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His Name

I am known by many names depending on who is using it.  To my parents, I am Diana, (if my full name is used, I am in trouble) to our sons, Mom.  To our granddaughter, Gamma.  When a Tele-marketer calls, I am Mrs. Southwick (click).   Some use endearing names such as Geek, friend and to only one, ‘Sweetheart.’  But to most, I am DeDe.

Our name can define relationship, title, personality and even our character.  Pardon me as I reach out a grab my soapbox, and femininely climb up and make myself comfortable for a brief moment.  Have you noticed the many different names used referring to God these days, even among church-going folks?   I have heard ‘Big Guy in the sky’, ‘Man upstairs’ or ‘Dude with the rules.’  For some, using these lessens the impact.  Or so they think.  I am going to be extremely blunt.  “Jesus.”  Many avoid using it; many toss it around haphazardly like a used empty Coke cup, confirming no value to them.  Some try whispering His name as not to offend. Folks Jesus is offensive.  Just the mere fact of Who He is.  He upset the ancient known world, He is the Son of the Most High God, Creator of all things, the Word became flesh, the One Who one day will ride on a white horse wearing the title ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords!’ (head bowed) He is so NOT the norm, so other.  In light of that statement, we are SMALL, so very very VERY small in comparison, and most don’t – like – that.

Let’s face it; the mere mention of Jesus’ name can invoke action from the heavenly realm, so we better – be – oh – so – careful of its use. I was once in a restaurant and a gentleman used Jesus’ full name (if you will) in an unrespectful way.  Being bold I calmly, not in a scolding way, politely said, “I really don’t think He is going to respond when you talk to Him like that.”  The look on his quieted face and taken aback countenance … priceless!

Let’s bring it home.  How do we, followers of Christ, lovers of God address Him? Does it reflect respect, an authoritative figure, and relationship?  How do we refer to our God in conversation with others, and in the most intimate prayer times, or just in our thought life?

Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

May we NEVER shy away from or dumby down from using His name with respect and honor. (Climbing down carefully from my well-built and quite fashionable box)

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

 

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You Define the Depth

Have you ever felt compelled to get all spiffed up, put on your best clothes, or perhaps slide into a nice warm jacket, then realize you have no destination in mind, ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go?’

Our relationship with God is like that at times, we read our Bibles, have our devotions, say our prayers, be in attendance at church, (Check, check, check and check!) yet that is as far as we get.  As deep as it goes.  I am guilty of this. It is as if I am waiting for God to make the first move. Not that I am waiting for a burning bush experience or the blinding light of the road to Damascus.  But yes, I think I am waiting for God to shower me with lavishing love and blessings, (said with arms thrown wide and head tilted back).   Don’t get me wrong He does!  But.   Come on, be honest, in this day and age we expect things to always come our way effortlessly.  Or push a button and we get INSTANT results.

James clearly says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (4:8)  One of God’s attributes that I strongly appreciate is that of His patience. Oh, His patience! He longs for us to come to Him, He is waiting. The principle is the same in all relationships, if you want it to be strong and deep, you have to cultivate it, put time and energy into it – PARTICIPATE in it.

Jesus,  (Matthew chapter 26) leaves the crowds. Leaves the disciples. Now with Peter, James, and John, He tells them to stay and keep watch. Continuing on, the narrative says “Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed, “My Father...”  (verse 39)  Yes, His circumstance was exorbitantly different, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)  Further still!

Do we simply wear the snorkel and mask for an expected shallow depth or do we prepare – position for a depth of divine proportions?  Don’t merely dip a toe or two  SUIT  UP!   YOU define the depth, call out to

Him, seek Him, enter in, draw close to Him. We too must go a little further.  Leaving the crowd, our circle of friends, and even the dearest to us.  We NEED to get with our Father.  May the narrative of our life say we too went further still.

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

A Marked Process

Have you ever asked a question of God, and then realize months later He is answering it? I recently realized the process I am in.   Here lies such an answering.  Months ago, perhaps nearly a year, I began a study of Peter – fascinating fellow.  He was honest, didn’t hold much back, he was first out of the boat, the one who ran, (and not so good with a sword) and at times spoke or acted before he gave much thought.  I can so relate! I too have had numerous episodes of “Oh, did I say that out loud!”  However, I got as far as, “I, Simon Peter, am a servant…”

I, Simon Peter, am a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ… Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.” (2 Peter 1:1-2)

I asked the Lord, “Show me what a servant is.” May I express with a humorous twist, “What on earth was I THINKING – am I NUTS!” When I ask God to show me something, I should know by now, that means willingly being dragged through the transformation of first-hand learning, which usually results in me kicking and screaming the whole way. (Breathe)

The word servant here is HUGE, literally meaning, a bondservant.  I have revisited pages and pages of handwritten notes, as I explored the topic, I was dumbfounded, and perhaps that is why it has taken me a year to process further.  Bondservant, doulos (In the Greek).   Paul literally declared it, James said it too, it was even said of Moses, and yes, said of Jesus Himself. A bondservant is one who gives himself/herself up in devotion to another, disregarding their own interest or gain. It is completely and utterly becoming selfless and surrendering… all.  Surrendering all to the one person you formally accepted as supreme authority over your life.

In the book of Exodus, (chapter 21) it speaks of the boundaries of Hebrew slavery. In short, if a Hebrew slave serves for six years, on the seventh year they shall go free. “But if the servant declares ‘I love my master…’ then his master shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be marked his servant for life.” (vv 5-6 emphasis mine).

Servant.

It truly is a process.  A marked process. Just when I think I have laid it all down, I look behind me and there it is …more. More of me.  More attitude, more selfishness, more.  I am, however, confident my ever patient Master is pleased with my progress, (laughs at times) but pleased.  He knows my heart.  I too have a pierced right ear, with a diamond stud that my husband placed there at my request on our wedding day, signifying, my surrendering again of God’s supreme authority over my life and our life.

As Peter declared, “Grace and peace to you many times over as you deepen in your experience with God and Jesus, our Master.”

Bondservant.

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

 

What Do You See in the Clay?

Questions. Sometimes questions can boggle the mind like those autostereograms, you know the pictures you have to stare at for a while, relaxing your eyes, and soon (hopefully) the embedded image appears.  Recently in my devotional time, I sensed God gently ask me, “What do you see in the clay?”  What kind of question is that?  Clay?  Who was talking about clay?

Well, apparently, God was about to.

To the clay, I go.  John chapter 9, Jesus sees a blind man. The disciples, in learning mode, ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus responds, “Neither this man, nor his parents, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life…”   Life,  stuff happens to good people, yet – what an awesome opportunity for God to display grace, healing, love, and mercy. Jesus proceeds to heal the man, “When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva;and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.” (v.6)  He then tells the man to go and wash, later the man testifies of Jesus healing him.

What do you see in the clay?”  I noticed the story begins with Jesus seeing the man, (John 9:1) of course the blind man could not see Him. I see Jesus coming, coming to a situation that is waiting … for HIM. In the clay is Jesus’ DNA, He offers a part of Himself, (it’s in the spit folks!)  He didn’t even ask the blind man, He just applied the clay. But the story doesn’t stop there, the soon to be the formerly blind man, had to act in obedience, go and wash. That he did. Yet, this healing is NOT just for the man, it is for those around him as well. Following the clay, the washing, the healing, others were captured by Jesus. What a testimony.“One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”  (v. 25)

What do you see in the clay?” I see that YOU see us, You don’t look past us, we are not invisible to You, seeing the details of our life. You see us even when we may be blinded by a list of causes that have no end.  You see us, concerned not by the hows/whys, but only Your call to act.  We too are called to participate, You point, we go & do.  Your gracious move in our life is not for us alone, it is an opportunity for others to see the ‘formerly‘ and see You in and through our lives.

The clay is just the beginning.

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

(Pssst… the picture above contains a heart)

Not There Yet

In conversations, and sharing life with others; we share our joys, our sorrows, and our experiences. Have you noticed in these, we too share our comparisons? We mask them with closing statements of “I’m not there yet.” Not there yet? Meaning, there is a goal, and we fall short. THERE is the carrot, and we are ever running after it, tumbling, tripping along the way – but THERE it is.  We are here, and NOT there. We want to do and be something other than we are.

I am learning our there can only be found in God. HE is the blueprint Designer of our life.  (read that again) Not friends, not co-workers, not church leaders and most assuredly not ourselves. The sad thing about the not there yet concept, we are continually striving, reaching for there, yet fail to live in and appreciate the NOW! Don’t get me wrong, we are called to growth, but not set in the environment of defeat!

Remember the story of Hagar, (poor gal) she was a by-product of Abram’s detour, he treks off to Egypt due to lack of food in the area and while there, acquires massive amounts of animals and what else?  Maidservants. (Genesis 12:16) She was just being obedient when told to go to Abe’s tent … etc … etc … etc. (see chapter 16) Following this, where did she find herself? In the ‘ick’ of life. If I could interject just for a moment, the struggle we all face,  the thought, the attitude, “If I were a better woman/man, I would __________ ” (and we fill in the blank). We are our best critic; we long to be and do it ALL better. Yet when we don’t, our mindset is, ‘just not there yet,’ and consider ourselves a failure.

I am sure Hagar felt the same way, if I were a better woman, a better servant, I could handle this. Hurt, frustrated, and confused, she takes off and runs away. Yet God found her, where she was. He called her by name, it wasn’t “Hey you, over there, yep you the one that everyone hates, the one who didn’t get it right,” He called her by name, “Hagar.”

God asks her questions, not that He doesn’t know the answers, but by asking these questions, God is inviting her to process through the ‘stuff’ with Him. “Where have you come from and where are you going?  She shares her ‘ick’, and God encourages her with His promises. What a deal, our ick for His promises!  I love how she wraps up her time with God; she calls Him El Roi… “You are the God who sees ME, for I have now seen the One who sees ME.” (v 13, emphasis mine)

The next time we are tempted to believe the LIE that since we are not there yet, we are not good enough. Instead, we focus on here and now, where God sees us!  He calls us by name and extends love, grace, mercy, and strength.

Loved one, do you need to be seen by the One who sees you?  He does. Hear His whisper, “I see YOU!”  I see you NOW, who & what you are NOW, I will not love you any more than I do now, when you get to where you think you need to be!”  

Looking to His design, ever growing, not there yet, but by golly, He sees me here and now. (Head bowed).

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

The Skill of the Dance

Ever felt a roughness in your spirit? How about your emotions wound so tight you fear you may snap like a rubber band. Or your mind packed with tangled thoughts and it would take a convention full OCD participants to align them all for you. A few years ago, I was in such a place. Knowing I needed to do something; I went to visit two dear friends on their 113-acre cattle farm in Western Washington. Getting out of the city and to the quiet of the country is exactly what I needed. Sitting in the backyard, the clouds caught my attention, white and fluffy, moving ever so slowly.What rhythm I thought, they were peaceful, going in the direction they were created to, beautifully orchestrated.

Later I drove to a nearby small town; I walked down to the docks where the sea water comes into the bay. Contemplating, I sat on a bench, in the distance I saw a kayak approaching with two people in it. There it was again … rhythm; they lifted and set down, lifted and set down the oars with such grace. This is when it dawned on me, what it was I had been sensing that last couple of weeks. Rhythm. My rhythm with the Lord (if you will) had somehow been disrupted, whether by lack of focus or disobedience. This affected my perspectives, attitudes, and responses and yes, my emotions.

The Lord gave me a picture of dancing. Slow – graceful, elegant unity, like that of ballroom dancing. Yet to have the smooth rhythm and glide across the floor, there can only be One who leads. This is what the Father wants from me, that my walk with Him be a graceful dance, He as the leader.   Remember when Israel stepped away from God, (AGAIN). Isaiah spoke on God’s behalf, “O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.” (30:19) He continues with “Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you, a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.” (v21)

Up until this moment, I had only been able to squeak out an “O God!” Now I knew what I had to do. Early the next morning I took my headset of worship music and Bible and headed down to the pasture. I was going to seek out my dance Partner. The grazing land follows the river down and around a bend. To get to my favorite spot, I had to walk through the tall wet grass and um … cow… ‘stuff.’ As I stepped over and around these spots, I thought, if we want to meet with the Lord bad enough, sometimes we have to go through the stuff to get there.

I was regaining my rhythm, but to do so I had to stop, confess and acknowledge that I had been trying to lead.  Which wasn’t working out great by the way. Jesus spoke to this, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG, emphasis mine)

Does reading this help identify what you may be experiencing, have you lost YOUR rhythm? When was the last time you went dancing or dance class? Make time to get away, just you and your dancing Partner, and focus on Him. Do as He says, grab your Bible, perhaps walk through some muck.  It will take a lifetime to learn the skill of the dance, but to sense and obey His word and touch can be beautiful as we follow along in the music of life.

Dancing.

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

Godly Muttering

I am a people watcher. What a royal hoot to sit and just observe those around us. The mall is my favorite, so many folks going about their business. They carry bags, purses, pushing strollers and some are sitting on benches watching … ME!  Have you ever observed someone walking just beyond you and talking and there is no apparent person with them, they just… talk.  Strange yes, but we simply shrug it off.

Talking to oneself is extremely biblical, (within the context of sane reality) The Psalmist expresses in Psalm 119:15-16 “I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word.”  (Emphasis mine)  In the Hebrew, meditation means, ‘to rehearse in one’s mind, and to ponder.’ Yet it is more, it literally means to mutter, to converse with oneself. Those of ancient Israel would be found working in the fields, or atop a hill watching their herd all the while, they were muttering to themselves. This was a way of life. They would recite aloud to themselves the ways of God and His word. Reinforcing and strengthening his understanding by meditating on verses over and over. Speaking God’s word (out loud) reinforces it in our heart, allowing our heart to hear what our head is thinking.

Rick Warren profoundly, yet in simple terms wrote, “Meditation is focused thinking. It takes serious effort. You select a verse and reflect on it over and over again… if you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate.” (Purpose Driven Life)  He continues with “No other habit can do more to transform your life and make you more like Jesus than daily reflection on scripture.”   What we are doing is taking the Word, ingesting it and digesting it, allowing it to become a part of us. A really poor analogy is that of a cow chewing his cud. Throughout the day he works to gather, bite and chew the grass, then later as he relaxes he begins to re-chew the grass. He brings it up from his gut. I believe God wants us to have His word in our gut, pass our head, deep-deep down.  I’ve known folks who when they speak you can tell God’s word is so deep within them, their gut is FULL of God’s word.

Our society and our schedules give very little time to think or reflect. Let alone talk it out loud. We are conditioned by our culture to NOT think, (generally speaking) resulting in the inability to reason effectively. One of the biggest contributors to this is TV and movies. The average scene is 3 seconds (SECONDS!) We are conditioned to think and jump from one thing to another so quickly that in a sense we have to be stimulated and entertained to pay attention. Sadly we take this into our relationship with Jesus and His word.  Most things do NOT come in 3 seconds, they take time, time to ponder, muse and mutter over. This week, as we sit with God’s word, reading it methodically, may we take the time to THINK and SPEAK it, (again and again). Holy Spirit we invite You to rub it in our heart, effectively causing it to become a part of us.

So, YES… talk to yourself… keep on muttering!

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