Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advice on Advice

Look around and it doesn't take long to see shattered lives, questions and burdens. I think its human nature to jump in and want to fix things, truly a compassionate side. However, could we be setting ourselves up in the place of God out of good intentions?

When someone shares a burden with me, I have to say I can quickly offer sympathy or jump to advice giving and find myself carrying the burden that isn't mine to carry and weighed down. So much human wisdom and understanding is passed around the church today--this can really be living life apart from the Holy Spirit. Fellowship is essential but only when it enhances walking with God and doesn't replace it. Advice giving can make others dependent on the advice giver and creates a good name for that person among peers, but is not pointing them to the Great I Am. Jesus said the government (burdens) rests on His shoulders, not mine! He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! (Is. 9:6)

A place to start when tempted to jump in with advice is to ask, "What is God telling you about this?" or simply, "Let's pray!" than to ramble with advice or scripture. No human will ever see the WHOLE picture as well as God. By inviting others to seek Him when they may be looking to you for advice, can free you from burdens while actively "doing something" about them at the same time. It honors God to seek Him and solicit His counsel for someone else especially when they have asked for it, knowing they are seeking Him as well and wanting confirmation, or humbly realize their emotions are so involved that they simply cannot "see" clearly--this is a humble posture on both sides, both the "counselor" and the "counselee" coming to God first...this is different than simply giving advice as shown by the humble dependence on God. May I get out of the way so the Prince of Peace may come into the situation--He is MORE than able!

There is nothing more beneficial than asking God and reminding others to do so--we are so quick to run to who we can see, instead of the infinite One who is with us but not seen. This is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to faith. As long as people insist on living apart from God, even surrounding themselves with spiritual input that is not prompted by the Spirit, there will be confusion, burdens, etc. These may be part of the fall or may be part of God's plan--either way, they can be used to woo people to deeper dependence on God instead of running to human comfort which can be living by sight.

"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trust in you...Lord they came to you in their distress." Isaiah 26:3, 16

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mary and Martha, a lesson in distractions

Most of us have heard about Mary and Martha--elevating Mary and shaming ourselves because we usually connect more with Martha, the one Jesus rebuked. However, in reading all the accounts of these two close friends of Jesus, I think there are lessons to learn from both.

Luke 10:38-41 is the famous passage about Martha being all busy and Mary adoringly sitting at Jesus' feet. First I want to point out that Martha is a go getter, she is the one who scripture says opened her home to Jesus and his disciples in their time of need--this shows a generous heart. She did miss the point of opening a home--fellowship and focused on preparations only. This is lesson number one from these two ladies...relationships come before duty. Don't let your "to do" list rule your life and cause you to miss your savior and other important relationships. This is especially timely as Christmas draws near! Life comes from time with Jesus, not crossing off your list!

The second story of these ladies is in their time of need...Lazarus' death (John 11). Mary and Martha are in their home with many friends who have come to comfort them. Jesus is making his way to them. Martha hears of this and goes out to meet him and we are told that Mary stays home. Martha spends some time with Jesus outside of the city and makes an amazing declaration of faith in the midst of her great loss. She then goes back and gets Mary. We are not told why Mary stayed home, but I wonder if its because she was too overcome with her own emotions. This is the second lesson...emotions are not to rule our life either. Martha chose to go to Jesus with her emotions and didn't wait until she "had it all together" before she sought Him. Both women when they see Jesus are very real with Him...they both are disappointed, having sent word of Lazarus' sickness that Jesus didn't come sooner to heal him. Of course we know His timing WAS perfect and meant for even greater good and glory. In fact by Lazarus dying and friends coming to comfort the sisters, MANY witnessed his coming back to life and we are told, many put their faith in Jesus that day.

There is a third account in John 12. Its very similar to when we first meet Mary and Martha...a dinner. I think this is a wonderful picture of them being who they were created to be in perfect balance. They are hosting a dinner in Jesus' honor. It says Martha served, Lazarus reclined at the table with Jesus and Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus' feet. Each adoring Jesus with what they do best...an overflow of their heart. Martha is not rebuked for too much fretting...she must have learned from the first dinner! She pours out her heart with her hospitality skills. Mary pours out her emotion in a very tangible way.

Each of us has gifts and natural bents, may we pour them out in adoration for Jesus, but let them not rule us!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Desire and Delay part 3

My last blog talked of waiting or running when it comes to desire. Now, as I've lingered in this friendship desire and invited God to bring clarity...actually seeking Him and delighting in Him first...I've found a deeper, larger desire emerging. A desire for COMMUNITY!!! That's it...what started as more friends has become clarity for community...a group of people committed to one another with a larger purpose. So I started praying toward it and seeking God's lead instead of just plotting, planning and attending things.

I am realizing God is actually providing community all around me. Now that I have stopped just showing up to things for the sake of showing up--all good things honestly, but He hadn't led to them is the point. I've asked Him how to spend my time, who to seek out and actually am just watching Him work through conversations that come up. There are indeed others desiring similar community and He is knitting us together for something greater...to get a hold of deeper parts of our hearts and also outreach to others. As I quit grasping and come before Him honestly with my heart's desire...truly He longs to satisfy as the Father who delights to give good gifts to His children. Kind of like Christmas to a child---they express desires in what they want for Christmas and as parents we eagerly buy the gift and can't wait to see the joy of them receiving it. To not come to God with our desires robs Him the delight of providing and us the delight of receiving. This also reminds us that we are Fathered and quiets and strengthens our hearts. Not to mention the glory He receives by our testimony.

We are not to arrange for our happy little life in our own strength. Experience and scripture shows that we will end up in smaller, less satisfying places than if God had led. AND just like Christmas, we must be patient with hopeful anticipation that fulfillment is around the corner.

Desire is not meant to torture us nor to drive us to grasp at their attainment...Desire is meant to drive us into God's lap and grow our trust in Him as we wait and are satisfied...

"You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. The LORD is near to all who call on him." Psalm 145:16-18

Monday, September 12, 2011

Desire and Delay part 2

I blogged previously on desire and delay and the importance of waiting on God believing He uses our desires to draw us nearer to Him if we allow it. It is ok to desire and even necessary to live a fulfilled walk with God that is more than mere "rule following". Without desire, there is no passion, no eager hope, no dependence on God to provide for something out of reach...so let desire well up and bring it before the Lord, but be careful to linger and not run to satisfy the longing in your own strength or carefully crafted schemes.

You probably know the story of Exodus 32 where the people of God asked Aaron to make a god who would go before them. They had given up on ever seeing Moses who unbeknownst to them was receiving life giving instruction from God--the true God who desired to go before them as He faithfully had the whole journey out of Egypt. They went on to collect all their gold jewelry and make a golden calf. Its easy to scoff at them because we know how the story ends and see how much better it could have been. And we judge them that they gave up waiting in 40 days--the amount of time Moses was on the mountain WITH God. But are our hearts really that much different when we have a good desire?

The Israelites' desire for someone/something greater than themselves to go before them into unknown territory was a good, human desire--to not be on their own, to have a sense of protection and security that God had given. They got their eyes off of God and onto their desire alone. That was their fatal mistake. Then they became uncomfortable in their desire and especially the wait, and they grasped at anything to comfort them---a handmade golden calf.

We too have desires and we need to be careful to let God fulfill them. I have found this lingering desire for a few more friends. I can't explain it as I have several very meaningful relationships, yet the desire remains and grows. I get frustrated and beat myself up--why this desire? What's is for? How is it to be fulfilled? The accuser comes and whispers, "Its because you're needy...or there's something wrong with you...why can't you just be happy like other people and find more hobbies, etc." I then start to doubt, get frustrated...desire is awkward as it exposes something missing and a longing ache. I want to give up desire or shift it to a hobby, OR I recognize the desire and seek to satisfy it by running after friendships by joining groups that seem to promise or cling deeper to the friends I already have only to be frustrated by all. My focus is off. I am obsessing about the desire and how to fulfill it, which can lead to poor choices or an overcrowded schedule. I am not much different than the Israelites who crafted the cow out of things within their grasp...wow, is this convicting as I have read Exodus 32 with a bit of a scoffing heart at those weak and wayward people...so easily satisfied by a trinket when they could have had the living God and His blessing if they had only waited a few more days!

As with my desire, if I would stop trying to make it go away through grasping (my first reaction to the awkwardness) and actually rest and acknowledge the "hunger" that is welling up, I have an opportunity to invite Jesus in. I'm sure He has a plan that will surprise and bless me once He speaks--but I will miss is as long as I insist on a quick fix to the issue.

To wait or to run...that is the question and it is a choice based on the posture of your heart!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Life...we all have to live one, but how many of us really LIVE?! Jesus said He came to give us life to the full, but that hadn't been my Christian experience for many years. I think I am on the cusp of all that changing and God has been so faithful to draw me to real LIFE.

I've come to realize for years, out of respect for God and His Word, I mined the Bible for commands so I could apply them and have a godly little life. His Word is true and there is definitely blessing in obedience, but I found my heart was growing cold and hard and I was dying inside. I didn't desire a thing and really life became a mundane list of self imposed "Chrisitian" rules. I was managing my life, on my own really, using Chrisitian principles. Why this became so burdensome and harsh on my heart is rules takes God out of the picture. Its all human effort to be a Christian without the love, protection and provision by God. Its orphan, humanistic thinking and acting. I am realizing my life was somewhat directly related to my view of God--a judge that was distant.

As I've journeyed with God, He has healed hurt places in my heart, replaced lies that held me captive with His truth and opened my eyes to more of Him and His glorious ways. I'm finding myself in a new place and its exciting. The pressure to perform is off and so is the pressure to "control" my kids into being a Christian. Its like going from trying to hold all that life throws at you with my arms around it trying to carry and move it, to arms open wide encircled in God's arms with joy, rest and a quiet heart. This is a deeper surrender than any list of rules can give. Its a surrender to Someone bigger than myself in whom I can place my COMPLETE trust. Not only is this LIFE, its a broader path to walk and its the path to life (Ps. 18:36, 16:11) because God is leading instead of me controlling. My heart is daring to desire things out of reach because its not up to me to provide and orchestrate. Its up to me to ask God, the giver of good things, and wait upon His best--timing, opportunity, provision--whether it be yes or no. The pressure is off of me to figure it out, to find a rule to get me from point A to B, to get my kids in line. I can relax into the great I AM and know He is working for a far greater good than my human heart can even comprehend, and He is more jealous for all of our hearts to love Him and come to Him than any of my rules can produce. Not to mention, by living LOVED instead of controlling, He leads me to places I would have never gone for His glory. Its not about staying safe, its about being safe to venture out because He shows the way.

I'm loving having my arms open wide in worship instead of closed around life and those I know trying to control them in the name of Jesus.

Jesus is calling and wooing to greater depths of trust and love...the question is will you embrace rules to feel safe and secure or will you jump into His arms and dare to live? The quality of life you live hinges on this choice!

What do you want?

Now take the next step...I dare you!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Desire and Delay

How do you live with desires in your heart and the delay of their fulfillment? The simple yet complex answer is WAIT. I've personally have struggled with waiting--how do you wait proactively my heart cries out? Some practicals based on Psalm 37: 3-7,23,24 are: worship and enjoy God simple for who He is knowing He longs to be sought after and often will use desire to drive us to more of Him; live in the inspiration of who He is and His promises as this produces trust and patience; live each day fully present and not just dreaming about the future; practice thankfulness for where you are right now knowing this produces contentment; seek godly counsel knowing God will confirm or redirect what is on your heart--He's not a God of confusion; create space in your schedule to let your heart be quiet to hear from God without demanding answers--hold your desire with an open hand before God knowing He will make it all clear sometimes just a step at a time. Once God confirms and leads, follow Him and trust Him with the results--where you end up exactly may surprise you, but delight in the journey with Him...He is faithful!

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

Honestly, I've been frustrated by "waiting" in our fast paced culture, but have experienced the huge blessing and wisdom of it. A period of waiting allows God time to prepare your character for what is to come. Through time, a desire can either fade if its not from God or blossom into something larger than originally conceived. If others are to be involved in the desire, time is a gift to align all hearts in a unified direction so no one feels forced or pushed into anything. Waiting is simply surrendering of our agenda to God's will and timing--it is always better when His spirit goes before you and prepares the way than charging ahead in your own strength! Waiting is much like a flower blooming...abide, wait, blossom in the Son and grow into fruit! The fruit is always worth the wait!!

"The vision (desire) is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, WAIT for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Joy is Not Optional

As I was worshipping and reading the Word this morning, I was struck by "JOY". The joy of enjoying Jesus, acknowledging His greatness, His intimate knowledge of me, His sovereign power and majesty, His beauty that is displayed day after day in nature. The messianic Psalm 45 says, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You love righteousness and hate wickedness, therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy." (v. 6-7) Oil was used for healing, for perfume to make a lovely scent, for anointing kings and declaring their calling. Jesus' kingdom reigns with the oil of joy. Doesn't that just lift your spirit? Doesn't your heart cry for more joy?

The accuser of our heart, Satan, tries to kill our passion, steal our joy and keep our eyes on ourselves by making the troubles of our present day seem bigger than they really are. By making them the focus, we are practicing the presence of the fall, which is nothing but darkness and there is not joy there! Contrast the eternal light of Christ, where our hope and joy comes from. To have this, we must intentionally keep our eyes on Jesus, to abide in Him to maintain an eternal perspective with a quieted heart and be filled with joy that the world may know there is more than they see...there is Jesus, the light of our salvation, the hope of the nations and the true source of JOY!

Jesus said, "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (John 15:11) To live for Christ in this world then, joy is not optional! Because it is a treasure and promise of His kingdom, it is a "must have" to make a difference in this cynical, self-centered dark world...LIGHT/JOY shines brightest where is it darkest! May your joy be complete in Jesus and overflow with passion to others!

God invites us to "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you. (Others) will come to your light...to the brightness of your dawn." Isaiah 60:1-3.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Who Do You Want to Become?

For a several years I have been taking care of my elderly in laws, especially now that they are in an assisted living situation with no car. In visiting with them and the other residents, I've noticed two types of elderly---joyful, giving, friendly, thankful men and women with a gray crown of glory and crabby, wrinkled faced, complaining sorts that you try to stay away from. I don't know these people's stories and perhaps that would shed light on their current attitude. However, I do have a new fear which has given me a new goal as a result--my fear is that I will be the crabby one. My new goal is to age well that my spirit might be inviting, warm and encouraging even when my aches and pains increase.

I've observed the joyful folks at the elderly care places and they all have one thing in common--they care about others more than themselves. They are the ones welcoming visitors; expressing interest in others. They are the ones who wheel their way over to the door to press the button to open it for you before you get your key out; trying to serve instead of being served. They are the ones who live for a greater purpose than just their own comfort. Some examples of this are writing a resident newsletter, carrying around jokes printed on a piece of paper to share a laugh with others, going to the activities to be involved in others' lives, or escorting me, the visitor, who is lost to the place I'm trying to find. From experience, these are the rare ones. This is why the few I've had the privilege of being inspired by stick out in my mind so strongly.

In light of glory and giftings from God, it so refreshes me to know it can shine throughout EVERY stage of life if we choose to give. It all starts before our body to gives way to age; it is more mental than physical really. Its the choice to practice the presence of self or practice the presence of Christ. Jesus said to gain life we must lose it, must give it away. I truly see this at work in the those few who have chosen well. They probably didn't ask themselves 30 years ago who will I become?...they simply refused to only be concerned about themselves. They are the ones I look forward to seeing, even if from afar because I see joy and peace which invites others to be near instead of the misery of self centeredness which honestly makes you visit because you have to and not because you want to!

So ask yourself, who do I want to become? Then start living in light of that today!

"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace." Romans 8:6

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses is life for me will save it." Luke 9:24

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Declaration of Dependence

As the Fourth of July approaches I've been thinking a bit about our brave forefathers who risked all to take a stand for freedom that birthed our great nation. Personal freedom and independence are greatly valued in our culture--indeed many lives have been lost to gain and maintain it. For a nation, these are endearing and necessary values, however, when it comes to living in God's kingdom, they are actually dangerous and deadly.

I think our cultures' free and independent spirit is one of the hardest to shake when it comes to walking with God. This independent attitude breeds pride and even isolation at times as we all think we should be able to live life through our own effort and strength. Yes, Jesus Christ died for me to be free--free of sin and bondage, but He also calls me to lay down my own life--this is far from freedom for simply freedom sake! It must be for His glory! God desires deep surrender of our heart, mind, soul and strength...to love Him fully. This is far from independence!

To know God, we need quantity and quality time with Him--to commune with Him, to be restored in Him, to have our identity rooted in His still, small voice through solitude and silence away from the rush of life...this we must fight for. To have the joy of the Lord as our strength, we simply need more of Jesus. There is no shortcut to this one but simple surrender...surrender of time and talents; ambitions and attitudes...to let go of human understanding, plotting and planning to just be with Him, to ask and receive; to revive, reflect and repent...to die to self!

Scripture speaks of body life that is sacrificial, vulnerable, interdependent and rich in fellowship at the heart level. To bear one another's burdens, we need to be willing to make our needs known, to be REAL by letting into our private world and not just looking good to the outside observer; this is humbling. To offer our spiritual giftings, we need to know one another so our spirits might become one to sharpen and encourage each other in unity--we need to spend time together deeper than just a church pot luck; this is sacrificial. We need to know each other at the heart level to be able to speak deeply into a person's life or to receive from another because we trust them and their walk with God; this is time consuming, but time well spent. We must lay down the temptation to give up and go passive or just serve, serve, serve to look spiritually mature and pat ourselves on the back at a job well done while having a tired, burned out heart; this takes self control and discernment. To love others well, we must be filled by God first, to let Him love us and quiet us so that we are His ministers of hope, joy, peace and love led by Him and not just striving to fix others; this takes listening to Him and to each other which requires great patience and committment.

This is HARD because it is not just about me, hence not just about my freedom and independence! Thankfully, none of this is possible without the Holy Spirit which He freely gives and my surrender and complete dependence on Him, who is greater than any human king or government! So as you watch fireworks celebrating our nation's brave stand through the Declaration of Independence in 1776, may the sparks go off in your own heart to make this also a courageous Declaration of DEPENDENCE on Jesus in 2011.

"Even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart...rend your heart and not your garments (what's inside and not just how it looks on the outside!). Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love." Joel 2:12-13 emphasis added

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Porch Dwelling

If you've read some of my previous blogs, you know how much our dog, Kody, teaches me about going from an orphan to adopted and adored. He mirrors what happens to our hearts--born apart from God due to sin and therefore orphans surviving the best we can depending on our own strength and resources; what I call orphan living. However, as we come to Christ and grow in relationship with Him, we relax into being part of His family, being accepted and protected and waltzed through life on the arm of a King; the joys of Kingdom living!

Last summer we installed an invisible fence to keep Kody off of the highway that we live on. We've lost many cats to the road and did not want to lose him. We noticed how timid he was in the yard and really not very playful, but chocked it up to him being a puppy and maybe not having the energy since he was still growing. We also knew he did NOT like getting zapped when he would cross the fence and he made sure to stay VERY clear of the boundary. Over the winter, the fence stopped working and Kody came alive! He'd play fetch, run and terrorize the chickens, and overall seemed more playful. BUT he wouldn't stay in the yard, so we had to tie him up to make sure he stayed put. Realizing how this was cramping his style, we fixed the fence. Upon hearing the beep of the collar that warns him he is near the fence boundary, he ran to the porch out of fear of being harmed; we could not get him off. If he did come off, it was following right behind the person who had coaxed him off. His fear of the fence was keeping him prisoner to the porch. (Did I mention he probably has 2 acres to roam free if he so chose!?!)

As he is trusting us and following us further from the porch, he sees he is safe. He is still a bit reserved, but is making strides to overcome his fear. I kind of laugh, kind of sympathize with the poor little guy. But I realized I am not much different at times. I have fears that hold me captive...that keep me in safe places; "porch dwelling". Sometimes the older we get the more stuck we can become by just going through the routines that have worked for so many years and not really attempting anything new. Someone told me that FEAR could be an acronym for false evidence appearing real. Like Kody, thinking that the whole yard was out to get him because there are a few areas to avoid, I too can build a case against myself as to why I can't...and I stay in the small, safe places. This is not really living an adventure with God, trusting Him to take me to new or different places, nor is it advancing His kingdom...it is orphan thinking that I need to protect myself and stay safe...just exist.

Jesus came to set the captives free. To help porch dwellers like me experience freedom, risk, love, simply MORE. I am not under the yoke of slavery anymore, but have been given a new heart, a new life and He is redeeming those things that once held me captive. He has set boundaries in safe places (Ps. 16)--boundaries with unhealthy relationships, the stress of too much on my plate, fears like the unknown or the future (I can be a control freak wanting to know the next step in complete detail), or fear of public speaking (He has ever so gently led me step by step to an ever increasing public speaking ministry!), fear for my kids, fear from my own insecurities...All of these could hold me hostage and keep me porch dwelling and not really living.

It is a joy to see Kody in the yard chasing squirrels or just playing knowing he is safe from the true danger of the road. Just like a life hidden in God...there is much room to run, to try new things, to glorify Him in a new way, to experience LIFE to the full, to love others well with our eyes on Him to show us and all within His boundaries to keep us safe. He is the larger story where there is life---this is Kingdom dwelling...Seek, trust and obey Him and get off your porch and run free!

"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free." (Ps. 119:32)

Trust the Wind

I was walking one very blustery morning along the North Shore and the wind was coming inoff Lake Superior. The mixture of rain/snow and wind made me wonder what I was doing outside! I wanted some much needed exercise and fresh air and was willing to pay the cost knowing I could warm up when I reached my destination, a cozy cabin, when I was done. I found myself sympathizing with the wild animals, birds in particular.

As I strolled along the road, I noticed my presence scared a bird out of an evergreen where it had been taking refuge. It flew up in a start and was carried off by the unrelentless wind that was cutting through the air like a sheet. I felt a bit guilty about disrupting the poor little thing on such a day...and God reminded me of His care of the sparrows. As I pondered this, I realized the bird trusted its God given instincts more than its own comfort. While it was forcibly pushed by the wind a quite a speed, perhaps in a direction it wasn't even expecting, it ended up in a new destination...perhaps even better than the first.

I got thinking how the Bible compares the Holy Spirit to the wind in John 3:8..."The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." Just like the bird, if we really trust God, we will "ride" the Holy Spirit wind and go where He is going--physically or deeper in our own hearts without regard to our comfort nor the destination.

Are you focused on the destination or your own comfort and missing the wind that would carry you? Oswald Chambers says that we tend to focus on the destination while God focuses on the process...He desires to carry us as we surrender to His Spirit and soar with Him, sheltered under His wings and warmed by His presence...draw near to Him today and FLY!!! Enjoy the journey and trust Him with the destination...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hatching Butterflies

Have you ever had the privilege of watching a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis? That crusty shell is split open and out pops a fragile butterfly that must rest, pumping its wings before it takes flight. What must it have felt like moments before squished in that shell then all of the sudden expanded in all of its glory and with space abounding?

I have found that my thoughts can be negative and critical as if I'm looking for a reason to find fault so I can feel better about myself or pat myself on the back or come up with a grander solution or carry a burden that isn't mine to carry---let's be honest, its all pride really! These are traps that hold me hostage like the chysalis. In order to transform, I must bust through this barrier, this stronghold, that is so familiar, so I can emerge radiant and free. In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, God's Word says to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ in order to demolish strongholds. This requires diligence and a filter of what thoughts I am allowing to come in. The enemy of our souls loves to bait us with fleeting thoughts, accusations, lies and anxiousness. If we take it, we quickly go down those slippery slopes of doubt, bitterness, jealousy, self hatred, etc. All of these are too familiar paths that are part of our old nature. However, Jesus came to give us light, to set us free and to replace lies with truth so we might live as a child of God with peace, joy, hope and love...things that are of His Kingdom.

Next time you see a butterfly, think of its process to freedom...dying to self (the caterpillar), transformation and busting through barriers, rest, drinking deeply of nectar and flight to new and further places. "It is for freedom that Christ has set you free" Gal. 5:1. May freedom be yours as you take time to rest, to take thoughts captive, to transform, and to drink in TRUTH, His nectar, so that His thoughts become your thoughts and who you are becoming!!

Fear of the Lord

One morning I woke up extra early to spend some time with God. I asked Him to lead the time and "he took me out of a slimy pit and set my feet on a rock" came to mind. In the concordance I found that verse was in Psalm 40 and proceded to read the passage. What really struck me was verse 3: "Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord." What an odd combination of verbs---see, fear, trust. I think I'm too familiar with "being afraid" to really get what God is communicating here when I read the word "fear". The dictionary was no help, one definition is "reverential awe". That still didn't capture my heart, so I asked God to give me a picture that would aid in my understanding. As I waited, rolling hills with sun rays beaming up behind them like a sunrise started to emerge. There was a small valley with a path winding from it to the forefront. Along the path was a quaint home. It was a sweet image, filled with beauty, quietness, inspiration and an invitation...an invitation to leave the quaint home to follow the path to destinations unknown, but inspired by and lighted by the fresh dawning light. That's it---that's the fear of the Lord. He shines in the darkness, lights our path, enlarges our vision and invites us on adventures to leave our comfort zones, surrounded by the security of His presence and drawing ever closer to the source of light as we journey the path of life. I found my heart praising God...indeed that picture is seeing and "fearing" and by it trusting God because He is bigger, better and brighter than anything else that could capture my gaze!