Whimsical Sunday- Clouds

22 12 2013

The pursuit of whimsy, the light-hearted, yet serious, adventure.

Love means realizing that sometimes the clouds

Whimsical Sunday 12-22

present in our lives are meant to make us better
not be the source of our undoing.

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.
I John 4:17


Oswald and James

27 10 2011

I was reading My Utmost for His Highest for October 23, and it reminded me of a passage from James 2 that I studied on Sunday, the same date as the reading.  I had to share it, because I felt God bumps as I read.  In James, he writes that when we discriminate against each other we “become judges with evil thoughts.”  Oswald writes, ” Instead of God being on the side of our prejudices, He is deliberately removing them from us.”  He explains the method by which God rids us of our old selves,  by requiring “our unconditional surrender.”  It is by letting go of “the old life” and replace it with “simple trust in God, such trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself.”
“Dear God, create a desire in us for You and You alone.  No one else, Nothing else, just you and you alone.  Amen.”

The New Life

7 10 2011

(note: this is third and best part of my testimony, please click here  to read the first part and click here to read the second part.)

Yesterday, I shared about my struggles against the flesh, and how through accountability before God and man I’ve found freedom.  Today, I want to share the specific story of how the LORD brought this healing.  As with any kind of healing, it starts with the truth.  I once heard a speaker put it this way, “You cannot grow until you know where you are.”  I’ve already shared the specific details of these struggles, so I want to cover how the LORD moved me from honesty before Him to new life with Him.

The first part of this process was the humility required of His people to acknowledge their sins before Him and to trusted men (or as appropriate, women) of faith.  The reason we need to acknowledge our sins is the danger of pride.  Pride keeps us from accepting the reality of our hearts, because we are supposed to be perfect.  We are to never have any struggles, and if we do, we can’t admit it because we are the only one with that issue or struggle. At least, I believed this lie while languishing in my own struggles.  Pride leads us to have a self-righteous attitude and disconnects us from the source of our justification.  This justification is what Paul talks about in Philippians 3:7-9

 “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them rubbish so that I may gain Christ. 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Pride is the lie that keeps us from connecting to the source of life.  The cause for most of our problems in life is believing lies, but I’ll talk more about that in a bit.

When acknowledging your sins, you don’t do it defensively, place blame on others, or skirt ANY of the truth.  The LORD wants all of you, all of your hurts, all of your flaws, etc.  When we hold back from Him, we are saying that He cannot handle the burdens we carry.  This is a spiritually unhealthy habit, and we, as His people, need to stop holding back from Him.  Once, we acknowledge and confess our sins to Him, the next step is to confess these struggles with others.  When I confessed those sins to the LORD and as I told my wife my secrets, the power of those secrets were broken.  As I confessed those same sins to some men in my life, their care and accountability helped me to not fall back into those same patterns.

Sharing your struggles with the appropriate people allows them to bring healing to you.  James 5, verse 16 tells us, to “confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”  The next part of verse is amazing to me; it says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”  Did you catch that?  We are told to confess our sins to one another, and we are called righteous in the same sentence.  I’ve asked myself how this could be, how are we confessing sins and righteous at the same time.  Well, I believe the answer comes in many verses in scripture but I want to re-emphasize Philippians 3:9 “may [I] be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Earlier I said the belief of lies can be the root of many problems in our lives.  Sometimes, these lies enter our hearts very early in life.  This is what the truth has to replace in our lives.  The greek word for this is Sozo, and it so happens that our church has a Sozo ministry.   When my pastor first told me of the Sozo ministry, I thought it sounded like a spiritual colonic.  While I don’t want to divulge the entire process, I want to share my experiences during my Sozo.

The way my Sozo started, the leader, Dan, asked me to picture Father God.  I sat for one minute with my eyes closed, nothing came.  Two more minutes, still nothing.  Finally, after three minutes, I said, “I got nothing.”  Thus began the series of questions.  We discussed family relationships, examining the areas of my life where lies had taken root.  When we got to a root, we would ask the LORD what was the lie I was believing.  I would wait on the answer, and then we would ask the LORD what truth He wanted in its place.  I went through this process with my mother and father.  Again, Dan asked me to picture Father God, and this time I got a veiled, fuzzy face.  We repeated the process with my stepdad, and again, Dan, asked me to picture Father God.  This time He was Nordic Jesus (the famous black-and-white painting of Jesus with eyes tilted slightly upward.)  After searching through my past some more, I pictured Father God as the fire symbol on the burn ban signs but without the “no” symbol.  After we were done, Dan asked me for the final time to picture Father God, after all the previous symbols flashed through my mind, I saw Jesus/God as my youngest son, Gabriel, with a big smile on his face.  It seemed to me that God was telling me that He was happy with me.

We ended with more prayers, one where Dan had me ask if Jesus could join us.  I asked the question, but it jolted me back a bit because I knew that Jesus said “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there.” Just then, I pictured Jesus standing to my right with His left hand on my left shoulder, like He had been there the whole time.  Dan had me ask if Holy Spirit could join us, and after I did, I felt a rush of power toward me. Also, while the rushing came, Jesus held me, by both shoulders, in it.

To wrap up our time, Dan had me ask Jesus what He might say to me.  The only thing that came into my mind was the song, “East to West” by Casting Crowns, specifically the chorus, “Jesus, can you show me just how far the east is from the west, ’cause I can’t bear to see the man I’ve been come rising up in me again.  In the arms of Your mercy, I find rest, ’cause You know just how far the east is from the west. From one scarred hand to the other.” I pictured Jesus with His arms stretched out, and He said, “It is done.”

All of my sin, all of my shame, from now till the end of my life, ended when Jesus declared on the cross, “It is finished.”  We live in freedom, because He has freed us.  We find freedom in accepting the truth about ourselves and, more importantly, in accepting the truth about how He views us.  My Sozo showed me that God, because of Jesus, does not see the failures of my life.  He doesn’t even see me as I am, because G0d sees his Son when He sees me.  Jesus sees the me that His work on the cross made me to be.  He did not put the lies in my life, and He did not make me sin.  The enemy of God and God’s people is satan, who is called the “father of lies.”  This infernal liar is the one who put the untruths in my head and led me to sins “which so easily ensnared me.”

I found new life with Christ though surrendering all of me, my past, my present, and my future to Him. The unfortunate part about this process is the surrender has to happen moment-by-moment, day-by-day.  Jesus words in Luke 9 affirm this truth, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” ( verse 23, italics mine)

The Suprise of the New

26 07 2011

My wife is an amazingly gifted woman; she is an inspirational speaker, wonderful friend, and a terrific gift giver, etc.  One of her many talents is home decorating and staging.  Often, she will see a piece of our furniture, think of new ways to use it, and set about making the necessary changes to it.  She usually does this process while I am away at work or out with friends.  I’ve told her that I feel like one of those people on the re-styling shows (like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition- minus Ty and “the bus”).  I come home and find that the living room, one of the bedrooms, or the whole house has been changed.  Now, I don’t jump up and down like those contestants (not sure if that is the right term?), but I really like the changes that she makes.

Thinking about the work she does on our house, led me to think about how the Lord makes changes in our lives.  While there are several differences, there are some similarities as well.

The first similarity is relationship. I wouldn’t notice the changes that He makes without a relationship with Him.  The same goes for my wife, I would not see the changes she makes to our house without a relationship with her.

Another similarity is the element of suprise.  The Lord often changes my heart, my attitude, or my actions when I stop focusing on me and instead, start focusing on Him.  As one person put it, the spiritually mature are those who have almost forgotten about their own spirituality because their focus is so exclusively on their union with Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished are those who are growing and exhibiting fruitfulness.  The changes occur slowly as we look to Him, or as scripture says, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

As I have gotten to observe this summer, the changes my wife makes to our home involve several steps in a detailed process.  This is the final similarity, and in reality, one of the most freeing.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we each have been called to a new life.  This call enables us to change because we are moved from death to life.   The change takes place through the process of santification and may even take several years or even a lifetime.  However, the Lord is patient and helps us to grow.

I love it when the Jennifer suprises me by a change in our home.  She always improves our home, makes it more comfortable, or more homey (not like the clown)  I love it even more when the Lord “suprises” me with a change in my life.  Have any of you been suprised by the Lord’s work in your life?  Please share.