Monday, February 27, 2017

From Where I Sit

I've been trying to figure things out. I've been trying to figure people out, including me. Not an easy task. I've been around the block a few times. I'm on the back side of my life (that's a scary confession). Kids are raised and more or less on their own. It hasn’t been an easy trek. It hasn't been hard as some either.

Everything that grows starts with a seed. Every genus of vegetation, edible or ornamental or medicinal. A single seed. According to the Bible, man began with clay and breath. He was created after the animals, fish and fowl, thus we are different.

And then there are the trees. One is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Oh, that's the one that messed us up. That ended the party. There's always one who eats or drinks too much and gets bounced. But these guys made it bad for everyone. Like getting caught with your hands in the cookie jar, now no one gets cookies! Of course, being the only ones at this party, from where they sat, they didn't know. So they have to leave and the whole place gets shut down and guarded by angels and swords.

But God isn't sitting were they sit. Funny, He suspected as much. Okay, He knew before it happened. Well, the free will thing, remember? They could choose. So, He had a plan in place. One that would redeem every man and this sin nature he now comes with. It is a popular belief we don't come with instructions, but we do come with a sin nature. All because of an apple or a pomegranate (which I think is more likely), and it's seeds.

Ah, but there is another tree, remember? It is the tree of life! They could eat from that one along with others. But the garden was closed, not for the season, but forever. Do you think that these trees are still alive? I know Revelation talks about the tree of life. Seems to signify eternal life, never ending life, like the more you partake of it the more life it has. The tree that keeps on living.

The tree of knowledge of good and evil is also alive, but it just keeps telling you what's good and bad. It offers no life at all. We are reminded of it in the law man puts upon himself and others to determine their standing before God. It comes in judgement, both of ourselves and others. It comes in should'ves, would'ves and could'ves. (Are they words?)

What are we doing? If we are accepting the sacrifice of Christ to put an end to sin which started at that tree, why are we still trying  to pick and eat it’s fruit? Where are we sitting?

Jesus made a lot of statements about obeying Him, obeying the Word, obeying your husband, obeying the Pastors  and ordinances of the church. I am confused with good works and grace. I can no longer reconcile cause and effect. At the risk of sounding heretical, let me say I believe the words He said. But I believe obedience comes only after a heart exchange of intimacy with Him. Obeying for obedience sake is not at all what Jesus wants.

A ruse of Satan is to confuse faith obedience with blind obedience. He tempts us with our weaknesses and needs. He’s been doing it since the garden. He tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He is still trying to keep us from experiencing life. I'll obey you Lord, because I have a need. I need you to come through. I need to feel worthy and blessed. I need you to provide for me. I need to have peace, I need reconciliation.

All the while we are sitting at the wrong tree.  Jesus provides, loves, feeds, gives worth, reconciles not because we obey the commandments, but because we are His own. He paid for us with His blood. The only requirement is acknowledging it and allowing Him to love me. Only then will it be a willing obedience.

I need to see where I am sitting. What tree am I facing? And what does Jesus see from where He is? Good and evil, or life? I want a life-giving love relationship. Good and evil and knowledge won't give it to me. I need to change my seat.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Participating and learning with Kate Motaung and some wonderful writers  in a five minute (plus) free write.

The word is slow and I was slow in writing it.

//Not My Plan

When I think of the word slow, my first reaction is, “yup, that's me.” I'm a slow starter and a seldom finisher. I'm quick to stumble over the obstacles, get distracted by the opposition, and cave to the critics. The irony of all this is that my thoughts are always on fast forward, and so much more often than naught, they get tangled together so becoming a blur. Because of this if there is pressure to make a decision, impulsiveness takes over if I don't purpose to put the brakes on. I don't give myself permission to be slow or to say no. This past season in my life God has been teaching me it is okay to slow down. It's more than okay. It is necessary. He is not in a hurry with His plan. Why should I be? //

My son plays chess. He was showing me a match between a grand master and a child of about nine. It was a timed match. I was watching, mostly the child. He would take a few extra seconds to make a move, then make 4 or 5 really quick ones. I questioned his thinking. “He is planning His strategy, looking ahead at the board and the position of the pieces.” He makes one move, then the next few come very quickly. It falls in place with his plan.” As much as he was attentive to the game, he was also fidgety, looking around, shuffling his feet, his body not completely relaxed. He was slow when he needed to be and quick, not impulsive, when it counted most. He won the match. I walked away thinking about it.

I hope that boy can take those strategies beyond the board into his daily life. So many can't and unlike the game, you can't just clear the board and start over. Mistakes, decisions and responses follow you into the future.  But the truth is, God knows the moves we are going to make and He doesn't press delete or put the game away. He walks with us, wherever we go, however long it takes. He teaches you to slow down, and introduces to you within that process new strength, new faith and revelations of the truth of who He is and always has been.

I think of Moses. He was hidden in a basket and found by the Egyptian girl. He was raised by the Pharoah in a palace. One day he did something very impulsive. His anger got ahead of his rationale  and he killed an Egyptian. He then ran away to the backside of a desert and didn't return for 40 years. He lived a secluded life. He married, had kids and raised sheep. A slow start. He thought He probably thought he would die there with no remembrance or legacy. But we know God didn't forget.

And then the wilderness. Forty years walking in circles. Many died. Moses was now leading a slow, complaining people. How did he feel?

But God, I don't have 40 years left! It's all been circles! No, it hasn't. Knowledge is increasing and it seems time is flying and everyone is hurrying and expects you to keep a pace. And when you can't keep up, out feel you let everyone down. But time is the same. One second lasts one second. There are sixty seconds in a minute and sixty minutes in an hour; days, weeks, years, the same.  It's all God's slow process and it's for our learning who we are and who He is. It's learning how to make space for His grace. It is not in ourselves to become who we are because we haven't a clear view.

I don't understand chess. How do I know what the other person is going to do? I guess it has something to do with the odds. I can't gamble with God. It's Him against no one really. I can't fight Him. I can't flee Him. He wants me to slow down. Not really a bad thing. But when He quickens me, He wants me to keep pace.

If I drink my coffee slow, the warmth of it will envelope my senses.

The extract is by the teaspoon and it infuses the whole batch.

A sprinkling rain will refresh and nourish the ground, whereas a deluge will flood and destroy.

Too warm too soon in Winter can make for an unproductive crop in the summer.

We want a quick healing, an instant reconciliation, complete understanding. We don’t want to write a second and third draft, rehearse a twentieth time, repeat the course again.

It takes time, it takes slow and it takes process to see and discover all we are created for.

Friday, February 17, 2017

FMF with Kate Motaung
The word is “weak”

Not Meant for Shame, Only Gain

“We are weak, but He is strong”. Remember the child's song? “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”.  I sang it in Sunday School. I loved it. I knew I was weak and wanted to trust there was someone who was stronger who would help me. The only thing I really saw was people who were getting stronger, learning more and not helping.  I saw my weakness as a negative thing so I got stronger in my pride and I left the song behind for the children. I could handle things on my own. When all fell apart around me it became my cry, my plea. However, I didn’t sing it with assurance, I sang it with desperate hope. “Oh Lord, please let it be true”.

When I finally reached out and called out to the Lord it wasn't in my strength. It was in weakness. My own strength never draws Christ unto me. It's the one truth I keep learning. Is also the one thing I still don't like. Who likes weakness? Don't we usually try to hide it?  We boast in what we accomplish, the good and healthy decisions we make, how far we have come, but who boasts in weakness? Seems like once we think we have it together we blow it, if not in one area, then in another.  It can paralyze and pride can move right in. The moment I think I am strong, it's like asking the Lord to step aside and let me take His place.

Jesus didn't die for the strong or as the strong. He died in His own human weakness. He had to be broken and depend on God the Father.  I too need to be broken and depend on Christ the resurrected one. Then I can look at my weakness and say “It is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed”. (Lamentations 3). And in our weakness, that is where Christ strengthens us. That is where the confidence comes from. That is where we will find our true hope.  The children's song is for all of God's children, no matter how old. He is our daddy, our Abba.

Paul said “But He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me”. Paul knew, and he had more to boast of in his flesh than most. But he met the Lord and his accomplishments took a back seat. May I keep seeing my weakness as an avenue to Christ and not a refusal to believe in His power.

When I finally dare to fall to pieces, that is where I will fall into peace.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The word this week is “safe”
Kate Motaung Five minute Friday

The I can and I cannot of safety

//Psa 91:1

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

I can stand beside you
I can listen to you
I can talk with you
I can cry with you
I can laugh with you
I can pray with you
I can feed you
I can advise you
I can support you
I can hold you
I can drop what I'm doing and come to you
All to help you feel safe.//


I cannot save you
I'm not God

I cannot explain it all
I'm not all knowing

I cannot heal you
I'm not the physician

I cannot remove it all
I'm not all powerful

Only the one who can save you is the one who can safeguard you.

We are not protected from the storms; we are held tight in the storms.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I’m writing again with Kate Motaung five minute Friday
I know I thought I wouldn't do this anymore, but I decided it is a good exercise for this wannabe writer. And yeah, I wrote for five minutes and then some. I'm a slow thinker.

Breathe Easy

//Breathing moves us into the next moment. Life continues only because we breathe. “God breathed into his nostrils and the man became a living being.” Gen 3:6. God exhaled into us His life so we could inhale and exhale it back to each other; a constant exchange of life between life. What a precious gift, and probably the least recognized until we are grasping for it.// Think of every blood cell carrying oxygen to your heart so you can breathe. Yet just think of the things that constrict our breathing. All of the toxins of pollution, smoking and chemicals that we can never thoroughly escape. Yet the rejuvenation and resuscitation of our amazing, created bodies can keep us surviving so much.

What about the spiritual? I Think of the toxicity of words. Words that I inhale into my thinking and exhale into others have power. They can motivate and lead to more life or they can constrict, causing labored breathing in the soul. We can bring life or death with our words. We can breathe out hate and distrust, or encouragement and hope. I know that I have done both. I have caused many a soul attack. Yet I somehow am being resuscitated  all the time.

What resuscitates the soul?

One thing I believe is the prayers of others. Oh, how I seem to breathe easier when I know someone is praying for me. I feel the surge of spiritual adrenaline propel my soul. Even if physically drained I know my soul is still breathing. Jesus rebuked the disciples for not praying with Him in His greatest hour of need in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed so earnestly He sweat drops of blood. His prayer took Him to the cross.

Where will our prayers take us? Where will they take others? Inhaling and exhaling the breath of God.