Lellie Not Perfect

I am working on another of my OWN books! I loved writing and illustrating my first book, “Little Lamb, Little Lamb, Follow Close.”

Little Lamb is pretty much a book of loving admonition that we sheep need to follow the Good Shepherd.  The whole project was just a delight, the way the Lord helped me to promote it in ways I never dreamt of and then the best part was the testimonies of how HE has used it for His purposes.  That is my heart, to serve Him in all I do.

So, I set my hand to writing another Christian Children’s book, but this time it is a mix of SILLY and yes, it still has a good message. As I illustrate “Lellie Not Perfect”,  my son Noah likes to give me funny ideas, and my Craig likes to come and look over my shoulder, Craig told me the sketches are so cute that I should save them before I finalize/ paint them in. I thought maybe it would be fun to share the process a little bit.

It is so fun to look at my text for a page, and come up with a scene and facial expressions that really illustrate what is happening.  In this scene, Lellie is having a serious talk with her stuffed animal. 

I sketch the characters on my computer with a Wacom tablet into Photoshop. I think about expression, positions, and where to place things so that later my text can have room to be added.

When ready, I color them with intense colors a child would like, and I add light and shadow. I always re-draw my outlines to make everything look crisp and neat. 

My next step would be to add the text to this full 2 page spread.  I am very thankful to the dear folks who are helping me with editing and proofreading.

My hope is to have this book uploaded for publishing in the next month. I think it will be a book that parents and kids will find themselves chuckling as they read. After all, these scenes are things I could imagine my own  kids having said or done, and they were hilarious kids!

The Lord is good to give me all I need to do such projects. I am thankful for all of my authors, and for the over 65 books I’ve enjoyed illustrating. I have learned so much, and now it is a blast to apply it all to my own little stories.

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 2:17

The Lord Turned and Looked at Peter

The Lord Turned and Looked at Peter

 Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  So Peter went out and wept bitterly. Luke 22:59-62

Jesus looks at Peter. My illustration for Author Ruth Atwood.

Sometimes when reading or listening to the Word of God, a familiar passage just rolls on by, and I think, “Yeah, I know that.” But it is so cool when the Lord’s Spirit seems to make me pay attention, to meditate, to ponder something.

In this account, as Christ is being held captive and is about to be blindfolded, mocked, and brutally beaten in the courtyard, Peter is denying Him. Jesus had told Him it would happen. Peter couldn’t imagine ever doing such a thing. But here he is refusing that he is one of Jesus’s disciples/ friends. Jesus warned him that Satan would sift him as wheat. I think of that as being shaken to the core! Jesus says he has prayed for Peter, and then says “… when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Luke 22:32b Jesus knew Peter would return to Him.

I just keep thinking about this moment, where the Lord, amid all that is going on, turns and looks at Peter, and of course Peter must have been looking at the Lord. Did their eyes meet? What would that be like?

I can think of specific moments when I saw hurt in my loved one’s eyes. I have seen it when someone thoughtlessly says something cruel, and when someone does it purposefully. I have also been the person that spews out my thoughts, and then our eyes meet, and I see that I have hurt them. Those moments are painful to recall, as I wonder what damage I have done to that dear one, to our relationship.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus, as a man can sympathize with us in our battle with Satan’s tempting and sifting us. Of course, Jesus as God, is perfectly and powerfully victorious. When He looks into Peter’s eyes, I don’t think it was with condemnation. Jesus had already said, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:17.

When their eyes met, perhaps Peter saw that He clearly had hurt Jesus. Perhaps that hurt was worse than the beatings that were soon coming. I know for myself, I soon forget physical pain, but words people have said continue to hurt deeply, years later. Or maybe Peter saw in Jesus eyes, knowing, understanding. Again, Jesus had told him this would happen.

I think that this moment, above all things, was a moment of great love from Jesus to Peter. To deny Jesus, then look up and see He is looking, seeing, knowing, understanding, even being hurt, is all very powerful. But to see His love, oh to see His love! Unconditional. A love that says, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

There is a Christian maturity level where we start to care more about hurting the Lord, than feeding into our own desires. I have seen this in those who have walked with Him for a long time. I saw it in the lady who led me to the Lord, Della Depew, who wept over a little white lie she had told, because she said, “I hurt Him on that cross, as I sinned by lying over how many jars of corn I had canned.” I want to get there. I want to show Him I love Him, by daily obeying.

I can also love Him by not keeping this relationship hidden. Rather than denying Him, or refusing to talk about Him, I can use my words, my gifts, my days, in serving Him. Those that question me, point at me and ridicule me about my relationship with Jesus, are going find out I am not ashamed. I will try to teach them!

When Peter returns to Jesus, after the Resurrection. John 21:17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”

I am so thankful that Jesus and Peter had this moment of tenderness. Peter can go obey, go preach, go live out a life of service, because Jesus knows all things.

Peter’s eyes now are meeting with the Lord who suffered, was nailed to a cross, who shed His perfect blood, and who defeated death by rising out of that grave. He knows, that truly, there is no greater love.

God’s word speaks to me, in this familiar passage. “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.” I am reminded that this loving Lord, knows and understands, and that I have a closeness with Him that is precious and powerful, and that gives me purpose, even though I am an epic fail.

 

 

 

 

 

More Than Just Broken

I am so thankful that my husband and I have each other to talk to about the big things. About the state of the world we live in and how we need to filter it through what scripture says. Sometimes he will say something that sticks in my head, and I chew on it for days.

During one of those discussions, we were talking about how sin isn’t seen as sin anymore. We remember even in our youth, that there was an awareness that certain things were sinful, and if one chose to run toward those things, there would be some condemnation and some concern for that person. Back then, perhaps the Bible was still generally upheld as a moral book, and that there was standards to live up to, and if not, then sin will cause self destruction. Today, our culture believes that many of the things that would have been frowned upon, are to be celebrated, and frowning upon that sin is much more sinful. An example I have seen in my life time is “living together”. When I was a kid, people who lived together rather than marry, was seen as something not right. Yeah, people did it, but most shook their heads about it. Today, living together is seen as a good way to try out a relationship. After all, sex before marriage has become the norm. There is no thought at all about what God’s Word says. Infact, even in church, to be gracious, we just don’t to upset anyone and point out sin. That is seen as sinful. Even though the most loving thing we can do is speak the truth, and I wonder how the Holy Spirit is to use us to restrain evil, if we aren’t teaching the Word, even if it exposes and hurts.
Craig reminded me that one of the worst things that has happened is this “We are broken” statement, standing in the place of “We are sinners”. We are lead to believe we are just a little broken, a little flawed, and that if we try hard we can fix it up little by little. We are told that we are all broken, so we need to be understanding, to sympathize. Yes, this is all true. But, it doesn’t go far enough to tell the real truth about our human state. The truth is we are dead in our sin.

“I Desire Mercy…”

 

“ I desire mercy…”

My loved one was frail from years of sickness, she was shaking and weepy as she hugged me. It seemed to me that we should never let each other go from that embrace. Then, she whispered in my ear “This will be the last time I see you.” My heart sank. She was feeling hopeless. She was giving up. I begged her not to say such things. I even asked her if I could pray over her, and I begged God for healing.

In those moments, I felt something I can only describe as the feeling of MERCY. I felt the presence of the Lord. It was as though it was HIM, in me, that she was needing, hugging, longing for. I wanted Jesus to love her through me. I knew I was not enough, I had no power to heal, to save, to comfort, to strengthen. It had to be HIM.

Mercy. One definition is having compassion or tenderness for another.  I have often heard in Christian teachings that it is defined as God not giving us what we deserve. Gotquestions.org says “In the Bible, mercy is extended to an offender in the form of forgiveness or to the suffering in the form of healing or other comfort. In any case, mercy can be characterized as compassionate treatment of those in distress. Whether the distress is caused by the guilt or penalty of sin or by a debilitating physical condition, mercy is there to help.”

Then, after this moment that I can only describe as an intense feeling of mercy, I encountered the opposite. Condemnation.

My mind and heart were all caught up with concern and grief over my loved one, and the feeling like that moment had been important somehow. So, I tried to share with some people who had been life-long church goers.  I looked for some compassion, some comforting, some understanding and some mercy.

I was met with condemnation. I was interrupted repeatedly with declarations of examples of the “sins” that make a person sick. The message was clear to me. Stop sharing, or caring about someone who has made themselves sick. They are not worth the energy and concern. This. Made. Me. Mad. This moment has grieved me worse than the first. What if Jesus thought this way?

Providentially, at Bible study this week, this was the section we studied. I was confronted with a Biblical account that seemed perfectly fit for what I had just lived through. (After all these years, I still get flaked out when God speaks through His Word, the exact thing and the exact right time.)

Matthew 9:10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Here is Jesus the merciful, dealing with the condemning religious leaders. Jesus loves sinners. Jesus died for sinners. The religious leaders thought they could save themselves by doing good works, and they expected others to follow their rules, to be moral. Here the Son of God is healing people, forgiving sin, loving and showing mercy, right before their eyes and they judged HIM! Why the nerve!

He is the only HOLY one in the room, and He says… “I desire mercy…”

I am not worthy of His mercy. I can do NOTHING to deserve it. Praise the Lord that He is NOT like the Pharisees, the legalists, the condemners. Right after the famous John 3:16 verse, He says 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

That last part is key. “…through Him might be saved.” The Bible tells us that Jesus will judge and condemn the lost to an eternity in hell. He is God. He made the rules. Sin is only paid for by the shedding of perfect blood. Sinners march right past that cross and never really see what happened there for them. They think if there is a heaven, maybe their sins aren’t too bad and they will get there by doing some good works. Their great error is in denying that the price has been paid and all they had to do is believe that Jesus paid it all. How sad is it that mercy is rejected?

What about my loved one?  Not having assurance that a loved one has gained heaven by faith in Jesus, in believing that He paid it all for them personally, is one of the most painful things I have known. I pray, I ask Him to lead me in what to say, how to communicate with my entire being that He is real, and that He shows mercy. But, it is HIS work.

I am nothing apart from Him. I can do nothing. I am a sinner falling completely upon His mercy.  Oh! If He would work through me, if He would show love and mercy through my wretchedness! I am open to it! I want to be His ambassador. I don’t have to look at sinners and deem them not worth my time, my concern, because the Lord Jesus has saved ME, and I know He can save THEM.

Believers, are we quick to see others sins, their self-destructive sins, and shake our heads and say “They did it to themselves”? Can we see this is our commonality? Can we teach others that yes… we are all sinners, but there is a merciful Savior? Can we love THAT MUCH?

This is a simple life lesson I am living through, I am sharing it because it helps me to learn it well, and I hope that my words may be used of Him to open hearts by His Spirit.

Matt. 5:7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.

 

 

Spring! New Life! Resurrection!

Spring! New Life! Resurrection!
I have been so thankful to see the evidence of Spring. After 55 years of experiencing the glories of this season change, I still am in awe. Watching the birds return, the daffodils green shoots pushing up through the dead grass of winter, and days warm enough to go enjoy the porch swing.
Being in ministry, we are always delightfully busy at this time of year, preparing for the great celebration of the Resurrection. This year there will be an AWANA egg hunt and a gospel message and puppet show to prepare, as well as Craig’s preaching the Sunrise Service, and making breakfast for the church in between the morning services. It is exciting to us, because we are helping the church body to rejoice in the greatest gift ever! That Jesus rose, and that we will someday rise to meet HIM.
As I focus in on the hope He has given me, I thought I would do a digital painting of Jesus coming out of the tomb. I used a textured surface for the background, which makes the painting feel so soft, like it is on fleece or something. But the photoshop brush I found, created a neat stone texture. I really enjoyed painting the light in this.

The Resurrection

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. Mark 8:31
Isn’t it amazing that Jesus told the disciples repeatedly about the fact He would die and rise three days later. Yet, when they saw Him going to the cross, and were devastated, it shows they just did not get it. In fact, they really were in disbelief that His body was not in that tomb on Resurrection morning. They walked with Him, watched Him do miracles, even raising Lazarus from the dead, and yet they lacked the faith to believe He would rise as He said He would do.
John 11: 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
What about us who have not seen Him? How do we believe in the Resurrection? Those of us who have been born again, born of the Spirit, by trusting in Jesus death, burial and resurrection as our salvation from the curse of sin, have to believe without seeing. The benefit we have, is that we have the Holy Spirit, where the disciples didn’t receive Him until after Jesus ascended. They may have walked with Christ, but we walk by the Spirit. The Holy Spirit works to draw us to Christ and to have faith and hope. The hope in the resurrection is vital to the believer. The Apostle Paul said if there is no resurrection, then we are pitifully lost.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by [a]Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once…
14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.
1 Corinthians

In rising from the dead, Jesus has given us a hope eternal. A forever with Him, in a body that will never perish.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Peter 1:3

Love With Abandon

February – the month that we celebrate LOVE.  The following is my heart about learning to love with abandon.

Oswald Chambers the famous devotional writer, tells us to be,  “totally unrestrained and willing to risk everything.”

There are days when I consider erasing every blog on this site. I am ashamed by how open I can be, right out here where I can be judged. Why am I compelled to share what I am dealing with, working through? To be so transparent?

I do know, that I don’t like the me that hides in fear of being hurt, and therefore walks in suspicion and anticipation that at any moment, anything I say or do can be used against me. This is the battle of a Pastor’s Wife. I was warned of it, the “glass bubble” thing, and I saw my kids battle it as well. Ministry comes with betrayals, rejections, and the hurt of loving and pouring oneself out, only to learn that it was not reciprocated. I see Jesus in this. He knows all about it.

Recently, I told a friend, that I think the Lord has healed me from the fear of being hurt, and from the wall I had put up to protect myself from really loving God’s people. I hope it is true, that I am done being called “Mara” or “bitter”. So what has changed? Perhaps it is just the Lord’s maturing me. I have found HIM to be a true friend, and that has sustained me through it all.

I can see how the hurts of the past, have made me more dependent on Him. That is a good thing, because He is always trustworthy and faithful. I used to think that I had to watch out for folks to show their true colors, to flip to the evil side suddenly. I worried about how terrible it would be when it happened, and I waited for the “the other shoe to drop.”  Now, I am still aware of these possibilities, having lived through them repeatedly, but rather than bracing myself while serving the Lord in a sort of cautious and overly self-protecting way, I am feeling a sense of abandon.

I desire to love without expecting anything in return. When I was an innocent and youthful PW just setting out at our first church I was full of hope and enthusiasm, ignorant of what could go wrong. Loving people is how I am wired, but I can foolishly think they are adorable and they are sort of “mine”.  After over 20 years, and all the trials, the Lord is making so much more aware that they are HIS and my job is to love Him and let Him love through me to others. When the rejections come, He can handle it for me. It is all for Him.

This seems to be all about me, but really, it is about Jesus. He is working on His servant Kimberly. He is teaching me about living a crucified life. He is giving me a love for His people that has nothing to do with what I can get from them. He gave His life for our sin, and He calls me to live in a way that proclaims it. His Spirit empowers me to do this. His Word teaches me what I need to know for each situation.

Paul warned us that we have a holy calling to give up our very self, and let Christ be everything to us.

2 Cor. 4:7  But we have this treasure (the light of Christ) in earthen vessels (our human bodies) , that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. “

He says in verse 1, Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.” And in verse 5, “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.”

In 1st John 4, the gospel writer is very clear about what love is all about.  “17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us. 20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

So I press on. I pray that the years I have left on this cursed earth, will be less about what “I NEED” and worrying about how I feel. I pray that I will be so filled with His Spirit, that I can be used of Him to truly love His people with abandon. I earnestly hope that my transparency, my openness, even though it may come back to haunt me, won’t haunt me at all, but be used of Him somehow.

So sister, brother, church, fellow sojourner, I will forgive you, and love you. My Father has called me to do this, and He knows all about it.

Writing a book – “Little Lamb, Little Lamb, Follow Close”

Little Lamb, Little Lamb Follow Close

“Little Lamb, Little Lamb, follow close.

You were born with a wandering heart;

With a will to go your own way,

Keeping you and the Good Shepherd apart.”

That is how it begins. That is how my story begins, how “Little Lamb’s” story begins. The understanding that in our sin nature, we do not desire to submit to the will of a Holy God.

When I decided to write a children’s book, after illustrating over 50 of them for other authors, I knew that I had 3 things I wanted to share.

  1. The gospel message in a way that was gentle, loving, and about a relationship, not religion.
  2. To get to the gospel, I knew I had to make it clear why we need the gospel. Our wandering hearts do not seek after God, even though He has given us our very being, and knows exactly what we need.
  3. That following Him is far better than a life I plan out and live for myself.
    He shall carry the lambs in His arms Isaiah 40:11)

    I lived without knowledge of Him and without a relationship with Him for 28 years. I have now lived 27 years, getting to know Him through the truths of His Word, and in communion with Him daily in prayer. Even though life has the same old trials and tribulations, walking with the Good Shepherd gives a peace that passes understanding, and a hope that endures.

Why was I compelled to write a book? I certainly do not expect it to make me money, not at only a few dollars profit margin, and my complete ignorance of how to market it.
It was not written it to impress anyone. I had to lean heavily on a very smart friend to proofread, because I am quite ignorant about proper writing rules.

Follow HIM!

No, I did this as something between myself, and the Lord I love, and then with the great hope that it may encourage a child, or even a parent, to trust Him more.

I have always had an itch to create, to express what I feel, and what I have come through, and what I am learning. It may be done through music, songwriting, drawing, painting, illustrating, and even writing silly puppet scripts. I delight in these things.
My son Noah and I have been working for a few years on writing a book based on the puppet characters we have created and use for children’s ministry. That book will be finished someday, and I hope will be a series of books.
But “Little Lamb” is different. “Little Lamb” says all that I want it to say. I may at some point create a coloring book or miraculously find someone to make “Little Lamb” plush toys, but this book is just what my heart wanted to say.

These verses have held me captive for many years and have been my inspiration.

Psalm 63:8 My soul follows close behind You;
Your right hand upholds me.

Colossians 3:1-4 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

 

 

 

It’s Not About the Big Things

My beautiful Erin (our oldest) sent me this link and told me that this podcast guy was talking about the exact thing that I was talking to her about on the phone the other night. I love how God really hammers us with something in every direction, and gets our attention! 

I had been telling Erin, about how we needed a break from this isolating in the house due to Corona virus, so we went for a car ride to Pennsylvania. We went  back to see our first church (Franklindale Christian Church) and show it to our youngest son Noah, who had been born after we left this ministry.   I told Erin about how a neighbor saw us in the parking lot, and gave us a key to go see the inside. I shared with her what it was like going in and sitting in the pew and singing a song  from the old familiar hymnal,  and that it made me realize 2 important things. 1. That I have more than just the struggle of discontentment, I have wanted to do “BIG THINGS” for God. And not just for His glory, but so that I felt good and useful.
2. That after all these years of ministry, I know now that a little church in the middle of nowhere should always have been enough for me.
Noah really flaked me out while we were sitting there in a church he had never seen, but had often heard about, when he said, “I could have been happy here, Mom.” It STUNG my heart.
20 years before, I had wanted MORE. I wanted a thriving ministry with souls being saved and discipled and lives changed and I wanted improvements to the facility and the rickety old parsonage! This thinking plagued me in some form, at every church Craig was called to. If it wasn’t exciting, then we must try harder!Craig learned to preach in this pulpit, he made the cross up on the wall, we did lead a few souls to the Lord, we did learn a lot and we did really want to serve HIM well. Yes, it was good to see the church continues all these years later, and we liked seeing the facility improvements and the good solid gospel brochures about the churches mission on the back table. 
Back then though, 1997-2000, we were very disappointed. Having just gotten saved in 1993, and then off to Bible College, this seemed like a let down in so many ways. Where were the people like us? The searchers. The ones being born again and wanting to surrender their lives go be missionaries and pastors? I doubted salvations, I doubted our ability to teach and grow a church, I wanted more. It wasn’t BIG enough. It must be their fault, it must be our fault, this can’t be all there is. 
Phillipians 2: 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. 14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

It is GOD who does the BIG things, and I should not be complaining that perhaps in my life, He uses me for the not so big things. He is the one who saves the lost, He may use me… but it is His work, by His Spirit, and my job all along was and is to be humble and faithful.
A painting I did of the church, that still hangs up in the foyer, after all these years! What a blessing that was to see.
How dumb am I to struggle with such simple things at age 54!?!?
I thank the Lord for what He is doing to set my mind straight, and I pray He forgives me for all the years of striving to be great for Him, instead of striving to proclaim His greatness. Yes… we have been faithful, but I sure have grumbled. I get SO discontent, bored and frustrated with the lack of fruit.
This podcast really addresses this deception of our thinking we need to do big things for God, rather than the Biblical truth that our responsibility is to be faithful and obedient.  God gets the glory. The focus is on HIM, not ME!

I don’t much about this teacher, but this is excellent. 
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/brian-seagraves/unapologetic/e/57990033

Week 2 of Social Distancing

Week 2 of Social Distancing.

I can’t visit family or go gather at church, and that is making me wonder how I will spend my time? Will I still redeem the days wisely? Will I sit for hours with my phone, looking at Facebook and longing for time with a friend, or something to laugh at, or a politician to be mad at? Will I play mindless games, and watch episodes of Star Trek?

Yeah. I have done and probably will do those things. But what if I didn’t? What if I got up and devoted myself to learning more about the Lord, really prayed, studied, and asked Him what He would have me doing with my days?

So today, I chose to seek Him and find out.  Immediately after a time of devotions, I felt compelled to spend some of my time doing things that would minister to others. To get my eyes off ME. I thought about what an opportunity it is right now, to use social media to be a witness for the Lord. Many people I greatly respect, are making videos of short living room devotions, or music. These are so beautiful, and I pray the internet is flooded with God’s people testifying to the hope we have in Christ. My version of this, will be to create and share. I can write songs and paint.

Also, I am working on a mailing to my AWANA class, and I’m thinking about doing the same for my Sunday school class.
These days are not mine to do with as my flesh pleases. These are days where I need to fight the lazy and the fear, and let the Spirit guide me.

God’s Word gave me insight on the difference between how a believer thinks and lives, as opposed to an unbeliever. It is a matter of who they are serving. A neighbor and fellow pastor’s wife thought of the idea of reading through the Psalms and discussing in a Facebook group each day. Today was day 2, Psalm 2. This beginning section, which I have read dozens of times though out the years, really hit me today.

1.Why do the nations rage,

And the people plot a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves,

And the rulers take counsel together,

Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces

And cast away Their cords from us.”

King David saw in His own day, how people think they can disregard God and His people, even thinking that we are held in bonds, in cords. The world wants to help us get rid of the yoke of God’s rule in our lives. David saw that they don’t get it. The next section says God is laughing at them for their foolishness.

Living our lives for ourselves, not tied closely to Him, doing whatever we please, not seeking His presence and plan, is a vain thing. It is an empty thing. It is being a captive held in the bonds and cords of sin and selfishness. In contrast, when we are all caught up in following the Lord, we are free and find joy, peace and purpose.

Many years ago, I wrote a song with this line in it:

“I am crucified with Christ,
Therefore I no longer live.
Be the Lord over me. Be the Lord over me.
Your yoke is not a ball and chain,
I am captured yet I am free.
Be the Lord over me. Be the Lord over me.”

Colossians 3:15a

 

 

It is a strange thing to a human soul, to desire to have a Lord, a Master. To be a slave to Christ. It goes against our nature, because we want to live our lives for SELF. I know that is empty and worthless.

It is not about me. I am His and during these days He has given me, He rules.  I humble myself and submit. I pray I will be used for His glory during this time of pandemic and panic.

 

 

A Peace That Cannot Be Understood

A peace that cannot be understood.

It is beyond comprehending.

It guards my mind.

It guards my heart.

In Christ Jesus.

How? By bringing all my issues to Him in prayer. Trusting Him, and not leaning on my own understanding.

I am open to His Spirit’s supply.

A peace that cannot be understood.

This is such a treasured and familiar verse from Philipians 4.
Oh! How I wish I could remember this surrender (as Sara Groves said in a song) and not allow myself to get worked up thinking I should solve my problems or strive to make things happen my way. It is my lifelong struggle. I want to know what is coming, I want to know it will be alright, and I want to have some peace about it all. My flesh tells me I deserve a great life of triumph and accomplishment, without the drama and upsets. My Spirit tells me that my life is not about self- preservation, but that I am to give myself away in service to my Lord and His dear ones.

We recently were asked to stand before a church and give our testimony. It was good to recall the day that I was gloriously and instantly transformed in 1993, when my eyes were opened to the fact that Jesus died on that cross to pay for MY sin. I didn’t understand much, and I didn’t need to. He did the work. It was a done deal forever. When I enter heaven, it will not be by anything I did. I am going because of the holy blood of Jesus, applied to wash away my sins. Grace.  I am still living in this sinful flesh, with this desperately wicked heart, but His transforming power began working to change me, day by day. He will continue to set me apart for Himself, until He calls me home. So many changes. So much many lessons about who He is and who I am IN HIM. I was thrilled to tell my story and to praise Him for it, before a congregation.

We have been in limbo here for about 7 months now. The Lord knows we needed this time to heal from the previous year of the cruelty of cancer, and church chaos. Last summer, I spent a lot of time just floating in the pool, watching the clouds float past, as I just grieved. By fall I was either sitting on the porch swing with my guitar singing praise songs, or painting and praying for healing.  This winter has been a total turn around for me. As I spent my days looking out on the bluest of skies and rolling white hills in this amazingly beautiful place the Lord has put us, I have found peace. His Word has reminded me that it is time to get over it, and just focus on HIM.

These months have been an object lesson in how He cares for me. I see some possible paths He may take us down, and I am surprisingly not fearful. I know I will get hurt, I know things will feel insecure and even down right stink sometimes. Again, it is not about self- preservation. My life is not my own.

I rededicate myself to my King’s service. I fall before His throne completely open.

A peace that cannot be understood.

Song: Under the Sun, written and recorded by Craig and Kim Merritt

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