Tuesday, September 27, 2011

At A Loss...

No words can express what has happened today.  We have lost a pillar in our family.  He will be deeply missed and, with the sting of his absence so fresh, there is a long road of healing ahead.

Jack Runion was a great man who will be missed tremendously by everyone who knew him.  His life touched so many people.  Even those who were unaware of his existence, have been effected by what he has done throughout his life!

Since there is nothing more for me to write right now, I ask you all for your prayers for the Runion family as we endure through this difficult time.

Thank you and be blessed. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Situation Evaluation

So, I am sitting here looking at everything around me.  I can and will be the first one to say, I am at a crossroad and I am not sure which way to turn.  I have stopped, a few times today, just to throw my hands up and say, “Okay God, I give up.  Show me what you want me to do.  Tell me where you want me to go.”  I analyze and run hypothetical scenarios to try to find the answers.  I sit waiting for something to happen; for some answer to fall out of the sky. 

Sitting here quietly, evaluating my circumstances and situation, I realize that I do not have an answer.  I have done all that I know to do.  I feel like a sardine in an ocean.  Frustrated, overwhelmed and alone.  To stay put is easy.  It requires me to do nothing.  However I would eventually have to face the mounting issues around me.  To move is more difficult because the unknown is a vast and mysterious place.  It requires me to tear away from the familiar faces and places and venture into something new.
Searching for answers… desperate for someone to just tell me what to do.  It was so easy as a child.  I didn’t have to have the answers.  I could rely on mom and dad to make the tough choices for us. 
I can hear some of you sitting there, asking:
So, what do I do?  Is that all there is?  Am I just stuck here? 
What you are searching for is attainable.  What you are longing for is within reach.  What you have been crying for at night, when you don’t think anyone is looking or even cares, is standing right before you.
Love.  Hope.  Jesus.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
He is the one to give you hope in your future.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart."
It doesn’t matter how high your bills are stacked or how deep your problems are all around you.  It may seem as though there is no way out.  It may seem as though you are the smallest fish in the sea.  BUT, God is here to give you hope. 
He says that you will find him when you seek him with all your heart.  Investigating isn’t enough. 
I sat and ran through so many scenarios today.  I researched options and looked at opportunities.  Not until I threw my hands up and said, “God, you are in control.  I am calling upon you and seeking you” did I finally hear God say “I have a plan.  Trust me.”  No, I don't have all the answers, but I know that God is in control. 
If you are reading this and facing life choices, not knowing what to do or where to turn, I encourage you to call out to God.  He has a plan for you!  Make the choice.
Just looking at the options isn’t enough.  He says “search for me with your whole heart.”
You don’t have to sit and wonder any more.  You have hope in Jesus.
You are loved.  Be blessed!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Deep Revelation

This entry is for mature, ‘real’ children of God… the true betrothed of Christ.
If you are not at a point where you are ready to give it all to Him, then you may want to wait to read this as it is very straight forward and real. 
I always try to give you a heads up because I don’t want to offend you.  However, I write what God reveals to me.
The revelation:
“God is tired of fake emotions and is disgusted with flesh-stimulating, momentary encounters of lust.  God is love, not lust.  He does not desire the touches, arousing yet empty words of manipulators who desire to take Him to bed for His benefits, and yet do not want a commitment or intimacy with Him.  If you love Him, give Him all of you.  Unconditionally.  No more cheapening who He is with a ‘love Him at the altar’ and leave Him there.  Throw your money in the plate and pay for the moments of sheer emotion and yet walk away unchanged and empty inside.  You have just turned God into a common whore!”

As the Bride of Christ, you have been called to better.  He desires to be one with you.  TO BE INTIMATE with you.  He says, in John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”  Translation:  You cannot conceive without intimacy.  You CANNOT bear fruit without an encounter with Christ!  (John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing”)
I know this is a hard word!  It hit me heavily as God showed me this hidden area of life.  As I sit here shedding tears of an aching sensation, understanding that God wants to have a pure love with you, I realize that I  have fallen short in this area also. 

As a woman, AND a wife, I long to connect with my husband.  Not for mere physical satisfaction.  I would feel a deep sense of hurt and feel as though I was being taken advantage of.
*THIS IS NOT THE CASE!*  Joe and I have a very healthy relationship.  However, God showed me a “what if scenario” that touched me to my core!  In longing to be intimate with my husband, how would I feel, if all he wanted was stimulation and not intimacy?  He wants the feeling and benefit of intimacy, but not the real thing?  As his wife, I would feel unloved, and used.  Cheap.

People of God, He is tired of us coming to Him in this manner!  We dance, sing, whoop n holler on Sunday and then turn to other devices during the week.  Revival services are great too!  A weekend getaway or even a week long retreat but if there is no commitment, there is no intimacy because TRUE love is not cheap or fleeting!  It is not a summer fling or weekend affair.

How do we acquire true love?  John 15:9-10 has the answer.  “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”
Let me break it down just a bit further.  What are Jesus’ commands?  Matthew 22:37-39 “Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Love Jesus and love each other.  TRUE LOVE! 
I want to leave you with 1 John 4:7-12 (The Message).
7My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. 8The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. 9This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. 10This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. 11My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 12No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!”

My challenge for you this week is to seek God in prayer.  Ask Him to show you true love.  Not fake, emotional, lust that feels good for a moment but leaves you empty and broken.  God loves you so much more than that!  Remember too, you are worth more than that.  Jesus paid such a high price for you!  I pray that your life, as you know it, will never be the same again!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Finally, the FINALE!!!

Relationships Pt. 4

The whole point of this series was to point you back to the one and only person who loves you more than life itself.  Each and every relationship known to man was created to mirror an aspect of the relationship that God wants to have with you.  Our relationship with God is meant to be multidimensional.  For example, I have many hats to wear.  With some people I wear more than one hat.  I wear a mother hat, a wife hat, a daughter hat, an evangelist hat, a student hat, a teacher hat, a preacher hat, a worshiper hat, and on and on.  All of them are parts of who I am or what I do.  I cannot take off one hat and expect that hat to define ALL the relationships that I am capable of. 
When you come across a new relationship or an unfamiliar dynamic, I want you to remember this:  You can always look to the Bible to see how God set the example for the relationship.  Since I know that all human relationships are supposed to mirror different aspects of a healthy relationship with God, than anytime I am unsure how the relationship is supposed to look, I can look to the model, the creator, the author of the relationships and mimic it!
The second part of this blog is the phases of a relationship.  As a relationship grows, it always starts as a planted seed.  For this I was taken to the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.  The seeds were broadcasted (scattered across a wide area).  The ones that took root in good ground began to grow.  The process of growth starts with tender care, watering, feeding, and spending a lot of time with a new plant. 
In a new relationship, we find ourselves fostering closeness by spending a lot of time together.  We go out for coffee, and out for dinner, and in for movies, and fun with friends and all the fun stuff new couples like to do!  Just like a plant requires a lot of time in the beginning so that the sun doesn’t scorch it, the birds don’t eat it, the water doesn’t flood it, and the sprout takes root, so must a relationship be cared for.
Then, when the sprout starts to take root, (thinking of the trays of starter plants) it must be transplanted to fertile ground that is big enough for growth.  Potting soil is good for babies, but sprouts will become pot-bound and die if they stay in the trays for too long.  In other words, they need depth!  Every relationship, in order to stay alive, needs more than time.  It needs room to grow, common ground, depth!
So now that the plant is growing in depth, strength and size, it’s time to start making sure that the weeds are not coming in to choke a healthy plant.  In a healthy relationship, there are jealous people all around who want what you have or simply just don’t want you to have what you have.  These people delight in watching the thriving plant whither.  However, if you are consistent in removing these weeds, or at least cutting them down to size so they do not steal the nutrients meant for the plant, then it will continue to flourish.  Remember, not all weeds can be removed.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Finally, it is time to watch your plant come to fruition.  This part is bearing fruit.  See, there is a point in a relationship (yes, even in friendships) that it comes to maturity.  That is intimacy.  In the friendship, the intimacy is the level of trust and commitment to each other through prayer (intercessory: praying for each other & corporate: praying together and exhorting/encouraging each other), support, and love.  My favorite friendships exemplified in the Bible would be David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3-4).  The Bible said that Jonathan loved David ‘as his own soul’.  This is an exceptionally deep love!  I believe that everyone should have a friend this close… BUT also remember, not everyone can be this close!  The other friendship I love the most is Naomi and Ruth.  Ruth 1:16 shows the love Ruth had for her mother-in-law, Naomi.  She said, “…For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;  Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.”  The Bible even says in verse 14 that Ruth ‘clung’ to Naomi!  That is a friend that says, I have nothing to gain and very little to give but I will stick with you to the end, no matter what!  That is intimacy!
As a husband and wife, intimacy is that and much more.  It takes the human relations to a ‘whole natha levah’!!!  Not only do you share your heart and soul, like David and Jonathon, you also share bodies!  To give yourself completely to the other is the ultimate act of love and intimacy. 
I challenge you to examine your relationships and identify the resemblances between that relationship and our relationship with God.  If they don’t match, pray about how to mend the relationship or maybe even whether to keep the relationship.  Ask God if there is anything missing in your relationships or if there is anything you need to examine within yourself in order to foster Godly relationships.
Until next time, be blessed!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Accept It

Relationships Pt. 3
This part of relationships was a part that I had to allow God to heal me so that I could function properly.  I had been hurt throughout most of my life by people who didn’t know how much they truly affected me.  As a young girl, I, like so many other girls, struggled with body image and self esteem.  I was always the heavy girl.  I had plenty of people to remind me of that fact, especially when I started to feel the least bit more confident, or comfortable with my own skin.  They would remind me that I was not quite as pretty, skinny, popular, or accepted as I wanted to be.
This all translated to low self esteem.  I hid, but not like most kids.  I hid behind a mask of fake confidence.  I would force myself to be the outgoing, happy, ‘extreme’ girl, that I thought people wanted to see.  The friends I acquired were a lot like me.  We took everything to the Nth degree.  Not all of it was bad but it was a comfortable place to hide.  NOW, you can look at this and say, what does that have to do with a relationship? 
I was so desperate to earn acceptance.  I would go to that extra level thinking I had to work so hard and then I would earn the love I craved.  If I give, give, give, I might be good enough for someone to hug me, kiss me, touch me, share their love with me, and intimacy would be there too!  WRONG!  What really happened was I was working for nothing.  I would give but I didn’t know how to receive.  I was so busy at working to earn that love, that I didn’t accept it when it was given, even in small amounts.  I didn't see myself as 'good enough' for a healthy relationship.  I didn't think I was special enough to have the best.  I thought I was in the zero column and so anything I got at all was a blessing cause I didn't deserve it.  You know how sometimes people are catagorized by numbers?  The models out there are a '10'.  Right?  Well, I saw me as a zero.  So I took anything that came along and gave them everything I had, emotionally.  I clung to everyone and would sometimes suffocate the relationship.  It took many relationships and a fall (flat on my face) for me to be open to what God was showing me. 
So, the piece of wisdom that I leave you today, I pray you take it and allow it to sink in and then allow God to speak to you through it.
God had to show me that not only was I acceptable in His sight, but I was also worthy to receive love.  That was a weird truth to me.  I am worthy to receive love!  The problem was not that I had to work harder, but that I had to simply allow myself to be loved.
When I met my husband, Joe, God used him to show me that I can be loved just as much as I love.  God opened my eyes to the standard that I should have held in my life all along.  I am worth more and am worthy of love!
The concept is all a matter of value…price.  How God showed me is that before I became His, I was like Iron.  I was raw, and not worth much.  However, there was untapped potential.  Five pounds of Iron as scrap is worth about $4.50 at the recycling center.  The same metal, melted and molded into 5 pounds of finishing nails is worth about $10 - $15 at Wal-mart or Lowes.  The same 5 pounds of metal could even be put in fire and hardened to stainless steel and molded into 5 hammer heads for hammers which are worth about $30 each.  However, the same metal that would be useless scrap, if it is tempered, molded thinly, stamped out, sharpened and grinded down, and assembled for use can become a stainless steel, surgical scalpel… priceless in the hands of a skilled physician.  See, our worth does not lie in what others see.  If we can allow God's love in, then we can achieve 'priceless' status!
I can imagine the woman in Luke 7, who anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair, didn’t feel like she deserved love.  But, when Jesus looked into her eyes and showed her love, she knew she could receive it and did!  Despite what the men around her were saying about her, despite being used and abused and thinking that she didn't deserve more than the empty relations she got from the men on the street.  She was able to embrace Jesus and accept her peace!
When God comes to the secret place with you, accept it.  Don’t run from it! 
I know sometimes we feel like what we have is all we are worth but Jesus wants you to know that YOU are worth more.
I challenge you to allow yourself to be loved by Him!  He already paid such a high price for you, so don’t sell yourself for less!  You are a daughter/son of the King of kings.  You are worthy of love.  AND if you’re not sure what love is, check out 1 Corinthians 13.  God showed us what love is supposed to look like.

Be blessed!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7  (The Message)
4Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
5Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
6Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
7Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.