Visionland

comments Comments Off on Visionland
By , December 31, 2012 9:21 pm
Share

Where there is no vision the people perish.

Proverbs 29:18 KJV

 
The new Director of Children’s Ministries at church was very persuasive. She asked me to be in charge of Bonus Days. It was tempting because it was a cool new activity for middle schoolers and my son Jackson would be participating for the first time that summer.
 
Bonus Days was an ambitious undertaking. I knew immediately that I didn’t have that kind of time in light of my other commitments. As the parent of young children, my opportunities for volunteering seemed almost endless. I had left my corporate career to take on several new job titles including team mom, assistant Cub Scout leader, room mother, and director of Vacation Bible School. I was stretched thin and my family got a steady diet of leftovers (both figuratively and literally).
 
I needed divine guidance to keep my life from getting out of control. I was feeling pressure from the Director to make a decision. After praying about it, I sensed God leading me to take on just a portion of Bonus Days. I agreed to organize the fast food lunches for the week and to recruit parent drivers for the five field trips. I didn’t volunteer as a driver myself because Merrill Lee was too young to participate. She would be in the nursery in the mornings and I felt led to spend the afternoons with her.
 
I went into the week with a great lineup of lunches that included Chic-Fil-A and Taco Bell. Fun moms had signed on as chaperones for all the afternoon activities. Except Visionland. Few parents were eager to spend a Friday afternoon at a water theme park in the middle of July. Even though I hung around the parking lot every morning and afternoon attempting to coerce other moms into filling their cars with wet children, glaring blank spots remained on my roster as the days passed.
 
My resolve to maintain my boundary began to weaken. I finally caved in and agreed to drive on Friday. This was not a Spirit-led decision on any level. I was fully aware that I was being a people-pleaser and choosing to override the guidance I’d received from the Lord. I’ll never forget that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me that I had ignored God. I had chosen to disobey the instruction He so graciously had offered when I asked.
 
I was loading kids into my Volvo wagon for the trip to Visionland when I saw my friend Regina on the sidewalk. After explaining the reason for my unease, I asked her to pray for our afternoon. She said she would pray and then spoke a nugget of wisdom that resounds in my heart to this day: “Fear of man brings a snare.” (Proverbs 29:25) No truer words have ever been spoken. I knew that I had fallen into that trap.
 
As I made my way to the theme park, I prayed silently, “Lord, I ignored your instructions. I feared disapproval more than fearing You. Please forgive me for my disobedience and foolishness.” My heart calmed a bit knowing that God is faithful to forgive when we own up to our sin.
 
Though the day was extremely humid, I never noticed the bank of cumulonimbus clouds building in the sky above. The kids didn’t seem to mind the heat as they went from the water slide to the roller coaster. I was focused on keeping my group and their belongings together as the sky grew dark. All of a sudden there was a deafening crack of lightning. Within seconds we were in a full-fledged thunderstorm, rain pouring down in torrents.
 
I grabbed my little charges and pulled them to the driest place I could find. We huddled under the awning of a snack stand as a lake formed around our feet. French fries and swimming goggles floated by unattended. Above us, as lightening crisscrossed the sky, I realized that every structure in the park seemed to be made of metal. Nearby flagpoles and kiosks were veritable lightning rods.
 
I was terrified that someone would come to harm in this terrible storm. I was also very aware that God sent a storm when Jonah deliberately disobeyed Him. Like Jonah, I was willing to face my fate—whatever version of being thrown overboard and swallowed in the deluge is something I knew I deserved. But the overriding message for Jonah and for me, is that our God pardons iniquity and passes over the sins of His people. “Because He delights in mercy.” (Micah 7:18)
 
As we waited out the storm, drenched and shivering, I poured out my heart to God, “Father, I have learned my lesson! By Your grace, I will remember that where there is no vision, the people perish. I will not be so quick to mistake the needs I see before me as my job to fill. Please remind me to seek Your guidance before I give an answer next time.” As I opened my eyes, I realized that the rumbling in the sky had moved into the distance and the sun was breaking through the rain. God was giving me a second chance!
 
Over the years, I’ve told this story many times. People find it funny; I think they identify with the way I wandered from God’s path when the pressure was on. While some may have mistaken the furious storm I encountered that day to be God’s punishment, I don’t see it that way at all. Rather, I marvel that God could teach me to live by vision in a place named Visionland! God’s love and humor never cease to amaze me. Nor do I take lightly the mercy that He extends, even when I have gotten off track.
 

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.

Proverbs 29:18 NLT

Bittersweet

comments Comments Off on Bittersweet
By , December 17, 2012 8:04 pm
Share

Holidays have a way of highlighting the difficulties, pain, and losses in our individual lives and in the world at large. For each of you, including those affected by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, I offer my heartfelt prayers. May you experience healing and renewed hope by knowing Jesus as your Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.

 
Being a Bible study teacher and a lifetime churchgoer, I am a likely target for purveyors of Christian merchandise. So it’s not surprising that I made it to the mailing list of a Christian jewelry manufacturer. Scanning their Christmas edition several years ago, I noticed how each two-page spread focused on a particular theme such as crosses or stars. The layout included an explanation of the spiritual significance of each object. A page featuring cardinals caught my attention. I was anxious to discover what they would say about my dear red bird. Though I lost that particular page long ago, the basic message will be with me forever. It said that the cardinal is one of nature’s most beloved creatures because it sings not only in the springtime, but also in the dreary and cold months of winter.
 
To have a heart that sings in the bitter cold is a rare thing indeed. Therein is the cardinal’s glory. The Bible tells us that Job possessed that trait as well. Job had four catastrophic losses in close succession. Messengers came bringing reports of the destruction of his livestock, servants, house, and children. This is how he responded to the news:
 
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:20-21 NLT)
 
Job acknowledged God as the source of everything he had and lost. As Lord of all, He is the One who governs what blessings are given and for how long. In the furnace of our trials, we discover how deeply we believe that God is good and just and right. Job didn’t blame God. Instead, he sought Him first when tragedy struck.
 
Many believers imagine that they have a bargain with God–a godly, faithful life in exchange for exemption from heartbreak. That was the case with me for the longest time. Because my earthly father shielded me from anything painful and unpleasant, I expected the same thing from my heavenly Father. It was confusing when hardship came my way. That deception was burned away in the light of God’s Word, for nowhere does it promise that God’s children will live trouble-free lives. It tells us just the opposite: “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)
 
Job found a song when circumstances were anything but praiseworthy. He gave glory to God by pouring out a sacrifice of worship. To do this with integrity requires emptying the soul of any toxic contents. Pain has a way of forcing that stuff out into the open. It must be addressed before worship can happen. “No spring of water pours out sweet water and bitter water from the same opening.” (James 3:11 GNT) But when faced with a hard situation that we can’t change, our hearts contain both bitter and sweet.
 
By expressing his emotions appropriately, Job dissipated any bitterness. Certainly he experienced the anger and sadness that comes with loss. He was in so much emotional anguish that he tore his robe. That was a normal response in his culture. Today, whether we cry it out, talk it out, or write it out, God invites us to be honest about the way life’s events impact us. As we pour our hearts out like water before Him, we feel heard and more able to receive His comfort.
 
Job surrendered his pain to God, and so can we. By bowing low, we elevate God above all that hurts us and threatens to make us bitter people. As we sing, the cold and loneliness is replaced by the sweet presence of God. Our sacrifice of praise becomes a pleasing aroma as our fleshly desires give way to the character of Christ being formed in us.
 
Job chose to sing on the darkest and loneliest day of his life. And that is why I always think of Job whenever I spot a cardinal. They conquer the cold in the same way that Job prevailed over his pain. By their song, they bring glory to our God who is worthy to be praised at all times. Whenever I see my stunning red-winged friends, I view it as God’s reminder to sing my song until a new season of blessing breaks through.
 

I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are discouraged take heart…The righteous face many troubles, but the Lord rescues them from each and every one. Psalm 34:1-2, 19 NLT

Perfect Peace

By , December 4, 2012 2:58 pm
Share

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on You!

Isaiah 26:3 NLT

 
My friend Donna is a threat to the kingdom of darkness. The light of Christ shines so brightly from her big blue eyes that it’s sometimes hard to pull your gaze away.
 
I met her 7 years ago when she began attending Divine Design’s Tuesday morning study. I couldn’t help but notice the way she leaned forward in her chair as she listened, brows furrowed in concentration. Donna Nathan was paying attention. This observation was confirmed as fact when, several weeks into the class, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began employing the spiritual tools we were studying and God began showing up in miraculous ways. It was amazing to see the guidance and healing that was Donna’s experience during that time.
 
On a Tuesday morning just this October, Donna received a phone call from her oncologist. After 7 years of being cancer-free, tests showed that cancer had returned. What is a natural response when you get news like that? I’m not sure what most folks would do, but this woman made a beeline to the church to attend her regular prayer group meeting. Her actions demonstrate what she believes – God is still God and prayer changes things.
 
In the weeks since the diagnosis, Donna keeps living out her beliefs by drawing near to God to receive grace for each new day. And each day brings new demonstrations of how God is working all things for Donna’s good. She wrote me an email recently, sharing a powerful testimony of how God used one of my blog entries. “Just Desserts” is a story demonstrating how our emotions follow our thinking. My understanding of that principle has been greatly expanded from what Donna shared with me. I know her example of tracing feelings back to thoughts will be an amazing blessing to you as well:

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

Yesterday before I started really laying out before the Lord my stuff from the past few days, I read my personalized scripture card: “In the morning the Lord will hear you, Donna. Lay your requests before Him and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3).
 
I began journaling to Jesus about some negative feelings I’ve been having – went through the process of forgiving and giving thanks and bagging up my worries in a Spartan green bag and placing it at the foot of the cross.
 
So then he leads me to your “Just Desserts” blog and I’m telling you, I haven’t been the same since. It’s like that feeling you get in your spirit where you see new light shining in an old place—one that’s received glimmers in the past, but still lives in the shadows—and you almost want to say—“Stop! I can’t handle any more light right now in that place Lord!”  It’s almost too much to handle!!
 
My vision all last year was to experience Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” And I’ve experienced some degree of victory there. I’ve prayed for years to take my thoughts captive unto obedience to God. I thought I understood the danger of living a life ruled by my mind.
 
Somehow in this new season, I’m seeing it in a whole new way.  All these negative emotions I’ve experienced this past week just opened up a new way to understand how letting my thoughts lead me around will tie me up in chains of bondage—and rob me of my joy!
 
God revealed some of the triggers from this past week: my fatigue; being surrounded by so much sickness at my radiation treatments; spirit of oppression and death… From those trigger points, I started the steep mind-twisting descent you described—rationalizing, reasoning, speculating, assuming, predicting—and immediately came all these negative emotions—discouragement, sadness, heaviness, anger, resentment, irritation, worry, fear, and of course the familiar shame that I could be feeling like this in light of all God’s blessings…At the time, all I was conscious of were the unwelcome FEELINGS—totally unaware of the preceding THOUGHTS. Until yesterday…
 
And then this morning, God reminded me: “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free, Donna. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).  I believe He wants me to live in the freedom that is already mine—freedom from the control of my thoughts/mind. That in doing that, I’ll also be freeing my emotions to fall into agreement with my spirit.  I’ve been renouncing spirits of sickness, death, oppression and man’s approval; announcing my birthright and spirits of life, freedom, and acceptance all through the blood of Jesus.  I don’t know about you, but this smells like a Breakthrough to me!!

——————————————————————————————————————————————————

The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like the bursting out of great waters. So he called the name of that place Baal-perazim [Lord of breaking through].

2 Samuel 5:20 Amplified

 

Count Your Blessings

comments Comments Off on Count Your Blessings
By , November 19, 2012 7:22 pm
Share

Through many Thanksgivings, I’ve found that counting my blessings has curative powers. Several years ago, when I was struggling to cultivate a grateful heart, God helped me find a way to be thankful that had little to do with my earthly circumstances. My year had been marred by the loss of a parent, strife with a wayward teenager, and consequent discouragement.
 
God enabled me to see that there is a heavenly fount of blessing that flows unceasing in times of feast or famine, bounty or bust, fitness or frailty. These eternal, invisible truths were so powerful that authentic thanksgiving began to spring up in me.
 
The spiritual blessings that helped me during that time eventually became a handout that I have given to many discipleship groups over the years. I am sharing this resource with you this Thanksgiving so that you may also experience a deep appreciation for the blessings in your life, seen and unseen.
 
TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES:                                                                         Spiritual Blessings

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

Ephesians 1:3

 
No matter what issue you are facing, the spiritual blessings that are stored up for you in Christ Jesus can be your experience by faith. Here’s how:

  • Examine the list of spiritual blessings that God promises to you.
  • Choose one that ministers the most to your current place of need.
  • Look up the scriptures that accompany each blessing.
  • Pray, asking God to make these verses your experience.
  • Watch and wait for Him to fulfill His word in the days ahead.
  • Write it down each time you experience this truth in your life.

 

Blessing—Gen 12:2-3, Dt 11:26-27, Dt 23:5, Ps 31:19, Jer 17:7, Ezek 34:26-27, Jn 1:16

Comfort—Ps 91:1-4, Ps 147:3, Is 51:12, Is 66:13-14, 2 Cor 1:3-5

Completion—1 Cor 1:4-9, Phil 1:6, Heb 10:14, Heb 13:20-21

Forgiven Sin—2 Chron, 7:14, Ps 32, Is 55:7, Ezek 18:21, 1 Jn 1:9

Forgotten Sin—Ps 103:12, Is 38:17, Is 43:25, Mic 7:18, Heb 10:17, Jude 1:24-25

Hope—Ps 119:41-50, Lam 3:21-22, Rom 5:1-5, 1 Pt 1:3, 21

Joy—Ps 21:6, Ps 30:11-12, Ps 92:4, Is 61:1-2, Heb 1:9

Love—Is 54:10, Jer 31:3, Rom 5:5, Rom 8:38-39, Eph 3:18-19

Newness—Is 43:18-19, Rom 7:6, 25, 2 Cor 5:17, Rev 22:5

Peace—Ps 85:8, Pr 16:7, Jn 14:27, Rom 5:1, Rom 8:6, Eph 2:13

Presence of God—Ps 100:4, Is 12:6, 2 Cor 6:16, Heb 13:5, Jm 4:8

Promise of God—Gen 50:20, Ps 23:6, Ps 73:1, Rom 8:28-29

Restoration—Ps 40:2, Ps 51:12, Ps 71:20-21, Joel 2:23-27

Security—Ps 9:10, Ps 16:8, Ps 62:1-2, Pr 10:9, Jer 33:6

Significance—Ps 139:13-14, Is 43:4, Is 49:15-16, Eph 2:10, 1 Jn 3:1

Strength—Ps 73:26, Is 41:10, 2 Cor 12:9, Eph 3:16, 2 Sam 22:33-34

Victory—Psalm 60:12, Jn 16:33, Rom 8:37, Rom 16:20, 1 Cor 15:57, 1 Jn 5:4-5

Voice of Truth—Ps 32:8, Ps 37:3-4, Is 30:20-21, Jn 10:27, Jm 1:5

 

As you pray about your issue, ask God to give you other promises from His Word that are specific and personal. With an expectant heart, ask Him to fulfill these promises in His perfect way and timing.
 
Over the holiday season, I plan to post new entries every other week rather than weekly. I have stockings to stuff and so do you!

Beholding Jesus: He Fights For Me – 11/13/12

comments Comments Off on Beholding Jesus: He Fights For Me – 11/13/12
By , November 14, 2012 8:36 am
Share

PRAISE: 1) Great by Josh Lopez 2) Same Love by Paul Baloche 3) What a Savior by Laura Story 4) Jesus Saves by Travis Cottrell

Martha finished out our semester strong, further expanding on Debby’s teaching from last week charting the breakthrough of the woman at the well and sharing her own example as well. She also shared the acronym “FIGHT WW3” as a strategy for handling the attacks of the enemy.

Just Desserts

comments Comments Off on Just Desserts
By , November 12, 2012 8:35 pm
Share

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 GNT

 
Jackson was a Senior, and we were well into the fall season. After 12 years of life according to an academic calendar, I had come to anticipate the usual sequence of events flying by at a rapid clip. Registration, Labor Day, that first crop of tests, Homecoming, and fall break had all made their appearance. Yes, National Honor Society was up next.
 
When Jackson was inducted the previous year, I had made a mental note that I would be expected to send food to the reception next time. So, when one of Jackson’s friends called, identifying himself as a student officer for NHS, I assumed that that was the reason for the call. Already running through a mental list of my best finger-food recipes, I was jolted by his next statement. “I’m sorry to inform you that Jackson has been expelled from National Honor Society.” I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach. “What?! What did he do?” I asked. “He was caught cheating. That is grounds for immediate expulsion,” he said.
 
My mind reeled out of control. Alternate futures instantly replaced my dream of a joyous graduation day for my son. Instead, I had visions of Jackson, escorted by a security guard, cleaning out his locker, and warned to stay off school premises forever. Lawyers’ fees and possible incarceration loomed menacingly on the horizon. I could see him under the bridge with only a cardboard box to keep him warm.
 
Speculation became my next mental task. I made numerous attempts to explain away this new and frightening reality. Blaming the academic pressures of a competitive school seemed plausible. The problem with that theory is that my son is honest to a fault. Maybe he was helping a fellow student, and the teacher mistook that for cheating, I thought.
 
All my rationalizing and reasoning was interrupted as the caller began to chuckle. Other voices, including that of my son, cackled out in full-blown laughter. Jackson and his friends were delighted that I had fallen for their little prank. “That was just a joke, Mrs. Girardeau. Jackson made me do it. I’m really calling to find out if you’d send a dessert next week.” The relief I felt allowed me to swallow my irritation. “Sure, Daniel. Now that I’ve got my heart back in my chest, I’ll make a note to do just that.”
 
What I remember best about that phone call was the way my emotions changed on a dime. I went from nonchalant to panic-stricken to limb-buckling relief in just a few short minutes. And all that emotional energy was a response to a single bit of news.
 
This little incident provides a dramatic example of how our thoughts determine our well-being at any given moment. The phone call delivered false information to my mind, but that did not alter its impact. Our brains are like the hard drive of a computer, and our minds act as the software. We can only operate on the information that is programmed into the system. No wonder that one of the most important maxims of computer programming is “Garbage in, garbage out.”
 
All of us are inundated with mental garbage. As with my example of NHS, we make assumptions about what the events of life actually mean. We attempt to predict outcomes without all the information. We speculate about things we may never fully know. In our reasoning, we assign meanings that are not ours to define.
 
We cannot predetermine the events of life or how we feel about them, but we can choose how we think about them. I decided a long time ago that the word of God would have the last word in my life. How amazing that God offers to share His infinite wisdom with me! I used to waste so much mental and emotional energy with fears and speculations. Now, when I get carried away by an avalanche of thoughts, that is my signal to turn to Jesus. I can trust Him and simply take Him at His word. How sweet it is!
 

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.”

Matthew 7:24-25 MSG

Success

comments Comments Off on Success
By , November 5, 2012 10:08 pm
Share

I simply adored my career in the pharmaceutical industry. My days were filled with visits to doctors’ offices all over northwest Alabama or sales meetings in fun cities. I had a company car, an expense account, and constant interaction with a wide range of fascinating people. I couldn’t imagine a job more enjoyable or better suited to my personality and preferences. The generous salary I received was gravy.
 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, my company announced a new incentive program to boost sales. Employees that exceeded their sales quotas and showed signs of leadership were in the running. Those chosen for this high honor would be acknowledged before the whole corporation. Winners not only received a nice paycheck bump, they also got to attend the National Recognition Meeting at a plush resort. The promised rewards got my wheels turning. I began to plan my work and work my plan. I intended to be at that meeting.
 

When the recipients were announced, I was delighted when they called my name that first year. Those extra sales calls had paid off. The taste of success left me hungry for more, so I put my competitive streak to work. To make sure that I won again, I delivered special care packages to my best customers. I ruthlessly guarded my much-prized Prozac samples so that they got me the biggest bang for my buck. The result was that I was chosen again and again for five consecutive years.
 

Even though my achievements were unprecedented in company history, and they made valiant efforts to give me special recognition, the law of diminishing returns began to set in. The firm continued to get increasing sales from me and I received very attractive perks from them. But it started to dawn on me that the exhilarating feelings didn’t last very long. More troublesome was the pressure I felt to somehow hold onto that top spot. I had to find a way to do even more than I was already doing to stay in the lead.
 

These fears were confirmed for me in a very memorable way on my fourth National Recognition trip. A significant moment happened during the awards ceremony. Each winner came to the platform to collect a gold pin, a plaque, and a handshake from the president of the pharmaceutical division. We moved forward in ranks, first time achievers first, followed by second timers, and so on.
 

I was the only woman in a tiny group of fourth-time winners. When I crossed the stage, instead of a standard congratulatory remark, the president greeted me with an unexpected question. “So, how are you doing on quota this year?” he wanted to know. There it was. He actually said it! My hard work of the past didn’t even merit a comment. The message was clear: Only the lead dog gets a change of scenery.
 

Someone captured this moment with a Polaroid camera. I found the picture when I was rummaging through a box in my attic this summer. I thought it very telling that such a groundbreaking accomplishment was forgotten in a hot, dusty attic for more than a decade.
 

That snapshot depicted the fleeting nature of my career pursuits. At the same time it raised questions about the true nature of success. As has been my practice since adolescence, I turned to the Bible for answers. What God has to say about success has little to do with fame or fortune.
 

We find God’s definition of success in the first chapter of Joshua. It comes at a pivotal point in Joshua’s life. He has just been appointed as successor to Moses and he has some tough shoes to fill. God addresses this issue in verse 5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” What a fantastic thing to say! It totally took the competition out of it. God guaranteed Joshua that he possessed the exact same secret that kept Moses thriving for forty winning seasons – His very presence.
 

God reveals the game plan for good success in verse 8. His basic strategy for us is to listen to Him and follow His instructions. If our life’s ambition is to wholeheartedly follow God, He says that we are a success!
 

A prosperous future awaits those who follow God’s plan. In my case, that meant that my days in the corporate world were numbered. God’s new assignment for me would include being a ful-ltime mom and leading a discipleship ministry. What I lost in earthly glamour has been replaced by priceless glimpses of God’s glory.
 

Whether we are conquering enemy nations like Joshua or seeking to make our lives count in the workplace, home, or community, God measures our achievement in ways that cannot be seen. His timeline is eternal. The rewards we reap will be beyond compare. We can have the joy of knowing that our lives have been well lived as we reach for the heavenly prize that awaits us.
 

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Joshua 1:8

 

Beholding Jesus: He Offers Me Living Water, 10/30/12

comments Comments Off on Beholding Jesus: He Offers Me Living Water, 10/30/12
By , October 30, 2012 7:50 pm
Share

PRAISE: 1) Jesus! What A Friend For Sinners by Michael Card 2) What A Savior by Laura Story 3) Jesus Messiah by Chris Tomlin (3DCD “What LOVE Looks Like” 2008)

Martha read us the story of the woman at the well from John 4:1-30 and 39-42. In these Scriptures we see Jesus STOP, REVEAL, and HEAL while the woman STOPS, DROPS, and DRINKS.

Iron Sharpens Iron

comments Comments Off on Iron Sharpens Iron
By , October 29, 2012 6:40 pm
Share

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

Recently, I got lured into a home demonstration for Cutco knives. I agreed partly because I wanted to help a young man I’d known for many years. But mostly, I just wanted my drawer full of Cutco knives sharpened, free of charge.

Their product is stellar, and their standards are strict. Any knife that bears their name — no matter the age or amount of use — must cut cleanly through a thick piece of rope. Any evidence of gnawing or frayed edges sends that knife to the whetstone for sharpening.

At the same time my knives were being tested and honed, my love was undergoing God’s sharpening process. My personal rope test came during Parent’s Weekend at Ole Miss. Our daughter Merrill Lee is a senior, scheduled to graduate in May. We took her out to dinner; and conversation inevitably turned to her plans for next year. On the way back to the hotel, a disagreement arose between my husband and me.

Eager to debrief, I began to rehearse all the options we had discussed. It took me a few minutes to notice that Bob wasn’t participating. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I felt shut out”, was his reply. I was startled by his comment. “Why do you say that?” I wanted to know. “Every time I expressed my opinion, you just changed the subject back to what you want her to do.” Ouch. I could see why he felt that way. We both held some strong convictions about our child’s future. I was so focused on fulfillment of her dreams and passions that I had dismissed Bob’s concerns about her financial security.

I said I was sorry, but it was obvious that Bob was finished with the conversation for now. As we drove along in silence, I hated the disconnection I had created between us. I began to ask the Lord to search my heart. Without condemnation, He gently revealed that I had judged my view as superior to my husband’s. This prideful attitude had dulled my heart to God’s call to love. Without the love of God as my primary goal, I lost my ability to see Bob’s wisdom and precious father heart. “Oh Jesus, I’ve done it again!” I thought. “I’ve failed to honor You and my husband by my lack of love. Please forgive me and love Bob through me.”

It was tempting to be discouraged about my “love life.” But, instead I chose to take hold of the only solution that could cleanly cut through this relational barrier. As I prayed for God to love my husband, I had Romans 5:5 in mind. It tells me that the Holy Spirit has poured God’s love into my heart. The overwhelming, overcoming, sacrificial love of my Redeemer lives in me!

That perfect love can flow to others when I yield to God’s refining process. Iron sharpening iron involves friction. It isn’t a quick fix. But as I allow Him to remove everything that hinders, I become an instrument in the hand of God wielding the love of God that never fails.

The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit.

Romans 5:5

Beholding Jesus: He Says I Must Be Born Again – 10/23/12

comments Comments Off on Beholding Jesus: He Says I Must Be Born Again – 10/23/12
By , October 24, 2012 9:27 am
Share

Martha walks us through Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus as we examine the question “What’s your starting point?”: Self-righteousness which leads to a performance/works mentality that tries to earn something from God vs. receiving and relying on the righteousness of Christ which leads to love for God and acts of service that flow from that love.

Web development by Rustixs Interactive | Sitemap