Naked

There wasn’t a more vulnerable and good time then when Adam and Eve were in the garden at the beginning. They had perfect communion with God and nothing to hide from each other. They were naked, not just physically, but in every way, and it was normal and good. It will be amazing to know what that’s like in heaven one day!

It seems we all spend so much time and energy trying to cover ourselves, hiding, guarding our hearts, distracting with lovely elaborate clothing, flat-out lying – even to ourselves. That’s why it’s a great practice to daily stand in God’s light. It’s very humbling, of course. How could it not be? But

God does know absolutely everything about each of us

– physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. We are incapable of hiding anything from Him.

But still, it is a challenge Appleto stand there before God, the perfect God of the universe, that has the right and ability to absolutely reject us and chooses instead to send His only son to die for us. Jesus’ life here on earth, death, and resurrection makes a way for us to be reunited with God again.

So we stand here in His light, knowing more each day about His amazing love, forgiveness, mercy and grace. And with that love, He is also perfecting us. When sin shows itself, as it will very often, God works on purifying us. It does hurt a bit, but the more we know God, the more we trust His daily corrections and removal of those seedlings of sin to save us from the grueling and excruciating process of removing huge trees of sin with roots hundreds of feet below the surface. And those roots, how deep they are… they do require major surgery! I’d much rather stand in His wonderful comforting love constantly and endure an occasional splinter removal any day.

God is such a kind and loving Father. He is what our hearts are longing for, that perfect love that puts our hearts and spirits at ease and helps our desperate search for meaning to finally come to an end. There is a no more wonderful place to be than there in His light. I challenge you to picture yourself there today. Use the effort it takes to hide instead to keep from running away from Him. His perfecting love is so wondrously fulfilling, comforting and peaceful. It far makes up for any adjusting God does to keep us healthy and free.

Mind Over Matter?

ThinkingGirlWe relate to God in many ways…mentally, emotionally and spiritually to name a few. When things are going well, we are growing in all of these ways and it’s possible we don’t even notice what order they are in. However, when life gets harder, so does our ability to handle the situation well.

Today, I’m thinking specifically about my mind versus my heart… knowing things mentally versus feeling them were spiritually and emotionally. My mind has always been much more domineering than my heart. I’m sure it goes both ways depending on the person. Usually I’d say having a domineering mind is good, because we need to know God and all He has done. Whether I feel He is near or feel strong or feel secure, these are all still reality. We immerse ourselves in God’s Word to know Him better which becomes the bedrock of our faith. From there, we know ourselves and others better as well. Ideally our hearts keep up and all is good. But big surprise, this doesn’t always happen!

Personally, my heart has been pretty starved and weak most of my life. Thankfully, God has been catching it up and growing it exponentially these past years but, there are still some obvious deficiencies. I do want to rely on both mind and heart and have them complement one another so I know God loves me, and I can rest in his presence and actually sense and feel He does. Win-win.

Sometimes though, my mind can just be a bully. That’s not the best situation either. Can you relate?

My heart hurts and needs God’s comfort….

but after a while, my mind just takes over and says,

Enough already.

Suck it up.

Get over it,

or the immature answer of  frustration, “WHATEVER!!!”

If I go along with my mind at this point, my heart gets completely stomped on and I immediately turn my emotions off and proceed. 

From the outside all is well. I’m DOING what I should. I’m not a crying mess. But in reality, nothing was resolved, learned or gained. Just another wound, not even from others, but from myself. I did not receive the comfort God had for me. Just “WHATEVER!!!”

So, for me, I need to get my mind to lighten up a bit. Maybe you are at the other extreme. God intends to grow us in all ways!! It is good to have our minds able to take over when there’s confusion, because feelings are fickle and sometimes our hearts just will not cooperate as they need to. It doesn’t take long being a Christian to find that sometimes God does seem to hide from us a bit and

we must rely on truth to get us through.

God is faithful. God is with me. God loves me. God is good, and so on.

Yet, I can say from experience, walking with God only on a mental level is a pretty dry walk. God does relate to our hearts so much. The Holy Spirit does comfort us and not just mentally. He speaks to our hearts. He is growing us always, even in the realm of emotion and feeling. The Holy Spirit brings the words of God to life and speaks uniquely to every person. So we should see to know God with our minds and also with our hearts. God can make that reality!

God’s Timing

C161QP41004KGod’s timing. It can be such a mystery. If only I could understand God’s timing, have Him explain what he’s doing and why. But, usually no. Isaiah tells us this about God –

 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,                                                                               neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV)

 

Sometimes we long to be making a difference, and on a mission, but instead find we are

just waiting in a solitary place.

I’ve experienced that recently. It is very frustrating because we want God to use us in His plan, to “trust” us with the big stuff. God, in His wisdom, knows what preparations are necessary for us to be involved in the battle around us. In His mercy, He does sometimes take us aside to build us up where we are lacking, grow our character, and strengthen our weak knees. We don’t know what’s ahead of us or how intense the battle will be. Once we are in action, that’s not the time to realize I’m not up for this and go running back to safety, arrows whizzing by our heads.

Life is difficult. It is not for the faint hearted. Every day, we need to risk loving others, standing up for truth and sharing the Gospel of the One this world hated so much that we crucified Him. God loves each of us too much to send us out into the raging battle with only a helmet. Or only a breastplate. Or only a shield. God uses times of apparent inactivity to train us, get that armor on and equip us to be effective soldiers.

One thing I’ve learned in this time of waiting is we have to find our joy in God. There are thousands of other options in the world, and they will all let us down. People are so precious, but no one can take the place of God. Nothing can comfort like He does. No one else can honestly say, I will never leave you or forsake you. I’ve found it’s lesson one and unfortunately one to be learned through trials, disappointments and pain.

If you feel you are in a time of waiting, consider who or what is your joy. Who or what gives you worth. When we can answer both of these questions with GOD, so much of our training is done. God gives us that strength and elasticity to deal with a rough and unpredictable life. He helps us bounce back instead of breaking every time our feelings get hurt or someone lets us down. 

Whatever He’s doing and whatever phase of life you’re in, it’s for a reason. Possibly you won’t understand what that reason is for years or even your lifetime. Regardless, God is working for our good and His glory. Romans 8:28 says, 28And we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.  He can be trusted. Whatever dark and lonely place you may be in today, you are not alone and never forgotten. It would be great to know how long you will be there, but better yet is knowing you’ll leave when God says you’re ready. If it takes 10 days or 10 years, we want to be soldiers that are fully armed, fully equipped and ready for whatever comes our way because God is with us. He loves us too much to push us into difficult situations ill-equipped.

The Best Gift

Gifts can say so much, can’t they? They reaffirm someone’s love, show their heart for us. The more intimate a relationship is, the more expectation we may have of gifts given. Most of us would agree it isn’t the cost of the gift as much as the thought put into it and the effort used to choose it. (I’m relieved this isn’t about my own record of gift giving, because that isn’t my best area for sure.)

CrossBut God has given us the best gift, the gift of his own Son’s precious life and death to restore our relationship with Him. It is the most costly gift. Before God created any of us or this world, He was already completely perfect and satisfied. He didn’t NEED us. He wanted us. Yet, in our choice to sin and reject God, we ruined it all. He could have looked at us and our terrible choice to sin in disobeying Him and just say, redo! In an instant everything could have been erased or restarted. But no, He chose to give up, for a time, His very Son, who is also God, to see Him suffer and die in the hands of sinful, corrupt people.

How much grief and pain that must have been for God. We can understand the death of the closest person in our family, but giving that person up to be treated horribly and then killed? Jesus is holy and perfect and obviously deserved none of that.

But He willingly went

through his part of it. For those 33 years, He was both God and man, subjected to this fallen world. He was treated terribly by us, accused wrongly, crucified – a most painful and humiliating death. He knew and experienced all of mankind’s hatred, jealousy, bitterness, evilness. I am so thankful He did rise from the dead and defeat death and sin! The most horrific story also has the best ending – God’s offer of salvation to every person.

What a gift! If gifts show one’s heart and the depth of love, the importance of the one it is given to – we are obviously

more loved than we will ever fully understand.

God didn’t have to do any of that! Yet, He did. He saw a way to fix what people ruined and it required giving up His only Son to be treated horribly and killed so our dilemma could be solved.

This is a gift every person should daily think about and be thankful for! How could we ever doubt our worth to God or His love for us. He has demonstrated His love with the most amazing gift.

Our Understanding Friend

YHWH….the Jewish people long ago wouldn’t even write out Yahweh’s name. They shortened it this way to honor Him.

Do I revere the Lord so much that I hesitate to write even His name down? I’ve spent a lot of time really understanding that God wants me to think of Him as a Friend. What an amazing privilege! But equally challenging is really getting how holy and overwhelmingly unique God is. 

I think it can be obvious which end of this spectrum I’m leaning toward by how I live day to day. When I think of Him mostly as a Friend, and less as the holy God of the Universe, I notice I get more lax about living like my body is His temple. I don’t eat right as much or exercise as I need to, and it really doesn’t bother me. I can put so much off until tomorrow. He understands, right!? Friends understand.

When I focus primarily on God as my Friend and not so much on Him as the Lord of Heaven and Earth, I really enjoy that God’s love is not about what I do. I know God wants true heartfelt worship and obedience, not checklists. But loving God is knowing Him better – which I do by spending time with Him, studying His Word, praying His will is accomplished. Doing these things doesn’t  make Him love me more or less, but they have a huge impact on the depth of my relationship with Him. How close are you to a friend you never see, talk to, or check in with? Not too close, right? So does God understand when we skip our daily disciplines and just “go with the flow”?

What about church attendance and participation in groups and events with my Christian brothers and sisters? God cares about me resting and not just being busy. Summer seems a great time to focus on catching up on things, taking a break, chillin’. If I try hard for 8 or 9 months of the year being involved at church, it seems He’d understand if I take the summer or chunks of the year off, right? Friends understand we need breaks after all.

But when I look at it all together like this, I am expecting God to understand an awful lot, aren’t I!? Am I making any effort if I take a break from all of these things for weeks, months, years? Now it seems more like I have no time for Him, that He’s not even making the top 10 of my priorities.

I read Hebrews 10 and feel very convicted that our Christian life is one that we are to live in a holy and intentional way. 
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living wayopened for us through the curtain,that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to Godwith a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.




The Bible tells us exactly how God wants us to live. God is merciful and He absolutely understands us. Which means He also understands when we are making excuses, being lazy, selfishly pursuing our own plans or just plain not caring about Him.

We are meant to serve God wholeheartedly 24/7, 365. In doing so, He provides the rest we need. Our daily time with Him refreshes our spirit and strengthens our faith. We don’t give up meeting with our brothers and sisters because we all need one another. We need accountability. We need words of encouragement and correction. We need consistent practice learning to be vulnerable, forgiving, and gracious. If you are like me, you fade away from these things without purposefully pursuing them

My body needs to be treated like His temple always because that’s what it is. Whatever I need to do to be healthy and feel my best, able to be an energetic servant of my Lord, needs to happen.

He understands our struggles but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t expect our obedience. So, God is definitely my understanding Friend, your understanding Friend. No doubt there. But to be more accurate, He is our understanding, holy, almighty, all-powerful, perfectly loving Friend. The only one I would perish if I were to look directly at His magnificence. The Friend that created this world, the universe, me, the way of salvation, the heaven we will live in for all eternity. The Friend that has a purpose for our lives that we can either cooperate with or fight against. The Friend that deserves 100% of my faithfulness, 100% of my love, 100% of my time and energy. Yep, that’s my Friend!

What a Friend We Have in Jesus Lyrics

What a friend we have in Jesus
, All our sins and griefs to bear
. And what a privilege to carry
 Everything to God in prayer.

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
, Oh, what needless pain we bear
. All because we do not carry
 Everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations?
 Is there trouble anywhere?
 We should never be discouraged
. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Can we find a friend so faithful
? Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
. Take it to the Lord in prayer.

When Life Is Hard

Comments on the book by James MacDonald

458704I’ve been reading through a really good book called When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald. The funny thing is, I didn’t even want to read it at first. My husband and I joked about getting the sequel, When Life Is Easy. But I am really glad I did read it. MacDonald has amazing compassion, but holds us accountable.

There is a part in chapter 4 that hugely impacted me so that’s what I’ll write about today. How do we get from a great relationship with God to making terrible decisions and disowning our Lord? It’s a shorter route than I realized, and it was a rude awakening that I’ve made it pretty far down the path at times of my life.

So, enter the trial, that one trial that just never seems to end and is so unfair. Let a month pass, a year, a decade…..here’s what can happen.

Trials CAN Lead to Discouragement.

Ok, so this one seems kind of common sense, doesn’t it. Aren’t we all in this place here and there? We can take step one to destruction on many days. MacDonald explains that many factors can go into us becoming discouraged. But, often it’s a faulty way of thinking, like blaming others, having a pity party, denial or just refusing to focus on God’s truths.

Discouragement Leads to Dislocation.

Now to me, this is something I’ve definitely overlooked. I get discouragement and why we need to keep our hearts and minds correctly focused on God. I’ve also noticed I can get discouraged and eventually feel better and not think that much about it. MacDonald explains that trials feel like pressure on us. God is getting our attention and allows some pressure that could end up causing us a slight limp or discomfort. BUT, and here’s the key, HE WILL EQUIP US TO BEAR UP UNDER THE WEIGHT. If we remain, and stay faithful, it’s possible it would not even be that difficult. Our main job is looking to Him and remaining where He puts us until He says we’re done. So, we have no idea how long it will last. It hurts. We want out. If we choose to squirm and crawl out….the pressure is going to cause major pain and serious injury (dislocation), perhaps that we will never recover from. So this step is caused by our desire to escape, be free of the trial and solve it ourselves. All that we accomplish is setting ourselves up for another time of this trial again. We didn’t learn our lesson. We didn’t overcome with God’s strength. We opted out and looped back around to have to do it again, maybe with a permanent added injury.

I would say I’ve been through this step at times too. I’ve given up on the right way and just forced my way out of a hard situation. Perhaps it was turning to lying or cheating, or failing someone we could have supported. Bursting out angrily and hurting someone, taking what may seem the easy way out but finding we’re left with a relationship that can’t seem to be repaired or a terribly guilty conscience.

Dislocation CAN Lead to Bitterness.

I wish I would have never gotten to this step, but, I have. Perhaps you have too. For me, bitterness is that turning point of I’m not listening to God anymore, I’m listening to me. I know He’s perfect but I feel this instance may be the first time He has messed up. I stop listening to wise friends and wallow in my own anger. Lines get blurred and I don’t care as much if I cross them. I am not getting what I feel I deserve. And I’m sick of it. Time for me to be in charge. The crazy thing is, you may even have an ok attitude. But, if you’re going with your plans and purposely skipping God’s….you’re still bitter.

Bitterness Leads to Profane Living.

This is where you tell yourself you don’t want God, you don’t like Him, and you’re fine with trying to undermine Him and His plans. The things you try not to do, you now purposely enjoy. You take His name in vain, refuse to pray or listen. You mock Him when able. You subject yourself to things that you know are bad for you. It’s being unfaithful to God and acting as if He means nothing to you. You can still get back to where you should be. But, you’re allowing your heart to be hardened, even hoping it will, which then leads to the final step.

Profane Living Leads to Disqualification.

Perhaps you thought at some point you could still come back to God, and He does give us SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES. But, eventually, it’s not your choice any more. “One day, I’ll make things right. One day, I’ll think about eternity. One day, I’ll tell Him I’m sorry for hating Him all my life.” If there’s still a soft part of our hearts, we have hope. We can still respond to God. But, as our hearts become harder and harder, we hear Him less and eventually our heart is just a rock that would need a miracle to change. MacDonald brings up the sorrow Esau felt after selling his very birthright for a meal. Hebrews 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. He did want to seek it, but it was too late. And unless we turn to God before this point, this is where our downward spiral can also end. 

Repent. Submit to God no matter how difficult or unreasonable you feel the situation is. He’ll bring you back to Him. Eventually it will make sense. He is so good, and you can trust He knows what He’s doing. Our stubbornness gets us nowhere. Don’t say, hey, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not like it’s life and death…..because that’s exactly what it is.

I hope this is helpful to others as it has been to me. Read the book! It’s worth it!

Our Perfect Best Friend

 For a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all his paths. Proverbs 5:21

Quite a humbling verse! God knows everything about me, but somehow thinking of Him examining my path makes me uneasy. I have to remind myself that

God is on my side.

He is for me.

Instead of picturing God facing me, stern look on His face, judging my path, I have to remind myself that God is grace. That doesn’t mean He’s any less holy, perfect or righteous. But He stands with me, arm over my shoulders speaking to me gently about my path.

I can ask God questions like, how do I avoid that in the future, Lord? Or I’m picking up a pattern. Will you help me change this? And He does. Or even comment, I don’t know why I do that. I really need help! He is happy to help me in any way I need.

I can rest easy in His presence and be open to His thoughts, convictions, and insights. Not that I will always love His input, not that they will always be my favorite words… but He speaks with love and kindness. It’s not, you’re a failure. It’s more, look my daughter, this isn’t good for you. Let’s work on freeing you from the snare.

We can think of God as our Best Friend, Ally, Counselor and Advisor. The thing is, He is still our Lord and we do need to be obedient to Him. So, we are in this unique relationship, knowing we are completely loved and known and also knowing our obedience and submission is necessary. Our Best Friend always knows best.

God is a friend, no doubt about it. He is for us and is not the accuser of His children. But, neither is He just like a human friend. It’s not a 50-50, compromise in everything friendship. We are mortal, sinful people and He is the Creator of the Universe! He chooses to walk with us, guide us, comfort and always love us. We can take comfort that He examines our paths. And we can decide ahead of time, when we disagree, we go with God’s way. It’s an interesting and amazing relationship He invites us into.