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NO CONFUSION HERE

August 29th, 2016

Look around you – are you not surrounded by the beauty and the wonder of creation? How did this all happen?  Everything you see had to come from somewhere, right?  It was all formed from something, somehow; it didn’t just pop out of nowhere.  And look at the wonder of you:  who you are, how you operate, and how you are put together.  Do those mad scientists really believe an explosion just happened out of nowhere from no apparent cause, creating and spreading matter that somehow formed into a universe full of fiery objects that turned into living things?  Hardly.  So, there had to be something, or rather Someone, who started all of this.  Everything has a beginning.  At some point in time, each of us must come to the realization that we certainly did not create ourselves, and therefore, we can hardly take credit for our being what we are.  I believe the evidence proves we indeed belong to this Someone who created us, which means we owe our lives to Him.  If we belong to Him, then He is the boss.  No confusion here.

My Bible says that God Almighty is the Creator of the universe; He made everything. He commanded it to happen and the universe came into being.  He formed me out of the dust from the earth He created, He breathed life into my body, and He laid out a plan for my life.  Had He not had a specific plan for my life, He would not have bothered to create me.  God has a plan for His universe – He has an orderly plan for all that He created – otherwise He would not have needed to create it.  There is certainly no confusion here.

If I believe Scripture is true and God is real, then I must acknowledge that God is good, all the time, and that His plan for my life is perfect. Why?  Because He is either who He says He is, or He is a fraud.  Yup, He is either everything or He is nothing.  So I am left with holding onto the Lord with all that I have, or I must completely cast Him out of my life forever.  I am a child of the Most High God, like He says I am, or else I am nothing more than a freak accident.  No gray here, no confusion either.

When I lack understanding about a particular issue, and no matter how hard I try to figure it out, nothing is clear until I pray about it. Then the fog lifts and the answer is right there in my brain, and I recognize that God is listening to me and He really wants me to know what He thinks about the matter.  I am continuously in need of His input into my small mind, and He never fails me, so long as I remember to ask.  There is no confusion here.

When I run into an impossible situation and there is no earthly solution to my problem, and when I look to the Lord for help, and soon thereafter something possible happens that makes a way for a workable solution, I must acknowledge that Someone greater than I has moved mountains on my behalf. Over and over He tells me, and then He shows me, just how much He loves me and how valuable I am to Him.  His Word tells me there is no problem too great, or too small, for Him.  Where there is provable evidence, there is no confusion about His personal involvement in my life.

So, how does confusion sometimes manage to get a foothold in my soul? And how do I go about keeping that from happening?  I believe the answers are simple, but not always easy.  Too often I let the cares of the world fill my head the minute I open my eyes in the morning.  Then I am prone to jump out of bed and deal with the little things that have grabbed my attention.  Later in the day I find myself wondering:  Where did I lose my peace?  Why does everything seem so difficult?  Why am I so confused and disoriented?  What went wrong today?  Well, maybe I forgot to activate the formula that always works for me if I follow it.  When I set my mind on the things of God, first thing in the morning, everything seems to fall into place.  I begin my day in my prayer room with my nose in the Word.  I read in Matthew where it tells me to seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else I need will be there for me.  I meditate on the promises contained in Scripture and I spend time praying and worshipping.  My day begins with peace and clarity, and I am more than able to handle whatever the day brings.  Confusion has no foothold here.

I know for certain that God’s love for me goes deeper than I can comprehend. He does not love me more when I am ‘good’ and He does not love me less when I am ‘bad.’ He simply loves me to the fullest, regardless of my actions, or my lack of actions.  The issue turns on how I feel about myself.  When I kick myself for not doing the things that I know are for my benefit, then I open the door in my soul for guilt, shame, and condemnation to torment me.  And when I am doing the things that I know are beneficial to my well-being, my soul is filled with joy and peace.  God has laid out a plan for me, a plan whereby I can be prosperous and in good health, a plan that allows me to be continually in His presence, thriving in His Kingdom.  All I have to do is choose to follow His plan and make Him the Lord of my life.  All He wants is all of me.  Indeed, there is really no confusion here.

TESTIMONY OF A LIFE-CHANGING WORD

June 7th, 2016

It has been said that a word from the Lord can change a life, and I am here to testify to the truth of that statement. Recently, a word He spoke to me unwound a spiritual snake that had been wrapped around me for years.  Since that day, I continually find myself looking back at that event, amazed at the transformation that took place in my mind.  In this piece, I will do my best to share the story with you.

More than twenty years ago I was struck with an illness called Bells Palsy, caused by a virus that attacks the seventh cranial nerve connected to the facial muscles. This virus causes the nerve to swell, so it gets pinched as it travels though the small hole in in the skull.  That damage causes the nerve to shut down, leaving the facial muscles on one side of the face without any working instructions. This is what caused one side of my face to completely droop.  I was ashamed of my appearance, believing I looked like a circus freak.  Previously I had been socially and professionally active, but I immediately pulled inward, partly because of the pain I was experiencing and mostly because of how my face looked.  I even felt sympathy for the people who had to look at me.

The damage was so severe that the nerve itself died. Over time, new nerves took its place, but they did not attach correctly to the facial muscles, causing that side of my face to be pulled in wrong directions.  To this day I continue to deal with the constant tightening of those muscles, especially those attached to my eye and mouth.  I have learned to manage the discomfort and I am mostly at peace, but it is still a continual effort to speak and focus.

Sadly, I never found lasting victory in letting go of how my face looked, and in particular, how I lost my smile. My face has definitely improved – mostly as a result of many people praying over me – but the pulling and distortion still remains.  My friends and family tell me they don’t even notice it, but I notice it every day.  I continually ‘turn it over’ to the Lord and I am okay for a while.  But when I see myself in a mirror, especially if I am talking, I melt down all over again.  Over the years, I have done everything I know to do, spending thousands of dollars in therapy and thousands of hours in prayer, shedding thousands of tears.  When I seek the Lord about the issue, He always tells me all is well.   But I can assure you, all was not well in my soul.  I have refused to let myself stay in that heart-wrenching place for too long, but I never found lasting emotional healing.

Recently, I went around that mountain for the very last time. While I was talking with a friend, I glanced over her shoulder and saw myself in a wall mirror.  Once again, that image pierced my heart, and I choked back the tears.  Because of all the activity going on at that time, I buried the pain and did not deal with it, and for the following days I allowed it to eat at my soul.

The Word says that God collects our tears in a bottle. When I look at the bigger picture of life, I fully acknowledge that this problem is a minor one, but I am so grateful that God still has compassion for even the little things.  And for me, though a small thing, this had certainly stolen much of my joy over the years.  Little did I know the Lord was about to step into the picture.

As we drove home one night after a wonderful Passover Seder at church, tears began to stream down my face as I sat quietly in the dark. I recalled a time during the service when a number of people answered an altar call for healing; now I kicked myself for not also going forward.  I wondered if I would ever experience the joy of seeing the Lord heal my face, or if I would ever be at peace about the matter.

Ordinarily, when the Lord speaks to me, it is like a download. In an instant my mind receives an entire message.  Not so this night.  As I sat in the darkness, absent of thought and feeling quite numb, my spirit heard specific words from the Lord, words that remain burned into my soul.  He said to me, “What, do you really want to be just another pretty face?”   I tell you, I was completely stunned by those words!  And I must admit, I was thinking about telling him, “Actually, that would be lovely!”   Before I could respond to His question, the Lord spoke again.  This time He asked, “Why would you care about your outsides when your insides are so beautiful?”  That question left me speechless.  I had no answer at all, so I just sat quietly to let it all soak in.

A few minutes later, the Lord gave me a download that led me to a complete change of heart and mind, a solution that cut off the head of the snake that had ensnared me for so many years. We were planning to attend an immersion service the next day, and the Holy Spirit offered to help me remove that snake and drown it.  As I dunked in the water, I asked the Lord to completely renew my mind and remove all the lies, replacing them with truth.  I asked Him to let me see myself exactly how He sees me, and teach me to walk in that truth.  I committed to take every thought captive and never again see myself as ugly, no matter what it would take.  As it turns out, that has not been a problem, not even once.  Holy Spirit completely renewed my mind, allowing me to see myself in an entirely different light – just the way He sees me.  Nothing changed but everything is different.

Praise the Lord!! My heart is so grateful that I will never need to go around that mountain again.  I cannot gather up sufficient words of praise and thanksgiving to pour at His feet for the joy I received from such a life-changing renewal of my mind.  I pray you will ask the Lord for a word in due season that just might change your life.  All snakes beware, when the mind catches up with the Truth of the Cross, your days of tormenting are over.

HIS

September 7th, 2015

Much is said about identity. I have had the benefit of sitting under some excellent teaching on the subject. Now and then when I look in the mirror and assess my current state of being, I think for a minute that I understand the mystery of identity. Then I am quickly reminded that I have only scratched the surface of understanding.   For most of my life I did not even know the matter was worthy of investigation. So, I begin to take inventory of who I am, what I am about, what I believe – and how I am known. I examine my thoughts about who I desire to be. That brings a basic and simple answer: I just want to be known as – His.

To the best of my ability and with the leading of Holy Spirit, I desire to live my life in holiness – set apart for God’s glory. I desire to be a vessel of honor, a place where Jesus can reside and shine through, where He can be seen and His presence can be felt. I long for my Father to see me as obedient, and teachable, and willing. The Word tells me I was created in His image, and for His good pleasure. That is good by me. It says I have a calling and a purpose. I receive that. At the end of the day, I just want to be known as – His.

When someone meets me for the very first time, I want them to sense that I have just been with Jesus. I want that person to desire a bit of whatever it is that is pouring out of me. I want them to quickly tell that I know who I am, that I know whose I am – His.

In this world of uncertainty and mixed messages and political correctness and blurred lines, a person can easily get lost in the confusion. What I was taught just a few years ago seems to no longer apply. Rules are broken and things that were once deemed precious are trampled on and treated with reckless disregard. Words that have been in our language for centuries are now being redefined. People in authority are telling us that evil is good and good is evil. Much of what was once held as truth now seems to be turned upside down. Who can rest in peace while standing on such shaky ground?

It is no wonder we can easily be robbed of our identity. If we are not watchful, we can be stripped of all that we thought we knew, and be fed an entirely different doctrine, especially if we are too easily swayed by the opinions of others. We can quickly fall and be trampled by a crowd that has been whipped into a frenzy by a few with an agenda.

Do you know who you are? Can you recite what you believe – and stand on it even if you are in the minority? Have you established your own values and beliefs, or have you let someone else write that chapter for you? Have you built a firm foundation that will not erode as the winds of doctrine are swirling all around you? Is what you are living for worth dying for? Scripture tells us everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Will you have anything left when that happens?

I know that I am the child of the Most High God and He loves me unconditionally. I know that He made me in His image and for His good purpose. I know Jesus calls me his beloved. I know that everything about me is there for a reason and nothing about me has come by accident. I know that I have been given gifts and callings to use for the purpose of furthering the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and my life is sweet when I am living accordingly. I know that I have been given an absolute free will to choose or reject my Creator – I also know that rejecting Him would be the biggest mistake of my life. For certain I know everything that happens in my life is ultimately for my joy and His glory, whether or not I can see that at the time – and it is way less bumpy when I choose to trust and just roll with it. I know I have been given an invitation to lean on the Lord for guidance, and He will never leave me nor forsake me. That means I can be at peace at all times, in all places, in all circumstances; but I must affirmatively choose to walk in that peace. I know I am weak in my flesh but strong in Him. I know I am the forgiven of the Lord, no matter my past indiscretions. I know that I have already died to my flesh and have been risen with Jesus, and I will continue to live through all eternity, even when this body in which I currently reside returns to the dust. And I know how I want to be known – as His.

When this chapter of my life is finished and folks gather together to remember me, I just want to be known as His. As my Father sits on His throne, with His Son Jesus at His side, He will smile as He hears me declare, “Daddy God, You are mine and I am Yours!” Are you His?