Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In His Eyes

I don't really know why, but today I was remembering the day that I attended the renewing of wedding vows for friends of ours who had been married thirty years. First of all, thirty years is a long, long time to share a life with one person. In light of the state of our present world, dare I say that what we witnessed that day was nothing short of a miracle? God's grace was on glorious display right before our very eyes! 

What I want to write about today is the groom. Bride-zilla would have us believe that wedding days and vow renewals are all about her, but I was so taken with that groom. So was the lady sitting behind me. We were anxious to see my friend, and how she would look when she walked down the aisle. But we both agreed that there is nothing like watching the face of a groom when he first lays eyes on his bride walking through the door.

It was like watching a tennis match. Glance at the door. Glance at the groom. Glance at the bride of thirty years coming down the aisle. Glance at the groom again. Oh, we were not disappointed! We saw the sweetest smile come across his face when he caught a glimpse of his wife in the doorway. That smile gave way to eyes that sparkled with just the slightest hint of tears. He whispered something into the pastor's ear. How I wish I knew what he said.

Maybe he said that she looked even more beautiful today than she did all those years ago. Maybe he whispered that he'd do it all again. Maybe he said that he wouldn't have missed her for the world. 

Did you know that every time Jesus Christ, your Bridegroom, looks at you, He thinks those same things? He remembers where you were, and exactly what you looked like, the day He found you. He remembers the day that you made your vow to follow Him forever. He thinks that you are infinitely more beautiful today than you were all those years ago. You are a beautiful bride, radiant with His Holy Spirit.

He has no regrets about choosing you. He'd do it all over again in a hot second. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. Through laughter and tears. From eternity past, until death, and in eternity beyond. He would choose you over and over again. 

Every time He sees you coming to spend time with Him, each time He hears your voice, in each moment of joy when you praise Him, and in each dark night, full of tears, His eyes are fixed on you. You are His beloved Bride, and He grins from ear to ear. His eyes well up and sparkle with tears of joy over you. In His eyes, you are the most beautiful sight He's ever seen.

He turns and whispers to His Father, "I wouldn't have missed her for the world."


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vital Ingredients

When I buy vitamins, I read the labels carefully. Due to some weird lab results, I have to watch out for one a days that contain potassium. 

The other day, I found myself reading labels in the aisle at CVS. I'm a woman. Always have been. Always will be. So needless to say, I buy women's vitamins. Without fail, every bottle stressed the importance of three things that the company considered vital ingredients for my health as a woman. Man friends....you share one out of the three, but I will pass on the testosterone, thank you very much! 

My distinctly female vitamins contain ingredients to promote and support
heart health, bone health, and memory. 

Aren't those the very same vital ingredients that I need to promote and support my spiritual health? Let's look at them in backward order.

Memory is one of the most important things to keep sharp when we're fighting a spiritual battle. Each and every one of us is going through something today. If you're not, trust me, you will be facing a challenge, a trial, or a circumstance soon. It's life on an imperfect planet Earth. It's tough. It's not always fair. Sometimes the pain of it all is excruciating. One of the most successful weapons you and I have against despair over our situations, is remembering what God has done for us in the past. 

When David was greatly distressed, he "encouraged himself in the Lord." (1 Samuel 30:6 KJV) Encouraging oneself is remembering, recalling, having memory of past deliverance, provision, and help, from the One Who calls Himself, "an ever-present help in time of trouble." (Psalm 46:1) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) The same God who brought you out before, will bring you out again. Sit a spell and call to remembrance what God has done for you thus far.

 "Thus far has the Lord helped us." (1 Samuel 7: 12) 

Bones surround you. Lifeless bones of situations and relationships and life. When you look around, all may seem lost. You may seem lost. Have you ever been just sick and tired of being sick and tired? I've been there friend, when I hear you say, "I'm just so tired." 

Tired of. Tired from. Nothing left to give. Dry.

Can these bones live?

"Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! I will make breath enter you , and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord." (Ezekiel 37: 4-6) 

Be assured today, sweet one, that nothing is utterly dead until God says it's utterly dead. Nothing is hopeless or beyond repair. You may be set in the middle of a deep valley today, but if God has set you there, like He did Ezekiel, His Spirit is right there with you. (Psalm 23: 4)  He is asking you the same question. "Can these bones live?"  He wants to hear what you think. He wants to test your faith. He wants to know if you believe Him. 

"O Sovereign Lord, you alone know."  

You alone. 

God alone.

The Heart is literally the heart of the whole matter. Girlfriend, in a world that is bombarding you with the compulsion to be perfect, it's no wonder you're exhausted. All around us is the pressure to be the perfect wife, the perfect mom, the perfect employee who brings home the bacon, and fries it up in a pan. Let's not forget the perfect face, the perfect body, the zillions of programs and exercises and guidelines and strategies to do it all, be it all, look all that, and collapse in our beds and do it all again tomorrow.  

Can I assure you today that there is only One Who is perfect? The Lord Jesus Christ. 

And you have His heart. He loves you with His whole heart. He loves you so much that He promises to give you a new heart...a heart like His. He's not concerned with your earthly perfection. "He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103: 14) How freeing is that?

The standards of God are nothing like the demands you are feeling from the world around you. The pressure's off because...

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 
(1 Samuel 16: 7)

I want to close this out but I don't quite know how. I wish we were sitting across from one another, sharing an iced Mocha. Women are hurting terribly. We're under attack from an enemy who wants no less than our destruction. I think it's because we are the nurturers, the caregivers, and the force behind the generation after us. We can beat him. We don't have to let him destroy us, or the ones we love. We have been put here, today, in this place, for such a time as this, and we can stop the madness, in Jesus' name, and with His Holy Spirit's power.

Our lives and the lives of our precious loved ones depend on it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Broken Will

So, I heard that song again. You know the one.

"Brokenness, brokenness, that's what I long for. Brokenness is what I need." 

As a woman of faith, admittedly, a word of faith woman, I believe that when Jesus said that He came to heal the brokenhearted, He meant what He said. When He said that He would make me whole, He meant it. When the Bible speaks of shalom, it speaks of nothing missing, nothing broken. I believe that includes me. If God said it, that settles it. That's why I don't sing along with that verse in that song. At least until I heard it again. At least until I really heard that song. 

Maybe I'm just a Johnny-come-lately, and maybe you already had this one figured out, but won't you humor this late-bloomer for a minute?

Jesus was the most put-together Man to ever walk planet Earth. Gentle, yes. Humble in heart, yes. Broken, absolutely not! He knew Who He was. He knew His purpose. He knew what belonged to Him in God. He never complained that He was born in a stable. He never wailed about His poor upbringing in Nazareth. He never felt sorry for Himself, misunderstood, or panicky when people were seeking His very life.

One dark night in an olive grove, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, faced the meaning of brokenness. On His face, sweating blood, He cried out, "Take this cup from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will. Not my will, but thine be done." And that, dear friend, is true brokenness.

Brokenness is not feeling sorry for myself. It is not wallowing in the events of the past that have hurt me. It is not wearing my "wounds" on my sleeve, looking for sympathy from people when I refuse to let Christ heal those wounds, just like He promised. I can be made whole and be completely restored by the Restorer of Broken Walls, and still suffer a time of brokenness.

Not a broken life. Not a broken psyche. Not a broken heart.

A broken will.

When life deals blow after blow, punching the lights out of what I thought my life would be, I can say, "Not my will, but thine be done."

When Satan is allowed to sift me like wheat, I can stand tall in the power of the Holy Spirit, and say, "Have your will, my God. Not my will, but thine be done."

When I'm tired, and worn out, and think that I can't give one more ounce of myself, I can own the Word that says, "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me."

Somehow, supernaturally, I will be able to give and love and nurture and care for others, for one more day. Not in my power, but in His. Not my will, but His be done.

We talk some good talk when we say that we want the Lord's will done in our lives. But that divine will won't ever be accomplished until our own human wills are broken. That is true brokenness.

True brokenness stands up in the middle of the violent wind and the raging storm, it's hair blowing in the hurricane that is life, and screams, "Jesus! I wouldn't do this for anyone else but you!!!!!"

"Not my will...but thine be done."

Brokenness, brokenness, is what I long for. Brokenness is what I need.


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

It's A Great Day!

It's early in the morning and some in my family are still sleeping long. I'm up because, well, I'm always up early. It has been a joy this morning. Quiet and peaceful. No stress to get things done or be anywhere in particular.

Life's been a bully lately hasn't it? I know that so many of you, just like me, have been "going through". The key word is "through". We're going somewhere. We have a destination. There's another side that we're going to reach victoriously, if we endure. I don't want to just endure. I want to endure well, don't you? I want to cross the Jordan and stand on the ground of my promised land and hear, "Well done, my good and faithful servant". Thank God we're not going through it all alone!

I thank God, not for every time He's heard me, but for hearing me EVERY time.

"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry". (Psalm 40:1) If you feel like you're sinking in the mud and the mire this morning, He hears you. He sees you. You don't have to sink one more inch, because His hand is reaching down to grab hold of yours and pull you out. He'll give you a solid, sure, and firm place to stand, and He'll put a new song in your mouth. Don't you get tired of singing the same old, sad song?

I am as sure as I can be this morning, that victory awaits. That's what I want to share with you. We're going through "light and momentary troubles". (2 Corinthians 4: 17) Here today, gone tomorrow, even if tomorrow seems afar off. Who knows? Your tomorrow could be today! Your turnaround could be today! One sweet day you will be one day, one hour, one minute, one second away from your breakthrough. Don't give up before your time comes!!

Satan wants to discourage you and dismay you so he can disarm you. You're on your way to a new level in Christ, and when you're about to reach new levels, you'll encounter new devils! Spiritual battles are intensifying because Satan knows that his time is short. (Revelation 12:12) If you're on the front lines for the Kingdom of God, he wants to get you right where your disabling point is. He knows your Achilles heel and he's a great shot! Forewarned is forearmed. And we know Who wins the battle of the ages, right?

We can win the battles in between now and then by persevering, being aware of the devil's schemes, and refusing to engage. Know that you are worth something, you're valuable, you're special, and you're important in the Kingdom of God. Your trials aren't because you're a bad person. The devil is a liar. You are a threat to the kingdom of darkness and he's got you in the cross hairs of his wicked bow.

Quiet time is over. I'm going to choose to look forward to a great day! I'm encouraged by the Word, uplifted by the Truth, and in love with the Lord's Christ. How could today not be a great day?


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Today Is Yesterday's Tomorrow

Sometimes I dread the fun things. Do you ever feel like that? You made plans, it's on the calendar, but now that it's time, you just want to stay home under a blankie with a good book? All of us have at one time or another said these words: "I know that once I get there, it'll be fine. But right now, I just don't want to go." We dread and we fret and we complain, but sure as shootin', once we're there, we have a blast!

Sometimes I dread the not so fun things. A doctor's appointment. A root canal. A meeting with someone who is difficult. Even though I love, love, love my hairdresser, I dread hours in the chair, while she works the strange magic on my gray blond hair.

We can ruin an entire day, TODAY, worrying about and dreading tomorrow. While we fixate on the test results, the meeting, the conversation, or the made-up scenarios we play over and over in our mind about tomorrow...the clock is ticking away on today.

I believe that it's all rooted in fear. While certainly there are issues and situations that we need to be concerned with, is our dread and our worry based on fear? I think so, and I think that Jesus thought so too. How many times in our Bibles do we read the words, "Fear not", and "Don't be afraid"? If Jesus was on Twitter, I think that His favorite hash tag would be #donotbeafraid.

Think about it. Today is yesterday's tomorrow.
What did you worry about yesterday? Did it come to pass today? Probably not. In the meantime, you missed all the good that was yesterday. You didn't smell the flowers. You were only half present in that conversation. Your stomach was in knots and you didn't eat well. You tossed and turned all night. You didn't even notice the gifts that God had placed all around you, because you were fixated on tomorrow. Now tomorrow is here and what? Most likely you're exhausted and feeling pretty darn bad. For what?

My four year old granddaughter, Ashton, has the right philosophy. Whatever she doesn't want to do today, she says, "We'll do it tomorrow." After making that statement, she puts the issue out of her mind, and more often than not, never thinks about it again. Not even tomorrow, because when tomorrow comes, it's not an issue any more. And most of the time, sweet thing, it's not!

Mark Twain said, "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” Ain't it the truth?

Corrie Ten Boom said, "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

And my all out favorite, Scarlet O'Hara said, "I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow." What a scholar! Fiddle-dee-dee!

Beloved, God has not given you a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1: 7) He loves you so very much and "there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear". (1 John 4: 18)

Your enemy and mine, the accuser of the brethren, and the father of lies wants to paralyze you. He knows that you will be useless and ineffective for the Kingdom of God when you are frozen with fear. Don't give him more credit than he is due when it comes to what he can accomplish in your life and circumstances. Remember that he must first appear and present himself before the Lord, and ask permission to lay one bony, shriveled up finger on your sweet life. (Job 1-2)

I can't make you a fool-proof promise that what you fear will not happen at one time or another. But if it does...if it does...know that God is with you. Know that He is a very present help in time of trouble. Know that one sweet day your problem will be eclipsed by His glory.  He will never let go of you. He's got you in the calm and in the storm, in the highs and in the lows, in the valley and on the mountaintop. 

As for today, if we worry about it all day, we'll go crazy. Let's think about that tomorrow.


Linking with Rachel
...and May Day Follower Fest