Saturday, January 27, 2018

To Whom Will I Surrender?

The word for this week at FiveminuteFriday is surrender

The road before me is barely visible. Heavy rains make it difficult to drive. Street lights and the yellow line that marks the lane are shrouded with dense nebulous fog. I have an address,  but have never been there before. I listen to the voice on the GPS of my tablet trusting I won't miss the turns. These devices help,  but we all know the route they take you is not always the fastest. It is hours before dawn,  it is unfamiliar ground,  and I feel alone.

This scene is fictional that I speak of,  yet it describes to me this word surrender. There are many similarities to life situations where you must decide who or what to surrender to. This word has slid off my tongue in the past so frivolously,  perhaps underestimating the consequences. I tell myself  things will get better,  grace will abound,  God will forgive, and all things will work together for good. That is what my Bible says. It is all true. However, how often do I surrender to the wrong things and become servant to them. It may be years later that I realize the consequences. It may be poor health and physical pain, or it may be addiction, or it may be poverty. It could be estranged relationships. It could be lost opportunities.

It isn't always easy to discern and follow the light of Christ. Things seem vague and situations complex. My heart is to know I am on the right path. To be blind is not sin; to see and not acknowledge you were blind is sin. Christ sees no shame in it. Repentance means turning around and walking in the opposite direction. That involves thinking in a different way to solve your problem than you were thinking when you created your problem. And then there is that fork that you are at, and you don't want to follow the wrong path. Once again, I must choose. When I choose to surrender I am choosing captivity; when I choose not to surrender I am choosing captivity. I never serve two masters. I always serve one. The option to surrender to Christ and not myself nor another person makes serving in love possible. He did what the Father told Him to do, and then He gave His life for me.

It is an ongoing process for each one. "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity". 1 Cor 13:12,13. Our walk on this earth is so often dim and obstacles can distort the path. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path". Ps 119:105

Friday, January 19, 2018

Where Do My Intentions Lead me?

Five minute Friday where the prompt is "intentional"

My mother used to say “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Somehow clichés (and everything your mother ever said) digs deep inlays in your consciousness and you keep falling into them like potholes,  leaving your thinking a little disjointed in need of repair. This word,  intention,  falls hard on me. When hearing it I feel the guilt rising up of all the things I intended to do that never got done. Along with it comes self justification or blame.

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary,  they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets up against the knowledge of God,  and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience,  once your obedience is complete”. 2 Cor 10:4

These “potholes” are certainly strongholds that pull our minds into a way of thinking and fighting battles that are wordly. Our intentions should be to blast our own arguments and pretensions,  a claim to our own knowledge being above God's. Not to say things are okay,  but to acknowledge God's weapons of warfare that disseminate and diminish any trace of our own. In that,  my intention takes on a different meaning,  of not being a distant hope or aim,  but a deliberate undertaking of steps to reach my desired end.

And yes,  that cliché has a truth in it,  but only in the context of not receiving Christ as a personal Lord and Savior of your life. If you have that intention, but never solidify it in your heart,  then you should consider it both carefully and prayerfully.

Friday, January 5, 2018

What Motivates Me

The word is Motivate
The first word for fiveminutefriday in 2018

//By myself I am unmotivated. Really, if it were up to me to get me going every day,  I wouldn't go anywhere. Never been a self motivated person. That is just the way it is. What does motivate me is others. I need others in my life. I need people to tell me I can do it. When I hear that,  I recall those words in times of discouragement. I need someone to believe it is possible and probable to live my life fully.

I need the Word of God. It tells me I am loved. It gives instruction,  exhortation,  admonishment and hope. It tells me how to be forgiven and how to forgive. It tells me how to love and what to love.

Think of our children. We instruct them,  guide them,  love them and motivate them. They always don't listen. Sometimes they do things according to their own philosophies of life,  as we do also. But we don't stop loving them. Neither does God when we go astray. He is patient; so much more so than we.

Motivation doesn't always look like “I’m revved up and ready to go”. Often it is in the daily routines,  the consistent activities where my motivation is revealed. My heart beats in a normal,  even pattern and cannot be felt and heard with my ears. If I can feel and hear it,  usually here is a problem. I think of true motivation that way,  not hyped up for an early burn-out. //

Jesus was highly motivated to do what the Father asked,  but He wasn't running crazy,  worrying about how He did every little thing or other's responses,  nor was he concerned about getting it all done in a specific time. He trusted the Father as He obeyed.

Obedience is key. I can't keep putting things off that Jesus has told me to do. There is no way to mask my unwillingness before Him. He knows the motives of my heart. I may fool others,  but not God.

This year I want to be motivated and also be a motivator for others,  encouraging them to live their life the way God wants. The only way one can know is to accept the Bible as the Word of God and begin to seek a personal relationship with Christ within its pages.

We need each other. Each of us needs Christ. We were not designed to be alone and totally self sufficient. Even God is a trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,  working together to maintain the Spirit of oneness.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A New Year And A Never Changing God

Entering a new year there are things I leave behind as well as things I carry forward. 2017 began with monumental challenges that continued with little reprise. The very fact of my current state is a testimony I attribute to my Savior,  for He and He alone has taken me through these waters. Not that the land is flourishing where I walk,  but the floods have receded a bit.  I do not feel like I am drowning.

The words of Isaiah,  chapter 40:27-31 “Why do you say,  O Jacob,  and assert,  O Israel,  My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escape the notice of my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God,  the Lord,  the creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary,  and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired,  and vigorous young men stumble badly,  yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles,  they will run and not get tired,  they will walk and not become weary”.

I have to say there are many days I feel like I have no strength. I don't even walk,  I crawl. But over and over again I realize that just the fact that I make it into the next day,  the next month,  the next year,  strength I may have never thought I had carried me. Strength has many disguises. Sometimes we train physically and mentally for it,  but other times,  when we have nothing to fight with except hope,  it may be unrecognizable.

“His understanding is inscrutable”.  I looked that word up. Unexplainable,  impenetrable,  incomprehensible,  mysterious, unknowable. Those are a few synonyms. That is our God. He will never let us understand Him. He desires we keep seeking even when all appears hopeless.

What has given you strength in the past year that maybe looked different than what you would expect?

It is more often the hardships,  the tragedies,  the offenses that cause us to rise up and continue in what we believe. The past few years have brought all three,  as I am sure it has in many lives. As fractured and lifeless they sometimes appear to leave me,  God is never thrown into a state of inertia or bewilderment. He is very aware,  alert and alive in all circumstances. “For He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust”. Ps 103:14

 When I don't know what to do I continue what I know God has instructed,  even if it appears fruitless. Writing has strengthened me. I cannot write unless I am in the right position mentally. It takes resting quietly and often being alone. Even if nothing makes it onto the page,  sometimes when I think I am accomplishing nothing,  I know I am building strength. I spend lots of time alone,  listening,  waiting, praying, hoping, and often with no apparent results. It is weeks or months or yes,  even years I realize,  in awe,  I have moved forward. So writing is one thing I will take with me into the new year,  until I sense God say otherwise.

What else will I carry? As I begin to wrap up the ornaments and say goodbye once again to the celebration of Christmas,  I will carry the present and presence of Christ with me. He came once and I  honor His birth,  but I don't tuck Him away for another year. I observe and celebrate my children's birthdays each year and I don't forget them the rest of the year. How much more the Lord.

What am I leaving behind? That is a little harder and requires more willingness and determination of will on my part. Sorting through the baggage,  I see many unnecessary pieces of my life I could do without. Habits,  obsessions and ignored perspectives that hinder my relationships and my own health stare me in the face. I have learned a lot about each this year. I wish to leave behind my quickness to judge others. Taking the beam out of my own eye before I help you take the speck from yours is a good way to begin,  Mt 7:1-4.

And about wings of eagles and never being weary? I believe this is prophetic for Israel at that time and heaven in the future,  but also for our earthly life in whatever place we find ourselves. Waiting (hoping) in the Lord does produce strength and ability in ways only the Lord can reveal. He doesn't always shine the brightest light all at once,  but unfolds it as stars in the blackest of night,  adjusting our eyes to see more clearly.

Are these my New Year's resolutions? No. I am not resolute about any of it. I have learned the lessons of making promises that last only a few weeks, followed by self justification and guilt for failing. These are my desires fashioned into prayers in assurance that what is necessary will be.

You may think all of this sounds a little vague,  all these words wrapped in a certain unsureness. My unsureness only lies in my predicting what I will accomplish,  not at all in what God will do. We are clay in the hands of the potter,  being molded and fashioned into His design,  not ours. My hope is in the Lord.

May each of you enter this New Year hopeful in this one thing,  that your life is held in His everlasting arms.