Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14


WWW As My World Turns

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Giving it up vs OFFERING it up


I am not Catholic, Lutheran or Methodist, but I do participate in Lent and it seems like I've been going about it all wrong, which is probably why my Lenten "sacrifices" never stuck. A lovely and very wise, former high school friend pointed this out to me this morning and it really FINALLY made sense to me.

I posted on my FB status that I am giving up a couple of things for the Lenten period and focusing on two main things. I spoke about how my hope is that giving those two things up for Lent would carry over to being every day changes in my life. (My mouth...I have issues with keeping it clean when I'm in traffic and/or dealing with idiot drivers, but I never, ever use profanity around my kids. And, I smoke every now and then. Ok, 2 cigs a day. One going to work and one leaving work. Don't smoke on the weekends.) I wrote of how cutting both of these out for 40 days should make a difference in various areas of my life for the better.

My lovely friend wrote the following:

"I saw it put so nicely on another page where a conversation was being held about Lent and the writer said, "join us sufferers". The person writing back stated, "Jesus suffered and died, so that we don't have to suffer." I thought that was well put. If God is speaking to you about something, listen to Him, pray and ask Him to help you stop whatever you are failing at. Don't have to "give it up" for Lent – OFFER it up instead. Such a great thing for us non-denominational Christians! Amazing GRACE!"

I never thought of it that way, but really, it makes SO MUCH SENSE! Instead of suceeding by trying to do this "on our own", so to speak by "giving" it up, we are, really, without relying on the Lord for help, learning that any plan is doomed to fail eventually when we go that route.

By OFFERING it up to the Lord, we are humbling ourselves with our issues and telling Him that we have no chance of doing it on our own. We are admitting that we NEED His help to get through whatever it is we are trying to get rid of in our lives and we are TRUSTING that He will do it, when we obey what it is that He wants us to do.

Really, the observation of Lent is about external rituals. God is after something much deeper than those external rituals. He wants our hearts. He wants our souls. He wants them completely. We should rejoice in the fact that we are 100% forgiven through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We should be praying for guidance from the Lord about what are the stumbling blocks in our lives that are hindering our relationship with God and others. What is it He wants us to "give up" by offering it up to Him? Once He leads us to the things we need to work on ridding our lives of and we entrust the struggle to Him, often this leads to a healthier lifestyle, whether physically, mentally or other, and creates a less stressful life all the way around.

I know I have a LOT more than just those two things to work on and offer up and I believe with God's help and surrendering myself to His direction and offering those areas up to Him, that ultimately I will be successful and I have nobody to thank but God for the changes He is going to make in my life for the better.

Live and learn every day. I'm learning to do it for the RIGHT reasons.

In writing this, the wonderful hymn "Trust and Obey" was brought to my mind...I'd say it fits pretty perfectly!

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.


Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.


Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.


But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.


Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet.
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way.
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.


Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm only human

I finally was able to get around to reading a dear friend's outstanding briefing from Saturday, February 11, and I can't help but feel a little guilty. The gist of the article is the generational discussion regarding what Jesus said in that "THIS GENERATION shall not pass until all of this has been fulfilled" (Luke 21:32). It was a very thought provoking article and really stellar...I completely enjoyed it. However, it brought up some thoughts that are weighing heavy-ish on my mind and heart...

While, yes, I do long to be up in Heaven...experience the Rapture first hand...and be with my Lord and Savior, I still also long to have more time with my precious kids, my mom, the wonderful man and friends in my life as it is NOW in terms of those relationships.

I know I will have an eternity with them and I can't even begin, with my impossibly mortal little mind, to fathom what that will be like. But I cherish hearing the giggles and whispered "mommy"'s and "I love you"'s and "you're the best mommy ever"'s and getting the snuggles and cuddles from my children and I love the amazing hugs I get from my man and the time that we spend together. I love being able to share scripture with him and prayers and know that God is working on us and drawing us ever closer to Him and to each other.

In light of that, with my frail little human self and mind, I can't help but wish that we had just a few more years yet here. And I know it's b/c I absolutely lack the capacity to and cannot begin to comprehend just how awesome it will be when we're up there in Glory. Through a glass darkly, right? And I know when I get to heaven I will wonder how foolish and ignorant I was to ever want to stay away from heaven for any length of time.

But here, on earth, in my frail human vessle of my body, my heart and soul longs for both sides of the coin, if that makes any sense at all. SIGH...

And I wonder...am I the only one who feels this way?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Other Words for Valentine's Day 2012

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


It can be a noun, as in
1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, asfor a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person;sweetheart.

And it can be a verb
5. to have love or affection for: All her pupils love her.
6. to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for (another person).
7. to have a strong liking for; take great pleasure in: to love music.
8. to need or require; benefit greatly from: Plants love sunlight.
9. to embrace and kiss (someone), as a lover.
10.to have love or affection for another person; be in love.

But the worldly "love" of today doesn’t take into account the Biblical standards for LOVE. Infidelity and divorce rates are at an all time high, even among Christians...or those who believe themselves to be. The world has subscribed to the Nike philosophy "Just do it".

"If it feels good, do it"
"What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"
"Look out for number one"

And so forth and so on, are the mantras of today. To the world it's all about hedonism and taking care of yourself first instead of taking care of the one you chose to cleave to.

It's not easy these days in the hustle and bustle of the RUSH and technology laden crowd to be PATIENT with people. Our expectations have been sorely distorted. Technology is supposed to make our lives "easier", but in reality, it has only made our lives busier with less time and attention for the relationships that are supposed to matter.

In losing that patience for those we love, for paying attention to other things instead of our relationships, we tend to be less KIND. Our words can be harsher instead of soft and gracious when we are frustrated by our loved ones actions. We can say cutting words when we are upset instead of gently explaining why we are having a tough day. We need to check our words and our actions when we are having a bad day and season them with grace instead of griping.

When we love someone we are not to be ENVIOUS, meaning, we are not to be jealous. If you have a relationship grounded in God and in trust, there is no reason to be jealous. In past relationships, I admit, we were not grounded in God and therefore there was not complete trust and over time the relationships deteriorated due to the breaking of that bond between us. Thankfully, I have a man in my life who believes that a cord of three strands is not easily broken and knows that doing things GOD'S way will only make our relationship stronger and bring God's blessings to it.

I often tease my boyfriend that I don't get dressed up to go out for him because he thinks I look better without the makeup and the fancy hair, I get dressed up to show the other women out there that they don't stand a chance with my man. Let's be honest. There are women out there who see a man they're interested in and will go after them, no matter what...unless they see that the relationship is strong and not going to be worth their time. I call the makeup and hair my "war paint", but in reality, the loving glances, affection and laughter between my boyfriend and I do more to keep those wolves at bay than anything else.

The envy and jealousy goes both ways though. Don't seek to make your significant other jealous of other people. It only brings strife and harm to the relationship in the end and creates the opposite effect of what you were looking for.

Hand in hand with the envy and jealousy is the BOASTing and PRIDE. One of the most famous sayings is "pride goeth before a fall". For the same reason you don't seek to make your loved one jealous, you don't boast to others about the perfect relationship you have and give all the details. People will want what you have and will try and take it from you. Create within that relationship a safe haven where you find comfort and peace after a tough, wearying day. A place where they will feel safe in knowing that what the two of you have is sacred and isn't broadcast for the world to hear.

When you love someone you do not DISHONOR them by airing their faults or by talking down about them or to them. You do not flirt with others, doesn't matter if your loved one is there or not. That is going outside the bounds of a Godly relationship and sows seeds of disharmony and allows the third party to think that they just might have a chance with you, even if they don't. It creates that "what if" scenario..."man, I'm having such a great time with so-and-so...what if I were single?" That is huge, to me anyway, in the area of dishonoring your partner and your relationship.

These days, we tend to think of ourselves first instead of putting others in front of us. We've conditioned ourself to "look out for number one" and be SELF-SEEKING. "What can YOU do for ME" becomes the mindset instead of "What can I do for YOU". In work and at home that is my theme...what can I do for YOU?...and I do it without regard for them "doing" in return for me. After all, that is not what love is about. Love is about putting the other person first. The Bible says, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Trust me, it makes things so much easier in the give and take of a relationship.

Love does not get ANGRY at the slightest misstep or error. Yes, people will say or do things in error, many times unintentionally, without thinking. Grace...always grace. There have been times where my boyfriend has said some things that I was kind of hurt or offended by, but, being that I am the first real relationship he's had in about ten years, I realized that he was speaking out of inexperience. That allowed me to put the brakes on my tongue and gently explain my view of the situation, which, in turn, defered what would have been an inevitable fight. All because I would have taken affront in error to something that was said out of lack of understanding.

Alongside the anger is the issue of KEEPING A RECORD OF WRONGS. If it happened in the past and has been apologized for...leave it in the past. How simple is that? So many friends that I have have told me that their spouses or significant others have fought dirty by bringing up their past. Some have been things that they did even before they met their loved one or things that they did when they first started dating their loved one, etc., things that are not fair bringing up in the present because they have changed the and are no longer that person. God fogives us our transgressions as far as the East is from the West, who are we to do less for those who have asked our forgiveness and have changed? It's dirty pool to bring up the past when the past is...the past.

Love should not DELIGHT IN EVIL, it shouldn't want to do the wrong things. If you love someone you are TRUTHful and honest with them. You want the best for them. You want them to be happy. You want the relationship to last forever. Well, let me tell you, that doesn't happen overnight. Anything worth having is worth working hard for. Right? Love will not be smooth sailing. You will not always be in love with your significant other or your spouse. Chuck Swindoll has a brilliant quote about marriage. A successful marriage involves falling in love many times...but always with the same person.

There WILL be hard times.

There WILL be hurts.

There WILL be times when you just want to throw in the towel and walk away because y'all just can't see eye to eye.

Yes, to all that and more...BUT...

Love ALWAYS PROTECTS...hold your vows, your relationship as sacred. Protect it from outside influences. Protect it from the wolves trying to tear it apart. Protect it from your own angers and misunderstandings.

Love ALWAYS TRUSTS...believe the best about your partner. Trust that their actions are truthful and honest. Trust in God's plan for your relationship and especially TRUST in GOD, that He is faithful and true. Remember, a cord of THREE strands is not easily broken. Keep God at the center of your relationship and you will weather the storms of life much, much better.

Love ALWAYS HOPES...instead of losing that hope when things don't look so good, keep your faith that God knows what He's doing. “Love comes to those who still hope even though they've been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they've been betrayed, to those who still love even though they've been hurt before.” To still have hope means that we haven't given up through the trenches and valleys and will be rewarded with the views from the peaks.

Love ALWAYS PERSEVERES...To quote Winston Churchill...Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up! Love goes the extra mile...love gives you the strength to endure what you never thought you could. Love allows you to see your significant other through God's eyes and not through the weary, materialistic, world-viewed eyes that has been shoved in our direction and fed to us day in and day out.

On this Valentine's Day, I pray that you get to see your loved ones through God's eyes and that you see that same vision reflected in their eyes back to you.

The greatest of these is LOVE...

To view other perspectives on this In Other Words quote, please visit our hostess this week Heart Choices.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

How can I KNOW?

One of my dear friends is struggling hard right now with the issue of Salvation. He's been a Christian for years, but lately he is struggling with the thought of the fact that he brings nothing to his own Salvation, that God ALONE is the One who brings us to Him. He questions "if I am saved, why did I do that"? "Why did I act that way"? "I thought by now, "I would have changed more"? How do I know for sure "The Holy Spirit lives in me"? I told my prayer partner last week as we wrestled through this question "If I am not saved, I can't be saved". I have begged The Lord to save me a thousand times. My wise prayer partner told me it would be like asking my wife to marry me a thousand times.

I, in my limited human understanding, tried to answer his questions as much as possible and I thought that this might be helpful to others out there struggling with the same thoughts...

Oh, my lovely friend. I've wrestled with the same question from time to time, but after how God has so thoroughly provided for me, time and again, and proven Himself faithful to me, insignificant, mere mortal, completely daily sinner ME, I have no more doubts b/c He always looks after His own and provides for whose who are His, in Him.

I, like Jack, and everyone else here is a sinner. I freely admit to smoking from time to time, to drinking a little too much sometimes, to having the absolute WORST mouth when it comes to traffic...unless my kids are in the truck with me, to conforming a little too much to the world much more often than I should (which is to be never) and not spending enough time in the Word, among many, many other things. But do I love God with all my heart? Does He work on me daily? Does the thought of being without Him in my life bring me to tears and despair? Yes, yes, yes.

Satan likes to make us question our salvation. Does it mean we're not saved? As Paul said, "God forbid!" But Satan is the master of mind games. Satan has no control except the power of deceit. He seeks to lead us away from God; he tempts us to lose our focus. Like the experience of Peter, walking on the water in front of our Lord, Satan seeks to have us sink into our own raging sea of doubt and fear (Matthew 14:30-31). Satan is at work in our minds and hearts as we contemplate this. He is saying to us that not only is the Christian commitment difficult, it is unattainable. Satan's attack upon us as Christians is to try and deceive us into giving up the Christian struggle. And, it is a struggle, sometimes more than others, as we seek to not conform to this world that surrounds us 24/7. As Christians we are encouraged to believe that the improbable walk up the steep path of our Christian journey is not by our own power, but by the presence and power of God (Matthew 19:26). Satan deceives by telling us that we must rely upon ourselves, and therefore Christianity is futile.

Satan plays out his deception according to the faith and life of those that he is tempting. For those who are close to God, Satan must work hard to deceive – for these he will even attempt to copy the very power and glory of God himself (Angel of "Light" anyone?) – but sometimes it is as easy as planting seeds to doubt their salvation. Especially when there are already struggles going on in their lives.

The greatest deceit, the great victory of Satan is not that he is leading a willing world to destruction, it is that he is, sadly, often able to deceive and lead astray the Christian person who is struggling to be transformed more and more into the image of Christ (Rom 12:2). Satan deceives the Christian by convincing him to take his attention off Christ. To become doubting of the power and promises of God.

How do we resist this deceit? What is the response of the Christian person to the tricks and deceit and charms of the Devil? The answer for the Christian is to continually seek God and His Kingdom; to fight the deceits of the Devil, despite the pain and suffering he can cause, with a faith founded upon the All-powerful and All-loving God.

Satan can only deceive, he CANNOT pluck us out of the hand of God, he CANNOT send us unwillingly from the kingdom of God. If God no longer becomes the focus of our vision and life, it is not He who has moved, it is that we have taken our gaze from him. God doesn't move, He doesn't change. He is the same tomorrow as He is today and was yesterday. We are the ones who move closer or further from Him.

One of my very most favorite verses is this: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.

Did you read that? Truly read each and every word? It is in the Word of God, the infallible, inerrant Word of our Creator, therefore it is true. God cannot lie. Nothing...NOTHING can separate us from His love...once we are His, WE ARE HIS. We can question and doubt all we want. We have times in our lives where we go through the valley, such as what you are going through, my dear Sarge, but God allows us to go through those valleys so that we know we have free will to choose, to question, to try and work things out in our minds. He allows us to go through them so that when we realize that God has saved us because He called US to Him; because He LOVES us with a love that is eternal, He CHOSE US from the beginning of time and there is nothing we can do to remove ourselves from His hand, from His love, from His grace or mercy; then we will fully GET IT. God allows us to go through these valleys so that we can better appreciate the view from the peaks once we stop trying to work out our salvation in our own mind and accept that it just IS...with absolutely no help from us.

One of my tattoos, yes, I have tats, has a beautiful cross with wings and a banner above and around the cross and up top it says one of the five solas...Solus Christus...meaning Christ Alone. In Christ ALONE I am saved. Christ ALONE. The rest of the banner says "Grace", "Forgiveness", and "Mercy" with "Love" being at the bottom of the Cross. These are all attributes of God that I cling to on a daily basis, attributes without which I would be totally lost.

I love that I KNOW that my God is BIGGER than any problems that I'm facing. Trust, placing absolute and completely trust in Him has, admittedly, been hard for my human nature to do. But God has been gracious and merciful with my stubbornness and pride and has led me, sometimes gently, sometimes with a THUMP upside my head, to that place where, no matter what happens to me, I KNOW I am His. I KNOW He is in control of it all. I KNOW that all outcomes have His approval, even though I don't understand at the time – I know I will understand in God's time. But it was not always so and that struggle happens for most of us at different times. How I envy those who have always had that complete and utter faith and trust in the Lord and have never questioned. But I also know that in my struggles in my own mind, life and heart, I have reached a level of complete understanding that they possibly might never know.

I pray that you find that understanding very soon...and as Christine so succinctly put it...GET THE DEVIL OUT OF YOUR HEAD! He doesn't belong there, but he's trying to weasel his way in. Call out to Jesus...resist the devil and he will flee from you.

My love and prayers go out for you, my friend. I'm including the lyrics to two of my very favorite Christian contemporary songs. It's appropriately titled, "Cry Out to Jesus" by Third Day (my favorite line is "He'll meet you wherever you are") and "Untitled Hymn" by Chris Rice...this one I always cry on, I can't even read the lyrics without tearing up.

Cry Out To Jesus

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When you're lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

Untitled Hymn

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall...so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!