Sealed With A Kiss

cross sealIt was an unsubtle kiss on his cheek in a dark and lonely hour, one that would begin his fate.  He knew full well what followed.  In the garden, he had wished it would come at a lesser price.  Through the blurriness of sweat and tears, his eyes meet his friend yet he looked right through him as his love and violent passion for us was stronger than death.

The time had come, though treacherous as it seemed, for his Father to make good on the promise for we had already been sealed.  Like soul mates, the Father had inscribed us on His hands in years past and before He even breathed life into our frail frame on the date of our birth, He had given us access to His spirit as a guarantee and marked us and sealed us as His.  The cross was destined to be our intersection of choice.

Matthew 26:49, Song of Solomon 8:6, Isaiah 49:16, II Cor. 1:22

My Staircase

staircaseI could hardly pick my foot up off the step. The more I tried, the more I was met with an even stronger resistance. I looked behind me once again to take a glance at the long, dark spiral staircase below that I had already conquered and knew this present step would soon be numbered with its counterparts behind me. The thought alone gave me the motivation to master the task.

It seemed only yesterday I had placed my foot on that first step. It was the agonizing day I came face to face with my own selfish pride. When I realized it governed so many of my choices and only I could lay a reluctant foot on that step and move upward away from its grip to walk in the true humility God had planned for me. I was one step closer to walking in His true love.

I remember the step of forgiveness. It seemed the hardest thing in all my life to do. I stumbled a few times on that one! But as my foot left its ledge, I could feel a freedom in my heart and a prison door spring open that I had locked behind me on my way in. What progress I made as I leapt off the step of fear and from that wooden plank I learned to trust my God to not only watch over me and always keep me safe, but even provide for me when I had no means.

Oh the infamous step that represented my past in all its glory! I think that’s the one when He took my arms like a small child and lifted me up because I couldn’t seem to take that one alone and He needed me to do it in a hurry, perhaps for someone else’s sake.

I stayed way too long on the step of healing as my pace slowed down a bit while I pondered the uncertainties of trusting God’s sovereignty. Painfully, I allowed my foot to glide across its wet surface created by my tears as I quietly whispered, “I still believe You are the healer.”

Then the day I tripped over the step of judgments and fell flat on my face several times until I learned to view everyone on level ground and prayed that I could show them compassion just as Jesus did when He was here. It had been a fragile time as I put my foot on the step of submission, singing the old hymn I Surrender All. It seemed I could look back and see the indention of my footprint ingrained in its wood.

Each step holds its own set of memories as I maneuver up the scale, my stride faster at times and yet coming to a complete halt at others. Though still today this climb sometimes seems impossible and I may even fall backward only to repeat the same agonizing steps all over again, I know my God will not allow my foot to slip and when I finally reach the top of this old staircase and look down for the very last time, it will have been His Grace alone that has led me in my final ascent to Him.

Dirty Steeples

steepleThe dirtiness of a white church steeple caught my eye as we traveled the highway home.  It seems these days that the maintenance of a steeple is probably an extra expense not readily taken on and maybe even overlooked.

It is said of the early church that a steeple directed a viewer’s eyes vertically to the heavens and even gave a more graceful appearance to the architecture of a church.

I wondered if my own personal “steeple” was too tainted or corrupt to direct someone’s view to God? Had my lack of maintenance caused them to look elsewhere in their desperation?  Rather, I hope my life invited them to join the “grace-full” display by which He continues to build my life everyday.  

Dreams

waves

Dreams like the waves of the ocean start out forceful and huge with the greatest of hopes and no turning back, but as they reach the shore they fizzle out leaving on the sand only broken pieces of what has transpired along the way.

Yet that same wave, though tapered and thinned, goes back into the ocean to become strong again, to try again, to hope again.  Never stop dreaming!     

Learning to Love, Heidi & Rolland Baker

Learning-to-Love-BookIn their book, Learning to Love, Heidi and Rolland Baker tag team to tell the excitement as well as the disappointments of Iris Ministries in Mozambique, Africa, where they feed and school thousands of children daily, plant endless churches in remote regions, drill water wells for village after village, and repair houses, all with their practical approach and unstoppable energy driven by their passion of stopping for the one.  

Together, they are on a mission to not be satisfied until everyone they encounter is saved and healed. Heaven is touching down in their remote spot on the planet as God visits the people of His choice.

The Bakers believe their journey has taken them to those who have fallen over the edge and are in need of rescuing and that their pursuit of the Kingdom has always taken them there, and so they boldly ask of their reader, “What is the edge that God is calling you to live in?”  They encourage you to do what only you can do just because you are there.  It’s your calling and inheritance to bring His life and to share His cup of joy and suffering.  God wants to wreck our hearts to change the way we feel and react to the situations that exist in our broken world where the Bakers believe our fundamental problem is not poverty and disease, but rather sin, and Jesus is the only answer for that problem.

This book has compelled me to have more compassion toward the endless needs around me everyday and the desire to make a real difference in those needs.  In essence, doing what Jesus would do.  I would highly recommend this book for those who want to truly be like Jesus when He was here, meeting needs and setting people free, because ultimately sin has driven them to that place of need and that is what He came to free us from.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Chosen Books for review purposes.  For more information about the author and to purchase this book, please visit the links below.  

Learning to Love by Heidi & Rolland Baker

Iris Ministries

Identity Theft

Rest-Home1-277x300Your room was positioned down a long, darkened hallway.  You sat still inside, perhaps unable to move, but your smile and the light in your eyes let me know that the real you was still in there.  I can sometimes only wonder what your life was like before you graced this place.  You told me your name, but your speech was so garbled I could hardly understand your response.  Perhaps you weren’t even able to tell me your name, but it was posted on a piece of art, faded in color, that portrayed a season or holiday that was long past, but yet it still hung on the door, curled at its edges, crying out for a change.

Before you came here, were you busy like me with family priorities, work schedules, and driving the kids to school? Perhaps you even passed by a home like this on your way to drop them off not knowing that one day you would call that place your home.  You once hurriedly purchased a birthday present for a family member during a busy work week just to save face, but did anyone remember your birthday this year?  No pomp and circumstance to celebrate; it was just another long, lonely day.

I wonder what had left you vulnerable and took your independence away and now you relied on others for the simplest tasks of daily self help.  You unwillingly traded strong and healthy legs for a wheelchair or cane and exchanged a once keen mind for one that took more time to muster a thought than your listener had time to give.  You may even struggle to survive in this place, keeping your possessions close at hand, although they are easily accessible to others and hardly protected at all.

You may look different on the outside.  Your hair may be a mess and your body not up to par, no paycheck addressed to youname anymore, and you are not the social butterfly of your youth, but God sees you different.  Your identity is still the same to Him.  You are just as beautiful, unique, and strong as the day He breathed His life into you.  His dreams for you have not died.  Age and disabilities have never stopped His power before.  As long as you are on this earth, you have yet to reach your potential.  Never give up on your God-given dreams.

To my reader, if you have the chance to stop by a home for the aged, do yourself that favor.  They are still a part of us.  Their life is just moving at a different pace and one that you will reach soon enough.  So for now, be the family that’s not close enough to come, share a few coins for a soda or just ask them how they are doing.  And remember, wherever you call home in years to come, you are still the same person inside of whatever mask you may be forced to wear.  No one can steal the identity that God puts inside of you. 

Thought for the Day!

pondering-greatness1Sometimes we all feel alone.  Our enemy tries to convince us that we are hopeless and lost.  It could be that your past is trying to persuade you that you have no future.  Here is a simple truth that I’ve been thinking about for the past few days.  It’s a one-liner that my former Pastor often shared with us:

Get alone with God until you ain’t alone no more!

Make some quiet time for you and your Heavenly Father.  He is waiting to meet you and change your life.

You make known to me the path of life;  in your presence there is fullness of joy; and at your right hand pleasures forevermore.  Psalm 16:11

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Mirror, MirrorAt first glance, I thought “What a mess!  Lord if you can do anything with this…..”

I awoke this morning to the sound of my teenager opening the door to go check the mail as he was anxiously awaiting the arrival of a package that contained a game he had ordered. Oh, to be that way again. When my world involved carefree playing, socializing with friends, and time itself seemed to crawl as I anticipated an event, or like him, the arrival of something my life would just simply end without!

When that package did finally come, the seller of the item had sent the wrong game. Apparently, someone had made the wrong choice when they placed the game in its package to be mailed. Perhaps they were talking with a coworker and didn’t even notice their mistake. Perhaps they were having a bad day, felt sick, or just plain reckless. Regardless of the reason, it had resulted in a disappointment on our end. One that affected the whole household.

My look in the mirror seemed to resemble my previous choices; they cried out in each quick glimpse, each wrinkle, and the tired look in my eyes. Perhaps if I had been more careful or if I had paid closer attention, my disappointment would not be so painfully real, and my dreams would not be so seemingly crushed.

It took time to clear up the return and replacement of the item, but I don’t regret spending that time with my son. We laughed and we argued, just like we do every time we are on the computer maneuvering through the internet together. What an experience!  It’s much like Jack from the TV series “24” calling on Grannie from the “Beverly Hillbillies” for help. I have to take my time, even though my son’s very existence, he believes, is at stake.

Good ol’ Amazon told me that “since I was such a loyal customer” I could speed up the process.

If only I had been more loyal to God, what would my reflection have glared back at me today?

I believe I’ll take another glance in that mirror and look past my faded youth to others like Sarah and Moses who were just beginning to experience their promise as they grew older; and past the outline of my weakened frame to David and Sampson who overcame vicious enemies against them, their people, and their God even after they had messed up in a few areas of their own; and finally past my fears of life’s day-to-day routine and the future that lies ahead to one of my favorites, Peter, who against all odds, stepped out of the boat and walked on the water to get to Jesus just because He asked him to come.

So, from deep inside of me, from a heart that truly wants to change my world, I respond to my own mind’s question of, Lord can you do anything with this?”, shoulders squared and head held high, with Yes, in fact He’s the only one who can.” 

Held Captive

jailedI remember the day when I was a young girl and something caught a hold of my heart, perhaps bred by insecurity, and became my comfort as I acted on it, led captive to its land of fear.  It wasn’t a place for me.  God had a better place for me. 

I was not alone in my exile.  God’s children are held captive everyday, hopelessly devoted to the bondage of debt, fears, lusts, substances with empty promises, addictions, and our blind adoration to things we label as entertainment. We convince ourselves they will bring us much-needed rest and peace of mind, but that is what God has already offered us as we draw near to Him.

Is it true that our heart walks astray first and then our feet follow? We reach a point when we are no longer acting out of divine impulse but our response is slowed and our speech is slurred by our connection to our passions.

I mourn today that one by one it seems our authors who once wrote of a powerful love that could change the world now affirm the very sins they were once zealous against, leaders speaking what God has not spoken, and our psalmists led away captive into a foreign land where they can no longer sing the songs of their homeland. 

What was it that led you into captivity?  What began as a thought and your subsequent actions made it the biggest part of your life?  What got you off track?  What stole your heart from your true love?

As vicious as the enemy of my soul is, so must my passion for God be.  What can I have less of in my life today to have more of God? What is my source of feeding?  Is it for my carnal nature or my nature that is after Him?  It’s only when I “eat” God’s Word that I can boldly speak it over my own life and others.

Even in His grief for us, God still promises to give us a new heart, one that is sensitive and responsive to Him. His steps of repentance have always led to our freedom because His mercy endures forever. 

“There’s nothing as powerful as a changed mind.  Until your mind changes,
you will repeat the same cycle over and over again.”   T.D. Jakes

His Little Girl

Sarah-singingWith her dark curly hair laying close to her neck and maybe even a little scruffy from a day at play, she composed herself enough to sing a song to her Daddy.  The words seemed to be made up as she went because of her overwhelming excitement at his arrival, but maybe they were really thought out and a complete rendition of what was truly in her heart.  She finally had his attention and he certainly had all of hers.  Since I wasn’t there, I can imagine my beautiful niece had a pretend microphone created from whatever was close by at the time and was swaying to the music in her own mind as she sang the words, “My heart is connected to your heart.” 

In my own sweet time of prayer just yesterday, I felt my heart connected to God’s heart. I wanted to know the big dreams He wants to live out through me even though I struggle to simply believe Him sometimes, yet He still longs for my ultimate trust. 

My mind went to His request to take no thought of what I will need, what I will wear or what food I would even have in front of me.  I don’t believe He was asking me to live a life of poverty because He already said He would supply my needs, but this was simply a request to trust Him, really trust Him with a child-like faith. 

When I have confidence in my own ability to take care of things, to make more money, to pay the bills, to look out for the house, then that’s when fear creeps in and I feel the need to “protect” instead of share.

So, from a tranquil place in the corner of my room, I began to sing a song to My Daddy, a song of complete trust and deep gratitude of just belonging to Him.  It hardly had a tune and I’m sure after a day of homeschooling, housecleaning, and getting ready for an 8-hour work-shift, I was a little unkempt and my song didn’t have much rhyme, but yet it was a complete expression of my heart with words that were made up at that moment because, like my niece, I too was filled with the overwhelming excitement that my Daddy was near and I had all of His attention because I am His little girl.