Whispers…

Pay attention, because he lies.
And he is so very good at it, too!
This arch enemy of the Living God knows you will recognize a full frontal attack so he rarely comes at you that way.
Instead, he wiggles in sideways
And he doesn’t (usually) yell.
He whispers.
He hisses, “You will never measure up.”
“You are always so stupid.”
“They don’t really like you, you know.”
Or something similar. Something designed just for you. To stop you in your tracks.

Usually the message he whispers was originally given to you at some point by another human.
Someone who should have loved you well but did not.
Or someone who did not love you at all but should have.
The enemy takes those words and plays them back on a loop, softly, repeatedly, intentionally.
Often, he whispers so frequently and so well that you don’t even realize it is there.
The message becomes the background music of your life, the almost-hidden, underlying soundtrack of your thoughts.
It is there – but you barely are aware of it.

But every time you get poked by life, the volume increases and it is the message you hear.
Every time a sensitive area is jostled, this whisper comes with the pain.
And the message becomes one you deeply believe, without even realizing it.
It defines how you deal with relationships.
And how you deal with yourself.
Until at last you shut down your heart – or at least that part – and become trapped in his web of lies.

Until one day, something changes.
One day, a different Voice speaks above the soundtrack.
The Voice of Truth.
Sometimes He shouts.
And sometimes He, too, whispers.
Sometimes He uses a friend who is willing to ask the hard questions.
And sometimes He uses a book.
Or a sermon.
A passage of Scripture.
A song.
Or all of those.

When the Voice of Truth speaks, the enemy has to flee.
Light suddenly shines in what has become a dark and dreadful corner of your heart.
And you recognize the lie for what it is.
You wonder how you never saw it before.
And you rejoice at the freedom that washes over your heart as the Holy Spirit proclaims Truth.

But beware! The enemy will try again.
Yep, with that very same lie.
Or perhaps a slightly different version.
After all, Jesus said that our enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy.”
And Peter calls him “a roaring lion, seeking who he will devour.”

So what do you do when he comes crawling back around to whisper some more?
You speak Truth to him.
You take that thought captive, wrestling it to the ground and kicking it out of your head and heart.
And then you replace the lie with the Truth of God’s Word.
Every. Single. Time.

So when he says, “You will never measure up”, you say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. I have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead at work in me. And I may not be able to measure up, but my God always comes through. His grace is sufficient because His power is made perfect in my weakness. So I will press on, forgetting what is behind and striving for what is ahead.”

When he says, “You are always so stupid”, you say, “I am a glorious creation of the Living God, bought and paid for by the precious blood of Christ. I may not know everything there is to know, but I know the God who does know, who has promised to be my help in time of need, every time. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness.”

When he says, “They don’t really like you, you know”, you say, “Love chooses to believe the best. I don’t know if they like me or not, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I am called to love them with the love of God. So I will choose to love, choose to believe the best and choose to remember that I am a beloved child of God, regardless of what anyone else thinks of me.”

Do you know what happens when you replace the whispers of the enemy with the Truth of the Word?
He has to flee.
Every time.
He has to go.
Will he try again?
Oh, yes.
Anything to shut you down and keep you from being Kingdom-effective.

But does he win in the end?
Absolutely not.
His fate was sealed the day that Jesus broke the power of death and hell by walking out of the empty tomb. And he can mess with you now only as much as you allow him to play in your thoughts.

Here is how Paul describes your mind and this battle for you as a Christ-follower:
“For though we walk in the flesh [as mortal men], we are not carrying on our [spiritual] warfare according to the flesh and using the weapons of man. The weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood]. Our weapons are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, AMP)

Those “sophisticated arguments” and “exalted and proud thinking” may come from some outside sources. But often they are simply the internal messages, the whispers, the lies that replay themselves in your mind on repeat.

But here’s the Truth:
That message doesn’t have to be there.
Take it captive.
And take it to the cross.
Leave it there at the feet of Jesus.
And watch the enemy flee in fear.

Repeat that procedure as often as necessary.
Give yourself a tangible reminder if you need to.
Something you can see.
Or something you can touch.
Something that reminds you of Truth so that you can replace the lies one more time.
And the time after that.

Because this only works if you replace the whispers of the enemy with the Truth of God’s Word.
And you will only know the Truth if you get into His Word.
Reading the Bible
Studying it.
Memorizing it.
Meditating on it.
Listening to godly speakers.
Being in friendships where “iron sharpens iron”.
Asking the Holy Spirit to open your mind and heart to the Word of God.
Replacing the whispers of the enemy with the Voice of Love, the Voice of Truth, the Voice of the One who died to set you free.

So that you will, indeed, know the Truth – and the Truth will set you free.

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On Learning (Spanish)…

I am attempting to learn Spanish.
And I must admit, it is slow going.
I have great resources at my disposal – a couple of good apps, some workbooks, flashcards, podcasts and other tools.
But the problem is my brain.
It resists learning the new – and it keeps mixing in the old.
Because 20 years ago, I learned a little Japanese.
So that pathway in my brain is firmly established.
And when I go to think in Spanish, often Japanese jumps out instead.

Now, there are some things about Spanish that I find to be easy.
Lots and lots of words come from Latin roots that I recognize.
Change a few letters, use the proper pronunciation, and they make sense.
But then there are other words.
Like the word for “lunch”. Almuerzo. How in the world is that “lunch”? I am sure there is a great explanation – but all that matters to me is that I have a hard time remembering that one.
And don’t get me started on the accents, the “tildes”. One little mark changes the meaning of the word completely.
Not to mention the verbs. Oh, Spanish verbs! They are the bane of my existence!

I have found that one of the keys to success for me is my own faithfulness level.
You see, I tried to learn Spanish three years ago.
And I did great for about two months.
But then life got busy.
And it got harder.
And I got overwhelmed.
So when I sat down to hit “restart” a few months ago, very little of what I had learned then was still in my brain.
I am trying to do it differently this time.
I have made it a very intentional part of my morning routine. And then when I have a few minutes during the day I will practice with flash cards. Or do another short lesson on the app.
And because I have practiced more faithfully, it is getting easier. Things are sticking more.

Another thing I am doing differently this time is asking for help.
Using the resources I have.
Friends who are native speakers.
Some online dictionary sites.
I am even trying to get together periodically with others who are learning so that we can practice together.

And why am I so motivated this time around?
Relationships.
We have an ongoing partnership with a ministry in Guatemala.
The first time I tried to learn was right after the first trip there.
And I was motivated.
But in the last three years, as the partnership has developed, I am even more motivated.
I want to be able to actually talk to the people there that I love without using a translator for EVERTHING.
Will I still need a translator? Oh, yes, I am sure I will!
After all, it is a BIG language that I am trying to learn.
And I have a very finite brain.
But I want to do my part to make communication easier.
I want to be able to speak heart-to-heart with my friends there.
So I study.

But I will say this – I also get in my own way.
Pride stops me from using my Spanish in situations where I could easily take it out for a spin.
I panic and think, “I might say it wrong! I might offend! I might make a fool of myself!”
So I trot out English instead.
I know that the very best way to learn is to practice.
And I also know that I will fail along the way.
But my own self-interests, my own pride, my own fear of looking foolish are lousy excuses for not making connections.

————————————-

I am attempting to become more and more like Jesus, to be a disciple of the Lord.
And I must admit, it is slow going.
I have great resources at my disposal – the Word of God, some Bible studies, podcasts and other tools.
But the problem is my brain.
It resists learning the new – and it keeps mixing in the old.
Because 48 years ago, I was born a sinner.
So that pathway in my brain is firmly established.
And when I go to think like Jesus, often my sinful-self jumps out instead.

Now, there are some things about following Jesus that are easy.
Lots and lots of what He has called us to do just makes sense and sounds a lot like simply great advice.
Stop worrying, because it doesn’t change anything.
Pray about everything, because God is bigger than you and wants to hear from you.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
But then there are other things that He said.
Like the “Love your enemies”.
And “Forgive no matter what.”
And “Not only treat people as you want to be treated – take it a step further and treat them the way God has treated you.”
Loving the unlovely.
Forgiving the unforgivable.
Seeing myself as God sees me and acting accordingly.
Seeking first His kingdom.

I have found that one of the keys to success for me is my own faithfulness level.
You see, I have claimed the name “Christ-follower” for 44 of my 48 years.
But it wasn’t until my early 30’s that I actually became committed to a daily time with Him.
Because life was busy. I had too much to do to take the time to pray about everything. To soak in His Word. To read great authors who loved Him and had great things to say.
Life was hard and so I didn’t make the time to spend with Him.
And I got overwhelmed.
And when I was living that way, I had to dredge up the strength to live for Him out of old resources.
Sunday School lessons from childhood.
Sermons on Sundays.
Verses I had learned as a kid.
But they weren’t fresh each day. They weren’t “new morning mercies”. They weren’t fresh food.
Because I wasn’t taking the time to feast with Him each day.
And it made life so much harder than it had to be.
But for the past 15 years or so, I have made time with Him a very intentional part of my morning routine. And I have learned to make prayer like breathing through my day. If you are someone I love and you come to mind in the course of the day, I pray for you. Just a sentence or two – and then I move on. Before a meeting, when the phone rings, as I am working on a project, I chat with God. Sometimes asking for help, other times simply being thankful.
And because I have practiced more faithfully, it is getting easier. Things are sticking more. I am not living on stale bread and tepid water. Instead, my life flows out of His life, the Living Bread and Living Water that came down from heaven. Not because I am wonderful – but because He is.

Another thing I am learning to do differently over time is asking for help.
Using the resources I have.
I have the greatest Native Speaker of Truth living inside of me – the Holy Spirit of the Living God.
And He is more than willing to give me all that I need to live for Him.
I just need to ask.
To stop and listen.
To remember He is there and to seek His help.
I am also learning to use the other resources I have with more regularity.
And I make a point of getting together with others who love Him so that we can encourage each other, pray for each other, and lift each other up.

And why am I so motivated?
Relationships. First with Him. And then with those He loves.
The more I understand about the incredible grace of God, the more I want to be like Him.
The more I comprehend just how loved I am – just as I am – the more it motivates me to grow as His kid.
The more I see Him at work in my life and the lives of those I love, the more I want to be on the same page with Him, accomplishing His purposes in my world.
And because I am more in tune with His heart for me, I am also more in tune with His heart for the world.
I want to be able to reach those who don’t have this hope that I have found.
I want those who know Him to know Him even more.
I want to encourage and equip as I have been encouraged and equipped.
I have seen the difference my intentionality has made in my walk with Him.
And I want you to have that, too.

Will I still need a translator His help? Oh, yes, I am sure I will!
After all, it is a life-long journey to become more like Him.
And I have a very finite brain.
But I want to do my part to make communication easier.
I want to be able to speak heart-to-heart with Him even more perpetually.
I want Him to call me “a woman after My own heart”.
And I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when I see Him face to face.
Not to earn His love.
I already have that by His choice alone.
But because I am deeply loved, I want to live like it.
So I study.

But I will say this – I also get in my own way.
Pride stops me from sharing His love with others.
I panic and think, “I might say it wrong! I might offend! I might make a fool of myself!”
So I stay silent when I should speak.
Or I trot out platitudes instead.
Or I shut down.
I know that the very best way to learn is to practice.
And I also know that I will fail along the way.
But my own self-interests, my own pride, my own fear of looking foolish are lousy excuses for not sharing the Love of my life with the world.
The Hope I have found.
And the Rescue from an eternity in hell.


Learning Spanish is important to me.
But learning to be like Jesus is critical.
For me.
But also for you.

He is worth the investment, I promise.
He longs to spend time with you – but the choice is yours.

Bread

The first person I met was a man huddled by the side of my path.  He was moaning, clutching his stomach, and crying.  He looked up at me in agony and stretched out his hand.  “I am starving,” he said.  I have tried to fill myself with this,” as he motioned to the dirt and grass at his feet.  “But nothing satisfies.  Do you have bread for me?”

I told him that I had bread but that I could not share it.  It was, after all, mine. And what leftovers I had should go to people who look like me, live like me, are nearer to me.  And I walked on.

The next man I met was also sitting at the side of the road.  Beside him was a plate with moldy crust of bread.  As I came upon him, he picked it up and took a bite.  He looked at me and said, “I found this crust and it begins to satisfy my hunger.  But I long for more.  Do you have some that you can share with me?”

Again, I gave him the same response.  Yes, I have bread.  And yes, I know where more can be found.  But I must save it for the people I know, the people near me.  After all, they have problems, too.  And I walked on.

The third man I came to had a plate full of bread beside him.  It was fresh and hot and ready to be eaten.  But both of his hands were twisted, crippled and bent.  He had no way to get the bread to his mouth.  He cried out to me, “Can you help feed me?  I have bread – but I cannot consume it because the needs of my body are too great.  Can you help?”

I gently told him no, that there were others in greater need, that he at least had bread, and therefore I did not have to be concerned for him.

And finally, I came to my own land, to my home.  Everywhere I looked there were piles and piles and piles of bread in all shapes and sizes.  Everywhere I walked, I could easily find bread.  Now, not everyone was eating it – but it was available.  So available.  At their fingertips.  Some were heartily eating.  Others pretended it wasn’t there.  Some were angry that there was such an abundance because they didn’t really want bread.  And still others just passively ignored it.  Everywhere I looked, there were bread hawkers as well, shouting about their wares.  “Fresh, hot bread!  Come and get your fresh, hot bread!”  So. Much. Bread.

And I was happy to be back in the land of abundance.  The land where bread is plentiful.  Where it is free to have it and free to eat it.  And the place where I could forget the look in the eyes of those that I met.  After all, they were not my concern.  There were many people around me not accessing the bread they have.  They are my main concern, right?

And then, just as I was happily contemplating my lack of responsibility, I was stopped by a hand on my shoulder.  I turned and looked into the eyes of the One Who is the Bread of Heaven.  His face was sad, His eyes filled with tears.

“Why, My child, do you hoard what you have been given?  Freely I gave – freely you must give.”

“But Lord, I do give!  Why, look at all this bread we have!  I am sharing it with anyone here who wants it.”

And He replied, “For God so loved the world.  Not your world. THE world. The WHOLE world.  He so loved the world that He gave Me, the Bread of Life.  Stop hoarding what you have; start freely giving the Living Bread to every man.  Look beyond the people who share your soil, those who are like you.  There are millions who are starving to death, dying without knowing Me.  To whom much is given – that is you – much will be required.”

——

There are approximately 200 language groups in Papua New Guinea alone who have never heard the gospel.  They are isolated tribes whose language has never been written down.  They are hungry and in their hunger, they try to fill the “God-shaped vacuum” in them with witchcraft.  Curses.  Talismans.  And futility. And that is just one country.

There millions more in the world who have pieces of the Word of God, partial understanding, but limited access.  They live in countries where it is illegal to own a Bible or to go to a church that is not government sanctioned.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in these places are daily in danger of dying for their faith and yet have little to no access to the encouragement of the Word of God.

And then there are millions more who do have the Word because it has been translated into their heart language.  They have missionaries in their countries.  But those missionaries cannot stay because of a lack of support.  Or those people cannot hear because their physical needs are so great that the spiritual needs take a back seat.

And then there is us.  The U.S.

We are saturated with “bread”.  Gideon Bibles in every hotel room.  Christian radio stations across the land.  Christian television programs.  Bibles in more translations that I can list here, in free apps and on the web, in book form and audio resources.  CDs. Podcasts. DVDs.  Churches in every town.  Often, MANY churches in every town.  Awana.  Upwords.  Vacation Bible School.  Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  And so many more great organizations.  We are drowning in “bread”.

And yet we hoard what we have.  We say, “We have problems of our own.  We have to reach our ___.”  We fill in the blank with our own pet project or people group or area.  And YES, we are called to share the gospel wherever our feet find us.  Those things I listed above are good things.  But we are in such danger.

We have been given MUCH.  The wealth we have comes in every form.  Spiritual wealth. Physical wealth. Freedom to worship.  Freedom to share our faith.  Freedom to choose not to do so.  We are stinking rich!  Even the poorest among us are rich compared to the rest of the world.  And we will be held accountable.

Because Jesus did not tell the disciples, “OK, guys, stay here in Jerusalem.  There are tons of problems here.  Lots of people here don’t believe in Me.  So hang tight, and I’ll take care of the rest of the world.  After all, they aren’t your problem.”

Nope.  He said, “GO into ALL the world and make disciples.  Teach them what I have taught you.  Baptize them in my name and the name of the Father and the Holy Spirit.  I’ll go with you, I promise.  And yes, start in your hometown (Jerusalem) but then go out a little farther to the region (Judea).  Then go to the people who are NOT like you (Samaria) and finally to the uttermost parts of the earth.” (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, Kathy-phrased)

None of that was a suggestion, by the way. It is a command.

And there is no “or” in the command.  It is not “Jerusalem OR Judea OR Samaria OR the uttermost”.  It is AND.  The Body of Christ is commanded to cover all of those bases.  Not just our own.  Not just the people who look like me.  Or sound like me.  Or live near me.  Reach them, yes.  But then reach farther to the rest of the world.

So what can you do?

First, educate yourself.  Take a trip to a place that is off the tourist routes and outside US soil.  Look and allow yourself to see how the rest of the world actually lives.  Talk to a missionary.  Don’t know any?  I can introduce you to a few.  Listen to their heart.  Feel their passion.  And ask them why they do what they do. Take a look at the groups at work around the world.  Discover what God is doing beyond our borders.

Next, pray.  Ask God what your part is in all of this.  Because you DO have a part if you are a Christ-follower.  I know your first assignment because we all share it: you are called to pray.  And  then you are either called to send someone in the name of Jesus or to go yourself.  Doing nothing is only an option if you want to be disobedient.

And then obey.  Whatever it is God is asking you to do, obey.

Because millions upon millions are starving for the bread you possess in abundance.  While you share it? Or will you hoard it?  The choice is yours.

But please, please remember: to whom much is given, much will be required.

 

Praying His Names…

One of my favorite things to do is to pray the names of God.

Sometimes I do it so I can shut off my brain in the wee hours of the morning.  Then it is usually an alphabetical list of both His names and His character traits.  On a really, really bad night I get all the way to Z.  (“God, You are zealous for me”) and have to start over. But usually I drift off somewhere among the G’s.  (“God, You are great, good, grand.  You are the Great I Am, You are full of grace and glory…”)

And sometimes I do it when I am afraid, frustrated or on the very edge of sanity.  Like when I am stuck in traffic.  Or becoming impatient while waiting in line. Or stuck in an airplane on a long flight.

But sometimes I do it just because He is worthy.

His Name is worth lifting high.

And He is worth every bit of praise I can bring.

If you have never prayed the names of God, I highly recommend it.  You may be wondering what I mean or what it looks like.  Here’s what it looked like in my journal the other day….

Living Water, flow through me today.  Bring healing waters to me – but then let them flow through me to touch those I love and those I should love. Make me a conduit.

Bread of Heaven, fill me today.  Satiate my hunger – but then let me share freely what You have given to me in the lives of those I meet today.

Lamb of God, thank You for Your sacrifice on my behalf.  May I live sacrificially on behalf of others.  All of the “others” You bring my way, regardless of how I feel about them.  About me.  Or about my circumstances.

Creator of All Things, thank You for the beauty of Your creation.  May I take what You have made and not hoard it or use it solely for my pleasure; instead, may I use all You have given me to bless those who You put in my world. And may my world be bigger than me, bigger than here.

Lover of My Soul, thank You for being passionate for me and about me.  May I take the knowledge that I am fully and completely loved and let it change how I interact with all the other humans You love.

Risen Lord, thank You that You are alive, active and on the move.  May I tap into the resurrection power that flows through me and allow You to change me from the inside, out. Have Your way in me – and in spite of me.

Lion of the Tribe of Judah, thank You that You are not a tame lion.  May I rest in the wildness of Who You are; may that give me the courage to live out Your fierce love today in the midst of the wilderness.

Commander of the Armies of Heaven, thank You that You fight on my behalf every day.  May I take up the armor You have given, as well as the sword of the Spirit, and use them effectively as we face Your enemy together.

Emmanuel, God with Me, thank You that You will never leave me or forsake me.  May I be as faithful and true as You are in all of my relationships, consistently shining for You and pointing to You in all I do and say.

Light of the World, thank You for piercing the darkness in me and in this world.  May I be the moon to Your Son, reflecting You in all I do and say today. May I never take credit for the Light that is in me.

Word of God, speak to my heart today however You choose, dividing even joint and marrow in me as needed.  May I be a faithful student of Your Word, as well as a faithful teacher, so that You can use me to touch the lives of others.

Holy One, thank You that You are perfect in all Your ways, right in all You do, completely set apart and lifted high.  May You continue to work in me, making every part of my life holy to You, taking me from glory to glory until the day we meet face to face.

God my Provider, thank You that You have supplied all of my needs and You will continue to do so.  May I live generously today as a conduit of Your goodness to those in need.  May I be Your hands and feet today.

God my Protector, thank You that You watch over me, knowing and delighting in every detail of my life.  May my ears be sensitive to Your direction, my heart quick to agree and my feet quick to obey, no matter how You lead.

Abba, thank You that You are my Daddy, the One who holds me close and whispers love in my ear.  May I live as a beloved daughter of the King of Kings, fully known and yet still fully loved and therefore able to fully love without fear.

Alpha and Omega of all things, thank You that You are the beginning and the end of me.  May I live this day as though it is my last on earth, loving as You love, serving as You serve, shining as You shine.  And if this is not my last day in this body, may I do the same again tomorrow.

God, take all that You are and use it in me, for me and in spite of me.

I am Yours and You are mine.

Be glorified today at my expense.

Amen

 

 

Creating God

God.
An old man in a rocking chair, sitting among the clouds.
Long, white beard flowing down his chest as he sleepily surveys the world.
Every once in a while, if someone yells loud enough in their prayers, He is spurred to action.
But most of the time he is just steadily rocking away, with very little concern about this world.
Or me.

God.
Frenetically busy with all of life, scurrying this way or that way.
Dealing with the “big stuff” of life.
Wars.
Natural disasters.
Political stuff.
But not really concerned about the details of my life.
After all, my stuff is small compared to all of that.

God.
Scrutinizing every detail of my life, just waiting for me to trip up.
Looking for all that I do wrong every day so that He can pounce on me.
Much like my cats stalk a bug, He is prowling, always there, always ready to squash me.
The eternal judge.
Always angry.
Always condemning.
Always holding scales in His hand, weighing my good against my bad.
And always shaking His head in disappointment when I don’t measure up.

God.
Powerful, but unconcerned.
The “watch maker” who set all this in motion but then walked away.
A big light somewhere, or a cosmic ball of energy, pulsing away somewhere out there.
Large.
But largely uninvolved.

Jesus.
A good man.
A prophet.
A great teacher.
Charismatic in personality.
But a wimp, really.
Always speaking softly.
Gently.
A true nice guy.
Able to do really cool miracles.
But mostly a squishy, soft, teddy-bear of a guy.

And the Holy Spirit.
Mysterious
Ethereal
Supposedly living in Christians
But pretty powerless to do much of anything.
Mostly a nice idea.
But not a change-maker.
There but not known.
Not heard.
Someone who gets lip-service.
But not really an important part of much of anything.

God the Three-in-One, created in my image.
By my imagination.
In a way that makes Him (mostly) safe.
Keeps Him from mucking with my life.
And helps me to deal with the ways I feel like He has failed me.

*****************

But then there is the God of the Bible.
The One Who has revealed Himself in the pages of Scripture.
The God Who IS – not the One I think He is.
Or even the One I want Him to be.

God the Father, seated on His throne.
Sovereign over all things.
With ultimate control of every circumstance.
ALL powerful.
ALL knowing.
Completely pure.
Holy.
Perfect in all His ways.
The One who “…who changes the times and the seasons” and “…removes kings and establishes kings.” (Daniel 2:21)
The One who makes “the king’s heart like channels of water” in His hand, turning it “whichever way He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1, AMP)
The One Who “delights in every detail of our lives”. (Psalm 37:23, NLT)
The One Who “daily carries us in His arms” (Psalm 68:19, NLT)
The One Who showed us His holiness in the giving of the Law, knowing we would break it.
And then also gave us His One and Only Son as the substitute for our punishment, knowing He did not want to live without us.

And that is just the beginning of Who the Bible says He is.

And then there is Jesus.
Fully God
Fully man.
Fiercely God.
And fiercely man.
Angered by sin and yet compassionate towards sinners.
At least those who recognized their need.
Scathing with the religious leaders who were misguiding the people and reveling in their own righteousness.
And yet gently dealing with those who acknowledged they were broken.
Children were drawn to Him.
While the self-righteous were repelled.

Confident in Who He was.
And what He was called to do.
Strong in body and in mind.
And yet open to dealing with the outcast. The disenfranchised. The rejected.
Completely humble.

Which does not mean completely weak.
It means that He held His unlimited power under His control.
Knowing that He spoke the world into existence and could speak his enemies right out of it, He harnessed that power and became a servant, even going so far to wash the feet of Judas, the one who would betray Him.
Unlimited strength, limited by self-control.

And one day soon, we will see Him as John saw Him: “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.” (Revelation 19)
In other words, we will see Him as He is.

And the Holy Spirit.
God Himself, living inside of every believer.
The Comforter, yes.
But also the Strong Guide.
The One Whose voice should never be ignored.
The power of God, indwelling every believer.
Sealing us for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 1:14)
Giving us everything we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead, living and working in you. (Romans 8:11)
And the Holy Spirit of God giving you the strength to live a new life in a new way, laying down the old sinful self and living full out for God. (Romans 8)

The Triune God.
Holy.
Good.
Perfect.
Strong.
Mighty to save.
Able.
Near.
Compassionate.
Merciful.
Fully hating all that is sinful.
Yet fully loving all who sin.
Completely righteous.
Completely just.
And yet ready to take all of His righteous wrath on Himself so that you do not have to bear it.
Completely Sovereign.
In control.
Not absent.
Never unaware.
Always at work for those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 64:4)
Always willing to fight for you. (Exodus 14:14)
Unchanging.
Consistent.
Faithful.
True.

Regardless of how you see Him.
Your perception of God is not His reality.
He is Who He has revealed Himself to be in His Word.
And when you catch a glimpse of that, get ready!
Knowing Him as He is will change your life.
Acknowledging the Truth of Who He says He is opens the door to amazing adventure.
A life that makes a difference.
A life transformed.

Who is your God? Who have you made Him to be?
I dare you to see Him as He is, as He shows Himself to be in His Word.
You’ll be glad you did.

On Driving…

I was fully equipped to successfully drive from point A to point B.
Full tank of gas? Check.
Fully operational GPS? Check.
Food and drinks? Check.
Reliable car? Check.
And even a paper road map to refer to if the GPS got confusing.
Ready to go!

And at first, the drive was awesome.
Sunshine.
Just-right temperatures.
Great music on the radio.
And even light traffic.
Awesome!

Until it wasn’t.
I could see storm clouds gathering in the distance.
And I really hoped that the road would curve away from them somewhere up ahead.
But it became obvious as I went that I was headed right for them.
And sure enough, the storm hit.
Or rather, I drove directly into the storm.
It was unavoidable on my route.
Dark, dark clouds.
Thunder.
Lightning.
Driving rain.
Even hail.
Really scary stuff.

Made it through that.
But then the night rolled in.
And there was no moon.
Cloudy skies.
And a pitch-black highway.
I couldn’t see light from anywhere.
No cars ahead.
None coming toward me.
Just my headlights trying to pierce the darkness.
And I got scared. Again.
The thoughts started swirling.
What if I get lost?
What if my car breaks down?
What if my GPS fails?
What if I can’t read the map?
What if the road curves and I can’t see it?
What if I crash into someone else?
What if a deer or something else jumps out in front of me?
What if…?
What if…?

So.
Here’s the thing: I just made all of that up.
Sort of.
That was a composite of many driving experiences through the years.
Darkness.
Fog.
Storms.
Icy conditions.
Curvy roads.
Other drivers’ foolishness.
I am sure you have experienced similar conditions.

I prefer sunny, perfect-conditions driving, don’t you?
Radio on.
Windows down.
Clear roads ahead.

But that is (usually) not life.

Life is full of the unexpected.
Sometimes I see the storms coming.
Other times they suddenly seem to come out of nowhere.
The fog can also show up without warning.
One minute the road ahead is clear.
The next it is covered in pea-soup clouds.
All of those hazards are out there.
And may suddenly appear in my life.

When they do, I grip the wheel with white-knuckles.
My stress levels soar.
And my faith plummets.

I completely forget.
I forget who I am.
A beloved daughter of the King of Heaven, a princess of the realm, adopted and cherished.

I forget Whose I am.
That my Daddy is Sovereign, Lord over all, in charge at all times and never, ever unaware of my circumstances.

I forget the equipment He has given me to navigate my life.
A full tank of gas that is continuously replenished from His own supply. Or, as Paul put it in Ephesians 1, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in me.
A fully-functioning, never-wrong, always-connected GPS also known as the Holy Spirit of the Living God dwelling inside of me. He will always guide, always comfort, always correct. I just have to ask.
A full supply of food and drink, always available from the Bread of Life Himself, the Living Water that always satisfies.
And even a paper road map, the Word of God. Always there to give direction. Always there to confirm the GPS, even as the GPS confirms it.

I forget that my Heavenly Dad is the One who started me on this road and asked me to head for this destination.

I forget that He is in charge of the wind and the waves – and fog and ice and thunder and lightning – Sovereign over all of my circumstances, with every event in my life, good or bad, happening only by His permission.

This terrible amnesia of the soul leads me to panic.
So that Fear grips the wheel and begins to make the decisions.
Pride slithers in and urges me to figure out a way out of the storm by myself.
Doubt climbs in the back seat and begins to whisper lies about God’s character in my ear.
“If He loved you, He wouldn’t allow the storms.”
“He’s playing with you. He must not be as good as He says He is.”
“Some plans He has for you, huh? Is this really where you want to be?”

And sometimes I let them play in my car – in my head and my heart – for far too long.
Be inevitably, without fail, my Dad shows up at just the right time.
With His strong right arm He kicks them all to the curb.
And then He takes me in His arms and reminds me of Truth.
That I am His.
And He is mine.
That He has never once failed.
And that He never will.
That He sacrificed His one and only Son in my place.
So that He can come and hold me close.
And get me back on the road.
Even as the storm rages.

And I hope that the next time the fog rolls in or the rain lashes down, I remember sooner Who He is.
And all He has done.
I remember to use the resources He has given me: Himself. His Word. And even other drivers.
That instead of cowering, I courageously praise.
Instead of trembling in fear of the storm, I tremble in awe of Who He is.
Instead of Pride, Fear and Doubt taking over, I humble myself before Him, seeking His help and fully trusting Him to keep His promises.

That way, regardless of the weather, I can safely accomplish all that He has asked me to do.
Remembering it is all His to begin with.
His car.
His driver.
His equipment.
His agenda.

Remembering that this is the only sane way to survive this life.
And the best way to drive through it all.

Weary.

Are you weary?
I know I am.

2018 has been a hard, hard year in my life in so many ways.
Struggles
Trials
Unexpected circumstances.
And the ongoing issues that never seem to go away.
Prayers that seem to be unanswered.
Needs that feel like Black Holes in the Universe, draining away every resource.
Infighting.
Out-fighting.
And the war within myself against sin, a bad attitude, complaining, worry, temptation – the list is long.
And I am tired of fighting.
Worn out by the never-ending struggles.

I am exhausted.

I went into my time with God this morning feeling the weight of all of this.
So very, very tired.
Physically
Emotionally
Spiritually

But then He showed up.
And He reminded me that is not my job to fix even one issue in my life, let alone all of them.

I am weary because of the struggles.
But more so, I am weary because I keep trying to fix them.
Be all that I need to be.
Do all that I need to do.
Change all that needs to be changed.

Like it all depends on me.
Which it never does.

Like this all must get fixed through my efforts.
Which is never my job.
It is His.

My job is to abide.
Stay connected to Him.
Walk in close fellowship.
Treat prayer as breathing – inhaling and exhaling my needs but also my thankfulness.
Hanging out with Him.
Inviting Him into every area.
Every thought.
Every circumstance.
Finding out what He thinks by staying in His Word.
Filling my life with the people, books, music, and media that exalt Him.
Walking arm in arm with my Savior
Being led by His Spirit and not my own wisdom.
Trusting Him with ALL of my heart and never – not even once – leaning on my own understanding.
Acknowledging Him in everything I do. And say. And think.
Resting in the promise that HE is the guide.
The Good Shepherd
The Light
My Shield
My Fortress
My Strong Tower
My Deliverer

And that HE will be the One to guide me in the best pathways for my life.
Clearing obstacles.
Giving me the strength for my day.
Giving me wisdom when I ask for it.
Protecting me.
Comforting me.
Cherishing me as His beloved daughter.
Delighting in me simply because I am His.
And He is mine.

What have I done to deserve such lavish love?
Nothing.
All of my righteousness, all the good I bring to the table, is nothing by disgusting, vile, filthiness compared to the goodness and Who He is.
And yet, He still wants me.
He wants to spend time with me.
He wants to speak to me through His Word.
By His Spirit.
Through the voice of brothers and sisters in Christ.
Through music.
Through the wonder of His creation.

I am weary.
But He never is.
I am weak.
But He is not.
I am blind in so many ways.
He sight is perfect.
I am helpless in the face of the messes, the problems, the circumstances.
But He is all powerful.
I am clueless about so many things.
But He is all knowing.
I regret the past and fear the future.
But He is the Alpha and Omega of all things, the beginning and the end. Neither of my past or my future are surprises to Him.
I fail so often. Him. Others. Myself.
And yet His mercies are new every single morning. There is always grace, always forgiveness, always a fresh start.

The world says, “God helps those who help themselves.”
He says, “Humble yourself before Me. Acknowledge that I am God and you are not. Then throw all of your cares, concerns, and struggles on Me. Because I love you. And then watch what I will do.” (I Peter 5)

The world says, “Fight for what you believe in!”
He says, “Let Me fight for you. Through you. With My armor on and My Spirit in you, you cannot be defeated.” (Exodus 14, Ephesians 6)

The world says, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
He says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing. In Me, you can do all things.” (John 15, Philippians 4)

Are you weary, too?
Let me encourage you to lay it ALL down.
Run to God.
Pour it all out.
Be brutally honest.
He can take it.
And then throw yourself into His everlasting arms.
You don’t have to do it alone.
You don’t have to do the work, period.

You have to be available.
Willing.
Surrendered.

And then you have to abide.
Reading the Word.
Praying.
Praising.

But none of the issues – problems, trials, temptations – rest on your shoulders to solve.

And letting go of them – that is where real rest is found.
In the arms of the One Who died for You.
In the embrace of the One who spoke through Isaiah, saying,
“He (God) gives strength to the weary,
And to him who has no might He increases power.
Even youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him]
Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun];
They will run and not become weary,
They will walk and not grow tired.” (Isaiah 40:29-31, Amplified)

May you run to the One Who promises to renew your strength.
May you find new rest, renewed energy and unending endurance by letting go.
And may you be able to keep running, keep walking, keep being faithful.

It’s worth it.
Because He is worth it.