or jacked up on caffeine, (*chai tea latte – 4 out of 5 on the caffeine scale*).

"This minor form of twitch is painless and harmless.  It usually goes away on its own.  But it can be quite annoying."  

(Which is perhaps the understatement of the week).


Let me say, the sermon was powerful, captivating, and encouraging.

And I managed to take notes and let it all sink in – despite my twitching.

But when I got home, I started to ponder a bit.

I remember reading "The Screwtape Letters," by C. S. Lewis.  Basically, the book is a series of letters written by a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew Wormwood, a junior tempter.  After the second letter, the Patient (of Wormwood) converts to Christianity, and Wormwood is chastised for allowing this.

However, Screwtape assures Wormwood that all is not lost.

Though the Patient is lost to them for eternity, they can still render him ineffective.  They can still use him in their battle against the Enemy.

(Interestingly enough, The Enemy of the enemy of our souls is our Friend, God!)

I particularly remember one scene when the Patient is in church, and Screwtape advises Wormwood to keep him distracted.


Yes, the battle against distractions.

C. S. Lewis once said, "Pain insists upon being attended to.  God…shouts in our pains.  It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." ("The Problem of Pain")

So I wonder…

Does the devil whisper in distraction?

Does he tap our shoulders lightly through irritation and aggravation?

Does he nudge us from behind over countless frustrations and interruptions?


Most of us will recognize a full-frontal assault.  We know when the devil has unleashed a nuclear bomb attackillness, death, financial setbacks, etc.

But, it seems to me that he is just as content to use a peashooter.

The incessant onslaught of the countless little distractions that, well, distract us.  It is a very effective weapon.

Screwtape encourages Wormwood to attack his patient's peevishness.  To keep him getting easily irritated by unimportant and insignificant things – the sort of things that can slowly undermine endurance, purpose, and faith.

"Indeed, the safest road [is]…the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." ("The Screwtape Letters")

Like the steady drip of a leaky faucet – this strategy can be very effective.

Especially when we are thinking about the Lord – during church or Bible Study, while reading the Bible, while praying…

"When this, or any other distraction, crosses his mind you ought to encourage him to thrust it away by sheer will power and to try to continue...as if nothing had happened; once he accepts the distraction as his present problem and lays that before the Enemy and makes it the main theme of his prayers and his endeavours, then, so far from doing good, you have done harm." ("The Screwtape Letters") 


For yes, indeed, a small rivulet can one day become the torrent that carves a canyon.

And small distractions can subtly lead us away from what matters most  until we find ourselves far, far away.

If we ever kept track of our daily distractions – (don't, it's too distracting!) – but if we did, we'd find that our minds are flitting all over the place most of the time.

And therein is the trap.

What is the devil trying to accomplish by keeping us irritated with interruptions and intrusions on *our* time?

How does he use what Screwtape called "the pressures of the ordinary" to keep us away from the influence of God?

How can the *familiar* breed contempt in our hearts, and the *mundane* blind us to the miraculous?

In what ways are we susceptible to diabolical influence by the use of "the sort of minor but menacing distractions that can slowly undermine the patient's faith"?


These are good things to ponder.

For indeed, the Christian life is full of distractions.  We are often beset by the ordinary moments of being human, blinded by the drudgery of the here-and-now, and burdened with the menial and mundane. 

It all serves to render us ineffective.

Discouraged and defeated.

Saved for eternity, but perhaps no earthly good.


Brothers and sisters, we cannot become complacent in this battle.

For the journey of faith is one of FOCUS.

Intentional, prayerful, Holy-Spirit-enabled determination to live our lives to the glory of God.

Sure, the Narrow Way is sometimes impeded by boulders – but more often than not, it's just littered with pebbles.

And stubbed toes can waylay us just as easily as a broken leg.

Maybe even more effectively – for a "major injury" can sideline us, force us to stop and take stock of what we're doing (or not doing).  Minor "injuries" can sidetrack us.

And we must not be deterred.

For we are called to be actively and single-mindedly focused on Kingdom purposes.

We are called to do battle, waging war against an enemy who has already been conquered, fighting side-by-side with a Savior who has already won our victory.

We must always remember that our minds, our thoughts are a battleground.

We must be canny to the weapon of distraction, and how mightily (and insidiously) this weapon is used against us.

And we must remember that the devil will do anything and everythingbig and smallto keep our eyes off of Jesus.


We must be alert and aware.


Do you know that my twitching eye is gone now?  It probably stopped as soon as I walked out of church.  A distraction no longer needed.

But trust me, there will be more.

More today, and more every day until we go home.

For we belong to "The Enemy"– (as Screwtape calls God) – of the enemy of our souls.

And he is not happy about that.

To which I say...

"Good."



Dear Wormwood and Screwtape,

We are aware of your efforts on behalf of your Father Below.  We know that he is a subtle enemy, more often than not preferring an understated attack than a full-frontal assault.  We know that you work tirelessly to distract us from our focus on your Enemy, our Lord.  And we know that we are powerless to fight against you alone.  But, we know what you're up to – we're onto your schemes.  And, praise God, by His wisdom we will not be fooled, and by His strength we will overcome.

By the way, you're already defeated.  Tell that to your leader.  

Remind him of the Cross.

Never yours…truly,
A believer







Don't mind me.

Not winking,
just twitching.

(Wink, wink...) 






"So all of you who are holy partners in a heavenly calling, let's turn our attention to Jesus, the Emissary of God and High Priest, who brought us the faith we profess..." (Hebrews 3:1, VOICE)

"Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headed..." (Hebrews 12:2, MSG)

"Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]." (Hebrews 12:1-2, AMP)

"I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven." 
(Psalm 123:1, NIV))

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken." (Psalm 16:8, NIV)

"But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge...Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me." (Psalm 141:8-9, NIV)

"You have said, 'Seek my face.'  My heart says to you, 'Your face, LORD, do I seek.'" (Psalm 27:8, ESV)



What *distractions* is the enemy using in your life to avert you from following Jesus?



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, REFLECT LINKUP, WORDS WITH WINTER, MOM 2 MOM MONDAY, THE ART OF HOMEMAKING MONDAYS, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, FIND STABILITY, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, RA RA LINKUP, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED HOME WEDNESDAY,  A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WOMEN WITH INTENTION WEDNESDAYS, FROM HOUSE TO HOMETHOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, BELOVED BREWS, EVERYDAY JESUS, GRACE AT HOME, SHINE, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, THE (NOT JUST) HOMEMAKING PARTY, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, HEARTS FOR HOME, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, LOOKING UP LINKUPFAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, TGI SATURDAYS, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, June 22, 2015

JESUS KNOWS


Ever have one of those moments?

You're reading the Bible, or singing a worship song, or listening to a sermon – and boom!  Something leaps out and stuns your heart.

This happened to me on Sunday.

Right in the middle of a song, I saw these words…

Jesus knows.

And all of a sudden, I couldn't sing – overcome with feeling, tears flooded my eyes.

A simple truth, a profound Truth.

Something that I've known forever, and that I can read about in Scripture.  A familiar concept – one that brings comfort and hope.

But, for some Holy Spirit reason, in this particular moment, I was blindsided by the impact of those mighty words:

JESUS. KNOWS.


Would you take a moment and ponder that, too?

Let it really sink into your soul.

There is nothing that ever happens to us in this life of which Jesus is not aware.

And He cares.

But you know, I think there's a difference between having sympathy for someone, and empathizing with them.  I looked up the definitions to help make the distinction:

Sympathy: feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune
Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another

Sympathy is important.

To show pity for someone else's trials and suffering is crucial.  But it's a more passive emotion.  It's like watching a sad movie, and feeling sorry for the main character, but it might not be a situation that we have actually experienced.

Empathy is more.

It is the act of entering into someone else's trials and suffering.  To understand because you've *been there.*  For instance, I might sympathize with your broken arm, but I'll empathize with your dental problems.

Sympathy enables me to feel bad for your feelings.  Empathy enables me to feel your feelings as if they're my own, because I've had them myself.

So, perhaps this is why those words – Jesus knows – hit me in a particular way on Sunday.  Jesus doesn't just sympathize with me, He empathizes.


I wonder…

Since the presence of the Holy Spirit actually lives within me, does Jesus also actually experience my physical pain and my emotional angst?  I think it's entirely possible.

We do know that when He physically walked this earth, He experienced all that it means to be human:

"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do…" (Hebrews 4:15, NLT) 


Wanting to really explore a little deeper what this really means, I consulted some commentaries.  I think you'll enjoy what I read:

Matthew Henry – "In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should have actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt."

(Don't you love that – fellow-feeling of a fellow-creature?!)


Pulpit commentary – "That Christ, in his human nature, partook of all the original affections of humanity – hope, fear, desire, joy, grief, indignation, shrinking from suffering, and the like – is apparent, not only from his life, but also from the fact that his assumption of our humanity would have otherwise been incomplete."

(I loved the mention of Jesus "shrinking from suffering" – just like me!)


Gill's Exposition – "[He was] touched with the feeling of our infirmities; such as bodily diseases and wants, persecutions from men, and the temptations of Satan; under all which Christ sympathizes [empathizes] with his people; and which sympathy [empathy] of his arises from his knowledge and experience of these things, and the share he has had of them, and from that union there is between him and his people: and it is not a bare sympathy [empathy], but is attended with his assistance, support, and deliverance; and the consideration of it is of great comfort to the saints…"

(Note – His knowledge AND experience of these things.)


My friends, these are powerful thoughts.  

This is empowering knowledge.

Let not the familiarity of these words diminish their impact.  

The Sovereign and Almighty God of the Universe, sent His Son – who was also perfect, holy, omnipotent, completely God Himself – sent this Son, Jesus, into our world.  Our world full of all that it means to be human.

Pain, suffering, temptation, disease, fear, rejection, exhaustion.

He went through it all – the small stuff (stubbed toes??) and the big stuff (injury and death).

Are you getting it???

Jesus KNOWS!


Now, as I have further contemplated these life-changing words, I'm thinking about something else.

What would it be like if I actually pictured Jesus with me, in physical form, when I go through stuff?  Actually right there, in person?

OK, so, I'm picturing Him in some cargo shorts, a T-shirt, and Birkenstock sandals.  Oh, He's still got long hair and a beard, too.  Piercing brown eyes.

Right now, He's sitting next to me on the couch.  

But He's also going to enter into all my *stuff.*

Can you do that, too?

Picture Him with a cool washcloth on your forehead when you've got a fever. Or rubbing your neck when you've got a headache.  Or giving you a thumb's up when you're sitting in that dentist chair.  Or smiling at you when you come out of surgery.  Or sitting by you when you get test results.  Or patting your hand during chemotherapy.  Or hugging you when you cry over the loss of a loved one.

Picture Him in whatever it is that you face.

Don't just know that He's there…

…picture Him there! 

Create an actual visual!!

Close your eyes, and feel His hand, His arms, His smile, His shoulder, His heartbeat, His breath.

And know that every single thing you go through, no matter what…

JESUS. KNOWS.


I sigh with the blessing of this Truth.

And chuckle at the way Jesus brings it home to me – for just today I had a comment on last week's post (when I bemoaned my upcoming gum surgery and tooth repair), and this is part of what it said (Thanks, Nannette!):

"…know that JESUS KNOWS all we go through here on this earth."

Yup, she even capitalized the important part!!


Listen to Jesus, friends…

"My child, I have held your hand before it was even formed.  I will hold it for eternity.  I will never leave you nor forsake you.  And I do indeed know what you're going through.  I know what it feels like to be human.  So, take heart, don't be afraid.  I am here.  And I have overcome."


OK, now I'm picturing hugging Him…







All of my life,
in every season,
You are still God.

Your eye is on the sparrow,
and You hold on to me. 




This is another great song we sang on Sunday:

When my hope and strength is gone
You're the one who calls me on
You are the life
You are the fight
That's in my soul.

Oh, Your resurrection power
Burns like fire in my heart
When waters rise
I lift my eyes
Up to Your throne.

I will sing into the night
Christ is risen and on high
Greater is He
Living in me
Than in the world.

No surrender, no retreat
We are free and we're redeemed
We will declare
Over despair
You are the hope.

We are more than conquerors, through Christ
You have overcome this world, this life
We will not bow to sin or to shame
We are defiant in Your name
You are the fire that cannot be tamed
You are the power in our veins
Our Lord, our God, our Conqueror.

Nothing is impossible
Every chain is breakable
With You, we are victorious.
You are stronger than our hearts
You are greater than the dark
With You, we are victorious.

(Rend Collective, "More Than Conquerors")


"He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief." (Isaiah 53:3, NLT)

"He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases." (Matthew 8:17, NIV)

(Isaiah 53:4, three ways):

"Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering…" (NIV)
"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…" (ESV)
"Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down." (NLT)

"Because God's children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – the Son also became flesh and blood.  For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.  Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham.  Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God.  Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people.  Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested." 
(Hebrews 2:14-18, NLT)

"…he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV)

"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)

"For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." (2 Corinthians 1:5, NIV)

"For his Spirit joins with our spirit…In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory.  But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later." (Romans 8:16-18, NLT)



Do you truly believe that no matter what you're going through, no matter what you're feeling, no matter what you're suffering - JESUS KNOWS?



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, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, TITUS 2 TUESDAYSOLI DEO GLORIA, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAYS, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, MOM 2 MOM MONDAY, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED HOME, WISE WOMAN, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WOMEN WITH INTENTION WEDNESDAYS, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, THE ART OF HOME-MAKING MONDAYS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAYS, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, LIVE FREE THURSDAY, BELOVED BREWS, GRACE AT HOME, SHINE, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, HEARTS FOR HOME, THE (NOT JUST) HOMEMAKING PARTY, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYLIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, TGI SATURDAYS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, June 15, 2015

STUPID TEETH...


Yeah, I am not having a love affair with my teeth right now.

Last week I went into the dentist's office for a "routine" cleaning.  Which turned out to be anything but that.  To be fair, I knew that something was wrong.  I'd been having pain in one of my molars, and upon closer inspection I had discovered that a piece of my tooth was gone.

All of my molars have fillings.  The story goes that as a child, I had "soft" teeth.  And every one of those molars got cavities at one point in time.  So, now I'm stuck with some very old silver fillings.

Which are weakening with age – (there's that word again…)

So, semi-prepared for bad news, I went in for my cleaning appointment.

My hygienist had to describe to me in full-detail dialogue how bad the situation was.  The missing chunk-o-tooth (that's the medical term) had left a deep pocket in the surrounding gum, which was now mildly infected.

"Let’s just have the dentist take a look."

Well, one x-ray, two consultations, and an hour later, I finally walked out of the office.

The verdict?

Well, they can't even begin to work on the tooth until my gum gets fixed. Which will require carving (that's what I'm calling it) off a portion of my gum, reshaping it, and then stitching it up.

I don't know about you guys, but stitches in my mouth do not sound like fun.

Or cheap.

After I heal from that, THEN they'll decide whether they can fill the tooth, or whether they'll have to do a crown.

More un-cheap.

I cannot tell you how bad the timing is on this.  Financially, it couldn't come at a worse time.  Taxes were not kind this year, and this expense is just another blow to the bank account.

$$$............... 

(My homemade emoji depicting overly expensive dental charges and the ensuing *money bleed*...)

Not to mention the time involved (weeks), the pain, the inconvenience (requiring several back-and-forth visits from where I live), the pain, the stress of it all…and oh, did I mention the pain?

In the whole scheme of life, this isn't really a big deal.  But, at this particular time, for some very particular reasons, it feels like a huge blow.


I've had some conversation with the Lord about it.  (Though mostly I've just ranted...)

You see, I don't get what He's up to right now.

OK, for instance, last year my Word for the Year was JOY.  And sixteen days into the new year, my father died.  Yes, the Lord had HIS lessons to teach me, and the year of joy did not unfold like I had anticipated.

I thought God was going to GIVE me joy, instead He TAUGHT me joy.

There's a difference.

I thought He was going to make joy-full things happen in my life.  That it would be a happy year.

But instead, He showed me other, deeper lessons.

This year my Word for the Year is HEALING.

And I am really not *getting it* yet.

So far, my granddog has had his spleen removed, my youngest son had his first ear infection in years (he's 28), my husband's shoulder (the one that had surgery a few years back) is acting up, a good friend just had a mastectomy, a family member has cancer and they just found some new lesions, another family member is going to the dermatologist for a "suspicious" mole, it's the year for my follow-up colonoscopy, I'm still coughing from a virus I had over a month ago, my mom is sliding rather rapidly into mental and physical decline, hearts and heads and spirits are hurting, and now…

My stupid teeth.

Last year when the word *healing* popped into my head, it sounded wonderful.  I felt overjoyed!  The possibility of feeling better?  Delightful! Oh yes, I thought, I could use some repair work from the difficult year of my father's passing.

But, it just seems that the hits keep coming.

I am not healing, as in feeling better.

So, Lord, what's the deal?

What are You doing?

And, the first thing that pops into my head is this:

Healing is not necessarily about feeling better, it's all about becoming well.

And becoming well is more about a spiritual state than a physical condition.


I do remember now, something that God said to me about the healing journey this year.  He said it might require more brokenness.  Like sometimes the "cure" involves more pain – much like a broken arm might need to be re-broken in order to heal properly.

Am I being re-broken?

Might I just insert my two-cents here?  

I don't want to be any kind of broken.  I'm exhausted.

(Funny (not ha ha) sidenote: The dentist pointed out to me that several other teeth had fracture lines in them, and need to be watched.  "Do you grind or clench your teeth?"  HA!  What are you talking about?!  Clenching only happens when you're way stressed out!  Me?  I'm calm and collected…always…can't you tell??)


So I continue my dialogue with God.

"Hey, I really thought my dad dying last year, and the ensuing difficulties of dealing with Mom now, was enough.  Why are You allowing all this other stuff to pile on?  Am I truly not broken enough?"

And then I stop and think about that.

Am I broken enough?

There's a difference between being exhausted (which I am) and being broken (which I am re-thinking).

Being broken means being yielded.

And if I'm totally honest with myself, I know I haven't arrived at total surrender yet.

Me and God?  We're in a sort of arm-wrestling match.  And though my hand is mere millimeters from the mat, I'm still fighting.  Am I like Jacob?  Do I need to be knocked out-of-joint before I change?

In some ways, I do feel like Jacob.  I know that I am refusing to let go until God blesses me.

I'm clinging to His heel in desperation, crying out from the depths of my heart:

"Show me Your favor, Lord!"

I am a little stunned by His answer:

"I am."


I'm confused.

How can Your favor come in stressful life situations?  How can Your favor be more pain?

If You love me, how can You want to break me?

Your favor should make me feel good.

Again, His answer surprises me:

"No.  My favor is not about making you feel good, it's about making you righteous."

Hmmm.

I stop and realize, yet again, that I am always trying to fit God into an earthly worldview.  And therefore, favor should be about good feelings in the here-and-now.  But really, God's favor stands outside of this earthly life.  

His favor stands in eternity.

His favor doesn't necessarily give me a "good" life.  

His favor gives me eternal life.

He doesn't show me His favor by necessarily making me feel good.

He shows it by making me righteous.

Like His Son.

And honestly, isn't that what the Christian life is all about?  

A continuing refining and purifying process to make us look like Jesus?

And how on earth (pun intended) can we ever hope to look like Jesus without the painful process of cutting out the sin stuff?

More brokenness.

It's the only way sin-stained me can be sanctified.


I looked up the word brokenness in the dictionary.  These three definitions made me think about my faith journey:

No longer in one piece or working order – yes, this sums it up for me.  I do feel like I've broken into a million pieces.  I've no longer *got it together.* I am not working like I want to, for my life is out of order.

Having given up all hope; despairing – yes, this is how I often feel.  Too tired to fight anymore, too tired to care.

Having an uneven and rough surface – oh yes, the rough edges that I hate within myself.  The cloudy reflection I am of Jesus.  The bumps and gnarls and knots of this poor little offshoot branch of The Vine.  


I am broken, and yet, still in desperate need of breaking.

Here the Lord reminds me of the story that He gave me to accompany my year of healing.  The story of the man at the pool of Bethesda.  Crippled by years of infirmity, he has never quite made it to the healing pool of waters.

And when Jesus met him, he made excuses.

Jesus did not immediately heal him.  Rather, He asked the man a rather startling question:

"Do you want to get well?"

Um, yeah.

I wonder, though.  Why didn't Jesus just heal him?  He'd done that before. Why ask his this seemingly silly question?  Why wouldn't a man who had been crippled for many years want to be healed?

So again, why ask the question?

I think it's because Jesus wanted to stop this man in his tracks.  Wanted him to go beyond the excuses.  Wanted him to let go of frailty and grab onto faith.  He wanted this man to acknowledge within himself that what he wanted he could not provide on his own.

Not just physical healing, but spiritual restoration, too.

The KJV translates the question like this:

"Wilt thou be made whole?"

And here, I ponder what Jesus is saying to me.

"Do you want to feel better…or do you want to be made whole?"

And my answer is not so simple anymore.  Am I willing to undergo the process of being made whole?  A process that will involve brokenness and pain as I continue to die to myself, and lay aside my comfort for a commitment to following The One?

Am I willing to pay the cost of discipleship?


Jesus said that He came to call those who knew they were sinners.

For only sinners know of their desperate need for a Savior.

Am I willing to admit that I need Him?  Will I put aside my excuses?  Will I open myself up even more to His healing hands?

Even if it means more brokenness?


Wilt I be made whole?

Dearest Lord, yes, I want to be well.

Give me the courage to go through what it takes…






My reaction to the
impending bills...


And please notice
my lovely silver fillings.


Oh Lord, give me strength for the journey!!



"[Jesus said]: 'Healthy people don't need a doctor – sick people do.  I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'" (Mark 2:17, NLT)

"When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, 'Do you want to get well?'" 
(John 5:6, NIV)

"'Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  For which one of you...does not first sit down and calculate the cost...'" (Luke 14:27-28, NASB)

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].  For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting].'" (Matthew 16:24-25, AMP)

"'I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]!  For I have overcome the world.  [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]'" (John 16:33, AMP)

"'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.'" 
(John 14:27, NIV)

"When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn." 
(Psalm 142:3, NLT)


"'As for you, follow me.'" (John 21:22, NLT)



Are you willing to be broken in order to be made whole?



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, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAY, MAKE A DIFFERENCE MONDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TELL IT TO ME TUESDAY, TUESDAY TALK, RA RA LINKUP, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, TELL HIS STORY, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYA LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WISE WOMAN, WOMEN WITH INTENTION WEDNESDAYS, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, FROM HOUSE TO HOME, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAY, BELOVED BREWS, EVERYDAY JESUS, GRACE AT HOME, SHINE, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, HEARTS FOR HOME, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIPCOUNTING MY BLESSINGS, GRACE & TRUTH, DANCE WITH JESUS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, TGI SATURDAYS, SATURDAY SOIREE, STILL SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREWLIVE FREE THURSDAY, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"