Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Craving The Pages of My Bible

I wrote this blog two years ago...the pages of my friend are still falling apart. The panic of sending it off to be rebound still causes my heart to beat fast. I pray that you too find a deep love for the Word of God. 
 
My main Bible is falling apart.  Just the other Sunday, during the pastor’s message, Ephesians through the “L” section of my concordance fell out into the floor.  It’s not too terribly embarrassing unless you sit on the front row like we do.  It’s a wonder that anyone in our pulpit can hold their concentration with us group of yahoos that sit in the front.  Nearly every week we manage to create some type of distraction.  But I digress.

I originally tried to rubber band my bible together.  That only worked for a few months.  Now I’m trying to decide if I should tape it together with clear packing tape.  I’ve got the tape at home, if I could just figure out how to effectively do it without tearing up the pages in the process.  And as I’m typing this post from the comfort of Misty’s chaise lounge chair she simply says, “Why don’t you just glue it?”  Ahem… had not thought of that in the midst of my panic.  You see, this is really like a Death Con Level 4 situation for me.

You may be thinking, just grab one of the other bibles you have laying around the house or just go buy another one.  I gasp at the thought.  I have twinges of anxiety when I think about putting this bible on the shelf and starting over with a new one.  This bible and I go way back.  We have been through a lot together.  It is my friend.  I have written, highlighted, underlined and put brackets around scripture after scripture.  We have traveled the country together.  I have learned so much about the Lord through the pages of this bible.  It has heard me say all kinds of things.  It has seen me cry, laugh and splash a bit of coffee on its pages.  The little bookmark ribbon may be severally frayed at the end, but it still does its job.  I am attached to this thick, amplified version of the bible – which has my name inscribed on the front.  To tell me to replace it with a new one is almost as devastating as telling me to replace one of my children with a new one.

There have been times in my life that I would go through a dry season and not really open my bible outside of the obligatory trip to church on Sunday.  It has been left on the shelf.  It has collected a thin coating of dust sitting beside my bed – because I was angry at its author.  Other times I was too busy to pick it up and read it.  Needless to say, I have neglected it at times.

But the deep outside always calls to the deep within… (Psalm 42:7)

The deep love and truth of God, His Living Spirit, His amazing presences always calls to those deep places within me that remembers His voice, His breath, His love, His presence.  Sometimes that call comes from the beauty of His creation or remembrance of the secret place.  Other times it comes through His voice calling to me from the pages of His word.  This calling…this stirring…is hard to resist when you know the One calling is your “Abba, Father!”  There literally have been times that I have craved the pages of my bible.  Physically craved them.  No bible app or bible website has ever been able to satisfy those cravings for me.  There is something intimate and life-giving about writing in and physically turning the pages of your bible.  I love looking up a scripture and finding that I had already left my mark on it.  There is no greater treasure than reading a word or comment that the Lord had already spoken to me about that scripture.  It makes the Word come alive.  It reminds me of lessons already learned or promises already spoken.  It takes me back to a time or place where a seed of truth was planted in my heart.  Or it might be something I don’t remember writing at all, and I simply live in the joy of rediscovering the word.

“…Your word has revived me and given me life.” Psalm 119:50 (AMP)


The Word of the Lord is that tangible part of our relationship with Him. It’s the part of Him that we can hold and see.  His voice rings loudly as we turn the pages and discover the treasures of Truth.  His word revives us and gives us life.  Psalm 119 often refers to the Word of God.  Take some time and read it.  Highlight, underline, circle, box-in, and add brackets…even dare to write beside it.  It’s a long chapter, so you might want to take your time.  But when you’re done there, move on to another chapter, and another and another.  Before long, you’ll crave the very pages of your new best friend.

Friday, June 27, 2014

All About The Cross



**Reposted from a past blog**  (I just couldn't help but share this again because it did me some good to read it again.)
I was reading one of my friends blogs and he had some praise and worship videos posted for his praise band.  So you know me, I can’t NOT listen to praise and worship music when it’s available…so I started listening to “Wonderful Cross”.  And ya’ll…I had to shut my office door because I couldn’t help but cry and worship right here at my desk.  It hit me so hard this morning.  It brought things back into perspective for me.
I’ve had so many questions, so much frustration…but what I really needed to understand was that it’s all about the Cross.  Every aspect of my life is supposed to be filtered through the Cross.  I may get frustrated at home, work and church but ultimately I just need to spend more time at the foot of the Cross.  As that mercy and grace flows out over me, I’ll be so drenched in it that I will extend that same mercy and grace to every person and every situation I encounter.  When you’re drenched with water when you get out of the pool, everything you touch gets water on it.  It runs down your arms, over your hands and onto whatever you’re touching.  It runs down your face and into your eyes, causing you to see differently.  Every step you take, you leave a path of water.  It’s the same when you’re drenched with grace, mercy and love.  Everything or person you touch gets grace, mercy and love on them/it.  You see things differently through grace, mercy and love.  You leave a path (that people follow) of grace, mercy and love.  You leave footprints in their lives.
My precious Lord Jesus shed His blood for ME…hard-headed, stiff-necked, sassy ME.  Sometimes we that go to church all the time get numb to the phrase, “He shed His blood for me”…when every fiber of our body should burst into praise every time we hear that said in our presence.
I was a stinkin’ mess before I finally surrendered myself to the Lord.  It’s only because of His sacrifice that I’m able to boldly go before the throne of God.  I have power and authority because of the Cross.  The Cross just can’t be a symbol that we wear around our neck, it must become a gut-wrenching sign of hope, grace and mercy to us.  This side of heaven, I’ll never fully grasp the depth, width and height of what the Cross means.  But I sure want to find out all that I can while I’m here.
When the woman, that was caught in adultery in the Book of John, was thrown in the dirt at the feet of Jesus…she didn’t know anything about Him coming to save the world by dying on a Cross.  She had no idea what He was about to do for her.  All she knew was that when she looked up into His eyes; she saw the same forgiveness, hope and mercy that I saw when I threw myself at the foot of the Cross.  Jesus changed her life and He certainly has changed mine.  He is the hope of the world…she experienced Him first hand…I get to experience Him through the Cross.  I’m so thankful…so very thankful.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Absences Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Absences makes the heart grow fonder, right?  I suppose that was true in the "good ole' days".  But for today's "instant is best" society, it seems that instead of one's heart growing fonder due to an absence - it simply forgets and moves on.

Unless...

The person that is absent from your life is your best friend.

I didn't intend for this blog to be about an upcoming...impending...much-dreaded date.  I really started out saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder" as an entry back into the blogging world.  A world that I have been silent in for quite some time.  Of course, when you only have 7 followers - you're not really missed.

Unless...

You have stalker-type friends like I do.  We hound, push, pull and prod each other into being better women.  I am thankful for them.  They push me when I get in a rut.  I'm not talking about little ruts like the ones your car makes when you accidentally drive on the grass.  I'm talking about the kind of ruts that your husband makes in his 4-wheel-drive truck when mud riding out on the back part of your rain-soaked property.  (Yes, there's a story there, but I'll save it for another blog.)

So here I am you 7 loyal followers!  I thought I was coming out here to say a simple "hello" but the Lord has other plans for me.  He does this kind of thing to me all of the time.  He knows me well.  He knows He has to "trick" me into doing things...kind of like us moms do to our kids by blending up spinach into their brownie mix.

"Absences makes the heart grow fonder" is a phrase I have learned to loathe.  So many special people in my life have moved off to other towns, bigger states and larger-than-life dreams.  It has happened so often that I have recently yelled at God about it.

Yes, you read that right - I yelled at God.  You should try it the next time you get mad at Him.  Read Lamentations 3 if you don't believe me.  Jeremiah wasn't exactly singing a love song to God in this chapter.  It's okay.  I promise.  He already knows you're angry at Him.  You might as well open up those lines of communication with Him.  Trust me, He can handle whatever you throw His way.

I decided to tell God how hurt and angry I am about the growing list of people that move away from me.  People that mean the world to me.  People I invest in, love, cherish, laugh with, act silly with, talk to almost every day, grow in my faith with, and simply live my life to the fullest with - walk through the good, bad and ugly together.  Why, God?  Why are you letting yet another one go?  I joke around that I'm the common denominator but really on the inside, I begin to wonder if there is a common reason.  I mean really - does this happen so often to others?  I suppose if you're a military kid, you're saying "absolutely".  But I'm a small town Southern girl that has never lived outside of a 20-mile radius.  I can honestly say within a 5-mile radius for over 30 of my 40 years.  Clearly, I don't get out much.  I don't intend to either.  Let me clarify - I travel.  I love to travel.  However, there is no place like home.  I love my small-town living.  I am devoted to my family, friends and my church.  God would have to take some pretty firm measures to get me to move away.  So clearly this all effects my perspective on things.  I think, "Why would anyone want to leave here?"  "Isn't everyone here for life like I am?"

The answer is a clear and definitive "no".

**Disclaimer...those of you that are reading this and know that you belong back here need to just go ahead and quit fighting it.  Put your house up for sale, pack your bags and get yourselves home.  You know who you are.  Don't make me start posting names.  Okay, I would never do that...but don't test me because I just might do it one day.**

So my best friend is moving away in June.  There - I said it.  I am finally giving in and admitting the issue at hand is alive and real.  She's moving outside the 50-mile radius I gave them as an acceptable distance from me.  I am concerned about her hubby's problem with calculating miles.  It makes me question his choice of professions.  I just don't understand why people can't seem to follow my rules. :)  Our friendship agreement clearly states that no one can move away without my written consent!  I say that all with a smile on my face...although a friendship agreement may not be a bad idea from here on out.

My Ned.  My Jenny Marie.  My sweet friend who has completely turned me upside down (for the better).  The one who satan fought to keep me away from.  The blonde girl in t-shirts and jeans that can sing so very beautifully.  Not just sing - but usher in the Presences of God.  My friend who laughs at me and with me more than any two grown women should.  My friend who is my advocate.  My sister food lover...who has single-handedly managed to help me gain 10 pounds since I've known her.  My fellow lover of travel.  The one that didn't judge me when we first met each other and I made the mistake of eating a Fiber One poptart at the beginning of a road trip.  (Need I explain?)  My partner in ministry.  The one who saves me when I take Ambien and then try to text or Facebook.  The one who sits down beside me and encourages me and loves me in some of the darkest moments of my life.  The one who knows my love language and showers me with amazing surprises and gifts.  My sister in Christ.

Friendship.  It's something that can have such a tremendous influence in one's life.  "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future", is something one of my knot-headed brothers in Christ says.  It is so very true.  Friends help mold one another.  Jenny has certainly helped mold me.  It's amazing how quickly and easily we became friends.  It's one of those things where you sit back and say, "I never saw that one coming...never would have put those two together."  But God knew that our paths were destined to cross.  He had a plan to put us together, so we could love on others as well as each other.  We have two completely different approaches to most things, which makes for a lot of laughs and a well-rounded approach to the issue at hand.  I love the way God blends our two styles of ministry when we minister together.  Some of my most memorable moments where when we tag teamed to pray for women.  Goodness, the Lord has been so faithful to us!  Therefore, we must be faithful with what He has given us...

Friendship is something we should never take lightly.  We should never take each other for granted.  I have learned recently that we cannot afford to let disagreements and anger linger, then form a wedge.  As lives get busier and miles begin to separate, we will have to be intentional in nurturing our friendship.  We will cherish every moment we have together.  We will have to be sure that we build new memories, not just try to live off of old ones.  Thank goodness for technology!  Facetime, Instagram, email, Facebook, texting and Twitter will be our form of "instant" communication.  No more are the days of me penning a letter then carrying it around in my purse for two months because I don't have a stamp!

So I'll be replacing the stamp-less letter with a road map.  I'll be making some road trips to a little community in Arkansas that I never expected to drive through, much less stop in for a visit.  I'll send crazy pictures of myself and thesis-length emails.  I'll stalk her social media accounts and pout when she decides to travel west instead of east...

In the middle of it all, I will cling to the fact that God has a plan in all of this.  I need only to trust Him.



Friday, June 14, 2013

Cover Her in the Storm

I watched her as she stood in the crowd of worshipers.  I sensed that she felt isolated and out of place.  It was as if she were standing outside, watching through a window, as her brothers and sisters in Christ feasted at His table...a table where she should be sitting. All she could do was stare at her chair that sits empty as it waits for her return.  Her tormentor whispered lies laced with hints of truth into her ear.  He numbed her with shots of shame and circumstance.

I could see the battle raging inside of her.  She knew that she belonged there.  She has experienced the love, peace, joy and forgiveness of the King that they were all worshiping.  After all, she is the apple of His eye...and she knows it.  Her spirit was crying out to worship God, but hurt and anger stifled her willingness to show affection for her King.  So she stood by and watched.  Occasionally, her spirit would win for a moment and her leg would bounce to the music.  She stood awkwardly not knowing what to do with her hands.  Normally, they would be raised in worship.  So she clinched them together at her waist, as if she were holding them hostage. 

In the past few months, life has pulled the rug out from under this young woman.  Her world has been shaken.  Her faith is being tested.  She is confused, angry, scared, and hurting.  She wants life to be back as she once knew it.  She watches as foundational people in her life are stricken with ailments.  Some of her friendships have become questionable.  She struggles with the absence of a parent. All that she has believed about her King has come into question.  She's flat out angry at Him.  She doesn't give a rats butt about praying right now.  So she turns to temporary soothers.  Things and people that help her forget...help her medicate the pain.  But those temporary soothers lose all their power when she stands in the presences of her Abba Father.

My heart aches for her.  I love her more than she truly knows.  I think of her often.  I love on her every chance I get.  I pray for her and reach out when I feel the Holy Spirit leading me to do so.  I make sure she understands that I get it.  That I'm not trying to instantly fix her but instead I'm walking this journey with her.  I try to balance grace and truth as I speak encouraging words to her.  I want to see her walk out on the other side of this suffering a much stronger woman of God.  I want to sit next to her at the King's table as we worship Him together.  

This young lady has more people praying for her than she could ever imagine.  The enemy wants her to think that she's alone in her suffering.  But if she were to turn around and look behind her, she would see a mighty army of Godly people covering her in prayer...supporting her in battle...washing her wounds with the healing power of God's Word.

One day soon, I will see my sweet friend rise up from the ashes and become an oak of righteousness.  Until then, I will cover her in this storm.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Weeping For Disengaged Members

"He makes the whole body fit together perfectly.  As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love." ~Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)


While getting ready yesterday morning, I turned on the local news here in Dallas.  The first report I heard was of a local fireman that had been killed in an apartment fire in the early hours of the morning.  Stanley Wilson was a 28-year veteran of the Dallas Fire Department.  The raw emotions from those that were being interviewed had a way of reaching through the television and grabbing my heart.  His fellow firefighters were devastated.  They wept as they tried to give a report of what happened.  One of the fire chiefs mustered up the strength to do a press conference, and did it with tremendous strength, dignity and leadership...but his eyes showed the struggle within.  He mentioned that Stanley is leaving behind a wife and two teen-aged sons.  Again, the depth of grief and loss is overwhelming in this case.  As they carried Stanley's body from the rubble, the path from the building to the ambulance was lined with weeping firefighters standing shoulder-to-shoulder and saluting as he went by.  It was clear that Stanley was more than a team member to them.  He was a veteran member of their fire-fighting family.  He held a special place in their hearts and had special skill sets that they needed to function.  Now he is gone and a hole remains.

Immediately the Lord grabbed my attention by reminding me of Ephesians 4:16, that we are all members of the same body.  When one member is lost, the entire body suffers.  He brought to my mind the number of Christians that are lost from the Body for one reason or another.  Often times we fail to recognize the sense of loss and the gap that is created when we lose a member of the Body.  

We have our own special work that the Lord has given us.  When we do that work, we help other parts grow.  The body then functions as it should.  The sense of "family" is strengthened and relationships are formed.  Iron sharpens iron.  Love is shared.  We become each other's advocates.  We strengthen one another's weaknesses.  We fit together perfectly.  Together we share the love of Christ with the world around us.   

Losing a member is difficult.  It's almost too heavy to bear at times.  I have watched some go by in caskets and the grief ran deep.  The thought of not having them here with us is so hard to bear.  So many questions are asked.  "Why, God!?"  "Why now?"  "What are we supposed to do now?" "Couldn't You have stopped it!?"  "Where in the world are You in this!?" A desire to hear their voice or see their smiling face, just one more time, presses its way into our minds almost daily.  We grab on to memories, only to feel them slipping through our fingers after so many years. There's no way around it...Death. Is. Hard.  So we weep over our loss and cling to the hope of eternal life with them.  Praise the Lord that He is so faithful in filling the gap left by the lost member.  He is so good at filling it with just the right person, at just the right time.

Watching a member of the Body remove themselves from their place and walk away is also very difficult.  I have many names that I pray for that have walked away from being a functioning member of the Body of Christ.  Some were veteran members and found themselves trapped, as Stanley Wilson did. Sometimes our first reaction is to say, "Didn't you know better?  Didn't you see the trap coming?  You've been a Christian for over 20 years.  Don't you remember the Bible talking about the enemy prowling around like a lion to devour you?  Why didn't you stay alert?"  The reality of it is that sometimes we all get comfortable or make poor choices.  We've all found ourselves in a trap or two over the coarse of our Christian walk. (Let he without sin cast the first stone.) Maybe our trap didn't completely disengage us from the joints of the Body.  Maybe it simply paralyzed us for a moment or two.  Nonetheless, we have all let our brothers and sisters in Christ down by not being a properly functioning Christian.  We stalled the efforts of being a healthy, growing, full of love Body.

As the firemen wept with sorrow as their fallen member was carried away, we too should weep for those that have been carried away by the enemy.  There are so many non-functioning Christians in the world today.  People that were hurt by other people in the church and no longer trust other Christians.  There are others that are flat out angry at God and refuse to serve Him.  There are others that are just confused.  Others are beaten down by the storms of life.  Some have been carried away by their sin.  Sin that slowly engulfed them.  The list goes on and on of reasons as to why people get carried away or walk away from the Body of Christ.  I pray today that we will all feel a deep sense of loss for our fallen members.  That our hearts will be moved by compassion for them. May the Holy Spirit begin to bring them to the front of our minds so we can begin to pray for their return.  May He put them in our paths and may we show them the love of Christ when He does.  May we stand shoulder-to-shoulder and line their path back to the Body of Christ.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Just As I Am, Without One Plea

I recently heard the old hymn, Just As I Am, Without One Plea.  I can't say that I have ever given the song's lyrics much thought until now.  In fact, I haven't heard the song in at least 15 years.  For some reason, as I was taking down the Christmas tree today, I began to really dwell on the words of the song.  Here they are:


1. Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 

2. Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 


 3. Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 


 4. Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 


 5. Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. 


6. Just as I am, thy love unknown hath broken every barrier down; now, to be thine, yea thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.


What a powerful, powerful song when you sort through the "thees" and "thous".  What a perfect picture of how we should come to Christ realizing that we are broken without Him. How He wants us to come to Him as we are, for if we try to fix ourselves we will simply make a bigger mess of ourselves. Just as if I tried gluing back together a vase I broke. What an ugly, sticky, misaligned, leaky mess it would be. The only person qualified to completely restore it would be its Creator.

Our Creator doesn't want us polishing up and making repairs before we come to Him. As the song says, He bids us to come to Him. "Come to Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 His blood will cleanse us...every. single. blotch. And verse 5 of the song reminds us that He will receive us with welcoming arms. He will pardon, cleanse and relieve us. I don't know about you, but I could certainly use some relief at different points in my life. Life is hard, just plain 'ole hard. 

I've often thought about how much easier it would be to live in the "olden days". Have you ever thought that too? I've dreamed of how great it must have been to live a slower-paced life. But the lyrics of this song, that were written in the 1700s, sounds identical to some of the things I've said over my lifetime. "...though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within". "I am poor, wretched and blind." All of us can sing these words with conviction for they describe far too many of our days.  If you're like me, you become weary and burdened by sin, conflict, hurt, the list goes on.  Often it feels as though we're being tossed around in a "storm".  Doubt screams in our ears and fears weigh us down with chains.

His blood was shed for it all....all...no really, ALL. How narrow-minded we are to forget about the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.  And His love has broken down every barrier.


So that...

Just as I am, without one plea...Oh Lamb of God...I come, I come.  And I praise You for the love and forgiveness I find when I reach Your arms.