Category: Random Thoughts (Page 1 of 6)

Not the Circumstances

Sometimes You sleep when the wind and waves crash over me.
I wonder in my unbelief if I will be overwhelmed,
Because I am staring at the fury instead of at Your face.
Yet, I know in my heart of hearts that I can trust You.
It is only when I forget that I falter…
But I no longer know You according to the flesh,
Or the ways the world thinks,
Now, I know You in the Spirit—
The God who commanded light to shine in darkness,
Shines in my heart till my inner night is conquered.
…If only I could remember to gaze at You, and
Find rest in my own little boat beside You.
It is Your posture, Lord, that governs the outcome,
Not the circumstances in which I find myself.

Sweet Sleep

Sweet sleep come greet me soon
Before my mind wanders overmuch.
Let the still night hours wrap my thoughts
Till peace and quiet reign again, and
My body finds comfort in my familiar bed.
Let the angels fill my dreams with more…
More You, Lord… more grace, Father…
More rest, Holy Spirit, in Your habitations with me.

New Life!

The seeds of discontent go deep inside me.
I am restless, unsatisfied and no circumstance matters.
The status quo has grown old and stale, and
I am so, so weary of the same traditions
Regurgitated in far too many different ways
So they are palatable to the masses.
New life should be new LIFE!!!
We’ve spent our whole Christian lives
Trying to put on practices,
Trying to keep sets of rules,
Trying to look different,
When a moral agnostic looks exactly the same as we do.
The only difference is where we gather—
Churches with programs instead of
Informal parties and motivational meetings.

If God gives me new life, and His word says He does…
If His word says I am seated with Christ in heavenly places, and it does…
Shouldn’t I be able to operate freely
From a heavenly position…RIGHT NOW??
So, if I see with the eyes of my heart,
Speak with voice of my soul,
I can meet with Christ face to face in the Spirit,
Because the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead
Dwells in me.
I am justified, sanctified, made whole by Christ’s blood.
Sure, my body is a long way from perfection, but
My spirit is made perfect in Him.
The Holy Spirit knows the heart of Abba God,
Helps us commune beyond the words of this limited physical existence.

Holy Spirit living water flows from inside us.
We toss that phrase “living water” around like nothing, but
Have we ever stopped to contemplate the aliveness of the Water?
Our God is a consuming fire!
It follows that the Fire is as alive as the Water.
They have voice, thought, God-inspired functions in us.
Water cleanses.
Fire purifies.
They both speak the holiness of Almighty God!
They both imbue us with aliveness beyond typical human thought,
Until the Life flows out of us to the world around us.

Jesus healed the sick, the blind, the lame,
Delivered the oppressed, raised the dead…
We can do this, too, but
We have so little faith in anything
We can’t accomplish by natural means.
If Jesus said we could move mountains,
Maybe we should have a conversation with the mountain,
Just like Jesus did with that storm on the Sea of Galilee, or
The fig tree that didn’t have any fruit on it.

I want to see beyond the mortal, fallen world around me
To the truth of the unseen, eternal realm within everything.
I don’t want to listen to the people who say
It can’t be done because it’s “super”-natural, or
Because it’s not part of the traditions
We’ve adhered to for the last two millennia.
There’s more than just saying a prayer,
Writing in a journal, attending a service,
Reading what’s written…

The first century believers didn’t
Have New Testament scriptures when they started out.
They relied on the Holy Spirit,
Read the Old Testament, had common union,
Shared their wealth,
While people like Peter, Stephen, Paul, and John
Had actual conversations with Jesus and angels…
AFTER the ascension…
Saw into the heavenly realms in their day.
John said he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”
As if everyone knew what he was talking about already.

Jesus told us that if we believe,
We could “come in and go out.”
That, my friend, isn’t a pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by proposition.
That is a NOW experience…
So what are we waiting for?
We already have the invitation, and
I am so tired of acceptance based on traditional behavior
Instead of grace and love in operation.
I’m not talking about negating scripture.
I am talking about moving
Into the next phase of our spiritual journey.

No Substitute for Time

In the process of preparation, there is no substitute for time. This is true, whether you are preparing a meal, preparing for a journey, or preparing for battle. I thought it this morning when I was trying to clean my cup from yesterday’s breakfast. To get it truly clean required that I let it soak in soap and water for a time. I tried to speed up the process by using boiling water from the coffee maker, but that only speeds it up some. I still had to let it sit for a bit. That’s when I had the thought, There is no substitute for time.

The addition of heat, or pressure, to the process can help it along, but without enough time, preparation will be inadequate. If you don’t let the turkey cook long enough, then it won’t get cooked all the way through. If you don’t take time to plan your route and prepare your suitcase or bag, then you will either have trouble finding your destination, or you will have insufficient changes of clothing. If you don’t gather enough supplies or train properly, then you will probably lose the battle you have to fight.

There is no substitute for time. When God makes us wait on things we don’t want to wait on, and we can’t figure out the reason why, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a reason. It simply means we can’t see the big picture. All these long months (or years maybe) of waiting have their purpose, even if the only purpose is to test our trust in God. Building character is something that cannot be done in a hurry. Learning patience only comes about through having to wait on the Lord. Beyond that, we have to realize that our finite understanding cannot comprehend the mysteries of God… like, why do I have to wait for my husband to get a job? As Jeremiah put it, why do the wicked prosper? Why can’t I have “___” when I think I need it now? Why did a perfect man like Jesus Christ have to suffer and die for other men’s sins? Why do children suffer?

These are unanswerable questions in the realm of reason. Sure, there’s the problem of original sin and how God is waiting patiently waiting for the wicked to turn to Him (Ez. 33:11); but, honestly, how does my waiting affect the world around me? I am reminded again that in the preparation process, there is no substitute for time. Time is probably the most important ingredient in any recipe, journey preparation, or in getting ready for any kind of battle. Perhaps, this time of waiting will produce a savory meal suitable for my God’s table, or maybe the next season will be one of change and travel… or maybe the next season will be a season of war, and I need to be spiritually prepared.

Whatever the reason is for waiting, Paul said, “I have learned in all things to be content. (Ph. 4:12)” This means that even in the times of waiting, he learned contentment. Truly, truly, it’s a long journey that we travel in this life. Sometimes we have to stay in one place. Other times we have to race as fast as we can to the next place. Wherever we are at on the journey, in the process, or whatever terminology you choose to use, there is no substitute for time and the only way to pass through time with any degree of contentment is to trust that God really does know what He is doing.

*I ran across this piece that I wrote in the fall of 2009. As far as I can tell, I’ve never published it anywhere, so here goes… 🙂 Maybe it just needed to percolate on the back burner for the past few years so I could really appreciate it, thus proving the point. I did make a few minor editorial tweaks, but for the most part, this is as it came out of my head in the first place.

True North

One’s moral compass should not be calibrated by the socially acceptable or civilly legislated standards of the day. True north is always, always God’s standards set in His word. When the Sanhedrin told Peter and John they should stop preaching Jesus, Peter’s response still holds true, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20) My experience, my heart, my changed life, tells me over and over and over again that I can trust God, that He is a good God, that His love shapes me for my ultimate good. Thousands of years of believers stand testament to this, so WHY would I have any interest in conforming to make others more comfortable?

Truth is supposed to make you uncomfortable; otherwise, you would have no reason to change. The goal is to become more like Christ—not some fictional, socially acceptable, wimpy Jesus—but like the Jesus who stood up to the Pharisees of his day and said, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:6-8)

Governments may legislate; Churches may decree standards (by democratic vote! …and where is that in scripture?); but God’s word reaffirms that when we stand before His throne, we will not be able to excuse our behavior by saying, “But they said it was okay!” We are accountable to God, and to God alone, for our own choices and our own actions. I leave you with the words of Christ in Matthew 10:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell…. 34 Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

How can I be a child again?

When I think about my childhood, all I can remember is trying to be older, more adult, part of the grown-up crowd. I spent most of my time listening to the grown-ups talk or reading to escape my childhood.

I’m sure I must have played sometimes. I had toys and games, favorite dolls and stuffed animals—although those last were mostly because I felt I needed comfort. I was happiest deep in a book, far away from my environment. I had no idea how unhappy I was, though I remember long periods spent staring blankly, without thought or focus.

There was the interlude when my brother and I were on the local swimming team. It got me out of the house and into something competitive and physically challenging, but after less than two years I lost interest and stopped competing.

By the time I was a teenager, I became conscious of my unhappiness. My first remembered bout of depression came when I was somewhere around age 13 or 14. My parents had left for the Sunday evening church service, and I was waiting on my ride to youth group. I recall standing in the kitchen, staring at the oven, and thinking I could just slash my wrists with a knife and be done with “it.” In all honesty, though, I’m not really sure what “it” was. Thankfully, I did not act on the impulse, and it passed.

School was actually a good place for me. I enjoyed learning things, even though I hated the homework assignments. What kid doesn’t hate homework? I mean, like all kids, I preferred controlling my own free time. But, I was a loner, a thinker, and an outsider for the most part, at least as far as I can remember it. Middle school and high school band offered me a new outlet…music. Music came to me like breathing, and I dove as deeply into it as I ever did into reading, because it was another escape from my home environment.

Still, being a child is not something I remember ever really “being” in all truth. Moments, yes. Brief interludes, yes. Childhood…no. What was that? I had to take care of my younger siblings from the time I was between six and seven years old. I had a depressive, suicidal mother and an abusive father. It is interesting to me that when I think of my childhood, I have this sense of everything being overlaid with a brown-colored filter, like a sepia photograph. It speaks to me of fear (of my father), sadness, uncertainty…hunger.

These last few years as I have begun exploring more spiritual experiences, one thing that has stood out for me is the Lord’s repeated references to the joy of being a child, to playing with Him—on the beach, in the fields, and on the clouds. One of the most powerful experiences happened this spring (2016) when He took me to a place in the Spirit…and I was nine years old again. I don’t even remember all the intimate details of what He talked with me about, only that I found myself weeping in some kind of inarticulate grief for something of myself that I had lost.

I would like to think that I can find childhood again somehow, even if I am in my late forties now. All this adult, super-spiritual thinking about resting in the Lord seems to point back to the attitude of a child that Mom and Dad take care of everything. Good parents do, after all, put the food on the table and the clothes on the bodies of their children. They provide protection from people that pose a danger to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being of their children.

In actual fact, God is the ultimate parental role model. Father offers love, protection, and provision. Holy Spirit offers comfort, guidance, and encouragement. Jesus is our best friend, our oldest sibling, leading by example in His reliance on the Father and the Spirit. I’m trying to figure out how to stop trying to figure things out all the time. I want to rest and be a child in His presence who trusts without question, but I keep banging my head up against this internal wall of intellectualism, fear, and an overwhelming desire to escape reality again.

Please, Lord Jesus, help me to trust without question and rest in Your presence again. Help me, Lord, to be a child again.

Comfort

Holy Spirit,
Today the warm, gray clouds wrapped around us
As we stared out the car window.
I thought how really present I felt in the moment,
Realized you hovered there quietly with me,
Smiled to myself for the sheer pleasure of you.
The grayness of the warm, moist, late spring day
Felt like a blanket enclosing us,
Tightly wrapping me right up with you
Till I felt the joy of being,
The delight of togetherness, oneness.
You filled me up with fullness of your holy presence—
All the greatness of your majesty
Compressed into the silent, unified
Enjoyment of your created refreshment.
The rain sprinkled down on us in spurts and spates, and
It was just so lovely!!!
Observers might have thought me alone,
Might have thought the day dreary,
But no, not today…
Today I was filled with wonder at your work.
Today I was replete with you, Lord.

In The Moment (For John)

In the moment,
When I sit and think of you,
All the crazy recollections
Give me bits and bytes of joy that lift my heart.

In the moment,
When I meditate on us,
All the bumps along the way
Make me glad we had each other for support.

In the moment,
When I contemplate and muse,
All the good and bad together
Formed the present circumstance in which we live.

In the moment,
When I’m with you in the now,
Everything becomes more focused
Giving life and joy and purpose to our love.

In the moment,
When my gratitude abounds,
Every step, we learn to listen,
Till our hearts and minds find harmony in Christ.

In the moment,
When I give “us” to the Lord,
I find greater peace of mind
Letting Love infuse our love with His great light.

In the moment,
I’m just happy that I’m with you,
As we jointly journey forward,
Knowing God will draw us onward into Him…
Ever loving, living, growing, still transforming, trusting Him.

Being Me

There really is no way to quantify, or qualify, the struggles I have been so deeply entwined inside the core of my being, my very selfness, so to speak. Sometimes words help. They used to help a lot more. These days…not so much. I find it difficult, almost impossible if I were honest, to articulate how deeply I have been torn, confused, unhappy with myself, while all the time wrestling my own soul into an acceptance of God’s immeasurable grace. Even just saying that to you only highlights to me the inadequacy of language.

I feel, at times, buried under the deepest seas, feeling the weight and burden of sustaining my life with all its practical demands (food, sleep, clothing, and hygiene) and the added burden of the necessary interactions with family, friends, coworkers, strangers in the marketplace, etc. When I feel overwhelmed to that degree, all I want to do is sit still in my house in the dark and withdraw from the world.

Then there are those moments, and most of the time they do only feel like moments in retrospect, when I feel confident in my place before the Lord—sustained and lifted by the Spirit into the unseen reality so that I am comprehending more fully all of what is happening around me and experiencing the fullness of Spirit life until it boils out of me in tears. I cannot tell you whether those are tears of joy and gratitude that I am once more participating in what God is doing, whether they are tears of sorrow and frustration for the difficulty that both I and those around me have in letting go and letting God, or perhaps a combination of the two extremes. I only know that I weep in some visceral response that I have no control over and no desire to control.

I find myself reaching for things out of years and years of habit:

  • books to read, that once I start reading I lose all interest in;
  • food to eat, which has little or no taste appeal anymore and makes me feel physically less well in various ways;
  • alcoholic drink, which no longer really tastes quite right and doesn’t make me feel any better;
  • music, that I also lose interest in quickly once I start listening;
  • physical activity, which I find I have no desire to attempt and no strength when I attempt it anyway;
  • and even sleep has no appeal and seems pointless.

It is at this point that I am just beginning to recognize the tastelessness of my current existence. This also seems paradoxical. I don’t feel in the least bit suicidal, which might be the obvious conclusion an observer would make. “Being” me just feels gray. I love; I laugh; I cry; I get angry; I talk and banter with others; and it all appears to my observer’s mind to just be external. Maybe I have not physically shut the door and turned out the lights, but on the inside, I’ve turned off. I feel no connection.

Oddly enough, I know this to be a lie. I am very connected with my loved ones and friends. We pray together, and I see the truth of the spiritual realm around me. If I were to be honest with myself, I would have to say that the reason everything feels so gray and disconnected is because I keep searching for the ultimate connection with the Life inside me, yet I cannot seem to find it.

It’s there. God’s there. He’s there beyond a shadow of any doubt. I know this only because I know this deeper than words can articulate. I’ve always known His presence in my life. I cannot conceive of life without. I think what I’ve been struggling towards is some way to let go of all the things I reach for and simply sink into the Person of God, the Holy Spirit, already indwelling me.

O Lord, may you give the ability to quit striving and rest in You.

unmerited favor

In my own weakest moments, I have never wondered if God exists. I have never ceased being grateful for all the things He has already done for me. But I do frequently wonder why He loves me, and I am often convinced that I do not deserve any action by Him on my behalf. Then I realize all over again that I have never “deserved” any of the blessings I have received. I could never earn, have never earned anything. The most powerful work of God in my life is His grace—absolute and unmerited. He gives me life because He loves me, and He loved me “while I was yet a sinner (Rom 5:8)” and “while I was alienated and an enemy in my mind by wicked works (Col 1:21).” Once I realize the magnitude of His grace and love towards me, I can once again approach the throne with boldness to ask what I need—healing, provision, encouragement, or protection. I can have absolute confidence that He is more than able to say yes to my needs, and if He chooses to say no, then I can trust that there is a greater good that needs working through.

Holy God, Maker of the Universe, let me never hold the false belief that I have “arrived” spiritually. Let me always strive for more of You in my life, more of Your word in my heart, more of Your Spirit moving through me so that I can come to know You better…every single day.

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