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Flexible, Trusting and Obeying

Recently at Bible Study, as the gals were coming in, I handed them each a colored card with a number on it.   The only instruction given was “find the number that corresponds and that will be your seat for tonight.”  Feeling like a Flight Attendant, I did so with a smile, yet refrained from the urge to nod and quote the “B-bye, B-bye”.  There were a few not so excited being told where to sit, – BUT they were in church and I saw some ‘attitude checks’ going on (kinda fun to watch).  Yes, I was stretching them beyond their comfort zone.  As I opened, I assured them, “You are OKAY!  …Really!”  We, women, are creatures of routine and sitting where it isn’t familiar, not next to your very best friend or a family member is only a small, SMALL taste of what the Jewish Christians were experiencing in the book of Hebrews.

The cards I handed them did not ‘match’ the color of the cards on the tables, I watched as a couple gals went looking for the ‘color’ rather than the ‘number’ on the card.   I knew a few would and wanted them slightly confused, I used this as an example that the Jewish Christians had to figure out a few things on their own, they had to step into the new and find God truly was there.  Things were different (I moved some furniture around) they, along with the early Jewish Christians had to trust that this ‘NEW’ was a good thing.

We have been looking at the Pastor of Hebrews teaching that regardless of tradition, and regardless of what your lifestyle represented; Jesus is much more excellent. His covenant and promises – BETTER.  He as High Priest and His blood sacrifice – greater and more perfect and once and for all!  Can I get a hardy “Go God!”  THIS ran the Jewish Pastor’s fingernails across the Torah blackboard; it hit a nerve, contrary to all they had been taught.  Yes, different.  They (and our women) were learning God points but doesn’t always give us ALLLLL the details, sometimes we have to improvise, be flexible and just trust and obey.

Perhaps God is calling us to something new, a lil unfamiliar and unknown, if it is of God, it is good.  May we declare like King David in response to God’s amazing protective and promising character, “O Sovereign LORD, You are God! Your words are trustworthy, and You have promised these good things to Your servant.” (2 Samuel 7:28 NIV)

Flexible, trusting and obeying.

P.S. You never know what you may encounter at Bible Study.  Next week, the Book of Revelation — totally kidding! (I so love my assignment!)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

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Persuaded

I believe when Paul says, “I am persuaded…” in Romans 8:38, he wasn’t speaking from his well-educated theological understanding, he spoke from deep-down-personal-gut assurance.  Persuaded, we see this also in the life of David.  Remember in 1 Samuel 24 when David and his men were hiding in a cave when in walks Saul (um…to relieve himself).  David was encouraged by his men to take the opportunity and kill Saul and he’d finally be king.  However, David didn’t.   He did cut off a corner of Saul’s robe, but even in doing this David was troubled in heart.  When Saul was leaving the area, David went out and called to Saul, “My lord the king!” When Saul looked behind him. David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground…” (v8)  In that moment David’s heart was ‘persuaded’ (conviction is not only pointing at the wrong but also points to the RIGHT) his heart was won over by the amazing certainty of God.  He didn’t HAVE to kill Saul.  Who was he to push his hand, to attempt to push God’s.   God’s purposed plan. Persuaded.  His-timing-is-perfect! 

THIS is what Paul is saying, he like David is won over by the amazing certainty of God, that “Neither death nor life, angels or demons, present or future or any powers high or low, indeed nothing in all creation can or will be able to separate us from God’s love – His willful – active good on our behalf whether we deserve it or desire it! (Romans 8:38-39, paraphrased) Persuaded.  God-loves-us!

James and Jude, two brothers of Jesus, John gives the account of the brothers trying to push Jesus out there for popularity sake and a personal jab of sorts, “You can’t become famous if You hide like this! If You can do such wonderful things, show Yourself to the world!” (7:4 NLT) In the same pen stroke, “For even His brothers didn’t believe in Him.”  Yet, years later, both brothers open their letters with “a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ…”  What was it that took them from unbelief to full surrender to Who Jesus is?   Persuaded.  He-is-Lord!

Peter, don’t you love it that God didn’t withhold the rambunctious side of His servants. The guy was here – there – and saying just about anything at any given time.  One day after fishing all night Jesus says, “…go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish”  Now nearly noon, Peter is skeptical, however, he replies, “But if You say so, I will…”  He did and the catch was tremendous.  (Read his story in Luke 5) Trusting Jesus with the lifestyle of obedience.  Persuaded.  “I-will!”  

I am challenged by this, what areas of my life is there hesitancy, where do I stop short in my confidence in God.   I ask of you the reader the same of myself: What WILL it take for us to be persuaded, being won over by the amazing certainty of God?  Knowing with a deep-down-personal-gut assurance that His timing is perfect, He loves us, He is Lord and live the “I will” lifestyle of obedience.   Whatever expectations we might have, whatever prerequisites we may have mentally listed, let’s lay’m down, giving full surrender to Who Jesus is.

Persuaded.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Slowing Down

Recently I had the opportunity to teach a discipleship class on Bible translations and offer a brief overview of how to study the bible.  I wanted to come out of the gate with a listed fist full of the most excellent and current resources Amazon can provide!  But instead, I opened with “S-L-O-W  DOWN!”  We are a ‘grab & go’ society!  We fly into circumstances and jet out just as fast; we do the same with our devotions and study time.  We seem more concerned with that glorious moment of ‘Check’ in our daily reading box that we miss understanding what we’ve read.  We close the Book, put our half-drunk now cold coffee on the counter and head out into our day.  If we think of it – there is a quick over the shoulder glance with a rushed “Thanks Lord…”

Slow down.  The Bible is a Spiritual book, not to be all-mystic and such, but it is, spiritual.  Paul says it is “God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”’ (2 Timothy 3:16) Folks, it’s our manual.  As the Pastor of Hebrews declares it is “living and active… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) Why rush the divine process.

Slow down, pray before you even open The Book, and invite the Author to walk you through it.  Pray while you’re reading, “Show me Lord, speak, teach, grace my heart to hear and heed…”  In doing so, we not only read the Word, but we allow the Word to read us!  God designed His holy writ to be interactive.   As we close that wonderful Book, pray… ask Holy Spirit to take the words you just read and speak them to you throughout the day.

Slowing down.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

My Response

I was recently reading an article on our secret mindset of God.  You know, those things we wouldn’t dare share or even write in code in our journal.  I was taken back to a mindset, back to years ago. Confession is good, I pray this encourages someone.

I lived in the shadows of disappointed for about 5 years, 5-solid-anguishing-years.  Survival was my number one goal, and to be very frank, getting through the day without eye contact was hefted to the top of my priority list.  I was in full-time ministry, loved God, served my church and sat on the other side of Starbucks tables sincerely encouraging other women in their God journey.  But then life rolled in, thick dark discouraging, disappointing clouds filling each corner of my horizon.  In my steps to salvage my marriage, a marriage that was never happy,  I stood in front of 40+ women and after 5 years of teaching, I told them I was stepping down. Within the year, the marriage failed, and soon my ex-husband was remarried. I was now working full-time outside the home in a job I HATED, just to pay the bills and take care of my two sons, who at the time were 9 & 15.

I clung to the one-liners, “Draw near to Him so He can draw near to you …Press in to worship and He’ll meet you there … God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  All true, but at the time I didn’t see them flooding my reality.  I found that following stepping down from ministry, that women treated me differently, they distanced themselves, there were no invites for coffee, lunch or even chat time on the phone.   I felt alone.  It was painful.  One gal had the arrogant nerve to come up to me in church (Yes, I was still attending church, HOPING it was my lifeline) she stepped forward, with an accusing tone, and no love of God in her, and proceeded to tell me she could not figure out how “I” could let all this happen, she thought I was a ‘woman of God…’ etc… (tears) … etc.   Although she didn’t know my home life or the history of my story, her voice rattled around in my head and heart, those words slid down and found their place among my own self-tagging of ‘worthless’.  We know that the enemy of our soul will use any and all circumstances to break us and I … I was allowing it.  I was broken.  In that dark time, in my pain and confusion, I put my calling, my Bible, and any relationship I thought I had left with God aside, not disowning, just – aside.  And with slumped shoulders and down casted eyes, I made incredibly STUPID mistakes.

But!  I LOVE the ‘But…’ of God, someone told me in that dark season, that yes, I was broken, but was I broken over what breaks God’s heart?  I was beyond broken over the unmet expectations that lay scattered all over the floor.  I was torn in two with what happened to my family. I was shredded with the accusing and hurtful words of others.  Although all valid, it wasn’t until I realized I needed to be broken over my ‘response’.  Life is tough, life is hard, I just assumed because I was God’s, I was His, that what Paul wrote, stood as a monument I bowed to, ‘that ALLLLLL would work out for good’.  MY definition of good!  The restoration process didn’t start until I genuinely (keyword – genuinely) understood God’s love.  ‘I’ was defining God’s love by how ‘I’ thought HE should act, to me and for me.

Now nearly 10 years later…  I am no longer falling for or allowing the enemy’s breaking tactics, he attempted to destroy me and destroy what I was going to speak into others for God’s glory.  God loves me!  He loved me then, He loves me now. I am a daughter of the Most-High God, I walk in my calling and my Bible is right here and read – devoured daily!  My head is up, my eyes are clear and looking – I am seriously accountable to 5 Godly women.  I repented for my response to ‘life’ – how I assumed I should get special treatment, that somehow I was exempt from the ick, the pain, and disappointments.  That my response took me in a tailspin of despair and yes, sin I hurt God with my response.  I put it all out there on God’s table, honestly and transparently.  One by one, us together, me and the God that loves me, we took things off the table and He put them away, far away.  God’s grace-filled filing system, ‘away, far away.’   God restored me (not ME doing it) He re-created me. (See David’s honest words in Psalm 51) I am married to an amazing Godly man, now have a granddaughter, and I’m teaching again, teaching with passion, teaching from the platform that GOD LOVES ME!  And when those ugly accusations of worthless begin to resurface, I think of the woman at Jesus’ feet, (and have this posted on my bookshelf), when others began to spout off, Jesus tells them, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much.” (Luke 7:47)  And we all know we can only love, ‘because He loved us first!’ (1 John 4:19)

Disappointment and even bitterness can hold us captive, a captivity that will lead us in the wrong direction.  The only way out is our God!  It took me years to realize I needed to put it out there, honestly – genuinely and without attempting to help God with a detailed outlined expectation, like we (especially women) obsessively enjoy.  I surrendered, to His love, to His grace.  As a friend recently shared “God didn’t cause it, but He will use it!”   I can honestly say, God is using it ALL – I am a better version of the God in me because of it!  God’s working out is not how we would do it, He does it RIGHT!  (Please lean in ) “And it is good!

How is your secret mindset of God?  

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Music is an amazing tool God uses:  This was my progressive worship journey… when I could not raise my head, when my hands too heavy  (Keep singing folks!  Keep singing)

When in the midst of God restoring my heart: I sang this over & over

Now, now… as I stand in front of others teaching them about our God:  “Sing with me How great is our God…”

Prior Moments

Yesterday at church during worship, there was a pause, pause of silence in-between songs.  I LOVED it!  It wasn’t long, only about 8 seconds, it was extremely noticeable, for it was a holy pause of reverence.  The silent pause set the tone for the rest of worship.  How often do we pause?  We are a run-full-force-forward society that taking pause seems awkward.  As I sit to review my teaching notes for an upcoming session of Inductive Bible Study in our discipleship class, I pause.  A preparative pause.  I take my cue from Ezra.  WHO?

Ezra was a scribe and a direct descendant of Aaron of the Old Testament; he was full of passion and zeal for God and God’s word.  He along with Nehemiah was instrumental in creating an environment for revival among the Israelites and rebuilding the Temple.   One verse that jumps out defines the sincere outcome, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.” (7:10 NKJV, emphasis mine)  Ezra prepared his heart.  Prepared his heart to seek, to do, and to teach.  In the Hebrew, the imagery is not just merely putting God’s word in front of him, Ezra put himself in front of the Word.  Yes, there is a difference.

We need to purposely take pause, creating ‘prior moments’ and position our heart, mind, and understanding.  How often do we grab a mug of coffee, slide into our comfortable chair and open the Bible and begin reading?  What might be the outcome if we were to pause before opening the Book?  Before reaching for our pencil and journal?   A quick 8-second pause of reverence might make noticeable difference, setting the tone for what came next.  Revival and rebuilding!  Perhaps a sincere prayer of “Father show me, teach me, speak to me.”

May we like Ezra purpose with prior moments and prepare our heart.

* We can read Ezra’s story in the short book with his name and the sequel, Nehemiah.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Expectation!

There is a story of a farmer that had an icehouse, during the winter he and his workers would cut ice blocks from the nearby pond, and then place them on a bed of sawdust in the icehouse, and cover the ice blocks with more sawdust.  At one point, the farmer noticed he lost his beloved pocket watch in all his work.  He and his workers went in frantically raking through the sawdust to find the watch, but to no avail, it wasn’t found.  The farmer’s son, about age 10, heard of the situation and at noontime, while the workers were on break, he slipped into the icehouse, and after a lil time, he came out with the watch in hand, giving it to his father.  The farmer was so excited; he asked, “HOW did you found it!” The boy answered, “I laid down in the sawdust, laying there quietly, I just listened.”

What a beautiful example of purposeful positioning with EXPECTATION!  King David penned, “In the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3b) David didn’t sit there filling the conversation, he leaned in – leaned forward in eagerness, expecting God’s response!  He knew if he were quiet enough, he would hear Him.  How often do we too go in looking for God, noisily, raking around, turning things over?  Perhaps if we were quiet, so very quiet and still, we’d hear Him.

Laying in the sawdust, leaning in – leaning forward in eagerness.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Sticky Note From God

“Backup.” For the past week or two every time I opened my laptop I would see the now bent and ruffled orange sticky note that simply read, “Backup.” I put it there to remind me.  Each time I sat down to study or read emails or peruse through Facebook, that sticky note was glanced at, unheeded and then quickly forgotten.  Although I had set the reminder there for me to take action, it soon became familiar. So familiar that I really didn’t give it much notice anymore.

As I took the sticky note off yesterday (AFTER I finally backed up the computer) I felt Holy Spirit nudge me that at times I treat others the same, (OUCH!)  and Him as well (DOUBLE, “Ouch!”)  We do that, don’t we?  We take less notice or tend to overlook what is right in front of us because it’s something we always see.  Oh, we take for granted the familiar!  Paul writes to the folks in Galatia, “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone…” (Galatians 6:10 NLT)  How can we do good when we don’t see them – we are looking over their heads at something or someone else?  (Well, we shot that opportunity right out of the sky).

May we SEE and heed the sticky notes of God, right in front of us.  Our family, friends, and the pile of stuff we are tripping over.

Right in front of us.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)