God Loves…You!

There are a number of keys hidden away in the Bible.  It used to seem odd to me that the Lord would hide things in the Bible however, over the years, I’ve discovered a few of them and I think I have better understanding as to why they were hidden in the first place.  When something is given to us, we tend to not take as good care of it as something we’ve had to work for.  Now I realize that may be an overstatement because there are always things given to us in our lives that become treasures.  But, as a general rule, I’ve found I take better care of those things I’ve worked and/or searched for.

When it comes to my faith, I feel I’ve had to scratch and work at every bit of truth I’ve learned along the way.  I was one of those skeptics; “Lord, you prove to me that you’re real and I’ll follow you!”  Yes, I was a hard case.  But, true to His nature, He actually answered the hard cries of my heart and my skepticism melted away.

So this is it. God loves me.  Not because I worked for it, but because He loves me and He gave the gift freely.

Let me explain. The Bible is full, literally overflowing with God’s feelings toward us:

-You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psa. 139:1
-I am familiar with all your ways. Psa. 139:3
-Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matt. 10:29-31
-I chose you when I planned creation. Eph. 1:11-12
-You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psa. 139:15-16
-And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
-Every good gift comes from my Hand. James 1:17
-My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jer. 29:11
-My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psa. 139.17-18
-I will never stop doing good to you. Jer. 32:40
-I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jer. 32:41
-If you will seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deut. 4:29.
-I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Eph. 3:20
-For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thess. 2:16-17
-When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psa. 34:18
-One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Rev. 21:3-4
-And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Rev. 21:3-4
-For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
-Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Cor. 5:18-19
-I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Rom. 8:31-32
-If you receive the gift of my son, Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
-My question is…will you be my child? John 1:12-13
-I am waiting for you.” Luke 15:11-32
Excerpts taken from “Father’s Love Letter” by Barry Adams

I could go on and on, quoting scripture after scripture of what God has to say about us. He didn’t say it just to me, but to you too!  And while I was the hard case, I really didn’t work for this truth…it was there all along, just for the acceptance.

God loves you. Tomorrow marks the day that Love came down, from heaven to earth, to serve us and become the sacrificial Lamb so we all might live. I pray that this, the Christmas truth, will somehow touch you. Is there more to this story? Oh yes there is. But you must make the first move.

He’s waiting for you. Will you come?

Merry Christmas my friend.

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Let the Past be the Past!

New things are coming.  I’m getting really excited about 2015.  If you follow the many prophetic voices around the world, the word is that 2015 will be a year of battles won, restoration from battles lost, and that signs and wonders will reappear.  These are no small matters to consider.  Personally I’m looking forward to a year of realizing all three areas.

We all have pasts.  Buried in our pasts are dreams that have died and the disillusions that came about as a result of those losses.  There is one particular dream of mine that almost died completely this past spring.  After most of my lifetime spent on pursuing (albeit slowly, ever so slowly) one particular dream, I came very close to laying it down completely this year.  My logic was simple; after all these years the dream was nothing more than an illusion.  If it were going to happen, surely it would have after 60-odd years.  I was perfectly willing to let it go.  There just comes the day when you’re tired of nursing the dream along and nothing much was happening.  “Maybe I’ve just been fooling myself,” “what is wrong with my will power Lord?”, and other such thoughts brought me to the edge of the decision.  And, just as I was ready to thrust the dream into oblivion, God intervened.  He showed me that my dream was truly part of who He made me to be and that He had others waiting in the wings, needing to receive the gifting He implanted in me.  He let me know He would end up using someone else if I really didn’t want to go forward, but if I still wanted to pursue the dream, He was behind me.  Humbling that one was!

So I’ve committed to long term classes in 2015 as a student in two arenas.  Part of me is terrified but the other part is ecstatic.  Being a student again requires time, discipline, and effort.  I tend to try to fool myself into believing I don’t have time.  That’s a lie.  The discipline and effort parts?  Well, those scare me the most.  As I look back, the effort kicks in and discipline follows – for a short time.  Then when the unplanned distraction or unavoidable pop up in my life, the discipline crumbles and the effort just can’t muster picking it up again.  That’s been the pattern.  I’m pressing into the Lord in earnest this time around.  He’s helped me in the past accomplish things I didn’t think I could and felt I had no “willpower” to pull off.  It’s time to go there again, realizing that my strengths lie in Him and, just as I posted the other day about stepping over the fence, it’s time I get on with this.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Is this stirring something in you?  I don’t particularly like New Years resolutions and I’m not considering my plans as such.  This is something else.  This is a stirring in my spirit to follow Him.  To cry out to Him when I feel weak and to give Him praise when I go forward in a straight line.  I will press in to the One who has been molding me all these years, whose plans are for me not against me, and who amazingly still believes in me after all these years.

Anyone up for the adventure?

 

 

It Was All Carter’s Fault!

Sometimes the most wonderfully unexpected things happen by means of surprising circumstances!

Our grandson came to stay with us this past summer.  He’s 12 1/2 years old and quickly approaching the age when it just won’t be cool to hang out with Mamaw anymore.  At least this is what my logical mind keeps telling me.  I cherish my time with this young man for he is quite wonderful and amazing.  We both love to laugh at things.  When he was little, I would often launch into absolute buffoonery just to make him and his sisters laugh.  Carter has the greatest dimples and when he laughs long and hard, he often says he’s having a dimple freeze meaning his face hurts from so much laughter.  That’s what I always hoped for; dimple freezes translating into we are having laugh attacks together.

Well, during that week he showed signs of wanting to hang out with Papa some and so they did some landscaping work with a bobcat tractor that Carter got to drive for the first time.  He was loving it and I might add, he took to it more readily than grandpa did when he learned!  Not surprising with today’s youth who grow up on technology, video games and joysticks.  He rambled around the yard with absolutely no problems!  Then Papa gave him a few lessons in the art of the golf swing and they spent a few hours throughout the week up in the shop, swinging away at the little white ball into papa’s golf net setup.  Seems Carter has his daddy’s natural ability to have a pretty hefty golf swing; Papa was impressed.  They also shot at targets with a 22 pistol and all these things added up to wonderful “guy time” for Papa and Carter.

As usual Carter and I had a few laughter moments (the old girl still has the knack!), but sadly, I had to work a bit harder to find the silly space between us.  My moments with him came in dreaming up meals that I knew he would appreciate or at the very least like, helping to plan out what we were all doing, and in confounding the boy by trying to turn facts into secrets or silly untruths.  He’s got me figured out pretty well at this age!

Then came Saturday.  Papa was going to be gone at a golf tournament that had been planned prior to our knowing Carter was coming to stay with us.  What were we going to do for the day?  Carter was pretty agreeable to most anything we discussed and then he had an idea.  “How about we do another one of those treasure hunts Mamaw?”  This statement caused no small amount of contemplation on my part.  You see, a treasure hunt is something of a spiritual exercise.  You pray beforehand and ask the Lord for clues to help you find people who need prayer.  Clues can include such things as colors, locations, body parts (meaning a limp, a cast on a wrist, a brace of some sort, anything physical that can be seen), specific articles of clothing, or any other thing to help you find God’s treasure (the person) for prayer.  We had done one of these with all three of our grandchildren about three years before; the results were pretty outstanding and the day made a lasting impression on these kids.  Shucks, they made a lasting impression on us adults as well!

So, Carter wanted to do another treasure hunt.  As wonderful as they are, treasure hunts can cause issues.  Issues like fear, insecurities, and other such distracting things to surface.  And, since it had been quite awhile since I had participated in a treasure hunt, all the uncertainties of treasure hunts started screaming in my head.  “Oh my goodness, I have to muster up courage to approach people!”, “what if someone yells at me?”, and a myriad of other objections wouldn’t leave me alone.  And yet, here is this 12-year-old looking at me with all the confidence in the world that his grandmother is going to take him out on a God adventure and we’re going to pray for people’s needs.  I simply could not let this moment and opportunity pass.

So, off we went into town, armed with our individual lists of clues that included mostly colors, articles of clothing, and a person with a limp.  First we went to one of the grocery stores in town that is situated in a strip mall.  We took our dog with us since she usually is a people magnet.  No one approached us; the dog was not working her charms that day!  We spotted a couple of people with the right color or piece of clothing, and even a man with a limp, but I couldn’t bring myself to chase them out in the parking lot as they approached their cars.  With much frustration, we commented to each other that this was turning out to be harder than the last time we did this.  Finally, we saw a friend leaving in her car and we promptly waved her down to talk.  We told her what we were doing and she told us we could pray for a need she had this day.  With our pump primed now, she drove off and we decided to go to another store in town.

We left Sophie in the car and went inside.  Looking down the aisles, we finally noticed a woman with a gray sweater, two of the clues on our sheets.  We approached.  I excused my intrusion and waited for the woman to acknowledge me.  She continued staring at the shelves of items in front of us.  Inside, I was dying!  “Oh my gosh, this woman thinks I’m a fruitcake!  We should just walk away,” I bemoaned to myself.  Out of the corner of my eye I could see Carter, waiting for his grandmother to launch into action.  How could I bolt with those eyes upon me?  And so I launched into my speech: “Hi, this is my grandson and we are on a treasure hunt today from the Lord.  You are wearing a gray sweater and that was a clue He gave us this morning as we prayed about how we were to find folks who need prayer.  We believe you are one of God’s treasures.  Do you by chance have a need today that we could pray about for you?”  The woman had remained looking straight ahead at the shelves until I finished talking.  She finally turned to look at me, smiled, and said, “oh I don’t think I have any needs today.”  I thanked her, apologized for interrupting her shopping trip and wished her a blessed day.

As we walked off, Carter said, “well, that was awkward, wasn’t it?”  I couldn’t have agreed more.  I felt that this was a bust idea, but for Carter’s sake I never let on how insecure I was feeling at the moment.  We looked for more treasures for another ten minutes or so and I finally said we should head for home.  I was so disappointed.  I had been sure the Lord would use us because He knows how tentative a 12-year-old’s faith is and I didn’t want the enemy to win.  Somehow my disappointment was quickly being transformed into thoughts of failure, all tied up with my fears and doubts about my own courage in this experiment.  We slowly walked out the door.  Off to my right was a pharmacy walk-up window and there, standing against a short wall waiting her turn at the window, was an older woman in a blue shirt and a flowery, knitted cap, more of our clues.  I knew in my heart that this was a woman going through chemo and the hat was covering her bald head.  I motioned to Carter that she was one of our treasures and he agreed; we approached the woman.

Once again, we introduced ourselves to her and told her of our purpose; “…you are wearing a blue shirt and a flowery cap, two of our clues this morning as we prayed and we wonder if you have a need we could pray for today?”  She looked at us and quickly answered, “I do have a need.  I have cancer.”  I asked if we might pray for her there and she told us yes.  And just like that, the day was transformed from an awkward personal challenge into a total victory for the Lord.  Did He heal her?  We don’t know.  But did He touch her?  I think so.

My day began as most others save for the fact that our grandson was visiting with us.  Carter, with a childlike faith to be used by God and his trust in his grandmother’s ability to lead the way, transformed the day into something magical.  I have every confidence that the Lord smiled down on all of us that day.  The woman in the gray sweater may or may not have had any needs, but I’m positive God will use the moment to cause questions to rise up in her thoughts about people, their willingness to reach out, and about this God who gives them courage to do so.  For the woman with cancer there may be healing or any other number of possibilities only He knows, the least of which could be encouragement on a rough day from two strangers.  For a grandmother with a very trusting grandson, I am humbled.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on the treasure hunt.  Once begun, I felt I was failing God miserably with my fears and lack of courage.  But in the end, the Lord turned it all into victory.  A glorious, full-of-God possibilities, wonderful, victory for two women, a hesitating grandmother, and a brave hearted, God loving 12-year-old.  It was all Carter’s fault!

Impossible? Not with God…

Blogging has its issues.  Like you have to do it.  The last couple of weeks have been blogging-less because, well, nothing has been there to blog.  My husband would probably challenge that statement because he thinks I’m an endless stream of words in comparison to him.  Whatever.

There has been a lot going on within me in the past few weeks.  I’ve been chewing a lot on what I’ve been hearing from God.  There have been many fits and starts about what I’m to do right now.  Remember the dream recently about having triplets?  Well, there have been a couple more dreams that have been equally interesting.

And then there are the books I’ve been reading.  “God in the Yard” has led me to pursue God.  Not that I always hear anything, but simply waiting on Him has been a very good thing for me right now.  I’m living a new, unfamiliar style…waiting on God for the next move.  In the past, I’d have bolted by now, making something happen out of my frustration, boredom, whatever.  Not right now.  I’ve determined that making something happen isn’t necessarily what God would have me do if He had His way.  After many errors along the way, I’m satisfied to wait on Him right now.

Our pastor has recommended another book, one he’s actually using as the basis for his preaching right now.  It’s called, “Wild Goose Chase” by Mark Batterson.  Whoa!  What a book.  I think this is my all time favorite book.  It is compelling.  I blasted my way through this book, it is that good.  In fact, I wish I’d written this book!  🙂  Wild Goose Chase will ask you direct questions about your walk with the Lord and will make you squirm.  Oh yes, I’ve been squirming here.

The final reading I want to share with you today is out of  “Experiencing God Day by Day”, a devotional by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby.  The reading was out of Luke 1:37; “For with God, nothing will be impossible.”  It begins discussing the wonder of Jesus’ birth…how God made something impossible (a virgin birth) become possible.  The reading continues, “When God speaks of doing the impossible, it is no longer absurd.  When was the last time God spoke to you about what He wanted to do and you were scared to death by its magnitude?”

And there you have it, right where I’m living.  I’ve heard God speak to me about something He wants to do through me and I’m scared to death!  What if I fail?  What if I can’t?  What if?  No, no, no, I’m not getting it.  “For with God, nothing is impossible.”  Mary absolutely had the right answer, that she was open to anything God wanted to do through her.

Becoming pregnant wasn’t something Mary could do.  He didn’t ask her to get pregnant, He just presented the possibility of using her and, thankfully, she said a bold YES!  She didn’t take time to think it over, she didn’t bolt from the magnitude of the request, she simply said yes.  “Yes, God.  You can use me to do this thing that seems utterly impossible to me.  Yes.”

She didn’t get all tangled up in projecting into the future about what might happen if she said yes.  She didn’t stumble on such things as “will I make a good mother, what if I can’t get pregnant, what if my whole town rejects me?”  She didn’t go to any of those places.  She just said yes.

The point is that God doesn’t want me to become someone else, a suddenly devout, error-less saint who does everything right, knows no sin, and has the talents to do anything for God.  He knows what He’s doing in asking…”will you trust me?”  He has His reasons for asking you and me to do anything for Him.  It’s our job to trust Him and simply say yes.

That’s where I’ve been the last couple of weeks…wrestling with myself over something I’ve heard.  I have a choice.  Will I allow the fears, the unknowns, the magnitude of His request to stop me?  Or will I just say yes and then trust Him, that He can make the impossible happen?  I just have to say yes and begin.  At least He’s not asking me to become pregnant and bear the Savior of the world!!  Whew!