Wednesday, April 26, 2017

For Those Of Us Who Are "Fixers"

Hey Friend,

You notice that I include myself in this title?  In fact, many times I am writing to myself (sounds better than talking to myself) and I invite you to listen in.

The greatest challenge that people, like myself, who try to "fix" situations or people run into is "waiting".  I believe if you are, by nature, one who tries to fix things, you are conversely one who is not so great at waiting.  Am I hitting a nerve with anyone?

When I am trying to be obedient and I am waiting and I don't see anything happening (from my vantage point), I get the misguided notion that just because I can't see it, nothing is going on.  What false thinking.  Being a "fixer" by nature, I think if I'm not "fixing" it then it won't get fixed.....I know, silly girl. I think this is a little, or not so little, thing called pride.

This pride will cause me to do other foolish things like take matters in my own hands or I try to run ahead of God.  These usually only lead to pain and frustration and many times sin.  I forget that God knows what is best for me and my life AND he knows what is best for others and their lives.  

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways SUBMIT to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I like this version because instead of saying "acknowledge" God, it goes one step further and says "submit" to God.  Submitting means that I place my will and purpose below that of God.

God has been teaching me many things about fixing and waiting.  Perhaps there are so many scriptures about waiting because we are called on to wait quite often and sometimes for long periods of time.

A friend of mine who attends Al-Anon classes has shared with me some of the things she's been learning about her adult child... especially when it comes to dealing with a loved one who is struggling in life and we feel a need or compulsion to help or to fix.

The Three C's:

1.  I didn't cause it (addiction, broken relationship, behavior, disobedience)

2.  I can't cure it (when things are broken they can only be cured by God's unbroken Word) - I added this second part.

3.  I can't control it (If I think I can control it, that's usually Pride talking - me again.)

Another helpful adage is this:


What I understand this to mean is that I need to stay in my lane with God.  I need to concentrate on something I can do something about and that is - work on MY relationship with God.  

I need to let GOD work on the person in their lane beside me.  Their walk is between them and God and I need to quit trying to cross over the line and meddle in their lane.  I can certainly help if called upon, but I need to let God call the shots.

So here I am back to if I can't control or fix it....I need to wait on God.

Good friend and writer Jeanne Takenaka says, "The hardest seasons are those when we wait with no answer from God."

Yes, God can and will be silent sometimes for a purpose, but these truths I know:

1.  God is working in the waiting.  (Even when I can't see it)

2.  In waiting, God is stretching my "patience muscles".   Ouch!

3.  Prayer IS doing something.  It's doing the most important thing!

4.  God is MORE THAN ABLE to handle anyone or any situation.

5.  Often God works better alone (without our "help")

6.  God ALWAYS works for the good of those who love Him and for His glory (not ours).

I am learning that God is always hard at work moving and orchestrating things that I do not see.  I can't see Him working in someone's heart, for example.  All I know is that I can lift my prayers, not lean on MY understanding of the situation, and trust that God is certainly able.

God's got this (whatever or whomever "this" is).

In the meantime, my job is to wait, pray, and thank Him in advance for what He is about to perform.  

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
(Psalms 27:13-14)

Are you a "fixer" by nature?  In what situations is God calling you to submit to His knowledge and authority?  If you can't "fix" the situation, what would God have YOU work on?  Can you let go of your understanding and trust and wait on God?  Take a moment and lift your struggle up to Him....He's listening....

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me when, in wanting to see change, I pridefully run ahead of you or try to take matters into my own hands. Help me Lord, to submit my understanding to Your authority.  Help me to trust that you are in control and to take comfort in the fact that there are some things I just can't control.  Give me patience as I wait upon You Lord - trusting and knowing that you are more than able and that you've got this under control.  Help me to "stay in my lane" and concentrate on MY relationship with you.  Make me an expectant prayer warrior who gives thanks for what you can do.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Be blessed...

ps.  Would you please pray for me as I will be having my 4th surgery in 5 years?  This is a more complicated surgery to try to correct an unsuccessful bunion surgery from 3 years ago that left me with residual and continual nerve pain in my foot.  I would certainly welcome your prayers for the nerve pain to be alleviated, or better yet, eliminated.  I know my God is more than able!!  Thank you... (Surgery is May 10th)

Monday, April 17, 2017

More of You, Less of Me

Hey Friend,

I have been thinking about how the world seems to be a lot more angry than it used to be.  Oh, we've always had the ability to cut others to pieces with our tongues, but the thing was, we were challenged to do it in person.

The world we live in now allows us to lob insults in texts, and tweets, and Instagrams.  We can hide, safely behind our screens, and launch word grenades that leave the other side reeling.  

Meanwhile, I believe that the enemy sits back and laughs.  He doesn't have to do the dirty work....given the opportunity, we will annihilate each other.  All he has to do is throw out a divisive topic, political, religious, or otherwise and we readily pick up sides and go on the attack.  

Why?  I suppose pride has something to do with it.  If I shout loud enough, everyone will see that I have the RIGHT answer and they will switch their way of thinking.  

If we have two choices - fight of flight - we have become awfully good at pulling out our swords and fighting.

So in this world of "my way", "your way", How do I help people see Christ's way?  

Christ never viewed people as a problem to be solved, but as people to be loved.  (recently read this in a post by Holley Gerth).

The only conclusion I can come to is this:  The more I know Him, the more I'll become like Him, and the more others will be able to recognize Him in me.

So how do I go about this?  This may seem simplistic, but how can I live for Jesus without Him? 

Go to the source.  Not only read His Word, but pray, and spend time in His presence so that I am conformed into the image of Christ.  

I'm not going to be like Him if I don't spend good quality time with Him.

"I have been crucified with Christ (remember Easter that we just celebrated?) and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)

So if I die to self there's no more of me, but only Christ living through me.

More of Christ....less of me.  This is the ultimate goal.

Writer, Cindi McMenamin made some excellent points on this topic.  May I share them with you?

Jesus also said in Matthew 16:24 "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." How can you and I deny ourselves in a society that shouts "Love your body",  "Love Yourself", and "Love your Selfie!"?  How can you and I, like John the Baptist, live by the motto, "He must increase, but I must decrease"?  (John 3:30)

Cindi further points out that it means reversing the way we naturally think and act.  It means putting Christ in the place where we would normally put ourselves.  It means having:

     * Less concern for how others see you and more concern for how
        others see Jesus.

     * Less focus on what you deserve from others and more focus on 
        what you owe Christ.

     * Less preoccupation with your perceived rights and more focus on
        what it means to be a servant of God.

My takeaway from Cindi's words are that we need to focus more on the new creation that we've become...

"The old you is gone.  The new you (consumed by Christ) has come."  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

No more hiding behind the phrase, "Well, that's just the way that I am so the world is just going to have to accept it." 

But, rather to say, "I have surrendered my life to Christ and, though I am still a work in progress, I want to be more like Him and less like me."  (realizing we have a sinful nature).  

Maybe if we all started living like the new creations that we are, we'd stop insisting on our own way.  Insisting that others conform to our way of thinking. Stop lobbing word grenades at each other from behind screens.  

Instead, we would realize who the real enemy is and work together to foil his evil schemes.  We would use our words to build each other up, not tear down. We would love like Christ loved because there would be more of Him and less of us.  Food for thought.....

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for Easter that we just celebrated. You took our sins upon Yourself so that we would be new creations in You.  Help me to lay down the sword of my tongue.  Enable me to use my words to build others up and not to tear them down.  Let me view others not as projects to be fixed, but people to be loved.  Let my priority be to spend time with You so than in doing this I would be transformed to be more like you and less like my sinful self.  Instead of insisting on my way, guide me to show people Your way that leads to life everlasting.  I ask all this in Your Son Jesus' name.  Amen.

Be blessed......
ps.  Thank you for praying for the safety of our school (Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc.) in the Middle East through Easter.  Praise that there were not bombs this year as Christians celebrated the Risen Christ.  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Just Who Am I Kidding?

Hey Friend,

As Easter approaches, the words of writer friend, Shannan Martin, echo in my mind.  "I am laying bare my inadequacies and wrapping them in the hope of salvation."

News Flash:  God is not after our tidiness, but He's after our holiness.

I admit to, many times, trying to "tidy up" my soul to impress God.  I don't know who I'm trying to fool because God can't be fooled, yet I try.  I will do all the right things - read His Word, pray, give thanks, but I think what God wants is for us to lay our incomplete-sinful-I'm-not-fooling-anyone lives before Him and ask Him to wash and scrub us clean in the blood of His Son.  

So...what am I offering to God this Easter?

Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.  So do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.  (Romans 12: 1-2)

So what does this mean exactly?

Let's break it down....

Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.  In this verse sacrifice means "offering".  In a way this verse is an oxymoron because usually ancient sacrifices meant killing something and offering the dead animal up to God, but here it says He wants us to be living offer up our lives while we are still living. In other words - giving our whole life to Him

Present you bodies as "holy".  Here holy is "hagios" in the Greek which means "acceptable to God....devoted to the Lord."  Under "holy" words like "consecrated" and "sanctified" are used.  Consecrated, has in it the root "sacred" which means to be set apart from the unclean.  Sanctification also has this idea of separation and dedication.

We are set apart for God's use in acceptable service to which we are to be dedicated. 

So, in addition to my tidy work of reading His Word, and praying, and attempting to do good works, have I given God what He really wants?

Have I "laid bare my inadequacies".  Have I come to God's altar and said, "God you know my sins and my failings, but HERE, I give it ALL to You.  I can't fool you, so here I am sins, stains, flaws, failings and all.  I want you to scrub me and make me clean; set me apart, let me be dedicated only unto You, and USE me in YOUR service."  

If I really want to get dangerous and open myself up, I will pray Psalm 139: 23-24:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Do I want God peering in all the dirty crevices of my heart?  Just who am I kidding?  He knows it all anyway, but He is waiting for me to open up, invite Him in, lay myself completely bare in front of Him.  No more hiding.  No more striving.  No more tidying up my life to make it presentable to Him.  Why? Because that's not the definition of holy.

So what's at stake if we are not laid bare and made holy?  

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD.  (Hebrews 12:14)

God, being the awesome God He is, does not call us to be holy without giving us the way to be made holy. 

He has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.  (2 Timothy 1:9)

God gives us the Way to be holy, consecrated, sanctified....He gave us Jesus. He gave the ultimate sacred offering that washes and scrubs us clean in the blood of Jesus the lamb.  By His grace and mercy He makes us clean and holy.  He's done the hard part.

So now what does He ask?

Present your (made holy by me bodies) as a living sacrifice to me.  This is the ultimate act of worship.  - God

Lay yourself before me.  Give me all of yourself and in doing so, others will see me too.  

What are you giving God this Easter?  What keeps you from laying it all before Him?  What will God do if you bring Him all your junk?  What have you got to lose?  What do you stand to gain?  Why is your life, being made holy, so crucial?

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you that you love us for the ragamuffins that we are.  You already know our sins and weaknesses, yet you still invite us to come to you - come just as we are.  Give us the strength in our weakness to lay ourselves bare before you, so that in doing so, you can cleanse us and make us holy.  Then, let us present our lives as living sacrifices to you - set apart and dedicated to doing Your will. Thank you for Easter and for the ultimate gift of salvation.  God you are awesome and we/I praise You!  In Jesus name, Amen.

Be blessed.....and PLEASE pray for our school in the Middle East this Easter. Last year they were rocked by bombings.  There have already been attacks in Egypt...put a hedge of protection around your sons and daughters we pray.