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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Ugly Curve

When life throws you an ugly curve, and your life changes dramatically, you start to question your purpose. You’re tempted to question God. You wonder about tomorrow. 

“I was doing well in this vocation, this ministry. What happens to the God given dreams now? Where do I go from here? Are all the doors of opportunity closed for good? Will I be stuck here the rest of my life?”

Or, “Have I let God down? Will I ever rise from this? Am I still valuable?”

I’ve struggled with these feelings sometimes. I’ve floundered at times. My confidence has been shaken. 

I remember the ones in the Bible who experienced this. Moses, who was cast away in the wilderness, supposedly to be never heard from again. David, who was constantly on the run, living in caves. Elijah, hiding out in a cave, bowed down in depression. Jonah, in the belly of a whale in the bottom of the ocean. Peter, back in the boat fishing, convinced he is a complete failure. 

And yes, Joseph. You had to know I was getting to him right? 

When you read their stories, it encourages and builds your faith so much. Because you find out that what looked to be the “end” only was a stepping stone to a greater ministry. It ended up to be a spiritual promotion. 

God wasn’t done with them yet. He had greater plans for them. In fact, it was way beyond their imaginations wasn’t it? It went far deeper than they expected. 

Because you see, spiritual promotion is far different than worldly promotion. It takes you deeper than you ever been. It pulls you closer to the Father’s heart. It tenderizes your heart. Your spiritual perception is clearer. Your spiritual appetite is more acute. 

In other words, He has your heart now like He didn’t before. 

Deep intense work like this involves you letting go. You need to rest in His hands and learn from Him. Like the Potter and the clay. The clay on the spinning wheel rests in the Potter’s hand as He molds and forms the yielding clay into something beautiful. 

The clay doesn’t rise up and ask the Potter, “what are you doing? And why are you doing it this way?” 

Beloved, please know that the Potter knows the plans He has for you. He can and will make something beautiful of you. You are valuable to Him. This season you are in now is only a preparation for what is to come. Your character is being formed now. Because of your trust, you will be a powerful vessel in His hands. 

Nothing can sway His intentions for you. Joseph himself said this to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” 

He is entrusting others to you. There are needy lives you will touch and point to Jesus. Do you understand why this deep inner work is so needed? 

I am realizing this in my life as well. God gives me glimpses sometimes to remind me of my purpose. I’m still a beautiful vessel in His hands. 

Know beloved, that you are valuable and beautiful to Him. You will testify to His goodness and faithfulness. The ones you touch will too. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Don't Get Ugly

I’ve developed a personal rule to allow myself to complain or whine one time. Just once I’ll indulge myself. 

I’ve been around people, and I’m sure you have too, that indulge a little too much, if you know what I mean. I don’t want people hiding from me when they see me coming. So I’ve chose to do this. 

Because it’s slowly occurred to me that I can spread seeds of negativity pretty easily. Notice that I say slowly. It’s hard to learn this, because we all are rather selfish if you want to be honest about it. At least I am learning right? Better to be growing and maturing in my spiritual walk, then to still be a miserable old cow, (yes I said it!) when I’m in my 80’s. 

And I say easy, because it is so much easier to focus on yourself and indulge in self pity. It’s remarkably easy to spread poison around. 

Again, it comes down to a choice. It always seems to don’t it? I can choose to go around and whine, gripe, and rage to whoever will listen about what a victim I am, how mistreated I am. Or  I can stand up and be the woman of grace that I truly am. Because I’ve been given Grace. I am remarkably blessed. 

Instead of seeing the weeds in the garden of life, I want to see the beautiful flowers. I want to plant the flowers. 
If you want butterflies, you must plant flowers.  If you are focused on garbage, you get flies. 

As I’ve studied the life of Joseph, it became glaringly true that he didn’t allow the ugliness to diminish his integrity. He left such an impression on those around him by his character and diligence. 

Think about it; here’s the favorite son, who’s been doted on, now a slave. He’s doing menial work. The Bible says clearly that Potiphar was so impressed with Joseph that he entrusted his whole household to him. 

Then Potiphar’s floozie wife slanders him and gets him thrown into prison. 

But in the prison, Joseph still shined. It says that the warden eventually put Joseph in charge of those imprisoned. He entrusted him with everything. 

When a person has been mistreated, and reduced to such a lowly position, the temptation is strong to not give a care. Why even try? Just do enough to slide by. Who’s going to care anyway? What difference does it make if I don’t give an effort.

Joseph didn’t do that. He did more than just work hard, he proved to be trustworthy. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that he was a joy to be around. 

And it’s obvious he didn’t bend everybody’s ear to spread negative poison around either. Although who could blame him if he did? 

Very sobering stuff I know right? You can understand now why he has been such an inspiration to me. 

As I was pondering on these things, and writing this blog, I thought of the passage in Romans 7.

“I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” The Message

The pull of self is very strong as you know. But thank God, It doesn’t have me in a stranglehold. I’m not helpless in its pull. I need Him so badly. He’s the Vine to my branch. 

Because of Him, I don't have to be ugly, just because life is ugly. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

False Impressions

False idea formed in the mind that is based on mistaken ideas. Not genuine or real. Intended to be misleading or deceptive. 

“Don’t go into that department, the women there aren’t very friendly and they don’t want to be bothered.” 

These words were spoken to my friend from her boss. She was told these women were chilly and hateful. So she believed this and stayed away. If she had to venture into this department, she approached reluctantly, expecting the worst.

Slowly over time, she began to spend a little more time with these women as she did her job in that area. A discovery was made that changed her perspective. These women were not chilly and hateful. As a matter of fact, they were rather nice. Friendly and approachable. Nothing at all like she was told. And so a relationship was formed.

False impressions can be damaging. It keeps us from potential friendships or relationships. And it’s all based on lies. We believe a lie about somebody and then keep them at arms length.

We never explore the truth about them. But if we dare to do so, usually we find out that we were mislead. 

So what is your impression about God? How do you feel about Him? Is it based on what you have been told? Has it been shaped from your circumstances? From what someone posted on Facebook, or what the media portrays? 

Did you ever consider that you may be pushing Him away because of false impressions? We do have an enemy of our souls. And our enemy hisses lies into our ears coaxing us to doubt God.

“He can’t be trusted.” 
“He doesn’t care about you.” 
“He will strike you down.” 
“You’re not good enough for Him”
“You messed up your life too much” 
“You’re not worth the trouble.” 
“There’s no hope for anything better.”
“This is as good as it will get.”

And so on and so forth. I’ve heard it all myself. And yes I believed some of those lies too. 

Just like my friend who stayed away from the “hateful” women, I have pushed God away. I have doubted Him. I believed lies about myself. 

These are false impressions, a deception from the pit of hell to keep you and me from knowing, really knowing God. Because when you really know Him, it changes everything. The blinders are removed from your eyes and your whole perspective changes. 

To know Him personally is liberating. It is freedom. Otherwise you are walking around believing a lie. Robbed of the most important relationship you will ever have. 

The truth is that you were created to have a relationship with God. And nothing or nobody will ever be sufficient. The aching and emptiness remains. And so we attempt to fill it anyway we can. And still we yearn. 

He’s standing at the door of your heart, knocking. He has a place for you at His table. Sweet communion awaits you. Don’t push Him away because of your false impressions. 

I guarantee that you will never regret giving your heart to Him.