Monday, August 29, 2011

Preparation

(Relationships pt. 2)
So, continuing with the Relationship theme, God has brought me to talk about preparation.  This part is such an important part of a relationship.  Before I get into the “meat and taters” I want to put out my own personal disclaimer. 
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I am and will be writing frankly because that’s how Jesus was.  He didn’t sugar coat anything because it is not easy to be a Christian.  The truth (ALL OF IT) will set you free to be who God created us to be!  With that said, I will touch on very real topics and areas that have gone overlooked for some time by some of the more “prudish” Christians out there.  BUT if you open your heart and allow God to reveal His word to you, I promise you that He will open His word up to your understanding just as He did with me.
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Now that we have that out of the way, I want us to see how the most controversial relationship in life is also the most pertinent in Christian life.  Why?  Because, Jesus likens our relationship with Him to a relationship between husband and wife the most in the Bible (at least 14 times that I could count off the top of my head).  The biggest controversy in the world is sexuality.  With whom, when, where, how, and on and on and on.  Now, I am not here to argue this but my question is this… WHY would Jesus talk about the bride and groom, the wedding night, the relationship between the bride and groom, if he wasn’t trying to get us to see the intense relationship He was longing to have with us as ‘the church’/’the bride of Christ’?  What is this relationship that we and Jesus are so longing for?  Intimacy!
I have often been taken to that place of intimacy, once I understood what God was trying to teach me, and realized it was my God-lover, Jesus taking me to the secret place to talk to me and be with me and show me things that I have never seen before. 
In life, just as in the spirit, God wanted us to experience this type of relationship in a real way!  However, how many times have we been intimate or even wanted to be intimate having not taken a shower, stinking like a wet dog, hair looks like a hot mess, wearing sweats and loafing on the sofa, eating popcorn?  It’s not very attractive is it?  Or, we walk into the bedroom, the secret place, and the sheets are soiled, the gym socks and shorts on the floor from last week reek, there’s something in the trash can that would offend even the strongest nasal passages, and there’s barely even a trail to get to the bed!
I say all this to have us take a hard look at how we woo Jesus, the lover of our soul.  I have seen some Christians come into praise and worship on Sunday mornings, expecting an intimacy, but not prepared to receive Jesus.  God has shown me these people spiritually as laying there on the bed, stinky, hair a mess, in the baggy sweats and expecting God to minister to them as their lover!  As repulsive as this sounds to us, how much more do we think God is willing to take us?  See, I believe Isaiah had it right. 
Isaiah writes, in Isaiah 61:10-11,
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD,
My sould shall be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the rove of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”

Isaiah talked about how God prepares us for intimacy with Him.  We are not only to prepare to be with Him but also to recieve Him.  Even back in Isaiah 6, He acknowledges that he is not prepared to be in the presence of God because he is “unclean”.  But God provided the cleansing! 

Before I leave you with a dream God gave me some months ago, I want to challenge you to look at yourself in the mirror.  Whether you are contemplating a relationship with another human, or a going into a time of intimacy with God, are you ready?  Are you taking in baggage, stinky gym socks from months ago?  Or have you allowed God to cleanse you and prepare you for your relationship?

Preparation
by Mary Runion
written 8/18/2010

Sitting and waiting.  I have envisioned this moment since departing from our last moment together.  Parting is sorrow but reuniting is such sweet relief.  I want the world to fall lifeless at my feet, for in this moment, there is only you.  I sit in excitement at the thought of you approaching me.  I can see you in the distance, and though you have not yet arrived, I have the reassurance that you are on your way to me.  There are no other stops, no detours, no prior obligations standing in our way.  There is only you and me.
I can feel you drawing nearer.  I have prepared our quiet place…our secret place.  The room is made, the linen fresh, the sweet smell of perfume lingers in the air.  The ambience is set and I am waiting.  I knew just how you like it set, so I prepared our hiding place.  The windows are drawn closed for there can be no interruptions tonight.  It’s just my love and me.  The music is playing softly.  The music he loves to hear playing quietly so that I can hear his every word set to the sounds of his praises!  He loves to hear the music as much as I love to hear him speak to me!
Once I have prepared our secret place and every minute detail is set, I turn my attentions to myself.  I will go to the cleansing place and wash from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet.  My love is looking for a lover without spot or wrinkle and I will not be passed over tonight!  I will bathe in the scent he loves to smell and once I am clean I begin to plan what I will wear.  My clothing must be free and light for I long to dance with my lover tonight!  My feet will go bare because I love to feel him touch them and anoint them with oils from faraway lands.  My hands are weary from the day’s work but I am refreshed by the washing!  The jewels I bare are simple representations of his love for me for he sees even the silliest of desires and loves to provide them.
I have prepared our secret place, I have made myself ready and presentable for my love and am waiting in anticipation.  Come quickly my love, my savior, my Jesus!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Skipping To Chapter 9

(Relationships Pt. 1)

I have been given a request to write about a delicate subject… relationships.
While I don’t feel I am the authority on relationships, I can write on my understanding and experience. So for those of you who asked, and those who didn’t, here it is.
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I have pondered the relationships that God has created to mirror different aspects of his relationship with US, His creation!  There is fatherhood (Matt. 6:32), brotherhood (Proverbs 18:24), & friend (John 15:13).  But, then there is the relationship of lover to beloved!  This aspect is so personal and intimate that it is often overlooked.  (In a later post I will release a dream God gave me about intimacy.)
As I was praying over what to write, because this subject is so large that I did not want to just babble like I am now, God pointed me to this.
He showed me that there are people reading the story of their lives, and in a moment of perceived loneliness (notice I said “perceived”), they are skipping ahead to the romance chapter!  Now, anyone who knows anything about literature knows that you can’t just skip a few chapters in a story.  The chapter you skip to will not make sense if you do.  What do you do with the information in Chapter 9 if you have not read chapters 1-8?
Yet, there are so many Christians trying to skip to the beauty of Chapter 9 without having the knowledge of the previous chapters!  Solomon, in all his God-given wisdom, wrote this: 
“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does [female deer] of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.”
(Song Of Solomon 2:7 NKJV)
It was so important that He wrote it 3 times in the same book! (Song Of Solomon 3:5 & 8:4)
From personal experience, I can tell you that love that is “awakened” too soon is volatile!  It always blows up in your face and causes more damage than good!  God intended this relationship to be good and healthy!
I know, in the waves of crashing emotions, it is difficult to see straight, but that is when you must keep your eyes on the prize… Matthew 6:33!  Seek His kingdom FIRST… Then the rest will fall into line
God is a God of mercy and grace.  Even King David was restored and forgiven for messing with the love chapter.  If you have made mistakes as I have, I have GREAT news for you!  God forgives and restores!  His promises are constant and His love endures forever!  He doesn’t love you any less.  In fact, He loves you more than you could ever know!  He just wants to be with you and bring you to a place of peace and rest, not guilt and shame!
For those of you who are pondering “Mr./Ms. Right”, don’t fret.  As long as you are seeking His will and focusing on Him, the person you want (who is going the same way as you – To HIM) will be there for you!  You can’t force it, skip to it, or seek it out before its due season. 
The best way I can say it is “the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing!” 
I’m sure all of you who read this will agree.  We want the beautiful relationship with love, trust, affection, intimacy and romance!  That is not something we can create just by “hooking up” with someone. 
I will leave you with this thought.  A wise man who counseled me and my husband early in marriage sat down and held our hands.  In his right hand he held Joe’s hand and in his left hand he held mine.  He said this to Joe…”God has her heart.  You can’t have all of it because it belongs to Him!”  Then he looked at me and said “God has his heart and you can’t have it all because it belongs to Him.”  Then he said, “The only way that you can truly have each other’s hearts is if God holds your heart because THEN and only then will your hearts truly be in the same place!”
                                  
I pray that God blesses you as you continue to serve Him and seek His face!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Journey Of A Lifetime

To all my readers, thank you for your patience as I have been away from my writing for a little while, taking care of family affairs.
My son had surgery and we have been focusing on that only for a while.  Today, though, as I sit and reflect on everything that has transpired the past few weeks, I realize something so simple yet so profound.  It explains the 'why' of a lot of things.

When we are centered on Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, He will bring everything into line.  I understand that certain things must happen in order to move forward.  For example, you have to stop at the gas station and get fuel if you expect your car to function.  If it is in need of repair, you have to take it in to have it fixed, if you expect it to continue to operate.

We don't like having to go the the shop.  Personally, I don't even like going to get gas, but it is necessary in order to continue to maintain a properly functioning vehicle.  Sometimes, I am so annoyed or put off by having to get gas that I will wait until I have a fuel light to stop! 

In life, just as with our vehicle, we sometimes run from challenges or put off a task that must be done.  Sometimes out of fear of what my happen, sometimes we do this out of exhaustion because we are simply too tired and don't want to continue.  Sometimes we do this out of pain, because we have been hurt and simply don't want to risk being betrayed again.  However, we cannot stop our journey just because we don't want to go into the mechanics.  I know there are bad ones out there but there are also good ones too!

It is better to trust God and follow His leading.  Not wasting any more time, but allowing him to close the doors that need to be closed, tear down walls that need demolishing, and build healthy relationships so that we can heal and grow.  We may stand at the brink of this process with anxiety, hurt, or fear, but as me and my son found, before his surgery, we can stop and pray, knowing that God has it all under control!  He has brought us here for such a time as this (Ester 4:14 NKJV). 

I encourage all of you to read the story of Ester.  She didn't want to be taken away from her family.  She didn't want to be queen.  She didn't want to risk her life by going into the throne room to address the king.  BUT she was obedient to do what HAD to be done in order for her destiny to be fulfilled.  Was she afraid?  Yes, but she did not allow fear to immobilize her.  What happened?  She had God's favor, the king's favor, and VICTORY! 
Photo from the movie "One Night With the King"

I can see us now, as God's children, just as my son did with me.  "Do we have to do this?  I don't want to!"  And God lovingly wraps His comforting arms around us and says, "My child, I am here.  I will never leave your or abandon you (Heb. 13:5).  When you are weak, I will be strong (2 Cor.12:10) and when you fall, I will pick you up (Micah 7:8).  I have a plan for you, but not to hurt you.  The plan is to make you strong and prosper you (Jer. 29:11)  Do not be afraid (Is. 43:1) because I am here and I have called you!  Finish your journey (Heb. 4:11) and there will be rest!  I love you more than anything!"

You CAN do what God has brought you to!  He will see you through it, victoriously!  Trust Him and be encouraged.  Finally know this...
Romans 8:28-29a (The Message) "That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good!"
(NKJV)  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to HIS purpose."

Be blessed!
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Hebrews 13:5b (NKJV)  "For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

2 Corinthians 12:10 (The Message) "Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size - abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.  I just let Christ take over!  And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."

Micah 7:8 (NKJV) "Do not rejoice over me, my enemy, When I fall, I will arise; When I sit in darkness, The Lord will be a light to me."

Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV) "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of eil, to give you a future and a hope."

Isaiah 43:1b-2 (The Message) "Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.  I've called your name.  You're mine.  2 When You're in over your head, I'll be there with you.  When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.  When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end - " (please read the rest on your own!  It is powerful and encouraging!!!)

Hebrews 4:10-11 (The Message) "God himself is at rest.  And at the end of the journey we'll surely rest with God.  11 So let's keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fear



Enemies often will continue to use the same tactic over and over.  Why?  Because once they have found a tactic that works, why create a new one?  What is this tactic that is used over and over and over? 
We are all different in what we are afraid of.  It really depends on what we value.  If we value possessions, we may fear poverty.  If we value any THING at all, we may fear loss.  If we value a person, we may fear rejection.  No matter what the fear may be, we all have some type of fear that may plague us.
This season has been, for me, a consistent and continual attack of fear.  Fear for my son and his health, fear for our finances and resources, fear of circumstances outside of what most people can see. 
HOWEVER, God always brings me back to the center, when I start to sway and stagger away from the truth in my attack of fear.
See, satan will make things seem as if they are out of control.  People of God, I am here as a living testimony, to tell you that God is in control! 
A couple entries back I wrote about my list.  The list is of concrete truths that I go to when I am swirling and spiraling out of emotional control.  SO, for those who are struggling with fear, like I was this week, I have started a new list for FEAR.  Shall we stand through this attack together?  Here we go!!!


1.      FEAR IS NOT OF GOD!
a.        (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”)
2.      If God is with us, we do not have to fear our enemies or anything that comes against us!
a.       Ps. 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”
b.      Joshua 10:8 “And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.”
3.      Fear is a spirit and must be treated as such!
a.       2 Tim. 1:7, Eph. 6:12
4.      TRUST is the key to defeating fear!  If we trust God to control our situation, we can also trust Him with our fears.
a.       Ps. 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”
b.      Ps. 31:14-15 “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in Your hand; Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me.”
c.       Job 13:15-16 “5 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.  Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. 16 He also shall be my salvation, for a hypocrite could not come before Him.”
5.      There is NOTHING God cannot handle!
a.       Jeremiah 32:16 “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.”
6.      Love is the other key to conquering fear!
a.       1 John 4:18 (The Message) “18There is no fear where love exists.  Rather, perfect love banishes fear. For fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love.  19We love because he first loved us.


Remember that Jesus loves you so much.  If we are connected to Him, and love Him, we have nothing to fear and everything to celebrate!  Take comfort in knowing you are protected, sheltered, and favored in every area of your life as a child of the one and only living, true God!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Follow The Leader: Follow The Teacher



“In the company of Jesus, there are no experts.  There’s only beginners, and necessary followers.  Because in the company of Jesus, nobody knows where they’re going.”  (Jason Upton from his album On The Rim Of The Visible World)
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I recently started volunteering in my 4 year-old twins’ Rainbows class at our church.  I kinda got drafted since my mother is coordinator over Missionettes, but I was drafted willingly.  We have about 10 – 12 preschoolers all anxious to play and learn about God!  They are a lot of fun to play with!

Last week we were getting them ready to go outside by lining up in front of the door.  The other teacher, Ms. H., was standing in front.  When everyone was in a single file line, she led them out the door and out to the playground.  It was a simple operation, and yet for some children it was all they could do to just wait for the cue to move.  They would ask over and over, “can we go yet?”  When it was time to come in again, we performed the same drill.  Line up so that we can go the water fountain and get a drink and then go back to the room. 
 
(picture off of the internet, not our actual class)

Over the past month, I have been looking at a great many things like trust, leadership, followers, direction and guidance.  We all look at some of these things at various points in our lives.  Where do we go?  What path to take?  Who do we follow?  Is it time to lead? 

While praying over these questions, God reminded me of the children in line.  They don’t know which direction to go.  However, they follow the person in front of them to get them to the playground, the potty, the water fountain, or back to the classroom.  They are trusting, without question, that the person in front of them can see the leader.  The leader is trusting that the teacher knows the way to where they need to go. 

Most of you, by now, can see the Spiritual connection here; and so did I.  But then God took it to another level.  Ready?  Here we go.

Most of us are not pastors, evangelists, prophets, or even claim to be!  We may have gifts that we operate in but that does not make us leader.  In the line, we are all following the person in front of us.  We are trusting that the leader of the line can see the teacher who knows the agenda and direction!  If the leader loses sight of the teacher, the whole line goes the wrong way!  If the middle person decides to go his or her own way, then half of the line is led astray! 

Now, a problem can sometimes occur when choosing a leader of the line.  Everyone raises their hand because it is a privilege to be able to lead the line!  What happens when the leader of the line thinks he knows better than the teacher?

People of God, in His presence, we are all followers.  In His presence, when He is teaching and leading us, we must learn to follow Him and keep our eyes on him.  We cannot blindly follow the leader.  See if the leader is following the teacher, we will continue to form a beautiful line which will function as such.  BUT, if someone goes astray, then you will not get lost with the rest of the line if you keep your eyes on the teacher, the master, our savior... GOD!

Then God said this… You know, you’re not really leading, right?  You know you’re not really helping me, right?

See these children are so right.  It’s not about the chore that we give them to keep them occupied or involved.  It’s about the willingness to please the teacher!  God was saying, they want to lead because they want to help with the journey!  They want to be used by the teacher.  That is what we love about our children.  They earnestly want to help!

My husband had a rough day at work, as he does a lot of days.  Nathan heard his despair over sore feet, knelt down and began to rub his feet.  Did he help the situation?  No, but the gesture is why we love him so much.  He is willing to do whatever he can to show his love for his father!

That is why God loves His children, because we please Him!

Next time we get flustered in the chore, sit back and ask God, am I really helping?  God, I want to help you.  Then watch God lovingly smile at us.  Relax and just follow the teacher!