Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Rosebud

This is an old story & poem that is relevant, to me - and to all of us, really - every day:

The Rosebud

A young, new preacher was walking with an older, more seasoned preacher in the garden one day. Feeling a bit insecure about what God had for him to do, he was asking the older preacher for some advice.

The older preacher walked up to a rose bush and handed the young preacher a rosebud and told him to open it without tearing off any petals. The young preacher looked in disbelief at the older preacher and was trying to figure out what a rosebud could possibly have to do with his wanting to know the will of God for his life and ministry. But because of his great respect for the older preacher, he proceeded to try to unfold the rose, while keeping every petal intact.

It wasn't long before he realized how impossible this was to do.

Noticing the younger preacher's inability to unfold the rosebud without tearing it, the older preacher began to recite the following poem...

It is only a tiny rosebud
A flower of God's design;
But I cannot unfold the petal
With these clumsy hands of mine.
The secret of unfolding flowers
Is not known to such as I.
GOD opens this flower so sweetly,
Then in my hands they die.

If I cannot unfold a rosebud,
This flower of God's design,
Then how can I have the wisdom
To unfold this life of mine?
So I'll trust in Him for leading
Each moment of my day.

I will look to Him for His guidance
Each step of the pilgrim way.

The pathway that lies before me
Only my Heavenly Father knows.
I'll trust Him to unfold the moments,
Just as He unfolds the rose.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hanging On To The Hope I Have in God

written: April 2010

My story begins with a dream. I had a dream a few weeks ago that to this day I haven’t been able to shake. The day after I had this dream, I just HAD to tell someone, so I told my boys about it. I felt as though I had had a spiritual dream. I’ve heard stories of how God speaks to His children, through prophecy, an encouraging word from a brother and sister, God directly or through dreams. Considering how strong I felt after I woke up, I was certain it was God speaking to me.

My dream started with me getting a day off from work, for no reason at all. I was just told by management that I should take a day off. Who can resist that huh? So here I was, coming up with ideas on how to use this glorious free day of freedom!! Shopping, “me” time, movies, etc etc. The possibilities were endless!

Somehow, reason took over and I realized that I had business to take care of in downtown. For whatever purpose, I had to go down to the federal building, a trek I was not looking forward to. But onward I went, to take care of business. On my way down, I noticed that the sunshine was no longer visible in the midst of tall buildings. It was also cold and windy, and that really stayed with me, the quick change in weather.

While I was walking down a main road towards my destination, I heard shouts and screaming. Sounded almost like what in my dreams would be utter chaos. I then realized that people were running around like crazy; people screaming and crying and pointing. My eyes followed towards their pointing and saw a man on a corner, wearing a trench coat (how cliché huh?), holding a young woman hostage while holding what appeared to be a rifle. He was yelling at people to get down or he would shoot. I can’t tell you what he was aiming for, his rifle was pointing all over the place with his poor hostage crying.

At this point I remember someone from the ground yelling at me to get down or else he was going to shoot at me. If you were standing, you were a target. I calmly told them that I had business to tend to and kept walking. Sure enough, seconds later the assailant started shouting in my direction, calling me filthy names and commanding me to get on the ground. I remember turning to look at him, making eye contact and returning to my walk up the stairs of this federal building. I wasn’t about to let him stop me. I have no idea where this boldness came from, but he was not at all too happy with me. He yelled at me (again with the ugly words) and asked me if I wanted to die. This time I didn’t give him the time of day and just kept walking and walking. In my dream, I made it inside the safety of the building where there was still chaos, but I was safe.

At first, I didn’t know what to think of this dream, other than my lack of sleep was playing with my mind. But after I kept revisiting it and replaying it in my mind over and over again, I quickly applied it to my walk with God. The weather may turn, it may get cold and windy, and I may be the only one standing; but if I have a goal to reach, I can’t let that stop me. The enemy will (not may but will) want me to fall short of reaching my goal, he will try to trip me up, will try to kill me (spiritually, emotionally, and even physically) but with God as my guide, I WILL make it to my appointed time and place where I am destined to be.

Isaiah 54:17 says: “Weapons made to attack you won't be successful; words spoken against you won't hurt at all. My servants, Jerusalem is yours! I, the LORD, promise to bless you with victory.”

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life is precious

Yesterday one of Don's relatives called to let me know they would be unable to come to Emma's birthday party. As we were talking and catching up, she shared with me about her daughter and son-in-law's new baby boy. When they first found out they were pregnant, they were, of course, overjoyed. Within the first two months, doctors realized something was wrong with the child. The doctors tried to convince the parents that it might be in everyone's best interest to terminate the pregnancy and try again later. Shocking as this seems, it happens every day.

The parents were immediately confronted with an uneasy feeling about the doctor's advice. They made it clear that this child was a life, a human being, already formed by God's own hands and ALIVE. No matter what happened when the child was born, they were determined to give him a chance at life.

The doctors performed multiple tests over the months of pregnancy. The baby boy was "sitting" Indian style in the womb. A c-section was planned for the end of March. However, the baby decided he wanted to come early, so the c-section was done last Monday. At birth, the baby was diagnosed with some type of musculoskeletal dysfunction and was born with both femurs fractured. His little feet were turned in significantly. He was, from the waist up, a perfectly formed, healthy, newborn baby boy. The doctors labored over his lower body and placed him in a cast from the waist down. Then the doctors told the parents, "Everything that is wrong with him can be fixed. None of it is permanent and none of it will affect his life." You can imagine the waves of relief and thanksgiving that came over the parents at that point. You can also imagine the thanks they gave to God for His Spirit intervening and prohibiting them from terminating this life several months ago. Trusting Him, they endured the several months of unknowns and were rewarded with a precious new life.

How often in today's world we hear stories of young lives being thrown away, or babies terminated before taking their first breath. I was so overjoyed to hear this story of parents "taking the risks" as the doctors said, and leaving it in God's hands. When we hung up the phone I just sat and cried out my thanks to God for this little boy's life. It was just 34 years ago that my own mother was faced with the decision of what to do about her pregnancy and chose life. I was again reminded of the grace and mercy of our father, and gave praise again for the life He gave.

"Life is precious, life is sweet, like the earth beneath my feet, though I know I'm passing through, I know I belong to You, life is precious, life is sweet, and this truth makes it complete, knowing Jesus died for me, life is precious, life is precious, life is sweet" (Wes King)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Just ONE step!

As I was watching Emma take her unsteady little steps into my arms last night, I was reminded of myself. Emma is scared to just let go and walk. She is so steady standing on her own and FLIES around the room holding onto stuff. But when it comes to fully letting go and trusting her feet to carry her across the floor, she balks. She will stand and lean as far as she can trying to reach my hand. As soon as one tiny fingertip touches my hand she starts walking. I am constantly reassuring her - "Come on Emma - you can do it - it's ok - you're fine - I'll catch you". The funny thing is - she's already taken 5-10 steps at a time NUMEROUS times before. I realized last night how perfectly God used her to illustrate a concept with me. I am the exact same way when it comes to God asking me to just let go, fully trust Him and take a step. I want to hold on tight. I want that extra reassurance and the physical touch of His hand before I move one foot forward. I want to know it's ok - that I'm fine - that He's going to catch me. It doesn't matter how many times I've taken a first step into a part of His plan and seen that He really isn't going to let me fall and that He IS going to catch me - I still hesitate. I turn back into that wobbly toddler - reaching as far as she can for the hand to reassure her. Watching Emma and encouraging her to walk... well... I can imagine now how God feels when I hesitate every time. The thoughts of "you've already DONE this a hundred times - you KNOW you can do this - you KNOW I'm here and I'm not going to let you fall"... I'm so sure my Father says the same things to me each time I hesitate. Though the amount of time I spend hesitating has drastically reduced in the past year as I've worked through the issues of trust and obedience with Him, I still do it. It's my goal to learn that when He says "walk this way" - that I immediately move. Like the disciples who AT ONCE left their nets and followed (Matt 4:20). When He says "Come. Follow Me." I want to drop everything and immediately go. No fear. No doubt. No hesitation.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Vessel

I am a vessel. This vessel is a temple which contains the spirit of God. Within me dwells the same God who created the universe. I have become a part of His divine nature. I am united in spirit with Him. Therefore, I become a visual representation of Him to the world. That can be downright scary. How could I ever be a living example of God? Well, God gave us a perfect living example of Him when He sent Christ to this world. When people look at me they should see Christ manifested in me. But even Jesus said He could do nothing on His own but was led by the Spirit of God (John 5:19-20, 30). To manifest Christ I need to learn to be led by that same Spirit. I need to learn to live as Jesus did - doing and saying only what I see and hear the Father doing and saying. I need to quiet myself and tune into the movement of God within me. I need to be into God - not into my own mind or my own heart. It's no longer my strength or my will. It's God's inner strength coming through my spirit and God's inner will coming from discernment deep within my heart. He fills my entire soul. His river flows through me, consuming me and drowning me to self and bubbling up with Him. It's not about what I can do but what I can (and will) let God do through me. Life isn't about self-actualization. It's about Spirit-actualization. I need to eliminate self-effort. This doesn't mean I need to eliminate my personality or my uniqueness. It just means I need to let God use me just the way I am. I need in faith to yield my mind, my mouth, my heart, my hands and my eyes to His flow. Only then can I truly be the vessel completely void of self and fully consumed by and exuding God.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How BIG is God?

Lately it seems God has been moving in mighty ways in many lives, my own included. As I've watched His hand sweep obstacles out of the way, stop assaults in their tracks, push troubles aside, heal deep wounds, wipe tears and comfort those hurting beyond anyone's imagination - a thought occurred to me.

Often times we are overwhelmed at how God moves. There is no doubt in our mind that He HAS moved, but we are blown away at HOW. We struggle to grasp how He so perfectly puts the pieces of the puzzle together in seconds - when we've been trying for years to figure out that same small step. I have been awed and dumbstruck so many times at how perfect God's plan is when I've seen just tiny little glimpses of it. If we are THAT overwhelmed at seeing one sweep of His hand move NO WONDER we can't phathom how great He is. If ONE hand of His sweeping through our lives is beyond comprehension - HOW BIG is Our God?! I've seen miracles unfold by the power of His hand. If just one hand of God can do such immeasurable things, imagine HOW MUCH MORE He as a whole is capable of. It's mind-boggling to say the least. We can't conceive everything that He has in store for us (1 Cor 2:9). We can't imagine His all-knowing, all-powerful, all-presence... His majesty, His righteousness, His goodness, His grace, His mercy... His LOVE... His being all in all. It's beyond defintion.

If my God is capable of such incredible feats with one hand - WHY do I allow myself to doubt? Why do I allow myself to fear? Why do I continuously struggle with trust? Why don't I let myself just rest in His arms? Someone pointed out a simple concept that so many of us miss. If it isn't Truth, it's a lie. Therefore, doubts and fears are lies. They are sins. They are not of God. We are commanded to fear not (Is 43:1-2, Prov 3:25-26, Is 41:10,13, Matt 10:29-31, Luke 12:32, Deut 31:8, Heb 13:6). If we have been perfected in His love, there is no fear (1 John 4:18). The same God of the Bible - God of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, Daniel, Matthew, Paul, Peter and all of the rest - is the SAME God today. The same God who moved mountains, calmed stormy seas, parted water, multiplied loaves and fish, and provided manna in the wilderness is the SAME God who is still working miracles today. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb 13:8). Why do we find it so difficult to accept today? He is still God, still moving, still working and still caring for our every need. Why should we fear? He's still there and the battle has already been won.

There is a song that has been echoing through my soul since I first heard it yesterday. It's a new release from worship artist Jared Anderson. The lyrics blew me away - especially since it was a concept I was already discussing with our wonderful Father God. He IS the Great I AM. He is God Almighty. He is Holy. He is Worthy. King. Majesty. He is Powerful. EVERY knee shall bow in His presence. There is none besides Him. None. Not one. He IS. There aren't enough words in every language in human existence combined to describe Him. He deserves our praise just because He is. Whenever the lies of fear, doubt, mistrust, inferiority, death and other heartaches cross our paths, we need to stop and praise Him. He is the Truth. He is the Light. He can sweep one hand across our lives and wipe every single one of those lies out of our way. I asked a praise leader what he does on days he just doesn't feel like singing - when troubles of the world are pressing in and the last thing he wanted to do was sing praise and he thought for a second, half-laughed, half-smiled and said "I sing". It's so true. No matter what we are going through we can still sing praise. We can still glorify our Creator and our Father. He is greater than our troubles. As my children will tell you - God is bigger than the Boogie Man. :) You have the Mightiest of Mighty, the most Powerful of Powerful, the King of KINGS walking beside you and within you. Don't let the lies of satan trip you. Your God is bigger than that. Be bold, be brave, live fearlessly and live for Him.