Where the sun don’t shine

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Guard your ears if you’re sensitive because I’m fixing to say something that could offend. Here goes….

Sometimes I just want to tell God he can stick it where the sun don’t shine. Not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or my reputation, just saying it how it is. Because I wonder if you have ever felt that way too? If God has ever shown you His plans, or what seems like lack there of, and you just want to say seriously????

It doesn’t matter why you feel this way, you could analyze it or pay someone to analyze it, but sometimes you just do. And I’m going to tell you, in my book, that’s ok. Why? Because we have feelings. And as long as we don’t allow these feelings to desecrate our relationship with The Lord, we can keep it real.

And so I suppose it’s not by chance that in a fit of frustration my Bible fell open to the book of Jeremiah. Because he also balked about the mission The Lord was calling him to….

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 1:4-7

I do not know how to speak. I am too young. Yep, I get what your calling me to, but you got the wrong dude. That can’t possibly be what you created me to do?

Yes I identify with Jeremiah. However, my excuses are bathed in pride. They sound more like, God I’m not getting any younger, you gave me this thing to do, and I will do it…but is that all? This is not what I had envisioned. Really?

And yet I know the Lords response is the same to me…Who are you to tell me what I should and should not call you to do? You MUST go!

And here lies the decision point. Will we stay or will we go? Will we allow our feelings, which can be awfully strong, to dictate our reverence and respect for The Lord and His sovereignty? Or will we trust Him beyond the capacity of our feelings, and walk in the direction we do not understand – setting excuses, egos, and all other flesh driven obstacles aside?

We must choose to trust God. He has proven Himself worthy and sovereign in the past, and will continue to in the future.

Maybe I need to tell my flesh to stick it where the sun don’t shine and adorn a bit more of Jesus and a bit less if my own selfish ambitions. Yes Lord, I hear you…thanks for giving me Your glorious wisdom, yet once again.

V is for variety…

running shoesI’m easily distracted and I get bored. I also get frustrated at times, and when I get frustrated I want to give up. So…as I gear up for The Proverbs 31 Made to Crave Online Bible Study, I am trying something different…variety.

Instead of vowing to run 3 miles a day, do 6 week boot camp, or even get to the gym every day…my goal is to do something physically active (enough to make me sweat) every day. I am allowing for, and even planning on, variety.

Why? Because I have shin problems and at times running makes me cry…other times I am sore from boot camp and the next day calls for a simple 30 minute jaunt on the elliptical…sometimes my day gets crazy and 50 push ups and 50 crunches may be all I can fit in…

Making an allowance for variety in my workout makes working out work for me…work for my day…and ultimately become something that I enjoy doing for my health rather than loathe due to unrealistic expectations set on a whim.

If you plan on making healthy lifestyle modifications during the Proverbs 31 Made To Crave Online Bible Study, or at any time, let me encourage you to do three things.

1. Decide on a goal

2. Evaluate that goal in light of what is possible for you at this stage of your life, and make necessary modifications (for example, it would be unrealistic for a mother of a newborn to get the to gym every day, but she could make it to the gym a few times per week and maybe get an exercise DVD for the other days)

3. Add in variety wiggle room and ask yourself how might you adjust your plans, and still continue towards your goals, when life gets crazy and plans must change.

Also, consider adding variety as part of your relationship and daily quiet time with the Lord. Sometimes you have an hour for quiet time. Other times the best you can do is say a prayer and read a verse while you take a quick potty break at home or at work! Spend time with the Lord however and whenever it’s possible!

Variety offers freedom and allows us to fit the most important things in our lives into each and every day, no matter how crazy of a day it is. Whatever your goal is for 2014, consider variety and get ready for great success!!!

UnPunished…

Unpunished. It’s not a difficult concept to understand. In a world that embraces freedom, or at least it’s own view of freedom, punishment is becoming somewhat foreign.

But I do notice a worry in others, and even myself at times, that accepting the freedom Christ offers could be a punishment in and of itself.

That freedom in this way, the way that came at a cost and is not necessarily rule free…that this kind of freedom is no freedom indeed.

Egos driven to and by our own idols of sin cause Christ’s freedom to appear constraining. We want to love Jesus, but continue in sin. To live how we want and how we feel, not according to Biblical truth and principles.

And although our deeds of sin will go unpunished under the freedom and sacrifice of the cross, deeds often do not go without consequence. The freedom of Christ guarantees our spot in heaven but it does not mean we will or shall go without discipline on earth.

Unpunishment is a great freedom. A great reward Christ offers by simple belief and acceptance as payment for our transgressions. Yet the freedom of this message we still struggle to embrace.

It’s not a fundamental principle we easily understand. It goes against things we know, and twists obedience in such a way that it becomes desirable for knowing rather than forced towards accomplishing.

Christ gives us hope enough that we are able to move forward in His footsteps despite our stumbles, never equaling him but allowing Him to know us through both success and failure. Unpunished and thankful. Obedient in the heart and mind, yet still failing at times in the action. That is what moves us forward past the obstacles to knowing the Creator King. Knowing Him by first allowing Him to know us.

Sad-sitter…

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In my job I do a lot of home visits. Often I am asked to sit down, but I usually decline the offer. My work keeps me so busy there is rarely time to sit and stay a while, even though sometimes I would like to.

That’s why Psalm 107:10 struck me so deeply.

“Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery.”

As one who tends towards depression I certainly identify with the dark and gloom, but actually sitting in it disturbed me.

I began to wonder how many times sadness had invited me in and I chose to agree, sit down for a proverbial cup of tea, and stay a while? Were there times I actually chose this sad and gloomy environment as a place to sit?

As I went on in the text, conviction set in.

“They rebelled against the the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High.” Psalm 107:11

Ouch. Double ouch.

There I was, sitting in gloomy sadness, directly as a result of choosing to rebel against the Word of God.

And not in the ways I might traditionally think of rebellion. These traditional thoughts would have seen rebellion as lying, falling into old sin habits, maybe not spending enough quiet time in His Word….etc. But in fact, I was spending time in His Word, I just spent more time and effort refusing to believe that His Word is true.

God cares about me? He loves me? He hears my prayers? I read these things. I read His encouraging Word, but in my heart the uproarious rebellion raged on.

His Word can’t be true…He can’t love you…you are a failure.

And on and on I let my mind rant and rave, rebelling against His Word, all the while cozying in a bit deeper in that pit of gloom and sadness – imprisoning myself with mental iron chains.

Some sat in the darkness and gloom for sure…and I was certainly some of the sitting. Maybe you are too. So how do we get up?

Psalm 107:12-13 says, “So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.”

The bad news is, sometimes He has to allow some pretty rough stuff before we will cry out to Him. We have to get uncomfortable enough to want to and need to leave.

The good news is, when we finally cry out, He rescues.

Psalm 107:14 says, “He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains.”

The chains of unbelief, of rebellion against the truth of His Word, can be broken. But they will be broken by His power, not yours.

The one certain way off the gloom couch is to cry out to Him, confess your thought rebellion, ask without ceasing for help overcoming you unbelief, surrender to His truth, and allow yourself to be saved by the Only One who can set you free. Maybe it’s time for us all to find a better place to sit.

A thousand little circles…

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“He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, At the boundary of light and darkness.” Job 26:10

I’m never one to mince real life or be shy to share on my blog. But I have been lately. A mixed bag of how it will be received, and could it even be harmful, have silenced my fingers.

You see the time finally came for me to wean off the anti-depressants that made life livable over the past few years. Depression just wouldn’t seem to lift without them, and with them I began to feel less out of sorts.

But after a year or so of feeling renewed I knew it was time to consider getting back to life unmedicated. And my caution comes in this: not everyone should or needs to consider dropping their anti-depressant now or even ever. But for me, after much prayer and wise counsel, the time was right to try. So try I did…and it’s been about a month.

I feel good. It hasn’t been easy per say, I’ve had to pull in some anxiety management strategies and thought stopping processes. But you know what? It feels good to use them. And even better to see them working. It feels as if God has brought me into and out of a thousand little circles.

Circles of past pain. Circles of grief. Circles of healing. Circles of memories. Circles of rest. Circles of breathing. Circles of moving forward. And finally the circle of what feels like a fresh start. And I’m so ready.

The circles that have protected me from too much of this or too little of that are now the surfaces that allow me to move forward with confidence in who I am and what He has made me to be.

And what if you are on that first tiny circle? The first legs of a journey with Christ. Walking through levels of learning, misunderstandings, insecurity, and maybe even pain. Or circles of joy and love, salvation and victory. The beauty of a thousand little circles are that each of them keep us cozy and safe in His love. Above the depths of pain yet safe below His wings.

A thousand little circles. Each of them with purpose and value. Moving us towards Him in His ways and times. And I’m so excited to see what these next one thousand little circles will bring.