Bible Studies · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

The Twenty-Third Psalm

The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.

Go on…

He makes me lie down in green pastures.

Wow. If I’m sheep lying down in the only food I want to eat, and surrounded by it, then that’s where I want to be.

He leads me beside quiet waters.

Again, really feeling this whole sheep with Shepherd thing.

He refreshes my soul.

Sounds like heaven: A soul refreshed. It’s like being in bliss. Like someone diving into cold streams after walking days in the desert. That’s what this reminds me of. And instead of dryness, dust and sand, there’s peace and quiet music, nature welcoming, coolness and a refreshing of the soul. ‘So good it gets all the way to your soul’ kind of experience.

He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.

He does the guiding. I never have to worry that I missed a turn – if I’m the sheep in this story. There are so many possible wrong turns and paths leading to nowhere or much worse than nowhere. But that’s not my problem. I get to go on the right paths. For his name’s sake? Does this mean if He can’t get me on the right path, then “he” has failed? But does the Shepherd ever fail? This is all theory; if I was guiding and I couldn’t guide you right, then it’s on me. But He’s God, and He never fails. I can fail if I’m doing the leading. I don’t want that responsibility – not when God’s offering to guide me!

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Valleys are usually dark. So dark, I can’t see. Fear feeds on my fears. What wolf-like creature could be lurking in the dark? No. I don’t fear because my Shepherd is with me. He must be Super Shepherd. Is there an “SS” embroidered on his cape?

Your rod and staff, they comfort me.

Every now and then when I’m walking through the valley, I feel your touch. Your staff gently redirecting me. No, not there. Left. Go left.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Now the Psalmist is talking about himself as a human. No longer his sheep form.😊 David, a man after God’s heart, anointed to be king! People after his life and his rightful throne. How audacious that he would be dining and drinking to his fill in the presence of those who seek his end! Because God Himself decides.

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.

Surely! All the days of my life?! I’m going to try to let that sink in.

And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Forever and ever. And ever. The hope after now. After this broken world. We get to be with Him. Lord, friend, lover of our souls. Everything.

This psalm is cool. I could be the sheep. Sign me up. What are the qualifications for the role? Dumb? Helpless? Dependent? Trusting? Seems pretty simple to me. Except those are not words I’d use to describe myself. Maybe God wants me to be that with Him.

If I acknowledge that I really don’t know what’s best and He does; that I can’t do anything without Him; that I completely trust His judgement, then maybe I’ll fit the role of sheep.

When Christ judges at the end of the world, He says He’ll separate mankind into two groups: The sheep and the goats.

Sheep may not sound so desirable but how about goat?! Sheep sounds pretty good to me. How about you? Sheep or goat?πŸ˜ƒ Which do you want to be?

Peace!

P.S. The Psalm is Psalm 23:1-6 (the whole chapter), NIV version.

Bible Studies · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

Tag! I’m It.

 Not my ministry, not my work, not my relationship or marriage, not the movie I want to make, not the help I want to give, not the things I know, not the ideas I come up with, not all my good intentions.

It’s like we’re in a game of Tag, and God says to us “Tag! I’m it.” That’s not how the game is played we say. “It’s tag you’re it, so I’M it.” We say. Duh, God.

“An idol is whatever you look at and say in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.” – Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery (Pulling Back the Shades)
I said this quote over and over to myself before writing this post. My striving was exposed for what it was. I felt like I was watching a movie of my life plus the bloopers! I have made good things idols along the way. Some I recognized , and others I didn’t until now.

Can God fully and truly satisfy us minus all the other “good” things that we just must have? All the logical things that we just must have – that we are certain we need? Could we truly be satisfied?

The truth is I don’t have all the answers right now. But I hope to have the answers I need soon. My eyes feel like they’ve been opened. I had no idea that they were closed.

I’ve thought about Joseph. God gave him an amazing dream (two actually, but they were pointing to the same thing), but it took thirteen whole years experience what God had showed him long before. The dream was good – great even. I imagine what torture it could have been for Joseph if that’s all he thought about while being a slave and subsequently, a prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit?

How about Abraham? Father Abraham. God says to papa AB, “I’m going to give you a son. Like from your actual body.” He waits twenty-five years with his wife Sarah before that would ever happen. If all he ever thought about was having that child, what torture it would have been to wait without a set date? God didn’t tell him when. Not until a year before anyway.
God didn’t always tell people exactly when. Not Noah. Not David. He still doesn’t always tell us now. Wouldn’t it be torture if that’s all we thought about? When our God-given dreams would come true?

God doesn’t want us to look to any thing to fill us up. Even good things – especially good things – can become idols. God wants us to look to Him. He wants to be IT.

If I was really honest with myself, I would say that I would love to know what that’s like: A life of God completely satisfying.

I want to be full today. Always. Never wanting for anything. Come rain or sunshine. Through storms and stillness. To be truly full. Not ok. Not just ok.

I don’t want to strive anymore. I don’t want to push and claw through life. To have and have. I want my identity to be completely in Christ. My value, my significance, my happiness and joy, my peace, my hope, my adventures.

I know in my heart that the answer lies in saying, “Ok, God, Father…I give up. You be IT. Have it your way. I don’t like surprises but fine. Why don’t You decide where we’re going today? Why don’t You decide our activities today? You want me to go where?! Ok..? OK! I can do that. Do what?! Uhm..no problem. Wait? Err..sure. Anything You say is fine with me. I trust You with my life. You already gave me Yours. I’ve got absolutely everything to gain and nothing to lose if I realize that I’m not even mine.”

OK GOD. YESSS. I’M DOWN WITH WHATEVER. Yes, Lord, whatSOever.

Your turn.
 

Dreams and the Future · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

An Invitation to Fear

I wrote that heading to get your attention; I would much prefer to title this post, “An Invitation to Trust.”


Anyway…

We are constantly being spoken at, being pushed and pulled from all sides. Life with it’s devilish gifts makes us offers of multiple dimensions, hard to ignore. Loudest above all the noise of the throng is the invitation to fear, often written in the elaborate ink of fact, and possible fact.

Fears of many sizes: big fears, small fears, medium sized fears. 

Are they valid? Absolutely. Are they fact. Yes indeed. People die for no good reason. Lives are wasted everyday. I’m forced to believe in the futility of life. But…

But what is my hope? What did God say about me, and what does He still say?

“All the promises of God are yes and amen in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:20

“And I will be with you always to the close of age.” – Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:20)

I’m constantly tempted to fear. And who am I in the face of the tsunami of life, hitting again and again everything that I am and have, and everything I care about?

I am the Beloved of God, surrounded by the surest promises. Kept by the Lord. Shielded by His Spirit. Given every resource of heaven to make me victorious. “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” -Psalm 27:1

β€œ[I] will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at [my] side, ten thousand at [my] right hand, but it will not come near [me].”‭‭ -Psalm‬ ‭91:5-7‬ ‭

And then I hear the voice of God sending out to me an invitation to trust. To believe in Him who made all things and in whom all things consist. The One that says “I am the Lord, is there anything too hard for me?” The God that calls me His own. The One who sent to die in my place, His only begotten Son. The One who loves me and gave Himself for me. 


He has made promises. We are not alone. Fear not. Fear NOT; words He says to us in His word so many times. And He still says now.

Jesus said, “Have faith in God.”- (Mark 11:22) Put your confidence in Him. Steadfastly trust in Him. Hold on to Him. Let go to Him. Ask Him and don’t give up asking. Seek Him. Hold on to His promises. Hold on to His word. Don’t let go.

Dreams and the Future · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

Like Fresh Air

I’ve recently reached a milestone in my life. Its probably the reason I’ve been moved to break my blogging silence. 😊

I am truly happy and encouraged that God was with me through my struggles and brought me out of them. I’ve learned so many lessons in the process, but one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that I have to trust in God no matter what, and I have to depend on His strength. 

Even when things seem uncertain, God is able to deliver us from every kind of trouble. That’s about the most important lesson I’ve learned. 

I’ve learned other lessons as well. I’ve learned that God loves human relationships-He created them. And because He designed them, He also designed the rules of engagement. For every kind of human relationship to work, there must be boundaries. We must know those boundaries and function within them for our own good and the good of others. And if we ever find ourselves breaching the boundaries and giving birth to Ishmael, we must learn to say goodye to Ishmael, pray for our Ishmael, but wash our hands off concern for the child. This is because as God said to Abraham, Ishmael cannot share in the inheritance of Isaac. It may have seemed cruel that Abraham had to send away his own son, but it was expedient to do so. 

I’m learning not be afraid to say no, and not to ask for permission to do so. I’m learning to trust in God’s principles and in His design even when they seem contrary to my feelings. Above every person, living or dead, God is our greatest lover and biggest supporter. So let’s trust in His love and darn every human device in the name of love (which God is by the way. God is love). 

I’m so blessed and encouraged to be out in the luscious green plains. Freedom smells like fresh air! Thank you God!

Dreams and the Future · Faith · Life Hacks · Spiritual

Beloved, and Loving the Wind of Change!

I’ve been navigating some difficult things this period of my life; the silence, the confusion…did I say the silence?

It seemed like on the things that mattered to me, God was silent. It seemed like God was unfair for allowing me to experience the pain I did. I struggled some and triumphed some, but I still wondered if God was with me. I knew it but I could not feel it.

Today, God opened my eyes to the thorn in my side. I said to my Father, now, in my mind, I am free, but I do not feel free. I asked Him to MAKE me free. He showed me something WAY bigger than I could ever have anticipated. He freed me from the bondage of ignorance. He blew on me a wind of change.

God made me realize that He is love, and as large as He is, He wants to pour every drop of Himself into me! So I saw through His eyes, how precious I was (am) to Him, and I began to thirst for every drop. I have become convinced – FULLY convinced – that God wants to give it ALL to me!! To Him, I am worth every drop of His amazing love. I am precious in His sight. All His love is for me to desire and receive and experience. I am the Beloved of God!

Today, I cried out to my Father, “You are just! And Your judgements are fair O God!” God is indeed just and merciful for allowing me to go through the darkness and pain. I could not see it when I was in it, but when I came out of it, I saw that it was by the mercies and love of God that He took me through the valley of darkness. I praise You God, for You are merciful; all Your ways are true!

Now, I can begin again, in full assurance of God’s love because He patiently took me through this place from which I have come. I am eternally grateful. I would have given much to know what I know today. Dear fellow sojourners, if you see me, you will see a thirsty soul, thirsty for the love of God. You will see an insatiable soul, because I will never say enough! Oh God! Your love is better than life and I want EVERY drop!

    

Faith · Inspiration · Spiritual

Rainy Days

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” (2Thessalonians 3:5 NLT)

I felt compelled beyond my own desire, to write this blog post. I honestly have no idea how long or short it would be, although I’m leaning towards something short.

Suffering. This weighty word that comes along with the blessings and promises of Christ. The Bible says that Christ Jesus, though He was a son, was made perfect through suffering. It isn’t the kind of thing I like to hear about. I like to think of only the nice and happy things, and skip “the valley of the shadow of death”. 

“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (Psalm 23:4)

Why does David say that? Why does it even come up? The sheep will have to go through the valley. And when they do, they have to trust that their shepherd knows where he’s leading them. They have to trust that he is still with them even when it’s so dark that they cannot see.

I’m walking through the valley. It’s dark and I cannot really see. He’s with me, but it doesn’t change my circumstances. I still am not at the end of the tunnel, where I can see the light. He speaks to me, and comforts me, but I’m not where I want to be. My thoughts are in the safety of the pen. In the warmth and light. But he says, “I’m here.” He doesn’t tell me how long I would walk in the valley. But he wants me to trust. It’s a little cold. It’s dark and I’m tired of walking. “Are we there yet?” 

“May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.” 

I want to be tough, and I want to drown in self pity at the same time. I NEED to trust. I need my heart to be soft. At the end of this journey, I wouldn’t be the same. I would be beaten and humbled and meek. I would be strong. My strength would be the rare type, found in the rough parts of the mountain. In the parts least travelled by.

This is what my heart has always hungered for, and now I am learning the price I have to pay. I am clay. And God is the potter.

Amen.

Dreams and the Future · Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks

Chill

CHILL. LET GO.

As in, let go.

I was reading a post from Chroniclesofakidnextdoor (you can read it here at: http://gracemusing.com/2015/05/14/3-ambitions-that-limits-freedom/) (forgive the typo) and he said the same thing! πŸ˜ƒ I’m obviously missing something and God is saying,

“Girl, take it easy- let it all go! Stop overthinking life. I’ve gaat this and you’ve gaat this! Live this life- I gave it to you to enjoy. Yes it has a lot of problems, trials and all, and yes I have prepared home for you, but while you’re here, chill. I promise you, there’s no reward in heaven for worrying. That’s it girlfriend. 😊”

Yes, God said that- do you have a problem with that? 😌 πŸ˜„

I’ve been killing myself thinking I’m in an episode of Kill Yourself (don’t think there’s any show with that title-you never know). I’m glad that God has a sense of humor and isn’t out to teach me “the strange ways of the high order of whatchamacallit”.

When trials do come, He’ll equip me. He’ll have my back and He’ll make me stand. It’s alright and it’s going to be just fine-because God said it! (Not just because someone sang itπŸ˜€)

This is a simple message, but I know it’s hard to grasp sometimes. It’s an art to live like that. Gotta learn it. I wish I could become it as easily as it says. But that’s it. It’s that simple. Our minds would fight it because it’s just not how we function. But it’s how He wants us to. I started this journey long ago, but it’s just right. We learn in small doses. 😊

Thank You, LORD, really. πŸ˜„

Faith · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

“Baby” Steps and Acts of Love

(As in steps like those of a baby-if that makes any sense πŸ˜€) Anyway…. 

Jesus said that unless we receive the kingdom like a little child, we cannot enter it. He said this while carrying a little child on his knees in front of all his disciples which included a cross section of adults on the outskirts. 

I love children. On Easter Sunday as on some Sundays, I spent my time with children. Crying, happy, carefree, rough, playful, attention seeking children. And I loved every moment of it. I enjoyed every bit of the generous love they welcomed me with. They were so easy to please, so simple, so willing to receive what ever it was we offered. 

They didn’t like everything: some liked stickers but others did not; some crafts were popular and others weren’t. They were messy, didn’t want to obey the instructions all the time, but they were so open to receive. Open to hear what we had to say, open to play the games, open to sit around with a group of other children they didn’t know and just simply be. 

They didn’t do anything grand or super special. They were just kids that wanted love and attention and we’re ready to pour it on whomever was ready to receive it from their little hands.

God our Heavenly Father wants us to be like them. He knows we are messy, we don’t always want to obey instructions and we are each unique. He wants us to be open to love and to receiving love freely from Him. He doesn’t need us to do something super special. He wants us to take baby steps- to emulate the babies in our individual walks: Simple, flawed and receiving our Father’s perfect love.

SIMPLE, FLAWED, and RECEPTIVE to our Father’s love. 😊

Dreams and the Future · Inspiration · Life Hacks · Spiritual

Simply Living

What would my life look like if I wasn’t pushing too hard? If I sometimes pause- wait to let things unfold? If I allow myself to create on some days, and to savor another’s creations on some other days? If I trusted that God wasn’t blind to the needs of the world and that He had a way-a system in which I was but a tiny part? If I wasn’t trying to be the boss of everything when there is someone I call Lord? If I could learn not only to give but also to receive? If I trusted myself- my life to the One who above all can be trusted? If I lived like someone who waits for instructions whatever form they come, like the instruction to wait? If I remembered that God created all things richly for me to enjoy? If I never forgot that above all, He loves me and will never leave me?

What a life that would be! πŸ™‚

I realize that there is so much of life that God wants to show me- that He wants me to be a part of if only I would let go of my own way of thinking in exchange for His.

For a long time I’ve thought that life was all about ticking things off a list of goals and creating mind-blowing resumes. Now I’m embracing all of life- EVERYTHING.

I am most grateful for the peace I have now rather than the weight of my good intentions.

God’s plan includes everything. Just like not every part of us is by itself appealing, and the sum of our parts makes us US, not every bit of life is by itself appealing, but the sum of it all is the life that God wants to use- that He wants to mold for good.

I accept.

Thank You LORD!