Sunday, September 29, 2019

Blessed Are The "Hot Messes" - The Forgotten Beatitude

Hey Friend,

"Blessed are the "hot messes," for they shall be rescued and made clean and new by the Lord."  (The Forgotten Beatitude)

You there, in your yoga pants and spit-up-spattered, over-sized t-shirt, the one with the perpetual pony tail who is writing her grocery list in her Bible margins while cramming in "quiet time" in the carpool line. You there, running late again for work with two shoes that don't match, making a mess of your mascara as you dial in on the conference call. You there, crunching carrots and celery and hyper-hydrating before you jump on the torture-trainer (aka the elliptical machine) so that you don't embarrass yourself at your high school reunion. You there, who thinks anyone could do your life better than you do it...I've got a message for you!

God loves you and He has a HUGE heart for hot messes!

How do I know??  Because I am one!  And this isn't me...I'm not that skinny, but I liked the t-shirt!

I love The Beatitudes because they cheer on and encourage the underdog.  The beatitudes are dogma for the down and out.  They lift up the "less than's".

The beatitudes are part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus provides a discourse on the law of Moses and it was meant to show all people that it was impossible to fulfill all of the law and as such, we could only come to God and ask for mercy and grace that became available through the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.

Who, more than a "hot mess," needs mercy and grace?

Though there are eight beautiful beatitudes, I'll focus on two of my favorites.

#2: Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. 
Jesus is talking about mourning the loss of a loved one, but He also expands the definition to mean mourning the loss of any relationship - marriage, family member, friendship.  In the world today, we might even mourn the fact that so many people are not in right relationship with God, or mourn the depravity of our society.

Jesus said that He would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, and that the Holy Spirit would comfort us and provide a balm for our hurting hearts.

#3:  Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
This beatitude is often misinterpreted.  It doesn't refer to meekness as a lack of strength or substance.  The Bible clearly talks about how God resists the proud, but gives strength to the humble.

I remember being called "meek" once and it wasn't a compliment.  It was a put-down because I wasn't a very outspoken person.  The word "meekness" means strength under control. The meek understand and willingly submit to God's authority.

Jesus said that if we wanted to be great in His kingdom, then we would have to be servant leaders.  Servant leadership is the definition of meekness. 

The blessing for the "hot mess"??

God will surely come to the rescue of those of us who think we continually make a mess of our lives.  Truth is, we DO make messes.

For our mess, Jesus offers cleansing that can only come through accepting the gift of grace that makes us PERFECT under the veil of Christ's blood, through which God views us. 

Only Jesus can take us from complete mess to profound perfection.  What an awesome God we have who makes provision for all our weakness.  We can't keep the law, but through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, we can be comforted, find strength, and be made perfect in God's sight.  He will give us strength to obey.

You the yoga pants...have I told you you're amazing?? God says so over and over again in His Word.  In Christ, you are a new creation.  If you're a "hot mess" this is God's message for you today!

Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you that you cheer on the underdog.  You meet us whether it's in mourning, meekness, or any state in which we yearn for You.  Thank you that your values are not what the world values.  Help me to realize that you value humility, right standing, purity, peace-making, and those that would lay down their lives for you.  Help me to be counted among those who are blessed because they rely and depend solely upon you.  Bless me and make my "mess" clean.
In Jesus name I pray,  Amen.

What about you?  Do you feel like a hot mess at times?  What answer do you think God is laying before you?  What steps do you want or need to take?  How do the beatitudes encourage you?  Will you share?

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Be blessed...

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Prescription For the Spiritual "Blahs"

Hey Friend,

It was still well before 6 am.  Eyes still half shut, I pushed open the screen door and ushered our beagle out into the darkness.  I turned on my heels to head toward the coffee maker, but something made me change my mind.  

The weather, for the first time, was refreshingly cool.  I stepped out onto the deck and the moon cast a silvery light-soaked pathway down our back hill.  There was not a cloud in the dark sky and the stars shone brightly.  I simply had to stand there and take it in.  

The longer I stood, transfixed, goosebumps raised on my arms, but in my mind I was transported back to a night sky that looked so similar, so many years ago. On that long-ago night I lay on my back in the cool grass. I was just thirteen. I could hear guitars around the campfire still strumming in the distance, but as I gazed up I knew, without a doubt, that I didn't want to go through life alone.  I wanted Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life.

I repented of my sins and invited Him in to take the pilot's seat - to be Lord of my life.  I knew He was the One who could fill the gaping hole in my heart. 

That night the love of Christ and the reality of what He'd sacrificed for me set my heart ablaze.  I was on fire for the Lord for the very first time in my life.

That was over 45 years ago.  I wish I could say that my heart has burned brightly for Him ever since, but that would be a lie.  There have been seasons, both long and short, that the embers were fanned and burst into flames once again.  There have also been long and short seasons of apathy, disinterest, laziness, obligation, and general spiritual blahs.

The Problem can be summed up in Revelation 2:4-5:

Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first.  If you do not repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place.

These words were directed to the church in Ephesus.  They were a church that had endured and persevered through suffering, but their love had grown cold. They were simply going through the motions of religion.  Their deeds were good, but there was no love motivating them.  

How often am I like them?  Doing what I do out of obligation vs. a burning love for the Lord and wanting to serve Him?

The Solution can be summed up in 2 Timothy 1: 6-7:

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.

Since my life-long MO is continually defaulting to pursuing "self-sufficiency" when I have the spiritual blahs, I think it's up to me to get busy and muster up some fiery faith.

The verse from 2nd Timothy reminds me that the source of my faith is NOT me, it is the Spirit of God moving in me.  

We are to fan into flame the GIFT of God.

So if the Spirit is the source of my faith, HOW do I fan this gift into flame?


I remind myself that apart from the Lord, I can do nothing. 

I don't do something, instead, I ASK the Lord's Spirit to work and move in me.

(Remember Seek, Knock, Ask...and it will be given unto you?) ASK the Spirit of God to move in you and guess what?  He will.

Now the part that's up to me is to obey.  What does obedience look like?

Obedience means I have to be in His Word daily.  I need fuel to start a fire. 

I need to be reading, meditating, dwelling, abiding, and communing with God.  He's the lighter fluid.

Then, ASK for the spark of the Spirit and pretty soon you have a roaring fire!!

I have found that I can't "feel" my way into actions, but I can "act" my way into feelings.  

When I get a case of the spiritual blahs, I seek; I ask; and then as God promises, I find.

Praying for you sweet friend, that the Lord would answer the desire of your heart and through the gift of the Holy Spirit, He would set your heart on fire once more. With God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, ALL things are possible.

Dear Heavenly Father,  I praise you for kindling a fire in my heart so many years ago.  I thank you that when the flames die down and my heart grows cold that I don't have to try, on my own, to muster up faith again.  You have given me the very catalyst I need in the form of the Holy Spirit.  Enable me to humble myself to ASK for a rekindled faith-fire.  Give me strength to do my part in obedience.  Let me abide in your presence Lord and wait with great expectation for what you will perform in my life.  Set my heart ablaze once more. I'm asking. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

What about you?  Has your heart grown cold or apathetic?  Do you have a case of the spiritual blahs?  What steps is God calling you to in order to be set on fire again?  If you've never experienced the life transformation of inviting Jesus to come into your heart, forgive you of your sins, and be Lord of you life, might you want to ask Him now?  Will you share in the Comments?  If you'd like for me to pray for you...feel free to email me.

Be blessed...

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

When God's Best Surpasses Ours

Hey Friend,

I love this version of Ephesians 3:20 from the Message Bible:

Ephesians 3:20 God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

If you regularly read my blog, you'll remember the post before this one: "I Cursed God Out and He Responded With Love."  In it, I share a very ungodly, ugly-human moment I had in response to continual physical infirmities.  It was NOT a shining moment in my faith walk, but it reinforced my trust that God loves us unconditionally and can, and will, shoulder our raw honesty with love.

After coming to grips with a third torn meniscus, I set my sights on our one and only upcoming vacation to the beach.  Even if I was still limping, I could forge my way to a beach chair, plop myself, and take in the beauty of God's awe-inspiring creation.  Like many, I am lured by the ocean's siren call.  

The ocean called, but Dorian answered.  Hurricane Dorian came right up the coast and forced evacuation of the beach where we were headed.  (Insert another, not so pretty, temper tantrum on my part).  Really?  I was not willing to settle for a "stay-cation"!! Couldn't just one of MY plans work out?

God, in the only way a holy and merciful God could orchestrate it, began coaxing my heart not to "settle for a tootsie roll," but instead, to "set my sights on a Godiva Bar."  God was up to something I could not imagine, or guess, or request in my wildest dreams.  

God doesn't often lead me to go on line, but this day, He did.  In my inbox was an email from Delta Airlines on frequent flyer deals.  It had some incredible post-Labor Day fares listed.  One was a round trip fare from Raleigh-Durham to Chicago for only $100. round-trip.  My curiosity was peaked.

I love the "Windy City". For five years, it was my home.  I made a quick check on the weather forecast.  Sunny and 70 degrees.  Awesome!  My fingers were tapping excitedly.  Hotel rooms...last minute deals...Magnificent Mile... downtown...great rates.  I booked it. My heart was beating faster.  I was rarely this spontaneous and impulsive. I'm a rut-loving planner by nature. It was kind of a rush - jumping in the deep end of the pool like this.

My husband has on his "bucket list" to see as many baseball games as he can in different ballparks.  The White Sox were going to be in town.  I grabbed some great seats between home and first.  I couldn't wait to surprise my husband.

All that was needed now was to put the beach clothes back in the drawers and pull out some Chi-town attire.  I packed my knee brace, ice pack, pain meds, good walking shoes, and then I prayed.

"Lord, you've allowed several monkey wrenches to close the doors on my wishes and plans.  I'm trusting that you have something even better in mind for me.  You know my physical limitations right now.  I am asking for Your divine strength to see me through this adventure you've placed at my feet and in my heart.  I'm going forward with this, trusting that through You and in You, I can do all things. In Jesus name I pray, Amen."

God had called me to "be brave" and step out in faith.  I did, and my husband did.  I'm here to testify that GOD'S best pretty much ALWAYS surpasses our best laid plans.  

We paced ourselves.  I iced, elevated, and girded my knee.  God rolled out the best Chicago had to offer.  We couldn't have had a better four day jaunt.  We literally went where the Spirit led us and weren't in any particular hurry.  The skies were bluer than blue and the sun was warm and gentle on our faces. This was the joy that cometh in the morning after weeping endured for the night. 

We enjoyed breathtaking views and dined in authentic Greek and Italian eateries. We saw some of the best the city had to offer and still, didn't even scratch the surface.  We couldn't have orchestrated a better trip if we had tried.  My knee, miraculously, held up and we were blessed with the together time we both were craving.  

God is good, He is good, indeed.  Even when I doubt and question, He still delights in blowing my socks off with His love and compassion.  This lesson has helped me to look at the big picture of life a little differently.  I get so caught up with how I would like things to be or how I would orchestrate my life, that I stifle God's ability to bless me with something that is far greater than my wildest imaginings.  

I thought Chicago was incredible.  I can't wait to see what God has in store for me in paradise.  In the thick of a season of suffering, God chose to infuse joy.  

Life is hard, but God is good!  May His name be praised!

I share the following pics with a heart filled with gratitude:

What about you?  Are you in a season of suffering?  Have some of your best laid plans been met with disappointment?  Might you be settling for something less than God's very best for you?  Will you share?

Be blessed...

ps.  If you have enjoyed what you've read, here, today, might you consider subscribing to my weekly blog posts (and nothing else - I promise)?  Just go to the SUBSCRIBE tab above and enter your contact information.  Then BE SURE to look for a confirmation email link in your "inbox".  Click that and you're set.  Thanks for reading...