Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Talking Honestly...to God and Yourself

He woke me up at six-thirty this morning.  Not so unusual, really.  Also not unusual that I wake up because I usually have to go to the bathroom.  (Incidentally, I’m wondering if this bathroom thing is normal, or if it’s a turning fifty thing.  Hmm.)  So, I wake up early this morning and instantly know that God wants to spend some time with me.  I’ve neglected Him.  A lot.  And I’ve suffered because of it.  It’s my own doing, I know.   I have no excuse.

But getting up early to talk to the Lord this morning, I quickly realized how lax I’d been. As I sat there beginning my time with God this morning, I started my prayer time like I always do, saying the words I always say, and I realized that my words we like a ritual.  They had become a routine.  My own kids don’t talk to me about the same things every time they talk to me.  Why would I say the same things to God?  My words had no meaning, no feeling, no emotion.  I had become stagnant… and that upset me more than anything. My heart broke.


I realized that I had not been honest with God.  I was saying the same things because truthfully I just didn’t want to be honest.  I was afraid that my honesty with my Heavenly Daddy would cause Him to think less of me.  I was afraid that if I were honest with Him about how I felt, honest with Him about the things that were causing me fear and concern, that somehow He would think I didn’t have enough belief in Him or His healing.  The problem was not with God.  The problem was with me.

“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” *

When we aren’t being honest with ourselves, we are also not being honest with God.  It was just after a very tearful and humbling conversation with the Lord that I picked up my devotional and opened it.  I recently received Sheila Walsh’s new devotional, “5 Minutes with Jesus.”  I had brought it with me on my recent trip to my daughter’s and had yet to spend those five minutes with Him at all, much less open the devotional.  This morning was as good a time as any.

If you know me at all, you know that I’m a bit OCD when it comes to books, devotionals, or anything that you have to read or participate in in a sequence.  It bugs me if I get out of order.  But this morning I opened the devotional and it wasn’t on the first page.  I had opened the book to the second devotion.  But I couldn’t go back because my heart told me to read the one I opened to.  The title was, “Being Honest With God.”  How fitting.

In the devotion Sheila tells a story of a woman who came up to her as she was signing books and yelled, “I’m angry!”  The point was not that the woman was angry as much as she was hurting.  As Sheila talked to the woman, she asked her if she had let God see her rage.  The woman was horrified and declared that she couldn’t talk to God like that.  But it was Sheila’s next statement that hit home with even me.  She asked the woman whether she thought God already knows.  Because He does know.  She wanted this woman to know that He loved her and He wanted her to trust Him enough to tell Him the whole truth about what she was feeling.

Ouch

God knows our whole story and He loves us.  Anyway.  Despite ourselves.  Despite our mistakes.  He loves us right where we are, in the pit of despair, in the rage we feel at the circumstances of our lives, or losses, our sickness, our pitiful excuses for being a human, God loves us.  Not only that, He also wants us to be truthful with Him and tell Him everything that we are feeling. 

Here’s the deal, reading this devotion this morning I learned within myself that I don’t have to hide anything from God because frankly, He already knows everything about me.  He even knows those things I’m hiding even from myself because I don’t want to deal with them.  I can’t put anything over on God.  And that in itself for me is overwhelming.  Who am I that He would love me anyway?  Who am I that He would send His Son, Jesus to die for me?   Yet He did, and He does.  Might as well fess up.

No one is exempt from God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness, unless of course you just outright reject it.  So whatever your story is today, you can go to Him, tell Him, talk to Him, and trust Him with it.

Though I started my time with Him in hesitance and resistance, I finally got frustrated and just spilled everything.  The gut-wrenching sobs that emitted immediately upon the release of the truth were not in vain, nor were they because of shame. Though it hurt for an instant, it didn’t cause God to push me away in disgust.  No.  What happened instead was an immediate and peaceful gathering of child to loving Father.  He had missed me.  He misses you, too.

God is such a merciful, loving, forgiving Father.  He’s our Daddy.  He made us, so why wouldn’t He know all about us and care about us.  Like we love our own children and never condemn them, God loves us and never condemns us.  We can always go to Him, tell Him the deepest, darkest secrets of our lives, things we wouldn’t even tell our best friend.  He already knows.  And He loves us anyway.


So, are you being honest with God today?  Why not take a few minutes today and trust Him.  You may be pleasantly and peacefully surprised.




* Mark 9:24, NKJV

Friday, August 14, 2015

Riding the Roller Coaster

I must say up front that I’m not a fan of roller coasters.  Many people are though.  They love the anticipation of that slow, upward climb to the peak of the mountain.  Then the anxious wait as the coaster tops the hill, slowly creeping toward the drop off.  Then holding their breath as they lose sight of the tracks just before the coaster plunged down the steep embankment and the thrill ride begins.  Twists, turns, sudden drops, I left my stomach back at the last drop off thank you very much. What keeps this thing on the tracks for Pete’s sake?

Sometimes life seems like a roller coaster. With the same slow anticipation of what’s next, the sudden drop, the twists, turns, and the plunge down the steep embankment, we often feel as if we won’t make it to the next surprise.  Do we even want to?  I won’t lie; life often takes us on some wild rides.  But the difference in experiencing a terrifying ride and a ride that’s exciting is who we have running the ride itself. 

Who’s Running This Show!

Many people have said, “My life is like a roller coaster; up and down and I never know what’s next” or “I’d like to get off this ride now!”  I’ve often felt that way myself, wishing I could just get off the ride and catch my breath.  But looking back I find that the ride was more pleasant and tolerable, if not enjoyable, when I was focused on God rather than my circumstances.

There are people today who would rather dwell on the circumstances they’re given.  They focus on the disease rather than the Divine.  They focus on the trauma rather than the Truth.  Over and over again they just wish that the roller coaster would stop so they could get off when in reality they should be clinging to the Ride Master Who is riding alongside them.

Jesus never said that following Him would be easy.  Instead, He said that we would have troubles. We would go through the valley.  But He never said we would go through it alone.  He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us.  He never goes back on His promises.

If God’s so good then why are bad things happening?

God is a good God.  He’s just.  He’s fair.  But most importantly, He loves you.  So why are you going through the bad stuff in your life?  What did you do?  Not necessarily anything.  But because of sin in the world (you can trace it back to Adam and Eve if you’d like), bad things happen.  Because Lucifer got too big for his britches and wanted to take over Heaven, God kicked him out along with one-third of all the angels because they followed Lucifer.  Take a guess at where they were kicked out to!  Here.  So when God created Adam and Eve, the best way the enemy saw to get back at God was to attack His kids.  He’s been doing it ever since.

Yes, stuff happens to us as the result of our own disobedience at times.  But when sickness, disaster, and just general bad things happen to the innocent for no apparent reason, it’s because there’s sin in the world.  I can’t explain it away, nor do I have an answer for it all.  But I know the One Who holds tomorrow and I trust Him.

When life gets seemingly out of hand, my life, I run to the Lord.  I know that He has my back, my front, my sides, all of me.  Things don’t always go as I planned them.  But it’s not about my plans.  It’s all about His plans for me.  His plans are good plans.  His plans are to prosper me, to elevate me, to give me hope, to give me a future.  If something bad happens along the way, it’s a learning moment for me.  It’s the same for you, too.

When I suffered so long in depression, severe panic and anxiety and fear (I often say sheer terror because I was that afraid), I thought I’d never get out of it.  I felt so hopeless and helpless.  I couldn’t focus on God because I was convinced that God hated me.  This is the work of the devil, dear lovelies.  He will say and do anything he can to make your life miserable.  He was doing a bang-up job on me at the time.

But through all the pain, the sorrow, the tears, the confusion and the heartache, I kept holding on to the thin thread of what was left of my hope.  I kept trying to remember that He promised never to leave me or forsake me, even though I felt like that’s what He had done.  I know that when we’re in the deepest, darkest moments; when the roller coaster is plunging down that steep embankment, life looks bleak.  We may cry out in despair asking, “Why?” Or we may lash out at God screaming, “Why aren’t You doing anything!”  Then we cling to the crossbar of the roller coaster as we are flung sideways in our seat. Let me encourage you today:

Throw your hands in the air and yell, “Weeeeee!”

Yes, it sounds crazy.  It also throws the enemy off and makes those around you stop and stare.  Yet, no matter what we are going through, financial trouble, sickness, loss of someone we love, loss of home, vehicle, job, whatever it is, God knows about it, He is working on our behalf, and He has you in the palm of His hand.  You may not think so while you’re right in the middle of the roller coaster ride.  It may seem as if your cart is going to plunge off the side of the tracks.  Just trust me when I say that God will only do so much, but He won’t intervene until you let go of the cross bar. 

God is just waiting for you to let go so He can reach in and help you.  Don’t listen to people who say, “God helps those who help themselves.”  That’s a lie.  It’s also not in the Bible.  God helps those who ASK HIM FOR HELP.  It’s also not quite true that “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”  God never gave you that disease.  God never caused anything bad to happen to you.  God didn’t wreck your finances.  He didn’t take your loved one away from you.  God doesn’t do anything bad.  God is good.  Satan is bad.  So if you want to know why bad things are happening, it’s because of the “bad one.”

I don’t like giving the enemy credit, because it brings attention to him.  But we have to talk about him a little bit here and say that if you’re focusing on the bad stuff, you’re focusing on the devil.  You need to refocus your attention.  Seek God first.  Call out to Him.  Press Him just a little bit. Lean in, press in, don’t give up because He’s waiting, willing, and wants to help you.

Wooo! What a ride!

Is your life taking you on a roller coaster ride?  Rather than cling to the bar wishing you could get off, throw your hands up in the air, call out to Jesus, and then yell “Weee!” as loud as you can.  Enjoy your ride because when you get to the end you’ll get off and say, “Woo! What a ride!”







Friday, July 31, 2015

Pregnant with Purpose

I’ve been dreaming strange dreams lately. No, I haven’t eaten anything spicy. I haven’t had ice cream before bed, either.  But I have been expectant. I’m waiting… on God. Maybe that’s why I’m dreaming strange dreams.

You’ve heard of a “pregnant pause?” I feel as if I’m in one right now. Pregnant, expectant, waiting. The excitement is building. This is going to be great!

However, in waiting we often become anxious; “I just can’t wait any longer!” We become like a small child playing hide-and-seek. They can’t wait for you to find them so they giggle, giving away their hiding place, or they jump out before you get there to find them. Sometimes we do that with God – jump out before He wants us to and delay what He was working on in secret for us. Then we ruin our surprise.

God has so many wonderful things in store for us. Sometimes He speaks to us or shows us a hint, like in a dream. We get excited. Then we put our focus on that instead of Him and before long we’re running ahead of Him. We’re “pregnant with purpose” with what God said.

In Genesis, God made a promise to Abram (Abraham). He promised that He would protect him and give him a great reward. Remember, Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah) did not have children. Yet God promised, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Gen. 15:5) And this made Abram “pregnant with purpose.” It made him expectant. It also made him blessed.

“And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.” ~Genesis 15:6 NLT

All pregnancies take time. Every expectant mother has to wait at least nine months for her baby to arrive. During this time she enters into a time of preparation; a time to prepare for that baby. She has to get ready not only the nursery where the baby will live, but she also has to prepare herself for the baby’s arrival. Pregnancy is a time of preparation, then expectancy, then blessings.

So much happens in secret inside the womb of an expectant mother. We don’t see or get to watch the cells grow together, the bones form, the organs form, or to watch the baby grow. But an expectant mother can feel her baby moving and growing inside her, which makes her excitement grow in anticipation of meeting that new one in person within a very short time.

In the spiritual realm much activity is also taking place in secret, all concerning God’s promises in our lives. When God plants a seed (His Word) in us we then have to enter into a time of preparation. We enter into a time for that seed to grow and bear fruit. In the season of preparation it’s a time of learning. Preparation equips us (teaches us) to handle whatever God promised to do in, around, or for us, or whatever He promised to give us.

While we’re waiting, we should be expectant. Be excited. But also use that time to prepare. Pray. Read His Word. Study. In due time, He will birth something in you that is not only beautiful, but exciting. It may just surprise you. But we don’t get it overnight. You and I have to wait while God not only prepares our surprise, but also while He prepares us to receive it. And in our time of preparation, we can and often will feel it growing within us, too.

God gave me a Word. He planted a seed and now I too am waiting. He’s been giving me hints along the way, letting me feel in my spirit what He is growing and building, to keep me interested and expectant. My hints have been in many forms, but none more intriguing than the weird dreams I’ve been having. It’s exciting.

I’m going to give God time. Just like He told Abram (Abraham) not to be afraid, I won’t be afraid. And just as He promised Abram that He would protect him, I know He’s protecting me. So I’ll wait on God because I know that whatever it is that He is preparing for me, it will be amazing. I can’t wait to see it!


Blessings!

Shelley

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Looking For What You Need

I'm looking for a mentor. Aren't we all? Someone we can confide in. Someone we can trust with our deepest darkest secrets. We look for someone who will encourage us, build us up, teach us, walk alongside us and help us when we stumble and tell us, "It's okay to stumble. Get back up and keep going." We want someone who is touchable, available, who cares and isn't afraid to get dirty with us in our walk of life. 

I say that at two-thirty in the blessed a m while I'm wide awake, unable to sleep, pondering if I'm having a hot flash or if my husband's body heat from his deeply slumbering body is keeping me awake… or if it's the dog barking at God knows what out there in the dark that awoke me to find myself in need. Because there's definitely a need along with a sweet little tune tinkling away in my mind this very moment:

Lord I need You,

Oh I need You!

Every hour I need You.

My one defense. . .

My righteousness. . .

Oh God, how I need You!

And I hear that still, small voice, ever so quietly whisper into my soul, "I'm your Mentor. It's Me. Yet I'm anything but safe. Follow Me anyway."

It's now that I realize why I'm awake. I also realize Who woke me up. It wasn't a hot flash, or my husband's slumbering body heat, although he's like a furnace when he sleeps. It wasn't the dog barking, although his sharp little bark was helpful in breaking the crazy dream I was having. It was the Lord, waking me and placing the sweet little tune in my soul to remind me how much I need Him and to remind me that He wants to spend time with me. I'm not even angry that He woke me at two in the morning. How could I be?

I've been neglecting my time with Him. Oh I didn't think I had been. I thought the little prayer here and there while going about my daily stuff was enough. It wasn't. He demands my full attention. He requires I meet regularly with Him. Yet I was missing our appointments.

How can I possibly be mentored, be taught, if I never step into the classroom? How can I learn if I never open the Textbook? I can't take for granted that my Mentor will automatically pour into me, knowledge, wisdom, that sense of well-being if I never take the time needed to actually LEARN from Him!

I'm humbled.

Is He mad at me? No. Is He disappointed in me? No. He just misses me. He knows how to get my attention. And I know full well why. So here I am; ready, willing, humbled, and ready to begin again. Do I have to start over from the beginning? No. Just pick up where I left off. My assignment is still waiting. It always been there. He's always been there. 

Like a toddler with a short attention span and a parent who patiently waits for her to refocus, so it is with the Lord and I. My squirrel moment gone, in the dead of night when there are no distractions of the day hounding me, vying for my attention, no interruptions, just me...and my Mentor.

"Are you ready to proceed?"

"Yes. I'm sorry I wandered off."

"It's okay. I love you. Shall we continue?"

*Sigh* "Yes. I'm ready."

"Then let's go."

You know, He misses you too. You’ve been wandering long enough. You’ve been putting Him on the back burner long enough. You’re running yourself ragged, making excuses, trying to analyze and debate your way through life, complaining, looking for a mentor too. I know how it is. I’ve done it.

You’re trying to convince yourself that you can figure it out. There must be a better way. The answer is around her somewhere. If you can just do enough, help enough people, give enough, work enough, be kind enough, cook, clean, teach, volunteer… but it isn’t working for you is it.

You’re wearing yourself out when you don’t have to. Jesus is patiently waiting for you to stop running in circles and just give in to Him. He’s not mad at you. He’s not disappointed in you. He loves you dearly and He’s just waiting.

You don’t have to have it all figured out. He’s got it covered. You don’t have to clean up. He’ll do that. You don’t have to get yourself organized. He’s got your plan. Just stand still and say, “Okay. Here I am. I’m tired of running.” One step in His direction is all that’s needed. He’ll do the rest. He will meet you where you are. It’s that simple. It really is.

You’re looking for a mentor. Someone who will listen, who will care. Someone who will encourage you, build you up, teach you, walk alongside you and help you when you stumble and tell you, "It's okay to stumble. Get back up and keep going." You want someone who is touchable, available, who cares and isn't afraid to get dirty with you in your walk of life. 

Yeah, that’s the Lord. He’s anything but safe… and yet He’s the only One Who will keep you safe.

Are you ready? Then let's go!






Monday, July 13, 2015

Look Where You're Going

There are many women today who live by continually looking at where they came from:

I was physically abused.

I was sexually abused.

I was bullied.

I was always told I wasfat, stupid, no good, would never amount to anything, etc..

By hearing these things spoken over us day after day, year after year, we begin to believe them, especially when they are spoken by people we love. Words are powerful. They can make or break a person. When spoken negatively our words can be detrimental. However, when spoken positively our words have the power to heal and build others up.

Often times as adults we continually remember the negative things that were spoken over us and prevent ourselves from living the abundant life that Jesus came so we can have. Jesus wants us to have a full life, an enjoyable life. He wants us to be happy. Yet many refuse because they are too busy looking at where they came from instead of where they’re going.

Sometimes we wonder where we fit in to God’s plan for our lives. It can be overwhelming. We’ve heard for years that we don’t fit in, that we don’t measure up. But we were listening to the wrong people. We weren’t listening to God. Because according to God we are:

A Masterpiece  (Ephesians 2:10)
Chosen!  (Ephesians 1:11)
Wonderfully Made  (Psalms 139:14)
Beautiful (Psalm 45:11)
Called (Jeremiah 1:5)
Forgiven (Psalm 86:5)
Anointed  (1 John 2:27)
and especially… Loved (1 John 3:16, John 3:16)!

With all these promises from God, how can we ever believe anything negative? And these promises aren’t the only ones. There are so many more in God’s Word, straight from Him.

There are also still those who would like nothing more than to remind us of our past, but sadly these are the people who are also living in the past themselves. It’s time to move up and move on and live the happy, abundant life we were meant to live. We need to stand still and let God heal us, anoint us, and affirm us. When we do that, the negative things that once controlled us will crumble and fall. Because God’s Word also says that no weapon formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17)!

Where we came from doesn’t matter in the sight of God. If we belong to Him, our past is forgotten. We need to forget it, too. Stop allowing others to remind us and keep us in the past. We need to stop looking where we came from and look where we’re going. Because where we’re going looks much better.


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