IF you Abide…


Hand Holding Finger (2)God’s greatest conditional promise: “IF you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” ~ John 15:7-8,NKJV

This verse starts with a two letter word – “if.” If is a conjunction that ties one thing to another. In this verse, “if” is in conjunction with the verb “abide.” To abide is a choice “to remain, to continue, to stay constantly connected, to dwell on with expectation and patience.”

As we abide – as we remain connected to our Creator – something supernatural happens: the desires of our hearts change. It is in His dwelling place that our deepest thoughts and desires are revealed. As we grow in our relationship with Him, our worldly worldview perspective begins to dissipate. It is replaced with the mindset of our Heavenly Father.

Things that were hidden become illuminated by His Light. We receive clarity in the things He desires for us. We not only receive wisdom from above, but discernment – an understanding of what is right in His eyes. We hear His voice in the stillness of abiding. He speaks and we answer. He calls and we follow. He reveals and we trust. We abide and He gives us the desires of our hearts.

Our desires are no longer contaminated with impurities. They have been replaced with the longing to be more like HIM…to live a life in step with our Master.

It is when we connect the “if” with the “abide” that it all begins to make perfect sense. It is then that we find our sweet, secret dwelling place with our Papa God. It is then – and only then – that we can rest and trust. No matter the force of the storms that rage on the outside, they cannot penetrate the sanctuary of our soul…our resting place with Him. It is there that I rest in perfect peace. Being still…..

“Papa God, give us eyes to see! Give us courage to remain connected to Your heavenly guiding hand! Give us patience to stay the course no matter how strong the storms may rage. Quicken Your Spirit within us and let your sanctuary be a fortress so strong that nothing this world throws at us can penetrate or shake us loose from your mighty grip.  Protect us from the unnecessary and disrupt us when we slumber.  Your will be done, in and through us…In JESUS’ name”.

In HIS STRONG LOVE,

Rose

Clearing the Stream


Stream “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1.9

What does “strong and courageous” look like? What is the picture that pops into your brain? Is it a person that keeps silent, holds their chin up and moves about their day pretending that no one can see behind the pasted-on smile and half-hearted laughter?

Has someone hurt you recently? Has something happened that caused your inner world to crash? There is no denying that betrayal hurts. We get that kicked-in-the-gut kind of feeling that hurts like the worse symptoms of the stomach flu. So now who do we turn to? Who can we trust?

I don’t think Papa God wants us to “fake it till we make.” I believe there is a time and a place to process all the pain that we feel when we’ve been hurt or damaged. But it is important to keep moving…go beyond the processing.  If we are serious about wanting our soul…that “stream of life” to be in unison with the ONE who created it…to be clean and pure, free flowing and free, then we must continue tending the stream.

I recently had to go back to recreate a scenario that has to be examined by others in order for a decision to be made. It was an arduous process; one that took me back to a time that was incredibly disconcerting. As I uncovered the past and dug under the “rocks,” so to speak, I felt the ugliness resurface of what once was. It wasn’t just the ugliness of the circumstances, or the ramifications that are being realized even now, but also the ugliness of the emotions that I remember all too well that once again caused my gut to wrench.

And in this process, almost on a daily basis, I had to self-examine. I had to ask myself, “What is the motive of my heart?”  It’s easy to get caught on the emotional roller coaster of the “old memories” and allow them to take you down the road that leads to the pit of disgust and self-pity. The challenge is not only to remember clearly what happened. The bigger challenge is to remember the healing that happened since then and embrace the positive rather than the negative.

I had to ask God to allow me to see the individuals involved through His lenses and not my own. And yet… I had to lay out the truth in a way that may cause some discomfort, not just for me, but for others. I have found that discomfort is sometimes necessary. It gets us moving. It gets us out of the well-worn ruts of complacency and allows us to see the boulders and debris in our own “stream.” We need discomfort in order to keep moving…in order to learn from our past and make better and wiser decisions.

“The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe.” ~ Proverbs 18.10

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” ~ Psalm 91.4

“Papa God, help me – help us – to see the debris in our stream in a way that will cause us to look at others with compassion and understanding. Help us to lay down anything that would get in the way of Your work in our lives. Pour mercy and grace into our day, and let us demonstrate Your mercy and grace to others throughout our day. Let it be You that takes the lead. In Jesus name – Amen.”

In His Strong Love,

Rose

Who is this Man Jesus?


get-attachmentTHE WORD: Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” ~John 14:6-7

During this past Spring Semester at CCU, I took a Worldview class that awakened my mind to a stunning reality. I’ve always known there are many religions, philosophies, and ideologies in the world. However, what was most revealing to me in this class was the realization that even within the Church, a worldview called “pluralism” exists.

For many Christians, the Biblical worldview is too strict (and restrictive), too absolute, and too exclusive. They would rather live life believing that God is good, kind and fair, along with a brush stroke of faith that everyone is on their own path that will eventually lead to heaven. It is a form of “coexistence” that is a mockery of what the Bible teaches.

In the book Seeking and Finding God, by Dave Hunt, the author writes, “A conviction that there is a definite way to heaven (and only one) is not tolerated in this day of professed tolerance, because it insists that all roads don’t lead to the same place, that truth does exist, and that there is a distinction between what is right and what is wrong. Instead of such antiquated convictions, ecumenical broad-mindedness is the new wave for the new millennium. We are expected to set aside the rational necessity of being certain about our eternal destiny in favor of a mindless tolerance that promises only to avoid religious arguments in this life but offers no sensible assurance of the next.” (Hunt, 2007, p. 56-57)

So how do I live a life of congruency with God’s Word in a world where so many ideologies seem to be diluting the truth? The authors of Making Sense of Your World write, “The goal of every person is to discover truth about God, not to be found in error or be self-deceived. The question of truth however is not how we might want things to be, but how things actually are. Truth and sincere faith are an ideal combination.” (Phillips, Brown, & Stonestreet, 2008, p. 178)

As I studied various worldviews, listened to videos and read the discussion threads by my classmates, I recognized that integral to congruency in my life within the body of Christ is holding fast to my stance and not allowing the world’s philosophies or ideologies to water down my personal faith. It is my desire to seek unity and wholeness according to God’s standards – and not be compromised by man’s delusional thinking.

The passage that captures my theological perspective is eloquently written in the book of Ephesians:

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” ~ Ephesians 4:11-16 NLT

One day, we must ALL answer the question, “Who was this man Jesus – to me?” Will we be prepared to face our Creator and say with confidence that we became intimately acquainted with His Son?

For me it is this simple: I will continue to be a student of God’s Holy Word, for it is within the pages of His Book that I will receive all that I need to live a life worthy of His calling. “For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” ~ Hebrews 4:12-13

As we begin our day today, my prayer is that the Spirit of the Most High will move in our hearts and minds in such a way that we will not be intimidated or confused by the world’s views and ideologies. My prayer for you and me is that we hold fast to what we know to be God’s truth…and trust that He has already prepared our path and our purpose.

“Papa God, give us courage to stand firm. Help us to be your hands and feet. Give us a Spirit of gentleness so that as you give us opportunities to share your Truth, we do so with love, grace and compassion. In Jesus’ Name…Amen”.

In His Strong Love,
Rose

Seeing Life Through My “God Lenses”


RainbowsTHE WORD: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea…Be still and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world” ~Psalms 46.1-2,10

I have been through many dry spells during my 55 years of living. I have suffered great loss, have experienced betrayal and have been wrongfully accused. I have been mocked because of my faith in God. My faith has been tested and tried, and every single time, regardless of the outcome, God has never failed me.

To say that I did not allow anger to overwhelm me when the circumstances seemed insurmountable would make me a liar. I have experienced a state of depression so great that I have uttered the words of Job, “May the day of my birth perish…That day, may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it.” ~Job 3.3a-4 NIV. Like Job, there have been times in my life that I questioned God; never His sovereignty…it was His silence that I found most deafening.

“Suffering is not always the result of sin, just as prosperity is not always the result of faithfulness. In fact, at times just the opposite appears to be true. Only God understands why things sometimes work this way. Very often God is beyond our comprehension, and that is not easy to accept. What we can accept, however, is that God wants us to remain faithful to Him, just as Job did” (authors, Bickel & Jantz).

Just as it happened for Job, it was in the midst of my deepest, darkest hours that I have raised my voice to the heavens, cried, and repented of my unbelief. My heavenly Father has always answered. Time and again He has breathed life back into my dry bones. In those desperate moments, His sovereignty has been magnified…His undeserved grace…His everlasting love…all freely given for us on Calvary’s Cross.

As I look back, I now try to see my past through my “God’s lenses.” I see clearly that it was in the valleys where Papa God has dealt with me most intimately. He has proven time and again that His mercies are new every morning. As Jeremiah wrote, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him’” ~Lamentations 3.22-24.

I have made peace with God. He has restored all that the locust ate in my life [Joel 2:25] and has placed a joy in the center of my heart so great that I cannot contain it. “I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” ~Psalm 121.1-2 NIV.

My prayer for you and me today is that we trust in the ONE who can make all things new. Let go of the worries – let go of the doubt. Let us be grafted into the ONE TRUE VINE, and allow His Spirit to flow freely in unencumbered souls.

May our heavenly Father bless your day! May He fill you with hope and renew your strength. Let this be the day that you turn challenges into opportunities. And in all that we say and do, may our Heavenly Father receive all the glory and praise!

Getting Real In My Secret Place ~ Authenticity [Part 1]


Safe in His armsThe WORD: “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.” ~ Matthew 10:26

Revealing secrets can be both liberating and frightening, all at the same time. When we keep secrets deep within us that are dark and dangerous, they will eventually seep to the surface. How we deal with our secrets will determine the story that will be written in the book of our life. It will determine our legacy.

Please take a moment and read the verse again. It doesn’t say “some” that is secret. It says ALL that is secret.  So what do we do with the secrets that are gnawing at us? Where do we go when our heart longs to cry out to God?  Perhaps it’s time to consider a self-imposed time-out…a time to get alone in our secret place with God.

In our secret place we can apply three things that will be a catalyst for a heart change. Today we will consider the first of three:

AUTHENTICITY. Authenticity means getting into our secret place with Papa God and crying out to him with heartfelt confession. It means becoming REAL, open and honest about the junk that we have carried for so long.  Like the prodigal son coming home to his father, we need to confess with our mouths, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your daughter (son). Forgive me for my foolishness.”

So why is it important to speak our words of confession, rather than just think them?  Consider this: Why did Adam and Eve hide?  Why did God call out to them? It wasn’t because He didn’t know where they were.  Adam and Even hid because they were ashamed.  God’s calling out to them was an expression of His tender love and compassion. His voice expressed his longing for them to return.  He wooed them back and gave them an opportunity to turn back…to surrender…to confess. He gave them an opportunity to speak – to become authentic.

It’s easy for us to justify why we did what we did, or perhaps even what we are still doing in the flesh. Truth be told, sin is pleasurable, it feels good…it brings instant gratification. But in the end, the ugly results are devastating…we crash and burn, and the guilt and shame engulf our minds and our hearts.

It’s time to stop the cycle of poor choices.  It’s time to look in the mirror and examine our lives. Own up to the mess(es) we’ve made.  It’s time to lay all of our junk at the foot of the cross and allow Jesus to begin washing away our filthy, stinking mess.  For some of us, He may have to use a Holy Spirit-filled scouring pad! Be prepared…it may hurt a little. (I’ve been there. Believe me…I know).  After all, the grime and filth has been caked on for much too long.  But know this – when He is done with round one…oh how refreshing!  God will peel back the layers of our sin and will cleanse our minds and hearts! He will clothe us with His robe of righteousness and He will introduce us to a brand new day…a new direction…hand in hand with His Son Jesus.

“Take words of repentance with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him; ‘Forgive all our sin and accept what is good, so that we may repay You with praise from our lips.’” ~Hosea 14:2

Today is a brand new day – a day to enter into our secret place with Papa God. A day to allow His Word to fill our minds and our hearts. Let today be a day to practice authenticity.

“Papa God, please give us the courage to step into our secret place with You. Massage our hearts and reveal to us the sins that may be hindering our walk with You. Allow us to sense Your presence and to find our place on Your lap, under Your loving arms. Thank You for loving us the way do, for calling us by name and for wooing us out of the dark places we wondered into.  Thank You for never giving up on us, for loving us with an unconditional, fierce, eternal, sacred kind of love.  In Jesus’ name we pray…Amen.”

In His Strong Love,

Rose

The “Burning Question”


burningTHE WORD: “Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him. But the people said nothing.” ~ 1 King 18:21

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ~Joshua 24:15

I’ve been wrestling with a decision that I need to make. It’s daunting. On the one hand, I know that God is calling me to greater things, not in the sense that I’m going to be great, but in the sense that God wants to use the gifts and talents that He created in me to carry out His purpose. I am being challenged to step into my vocation…my calling. It’s a transition that I know God has been preparing me for, and yet I feel so totally inept. This time of transition is scary! My biggest struggle is the fear of failure. I do not want to fail Papa God.

In addition to the study of Gideon by Priscilla Shirer, I’ve been listening to messages by Andy Stanley, Todd Cook, and this week I added a message from Pastor Steve Furdick. Every message resonates the same theme: It is time to choose.

In the book of 1st Kings, the story of Elijah continues as God instructs him to anoint Elisha as the next prophet of Israel.
“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” ~1 Kings 19:19-21

“Go back,” Elijah replied.“So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.”

These verses spoke volumes to me. You see, in order to move forward, Elisha knew he had to do some housekeeping. He had to say goodbye to his parents, but more significant to me was the fact that Elisha knew he had to burn his plow and slaughter his oxen – the tools of his trade. This was a pivotal moment in Elisha’s life. He knew that in order to be completely free to forge ahead to do the greater things that God had purposed for him, he had to be rid of anything in his life that would hold him back.

Elisha took the necessary steps to complete surrender. So this begged the questions: What are the things I’m holding onto? What do I need to “burn,” metaphorically speaking? I know the answer: It is my fear, my doubt, my trepidation of the unknown! Now that I know this, the decision is really quite simple. I must trust Papa God. He has my best interest at heart. He knows my past, my present and my future. I must walk by faith and not by sight!

It’s time to step into the water and watch God part my daunting Red Sea. It’s time for complete surrender!

The final spiritual arrow that pierced my heart this week was embedded in Todd’s message yesterday. I came home and read it again:
“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” ~Revelation 3:14-20

This is the voice of our Savior…calling out to us…pursuing us…because he loves us so!

In Todd’s message, he said, “As a believer, if you choose to disobey, you will not lose your salvation, but you will lose the JOY of your salvation.”

I decided a long time ago that I want to live out the rest of my life in the joy of the Lord! I know now what I must choose!

How about you? Are you at a crossroad? Do you have fears, doubts, habits, relationships, in your life that keep you from moving forward? What is God calling you to do? How will you respond? Will you remain silent, or will you “burn” the things that hinder and weigh you down. Will you choose today to be a servant of your idols…or a servant of God?

“Papa God, help us to trust you with every area of our lives! Help us to seek after you…to surrender completely anything that would hinder our walk and our service to you. Help us to take your WORD seriously, to read it daily and to allow it to massage our hearts into obedience. You created us for a purpose. Help us to be still and to listen to your voice…your calling for our lives. You, Papa, will never fail us. You have our best interest at heart! We ask this in Jesus name… Amen”

Turning Point…Are You Willing?


turning point (1)THE WORD: “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (James 4:17 NLT)

What an amazing week it’s been! Between the North Point Church online messages that I listened to last week, the Gideon study by Priscilla Shirer that I’m in the middle of, and today’s message from Pastor Todd…there is no doubt in my mind that Papa’s Holy Spirit is moving!

In the North Point Church message entitled, “Right in the Eye,” Andy Stanley opens the series with this statement “It’s my life. I should be free to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want . . . as long as I’m not hurting anybody.” This is what we tell ourselves. But what if it’s not true? What if our desire to do what is right in our own eyes has major consequences for us, for the people with us, for the people who love us, and for the people coming after us?”

The Gideon study by Priscilla Shirer takes us through the life of a man who is no different from you and me. A man called by God, empowered by God to unite the people of God to fight against the enemies of God. However, somewhere along the way Gideon lost focus; he allowed his anger and pride to rule the day. His humility left him. He neglected his relationship with God. At the end of battles that he fought, he used the praises of man and the gold rings to create his own idol. He turned to the world and allowed the comfort of money and fame to take the place of God in his life. He returned to his idolatry.

This story…this study…begs the questions: “Is there anything in my life that I have allowed to take the place of God? Have I allowed sin to creep back in? Is there anything in my life that I’m idolizing more than Papa God?”

In today’s message from pastor Todd, the challenge was loud and clear…. “Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get unstuck?”

Rather than being willing to do whatever it takes to get free, most of us try to convince others that we’re not really stuck. We mask our “issues” with smiles and pretend that our world is just fine. We isolate and deceive ourselves into thinking that we can keep it under the radar. We tell ourselves, “If no one knows…then it’s really not ‘real,’ and I don’t have to do anything about it. I can continue in my secret sin…no one has to know.”

Little do we know that the sin is glaring like a big fat pimple in the middle of our forehead…full of puss and ready to burst! At the end of the day, the only one we’re deceiving is ourselves.

Whatever we struggle with…that “thing” that we keep shoving under the rug…is actually consuming us. Like cancer, it spreads, consumes and destroys everything and everyone around us. The longer we remain in this path of deception, the more damage we cause…to ourselves and to our loved ones.

Oh how the Devil smiles over this state of stupidity we fall into…this path we have chosen! Worse yet is the fact that we lose our spiritual “sweet spot” with Papa God. He removes his “lamp stand” from us because we have made the choice to remain in a state of rebellion. And our strength is sapped: “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night, your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” ~ Psalm 32:3-4

Like Adam and Eve, we hide. We let the guilt and the shame override the fact that the entire time that we are in the middle our sin, God’s heart is breaking for us! He is a loving merciful forgiving Father! Just as He called out for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Papa cries out for you and me! “Where are you…why are you hiding?” Oh how He longs for our return. He does not force us; it needs to be our choice. He simply waits.

So my prayer and my call to any one of us that may be dealing with secret sin(s): Let us take time to help each other get unstuck! TODAY…not tomorrow…is the day to take the prescription of the three “R’s” seriously:

REMEMBER…the heights from which you have fallen…that “sweet spot” where you found your joy with Papa God. Remember the energy, the warmth, the pleasure you felt being in His presence! You and HIM…exactly how it is meant to be! He loves you so much and longs to be your King again!

REPENT – If you are dealing with a ‘secret’ sin, choose right now to turn around and walk away from it. Do not let the enemy win! Do not wait until tomorrow…do it TODAY!

RETURN – God is right there…waiting to gaze into your face and wrap His loving arms around you! Turn around child…run back to the Cross and fall into His loving arms.

One last thought from Pastor Todd’s message: “In God’s economy, seeking God is greater than serving Him.”

He is worth it friend! Take time today to SEEK His face and His righteousness and you will be amazed at how “all other things” will be added unto you!

“Papa God, we come before your throne today. Humble us and cause us to take inventory of our lives. Search our hearts and reveal to us anything that we may have allowed to take your place. Give us the courage to repent and turn back to you today! Help us to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ….someone that can love and hold us accountable…someone that will pray with and for us.

Father, just as You will not force us to turn back, neither can our brothers or sisters. It is our choice…our call. Help us to pour out in confession anything that is hindering our walk with you and damaging our witness. I know you love us Lord…and you long for our return. Help us to trust you. Help us to remember that in YOUR arms is exactly where we need to be! In Jesus name, I pray! ~ Amen”

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