* Miscellanous Stuff

A YOU Focus

“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” Psalm 63:1-4

Each night before my husband and I go to sleep, he reads a Psalm over us, his loving voice and the rhythmic sound of scripture, especially the Psalms is gently soothing – so poetic, so honest – so declaring, so full of praise! The Psalmist starts as if standing on a hilltop and echoes of majestic relationship, “O God, You are my God!”   He then states early I seek You.  This early isn’t just a time frame mentioned, but a declaration of discipline.  Literally, EARNESTLY I will seek YOU!  Painstakingly I will set aside all things and YOU will be my focus. My in the moment – first thing YOU!

This world is so full of me, we, us and I, it really is refreshing to take a step back and see what is BIGGER than us, BETTER and worthy of our focus and pursuit. SO WORTHY – His power and glory, His lovingkindness! Our lips praise HIM, our hands raised in HIS name!  Morning or night it’s a YOU focus!

O God, You are my God!

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

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If it is Possible

We are list people, whether we write it down or attempt to contain it all in our head, we love us some lists.  We list what needs to be done, our goals and items to pick up at the store.  Paul too loved his lists; the nine Fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23) his ‘think on these things’ (Phil. 4:8) and of course ‘Love is…’ (1 Cor. 13). There is yet another list, a list full of practical lifestyle responses, ‘in view of God’s mercy…’  found in Romans chapter 12.   We are told to be devoted, joyful, patient, hospitable and faithful, we are to love, cling and honor and in no way are we to lack zeal, curse others, and repay evil.  My favorite of this list is verse 18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.”   ‘If it is possible.’ Hm, interesting, there is no if …it hangs low enough, to where I can reach it and cling to what is good or if …you can muster up some patience or devotion.  Nope, you just get those done through the Holy Spirit (in Jesus name).

The fact remains, there are times, peace does not reign in relationships, it takes a ton of work and an abundance of divine intervention.   ‘Peace’ (Eirene in the Greek) which literally means ‘set at one’ – the word picture conveys something that was once erected, has either been removed or toppled over.  Chaos, frustration, strife and even war can be the result of the deep crevasse left behind.  Peace is putting it back in its place – set at one! The ultimate example; the Garden activities in Genesis; All things are good, then man messes up, the God/man relationship is broken [leaving a hole].  Fast forward – Jesus comes [Prince of Peace] the glorious Son puts things back in its place, things made right, He fills the chasm, we now have… Peace. (Ro. 5:1)

When there is strife or any evidence of some toppling over, do we do our very best to identify, pull up and reset what is missing?  Do we invest ourselves in seeing peace restored?   Paul gives a simuliar list to the Ephesians, yet wraps it up with a divine-like bow: “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”  (4:32 MSG) I love his direct prodding and not to mention (but I will) hint of admonishing.  He plays the holy tag-team card, God forgave – ‘your turn.’ What a challenge!  How painful!   How risky – but worth it.  Putting God and God stuff back in the center, THAT is seeking peace with my brothers and sister.  ‘If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with each other.’

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

 


The Hemming of God

Recently I was reminded of a time I spent on a loved one’s cattle farm.  This particular visit we were working with the cattle one-on-one, giving them medication and much-needed individual attention. As the day went on, one particular cow impacted me, she was spunky and fought the process the whole way, we got her into the funneled shoot and once she was in the head gate, I put the rump board in behind her to hold her in nice and tight, no backing out. This poor gal – she thrashed so hard, causing the farmer to get a nose clamp, this was a metal clamp with a large rope attached to it, he placed it in the nostrils of the cow and brought her head up and tied her off.  This was done for her own safety.  She fought so hard that she ended up on her knees, and there she stayed.  If she would just calm down! Oh the pain, not for her, but for me!   I reached out and patted her, tenderly saying, “Just yield, it would be less painful.”  As the words escaped my lips, I stopped and sensed Holy Spirit tap my shoulder with a divine nod.  YES!  If I too would just yield to my Master, it would be less painful.

How often do we find ourselves in the ‘shoot and headgate’ of God (if you will)?  He is wanting to prepare us, heal us, create His character in us, and teach us – but … we fight it.  We thrash, bawl, and complain, oh it may be uncomfortable, and perhaps even feel a bit boarded in – the hemming of God.  David speaks of this, but in the context of BLESSING; “Before there is a word on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD. You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:4-6)  He goes on to say, “Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (v 14b)

I have to admit, I can relate to the sweet bawling cow, I too once required the nose clamp (for my own good) after I thrashed about for a bit, I sensed God’s hand on me, and it was GOOD – I know that full well!

Sometimes we come to God quietly and other times kicking and screaming – either way, thank you, Lord, for the hemming!

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

* Please know, no cows in the above story were harmed, our spunky bawling cow was only in the head gate just a couple of moments and soon released out into the pasture.

 


Give Him Just One

Women.  We are used to multi-tasking.  Having our minds and lives firing in 5 or more different directions all at the same time.   When we find ourselves on overload, what do we tend to do, and do well?  We criticize ourselves.  I am reminded of a time when I sat amongst a small group of gals in a bible study setting. In that discussion time, we were sharing our goals for the study. There was a mother of ‘4’ (FOUR!) small, YOUNG, needing her attention, children.   In her frustration and complete weariness, she shared in depth about not having ‘enough’ time for devotions and her bible study. She was exhausted, felt defeated, and was basically giving up, to where she hadn’t opened her Bible in some time.  Those in the group kept trying to help with creative ways to carve out enough time. “Go to bed earlier, get up earlier, use paper plates, when they sleep ….” This young mom was nearly in tears. I just sat and listened. These are all good disciplined goals, yet they were more worried about the quantity of time, rather than the quality.

I finally leaned forward and looked the gal in the eyes, lovingly and tenderly asking, “Could you look at maybe just ONE verse each day or one verse for the whole week?” She stopped talking. So did the others.  Silence.  Reading their expressions, yet not verbalizing –   “This gal is NUTS! One stinkin verse?  THAT is NOT enough! I will get behind! I have to get through that one-year reading plan, gotta get my homework done! Gotta write in my journal.” This attitude belongs to many of us.  How many of us too, feel defeated and allow our God time to slip, slip away because we can’t keep up with the ‘quota’.

I then shared that it’s not the quantity of time with God and His word that is important, it is the quality. If you have just enough time to read one verse, then the baby cries, or the dog is having a fit at the front door or milk is split (so goes life).  Then take that ONE verse, WHILE you are cleaning up the milk – holding the crying baby, ask Holy Spirit to speak to YOU about that verse. You, God, His word … quality time. Listen – listen for HIS application, throughout the day, throughout the week.  If need be at the beginning of the week, jot down that verse on a 3×5 card, tape it to the mirror in the bathroom, even though you may have a parade of offspring following you in there, READ it aloud.  Again and again.

Don’t get me wrong I am ALL OVER Bible study, BUT there are seasons, seasons when time captures us. Seasons even with discipline … our life, our arms are full.  The Pastor wrote; “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) Allow the ‘alive word’ to minister to YOU! Remember, God spoke the universe into place with His word, He can decorate your heart with the same. One verse?  Enough? Yes, yes it is with the Holy Spirit ‘leading you into all truth.’ (Jn 16:13)

During that moment of silence with the gals, I shared I once spent days just on Thomas’s “… my Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). Knowing the context, I thought about it, I said it, I pictured it and I prayed it.  Just 5 words -it was amazing. The gals just sat there and stared at me. (I was shocked that they allowed me to sit at their table the following week).

God knows us, knows our heart.  For those of us whose season doesn’t allow for hours or minutes of ‘head in the book’ sessions, don’t stress!  Don’t feel condemned, if we can give Him just ONE verse, HIS word, He can and will minister to us. It can be amazing.

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


Going Through – A Divine Necessity

There are times God takes us around life circumstances to protect us from harm and or protect us from what we may not be ready for.  Yet, there ARE times we are to go through.  We look at Jesus as our model.

John 4, verse 4 “Now He (Jesus) HAD to go through Samaria.” (Emphasis mine) your Bible may read, ‘He needed…’ or ‘He must…’ go through Samaria.  The word used here literally means ‘necessary’ (with a divine twist) not implying geographically, there was another route, a route other devout Jews took, a route out and around, the long way to avoid the Samaritan people.  The Samaritan folks were known as half-breeds; (in short) centuries earlier the Israelite territory was overtaken by Assyrians, many left, yet those who remained inter-married, they established their own teaching, establishing their own truth.

Scholars believe the narrative speaks (in context) to Jesus’ itinerary being subject to the sovereign plan of God – going THROUGH Samaria (where others avoided) was a divine necessity!  Jesus HAD to meet the woman at the well – she HAD to have an encounter with Jesus (“The way, the truth, and the life.” – Jn 14:6) – it was of divine necessity she took her news of Jesus back to her people, where ‘many… and many more believed in Him.’ (v39 & 41).

This going through was not an inconvenience for Jesus, going through was not geographically necessary, it was God necessary.  We see later in Acts, multiple times when mentioning the ‘church’ Samaria is listed – Jesus Himself laid the groundwork – He didn’t opt for the routine route – He went through.  We see Jesus use the same need or must; “You MUST be born again” (Jn 3:7) And John the Baptist said, “He (Jesus) MUST increase, I MUST decrease…” (Jn 3:30) Divine necessity indeed!  The principle for us: Following God’s leading, other than a routine route is not a DETOUR – it is a divine necessity of His sovereign plan.  The plan may be for us, for someone else, or both.

May we take note: God may NOT have us go through the same way (next time).  It would be a shame to tell God, “Been there, done this – I’ve got this!” When He’s left standing, pointing at something different.  When escaping the Egyptians, God had Moses reach out his staff and the waters parted at the Red Sea – however, when finally entering the Promised Land, He instructed Joshua to have the priests carry the Ark to the river’s edge, once their feet touched the water, it too parted.  Perhaps it may appear the same ‘go through’ but – His method may be different.  It is HIS plan, HIS path, HIS how and when.  His.

My through and your through may look different, they are of His divine plan, He may take us around – either the around or through is for His glory!

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

*The above is an excerpt from the teaching I presented the woman at church.


The Around of God

God often takes us around life scenarios and so thankful that He does!  The around of God is frequently dismissed or downplayed.   We learn from our early flannel graph days the miraculous parting of the Red Sea and God taking the Israelites through on dry ground. Miraculous indeed!  However, tucked in two short verses we have the potential of missing a quality of God.  In Exodus 13, we see God take the Israelites around, around a potentially icky outcome.  He had just delivered them from bondage in Egypt – Pharaoh finally releases the people.  Once out and about, the narrative states:  “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea.” (v 17,18  NIV – emphasis mine)

God took them around so they wouldn’t encounter the Philistines (yet).  They weren’t ready.  This was their first road-trip with God; He didn’t want to freak them out, didn’t want them to bolt and run.   Once deep in the wilderness, what is one of their main complaints, “WHY did you take us out of Egypt…”  When things got tough, they reached for what was familiar, what seemed safe.  It is also said of the Philistines that IF they had encountered the Hebrews at THAT time, they would see them as escaping from their masters and would not hesitate to attack them and make them slaves AGAIN.  We can liken it to suddenly encountering a dangerous animal, we are NOT to take off running; the running stimulates their instinct to chase and conquer.  The Philistines would have chased and conquered.

God took them around.   The principle for us, just like the Israelites, we may never know the around of God.  What He protects us from and what we may not be ready for.  God knows! It is HIS path, HIS when and where.  He leads – He protects.

When we see God pointing in one particular direction, in our freedom, may we not stop and look for the short-cut!  What is ahead on that path, we may not be ready for and there may – just may be another wanting to take us captive.

The around of God.

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


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 Bible, write in our journal, 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, possibly only snorkel-surfacy stuff.  I am guilty of this, floating on top 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 –  we treat our approach to God like a divine-vending machine, push the button and expect blessings to tumble our way.

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 in the time, the energy – PARTICIPATE in it.

We look to Jesus, (Matthew chapter 26) He leaves the crowds – leaves the disciples. Now with the beloved trio; 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...”  (v 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!  Go deeper – 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)