Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Secret Keeper

We just spent a little over eight weeks learning and growing deeper in a relationship with the God who sees you and me as perfect and treasured.  I cannot believe we are at the end of this sweet journey.  I feel so incredibly blessed!  El Roi has truly guided my heart to a place I am certain I never knew before.  I still have moments that I am really down on myself.  But He gently whispers in my ear, "Kathleen, you are made in My image.

How many times in your lifetime have your read through 1 John?  I would have to say, for me, more times than I can count.  And throughout the past few months I feel that the Holy Spirit has been guiding me to those pages a lot.  The message is very clear. Nobody is perfect. We all fall short.  God sees every detail of our life.  He knows when I wake up, what I eat, where I go, who I talk to. He knows what I am thinking, contemplating and much more.  He knows it all.  He is the secret keeper.

We all have a secret or two.  And this isn't going to be a blog about me revealing my deepest darkest secrets to all of you.  Quite frankly my sins are really none of your business.  I am not trying to be rude.  They just aren't.  I may have shared a few of them with some of you in the past.  I believe that often those sinful secrets are good to reveal when I want to share how God, the secret keeper and holder of my heart, can and does still love me.

Like I said, "we all have secrets".  But what  happens when those secrets bind us and prevent us from moving forward.  Those BIG stinkin secrets that escalate into a mountain of lies.  We fear that the truth will one day be revealed.  We walk on egg shells when at family functions because "they" might talk to each other and find out the truth. Or you bump into a work friend on a day you called out sick and it's evident you were not sick.  Awkward to say the least.

In 1 John God calls us to live in the light.  The secret keeper wants us to tell the truth.  When we tell the truth we don't have to worry about the story.  I would have to say that I admire the fact that my husband is a pretty truthful man.  If I look good he tells me I look good.  And if I look bad.  He doesn't say a word.  Ha ha ha. But seriously he really is quite honest.  However, he too has a few secrets in his head and heart. But when Greg tells me something the story is always consistent and never cloudy.  There are some people in my life that if they told me the sky was blue and the grass was green I would have to go a see it for myself.  It makes me sad when trust is broken because it hurts a multitude of people.  There is a bit of a trickle down effect.  The person or persons being lied to feel duped and the ones being lied about feel betrayed.  As a parent I have been the liar, the lied to and the lied about.  I am not eighteen, you are smoking and I am not the evil one.  All angles and aspects of a lie can cause pain.  Not just for the victims but for the liar too.  Lies cause separation. I have seen it in my own family. And I know my own heart has felt guilt and shame over lies from my past.  And that guilt and shame has put a wedge between me, my loves and God.  Just like Adam and Eve.  I want to hide in a dark corner.

Over the years my husband and I have sinned against each other and God.  We both have secrets and I believe we are both okay with that.  We are pretty equally yolked in that aspect.  Every now and then we have a heart to heart and reveal a little more to each other.  We are still learning each other and I believe that it will be a lifetime of learning.  There are moments that it's hard to share the deep dark secrets.  But God has consistently guided us to a loving place to let the light of truth shine.

What is the difference between guilt and shame?  Well in my opinion when I feel guilty about something I am usually in the midst of a sinful situation.  And I feel shameful when I realize that I
followed through and actually acted in a sinful manner. Both of these emotions cause me to become distant.  How do I stand before a loving God knowing I willingly lied, cheated, stole and or betrayed someone?  How could he possibly look a me and smile ever again?  Love.  Grace.  And Jesus.  Yes, God sent Jesus as an advocate.  He is the atoning sacrifice for my sins, your sins and everybody's sins.  We need to forgive ourselves and others.  Yes, forgive yourself.  Place those secrets, lies and your sinful nature in His hands.  Let go and let God.  If He wants your sin to be revealed have faith that He knows what and why he is shining the spot light on you.

Praying for all of you!  And waiting on the Lord to guide my heart as we prepare for the next part of the journey.  "Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders."


Monday, May 9, 2016

You Can't Change the World

I hope you all had a relaxing and blessed Mother's Day.  I worked this weekend and I realize I am a few days late.  But better late than never. My Mother's Day was quiet and absolutely blessed.  My husband and I decided to sponsor another child.  His name is Jhoel.  He is eight.  And cute as can be!  As a mom it brings joy to my heart each time we receive a letter from our other children that we sponsor in Africa and Asia.  And now we have a son in Bolivia.

Wow can you believe we are in chapter seven already?  I have been so blessed. And I have learned so much about God's love and grace.  And praise him for giving me eyes to see me the way He sees me....created in His image.

Have you ever felt like God was trying to get your attention?  I know I have felt that way multiple times.  And this week there was a lesson to be learned.  And that lesson was to see others the same way God wants me to see me.  Created in His image!  And there is a song that comes to mind when I think about seeing God in everyone.  It's called, "Jesus in disguise" by Brandon Heath.  The words are pretty powerful.  "Ever get something in your head?  It's nothing you heard or nothing you read.  Ever had a cut but you never saw a blade?  Brought to your knees but you never prayed.  Jesus in disguise. Jehovah passing by. The burden of a tear hanging in your eye.  Jesus in disguise.  A scar across the sky.  You were looking for a king you would never recognize.  Jesus in disguise.  Ever feel like you've been somewhere before? You hold the key. You know which door.  Speak the word your lips have never known because your heart told you so. Jesus in disguise. Jehovah passing by. The burden of a tear hanging in your eye.  Jesus in disguise...A scar across the sky.  You were looking for a king you would never recognize.  Jesus in disguise.  So open my eyes as wide as I can blind as I am.  Blind as I am. Jesus in disguise."

Yep, He wants me to look around and see His face in everyone around me.  And that can be a bit of challenge depending on day and the person standing before me. There are people from my past and present that I honestly have a difficult time seeing God's face in them.  But He is putting this challenge on my heart to seek Him in a way that is a bit uncomfortable.  The God who sees me wants me to look deeper.  And He wants me to seek Him in the face of an enemy, a stranger, and in the face of those who have offended and hurt me deeply.  He even wants me to seek Him in the people that drive me out of my mind.

So, here I go.  I thought changing my perspective of me was challenging.  How do I even begin to change my vision toward others? It would be such a beautiful place to exist if we could all see God in each other.  The world would be full of love, light and perfection. However, fear, doubt and the voice in my head shouts, "You can't change the world, Kathleen."  I am just now getting used to seeing me in with a clearer focus.  I have to remind myself daily that I am made in God's image.  And now I have to add that everyone around me is made in His image too.  Really, everyone? Lord, how on earth am I going to be able to see You in the midst of the arrogant, selfish, rude and evil people that exist?  You are beautiful and perfect.  And this world, for the most part, contains a lot of not so perfect people.

God doesn't expect me to change the world.  He only requires me to change my perspective.  Instead of listening to the negative thoughts that are in my head I need to focus on His truths. We are the hands and feet.  In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus tells us that whatsoever we do to the least of these we do unto Him.  When we change our perspective and see Him in the face of our children, our spouse, our friends, siblings, parents, extended family, and co-workers it not that difficult.  But a change occurs when we begin to seek Him in those who push our buttons; bad drivers, rude clerks, self absorbed people, and those who have hurt you in the past and or the present.  Yes, when we begin to seek the face of God in those that offend us our hearts become transformed.  And instead of their ugliness we see His reflection.

You never really know what is going on in someone's life. When the cashier at the store is miserable we don't know the circumstances behind her frown.  When we are cut off in traffic by a crazy driver we don't know why or what they are rushing for.  And when we are hurt by our loved ones because of something that was said or done in anger we don't know the details leading up to the explosion.  How often do we put ourselves on a pedestal?  We neglect to remember the times we were miserable, in a rush and spoke harsh words.   We can be judgmental and very critical of others.  It's a natural response. And this is where the change comes into play.  Take those thoughts captive, blink a few times, and wait until you can focus before you judge.  Remember a time when you needed someone to just smile at you because you were having the worst day ever.  Or when someone slowed down and let you go ahead of them.  And the times when a loved one let you word vomit all over them only to hold your hand and say, "I love you."

Life is busy.  And we are often in such a rush that we don't see someone in need.  Or perhaps we do but we need to get to that next place and don't have time to stop and help that child that can't find a parent.  Or the man in the supermarket trying to find stuffing mix.  A few weeks ago I was running around Giant supermarket like a chicken without a head.  I had people coming over to help with wedding crafts.  And my quick trip to the market turned into a blessing.  I met an man named John.  He was looking for something.  I noticed him multiple times.  There was a sadness in his face.  And he looked lost.  After seeing him, half way through the shopping spree, I stopped and smiled at him.  He asked me if I could help him.  He told me that he just lost his wife of 62 years and he never had to shop at the market.  He wanted to make dinner for his children that were visiting.  So, I initially wanted to brush him off because I knew people would be arriving at the house within the hour.  I didn't have the time.  But I did.  And I was blessed in being a blessing.  I asked John to show me his list.  And we went through the market on a treasure hunt to make a feast for his family.  I left him after we completed the necessities.  As I got to the check out I saw him again.  And walked over to him and thanked him for blessing me.  And gave him my number.

Like I said before seeing God's image in others is somewhat difficult.  Actually it is quite impossible.  It is only by the grace of God that my vision changes.  And the possibility of seeing His image becomes clear. "With men this is impossible, but with God all thins are possible"~Matthew 19:26. When we chose to love God first and seek Him than loving your neighbor, family. friends and strangers becomes easier.

Okay here is the assignment for this week.....

Read the book of 1 John in a translation that you don't normally read.  www.biblegateway has a variety of translations.  What does 1 john suggest to you about living in the light of the God who sees you? What are some secrets that you have held on to in the past and feared they would be revealed? Were the revealed?  How did it happen?  What was the result?

How do you you think secrets and lies are connected?  How do secrets become lies?

What, in your opinion, is the difference between guilt and shame?  Do they have the same or a different remedy?

Think about some examples from your own life or the lives of others, of how an urge to control can cause us to hide from the light.  Do you believe attempts to control are always sinful?  What makes them harmful?

If you could write out your own policy on dealing with secrets what would it be?

Have you ever faced a situation where lies and hurtful words were being said about you?  How did you respond, and what was the result?  How do we let go and continue to walk in the light when something like this happens?

Have a blessed rest of the week!! Know that you are being lifted in prayer. And God sees you.  Be beautiful and shine!