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Archive for February, 2010

I used to work for Center for Science and Industry in Columbus (COSI), and do experiments for school groups. I love experiments!

Last week I did an experiment. I wrote a list of everything that I find myself continually worrying about, the things that always come up. I have to tell you, I spend a ton of time worrying. If you have never done this, try it. It was absolutely shocking.

I easily filled up a page of things that fill my mind up every day. These things ranged from pleasing my husband, parents, having a certain image, worrying about money, wanting to be cared for, and secure…

The first thing I realized was that there were certain things that were consistent worries, and that patterns emerged. I found that I could condense my worries into several categories, (deep breath), here are mine:
1. fear of failure
2. worrying/desiring to succeed
3. worrying/desiring to be special

I realized that many of my fears even fit into all my categories. For example: my worries to please my husband and be a good wife. This is a fear of failure, desire to succeed, and be special. Interesting. Ok, pretty harmless things at first glance, but God has begun to show me is that so much of my life and my MIND is tied up with these worries. And as I spent time praying about this I realized that even my categories can be condensed into one big giant category: a desire to have VALUE.

I realized, I have a desperate desire to be valuable. It’s what i spend all my time thinking about. It motivates so much of my life. And I’m caught in this game of striving and failing to attain it. It’s a mind obsession. It is a lifelong goal. I can just about bet, that if you try this honest experiment, you will find this true for yourself. We long for, we worship, our own sense of value. We want this desire to be fulfilled. If only we could just have peace. It’s amazing that our own quest for value from the things around us can keep us striving and keep us away from the peace we seek.

Matthew 6:25-34
I’ve read these verses so often, but for some reason God illuminated it to me today. I love that Jesus doesn’t just fix our problems; He goes after our hearts always. He says, “Are you not more valuable than this?” See Jesus knows our need to feel valued, and He knows that because we haven’t accepted the value He has given us; we cannot accept His peace. He knows that if we KNOW how much HE values us, that we would lay every care and worry at His feet. We would have His complete peace. He knows that we wouldn’t just stop worrying about our bodies, our clothes, and our relationships. He knows that we even surrender the big worries like sickness, survival, and death.

Today, Jesus wants to quiet you with His love. He is offering you rest.

The answer is so simple: You are so valuable to Him. You were so valuable that Jesus gave up the splendor and worship of Heaven, to die for you when you were in your ugliest, dirtiest moment. And He did it all just so He could be close to you again. Take His value and place it in your heart.

Stop worshipping your own value. And put your eyes on Jesus. He doesn’t just offer peace; He IS peace.
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Isaiah 26:3-9a
” You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. For he has humbled the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city.
He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy.
The path of the righteous is level; you make level the way of the righteous. In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”

Precious Asaph, who prayed over my family in Kenya in 2007. He went to be with our Lord shortly after this picture was taken. You can see the peace and joy in His face 🙂

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– Try the experiment yourself
– Are there any patterns that emerge?
– Do you live in peace and walk in His value?

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My husband is an amazing man. He isn’t perfect, but I think he’s as close as you can get.

When I think about his love for me, I don’t think about all the nice things he had done for me. I think about His character, who he is, and Who he represents to me. It creates a stirring of honor in my heart. It stirs up a deep love.

I spent the week writing a blog about God’s perfect peace. As Sunday has approached, I didn’t feel at peace about posting it. Ironic. ☺

What I have to say today isn’t much, but its been wrecking my heart for a week.
You’ve probably heard this before but hear it again. 1 Corinthians 13:4-12

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”

So often we think love is an action, something we do. But True Love is not an action. Love is a Person.

Look at the way it’s described…patient, kind, doesn’t envy or boast…. These are not a list of rules to follow in order to love, this is a description. This is a description of a person. God is love. And His love is flawless.

I always try to make love this grand checklist of actions. But what I’m trying to say is that real love is revealing yourself completely to another. Love is a vulnerable and bold move. Love is a complete revelation of your whole heart to another.

Once we were so far away from God. Maybe you are right now. There was a vast gap between God and us. But God’s love for you was so great, so desperate, that He chose to reveal Himself to the world. Jesus came to this earth. It was a vulnerable and bold move. He revealed Himself and His heart to the world, and He received trial, torture, rejection, and death. He could have been like us. He could have pulled away and retreated, but instead He loved us unconditionally.

Questions for discussion:

1. Is your love for God a constant pursuit of who He is and a constant revelation of your heart to Him?

2. God’s love is beautiful. What about your love? Are you distant?

3. His love for you is passionate, relentless, and faithful. Is loving God about revealing your whole heart to Him? Are you giving Him every part your heart, or are you holding back? If your love is only actions, it is cold.

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I used to have a really hard time forgiving. Forgiving myself. Forgiving others. Forgiving people who hurt people that I loved. I found myself feeling bitter towards people. I found myself guarding the soft, vulnerable woman that I am with a hard shell. I constantly compared myself to other people in order to validate myself, but for some reason constantly felt insecure. I began to stop trusting. Instead of having the open arms and open heart of Christ, I began to age.

And dust took over.

When someone punches you, you absorb the hit and feel the effects of the pain. If you punch back, you are dealing the deserving person the cost for what they inflicted upon you. Now they consequently absorb the hit and the pain, and while you may still feel the painful effects of the hit, the action has been transferred to another. This is revenge.

Forgiveness is often greatly misunderstood. Forgiveness does not ignore or excuse a sin or offense. Forgiveness does not pretend that the offense didn’t leave the effects of pain.

Forgiveness goes against everything inside us. It’s ludicrous. And at first glance, it may even sound weak. Forgiveness is the choice to absorb the pain and the effects of the way you have been wronged, as well as, absorbing the punishment of that person by not making them pay for what they did. And let’s admit it, who could really do this!? True forgiveness is only something that can come from an all-powerful God. It is a bold and courageous move that takes more strength than we alone can muster. Unlike revenge, forgiveness actually has the potential to change a person. It’s bearing another person’s sin.

Forgiveness is double the pain. It’s feeling every bit of what has been done to you, and refusing to inflict that same pain on the one who did it to you. It’s radical.

I used to think that when Jesus died for me, it just magically erased my sin. It wasn’t until I finally realized that my actions, and more importantly the state of my heart, was wrong. That my sin, selfishness, and the ugliness of my heart was punching Jesus in the face. I didn’t deserve a relationship of love with Him; why did I think I deserved a relationship where I could ask Him for things. But when I deserved to be punished, Jesus absorbed the hits I inflicted upon Him. But not only did absorb every way I hurt Him, but then He chose to absorbed my punishment too. He was rejected, tortured, abandoned, ashamed, beaten, and killed because of me. As He hung on the cross, He said…

When I finally realized what He had done, it changed me forever. It changed me more than anything has ever changed me. And I can never be the same. How can I not forgive?

Forgiveness doesn’t take away pain and suffering, but it is the first step to healing. Forgiveness doesn’t ignore sin; it defeats it. Forgiveness isn’t easy, in fact, it’s double the pain. Forgiveness isn’t weak; it takes more strength than we can come up with on our own.

Forgiveness is the only way to destroy evil without destroying ourselves. Forgiveness breathes life; a life that lasts for eternity.

Steps to start forgiving:

1. Realize. Realize what Jesus has done for you. Realize who you are punishing. Realize you can’t do it without God’s strength. Realize it will feel worse before it feels better. 1 John 4:18-21

2. Release. Release yourself or the person of all punishment. Surrender them to Jesus. No more physical punishment, no more mental fantasies about anger or revenge.

3. Rest. Rest in God. Trust in God. This will set you free.

4. Pray. Pray your pain to Jesus. Psalm 30:2

One of my favorite stories of the Bible…“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

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Excerpt from my latest read “Prayer” by Richard Foster

“In the Ravensbruck Nazi concentration camp, the camp where an estimated ninety-two thousand men, women, and children were murdered. On a piece of wrapping paper was found near the body of a dead child. On the paper was written this prayer:

‘O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will, but also those of ill will. But do not only remember the suffering they have inflicted on us; remember the fruits we bought, thanks to this suffering: our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this. And when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.'”

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comments?

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Psalm 103:13-14
“As a father shows compassion to his children,so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame;he remembers that we are dust.”

I closed my eyes, and when I opened them I was standing outside of a door.”

I thought it looked much too heavy to open, as that thought slipped through my mind, I saw myself push it open. It opened easily, and I felt it with my fingers as I pushed it open. It felt like it was made of smooth stones cemented together. I looked at it more closely; these stones weren’t stones at all. They were precious gems, rubies, and brilliant diamonds. I wondered what kind of room would have such a beautiful door.I looked down, and my feet were bare. And as I stood looking at my feet, I realized that the ground was made of the same precious stones. I had on a long white dress. Stretching as far as I could see was a long runway. To my right and left was what I thought to be a vast empty space, but when I looked closer I realized people there, quietly standing, quietly waiting. I could see thousands. Somehow in my heart of hearts, I knew where I must be.

Then it happened, a huge cymbol sounded.

The noise was so loud and so great, that the air between myself and the source of the noise rippled like the smooth water being disturbed by the throw of a pebble. I fell to my face. Slowly I rose to my feet and took a few unsure steps forward. But the noise happened again. Again the tideawave of noise knocked me over. I got up a little faster, but just as quickly it happened again. This time I lept to my feet and ran forward. The crowd caught my excitement. Time and time again, it happened. And I found myself sprinting forward to beat the sound.

All uncertainty was melting away. I felt such a joy. Completely unaware and swept up in the moment, I was laughing and shouting as I ran and even danced forward. . I danced harder, and fell to my face. Faster and faster, falling over and over. All I could feel was joy I can’t explain or express. One final time the cymbal sounded, I fell again, but this time everything stopped. Everyone completely silent.

I peered open my eyes. I was face down on steps. I knew I was close. Everything was quiet. The quiet was heavy on my shoulders, and I was full of fear. How undeserving I am of His Presence. I knew in that moment He could see inside my heart that I had chosen to be evil; chosen to worship myself and my own pleasure; chosen to ignore His love. I had known Him for what He could give me; He had given my His life and I had treated it so cheaply. I coughed, and it was the only noise that could be heard. And out of my mouth came dust.

As the dust fell on the steps, a breeze blew it away. I knew that the dust was all the things left inside me, hurt, pain, and the sin that had so grossly kept me from Him, and now it was all gone. I stood up, and walked up three small steps.

He was there, and He waiting for me. I didn’t waste another second. I crawled up into His lap, and He held my head to his chest with His strong hand. He is my Father. He is my God. He is Love.

I didn’t know how many things I could feel all at once.
complete love
peace
contentment
protection
importance
affection
attention
trust
satisfaction
lacking nothing
wanting nothing
fulfillment

Anything and everything I have ever wanted out of a relationship, person, or thing, all my needs, were met in just a moment with Him. I was complete. Completely forgiven.

“Do I ever have to leave?”
“Nope,” He said.
“Can I stay right here forever,” I asked.
“Yep,” He said.
“Do I have to share you with anyone else?”

“Yes, people need to know what they can find right here.”

Sin grieves the heart of God. We will never understand the love and mercy of God, until we allow ourselves to feel the weight of our sin. Likewise, we will never experience the love and mercy of our God until we truly open our hearts to Him. Until we see He has forgiven us. Until we see the sacrifice of love that He paid for us. Until we realize it was all because He loves us. Allow Him access to your heart. Then, and only then can He breathe in new and eternal life. Then, and only then, can He sweep all the dust away.
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Do you know how much He loves you?

1 John 3:1-3 (English Standard Version)
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
The way God sees you.

My earthly Daddy and Me

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