Friday, May 31, 2013

Tightrope Walking

A comment made yesterday will not leave me alone.

What was it?
"Following Christ seems like such a tightrope walk and the rope is fishing wire."
It was spoken by the leader of a class that I am taking.
A response immediately came to mind, but Papa did not want it to be shared.

Well, His ways are not my ways and I have learned that His ways are much better than mine, so I heeded  His restraint.

I have permission to share here though.  :)

To me following my precious Savior, Jesus Christ has brought me into such a broad place.  A place where we can explore together and even do a little dancing. 
You would be hard pressed to do either on a tightrope.

In all thirty-four years of our love affair I have never felt as if I were on a tightrope.
Sure there have been plenty of times when I had to surrender one behavior or attitude or another and even when my flesh wasn't happy and resisted.   Yet I still had the sense of my God's love and this gave me the assurance that He meant it all for good.  I also knew that He wasn't waiting for me to fall or fail so He could punish me.
My God would not make me walk anything so narrow and precarious as that tightrope.
At least not alone.

Truly He doesn't have a child of His walk anywhere alone.
He goes with each one of us.
So if, at any time, He placed us on such a thing, He would be right there with us, as our safety net.

And we would not be afraid because...
" There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love."  1 John 4:18

We are on a glorious adventure with Jesus. 
One that unfolds one step at a time. 
One that is designed for our success.

When we encounter Jesus and begin our intimate relationship with Him, we are not handed a set of rules that must be adhered to every moment of the day at all costs.
That is not what a relationship is about and that is not what grace is all about!

Relationships develop with time and attention, as we get to know one another.
As a relationship grows we learn more about each other's likes and dislikes and we seek to please one another.  Not out of fear, but out of love.

If we need to be overly concerned about adhering to the rules, then our attention must be fixed on them.  That is not where our attention should be.
He is worthy of all our attention and love.

When we focus on our beautiful Savior, then He works through us and produces in us the life that rules never could.
Remember the Law only demands obedience without offering any power to do so, but grace gives free pardon for sin and the power to obey.

"Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away, behold, new things have come."  2 Corinthians 5:17

So if you happen to find me on a tightrope, you can be sure that Jesus is teaching me some fancy footwork.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Season of Warmth

Each day when I journal, if I feel it is something that Papa would have me share here, I mark it with an arrow.  Over the past few weeks quite a few arrows have appeared throughout my writing.
And that is as far as I have gotten, as you are well aware.

Our lives move through one season after another.  Some are longer than others.
In New England, where I live winter seems to be the longest.  Really it is simply that autumn shows itself mid-September and grows cooler and cooler through the next few months until Winter itself appears.  At that point you can no longer remember being warm and will not for many a month.

When spring tip toes in it stirs many out of our self-made cocoons to sniff the air and welcome the warmth of the sun.  However, in this part of the country spring can go back into hiding without warning and we quickly fluff up our nests and snuggle back in.  We know that spring will reappear, which gives us hope and makes us willing to keep a loose grip on our blankets knowing we soon will be able to venture out into those warm sun rays again.

My life seems to have followed this same pattern quite closely. 

Slowly Papa has allowed me to return to some of the things that I so enjoyed doing previous to my honey’s accident. Doing so brings a warm ray of joy to my heart  and now I am  immersed in the full sunshine!
It has always been one of my greatest sources of joy to be involved in leading Bible studies.  What a gift to be back in such a position!

Each week I have the privilege of leading two studies; one of which is in the Gospel of Mark for the staff, volunteers and clients of ACTS4.   We are a small group as of yet, but we are an eager-to-learn one!
The second is in the book of Romans, which a number of my dear friends take part in.  Our gracious God has used it to draw us into a close knit group and really I consider us what one would call a “home group.”

I share this in way to explain why so many of the things I have intended to share here have not made it here as of yet.  You see both these studies require quite a bit of preparation on my part.  I do not want to leave one stone unturned so I can share all Papa has for us!

In addition to these endeavors I am taking part in a course which is from Francis Frangipane.  Papa is busy applying much of it to my heart.

All of this studying and preparation has taken on a rhythm which may allow me time to share a few thoughts regularly on this page.  I should say that I am sensing Papa giving me liberty to return to writing here!

Let me close with one of those little arrows from my journal.  It is in response to the following Scripture:

“But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;  I trust in the loving kindness of God forever and ever.  I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it, and I will wait on Your Name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.”  Psalm 52:8-9

He is indeed the One who has done it!  It is Him who has given me new life, life that is fresh, like a young sapling!  A life that grows and bears fruit!  An abundant life lived in the warmth of His love!

Yes, a life which is lived in His very Presence!  A life planted in the midst of His house among His family!

Oh what a life!  What a lovely season He has ushered me into!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Praying Without Ceasing

Continuing to spend time in the Psalms my attention is regularly drawn to the subject of prayer.
Most psalms are either a prayer of petition or praise to God or a call for others to do so.

Psalm 50 was the reading for this morning.  Here we find God addressing His people and what He is saying is that their rituals and sacrifices are not what He is looking for.  He wants to hear form them personally.  It is a sacrifice of thanksgiving that He seeks.

We cannot express thanksgiving without our heart; it is always personal.
A life lived out of gratitude is a different story than one lived by ritual.

Our God is all about relationships.
Relationships involve communication and care.
That means prayer is essential to a relationship with our God.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to..
"Prayer without ceasing."
In other words be in constant communication with our God.

How do we live that out?
Can we be talking with God constantly?
In a sense yes.

In the devotional Today in the Word, which is published by Moody, I read something about a woman named Simone Weil.  She was a French philosopher in the early part of the twentieth century.   Her book Waiting for God includes an essay entitled "Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God."
Quite a mouthful!
The direction of that essay was to encourage learning, not for learning's sake nor to pick a favorite subject, but to use it to develop the faculty of attention which can be directed to God. to her, prayer meant to give one's full attention to God.

As I thought about this I realized that this is what we read in Scripture over and over.  Be focused.  Develop and grow with the purpose of being able to Allow God to be woven through our entire life, the very fabric of our lives.  Do everything for Him and know that He is in everything.  He is omnipresent and so we should seek to recognize His Presence in the midst of NOW.
We will not be disappointed.

So pray without ceasing.  Recognize that it is His very breathe that was breathed into us to give us life.  And have the ability and strength to recognize Him.  It is He whose Presence we are in the midst of; enveloped by Him.
Yes, whether we know it or not.  He is here.
As we practice the mindset of allowing everything to direct us to Him and to do everything for Him we will find ourselves praying with ceasing!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Come to Jesus

I have been experiencing life in its abundance; so much so that I have had to absorb it before attempting to share any of it here.

There has been quite a bit of sorrow in the mix and yet with it joy and peace.  Joy and peace in greater measure, of which I am deeply grateful.

However, I had to hit a  low first.

A deep, dark low where I lay stunned.

Stunned by the darkness and opposition that seemed to press in from all sides. 
Everywhere I looked I found evidence of it and it weighed heavily upon my heart.

And then I heard the loving voice of my Jesus say “Come.”

With that Word I realized that He was, indeed, present all the time!

I reached for Him and He lifted me up from that deep, dark place and set me on solid ground.

Today one of my favorite songs came on Pandora.  It is entitled “Come to Jesus” and sung by Chris Rice.

As I listened it occurred to me that it really says it all.  Here is what it means to me.

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!
I spend a good amount of time with those who struggle with addiction.  Actually, everybody struggles with one thing or another.  I would cry to each one to raise their head, realize He is there and come to Jesus!

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!
In coming to Jesus our pain and struggle is replaced with a song which we can then sing to Him!
And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!
Having come to Jesus does not mean that we have reached perfection, but He is there to catch us and hold us and keep us, leading us to victory!
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!
The darkness will press in at times and sorrows will overwhelm, but we need but cry to Him and will discover that He is there full of life, which is ours to share!
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!
With the rediscovery of His Presence and His Love which stirs the song in our heart there is nothing else to do but dance!
 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!

With our last breath we will take flight and find ourselves face-to-face with our Savior!

I have made a note for my family that this song is to be sung at the service that will be held to celebrate my life flying to Jesus.  Whenever that day may come. 
All of my beloved will gather, some who have not come to Jesus as of yet, some who need to rediscover Him and yet some who are dancing for Him.  May each and every heart be stirred to realize more fully the Presence and come to Jesus!

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your Presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever."  Psalm 16:11