Saturday, July 25, 2015

We took the long way home

Five weeks ago, together, we started our pursuit in discovering God's relentless, amazing, and crazy love for us.  It is often difficult to comprehend such an awesome love.  Especially when we spend most of our lives humanizing God.  This past week was full of challenges and obstacles. And I found myself doing exactly what this weeks study was directing me not to do.  But I realized half way through the week that I needed to stop in my tracks, sit at His feet and get a fresh fill of His crazy love and amazing grace.

We were directed to read the Gospels through the eyes and mind of a 12 year old.  I found that to be a little challenging.  However, as I continued reading I began to feel God's presence.  Initially I was reading the Gospels like an ordinary book or homework.  Counting the chapters, dividing them by seven days and tackling the assignment.  On Tuesday morning I prayed that the Holy Spirit would guide me in my daily portion of the assignment and give me the mind and heart of a child.  And the word of God began to penetrate my heart in a beautiful way.  God revealed to me, in multiple ways throughout the rest of the week, that He truly is a living God

I have read the parable of the sower multiple time in my life.  But I have never read it in the fashion I did this week.  I started off on Sunday morning asking myself. What soil, as a seed, are you landing on, Kathleen? Am I devoured by the birds of the air before I even land?  Am I a seed that lands on rocky soil and never takes root?  Or did I land in a patch of weed infested soil?  Maybe, just maybe, could I have landed in the most well fertilized, organic and prosperous soil? What a lot to think about.  I have to be honest. After a lot of soul seeking I came to the reality of what type of seed I am. I believe that I have landed in the weed infested soil.  I find that I am often being choked by the things of this world.  And I get so caught up that I am physically and mentally unable to produce fruit that is of substance.  But on the other hand.  I know that I am planted on soil that is being fertilized.  And the Gardener is daily plucking the weeds around my base and pruning me.  He watches me and delights in my progress.  He protects me from the mouth of the beast by putting a hedge around me.  Occasionally, the beast gets a nibble of the fruit.  However, the Gardener prevents that critter from pulling me completely out of the soil.

It amazes me that God is so faithful and watches over me the way He does.  All He wants is for me to glorify Him in all that I do.  He watches me produce some of the most delicious and eye appealing fruit.  He waits patiently for my fruit to ripen.  And too often I allow that prize piece of fruit to be devoured by someone or something other that the One who I should have offered it to.  And out of pure disrespect I give the Gardener fruit that isn't ripe enough for the salad. You might find yourself asking, "What's the big deal? What am I doing wrong? At least I produced fruit. Right?"  As we read in Malachi 1: 6-14 (if you haven't read it I would encourage you to go and read it now.....I copied and pasted it below)  God wants our best not our leftovers.  After-all, it's only because of His relentless love and nurturing that we produced such delicious fruit.  He deserves the prize tomato and not the rotten one.

It amazes me that I am so similar to the Israelites.  God has brought me into the promise land and I am still not satisfied.  He sent His son and fulfilled His promise.  And yet I am such a brat.  I pray and ask Him to give me this and give me that. And I give Him the minimum...the second best and often the rotten tomato. All that I have is from Him.  And I can't even see past my own greed.  My fear that I won't have enough, if I give Him my all, is crippling.

Yesterday my family and I went into the city for the day.  We walked around the streets of Philadelphia and I felt my heart aching.  I wanted to buy the world a cup of coffee.  I looked at some of the people on the street asking for money.  And on more than one occasion I opened up my purse and pulled out the cash.  Only to have someone say, "put that back in your purse."  or "what are you doing?  You don't give them money."  I felt sick to my stomach.  And I heard Matthew 25:40 resounding in my head.  "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do for Me."  But still I listened to my family members and either put it back in my wallet or had one of them pluck it from my hand before I could pass it on to one of the least of these.  I walked away feeling heartbroken.

The night ended and my son and I took the long way home by taking the train back to the suburbs.  He has a tendency of being very philosophical.  We talked about the events of the day.  And he started asking me some pretty deep questions.  He asked me a question while we were eating dinner earlier that evening.  And on the train he asked me again.  "Mom, how do you think we are supposed to pray?  And did you know that God requires only one prayer from us?" God had directed Christian to read the book of Matthew this past week.  Yes, the living, almighty and relentless God directed this 21 year old young man to read the same Gospel message that He directed me to read.  As we discussed God's direction for our lives, and how He requires us to come to Him with our requests, we eventually agreed that only one thing is needed.  Jesus gave us the perfect words that we need to come to our Heavenly Father.  "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name.Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." God wants us to pray with an honest heart.  He knows our thoughts and words before we even formulate them.  Our discussion continued.  And we talked about how difficult it is to live out a life of faith when you are rooted in the things of this world.  He told me that every time he attempts to tell of God's love the world turns around and points out the imperfections in his life.  And that due to his lukewarm lifestyle it seems meaningless to share the gospel.  I encouraged him to continue to do what he is doing.  Because God's word does not return void.

We arrived home around 11pm.  And both headed straight to bed.  I laid in bed and thought about our conversation.  And the LORD put Romans 12:2 on my heart. "Do not conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve that God's will is His good, pleasing and perfect will."  I sent a text to Christian, "Romans 12:2" And this morning I woke up to the perfect reply.  He sent me Matthew 6: 7-13.  God is truly faithful.  And I know that we all need to honestly evaluate ourselves.

 What is it going to take for us to pursue God as though nothing else matters. How can we STOP conforming to the patterns of this world?  Nothing should concern us more than our relationship with God.   He cannot just be tacked on to our lives.  He needs to be the foundation.  Jesus said, "Follow me." He faithfully points us to our Heavenly Father. Jesus gave us His all.  And we, in return, should be willing to give God our very best. True faith shows the world that we no longer have a fear of holding back.  We realize that it's okay to give God our everything because we have a blessed assurance in the hope of eternity.  And as we continue grow bold in our faith we learn that the only cure for lukewarmness is love.

I pray that this week we faithfully seek to give God our very best.  And that as we continue to learn more about His relentless, amazing, and crazy love we develop a more passionate and real love towards Him. May you feel the heat of the furnace taking that lukewarm desire to a love that is boiling over.  Have a blessed week!

Malachi 1: 6-14

“A son honors his father, and a slave his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?” says the Lord Almighty. “It is you priests who show contempt for my name. “But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?’“By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’“By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.  “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.  “Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.  My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.  “But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’  And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty. “When you bring injured, lame or diseased animals and offer them as sacrifices, should I accept them from your hands?” says the Lord. “Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Does your chewing gum lose it's flavor

There are moments in my life where I could honestly say that I am madly in love with God and there have been plenty of moments that I will admit that I halfheartedly loved Him.

Have you ever heard the song, "does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost over night."? For some  strange reason I couldn't seem to get it out of my head after reading chapter four of "Crazy Love".  I know silly right.  But maybe not.

We often try to rekindle or add flavor back into our relationship with our Beloved Creator.  We go to church on Sunday and chew on His word for an hour.  Only to fall right back into our lukewarm lives throughout the remainder of the week.  It's just like putting our chewing gum on the bedpost overnight in hopes of getting a little extra boost flavor.  As a kid I would put my gum on a the table next to the bed or my head board.  I know gross.  But wait, the crazy thing is it seemed to be a little more flavorful in the morning.  Maybe it was my imagination.  But my taste bud would beg to differ.  Eventually that piece of cherished gum became a flavorless glob.  And the glob got wrapped in a unwanted scrap of paper and tossed in the garbage.  In Matthew 5:13 Jesus told us to be salt and be light.  We are to be full of flavor. “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."  When we live our lives with a lukewarm faith we aren't capable of seasoning much of anything.  And the longer we stay in this lukewarm state the more likely we are of becoming a flavorless glob.

Remember the moment you realized the overwhelming love God had for you. And you seemed to be floating on air.  Eager to seek Him and hear His word. Daily reading scripture, you listened to Christian radio, perhaps you cleaned up your vocabulary a bit.  Now think about a fresh piece of gum.  That sick of gum so full of flavor It's just bursting with deliciousness. You begin to chew.  And the flavor is strong. And you truly enjoy the taste.   The longer you chew it to more it loses its deliciousness.  When we need more flavor we pop a fresh piece of gum in our mouth and ahhhh the flavor is strong once again.  Just like a new stick of gum we need to get a fresh fill and rekindle our love for God daily.  God gives us grace each day.  A fresh piece to chew on each day.  His grace is sufficient and never runs out.  It's our faith and love for Him that becomes flavorless. 

What are the things that we desire more than our desire to seek a loving relationship with God? As I said earlier I am capable of admitting that I have had plenty of moments where I halfheartedly loved God. I often spend more time seeking the love of friends, family and things.  My faith becomes cloudy and lacking.  God seems to be taken for granted because I know He is there.  Imagine if we had that same kind of halfhearted love for our spouse, children, family and friends.  Not sure about you but, I am pretty sure that if I was being neglected the way I neglect God, I would start looking for love somewhere else.  Funny how being loved is such an important part of our existence.  We go to great lengths to find it.  God's love for us is amazing.  There is no greater love.  And silly us we take it for granted. He is right there!!!

There are a multitude of scripture verses on being lukewarm.  And if you read chapter 4 you saw a few of them (I put a bunch of them below for you to chew on).  For me Isaiah 29:13 resounds in my head and heart.  "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths.  And honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me it taught by the commandment of men"  Our love for God has to be full of substance.  He doesn't want our lip service.  He knows our heart and desires us to wholeheartedly love and seek Him.  And that His law is on our hearts because we seek Him and desire to know Him.  

This week I will be praying that we spend time in prayer.  I pray that we seek His mighty hand as we work on becoming less lukewarm and more flavorful in our love for Him.  I pray that the Holy Spirit is upon us and will help us overcome our lack of love for our Relentless God,  I also pray that we graciously come before Him and ask Him to work in our hearts to increase our desire for Him.  


Isaiah 29:13
13 Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths. And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,

Isaiah 58:6-7
6 “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Matthew 5:43-47
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew 10:32-33 
32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 21: 28-31  
28 “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ 29 He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. 30 Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?”They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you

Matthew 22:37-38
37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment.

Matthew 23:5-7
5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’

Matthew 23:25-28
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Luke 9:57-62
57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” 61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” 62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 12:16-21
16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink,and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Luke 14:12-1
12 Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, themaimed, the lame, the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

Luke 14:31-33
31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

Luke 21:1-4
21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

Romans 6:1-2
6 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

1 Timothy 6:17-18
17 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. 18 Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

James 1:22
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

James 4:17
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

Revelation 3:1
3 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

If His grace is an ocean, we are all sinking

This week has truly been an adventure for me.  I switched jobs, battled a few demons, and had to adjust my normal every day routine.  I had many restless nights and some very long days.  I have to say that I am thankful that I have a relationship with a limitless God.  He greets me wherever I am.  And is gracious whenever I call upon Him.  And by His amazing grace I made it to this beautiful Saturday.

After reading "Crazy Love", this past week, I have been think a lot about my earthly Dad. I praise God that he chose Joseph Mallon to be mine.  Joseph was a shepherd to his family, a friend, a banker, a teacher, a poet, a story teller, an artist, and a very hard worker.  I could sit here a give you a million attribute about my Dad.  But I will spare you.  Let's just say I really adored my Dad and miss him.  I remember, as a young child growing up in the city, hearing the church bells ring in the evening.  My heart would skip a beat.  Those bells indicated that my dad would be walking up the alley in just a few minutes.  The neighborhood kids would all stop playing and run to try to be the first one to get to him.  He had this way of making everyone feel special.  The first one the get to him would get to carry his newspaper. I always felt irritated when he let one of the neighborhood kids carry it.  But he was fair.  I can still remember the smell of him as he hugged me with those loving arms. After we were done swarming him we all walked with him to the house. But I walked most proudly because this was my Daddy. He never excluded anyone.  Everyone felt just as special.  But at the end of the day he was the father of Maria, Joseph, Kathleen, Thomas and Christina exclusively.  He was a great example of a godly dad.

The love that I had for my dad was very special and unique.  Like I said he had the ability to make everyone feel loved.  But when it came to his children he desired it to be more than just feeling loved. He wanted it to be a knowledge of being loved.  He taught forgiveness.  And showed us godly love.  However, my dad wasn't perfect.  He too was human.  And, as all humans,  he was a sinner who stumbled upon God's grace.  One of my brothers, til this very day, does not hold the same picture our dad as the rest of us do.  There was a divide and for some reason the distance just grew and grew.  When my dad passed away on December 31, 2010, all but one of his five children, that he had raised, was there to kiss him goodbye.  But, at the time of his passing my dad had a peace in his heart.  He and my brother had been talking for a little over a year.  It was superficial but they were talking. And I guarantee that if my brother walked into the room my dad would have showered him with grace.  He and my mom, for years, longed for "the prodigal" to return.  Just like our Heavenly father waits for us.

So, when you think about God's love do you think of it as being intellectual or is it more of an intimate love?   We all know that God loves us.  But do we feel how he loves us?  There is a song by David Crowder Band that has been playing in my head for days.  I wake with this song on my heart and as I lay restless at night I've been reflect upon the words "Oh, How He Loves Us" The song starts with, "He is jealous for me."  Our God is jealous for us.  He desires to spend intimate moments with each of us.  He wants to hang around with me?!?  His heart longs for us to sit quietly with Him.  The song continues with He "Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.  When all of the sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are , And how great Your affections are for me.  And oh, how He loves us...oh, Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us all!  We are His portion and He is our prize. Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes.  If His grace is an ocean, we are all sinking.  And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss, and my heart turns violently inside my chest.  I don't have the time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way... He loves us.

God allows us to do what we need to do.  Remember that gift called "free will"  He loves us so intensely that He pushes and/or pulls us in the right direction. Just like any good parent would do if you were heading for danger.  As a child your parents would never have allowed you to put your hand in the fire under their watchful eye.  What you did when they weren't looking you did at you own "free will".  God is jealous for me!  He wants my attention, affection and my all.  And when I am too busy with unimportant issues He is merciful.  Sometimes we just need to bend and allow His hand to guide us. During a storm and/or after it passes, if we are intimately aware of his love and mercy, we are more eager to drawn near to Him.  And like the lyrics state, "If His grace is an ocean, we are all sinking" His love is that great.  We can never go too far.  We are always within His reach and He is always waiting for us. We have this ocean of grace to humbly bathe in. In Psalm 40:5 David reminds us of God's amazing love towards His people.  "You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!  I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told." God's wondrous deeds and His thoughts towards us are too numerous for us to even grasp.  He showers us with love and treasures each day.  And we are so spoiled that we tend to take them for granted.

Let's take a moment to reflect on how God's love has affected our lives.  Merciful just doesn't give God's love for me justice.  A few years back I remember being quite distraught.  My world was turned upside down when I discovered that my husband, at the time, wasn't faithful.  I had started attending a new non-denominational church when I was pregnant with our third child.  And I wasn't completely honest with him about where I was going.  I would get the girls up and we would head to the new church. After all he wasn't going to the church he was brought up in.  So, I thought it wouldn't matter.  I didn't quite agree with the teachings of the church we had be attending and wanted something more biblical.  One Sunday morning I invited him to come with us.  He wasn't up for it.  So we went once again without him.  As the months passed I began to draw closer to God.  And found myself longing to be in the word.  I would read my bible while cooking, eating or doing laundry.  One day when my husband returned home he came into the laundry room and saw that my bible was open to Proverbs 5.  He saw what the proverb said and was clearly disturbed.  It was shortly after that when the LORD revealed to my heart that I was about to enter the biggest storm of my life.  And I began to hold tightly to His hand.  On a few occasion I let go and tried doing things my own way. I have to admit I did a few things that I wasn't proud of.  Like walking into a bar and knocking the "other" woman off the stool.  Only to find myself calling her, a few days later, to apologize for my actions.  You see I serve a God who showed me grace and love.  And as a result of His unfailing love for me I knew I needed to have that same kind of love.  The evening of the "bar stool" event I found myself in my kitchen on my knees.  I was so lost and felt alone.  I cried out to my creator and pleaded with Him.  "LORD, I was created to be a wife.  How is this happening to me?  Is this real?  Am I going to wake up tomorrow and everything be "normal" again?"  And are you ready to hear what my God said to me?  He said, "Kathleen, your Maker is your husband, The LORD Almighty is His name. The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth." At that moment God showed me His great love for me and He became my Beloved.  There were a lot of hurricane moments over the years that followed.  I divorced my first husband, raised three babies on my own, worked, went back to school, dated a few men, fell into sexual sin and cheated on my Beloved.  But His grace is an ocean.  Eventually I surrendered to Him. He reminded me of my cry from the kitchen floor.  And blessed me once again by giving me the gift of a earthly husband.  By the grace of God, and His ability to teach me unconditional love and abounding grace,  my ex-husband and I are now very good friends.

I  have had moments that I questioned God's love for me.  I think that is normal.  Well at least I hope I am not the only one.  During my "single mom" days I had periods of time when I felt God had abandoned me.  The house we moved into had a leaky roof.  I had little money for food, electricity or clothes.  I got really sick and felt horrible all the time.  And I was lonely. Christmas was coming and I had no spare change to buy the kids anything. I cried out to my Beloved, "Are you abandoning us too? Where are you?  My house is a mess and I am hungry.  I need you and you are not present.  Please, please, please show me you are near." And soon after we had another rain storm.  And the tub start to leak into the dining room too.  Talk about when it rains it pours.  That night my three kids and I created a game.  Every time it rained we ran to get pot and pans.  Whoever filled their pot or pan with the most raindrops first won.  I got very creative with rice, beans, vegetables and bullion cubes.  Their two favorite dishes chicken-less chicken casserole and pasta and beans. We also began to enjoy reading scripture by candle light and creating indoor games or playing old favorites.  One day while eating one of our crazy concoctions at the dinner table my daughter said, "I love how God is taking care of us.  He really loves us!  Right mom?" Wow, I was such a brat,  I thought to myself.  "He does really love us!"  It's amazing that when you ask the kids when they felt God most in their life.  I can almost guarantee they will tell you it was that stormy time in our lives. The storms in this life are to draw us closer to Him.  And as we drew closer to Him we became tighter as a family.

There was a period in my life when I felt that the LORD was leading me to read the book of Romans on a daily basis.  And over the years I have found myself reflecting on the numerous treasures in the verses on those pages.  But one of the greatest reminders of God's relentless love I find in Romans 8: 31-39, "What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?  Who will bring a charge against God's elect?  God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.  Who will separates us from the love of Christ?  Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For your sake we are being out the death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughter."  But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Nothing can separate from God.

 I pray that as we continue to we pursue God's Crazy Love for us that we will take time reflect on the intimate love our Heavenly Father has for us.  I pray that we purposefully seek Him and learn to love Him deeply. I ask that He give us the tools to glorify Him in all that we do. I encourage you to seek God, read your bible, listen to music or do activities that bring you to glorify Him.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Much more than this....I did it my way!

Happy 4th of July!  What a perfect day to focus on our independence.  But I wanted to put a little spin on it.  How can we live a life of independence while being dependent on God? How has our arrogance and life's distractions pulled us away from God's glory?

Life is full of distractions.  Some for the good and some not so good.  My biggest distractions I would have to say are my family, friends, and my job.  But this past week I found that the news, Facebook, and the world around me were huge distractions.  I am not much of a news watcher.  Honestly I prefer not to watch it at all.  But this week I got sucked in.  And Facebook had my undivided attention more frequently than I care to admit.  This world is full of opinionated individuals.  My heart was sad and confused by the jaded, corrupt, and selfish concepts of "love" posted on social media and relayed in public forums.  What about Jesus' message of love?  "Love one another" Amazing how these distractions cause us to scream our own agenda and forget Gods will.  

We are commanded to love.  Not by our definition but by God's.  We don't get to make the rules.  But we sure do a great job of twisting them.  We quickly get offended when someone bashes or questions our faith or path in life.  And instead of loving we are often quick tempered.  Finger pointing all around the table.  We start searching for scripture verses that defend our objectives.  And we become the ruler, judge and jury.  And in the process we lose sight of our true purpose.  We were created for joy.  It is God's earth.  Let's let Him be the ruler and judge.  No need for a jury.  We are all quite imperfect.  

Sometimes even the good things around us become huge distractions. God blesses us with our life, parents, siblings, a spouse, children, family, friends and a job.  He wants us to put time and love into all of these relationships.  However, we shouldn't put those relationships above honoring and seeking Him.  I find myself giving so much time and energy to my blessings that I am too drained in the quiet time to glorify God.  I am rushing to get from one task, event, or responsibility to another that I forget to praise Him for the blessings.  Some days I am so busy that  I lose sight of the beautiful things in my life.  

Life isn't guaranteed to last one hundred years let alone one hour.  In James we are reminded that life is but a vapor.  Here one second and gone the next.  Like I said earlier God created us for joy.  Life is precious and short.  And I will be the first to admit.  I am not always the most joyful person on this planet. But I am trying to stop and smell the roses.

So, how do we change our lives in order to not allow these good and bad distractions to keep us from drawing closer to the one who gives us life?  And to live our lives for Him in a joyful manner?  I suppose it's all about prioritizing.  I know that I need to praise Him and search my own heart daily. He is gracious and loving. And if I truly believe that He is the creator of everything I need to trust that He will take care of everything.  My one and only priority is to bring Him joy and love as He loves .

We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are not in control.  I repeat.  WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL!  We are absolutely dependent on God.   We have a responsibility to love and obey Him. And if we truly believe that this is God's universe, if it is His world, if every moment of our every day is a precious gift from Him, and if our life is to be about God's kingdom rather than our own agenda, our daily living should reflect that.

Remember the Frank Sinatra song, "I did it my way." The lyrics started off like this, "And now, the end is near. And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear I'll state my case, of which I'm certain I've lived a life that's full I traveled each and every highway And more, much more than this, I did it my way. Regrets, I've had a few....." Pretty arrogant.  Wonder if the lyrics would be different if Frank showed a little more dependance on The creator.
Daily I need to remind myself of Gods care and how I am dependent on Him.  Without Him my life is a bit meaningless and quite selfish. I must realize that He is what life is about, not me.  If I live for self gratification and forget about God's glory I am sure to, in the end, have regrets.  My independence is discovered once I acknowledge my dependance on God.

So, I leave you with two thought provoking questions. How can you structure your life to reflect that every second depends on Gods grace? And If you leave this earth today what would be some regrets?

I pray that as we continue reading "Crazy Love" that we ask God to continue to work in our hearts and minds.  That we are able to recognize distractions and are able to push them aside.  And that as He removes our distractions that He will also lead us to the path He is calling us to.