Monday, September 28, 2009

The Importance of Fellowship

Our Shield of Togetherness
by Steve Arterburn

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Alone we’re vulnerable to temptation. Together, however, we form a shield of protection for one another. God wants you and I to grow spiritually in a network of mutual commitment and accountability, where we help each other to think and live in new ways.

The apostle Paul wrote, “In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan” (Ephesians 6:16). The shield of faith was likened to the shields carried by Ro­man soldiers, which were able to cover the entire body.To advance in battle, a group of soldiers would assemble together, making a wall of shields for protection as they moved forward.

Similarly, we’re told to stick together. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other” (Hebrews 10:25). Our encourage­ment of one another and our shared faith in God and his Word will serve as the shield we need to persevere in tough times.

Who is standing beside you in the everyday battles of your life? Are you alone on the field or do you have trusted friends on each side? If you’re alone, how is that working out for you? Who has God called you to stand beside?

“If I have seen farther than other men, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” - Isaac Newton (1642-1727)


I've been doing a lot of reading the past week regarding the consequences of growing up in dysfunction. I've always hated people that whined about their childhood issues; I've always thought that it was always just an excuse to not move on and be an adult.

What I'm beginning to realize is that there's a vast difference between acknowledging a problem + getting help and acknowledging a problem and wallowing in it.

I'm still struggling with my actions since I was 13. I'm beginning to see patterns I never really knew existed. And I'm trying desperately to change it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

so what does it really mean, to surrender?

Last Sunday, I happened to read my daily Oswald Chambers book: "My Utmost for His Highest" and stumbled upon the following gem:

"True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will. Yet God never forces a person’s will into surrender, and He never begs. He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him. And once that battle has been fought, it never needs to be fought again.

Surrender for Deliverance. "Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest" ( Matthew 11:28 ). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— "Come to Me." And it is a voluntary coming.

Surrender for Devotion. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself . . . " (Matthew 16:24). The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, with His rest at the heart of my being. He says, "If you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself to Me." And once this is done, the remainder of your life will exhibit nothing but the evidence of this surrender, and you never need to be concerned again with what the future may hold for you. Whatever your circumstances may be, Jesus is totally sufficient (see 2 Corinthians 12:9 and (Philippians 4:19).

Surrender for Death. ". . . another will gird you . . ." (John 21:18 ; also see John21:19 ). Have you learned what it means to be girded for death? Beware of some surrender that you make to God in an ecstatic moment in your life, because you are apt to take it back again. True surrender is a matter of being "united together [with Jesus] in the likeness of His death" ( Romans 6:5 ) until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him.

And after you surrender— then what? Your entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God."

So what then, does surrender really look like? I've thought in the past that I'd truly surrendered. And in fact, in looking back a year ago, I'd thought that I'd surrendered then, too. But given the events of the past two and a half years, I'm beginning to realize that while I may have thought that I'd surrendered... I really never did. Not wholey, not completely. But now, now I'm beginning to realize that it is time. It is fully time, and it is fully God's Will that this should happen. I am beginning to realize how desperately He craves me. And that is an amazing thing to know, and to finally begin believing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two thought-provoking posts from Margaret Mitchell

Week of September 20, 2009

“Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, My faithful love promised to David.” Isaiah 55:3

Good news brings life. And God longs for us to receive His good news. There is so much that He wants to give us. But are we willing to listen? Do we hearken when He speaks to our hearts to sit with Him and partake of the life He offers?

Relationship demands intimacy and priority. If we are not spending the time with God that He longs to have with us, we are robbing the Kingdom and robbing those He has called us to serve because we cannot give out that which we do not have. We will end up giving and receiving our meager portion, not God’s greater serving.

In my years of working as a flight attendant, I learned how to function safely in a cabin decompression. I was taught to first don an oxygen mask and then assist others, just like in the airplane safety videos. The reason for helping myself first is because, in a serious decompression at high altitudes, I may only have seconds to function before loosing consciousness. If I did not breathe in the oxygen supplied from the source above my head, I would not have the ability to help anyone else because life would begin to drain out of me.

This life-sustaining priority is often the opposite of how we think in the world or how we think as women in caring for others. Too often, we serve everyone else and accept the little bit of time and energy that remains. Sometimes, we even give God the leftovers. We think we’re being unselfish by putting the needs of others before our own, but the truth is that we’re putting people and daily responsibilities before God. We end up running on empty because we’re not taking the time to sit and sup with the Lord.

Interestingly enough, in an aircraft decompression, the time between a person’s full ability to function and their inability to function is called the “time of useful consciousness.” This raises the question, “How useful are we?” Are we filled up with the richness of His presence, or are we depleted? It may help to be reminded that our lives were bought with a price. Therefore, this resource of time God gave us is not our own. It may also help to remember that Christ did only what The Father called Him to do. What things are we doing that God didn’t call us to do? What tasks are draining life out of us?

Isaiah 55:2 asks, “Why spend money [resources] on what is not bread [life], and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

God’s first and greatest commandment is to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mk. 12:30). “All” does not mean a meager portion. And His second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk. 12:31).

Are we honoring God’s priorities by partaking of the bread of life (Him) first so that we can give a rich love to others? Or do we need to spend more time at His table?

The key is a shift in priorities. God is waiting to help. May we spend some of the time He graciously gives us to examine our hearts so that we can give life to others.

Week of September 20

"He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob." ~ Psalm 24:4-6

Have you ever experienced injustice in the workplace? Perhaps politics played a role. Maybe you were betrayed in some way, condemned even by those with whom you shared confidences. Did others gossip about you. What did you do?

Did you keep walking in upright obedience to God? Or did you fall for the bait and react in carnal ways? Perhaps you've done both intermittently. None of us perfectly process circumstances all the time.

Although we may feel like we're stumbling through daily circumstances, groping at God to relieve the pain, there is hope. If we choose honest repentance, there will come a time when God will set things right. When we have been tested sufficiently, fired for purity's sake, and God has allowed the flames to have their complete work in us, He will move on our behalf. Isaiah 49:8 says, "In the time of My favor I will answer you . . ."

Repentance leads to redemption. And although we may feel we've been wronged and it's the other gal's fault, it's important to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to us what part, if any, we had in the issue.

I know of a married couple who discipline their children by having them sit on a "repentance bench" until they repent for their part in disputes. As they sit side by side, they are not allowed to blame each other. When they repent, they are relieved to resume their day.

How often do we assume the victim role and blame others? Even if we did not instigate the event, God may be using unpleasant circumstances or behavior of others as a vice-like instrument to force issues within us to come to the surface for the purpose of inviting us to overcome the limitation. He may be readying us for promotion by preparing us. When things don't bother us anymore, they can't bind us, and we are free to move on.

No circumstance or person is too relentless for God's intervention. If people do not hearken to God's directives, He has been known to release His judgment upon them. But we must be in right standing. Our freewill choice will determine a lot.

In God's time, He will deliver us from gossip to greatness, from misery to majesty, from devour to divine, from persecution to peace, from invasion to intimacy, from division to revision, from feuding to favor, from condemnation to compassion, from crushed to comforted, from fear to faith, from holes to wholeness, from blockage to boldness, from hatred to harmony, from sin to sweetness, from false accusations to freedom, from strongholds to life, from strangleholds to new opportunities and adventures. The chains come off, and we are restored and vindicated.

Our decision to humble ourselves and honestly repent of our part in the journey will break the division and strangleholds in our work lives and beyond. Though we cannot control another person, God will fight our battle on our behalf, and we will come through victorious. We will be vindicated. We will be honored, even publicly. What has been out of priority will be put into place. Our garden of safety and security will be restored. And we will finish the race well.

Are you ready to be vindicated? Spend some intimate time with the Lord and honestly repent each time He reveals your part in a situation. In the time of God's favor, you will see the fruit of blessing in your life. And you will walk in the freedom of victory again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Self-Awareness = Self Realization = Self Love = Accepting God's Love

Last night was a particularly painful experience. Met with two women from church who are so filled with Grace I cannot even begin to explain it.

Praying to the Lord and asking for direction, asking for protection, renouncing b.s...... it came out that one of the ladies had a picture of Jesus, at my feet, washing me in His love, His acceptance, His wanting of me, as I am, broken and unhealthy.

The thought of Jesus sitting at my feet, holding my hands, washing my feet and giving me all of His love is too much for me to handle. All I could hear in my brain was "Why would He do that?" Over, and over, and over again.

Stark terror, in all honesty. That's my position, at the feet, washing feet and giving comfort. I'm not one to easily accept someone at MY feet, offering comfort. It feels..... wrong. So wrong.

I'm the one that accepts others, I am the one that gives of myself so much that there's nothing left, in the end, except a little kernel, that slowly grows in the absence of giving, to be given away again.

I never realized how lonely I really was, in the end... that when someone actually talked to me about the things I care so much about, I fell right into the self-destructive nature of a non-relationship-relationship again. How did I do that? Really? So many others I'd been able to rebuff, strong inside, secure in the knowledge that I was doing the correct thing, that their path was not mine, nor ours, together. No second thoughts.

I realized I'm no different than father, somehow. I've always believed he had white-knight syndrome... I guess somehow I do, too?

How is it that I honestly believe that if you throw enough love at something, or someone, eventually it will all even out in the end, and they/it/whatever will work out and be healed? That if you never give up, you're not letting them down? That you should NEVER give up, no matter what?

Where is the demarcation line between faith, and idiocy? Hope, and self-destruction?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Isaiah 55 - NIV

Isaiah 55

Invitation to the Thirsty
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.

2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.

3 Give ear and come to me;
hear me, that your soul may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.

4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of the peoples.

5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations that do not know you will hasten to you,
because of the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor."

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.

7 Let the wicked forsake his way
and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.

13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD's renown,
for an everlasting sign,
which will not be destroyed."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Using God as your Life Inspiration....

Today, I am full of hope and joy and grace-filled love.

I'm okay today, actually. It's kind of funny, but I had my itunes on random repeat last night, and somehow it popped onto a song I haven't ever heard... ever. And I was reading a book, and the lyrics caught my hind brain and I sat up straight and paid attention. It was great. I'll put the song/lyrics at the bottom of this so if you're interested, you can hear it...

Also, went to dinner with my friend last night and that was great. I was able to tell her that God always had her back, no matter what, even when she didn't feel like He did. I've been working on her for the past two months... and she's been going through some really rough times at work, a lot of uncertainty and a LOT of fear. So much fear, that she's jumpy over the slightest things, like she expects to be attacked at any moment. I've only seen this level of fear in abused children before... never in a woman who is ** and had an honestly good life, no abuse, etc... Anyways, God is moving, and it's very readily apparent in the lives of those around me, including my own!

Also, I had a pretty intense dream this morning that woke me up with this overwhelming feeling of... "you know what you think of doing is wrong, and you cannot do it if you ever have any hope of being an accountable Christian walking a True Walk with Christ who loves you more than ANYTHING." Basically the dream was all about a serious temptation in my life that I've turned away from deliberately for the last four years... and I think Satan has been whispering his sweet seductive nothings in my ear for the past two to three weeks...

Well, God spoke to me, and definitely laid it all out there in black and white. And I am grateful. And, it's not condemnation in any sort... it was a simple message and it made a world of difference.

In other news... my ridiculously-giant heritage beefsteak tomato is throwing some beautiful fist-sized tomatoes that are finally turning red... I'm so dang excited!

And, my cherry tomatoes, "Sweet 100s" are producing well!

The song is titled, "Better Things" and it is by a group called Massive Attack.

Don't drag me down
Just because you're down
And just cause you're blue
Don't make me too
And though you've found
You need more than me
Don't talk to me
About being free

That's freedom w...ithout love
And magic without love
Magic without love

Hear me say
Better things will surely come our way
Hear me say
Better things will surely come our way

You say the magic's gone
Well i'm not a magician
You say the spark's gone
Well get an electrician
And save your line about needing to be free
All that's bullshit babe
You just want rid of me

You want freedom without love
And magic without love
Magic without love

Hear me say
Better things will surely come my way
Hear me say
Better things will surely come my way