faith in the mystery

God,

I will never understand You. No valley I walk will ever allow me to roam the lowest parts where I can glimpse the foundation of Your plans. No mountain I could ascend will allow me to step to its highest point so that I could view Your highest thoughts. Your depths and heights are sealed off from my human sight, but it is this human blindness that teaches me to understand that the answers to all my questions must find their rest in the deepest and highest parts of You.

Thank You for holding them safely there until That Day,
From Your Waiting Child

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Photo by Rhonda Nale, Alabama

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mistakes in ink

I sat down to write out an idea on a fresh piece of paper and the first word I wrote was a mistake.  I was thinking of one word and wrote a different one, and there it sat in ink.

My first reaction was to tear out the page and start over as if it had never happened.  Then the guilt set in.  In my mind was the tree that was chopped down for my writing pleasure and the remaining blue lines that would forever be blank in a landfill.  They would never know the joy of bearing the burden of someone’s thought.  So, in guilt I kept the page and crossed out the word.  That did not help.  It bothered me that the page was no longer fresh and organized, but I had decided to go ahead and use it anyway even though the word was now glaring at me and laughing in an evil tone.

My approach to life can be the same.  A mistake comes and I wish I could have a “tear it out and throw it away” moment, but what is done is done. The mistake glares and laughs at me in the worst moments.  It can keep me from freedom.  It can keep me from moving on.

When it comes to life, God is the master at dealing with mistakes of sin or foolishness. He fashioned a Tree of sacrifice that erases our state of Sin and removes it until the East can collide with the West…which is geographically impossible. Our condition of Sin becomes a blank page under Christ’s blood. Of course, there are times that we remember the mistake and the guilt creeps in once again, but God sees a fresh page through a marvelous concept that He calls GRACE. The marks that crossed out our sin were drawn across Jesus’s back.  The crumpling of our pages of failure were torn from us as He was “crushed’ for our wrong doings.

As mistakes happen, see them for what they are from a Biblical standpoint.  Confess what needs to be confessed.  Learn what needs to be learned.  Then move on. He can “work it together for our good.”  We will grow.  We will become.  We will live.

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a note about tomato plants

Someone gave me three tomato plants and I planted them in garden soil provided by Miracle Grow.  All three are four feet tall, but each has its own story.  One plant produced ONE large tomato right from the “get go.”  (That is Tennessean for “from the start.”)  One is finally producing several small tomatoes. One is ONLY producing leaves.

As I stood there watering them with city water that I pay for as it leaves the hose, I began to think, “Why should I water the two plants that are NOT producing fruit?”  I have cared for them, spent money on their survival and in 18 big bites into a sandwich all my efforts raced across my taste buds.  Now these two beautiful plants stand proudly with no promising flowers or evidence of any future fruit and I pay to water them.  I hate to just let them die because they failed to perform.  It would be a slow wither.  Maybe I will lop them off at the roots and bury them under the branches I have laying beside the road so I won’t have to watch their demise.

John 15:8 says that when we bear fruit it testifies to two things – it brings the Father glory and it shows that we are His followers.  The fruit becomes the evidence that we walk with Him…are attached to Him.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Where does that Truth leave me as I stand there watering my fruitless plants?  It makes me wonder how many times God has showered blessing upon me and I have remained fruitless.  It makes me examine my life for the fruit of the Spirit.  It makes me look to see if people have found Him or been drawn to Him because of my witness.  It makes me ask myself if I have brought HIM glory in any way.

God gives us lessons everywhere.  He sent us a great Teacher.  Thank you, Lord, for plants that made me think about my life with You.

 

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shift…shift…shift again

a nut's notes

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The conference room was quiet as one woman prayed, “God, we need a Divine shift.” At that moment I squinted my eyes – half closed in prayer and half open in note-taking mode as I wrote “Divine Shift” down on paper. I saw the scribbled note today.

I don’t know if someone said the phrase during one of our classes, or if she read it somewhere, or if it was a truth that God planted in her mind as she prayed, but we do need a Divine Shift…a Divine shift that takes us from one place to another place, that turns our gaze from one thing to another thing, that changes our direction, vision, or motivation and edges us closer to God.

What are some of the Divine shifts I have experienced lately?

One taught me that prayer is not just important…. it is essential…..shift

Another taught me that ministry…

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waiting

Things that are hard for me to wait on:

-Paint to dry before I touch it

-My ONE tomato to turn red before the bugs get it

-My dog to go to the bathroom when I am running late for work – circle/smell, dance, dance, circle/smell, circle/smell, dance, dance – find a PLACE ALREADY!!!

-Putting shoes on after a pedicure – another problem with paint drying.

-pizza to cool down before the first bite

I also don’t like waiting on…

water to boil and cookies to bake – I would say bread to rise, but that is above my cooking ability so people would know that was a lie

-A hot flash to end before melting my make-up off on Sunday mornings before church

-Commercials before History Channel videos – a five minute commercial before a three-minute video – usually they are about Viagra which does not affect me what-so-ever and why are they before videos about George Washington crossing the Delaware?  Seems like a boat commercial would be more appropriate.  Besides, who came up with the picture of two people sitting in separate bath tubs by a lake?

And many times I do not like to wait on…

-God.

I often think God does not understand my desire to have an answer RIGHT NOW.  It is as if I know my limits on time and wish that He would “work with me” a little on what I need or want in the time frame I have found reasonable.

It seems that He is not very interested in my calendaring or planning.  It does not mean He is against those things…oh no.  It just means that He likes to mess with my calendar and puts His own touch to my plans.

I will go ahead and admit the spiritually obvious…He knows what He is doing and is never late on an answer even if He missed the date on my calendar.   However, the spiritually obvious is hard to flesh out in reality.  The back of our minds KNOW this about Him if we have chosen a life of walking with Him, but the front of our minds question His scheduling.  It is the tug of war between what we understand spiritually and what we desire carnally. At the end of the tug we may have raw hands, skinned knees and bruised rumps, but we will see better than before and know more than before.

We will see His goodness in His “missed appointments” —-and know His provision.

We will see His long sightedness in His “closed doors” —–and know His steadfast love.

We will see His mercy in His “running late” —– and know His patience.

We will see His plan in His “tomorrows” —– and know His grace.

We will see His wisdom in His “not now’s” and “now’s” —-and know His trustworthiness.

We will see His glory in His “today” —-and know His power.

 

Waiting builds trust.  Trust builds patience.  Patience builds a peace that endures.

Just “wait” on Him…and you will see.

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the race is still on

It is the day after the election and my mind is turning…we huddled together on social network sites and talked much about prayer and the sovereignty of God.  We steadied each other with the truth that God is in control regardless of the outcome.  Let us remind ourselves on THIS SIDE of the election that GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL.  He has not lost this status since some of the political fog has lifted.  If you are celebrating, please remember… It is harder to follow God while on an emotional mountain than it is while moving through an uncertain valley.   My fear is that the desire to pray for our country will decline.  Some will see this as a relief and will actually feel no need to move forward with the same intensity of prayer. If anything, we need to hit our knees and pray for all of the candidates and congressmen from this day forward as instructed in scripture. We need to pray for those who are fearful of the future since they did not see this coming.  We need to pray for ourselves- our maturity – our taming of the tongue – our bitterness toward our own- our lack of empathy – our focus – our ability to pray for our enemies – our struggle with ourselves to become more like Christ.   In other words, we need to remember there is still a bigger race to be won…a prize ahead of us.  Pull together…work for the time is short…eternity is ahead…be an ambassador for Christ…finish the race and I will see you on the other side.

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write in votes

For about a week I had decided that I would write in a third candidate on my election ballot. The advantage of a write in is that it shows your disproval of the two main candidates. In other words, many see it as a form of protest. This “protest” vote is voicing protest over the 2016 election, but it falls short in being a vote for the next four years or the next 40+ years in regards to the Supreme Court. To put Mickey Mouse or Mr.? or Mrs.? on a ballot makes the ballot fall short of possible change. (Notice the word “possible.”) The write in vote becomes a silent, impotent voice after the news coverage mentions it on the third page after the election. So, if I do not feel I can write in a vote, I have to base my vote on something. I have decided I will base my vote on the life of the unborn child. No matter where we are historically, nothing is so horrid as abortion at any stage. The nation cries over black lives, gay lives, blue lives, eagle egg lives and ignores the most innocent of them all…the unborn human. If a human in its most innocent form does not matter, then it leads us down slippery slopes. I will not cast a silent ballot. I will vote for the party that …may…help stop it or at least curb it. That is the issue in which I have to take a stand with my vote.

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perspective on the now

In the life of a Christian the Now is attached to Forever. This bond is stronger than a link on a chain. God’s very glory and His holy wisdom forges this bond of time in the fires of His great love. This immediate reality of today is just a fraction of the ultimate. The Now only magnifies the Eternal. HIS GREATNESS is here Now and yet it continuously forms a mighty crescendo that builds and builds until one day – One Glorious Day – ONE GOD given day – ALL those who know Him through His Son will suddenly find themselves living in the FIRST DAY of forever. With God’s Forever in our sight, let us live boldly in the Now.

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Photo by Rhonda Nale

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in a nutshell

Searched for past blogs. I found this one written in 2012. Still appropriate for today.

a nut's notes

Got up this morning.
Watched the morning news.
Read my favorite blogs.
Listened to songs.
Checked my email.

In a nutshell this is what I read and heard….

Celebrating 16 years of life,
university bomb scares, city budgets in crisis,
failure to launch missile,
inconceivableness of God,
political verbal clean-up, journaling, abuse survival,
fire drill notice, relay for life tonight, raising money at NPR,
new student, shopping carts and life,
life jackets for the spiritually needy, crisis web site listings,
pets and hairless rats, foster pets, donkeys in need,
hunger, football coach in trouble, racism, shootings, hate
the love of God, living life after Easter, debt,
pictures from vacation, train trip with sons,
science and God, adults who cut, majestic mountains, art,
and loneliness.

In a nutshell……what I need now………………”Be still and know that I AM GOD.”

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another way…

When I read about David in the darkness of the cave cutting off Saul’s garment instead of taking the opportunity to kill him I learn that….

I can let many things pass by my emotional human urges…

I can be offended, and ask God to keep me from adding an Act II to the drama.

I can let others dance in anger and respond with a waltz.

I can offer life giving words instead of harsh words.

I can move on when other refuse to.

I can let go.

I can let God write the end to the story while I walk into a new chapter with a fresh title.

I can look forward and not back.

I can find a different way, another way, a godly way through everything….if I choose to.

My prayer: God…be in charge of my “chooser.”

 

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True Measure

I will always fail in my spiritual growth if I use others as my measuring rod.  The only way to truly measure myself is to stand next to His holiness in silence.  Only then can I understand who and where I am. Only then can my spirit become teachable.

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thought, day 1

My heart has found its home, but my body and mind long to be where God is.  This “tent” of mine wearies of its struggle against worldly concepts.

Yet, peace floods my soul like sunshine on a rain soaked field.  The weariness turns to hope.  The struggle turns to endurance.  The warmth bows my heart once more.

If the heart has found a home with God on this side of eternity, then mind and body will

follow when he calls.  Until then, I must press on

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Where are you?

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“Where are you?”

The question must have chilled Adam’s back.

This sudden fear was something new. In fact, everything seemed new to him at the moment…the nakedness, the shame, the guilt, and now hiding from the very One that often walked with him in the cool of the evening.

There was no advantage to this hiding. Adam could hear the knowing in the Voice even though it questioned. HE knew…knew where he was, what he had done, how he stood there beside her and then ate when she offered it to him. Reluctantly, he and the woman stood.

Before Him in their nakedness their emotions doubled…crumbling their gut, draining their knees and flooding their faces with fire.

But wait! Surely there were good reasons for their decision. They straightened their backs with new determination…new ideas…new prideful thoughts that would diffuse this awkward encounter. Yes, their words would convince Him of their innocence!

Blame poured from their lips…”the serpent”…”the woman”…”You know, the woman YOU gave me…………” ……………….……..?…..?

Their words fell short under His presence. There was really no place to hide. Fig leaves, tall bushes, rocks or caves could not prevent His knowing. Words could not provide a thought that He could not see through. All was known.

“What is this you have done?” He asked.

Another question. This time, no answer. This time, no hiding. Fallen man before Holy God….speechless. The question struck their hearts and resounded in the darkened garden; it’s meaning echoed toward the swell of grace that would later come.

But, for now…. The man…. The woman. They could only stand and listen to what their rebellion had birthed…pain, trouble, and toilsome work.

Weeds, decay, corruption………………………………

Death.

The words hurt, but then He drew them close. They watched as He took an animal and slew it. In seconds its muscles stilled, its breath shuddered, and its eyes became silent. Blood spilled. Garments made. Man covered by sacrifice. Innocence covering guilt. Shadows of what would come.

Then, He drove them from Eden.

Suddenly banished. Suddenly removed. No longer welcomed on Eden’s ground.

They ran until fatigue slowed their pace. The loneliness of man separated from the Creator ached in their souls. This pain ran deep and screamed a thousand emotions at once. This is death beyond death…fear at its highest…and rampant longing for what once was….

They stood there in silence, trying to slow their breath. Wind in leaves. Water over rock.   Listening for………………………………..hope?

They suddenly turned their faces toward the way they had come. Did their hearts hear something? Hear……SomeOne?

Was that His foot upon the path?

Was it His whispers in the breeze?

Faint yet familiar?

Was He………………..coming?

Was His faithful love pursuingrunning after them?

If He was coming, maybe the garden was the preface to a larger work and not the end story that Adam had imagined.

Looking down at his covering of animal skin he briefly glimpsed the Promise to come….a story being revealed…a Grace story scripted with the red dew of Sacrifice; weaving a covering for mankind and hiding them in His pursuing love.

And then Adam knew; their fall from Grace was not an ending…it was the beginning.

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morning travel

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She sat on her back porch with her dog at her feet. The bay looked beautiful this morning and the persistent breeze drifted through her thin sweater. It was a perfect morning to do what she always did at this time.

She started slowly, whispering words that were only worthy of the one who was by her side. Private, personal thoughts continued for a while as they agreed about some things. Then she entered the hospital room of a dear friend, walked the liberal classroom of her Grandson and stood behind the desk of her pastor as he studied. 

From there she gazed through prison bars of the persecuted, kneeled with the missionary mom that was missing her college-aged daughter, and searched for a place to rent to house a new born church. She headed to the cockpit of a plane taking off, stood by one waiting on a lab report, and shed a tear for one in pain. Soon she followed an unknown lost man, winded around to a military compound, spent a few minutes in the Oval Office, and then came back to the neighbor across the road.

She did all of this and never left her porch. You see….Prayer takes you everywhere.

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travel it well

The man slumped forward because life was upon his back. Just one week of trouble weighed him down and took him into a steep valley. He had traveled valleys before, but not with such a load as this.

 “How am I going to walk this path?” he asked. “ I have to travel it right for my family is behind me, watching to see how I carry this load and I want to bear it well for them.” So, he sought God’s path, God’s light…. God’s will for the valley.

 After a while he looked again and on the sides of the path were his friends…people who knew of his troubles and were watching to see how he progressed. Again he looked up and asked, “How am I going to travel this path? I have to travel it right for my friends are watching to see how I carry this load and I want to bear it well for them.” He sought God once more, “Help me carry this load well for my family and my friends are watching.”

After the newness of the valley wore off and the daily burden became so daily, the man looked around. He saw family. He saw friends. And with the added weariness of time, he fell to his knees.

There he realized…”God is watching.”

So he sought God and asked, “How am I going to travel this path? I have to travel it right, for YOU are watching to see how I carry this load and I want to bear it well for YOU.”

So he walked on with the same load, in the same valley, but with new sight. God was in the valley watching and if he walked it well for Him, then he would bear it well for his family and friends.

 

 

 

 

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his idea

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Plukje from Pixabay

Prayer was His idea. It was His creation. From the moment He walked the garden with Adam, conversation between man and God began. The Fall hampered the conversation…changed it in some deep way, but His mercy sought to buy it back…to redeem it so that man could once again approach a holy God with words.

It was not and is not His desire to make the heavens into brass. It is not His desire to hide. He wants to reason together… to talk. And when we pray, we show that we want it too…we want to seek Him, to hear Him, to be near Him…to talk to Him. In such moments prayer is an amazing act of grace…Creator God bending His ear toward His child on earth.

Prayer is the boldness of Grace unleashed by the blood of Christ. It is the posture of humble, unconditional surrender. It is the bending of ourselves under His Mighty Hand. It is the gaining of sight of what is yet still invisible. It is the passion to pursue Him in the way He pursues us.

Prayer was His idea. Prayer was His creation. It is essential to His child. It is the way He holds our hand.

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one of many

One is on his knees, face in his hands.
Another is patiently waiting in a long line.
One is in an office….Bible out…lap top ready…
while another is on the roof of a house, hammer in his hand.

Another wipes a tiny face covered with jelly.
One shops and pauses to give a smile.
Another walks the beach and listens to the waves,
while one is at a conference table, listening.

One is in a classroom teaching.
Another is softly crying.
One is taking off in an airplane.
Another is preparing for a test.

One is posting a funny story.
One is smiling from the picture she found.
One is bored.
One is lonely.
One has more than they can handle.

One signs a card and puts it in the mail,
While another phones a friend to say “I’m sorry.”
Another sits with coffee, memorizing scripture,
While another mops a floor.

One man is asleep from a long night at work,
while another begins the day rocking a sick child.
One waits at a bedside. One watches the news. One stops to fix a flat.
One is tired, while one is ready to go.

One registers for classes. One pays a bill.
Another is laughing.
Another is swimming.
Another is napping.

One sews a quilt.
One erases a mistake.
Another fights a fire.

This is the church after Sunday is over.

One person living one moment in time…
yet a part of something bigger… something larger than the moment.
It is the bride, the body, a building with a Cornerstone.
It is people fitted together with kingdom purposes, all living in the daily day.

No wonder we must pray for each other.

No wonder we must love.

No wonder we must tell.

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shift…shift…shift again

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The conference room was quiet as one woman prayed, “God, we need a Divine shift.” At that moment I squinted my eyes – half closed in prayer and half open in note-taking mode as I wrote “Divine Shift” down on paper. I saw the scribbled note today.

I don’t know if someone said the phrase during one of our classes, or if she read it somewhere, or if it was a truth that God planted in her mind as she prayed, but we do need a Divine Shift…a Divine shift that takes us from one place to another place, that turns our gaze from one thing to another thing, that changes our direction, vision, or motivation and edges us closer to God.

What are some of the Divine shifts I have experienced lately?

One taught me that prayer is not just important…. it is essential…..shift

Another taught me that ministry is not the vision…. the vision should be God….shift.

Then one watered where others had planted as he taught about fasting. I began to see fasting as something to be done rather than something you can do…shift…shift…shift…continuing to shift….

Isn’t a Divine Shift something that happens any time we are hit with God’s truth and it changes something within us? Something that helps align us with Him?

I confess. I need His shifting daily. I need the nudge with His hammer. I need the push in the right direction. I need alignment, adjustment, a shoring up, a turning, a tuning…anything that continues the work of conforming me to the image of His Son.

God’s gives us His Word and prayer as paths to His great shifting. These paths should be well worn with use by walking in His Word and exploring it through prayer. Gradually, or suddenly, God will take it all and just at the right time shift us for His honor and His glory.

He is such a great God.

Until that day….

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ooops – ok – so I do know that divine is NOT devine! No need to text or email me!

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higher ground

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Pixabay Piper60

I don’t know who chose the song. It was probably Debbie. As soon as the song started I knew I needed its words and by the second verse it went straight to my heart to crumble my resistance to what God wanted to do. It was saying the very thing I desperately wanted…what I was seeking…what I needed…what I HAD to have…but what I had been too afraid to ask for in prayer…

We sang:
”My heart has no desire to stay where doubts arise and fears dismay.
Tho’ some may dwell where these abound, My prayer, my aim is higher
ground.

I want to live above the world, Tho’ Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound, the song of saints on higher ground.

Lord, lift me up and let me stand, By faith on heaven’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

As I sang it was like all the roads I had traveled in the past five years converged into one that day. The One that had whispered “higher,” “more,” and “prayer” off and on in the past two years gathered my wonderings and promised to lead me to higher ground…. if I was willing.

There He stood ahead of me, calling me with the motion of His hand. I leaned to look past Him and saw the path. It was narrow and you could not see where it was going, but it had a small, steady incline that wasn’t too steep, but yet it was noticeable.

His smile said there was nothing to fear, but He raised His eyebrows as if to question my willingness. I looked behind me. I knew where I had come from since we had started on this path. It was down the road a bit behind me. We would climb and then stop for a while…sometimes a long while as lessons were learned and slips occurred.

The path sometimes dipped into a valley and the darkness there seemed thick, making it hard to breathe. It was hard to see Him in that place. At times I thought He had left. Other times my hope was renewed as I heard His quiet singing far away yet near by. It seemed like we were there forever and my heart begged to move on… but… we stayed in the darkness while the He taught.

It wasn’t hard to go when He beckoned me onward from that place. We climbed into light and brilliant colors. What a joyful place, what a wonder of grace, what amazing heights! The view of the valley we left was breath taking…it looked so different from up here. I surveyed the land below. It wasn’t hard to notice that I would have never experienced this view if we had not come from the valley.

This new place felt close to heaven. I ran. I jumped. I laughed. He taught and I saw the wonder of His works. Settling there was not hard. I could stay forever. But over time, something strange happened in that wonderful, busy place…my heart stopped yearning for more…for higher…for Him. In fact…where is He?

That is when I turned and saw Him in front of the inclined path. I saw the smile and the lift of the questioning brows. “Come?”

How can I not go? How can I stay knowing there is always a “higher place” to walk with Him? And besides…I can hear the singing…the singing of those He has taken further. Their songs proclaim that the upward journey is worth the climb…worth the valley…worth the walk… because it is a journey with HIM.

He turns to go. I run and grab His hand. We are headed for higher ground.

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