Search me God and know my heart

My good friend, Karen Johnson, 17457559_10208706141674826_1535373195003498282_nposted this today on her Facebook page.  It is such a great post I wanted to share it with my followers just in case you don’t see her daily post blessings.  She is a great writer and I so enjoy her insight.  I hope you agree with me after reading it.  Here it is:

Before Matt and I got married we joined Celebrate Recovery (CR) together. CR is a program that helps you work through “any habits, hurts or hang-ups that are keeping you from a deeper relationship with God”. When this program is led well it is a beautiful thing.

Everyone has something that is keeping them from a deeper relationship with God. Sometimes we might not even realize it.

I’ve been in church for 40 years now, learning and following God and working through different sins. It feels a bit like climbing a ladder. 18342101_10209092319529031_5372102564826892143_nAs God works with me on one sin and I stop committing it I go up a step on the ladder. Thinking this way is a trap though because as I leave sins behind and become more righteous my sins just start to look better, they aren’t actually better sins.

As I left behind blatant lies and cussing I started feeling pretty good about myself. I’d review my actions at the end of the day and think to myself, “I didn’t even sin.” Days like this, months like this, I had stopped asking for forgiveness.

Stopped repenting because what was I even doing wrong? I hadn’t graduated from sin though I just had graduated to sneakier sins.

Sneaky sins are sins like self-righteousness, pride, gluttony, idolatry (I’m not talking about statue worship but putting something or someone above God), and deceit. (Help me with this list in the comments if you can think of another sneaky sin.) I had stopped seeing my sins as filthy rags and confessing them and being broken by them and had justified and shrugged them off as “no big deal”.

I’m writing this not because I’ve got all the answers but because I recognized my error and want to be transparent.

It was in CR that I learned an important lesson about transparency. When we fail to be transparent we create a culture within the church where we put our best foot forward and show up together and we know that we don’t have it all together but we make it look like we do. Then we get together with a bunch of other people who are doing the exact same thing but we don’t realize it. All we see is,

“wow they have it all together! What is wrong with me?”

Or if you’re in that pride and self-righteous thinking you look around and judge and think you do have it together, and that you’re doing pretty good. When you hear great sermon points you think to yourself, “I sure wish __________ was here to hear this.”

We are sick and we are infecting the church by pretending.

That’s why programs like a healthy CR ministry and a good small group are so important. We need to be real with one another, faking does no good to anyone. It doesn’t allow you to move forward and it makes others feel inferior.

  • Be truthful.
  • Be real.
  • Be authentic and vulnerable

God will use your insufficiencies to show that He is more than sufficient. Like Paul said,

“But he (God) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
-‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Ask God,

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
‭‭-Psalm‬ ‭139:23-24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

#thisismystory
#CelebrateRecovery
#SmallGroups

Just a note from Shelley:  Good books on this topic.

  • Life’s Healing Choices- John Baker
  • Get out of That Pit- Beth Moore
  • Breaking Free- Beth Moore

Thanks Karen, love you!

Expectancy Ps. 40:1-3

IMG_1517I pick a word every year and have for several years now as a suggestion from author, speaker, and friend, Pam Farrel.  My mentor.  This devotional pops up on my daily reading in my Logos.com software.  It has haunted me since I read it.  It couldn’t be more right on for me.

So at the risk of boring you I am reposting a segment of a previous post called:          2017 Dealing with Disappointment.

Quote from my devotional, Read What I Wish I’d Known in one year, by many Authors one being Susie Larson. She is a radio host, speaker, and author of 10 books. You can connect with her at  http://susielarson.com/:     (Pam Farrel, my friend and mentor is also an author in this book)

“There is a big difference between expectation and expectancy.

Expectation is premeditated disappointment, whereas expectancy involves faith.

To cling to your expectation is to decide ahead of time how things need to turn out for you to be okay.

To embrace expectancy is to engage your faith that God will move on your prayers and that he may come through in a way that’s different than you expect.”

I had said in that post that I had not committed to a Word for the Year yet.  Well I have now.

It is Expectancy.

I need to work on this shift in my way of thinking.  I don’t like the idea of premeditated disappointment.  I have seen it at work in others and realized how ugly it is on me.

So there you have it, short and sweet.

Praying your year, now in the 2nd month is starting out good and that you too have chosen a Word to meditate on and ponder all year.  It is such a rich blessing and good thing to do.  Thank you Pam for encouraging us year after year to do this.

Psalm 40:1–3 (The Message)

1I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened.2He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip.

3He taught me how to singtn_dancing_final the latest God-song, a praise-song to our God. More and more people are seeing this: they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.

Now engage your faith that God will move on your prayers and that he may come through in a way that’s different than you expect.

 

Has Jesus lingered in your life?

My devotion today really moved me.  I thought I would share it with you.

The Lingering Love of Jesus

Kasey Van Norman
“He’s coming! He’s coming! He’s outside the village now!”
As the words rang out through the grief-stricken shadows of her home, Martha let the small cup she’d been relentlessly scrubbing come crashing to the floor. Her brow was covered in beads of sweat, and she gasped as the tears threatened to spill over.
She’d known somewhere deep inside that he would come, but that confidence had been strangled bit by bit with each day that had passed since her brother’s death. Yet even her deep grief and disappointment were no match for the small flame of hope that flickered to life when she heard he was near.
Martha’s emotions were playing tricks on her, it seemed. Simply hearing that Jesus was on his way reignited her hope—the same hope she’d felt the day she sent word for him to come right away. But now it was four days later, and Lazarus’ lifeless body remained untouched by the miracle of healing she’d been hoping for.
She had prayed desperately that Jesus would come in time, but God hadn’t answered her prayers. Day and night, weeping and wailing beside her brother’s lifeless body, she’d pleaded for God’s mercy, yet he hadn’t come to Lazarus’ aid.
I wish I’d known that God ordains his children’s disappointment and suffering in order to give them far greater joy in the glory he is preparing to reveal.
As she stood beside her washbasin, her mind told her to stay, to finish cleaning the dishes and forget about Jesus. After all, hadn’t he forgotten about her? And yet her heart tugged her into motion, pulling her body toward the only one who had the power over life and death.
When her eyes met Jesus on the rocky path outside her home, all she thought she knew crumbled as she fell to the ground. She could not contain her grief and love as she collapsed at Jesus’ feet. “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
As her body trembled before him, she felt a sudden wave of peace and warmth overwhelm her as Jesus placed his hand gently on top of her head. As she looked up at him, she gasped at what she saw—tears! Tangible traces of sadness had broken through the dust and grime on her Savior’s face.
And as she watched her Lord weep, she loved him more, trusted him more, and believed him more—despite the pain that told her to do otherwise.
Ministry is simply this—life. And often times in life, Jesus lingers.
In my own life I have spent more time in the wandering than I have in the knowing. I have cried out to God in anger, I have wept before him in brokenness, I have retreated from him out of fear, I have found my steps paralyzed in doubt, I have questioned my calling and have doubted my worthiness to claim any of it.
As difficult as it is to see in the midst of the lingering, everything God does is motivated by love. And believing this truth is the heartbeat of life and ministry; the knowing, seeing, and the walking out of our calling.
He often allows his love to linger in order to show us that his love for us is anything but common—just as he did for Martha.
God sees the full potential for our lives, and he deeply desires us to know his love so that we might fully believe his greater plan for us. God never lingers out of wrath or anger, but out of a pure and holy desire for us to believe he’s bigger than we thought prior to our season of waiting.
Check yourself against the following “ministry traps”—ones that I have personally fallen in to and that have the potential to grieve your soul and calling.
In the past when God has lingered, I have done one or more of the following:
• picked up an addiction or gone back to an old one
• become angry
• gotten bitter
• wished for death
• become depressed
• gotten discouraged
• let my marriage or other significant relationships fall apart
• become violent toward myself or others
• become jealous of those God seemed to be blessing
• become overwhelmed with fear and anxiety
• clung to unforgiveness
• allowed guilt and shame to get the best of me
• basked in my loneliness and despair
• blamed God or others in the wait
• allowed stress to take over all the time
• become a workaholic
• stopped waiting and started doing my own thing
• lost all hope in God
As Martha wept, I picture Jesus gently lifting her face to meet his and then, with loving intensity, speaking over her, “Your brother will rise again.” As his living words began to revive her hope, she might have wondered, Could he mean …? No, surely not. She dared not let herself hope in that way. Not after four days.
“He will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day,” she finally said (verse 24). And her statement was true. Lazarus would rise again on the last day. In fact, Martha most likely had no idea how deeply Jesus longed for that day. But Jesus was referring to something more in that moment.
He replied, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this?” (verses 25–26).
The power of Jesus’ words must have caused faith to swell in Martha’s soul—an awakening of sorts.
I doubt she was sure what it all meant, but as Jesus spoke, it was as if death itself was being swallowed up (see 1 Cor 15:54). No one else had ever spoken like this man (see John 7:46). Martha answered, “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (verse 27).
You know how this story ends. Lazarus does wake up. But in the horrible days before that, during her brother’s agonizing illness and in the dark misery of the days after his death, Martha didn’t know what God was doing. He seemed silent and unresponsive. Jesus didn’t come. She was confused, disappointed, and overwhelmed with grief.
Yet Jesus delayed precisely because he loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus. He knew that Lazarus’ death and resurrection would give maximum glory to God and that his friends would experience maximum joy in that glory.
When Jesus makes a trusting saint wait in pain, his reason is only and always love. God ordains his child’s deep disappointment and profound suffering in order to give him or her far greater joy in the glory he is preparing to reveal.
Before we know what Jesus is doing, circumstances can look all wrong, and we’re tempted to interpret God’s apparent inaction as a lack of love when in fact God is showing us love in the most profound way.
The way we believe Jesus in his lingering is how we live out a life-calling that is honoring and glorifying to him.
The question for us is the same as it was for Martha when Jesus peered into her eyes and asked, “Do you believe this?”

taken from a devotional named:
What I Wish I’d Known in one year
Bio
Writer and speaker Kasey Van Norman and her husband serve at Still Creek Ranch, one of the largest child rescue organizations in the U.S. You can connect with her at KaseyVanNorman.org

2017 Dealing With Disappointment

Start the new year 2017 with a Word. Pick a word you can exercise, meditate on, ponder, consider, incorporate into your life. Ask God to help you find your word and scripture to go with it.God-sky

My Word for the new year hasn’t quite revealed itself to me. Maybe “walk”. But after reading this devotional I’m looking more for a word here in this scripture in Psalms 40:1-3 below.

I need a year of not being disappointed but engaging. I’ll let you know what my Word is soon.

This was my devotional today. It is right on the money! A must read.

Dealing with Disappointment
Susie Larson
Several years ago my mentor said these compelling words to me:
Susie, there’s a big difference between expectation and expectancy.

Expectation is premeditated disappointment, whereas expectancy involves faith.

To cling to your expectation is to decide ahead of time how things need to turn out for you to be okay.

To embrace expectancy is to engage your faith that God will move on your prayers and that he may come through in a way that’s different than you expect.

Wise words, wouldn’t you say?
I don’t know what kind of year you’ve had, but for me, it’s been a bittersweet one. On one hand we’ve seen God move in ways that have completely inspired our faith, and on the other, we’ve experienced loss and heartbreak in ways that have left me breathless.

Can you relate?
I wish I’d known to release my puny expectation of what I thought my life should look like and pick up expectancy instead.
What are we to do with the very real sense of loss, disappointment, and heartbreak we encounter along life’s way?

How do we keep our disappointments from tangling us up, from strangling our joy and skewing our perspective?
The answer (as far as I can tell) is this: To release expectation. To embrace expectancy.

  • It’s time to open our clenched fists and release the crinkled picture of how we thought things would look by now.
  • It’s time to hand it over to the one who knows us best and loves us most. God has a bigger canvas and a far bigger brush. He can paint something beautiful with our lives and with our story that we can’t even comprehend right now. We need to give him time and space to work in, through, and around us.
  • It’s time to release our puny, detailed expectation of what we think our lives should look like.
  • It’s time to pick up expectancy, to wrap our arms around the fact that Jesus is alive and active in our lives.

He moves on faith. Fear doesn’t motivate him. Faith does. As we embrace his love, and trust his promise to hear our prayers and respond to our faith, we can know that any day now, Jesus will break through in ways that surprise us.

We’re never out of his care, never out of his reach. He is the God of breakthroughs, and he loves to break through when the time is right.

Embrace expectancy. Tell yourself that any day now, you’ll see glimpses of glory and evidence of his activity in your life. Because it’s true; right now, he’s moving on your behalf.
Look up. Seek him. You’ll find him. He’s got you.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, Pitdweller pic for blogout of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:1–3).file000551198693morguefile

Bio
Susie Larson is a radio host, speaker, and author of 10 books. You can connect with her at  http://susielarson.com/

Count on God and Count Your Blessings — BLOG

Sharon Paavola is one of those trophies of God’s grace; I’ve seen the Lord work powerfully in her life and in the lives of those she loves. In this special Thanksgiving UPGRACE—which is also a spiritual UPLIFT—she encourages us to be joyful on “two counts.” “My husband accepted Christ later in life,” Sharon says. I…

via Count on God and Count Your Blessings — BLOG

An Answer for the Future from the Past

Martin Luther King Jr.’s rules for his organization members:

  1. Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
  2. Walk and talk in the manner of love.
  3. Observe with both friend and foe the ordinary rules of courtesy.

What if we all lived these three simple rules out in our life?  It could be life-changing.allyouneedislove.morguefile.com20140711_193118morguefile

Mother Teresa at age 83, at the National Day of Prayer Breakfast, with the Clintons, said;

“If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other?….Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

“America has become a selfish nation, in danger of losing the proper meaning of love. “Give until it hurts.”  Proof of this is abortion.”

“Life or death-love or rejection.  It is not a personal attack, it is just fact, plain and simple.”

Henri J.M. Nouwen in his book, In the Name of Jesus says;

“To live a life that is not dominated by the desire to be relevant but is instead safely anchored in the knowledge of God’s first love, we have to be mystics.  A mystic is a person whose identity is deeply rooted in God’s first love.”

Words of wisdom I have collected over the years.  Seems appropriate for today with all the new talking about a mans right to stand or sit at our National Anthem during a game.  Seems like to me our priorities are turned upside down.

The important right I have is to believe or not believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  Trusting He is still on His Throne and in charge.

Oh, I know man has place many other rights out there for us, some good for us some not,  but the most important to me is to not offend my God and to follow Him as closely as I can.

I guess that makes me a mystic according to Nouwen.  I think it makes me a smart human.

 

 

Make Up Your Mind

So how do you know when the wait is over and you’re finally out of that pit?  Two ways.tn_dancing_final

“Psalm 40:2 describes the first one:  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

 

  1. You realize after all the slip-sliding and sky diving you’ve done, your feet are finally planted on a rock, and you’ve got a firm place to stand.
  • Even if the mountains fall into the sea, you’re secure.
  • Even if the seas overtake the shores, you’re not going anywhere.
  • If earthly rulers fall and stock markets crash, your feet are steadfast.

As long as you rest all your weight on that rock, you’re not going to fall.  Praise His steadfast name, God is not a divine rug someone can pull out from under your feet.

He is there for every urgent need and any sudden spell, but an emergency room relationship with God is NOT the psalmist’s idea of a firm place to stand.

  • God is unreasonably patient and merciful.  Thank you Lord!
  • He is NOT a drive-thru drugstore.
  • He is NOT just a temporary fix in an urgent situation.
  • He is NOT a fast way to get everyone to forgive us.
  • He is NOT for us a good side to get on when we need Him to save our scrawny necks.

God CAN hold our weight, the full emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical poundage of you.

2. When you realize you have got to make up your mind. God gives us a firm place to stand,14100524681j9kn but we have to decide we want to take it.  The ground below our feet will be only as firm as our resolve.  As long as we are wishy-washy, what’s under us will be wishy-washy too.

God’s complaint with the Israelite’s in Psalm 78 was their inability to make up their minds about Him.

  • Were they with Him or Not?
  • Did they want a firm place to stand or an emergency room to visit?

Like us, they wanted God when they were in trouble, but as soon as the pressure let up, they wanted to chart their own course and be their own boss.  The momentary revelry of their rebellion turned into terrible bouts of captivity and consequences.

They experienced what we do: the slide into the pit is the only thrill ride.  From that point on, a pit is just dirt.

Loyalty means a made-up mind. Loyal is like firm and in Psalm 78 means to be “sure…certain…ready…prepared…determined.”  It means we have settled some things in advance of the inevitable temptation to revert or destructively scratch a temporary itch.  It means we don’t wait until the heat of the moment to decide.

A loyal spouse doesn’t wait for temptation of a co-worker flirting, she knows before work she will be loyal.  She has already made her decision.

God is firm, loyal.  He made up His mind about you before the foundation of the world.

Without hesitation God offers you a firm place to stand, but your feet are not firmly set in place until you’ve made up your own mind that’s where you want to be.  He will not force you to stand.  He most assuredly will not force you to stay.

“The problem is, life on Planet Earth, Beth says, “consists of one crisis after another.”

Resist the enemy, he is a good shot.  At some point you have to get yourself out there on that rock, trusting God is faithful and resist.  Once, then twice. Ten times, then twenty-five. Thirty times, then fifty till your flesh submits and your enemy gives up on that front and quits.

You have God’s power. Use it.

Beth says about resisting the enemy,  “she’s never gotten use to it, but I can be prepared or be a fool.”

I loved Beth bear in Wyoming story.  Point is if your victory depends on the right circumstances, you may as well wave the white flag and surrender to defeat.

“You could make up your mind that you are in with God, standing upon that rock, for the rest of your days.  When you know you are absolutely in, come what may…congratulations, Sweet Thing. You are out of the pit and your feet are on a rock.”

Eternal security is not the question.  Earthly security is.  It is time to make up your mind.

Family/closest friends can be one of the biggest challenges you will face from that rock.  Especially if they are in their own pits.  They say alcoholism is a family disease, bit it is not the only one.   God is there for your family or close friends also, but He recuses only one person at a time.

Usually when you get out of the pit, somebody feels betrayed that you felt a change was necessary.  Loyalty to God often is misinterpreted as disloyalty toward them.

Best quote of this chapter is:  “Nobody gets the right to keep you in a pit or to shame you for bailing.  Not even your mama.”  My mom tried, but I broke the cycle of pain.

When God performs a dramatic deliverance in our lives, the nature of some of our closest relationships inevitably changes.  The healthier we get, the more we realize how unhealthy we were.

Cooperating with God through painful relationship transitions may be the hardest work of all in our deliverance from the pit.

Persevere with Him and trust Him, not just with your life, but also with their lives.  Just as you waited on God for your deliverance, wait for theirs.

Not all relationships needs to survive your deliverance.  Our disfigured sympathies will keep us knee deep in the mire and our love will turn into resentment.  Regardless of how we began, we can become as emotionally addicted to a relationship as to a substance.

Be brave, do the hard thing. If God is leading you to let that person go who is constantly “pushing” you away from Him and His deliverance back toward the pit.  Goodbye is a necessary life skill for us former pit-dwellers.

Be strong and courageous.  Do not e terrified,…for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go”  Joshua 1:9

Say goodbye to that pit once and for all.  Living on that rock firmly planted is not for the fainthearted.

It’s for those who make up their mind.