Wednesday, October 4, 2017

UPSIDE down - see life differently

Looking at the clouds from the top side is one of my favorite moments during flight. They are huge, fluffy, endless, and appear solid and strong. Like a huge playground where weightless bouncing is normal and 'hide and seek' takes on a whole new challenge. We imagine we see animals and giant figures but they are not real. What is real is the blanket of pure white that looks solid enough to walk on. But is that real? Is that the truth? The truth is that the moment we step on this blanket the law of gravity will pull us down, down, down through miles of clouds to inevitable disaster.

The law of gravity is hard to avoid, impossible some say. Some have managed for a moment on a trampoline, wind tunnel or parachute, but in the end gravity won. The law of gravity remains in effect until a stronger law overpowers it.  For instance, stepping into a plane changes everything. As the engines roar the law of aerodynamics overpowers the law of gravity and I am free to fly above the clouds. I am not afraid of falling nor do I feel the pull towards the earth when I look at the clouds from the Upside down.

Can the same be true of my life? Is there a law at work that keeps me down and below my true potential? Is my past, my pain, my circumstances holding me back? The law of sin and death is real. When we sin we die, not instantly but since that first garden sin has been at work in our bodies causing us to die one day at a time and eventually law of death will overtake us all. Experiencing that dreadful moment from this side is hard, very hard. We think we will not survive, the sun will never shine again, the birds will never sing again, and yet they do. The very next morning whether we hear them or not, the birds are singing. The truth is that the sun still rises radiantly in the morning, flowers bloom and the birds still sing.  Even when I "walk through the valley of the shadow of death" and that is all that I know, there is another truth at work. God's Word reminds me 2 verses later that “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)  

Like the law of aerodynamics, I am reminded of another truth, a stronger truth than death. I will rise above the law of death and live again. Eternally? Yes! But here and now as well, for God "has put eternity in our hearts." (Ecclesiastes 3:11) He has offered us His perspective on our lives, His eternal perspective. When we allow His law of everlasting life, of eternity living in our hearts, to overpower the law of sin and death we can see our circumstance from His perspective, from the UPSIDE down.  "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2 THANK YOU JESUS!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Empty heaven, empty manger

It is not Christmas. It is the morning after.  All the boxes are empty. The tree is no longer crowded with gifts. And then I see the empty manger and my mind begins to wonder. What was heaven like without Jesus? Was it like a child away at college? You know they will be home for the holidays. Or was it like a death in the family? A gapping hole in everyday where His amazing presence had been. 

He was God unlimited! He was everything, had everything, knew everything, could do everything, yet He emptied Himself of all that was super-human and became confined to a small body in the hands of simple humans. Humans who didn't really know who they were holding, wrapped in swaddling cloths. His birth opened the heavens and made the angels sing, the stars align, wise men worship, and kings angry. But that's what His presence does; it disrupts the darkness, it brings alignment to chaos and angers evil, it changes everything. 

An empty manger, an empty cross, an empty tomb. He emptied Himself of all that was His so He could fill the earth with love, peace, joy, and make a way for every fallen human to have their place in heaven with Him. He made a way where there had been no way. He made a reservation for me by giving up His own place in Heaven. 

Jesus left heaven, left the manger, left the cross, left the tomb so that He could call my heart His home. An empty manger, an empty cross, an empty tomb has filled my heart with unspeakable joy, unquenchable light, everlasting life, and unconditional love!

Read more in Philippians 2:6-11
The song my heart is singing  What a Beautiful Name

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

God is watching but maybe not like you think.

 "For the eyes of Yahweh roam (go to and fro) throughout the earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are completely His." 2 Chron 16:9
The Lord is actively watching you, looking for those who will totally trust Him, wholeheartedly! If you read the rest of the chapter it is obvious that each choice, toward or away from trusting the LORD, has consequences.  He tells His people, "You depended on the king of Syria instead of depending on the Lord your God. And so, you will never defeat the Syrian army. Remember how powerful the Ethiopian and Libyan army was, with all their chariots and cavalry troops! You trusted the Lord to help you then, and you defeated them. The Lord is constantly watching everyone, and he gives strength to those who faithfully obey him. But you have done a foolish thing, and your kingdom will never be at peace again." 2 Chron 16:7-9 NKJV
God is watching, looking for ways to help us when we agree with and depend on Him. God is not passive watching us waiting for a mistake or misstep so He can catch us in our misbehavior. He is however, watching us every second. Watching us intently and actively looking for those who will trust him completely. Watching so He can help us, strengthen us and show His strength in our lives. He promises that He will show up strong for those who completely trust and follow Him completely. He is for us, always. He makes us braver than we can possibly be in our own imaginations. This song remind us of His intention for us. 
"As Your love, In wave after wave
Crashes over me, crashes over me
For You are for us, You are not against us
Champion of Heaven You've made a way
For all to enter in...You make me brave"  
You make me brave  by Amanda Cook.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What is in your hand?

I am not a huge fan of magic. I'm usually intent on figuring out the trickery behind the trick.  But I love the miraculous, when God does something only He can explain. God gave Moses what seemed like an impossible task. "Go see the powerful man that has been trying to kill you and tell him to release the majority if his workforce, tell him to let My people go." Moses was the perfect mixture of Israelite / Egyptian to deliver the message but his response is so familiar. "Suppose they will not believe me or listen to me...” Doubt, doubt, doubt. I doubt it, I doubt myself, I doubt You, God. So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  He said, “A rod.”   And He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses ran from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” The all knowing One asks a simple question. “What is that in your hand?" Seems kind of obvious, "A stick."
Talking to God is often like that, He seems to beat around the bush,  not the burning one. He is all knowing but he often answers a question with a question, usually a question with an obvious answer. Like whose face is on Caesar's coin? Hey  Peter, do you love me?  Cain, where is your brother? Moses, what's that in your hand?  "Moses, what is that in your hand?" God was showing Moses that He had everything he needed to obey God right in his hand. After all, he was given the rod by God. So according to 2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given to us everything for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us..." We are equipped by Him with everything we need to live and be godly. 
That said, when God shows you what He can do through you it is often scary. When Moses saw the rod turn into a snake he ran from his own rod in fear. How many of us retreat from what God says He wants to do through us. "No God, I can't possibly..." You're right, you can't, but God can. The first thing we have to do is grab it. Watch how God tells Moses to deal with his fear.  "Reach out and grab it by the tail. Fear is dangerous. Grab it. Living in Texas I have a whole new respect for snakes. Snake safety 101 is never catch a snake by the tail. The pure obedience of Moses reaching out and catching the snake by the tail is a picture of faith. The faith that if I do exactly what God tells me, He will do the rest. Perhaps this is why God could do so much through Moses. He heard God clearly. He trusted God. He obeyed.
What do you have in your hand? An instrument? Then play. A voice? Then speak. A pen? Then write. Creativity? Then create. Children? Then parent.  A job? Then do it.  What do you have in your hand? Grab it by the tail and do what God has told you to do.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

What are you sinking about?

What are you sinking about?  Peter was in the boat watching His hero walking on the water. He saw what Jesus was doing and he wanted to do it too, so he said, Lord, I want to come out there too! Tell me to come to You on the water. So Jesus said, Come.”  It was in Peter’s DNA to want to do what Jesus was doing.  What child doesn’t imitate his father, copy him, mimic his walk, his words and his attitude? Listen to what Jesus said in John 5, “I do whatever I see my Father doing." Well at that precise moment, Jesus was walking on water, so Peter thought he would as well.  He thought I want to do what Jesus is doing, to step out of the boat and follow Jesus on the water. Where are your thoughts taking you? Let's follow Peter out on the water with his buoyant thoughts. "This is awesome! I can do this! I can be like Jesus." Then, he started looking around him. "This isn't possible. This is unnatural. Science defies this. I shouldn't be here!" His sinking thinking almost drowned him.
I'm not saying you can wish for whatever you want and it will be, but if Jesus has given you an invitation to step out, to walk on the impossible with Him you have permission to dream, to do what seems impossible. Just keep thinking what He is thinking and you will stay afloat. He told His followers, "See these things I am doing? You will be doing greater things than these." The key? Thinking like Jesus and believing like Jesus. If Jesus, the Son of God, took His directions from the Father, how much more should we humans? Jesus said, “I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in the same manner." When we think like Him we can do what He does, just watch out for sinking thinking! When Peter saw the wind he was afraid and began to sink...he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Stop with the sinking thinking already! Don't doubt, just believe.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Get up and walk

When we fail or fall, getting up is hard. Looking in the mirror, harder. We knew we could do better, we were not expecting THAT from ourselves. Sometimes we beat ourselves up thinking that will help us get over it, get past the moment.  We can believe that God forgives us, perhaps others forgive us, but we can't forgive ourselves. We believe that somehow when we have done enough penance we will be able to feel forgiven. There is something so wrong with that thinking. First, we don't understand Grace. His grace is enough! We can't add to it, can't pay for it, can't earn it. Second, who do we think we are that we can forgive sins? If the God of the universe gave His Only Son to die so we could be forgiven, what more do we need? He can forgive us but we can't forgive ourselves? How prideful. It means we believe that our offense against ourselves is bigger than our offense against God? "Jesus paid it all, ALL! All to Him I owe. Sin had left an awful stain. He washed it white as snow." Thinking we can forgive ourselves is a pride sin. We don't have the power to forgive, only God does. All we can do is receive his Grace. That's what we balk at. We want to do something, pay for it, earn it. He says "no", just receive. It doesn't seem like enough. We can no more forgive ourselves than we can heal ourselves. The paralytic was carried in by four friends because he could not bring himself. (Mark 2) And there at Jesus' feet he was forgiven. The question was raised, "Who can forgive sins but God?" And the Son of God said, "I can and I do." "Your sins are forgiven, get up, you are whole." If God has forgiven us, who are we to argue that there is still sin we have to forgive ourselves for? That is rebellion and pride. We can do nothing to save ourselves but repent, receive His grace and get off the mat and walk. Who has power to forgive sins but God? Done, your sins are forgiven, get up and walk.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Faith Upstages Science

On August the 2nd, I woke up from a dream that disturbed me. Firstly, I seldom remember dreams and when I do they are vivid.  This particular Sunday morning I immediately told my husband. In the dream I had waking my husband, the pastor   and telling him, “Lori is dead, Lori is dead! We have to go!” He said, “No she is not and rolled over, back to sleep.” The dream continued and in it I woke again, shaking my husband “Lori’s dead! Lori’s dead!” and again he said “No, she is not.”

After church we went to lunch with Lori and her husband as previously planned. We talked about things, nothing earth shattering but just before we left Lori started sharing her heart. She revealed some heart issues and wounds that were painful. We talked a while and I encouraged her to come to House of Prayer at the church that night so we could pray together.

House of prayer was half over when Lori and Greg came through the door. They sat for a while praying. Remembering what I had said to her, I asked another lady to come with me and we sat down with Lori to pray. Although she had prayed with me before and received Christ and given Him her life she expressed areas of uncertainty of God’s love. When she closed her eyes to pray it was just darkness. We led her in praying through some lies that she believed about God, asking forgivingness for believing the lies and replaced them with prayers of truth. Over the next 20 minutes she went from the place of seeing only darkness to seeing Jesus standing right in front of her. I asked her if she wanted to go to Him and she said “Yes!” Then with her eyes still closed and a smile on her face she whispered, “He is holding me.”  I remembered the dream and thought to myself, there were places in her heart that were dead but now they are alive!  So that is what my dream meant.

2 weeks later, Aug 16th, Lori and Greg did not come to church. Looking back I remember the worship, “Healing is here, healing is here and I believe it, healing is here and I receive it. I lift my hands to the heavens, I lift my eyes to where my help comes from, I look to You my Rock my Healer, I trust in You.” My husband preached on Identity and how knowing who we are in Christ makes us act like Him. He quoted Jesus saying, “Greater things than these will you do…” and he smilingly asked, “Who of us has raised anyone from the dead this past week?”  It was a good service and afterwards we were visiting with the last few people still in the church when someone burst through the door, “they are doing CPR at Greg and Lori’s house. It’s not Greg!” We dropped everything, raced to our cars and drove the 2 minutes to their house, praying life and healing the entire way. There were 2 ambulances and several sheriff vehicles parked in the drive and on the lawn. Lori was lying on the ground lifeless and CPR was in progress.

Being a nurse I stepped close to her and placed my hand on the side of her neck, not to find a pulse but to pray for her, to declare life, to ask the breath of the Holy Spirit to breathe into her. Shortly after that they loaded her in the ambulance. We took Greg and drove to the hospital. They led us into a room but we could see a lot of activity. Although I work there I was not in uniform that day, but I was free to enter the room during the code blue, as I had many times before. This time was different, as I looked at the equipment and IVs and science in the room I said to myself, “Faith, FAITH, keep the faith.” I have experienced this struggle many times as I pray for the sick, faith vs science. I know the science, have a degree in it, yet I know my Jesus, I have a relationship with Him. So I prayed in and for faith, while seeing the monitors beeping out numbers and the professionals calling out vital information to each other.

During this time Lori’s heartbeat was erratic and fluctuated up and down sometimes disappearing. “Stand clear!” back to CPR. I choose not to get involved in the treatment but keep my hand on her much of the time, praying openly in front of my coworkers. I am relieved to see a fellow nurse of faith in the room. Every negative declaration made in the room brought our eyes together in agreement to say “Just believe,” building up our faith together.  The seasoned doctor looks at me and said, “I think we will have to stop, she’s gone.” The work stopped and the time on the clock was called out. The doctor sat down with Greg and the family, saying things that are all forgotten except for the words, “She is gone.” Those dead words hung in the air like a dark blanket and we surrounded Greg with our prayers and arms.

After a while, I left to help get Lori’s body ready so the family could come in. As I walk in I saw that the blanket was pulled back, the nurses and the doctor are standing silently around the bed, there was no movement, no heart beat on the monitor, no pulse, but then to our surprise there was a twitch, a sigh, once, again, not rhythmically, not normal. The science in the room started trying to explain it and the doctor shook his head and said, “This is impossible, there is no way she can still be alive.” Then, “Start the code again! I’ve never seen this in all my years.” The monitor started to beep, rhythmically this time. Someone reported her blood gas numbers, “You know what that means? That is incompatible with life. She should not be here.” BUT she was, a smile crosses my face, “Believe.”  

The doctor’s words to the family were cautious, he did not raise hope, “She won’t …. Too long…. Decisions you’ll have to make…..never seen anything like this.” But he offered to transfer her to a major center or she could stay in the local ICU and see how she does. The doctor got called out of the room and we all looked at each other in amazement and shock at what had just happened.  The decision was made to stay local and keep her nearby. I was reminded that science didn’t bring her back; God did, so God will have to do the rest.

The family was brought in. Lori was now on a breathing machine, the monitor rhythmically beeping at a normal rate and the blood pressure on the machine was that of a healthy adult! Family was praying, Greg was speaking in his wife’s ear. Nurses were quietly doing their thing. Arrangements were made for admission to ICU but there would be a bit of a wait. For about 45 minutes there was life without CPR. Life had out maneuvered death. Faith had upstaged science. We were sad and celebrating at the same time. 

Then, very quickly her heart stopped and it was over. She was gone. Gone from us but very much alive! Out of our sight but when I closed my eyes I could see her smile and hear her whisper, “He is holding me.”  I remembered the dream. “Lori is dead.” and the response, “No she is not!”

"Now we see in a mirror, dimly, 
but then face to face." 
1 Cor 13:12