Friday, April 29, 2011

Make New

Jesus' bright light
of healing
flowed into
the dark channels
of my heart,
shining in dark crevices
taking out shadows
illuminating under
sparkling around
with mercy
with grace
to remake
to mold
to make new
this child of His.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Humpty Dumpty

"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the king's horses and all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again".

I attended the class on "Resurrected Life" at my church last night. It is a video series by Alan Platt, a pastor in South Africa. He used an illustration of the old Nursery Rhyme, "Humpty Dumpty", to show that man cannot fix himself. Platt said that you can function at a better level with self help, but you will never experience the true fulfillment of your original design, created by God.

I could so relate to this. After the sexual abuse as a small child; I fell into a pit of shame, guilt, and self condemnation; and my heart was broken. I tried everything that the world offered. First, it was just quick fixes to numb my pain, like alcohol, drugs, or sex.

When I wanted to get better, I read lots of self help books; some by Christians, all by well meaning people who wanted to help. But it was like putting a finger bandage over a gaping wound. They helped to a point. I felt a little better if I followed their instructions, but I was never really healed.

Then someone invited me to a Bible study of the book of Matthew and I fell in love with Jesus Christ. He has already done a great work of healing in my heart. Now he is teaching me about His grace and how to reign in life with Him. Jesus is putting me back together again.

"To all who mourn in Zion, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory. The will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them though they have been deserted for many generations", Isaiah 61:3-4. NLT

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beautiful Girls

I was blessed to spend Easter weekend with my daughters, daughter-in-law,  and granddaughters. They are each one beautiful and unique in their own way, and I love them so much.

One of my great regrets in life is that I was going through my own healing when my daughters were growing up. I was battling my own demons of low self-esteem and bad self image, and the negative voices in my head. I didn't know how to feel good about myself or to help them feel good about themselves.

In spite of me and in spite of our society, they have come to know Jesus and He has helped them through some difficult times and they have turned out strong and beautiful, inside and outside. I'm so proud of them.

I pray daily that my granddaughters can grow up healthy and sound and whole and that Jesus will be their best friend.

It's hard to be a girl in our culture. Society values beauty, thinness, sexiness, youth, and popularity, and we all want to fit into that mold. We lose our individuality. We're afraid to be different.

We are all wounded in one way or another. Satan uses our experiences as the basis for his lies that tell us we are not good enough, not worthy, not even loved by God. And we begin to believe those lies are truth. But they are only lies.

The truth is that God made each of us special. He loves us just like we are. We are worthy. We are accepted because of His grace and we don't have to do anything to be good enough. Jesus has already done it all. Because of Jesus' love we are all beautiful girls. Isaiah 61:3 tells us Jesus came to "provide for those who bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes". NIV

"The Lord will hold you in His hand for all to see-a splendid crown in the hand of God", Isaiah 62:3. NLT

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come", II Corinthians 5:17. NIV

"You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God", I Peter 3:4. NLT

Monday, April 25, 2011

Best Place to Be

I've been going to a class at my church on "Resurrected Life". I've been feeling really good, uplifted, and hopeful. I've been trying to keep my eyes on Jesus and His grace, and learn to reign with Him, and it has made a difference. This weekend we celebrated Easter with our children and grandchildren. We went to church together, had lunch, and an Easter egg hunt. It was wonderful!

But this morning I woke up and was depressed from being tired, off my regular schedule, eating too many chocolate eggs, an empty house without children's energy and laughter, and gloomy weather. I found myself back at the foot of the cross, begging Jesus for His mercy and grace to get through the day. But really, isn't that the best place to be?

But He 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, II Corinthians 12:9. NIV

Dear Jesus, I know you are risen! But today I just want to lay at the foot of Your cross and drink the precious blood as it drops from Your body until I am filled with You. I surrender to You today everything I am, or am not; all the posessions I have; all I want to accomplish; and everything I suffer from. I love You, Jesus. I can't go one second or one step without You but with Your power I can do all things. Amen! 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My True Identity

I went to the class again at my church last night on "Resurrected Life". It is a video series by Alan Platt, a pastor in South Africa. If I can just get this wrapped around my head-and my heart-it will make such a big difference in my life. Help me, Jesus.

Platt said that through Jesus' obedience, when He died on the cross, humanity was legally forgiven, set free, and declared innocent. Declared innocent!!! I haven't felt innocent since before the boys sexually abused me at the age of six. I've known I was forgiven, but innocent? I can't tell you how good it feels to think about that.

Platt also said that my identity defines my whole life and thinking. I grew up thinking the abuse was my fault, that I was a bad person. That identity, that I was a bad person, is what has defined my whole life and thinking.

But the Bible tells me that my true identity is in Jesus. I died with Him, was buried with Him, and now I am seated with Him in abundant places, not places of lack. Platt said because of God's mercy (not getting what you deserve) and grace (getting what you do not deserve), I can live in a whole other dimension, much more than what I have been living.

"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ", Romans 5:17. NASB

"For God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus", Ephesians 2:4-6. NASB

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It Is Finished!

After Jesus hung on the cross, beaten, pierced and bleeding for our sins, He said "It is finished". (John 19:30) God has been trying to get it through my thick scull for a long time exactly what that means.

It means that Jesus' work is done, that we are no longer condemned for our sins. We are no longer under the law but are covered by God's grace. It's too simple so we make it hard.

It means that I don't have to carry around that guilt and shame that have become so much a part of me any longer. "It is finished".

It means that I don't have to work so hard on being good enough. I don't have to strive so hard to win the approval of God, and other people. I am already good in God's eyes because of Jesus. "It is finished".

It means that I have been forgiven of the awful things I did in the past. The slate has been wiped clean. It's over. "It's finished".

It means that every time I still slip up, being totally selfish and me centered, or being self-destructive, that I have been forgiven because Jesus took the punishment in my place. "It is finished".

It means that when I sin in the future, and I will because I'm human, that those sins were nailed to the cross, the price was paid, and I am washed clean by the blood of Jesus. "It is finished".

We now live under God's grace. We live by the new covenant. We don't have to follow laws. We don't have to do this or that. All we have to do is love Jesus and seek an intimate realtionship with Him. When we surrender our life to Him, He makes something beautiful out of our life. And that work of His is not finished!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jesus Is My Soul Surfer

I saw the movie "Soul Surfer" a few weeks ago. It is an inspiring, true story about a young surfer, Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack. Bethany had faith that "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength", Philippians 4:13. NIV

After some initial setbacks, she learned that she could have a meaningful life without surfing. She went on some mission trips and helped traumatized children learn to ride a surfboard. She learned "It's not about surfing. It's about love".

Ultimately, Bethany decided not to give up on surfing because it was too much a part of who she was. With great resolve, she practiced and practiced and practiced. She said "I don't need easy. I just need possible".
She learned to balance with one arm. Eventually she was able to enter surfing competitions again, although not as successfully as before. But that was OK.

My daughter saw the movie Saturday and got me to thinking again about the meaning of it all. The shark just jumped up and bit off Bethany's arm in a brutal, unfair, undeserved attack. I felt like when I was sexually abused as a small child, that a piece of my heart was bit off. Although totally different, the shark attack changed her life and the abuse changed mine.

I was in a downward spiral for many years, as I tried to numb the pain with the world's quick fixes. Nothing worked. Then I fell in love with Jesus. He showed me that He alone had the remedy for my pain. He alone could put my life back into balance. Step by step, He is helping me to overcome the damage and vanquish the shame. I'm far from perfect but I'm a lot better than I used to be. And that's OK.

"He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me. They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord suppported me. He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me", Psalm 18:16-19. NLT 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Glorious Day

On this glorious spring day, Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, the words to this song pretty much say it all.
Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me) by Casting Crowns

One day when heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my example is He,
Word became flesh, and the light shined
among us, His glory revealed.

One day, they led Him up Calvary's Mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree,
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected,
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He.
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on
a tree, And took the nails for me.

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door,
Then He arose, over death He had conquered,
Now He's ascended, My Lord evermore,
Death could not hold Him, The grave could not
keep Him, from rising again.

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, My Beloved One bringing,
My Savior, Jesus, is mine!

Living, He loved me,
Dying, He saved me,
Buried, He carried my sins far away,
Rising, He justified freely forever,
One day He's coming,
Oh Glorious Day! Oh Glorious Day!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ressurected Life

I went to a class at my church last night on "Ressurected Life". It is a video series with Alan Platt, pastor of a church in South Africa. I'm full today of things that were said. I am not living the ressurected life and I desperately want to.

What is the ressurected life? Platt said it is being dead with Christ, buried with Christ, and raised with Christ in heavenly places. Most of us stop with the death and burial of Christ. Platt says salvation is reduced to the saving of sins so we can go to heaven. But salvation is so much more. He says salvation means completeness, wholeness, and restoration. That's what I've been working towards as long as I can remember. But no amount of striving on my part can restore me. Only by being identified with Christ can I become whole.

Alan Platt says people have come so far from God's ideal that they have become confused about their true identity. I know I have. Only the good news of Jesus brings us back to our true identity. We are designed for a relationship with Jesus 24/7. Platt says we are designed to carry the glory of God in human form. When I asked why it was so difficult, our class leader, Gary, said because it is easier to follow rules and compartmentalize Christianity than to be sold out all day every day to a relationship with Jesus. It's not about church or religion. It's about relationship, and only Jesus makes us complete.

Are my ramblings as clear as mud? I'm beginning to understand but it's hard to put into words. It's about relying on God's power and not my own strength. I don't know why that's been so hard for me to grasp. It's like being invited to a party but the invitation got lost and you never knew you were invited. I want to be at that party God has invited me to. I don't want to miss out on the ressurected life.

"But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus", Ephesians 2:4-6. NLT

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Lamb That Was Slain

Jesus is the savior of the world,
Jesus is the husband who doesn't disappoint,
Jesus is the father who is not distant,
Jesus is the friend who is always there,
Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness,
Jesus is the sunshine that creates new growth,
Jesus is the breath sliding across my lips,
Jesus is the gentle breezes caressing my arms,
Jesus is the lamb that was slain.

"He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
Unjustly condemned,
He was led away", Isaiah 53:7-8. NLT

And why??? For me. For you.

"Fear not; you will no longer live in shame.
Don't be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you.
You will no longer remember the shame of your youth
and the sorrows of your widowhood.
For your Creator will be your husband;
the Lord of Heaven's Armies is His name!
He is your Redeemer, 
the Holy One of Israel,
the God of all the earth", Isaiah 54:4-5. NLT

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Great Physician

I'm not feeling good, a bladder infection or something. Not bad enough to put me in bed so I'm just dragging through my day. When I don't feel good, it's so easy to slip in with my old adversary, depression, because I don't have enough energy for the battle. But I've determined to keep my face set toward Jesus and my focus on Him. After all, He is The Great Physician. I'm going to think on that and not on my puny self.

Jesus has the remedy for whatever ails us. He gained this authority on the cross, where "by His wounds we are healed". (Isaiah 53:5) Jesus knows everything about us. He's not content to just put a bandage on the surface. Most of the doctors I've gone to want to give me medicine for the pain but don't want to take the time to find the origin.

Not Jesus. He has all the time in the world. He wants to go deeper and find the source of the hurt, and heal it so it stays healed. We just have to be still and allow Him to work on us. He knows that the traumas of our past that are buried deep down will not get better, but will fester and abscess if not removed. So He cuts through our defenses with His sharp scalpel (His Word) until He gets to the cause of the infection. Then He removes all the rot of our past until there's nothing left to cause us sickness.

Sometimes He does this quickly, sometimes it takes a very long time; whatever is best for us. He never stops until every bit of heartbreak, woundedness, shame, and bitterness is removed. This process is not without pain. It hurts a great deal. But He knows it has to get all cleaned up so that we can truly get well.

His next step is to tenderly apply the ointment of His unfailing love, then He carefully stitches our life back together, putting it right this time. I feel better already.

"Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits-who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion; who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's", Psalm 103:2-5. NIV 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spring Returns

Spring returns again and

not a moment too soon.

My frigid heart was

reduced by winter's grip,

Laid dull and dormant,

sluggish under the surface,

sleeping like a crocus

awaiting the light of spring.

Lord, thank you for Your sunshine

that penetrates the crusty earth,

awakening the fragile flowers,

bidding them to come alive.

Lord, empower my heart as well

and brush off the wintry spell,

expand my life with renewed vigor

and let me reflect Your glory. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jesus Is My Shepherd

I love Easter! We have an egghunt with the grandkids. We fill plastic eggs with money (mostly quarters:) and hide them for the teens. This year we're including the 6 year old with them because last Easter she cried when we hid hers in a different area ;) The baby will get eggs filled with socks and pacifiers. In my usual way of overdoing, I've bought the baby enough socks to last her until she's around 2. But they're all so cute-pink and yellow and lime green and lavender, with bunnies and chicks and lambs. In the words of my 6 year old granddaughter "I love Easter 'cause we celebrate God and we celebrate Jesus and we celebrate bunnies".

Anyway, all of these baby animals have got me to thinking about how Jesus is my shepherd. For one thing, I'm as dumb as a sheep, always trying to go my own impassable way. I need Jesus to lead me step by step on His path, which is always the best and safest, every moment of every day. Like a shepherd, He provides for all of my needs. He protects me from danger, even giving His life so that I can live. When I'm weary of the journey, He leads me to restful spots and restores my soul. And He allows me to know Him, through His Word, so I will hear when His voice speaks to me. The Bible says it better than I can:

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me", Psalm 23:1-4. NLT

"He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young", Isaiah 40:11. NIV

"The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep recognize His voice and come to Him. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. After He has gathered His own flock, He walks ahead of them, and they follow Him because they know His voice", John 10:3-4. NLT

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jesus' Upside Down Economy

We all know that the economic situation in our world is a mess. I like Jesus' upside down economy better. In Jesus' economy, the more you give away, the more you make. That is true for the time you give, the talents you give, the money you give, the more of yourself you give.

Jesus has said that only when you give your life up to Him, will you truly find life. "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it", Matthew16:25.

There are a lot of earthly things that I cling to, that I grasp tightly with clenched fists, that I don't want to let go of- like my money, my time, my family, even my comfortable sadness.

It is only as I open up my hands and let go, that Jesus takes what I offer and makes everything right. The things that I am supposed to have, He will give back to me, although they may be different. If I give Him my job, He may give me opportunities to tell people I work with about Him; if I give Him my money, He may give me enough to give to ones that don't have; if I give my money to church instead of buying clothes, He may give me the confidence that what I am on the inside really matters; if I give Him my attitude, He might take my depression and in its' place give me an encouraging word to share with someone who is hurting. I've heard that you can't outgive God and I've found this to be true.

So why do I continue to cling to things so tightly? Fear is a big reason;  fear of losing something I value, fear of something bad happening. Fear comes from a lack of trust, a desire to control, and a belief that I deserve punishment. But there is no room for fear in Jesus'economy. He's not out to take from me or to punish me, but to give me all good things. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly", John 10:10. KJV  I like Jesus' upside down economy better.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth or rust destroy and where theives break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also", Matthew 6:19-21. KJV

Monday, April 4, 2011

Jesus Always Shows Up

It's another dreary, cold day where I live. When I woke up this morning I was depressed. But I'm determined not to stay there. My goal is to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and I'm going to stick to it.

My devotional today had this verse, "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Thy comforts delight my soul", Psalm 94:19. KJV

I grew up self-conscious, wanting to be invisible, thinking everyone was criticizing me and talking about me behind my back, never feeling like I fit in; and I still battle with this. Who better to understand how I feel than Jesus? He knows how it feels to be criticized and talked about, shunned even, and despised.

I am still not comfortable in social situations, with women who are more put together and more accomplished than I am. I compare myself and always find myself lacking. Jesus, who could have come in power and great glory, instead came to be born in a lowly stable, in a feed trough, announcing His birth to shepherds who were not well thought of in His culture. So that we could all identify with Him, no matter what we lack.

And He loves me unconditionally. He loved me before I cleaned up my act. He accepted me when I was nothing but a puddled up mess. It doesn't matter that life dealt me a crooked hand, that I was abused at an early age, that I carried a terrible secret, that I grew up an only child and always felt so alone. I am loved! I am loved by Jesus! And Jesus has promised to never leave me or forsake me.

When I am depressed, the best thing for me to do is get out my Bible and start reading. Jesus always shows up and brings comfort to my soul. "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light", Matthew 11:28-29. NLT 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On A Perfect Spring Day

It's hard to feel sadness
on a perfect spring day.
While the bright sun caresses my face
and warms me all over
casts a pink glow to my skin
reminds me of Jesus
and unfreezes my heart
it's prettty much impossible
to think anything bad.

As the wind kisses my neck
and gently plays with the chimes
then ruffles the leaves
on the new budding trees
and blows the dogs ears
on the top of her face
I can't for the life of me
think up a thought
that's depressing at all.

While putting up my feet
and laying back my head
with nothing to gaze at
but the daffodil's gold blooms
and nothing to hear
but the bird's gayly chirp
it's darn near inconceivable
to come up with a thought
that's even a bit sad.