Sunday, October 01, 2017

When will I sing for joy?

I've been pretty quiet these last few months for various reasons. One repeating theme, however, is that every time I play and sing "Shout to the Lord," the Lord speaks to me.... challenging me... questioning me.

He asked me what "the promise I have in You" really is.  The Bible is full of promises... but what one promise really is above absolutely everything else that earth or life could offer?  I finally came to the conclusion that it what John mentions in John 1:16:
16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
This is the same thing that Paul is praying about for the Ephesian church:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

This promise - that it is possible for Christ Jesus to dwell in us, which enables us to be filled with the fullness of God - is the fullness - the foundation and the channel and the way and the sum total and at the same time the one thing that absolutely nothing else compares to.


Last week, God challenged me when I sang this line:
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands...

Usually when I sing that line, I think of the stars and galaxies, of clouds and mountains and flowers and snowflakes, of things that God has done in my life and the lives of others.

But this time, He said, "Will you sing for joy over what you are still waiting for Me to do? That difficult situation that you cannot imagine a good resolution to... do you trust Me enough? Do you trust that I am wise enough and capable enough and loving enough to sing for joy now over what I am going to do... even though You don't know what I'm going to do?"

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The power to be free...

This is so very worth sharing. / Kor describes how she and her twin sister, Miriam, were deported from Romania to Auschwitz in May 1944 along with the rest of their family. As they waited at the entrance to the concentration camp, a Nazi walked along shouting “Twins, twins.” He asked Kor’s mother whether her two 10-year-old daughters were twins. “Is that good?” asked her mother. “Yes, it is good,” replied the Nazi. So her mother admitted that they were twins. And that was the last Kor saw of her mother, who was taken away to be exterminated minutes after her father and older siblings had been murdered, all within half an hour of getting off the cattle car they arrived in. “I was used in two types of experiments,” Kor says in the video... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

Brave And Tragic: A Story Of Being One Of The Mengele Twins In...
the power to live and forgive.
Posted by BuzzFeed on Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

When God is enough...

I'm listening to this podcast:

...and I want to share something that I believe is really important.

Lisa and John share in this one about the turning point that happened in their early marriage when their relationship was a mess.

Lisa said that, for her, as she prayed about the things John was doing that hurt her in this very difficult period of time, God said, "Lisa, tell Me that I'm enough for you." Lisa said, "Does that mean that John will never change, if I say that?" God said:
I just need to hear you say that I am enough for you.
And so she began stating this every time she was struggling to deal with whatever John was doing.

You know... God led me through the same thing 18 years ago.

Let's face it. Because a marriage links two faulty humans in a day-in-and-day-out intimate relationship, your husband or wife has the capability of hurting you more than anyone. And they most likely will. Because nobody is even close to perfect. Things that will not hurt you when a stranger does them to you will hurt you terribly when your spouse does it. Things that are somewhat easy to shrug off when someone who is just a friend does it will crush you when your spouse does it. This is a fact of life.

So for us, year four was the difficult one when we struggled so much with hurt. I was hurt by things that I couldn't understand why he did them, things that I knew he didn't realize hurt me, and more. Anyone who has been married for awhile knows the kinds of things I'm talking about.

So there came a day when God was asking me the same thing:
Am I really enough for you, even if your husband never changes?

Looking back, I can confidently say that almost everything that I have in my relationship with God came from THIS. This choice to believe that God really was enough for me, even if my husband never changed. Even if the one person who was part of myself never learned not to _____.

I believe that this choice was the foundation of almost every life-changing revelation I have ever had. And to be quite honest, I think this decision I made might also have saved our marriage.

This decision to trust... to learn to rely upon what God says about me and about Himself in the face of difficult circumstances allowed Him to be God in my life, rather than me falling into the trap of expecting my husband to provide things that only God can fulfill. It allowed God to teach me forgiveness. God taught me to draw a strength from Him that I don't think I ever would have learned any other way. It also opened the eyes of my heart to see my husband for who he really was... a man who loved me with every fiber of his flawed and faulty being, just as I loved him with every bit of my flawed and faulty being.

I believe that this truth... this conviction... is foundational in the life of every married Christian.

What about you?

Is He enough for you?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lost in worship...

It's late, and I need to go to bed, but I don't want to. A friend shared this worship video on Facebook... and I'm totally enraptured. Enthralled. "Lost in the art of bringing You praise" to quote a completely different song.

Maybe you've heard this song before. My daughter says it's been on the radio, but I don't listen to the radio much so I haven't heard it.

Last Christmas, I blogged about how Jesus is the hero the world longs and is crying for.  This song.... just a little bit... gives my heart the chance to express a tiny little bit of how amazing and incredible and beautiful and marvelous and wonderful my Savior is.

I love the whole song.... and I LOVE the bridge... and then "What a powerful name it is" is proclaimed by thousands, and they broadcast the huge letters "JESUS" across the screen.... so, soo.... powerful yet still falls so short of declaring the magnificence of the One who is the Ultimate power and glory of all of the creation and the entire universe.

Join me in worship? Sooner or later I'll calm down enough to sleep...

What a Beautiful Name
Words and Music by Ben Fielding & Brooke Ligertwood

Verse 1
You were the Word at the beginning
One with God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ

Chorus 1
What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Verse 2
You didn’t want heaven without us
So Jesus You brought heaven down
My sin was great Your love was greater
What could separate us now

Chorus 2
What a wonderful Name it is
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a wonderful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
What a wonderful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Death could not hold You
The veil tore before You
You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring
The praise of Your glory
For You are raised to life again
You have no rival
You have no equal
Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom
Yours is the glory
Yours is the Name above all names

Chorus 3
What a powerful Name it is
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King
What a powerful Name it is
Nothing can stand against
What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus

Friday, March 31, 2017

Grace upon grace...

I feel like I blog a lot about grace. I don't think that's a problem, though... God's grace is His power working in our lives. Empowerment. His grace is why it is possible to experience His strength when we are totally and completely weak and powerless. It's what makes it possible to experience His joy and peace even when life is giving us every reason to be miserable. 

Every life-changing revelation or experience that I have had in my life has been the result of MY surrender and HIS grace working through my surrender.

I've been experiencing yet another new facet of His grace these past few months. But first let me back up.

Over the past two years, I'd been experiencing more and more health issues. None of them were serious, and none of them interfered much in my daily life, so I frequently ignored them. My hands developed some sort of eczema. Over the last two-plus years, it gradually spread over more and more of my palms, but it didn't itch like eczema usually does and only occasionally hurt, so I just ignored it and only my immediate family even knew it existed. My blood pressure was gradually climbing into the hypertension range, but I'd found that more sleep and sunshine kept it out of the dangerous range... so again, I ignored it most of the time. My shoulder started hurting, and gradually it got worse... then the other one started hurting and got worse... but it only affected me if I needed to raise my arms over my head or lift something heavy.  My husband knew how bad it was getting and how much range of motion I'd lost when he saw that I could not undress myself sometimes, but most of the time, it didn't affect me... so I ignored it. I've been slowly gaining weight for years like many of us do, but even when I tried just about any healthy method of losing weight known to man, nothing happened.  I didn't like getting frustrated by my inability to lose weight, and I carried those extra pounds so evenly that most people never realized that I weighed 25% more than I should to be healthy. So most of the time... you guessed it... I ignored it. Ditto with a handful of other minor health problems.

Last fall, my job had a season of extra stress, and I thought I handled it pretty well... until the turn of the year.  Then all of a sudden, my body started letting me know in no uncertain terms that something was seriously wrong. I lost the ability to sleep soundly, and I went through several weeks of essentially no real sleep.  It was one thing when the kids were little and woke me up all the time, for at least then, my body knew how to actually rest while keeping an ear open... and when it was okay to sleep soundly, my body did it. This was nothing like that. My body seemed to have forgotten how to shut down and sleep, and it was very quickly affecting my mental function. I'm a senior manager and my job requires a memory for lots of details, and it was rapidly getting harder and harder to get my brain to work properly.

My husband was experiencing his own gradually-worsening health problems as well. His symptoms were nothing like mine, but he, too, had been ignoring most of them for years.  But now they were starting to affect his ability to do his job as well.

And so we went to a highly-recommended "functional doctor." A normal medical doctor is trained to treat symptoms and diseases, but a functional doctor is trained to restore the body's correct and intended functions.  They're quite different, and there is a place and time for both. We felt the functional doctor was the type that we needed, since medical doctors had not found any disease-related source of these issues. So we went to one and he had us list every single little health issue we had.  Seeing a list of eight health issues that had almost all appeared in the last two years sort of woke me up to how my health was on a subtle but relentless downwards spiral.  I couldn't ignore it anymore.

So where does the grace come in?

Well, it turns out that functional doctors understand how EVERYTHING that surrounds and enters a body affects its functions. So the way that they work to restore your body's functions is by carefully controlling everything that enters your body and everything your body experiences.

This meant an extremely strict diet, learning about hidden toxins that have found their way into most American's diets and personal care products, learning new ways to cook, finding better sources of food and products, learning how stress isn't quite what most of us think and how to combat it, etc.

In other words, it meant a LOT of work and time and self-control... self-control and time that I wasn't sure I had when the doctor laid all this out. Where would I find the time to do so much more cooking (because there is not a single restaurant within an hour's drive that prepares food that fits this diet... and all processed, ready-made foods were out).

I didn't feel like I had much choice, though.  My ability to do my job was definitely on the line, and I also felt like there might be so much more on the line in my future. I'm only a few years younger than my mom was when she developed the cancer that eventually took her life. I could not help feeling that I owed it to my family to stop this nasty spiral before it resulted in cancer or something else horrible... something that could not be ignored.

And so I threw myself upon God's grace yet again.

And once again, I experienced His grace and faithfulness!

He has carried my through these months so securely that it hasn't seemed even 1/10th as hard as it was when I tried to "eat right" on my own.

As lab tests came in, the doctor was able to show us exactly how our hormone levels had gotten so out of whack that it was affecting our bodies' ability to heal from injuries, to sleep and wake, to produce other important hormones, the function of our immune systems, and a host of other things.  He continuously adjusted our diets, the supplements we were taking, instructions for physical therapy exercises, etc... whatever our individual bodies were needing in order to heal and restore proper function. Keep in mind that I know a lot about healthy eating and had done it quite often over the past two years of falling apart. It hadn't worked. I believe it was the precise and tailored nature of what the doctor directed each of us to do that made the difference.

And God's grace has been there for us, enabling us, carrying us through, providing self-control and strength... all that we need.

My eczema disappeared within a week of the diet and supplements he prescribed. The next week, my sleep started improving, and I'm now I'm sleeping better than I have in years. One of my shoulders is completely healed, and the other one is almost healed. We go to the gym now because I lost a lot of strength over the past year that they were injured and I need to regain it.  My blood pressure is lower than it has been in years. My mental function is back. That 25% weight gain?  Over half of it is already gone... just melted away, without counting calories, without worry about it, without extreme workout routines.

My body is healing and being restored.

Isn't that what what God's grace is for? For restoration?

Jesus said He came that we might have life... and not just a meager existence or sickly falling-apart life... life more abundantly!  He stood up in the temple, quoted Isaiah 61's verses about restoration and the freedom of captives and said He had come to fulfill all of that.

What are you facing? 
Does some sort of your life need restoration?

I assure you... God's grace can restore you, too!

But just like we had to surrender our own ways of eating and living and taking care of ourselves and submit to the doctor's wisdom, so too, we have to surrender our own ways and our own wisdom to God if we want His grace to flow.

God led us to this doctor, but we did not know in advance what He would lead us to. None of us do.  That's the whole point in surrender.

But God will always provide the grace - the strength and empowerment - for what He asks a surrendered person to do. He does it all.

And what you surrender to God's will and ways -- what you give up for Him -- will ALWAYS be overwhelmed and outdone and surpassed by what you will receive in return. This is a spiritual law.

Give Him a chance to restore your life. Actually... don't just give him a chance. Give him all your chances. Everything you've got... and what you don't have. Give Him your emptiness as well, and wait until He fills it with more than you can imagine.

John 10:9-11
I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and [a]have it abundantly.

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion