Monday, November 17, 2014

RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION


I am a voracious reader.

I love reading, always have.

And my taste in books is rather eclectic.  I tend to lean toward fiction, for I do indeed love a good story, but non-fiction has its appeal, too.  Almost entirely, the non-fiction books that I read are written by Christian authors.

As for fiction?  I'm all over the place!

First of all, might I just say that I am quite pleased to see that the world of fiction now contains some wonderful Christian books.  Just as the world of Christian music has become more "legit" in recent years – the world of Christian literature is becoming more professional, more marketable. With better writing, and better exposure, the world of Christian fiction is exploding.

No longer do we have to be "embarrassed" by faulty fiction with poor plot, shallow characterization, or stilted dialogue.  Good books are being written – books that just happen to be written by Christian authors.

Having said that, I am also a great reader of secular fiction.  I am quite fond of mysteries, having earned my *reading stripes* on Nancy Drew.  And I also enjoy fantasy and science fiction.  I find that I tend to go on "reading jags"becoming enraptured with one genre, and reading only that for several books in a row.

Lately, I've gotten rather immersed in historical detective novels.  Novels that have a wonderful plot, great characters, and a smattering of true historical facts and settings.  I've learned a lot about other centuries in other countries.  I've discovered a lot about early medical practices and forensics. And let me tell you, I'm glad I live in the 21st century!!


But, once in a while, I find that my two worlds clash.  My *Christian* comes against the worldview.

This happened just the other day.

I'm currently in the middle of a great series.  The characters are truly captivating.  The settings are breathtaking.  And the mysteries are multi-layered and intriguing.  So, I'm hooked on finishing this series, and then eagerly awaiting the next installment.

But, as I was reading the introduction of the next book (for me) in the series, which is set in Jerusalem, I was taken aback by something I read.  The sentence started out, "In the first century of the Common Era…" OK, I'm immediately perturbed at the use of this term.  I think it's a way to get rid of the traditional A.D. – which stands for "Anno Domini" – and means "in the year of our Lord."  It serves as the other side of B.C. – which stands for "before Christ."

So, I'm upset that this author is removing herself from any reference that uses Jesus as a benchmark.

Then, she refers to Him like this: "…a troublesome rabbi and carpenter from Nazareth…"

This is where my spiritual shackles rose!

How dare she dismiss our Lord?!

That entire day, I felt upset.  And I've been thinking about my thoughts and feelings ever since.

Why did I react like this?

And why so quickly?

For yes, my reaction was visceral, without rational thought, instinctual, and even protective.

I felt the same way I used to when someone would make fun of one of my sons, or try to bully them.  The *mother eagle* in me would swoop in with flaming eyes of vengeance and protection.

"Don't you dare go after one of my boys!!"

And, this is how I felt after reading these words.

"How dare you go after my Lord?!"

I felt righteously indignant.


So, curious, I looked up that term:

"Righteous indignation is typically a reactive emotion of anger over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice. It is akin to what is called the sense of injustice…a feeling involving anger mingled with contempt or disgust."

Yup, that's what it felt like.

But, on pondering this whole incident, and my ensuing reaction, I have three things I want to bring to the table today.  Three lessons that I think the Lord wanted me to learn.


1) We should stand up for what we believe.

In other words, sometimes I think we're tempted to slough off things that people say or do.  We're unwilling to take a stand, for we are afraid of offending them, or of being attacked ourselves.  And so, thinking we're being spiritually meek and humble (at least that's the rationalization I use sometimes), we let things slide.

I've been party to conversations when people are bashing Christians and religion to my face.  My old neighbor used to do this.  And, I was silent. While on the inside, I kept thinking these two things:

"Does she not KNOW that I am a Christian, too?"

"And why am I not setting her straight about that?"

Yeah, sometimes I made a feeble attempt to justify the actions of people associated with the faith, but often it was a very tepid, milquetoast response on my part.  And part of what made it hard to have a good response is that, quite frankly, sometimes Christians behave badly.

I have often said that Christians can "block the view."  Sometimes it's really hard to see Jesus through our faults and sins.  Sometimes we're obstacles and not reflections.

But there is another situation in which I find it hard to stand up for what I believe.

I also find myself getting upset, but staying silent, when this happens in conversations.  The person says to me something along the lines:

"Oh, you're religious."

My hackles rise, but I either stay quiet, or I make some attempt to distinguish between a religion and a relationship.

Usually it falls on deaf ears.  For most people will then look at me like I'm a nutcase, a fanatic who's having a "relationship" with an invisible being.

Koo-koo…

I am all too often a spiritual shrinking violet, slinking away from confrontation or possible offense – even though the Spirit within me has been hurt, demeaned, or dismissed.

I want to do better.


OK, the next thing that I think the Lord wanted me to learn is this:

2) We should feel compassion and pity for the unsaved.

My first reaction to this person was anger.  Oh boy, I wanted to "get in her face."  I wanted to point out how disillusioned she was, how woefully incorrect she was in her view of Jesus.  I wanted to tell her off and set her straight.

And not in a kind way.

But, over the next few hours after reading this, the Lord began to change my heart.  He began to reveal to me that this woman didn't deserve my anger and hatred – though her words might stir up ill feelings, her lost heart should move me to tears.

I felt convicted.

Righteous conviction.

I got to thinking.  Though we might be highly offended at the words and actions of the unsaved, what should move us most is sadness and pity at the lost state of their souls.

Jesus told us to love our enemies.

How can we do that?

Sometimes I think it means that we pray, fervently, for their salvation.

For after all, aren't we really offended in the first place because we are privileged to know the Savior?

And don't we want that for everyone?

It's what the Lord wants.

I am reminded of this verse:

"The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9, NASB)

These people are not ignorant or stupid.  We are not "better" than them.  For truth be told, all of us are but creatures in desperate need of a Savior, whether we know Him or not.

Therefore, we should have the heart of God, who mourns over the lost, who does everything in His power to move them toward repentance.  The One who died for them, and loves them.

So, we can feel angry, yes, but we should really feel sad, and we should pray.


And finally, the Lord had this to say:

3) We should rely on Him in these situations.

Righteous indignation.

It should lead us to action, yes, but God-ordained action.  After all, we are not perfect – (I'm not, are you??).  And in our humanness, our indignation can become anger and we can say things we ought not.

Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between when I've been offended and feeling selfish anger, as opposed to a healthy indignation that comes from the Spirit.  Sometimes I can end up defending myself and not the Lord.  My heart is a deceptive thing.

Only Jesus knew indignation that was perfectly righteous.

He must lead us.

When to say something, and how to say it.

For His purpose in everything He did and said was to point to the Father.

And therefore, everything we do and say must also point to Him.  To His grace, His mercy, and His salvation.

This world is going to be offensive at times – perhaps lately, most of the time.  And we can be righteously angry and deeply offended.

How to react?

Stand up for what you believe, pray for the salvation of the lost, and rely on the Lord to do the speaking through you.

At the right time, in the right way, with the right words.


You're probably wondering, will I finish this book?  Probably.  For I do love the people, the story, and the series.  But, I am adding this author to my prayer list.

Because, though she wrote so eloquently about Jerusalem, the beautiful and shining city on a hill…

…she totally missed the Main Character.





It is ALL about Jesus.
The Way,
The Truth,
and The Life.



"Then the LORD asked Moses, 'Who makes a person's mouth?  Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the LORD?  Now go!  I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.'" (Exodus 4:11-12, NLT)

"'At that time your mouth will be opened; you will speak...and will no longer be silent.  So you will be a sign to them, and they will know that I am the LORD.'" (Ezekiel 24:27, NIV)

"'...when I give you a message, I will loosen your tongue and let you speak. Then you will say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says!'  Those who choose to listen will listen, but those who refuse will refuse...'" 
(Ezekiel 3:27, NLT) 

"…do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say." (Luke 12:11-12, ESV)

"...don't worry about how to respond or what to say.  God will give you the right words at the right time.  For it is not you who will be speaking – it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:19-20, NLT)

"...for I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!" (Luke 21:15, NLT)

"...no one can tame the tongue.  It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God.  And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth.  Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!...

If you are wise and understand God's ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom...the wisdom from above is first of all pure.  It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others.  It is full of mercy and good deeds.  It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.  And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness." (From James 3, NLT)



What gets your *spiritual hackles* up, and how do you handle it?




Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, TELL ME A TRUE STORYSALT & LIGHT, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, SOLI DEO GLORIA, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, COFFEE & CONVERSATION, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORY, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WISE WOMAN, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, SO MUCH AT HOME, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUSGRACE AT HOMEHEARTS FOR HOMETHOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, LITTLE THINGS THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, MISSIONAL WEEKEND, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, A GROUP LOOK, SHINE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, HEART FILLED FRIDAYS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIP, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAY, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 10, 2014

THE WONDER OF GOD'S NAME


What's in a name?

Well, if you're God, quite a lot!

Our pastor is doing a series of sermons on the names of God.  

And today, I was blown away by how the Holy Spirit spoke to me through his words – how the Spirit moved so powerfully in my heart when we studied this name:

Elohim.

The name Elohim means "strong one" in Hebrew.

So it's an apt name for the Almighty God.  

But what's most interesting to me is the fact that God chooses to name Himself with this name.  And it's also pretty remarkable when God chooses to introduce it.

In the beginning.

Yes, right there in the very first verse in the Bible, there is the name…

Elohim.

Genesis 1:1 could be translated this way:

"In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth."


So today our pastor helped us *unpack* shades of meaning, blistering insights, and nuances of Truthall held within that name.

Let me start with some facts:

1) This name for God appears over 2500 times in the Bible.

2) Elohim is the name that is translated "God" in Scripture – so when you see the upper-case name, God, it is actually the Hebrew name Elohim.

3) The name Elohim is plural and singular – thereby declaring the existence and truth of the Trinity from the very beginning.

4) Therefore, the name Elohim declares that the Trinity was involved in the process of creation.  Yes, the one God in three Persons – all of them participated in this miraculous work.


So, God chooses this way of introducing Himself – by using a name that holds a treasure chest of doctrine, theology, and mighty truth.

Pause and ponder that.


But our pastor also elucidated other characteristics inherent in a Creator God.

He used these words: transcendent, outside of time, not confined by what exists, organized, intelligent, detailed, extravagant, sustaining.

Elohim is infinitely more than and substantially distinct from His creation.

In fact, creation only points us to conclude that there is Someone greater.

Now, I am a nature lover.  And I live in a pretty awesome place.  Surrounded by majestic mountains, and towering trees, and creatures galore.  The sky is often bright blue, and the moon glows like the sun.  The air is so clear at night that I can see the Milky Way and its entourage of a multitude of stars.

Some are tempted to worship these things.

But this awe and adoration is misdirected if we stop at the "stuff."

It would be like worshiping a book just because the cover is pretty and the pages smell good…without ever reading the words, or knowing the author.

Creation speaks.

And it speaks of its Creator.


Lately I've shared a lot about the difficulties this year has brought to my life. How sometimes I feel so alone in it all.  Just the other night, when I once again could not fall asleep, I looked out my window in the kitchen and stared at the skies.  I whispered aloud, "You know, God, that is a pretty awesome sky You've created."  And in that exact moment, the biggest shooting star I have ever seen streaked across the sky!

It was if I heard God say, "I'm here."

My eyes teared up as I was once again reminded of the transcendent God of the universe who also deigns to come near.

Elohim.

The Creator, who is all-powerful.

Think of words that mean powerful:  strong, great, mighty, awesome, commanding, authoritative, prevailing, majestic, almighty, invincible, supreme, sovereign, omnipotent.

This God is our God.


Why do we doubt Him?

Why do we struggle with trusting Him completely?

Why do we try to control our own lives, to determine our own circumstances, to manipulate our own situations, to fix our own relationships – ON OUR OWN?

I don't know why I do that.

I think I’m just a slow learner.

Are you?


So, as this very powerful message was coming to an end, our pastor chose to have us focus on a very particular scene from the book of Luke.

A young woman is confronted by the angel, Gabriel.  And he has a message for her:

"…behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

I don't know about you, but if I was Mary at this moment, I probably would have uttered something really profound like:

"Huh???"

We're not alone in those feelings.  Mary was a bit confused, too.  For she knew that she was a virgin, and she knew how creation worked.  She could not fathom in her own mind how this prediction was ever going to come true.

But then Gabriel, who declared with his very own words that he stood in the actual presence of the One, uttered this amazing truth:

"For nothing will be impossible with God."


Listen to these words in other translations:

"For no word from God will ever fail."

"Nothing is impossible with respect to any of God's promises."

"Because nothing is difficult for God."

"For no word from God shall be void of power."

"For no promise from God will be impossible of fulfillment."

"For everything spoken by God is possible."

“For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment.”

"For every promise from God shall surely come true."


I have written each of these interpretations of the Word, for I want them to burst upon your heart, as they have in mine, as a mighty refrain – chanted over and over, and building to a crescendo of truth.

And then, insert the name, and it all becomes thrilling:

"For nothing will be impossible with Elohim."

Pause and ponder that!


I finish with these words from our pastor:

All God needs is Himself, and all I need to do is trust Him.

Yes.

God established at the very beginning that there is no one or nothing that we can turn to besides Him.

He is the One who made it all, who keeps it going, and holds it all together.

He is the One who made me, who keeps me going, and holds me together.

He is in control.

Elohim.


As we sang the last song of the day, I coupled one sentence of the lyrics with an astounding statement from our pastor – and knew that both had come directly from the Holy Spirit like an arrow to my heart.

This will be my prayer this week, the prayer that embodies and encompasses every prayer that could ever be said:

"Elohim, hold me, please hold me…"

And the answer that is The Answer:

"JUST REMEMBER MY NAME."





I will reveal my name to my people,
and they will come to know
its power. 



"By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible." 
(Hebrews 11:3, ESV)

"The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created.  He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.  He assigned the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.  Let the whole world fear the LORD, and let everyone stand in awe of him.  For when he spoke, the world began!  It appeared at his command." (Psalm 33:6-9, NLT)

"By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth...For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm." (Psalm 33:6, 9, NIV)

"The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.  Then God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." (Genesis 1:2-3, NLT)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made." 
(John 1:1-3, ESV)

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10, NIV)

"'Am I a God who is only close at hand?' says the LORD.  'No, I am far away at the same time.  Can anyone hide from me in a secret place?  Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?' says the LORD." 
(Jeremiah 23:23-24, NLT)

"For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God..." (Deuteronomy 10:17, NASB)


"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world."

(Psalm 19:1-4, NIV)


"This is what the Lord says,

he who appoints the sun
to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars
to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea
so that its waves roar –
the Lord Almighty is his name:
'Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,'
declares the Lord,
'will Israel ever cease
being a nation before me.'

This is what the Lord says:

'Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel…'"

(Jeremiah 31:35-37, NIV)


"For in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28, NIV)




What does it mean to you that we have a relationship with the Almighty Creator of the universe, the One and Only Elohim?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYSTELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITE, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, COFFEE AND CONVERSATION, TELL HIS STORY, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, WISE WOMAN, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYSWORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN, THRIVING THURSDAYCOFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FAITH BARISTA, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, FAITH FILLED FRIDAY, THE FRIDAY FIVE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, SO MUCH AT HOME, FAITH & FELLOWSHIPMAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, HEART-FILLED FRIDAYS, SATURDAY SOIREE, SATURDAY STILLNESS, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, WEEKEND BREW, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, November 3, 2014

CRYING OVER SPILLED COFFEE


No, not milk.

COFFEE!

OK, so the other day I started things out with a visit to a certain fast food establishment (they just might decorate with golden arches…).  You see, there's this delicious Iced Coffee drink that I buy there.  I love it.  It's like a heavy-duty dose of adrenaline in a cup.  I'm not sure if it's the caffeine or the "liquid sugar" they use – but it's effective.

At least for about three hours.  

Then I crash off that caffeinated cliff into the abyssal chasm of low blood sugar.  And look for the nearest couch to doze off on.

So, after mumbling into the voice box order thing – and being helped by another mumbler – I finally drove off with my treasure.  For a while anyway. Until I turned a sharp corner, kinda fast.

It was then that I realized that I had placed the very large plastic cup in the wrong cup holder.  It was in the loose one, not the snug one.

Well, the walls came a-tumbling down.

Yup.

Coffee spilled all over my console, the side of the console, the passenger seat, the doormats, and all the way down to the nice carpet underneath the doormats.  Grrrr!  I'm not sure whether I was more upset over the spillage, or the loss of even one measly teaspoon of my liquid energy.

Since I was rather close to home, I decided to drive there to clean up the mess.

Several miles later, I arrived – only to see (finally) that I had driven the entire distance with my emergency brake on.  More grrrr…

Let me tell you, there is nothing finer than the odiferous smell of coffee, cream, liquid sugar, and burnt rubber to start your day!

OK, so I finally got everything cleaned up.

And then I was off again.

Of course, I dropped the keys before getting back (for the second time) into the driver's seat.  And, of course, they fell under the car so I had to crawl and maneuver myself under the chassis.  Boys and girls, my chassis isn't what it used to be, so this wasn't pretty.

Little did I know that this auspicious beginning was only the *warm-up* to a series of minor catastrophes.  (Is "minor catastrophe" an oxymoron? Or maybe I'm just stuck on the word moron here…)

Catastrophes like how I went to the bank the next day expecting them to open at 9:00 AM.  Only to find out that this particular branch opens at 10 AM.  Like how I went to another branch, only to find out that they also open at 10 AM.  What??  That whole phrase "banker's hours" is starting to make more sense to me.  Used to be that the bank was open from 9 AM – 6 PM.  Oh no, not anymore.  These two branches were only open from 10 AM – 4 PM.

What's next?  

Are they going to start charging us money to use our money??  Oh wait, they already do that…

Stand, stand for like 20 minutes.  Wait, wait for them to open the doors. Stand, stand inside.  Wait, wait for my turn.

Then off and running again.


I decided that I was going to need help to get through this day.  I was too far from my beloved golden arches, so I stopped at a certain coffee establishment(not mentioning any names, but they might just have something to do with astronomy and $$$).  

Well, as I drove up I happened to notice that ALL the employees were standing outsidewith a cop.  More waiting, and then the doors were opened again.  As I strolled by, I asked, "Were you guys robbed today?"  The guy answered, "No, someone left a suitcase."

What a world.

I ordered something to eat, which they were "all out of" – and then I ordered my drink.  OK, this drives me nuts.  NO ONE knows how to spell the name Sharon.  (Is my name really that old-fashioned, or is spelling just a lost art???)  I've had these versions:  Sheran, Sharron, Sharin, Cheran, etc.  Once I got so frustrated about this that I told them my name was Cindy. Which they spelled Cyndi.  So, this day I spelled my name out for them. And then claimed the drink that was made for Shannon.

I left.  I drove over the curb trying to get out of the parking lot.  (In my defense, a police car was in the way).


What other stuff has gone on?

I've lost my reading glasses.  Not just misplaced them, like I do at least 3 (23) times a week.  This time I really think they're gone for good.  Luckily, they were only store-bought cheapies.  But still.  I lost the case, and a nifty little cleaning cloth, and a super-duper little repair kit, too.

I've looked, and I've retraced my steps, and so far, no luck.

Call me Mrs. Magoo.

I bought another pair to replace them.  Otherwise I would not be able to read, or to write this diatribe about my recent travails.

I can hardly wait to see what the next 24-48 hours entails.  Because obviously, Murphy and his stupid law are hitching a ride with me!


But honestly, isn't this the way life goes?

Things like this happen…

ALL. THE. TIME.

The faucet leaks, the tire is flat, the power goes out, they discontinue your favorite lipstick color, you forget to put on your eyebrows, you run out of gas, an unexpected bill arrives, the post office is closed, the pen runs out of ink...

I know you know what I'm talking about.

Life.

Life throws a lot of big stuff at us, but more often than not, it's the little stuff that really drives us crazy.

Like my grandmother used to say – "It's the little foxes that spoil the vine."

(Did you know this came from the Bible?  I only recently found that out!!  It's from Song of Solomon 2:15, KJV)

Most days I'd be very glad indeed if the little foxes found another vineyard in which to perform their shenanigansjust sayin'.


Life.

Sometimes I wonder why I get so upset over all these things.  After all, in the whole scope of things they are really small stuff.  But like the steady drip-drip-drip of that aforementioned leaky faucet, they work their little incessant havoc on my nerves.

Until, if ONE more thing comes along…

I'M. GONNA. BLOW. UP.

Vesuvius, Kilauea, Mount St. Helen's, Krakatoa.

Livid lava, miffed magma, crater chaos.

Look out!

We've all been there, done this, hate it, and never seem to learn any lesson from it.

So, I'm determined to learn something here.

God, Your turn, speak.



I'm thinking the lesson is found in why these things are so upsetting.  I'm thinking of three reasons:


1) We get mad because we're in a hurry.

Yes, it seems that we are a people who are always on the go.  We've got places to go, people to see, things to do.  There isn't a lot of *wiggle room* in the average day for setbacks or snafus.  We are on a schedule, people.  And there is no time to waste.

Urgency has replaced importance.  But, if we're not careful, we can find ourselves constantly scurrying around putting out little sparks and embers, when in reality the whole forest might be ablaze.

(Charles E. Hummel wrote a great booklet about this very subject – "Tyranny of the Urgent").

But a hurried pace doesn't make up for intentional action.  And constant busyness is no cover-up for lack of goals and purpose.  After all, I can run really, really fast on a hamster wheel, but I'm not going to go anywhere.

Jesus counsels us that time is short.  But of course, He is talking about eternal missions and the desperate need for salvation.  I think He wants us to follow His example.  To take the time to notice people.  After all, you just don't know when an opportunity will come your way to speak the Good News into someone’s life.

Lesson #1:  Slow Down Your Pace

"[Go forth] with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." (Ephesians 6:15, NIV)


2) We get mad because we have an agenda.

I've heard it said that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

I always chuckle at this, but the truth of it kinda makes me cringe – (truth hurts).  We are a people who like to have an agenda.  We need schedules.  We have things we want to accomplish.  In our way, in our timing.

We are addicted to our planners, or our phones, or any number of other ways to keep track of the time and plan out our hours.

I think we come by it innocently at first.  After all, we all grew up listening to school bells, telling us where to be and when.  We had deadlines, and class schedules, and due dates, and homework outlines.

Then we may have graduated to the grown-up world of meetings, and lunches, and appointments, itineraries, flight schedules, and yes, perhaps more deadlines.

And everything was oh-so-neat-and-orderly.

But, the truth of the matter is this – life is most often NOT orderly.

And it certainly has no innate obligation to fit into our agenda.


Jesus has often been described as an itinerant person.  So, I looked that word up:

Itinerant: a person who travels from place to place.

I sorta like that Jesus was a wanderer.  He didn't hold to a schedule.  But, just because He didn't have appointments didn't mean that He didn't have purpose.  Every single day He came upon *God-appointed* moments.

They were there, just waiting for Him.

Jesus was certainly the most intentional person that has ever walked this planet.  But He didn't plan His days – He let the Father do that.  And His only agenda was to do what the Father told Him to do.  

Let us do likewise dedicating ourselves to the appointments God has for us, while always letting Him lead us through our days.

Lesson # Two:  Hold Your Schedule Loosely

"We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps." 
(Proverbs 16:9, NIV)


3) We get mad because we can't control things.

Ah, control.

I looked up the word in Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary.  This is what I found:

C ounting
O n
N ever
T urning over or
R eleasing
O wnership to the
L ord


Oh dear.

I hate to admit it, but control is really an issue with me.  It's taken a long time to come to that realization.  You know why?  Because in my mind, control freaks were always those "Type A" people with big ambitions, domineering personalities, and bossy attitudes.  I'm not really like that.  So, I thought that control wasn't really a "shortcoming" of mine.

Wrong.

The Lord has shown me that my incessant worrying also stems from the need to have control.  After all, the things that cause me to worry the most are really the things that I have the least control over.  The things that I can't influence or manipulate to work out the way I want them to.

So, when those *Murphy days* come along, I am highly irritated because the crazy distractions and annoyances and bugaboos have happened whether I wanted them to or not.  I have not yet figured out how to keep the *little foxes* in their place.

A dear friend of mine – (you know who you are) – recently had a lovely septic tank disaster.  My heart really went out to her.  This was an episode that literally uprooted their lives.

Talk about something out of our control!!


Pride, pride, pride will always strive to live life on our own terms.  With everything in its place (according to us), and working to make our lives comfortable, convenient, and calm.

But things just don't work that way.

Jesus knew this.  This is one reason why I find the Incarnation so utterly amazing.  Think on this – the One who created the entire universe, with all its physical laws and order – He chose to enter into the chaos of a broken and sin-filled world.  Why He even deigned to become one of the very humans He had made Himself!

Can you even wrap your head around what He had to experience?

Can you imagine the craziness of some of those crowds?  The shouting and wailing and pushing and shoving of people trying to get close to Him – or the uproar of dissenters and enemies.  Can you imagine the insanity of being tempted by a fallen angel that You had created so very long ago?  What about the limitations He chose to enter in an oh-so-very-human body?  A body that got hot and cold, tired and sore, hungry and thirsty.

Jesus left the perfect order of Heaven, and entered into a world where He was not in control.  A world in which He willingly, continually, and consistently chose to yield His life and His will to the omniscience and omnipotence of His Father.

Jesus worshiped the sovereignty of the Almighty God.

Even unto to death.

Lesson # Three:  Surrender to the Sovereignty of God

"Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD – that you alone are the Most High over all the earth." (Psalm 83:18, NIV)


So, *those days* are going to keep coming.  They're still going to drive us to distraction.  They're still going to make us mad.

It's inevitable.

But those of us who worship the Lord – well, we must dedicate ourselves to marching to another drummer and listening to another still, small voice.

Slow down, hold your schedule loosely, surrender to the sovereignty of the King.

You know why?

Because even on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days…

God is still there, still directing our paths, still sitting on His throne.

For He is the Author of our days – every single one of them.  Each day ordained and recorded in His book long before we were ever born.  Yes, before the very creation of anything – there was Godthe One who was and is and is to come.

From the beginning until the end of time…

…and forever.





What a day
It's been all wet,
And tomorrow will be
the same, I'll bet.

But if I focus
on the only One,
At the end of the day
He will have won!!










"Cease striving and know that I am God…" (Psalm 46:10, NASB)

"This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: 'Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved.  In quietness and confidence is your strength.'" (Isaiah 30:15, NLT)

"Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?  In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:9-10, ESV)

"For in him we live, and move, and have our being…" (Acts 17:28, KJV)

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." (Revelation 4:11, ESV)

"For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared…the King of all the earth…God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne…For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!" (From Psalm 47, ESV)

"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  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 4:15-16, NLT)

"Commit everything you do to the LORD.  Trust him, and he will help you." (Psalm 37:5, NLT)

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)

"O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.  You see me when I travel and when I rest at home.  You know everything I do.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!  I can never escape from your Spirit!  I can never get away from your presence!

If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night – but even in darkness I cannot hide from you…You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb…You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  
They cannot be numbered!" 
(From Psalm 139, NLT)

"LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered – how fleeting my life is…We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing...And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?  My only hope is in you." (Psalm 39:4, 6-7, NLT)

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God.  'I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One.'" (Revelation 1:8, NLT)

"…Jesus said, 'It is finished.'" (John 19:30, NIV)



What encourages you on "one of those days"?



Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TITUS 2 TUESDAYS, GOOD MORNING MONDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAYS, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEYWHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, WOMEN HELPING WOMEN,  WEDNESDAY'S PRAYER GIRLS, WHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAY, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAY, COFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, TELL HIS STORY, THOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, THRIVING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THANKFUL THURSDAYS, SO MUCH AT HOME, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, THREE WORD WEDNESDAY, LIGHT FRIDAY HIT LIST, FAITH FILLED FRIDAYFELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, THE FRIDAY FIVE, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYS, COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, FAITH AND FELLOWSHIP, STILL SATURDAYWEEKEND BREW, SATURDAY SOIREE, RECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"

Monday, October 27, 2014

BAGGAGE CLAIM


Ever ridden on a train?

I have, and I love it!

Once when I was growing up, my family went to visit my dad's aunt in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  She owned a home with several acres right on the lake.

It was a wonderful time – perhaps as close to living like Huck Finn as I'll ever get!  Days full of fishing and boating and waterskiing and Frisbee-tossing and walking and reading and joy.

But, the best part was the ride home.

We took the train!!

The distance from Illinois to California meant that we stayed overnight in a cabin on the train.  Goodness, what an adventure!  I loved eating in the dining car, and walking around while we were moving.  I loved looking out the window at miles and miles of scenery passing by.

I spent most of the night on my mom's lower bunk – (she has terrible claustrophobia!) – and there was something magical about the steady motion of the train and the reassuring clack-clack of the wheels on the rails.

Years later, I took my own boys on a long 10-hour excursion to Northern California.  I'm happy to say that they loved the experience as much as I did.

There's an interesting *pace* that occurs while traveling on a train. Things slow down, and we are more apt to join in conversation with fellow travelers.  And, of course, we get to see some beautiful things that cannot be seen from the interstate.

Trains are wonderful.


I got to thinking about trains when I read a recent post by a dear friend.  You can check it out here.

She got me thinking about trains, yes.  But she got me thinking even more about baggage.

The emotional, spiritual, mental kind.

The kind of baggage that we tote around – sometimes every day, sometimes for years.

About how we can become weighed down by this unnecessary baggage.

Ugh.

I know I've got some Samsonite that I've lugged around on my life's journey.  

Don't you?


Here's some of what I'm talking about:


1)  The Trunk of Bitterness

You know what those old-fashioned trunks looked like.  They were big and ungainly, and were used for storage.  And they were most often made of very, very hard materials so they stood the test of time.

Which made them great if you used a literal trunk for traveling.

But the trunk of bitterness is never a good thing to bring along for the ride.

I'm not a person with a short temper, nor do I think that anger is a particular sin tendency in me.  But, bitterness?  Oh boy, I am capable of holding a grudge – for a long, long time.

If I've been hurt or betrayed or disappointed or rejected, I might not even let you know.  But believe me, I'll take those feelings and stuff them into my trunk, thinking they'll never see the light of day.

I'll store them for years sometimes, hidden deep in that hardy ol' trunk. Bigger and bigger they grow in the darkness.  I might even forget what I've put in there.  But, it doesn't matter.  For bitterness stands the test of time.  

And you know what else happens?

Let me tell you, if you've ever opened one of those old trunks at an antique store, you'll know what I'm talking about.

The awful smell of mustiness, and mildew, and rotting things.

That's what happens to bitterness inside of us.

It just makes us stinky.


2)  The Suitcase of Guilt

I don't travel often, but when I do, I try not to check in any baggage.  It just makes it so much easier.  A long time ago, I made the mistake of packing some very important things in my suitcase when I went to Hawaii.  You know what's coming next, don't you?  Yup, the suitcase was lost for several days. Fortunately, it did arrive finally – but that doesn't always happen.  And in the meantime, I had to re-stock many necessities – (as if the trip wasn't expensive enough!!)

So, call me Mrs. Carry-On now.

But, here's the problem.  When you try to travel with only one carry-on suitcase, you end up trying to stuff EVERY thing into it.  I have been known to sit on my suitcase while "The Hub" valiantly tries to close the zipper.

Then I lug it through the terminal, making my arms and shoulders ache.  I have to stop a bunch and catch my breath.  Then I try to lift it over my head to stuff it into the overhead compartment.  Then I have to *rinse and repeat* the whole routine when I land.

Opening my suitcase is often an exercise in avoiding the eruption that explodes upon releasing the zipper-contained pressure-packed pile of clothing and shoes and toiletries.

Guilt is like that.

It's an emotion that we like to stuff.  For it is truly painful to deal with guilt. It makes our hearts ache.  It makes it near impossible to lift our heads.  It slows us down, and it cramps our forward movement.  We are often doomed to repeat the same old cycle of re-dredging past circumstances and mistakes and sins until they often explode in our face.

Guilt is a barely zippered up, over-stuffed burden.


3)  The Garment Bag of Pride

Mostly "The Hub" is the one who uses a garment bag.  Although, to be fair, my stuff usually hops a ride!

The thing with garment bags is that we use them to keep things looking nice and fresh and unwrinkled.

We use them for our really *good* stuff.

Sigh.  

It's the same with pride.  Pride is something that we hold on to because it's all about making us look good.  We like taking out the flashy stuff and parading it around in front of others – (after all, isn't that one of the temptations of social media??)  We like to think that people will never know about the other luggage stuffed with wrinkly and balled-up clothing – (our true lives and selves).

Oh yes, look at my *fancy dress*.  Beautiful.

My expensive *silk pants*.  Yes, lovely.

That *pure white, crisply ironed blouse*.  Not a flaw, never.

It's the *me* we so desperately want the world to see.  But, the reality is that on the inside, we're really just a pair of dirty, threadbare, sinfully-smelly old sneakers.

Pride loves the garment bag.  Reality is in the suitcase.


4)  The Tote of Fear

I love totes.  In fact, I just might have a tote addiction.  I come by it honestly – my mom has always collected totes!  I'm a sucker for those convenient little bags.  They come in such a variety of colors and sizes.  I never seem to have enough.

(Insert inner dialogue here):

"Oh, this one's perfect for my makeup.  This one will carry my books to Bible Study.  Gotta have that one for my writing supplies.  Well, I could put my brushes and hair dryer and curling iron into that one, yes!"

Totes are especially tempting because they're everywhere now!  The grocery store, the drugstore, the health food store, the bookstore, the mall.  And believe me, they beckon me to keep adding…

Totes are harmless little bags, right?

Maybe.

But the tote of fear is no joke.  Not harmless, not lightweight, not worth collecting.

The thing with fear is that it's everywhere.  We can buy into it at a moment's notice.  I don't watch the news or subscribe to a newspaper.  But every time I log onto my computer, I am confronted with my homepage and thumbnails of what's happening in the world.

And it's scary.

But that's the world at large.  Even in my own corner of the world, there's endless stuff that's scary.  Relationships, finances, health.  I find myself addicted to fear.  Worry is the "harmless" little bag that I tote around.

But the thing with fear is that it's insidious.  It's everywhere.

And it constantly beckons me to keep adding…


5)  The Duffel Bag of Doubt

Duffel bags.

Duffel bags are the perfect baggage for camping.  Flexible, stuffable, sturdy, and dirty-worthy.  We've got a whole family in various colors and sizes. One for cooking supplies.  One for important stuff like matches, lighter fluid, rope, flashlights, hatchet – you name it.  One for the tent, tarp, rainfly, stakes, and rope.  We've got more.

Duffel bags are handy.

But what about doubt?  

Doubt is flexible – adapting our questioning to the spiritual season we might be in.  It's stuffable – we can cram a lot of doubt deep in our souls.  It's sturdy – doubts can become entrenched and able to withstand much-needed scrutiny.  And doubt is dirty-worthy – muddying up our faith with needless dust and grime and soil.

You see, we might think that doubt is harmless.

We might think that the duffel bag of doubt is the perfect baggage for our faith journey.  It's handy to have doubts, right?  They help keep us from blind faith, right?  

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not questioning the value of questioning.  For we are counseled to search the Scriptures and seek after God.  But healthy doubt should always lead us to a closer walk with the Lord, to a greater insight into truth, to a firmer stance of faith.

The other kind of doubt comes from the devil.

After all, our first fall from grace came when he planted the seed of doubt into our souls.  

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.  And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"  (Genesis 3:1, NASB)

Doubt begins here – with this thought.  "Did God really say…?"

Mindless faith, no.  Faith without intellect, of course not.  Faith without reason and study, surely not.

But doubt without God is rotten fruit.


You know, on reflection, there is a lot of needless baggage that I lug around.  Trunks, suitcases, and garment bags.  Totes and duffel bags. You've got them, too.  Maybe yours are full of other junk...

But God doesn't want that for us.  He doesn't want us to hold on to stuff that slows us down, or hinders our walk, or dirties our souls, or poisons our minds.  

He does not want us burdened.


So, let's leave those useless bags that weigh us down at the Station of God's Forgiveness and Grace. 

Let's depart from the Depot of Bitterness, Guilt, Pride, Fear, and Doubt.

The choice is up to us.

The ticket is right there, waiting for us at Will Call.  We just have to pick it up and use it to board the Glory Train to the life that only the Holy Spirit can bring!

All Aboard?

Yes!!

Choo Choo…






Pack up your troubles
in your old kit bag,
Don't let your joy and laughter
hear the snag,
What's the use of worrying,
It was never worthwhile...
So pack up your troubles
leave them all behind,
and smile, smile, smile.

(My paraphrase of an old World War I song)



"...I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." 
(Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT)

"God has told his people, 'Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.'"(Isaiah 28:12, NLT)

"'For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.'" (Jeremiah 31:25, NLT)

"Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'" 
(Matthew 11:28-30, NLT)

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1, NIV)



What baggage are you holding on to?  Are you ready to leave it behind?!




Linked with:

SHARING HIS BEAUTY, PLAYDATES WITH GOD, UNFORCED RHYTHMS, MONDAY'S MUSINGS, MONDAYS AT SOUL SURVIVAL, SALT & LIGHT, ALL THINGS BRIGHT & BEAUTIFUL, SOLI DEO GLORIA, TELL ME A TRUE STORY, UNITETITUS 2 TUESDAYS, TESTIMONY TUESDAY, WOMEN TEACHING WOMEN, WHOLEHEARTED WEDNESDAYS, CAPTURE YOUR JOURNEY, WINSOME WEDNESDAY, WHIMSICAL WEDNESDAYS, WORD FILLED WEDNESDAYWHAT YOU WISH WEDNESDAY, TELL HIS STORYCOFFEE FOR YOUR HEART, WISE WOMAN, SO MUCH AT HOME, A LITTLE R & R WEDNESDAYS, THRIVING THURSDAYTHOUGHT-PROVOKING THURSDAY, EVERYDAY JESUS, HEARTS FOR HOME, GRACE AT HOME, THOUGHTFUL THURSDAYS, FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY, FELLOWSHIP FRIDAYS, MAKE MY SATURDAY SWEET, THE FRIDAY FIVE, SPIRITUAL SUNDAYSFAITH FILLED FRIDAY, ESSENTIAL FRIDAYS, FAITH & FELLOWSHIPCOUNTING MY BLESSINGS, WEEKEND BREW, STILL SATURDAY, SATURDAY SOIREERECOMMENDATION SATURDAY, SUNDAY STILLNESS, GIVE ME GRACE



BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!