watch_meToday I decided my past will not dictate my future.

I’ve toyed with specific lies my entire life and built my identity around them. I’m learning more about myself and myself in relationship to God than I ever have before.

There’s no point in pretending I understand how my heart works or why I do the things I do. There’s no reason to pretend that I have any power to change myself. I sing about being a captive set free because that’s who I want to be. I want to own my identity in Christ. I will wear a garment of praise today because of what He has done for me. I am Gomer. Hosea’s love scares me and I run…but He runs faster.

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.” Hosea 2:19-20

beggar

 I Haven’t Blogged in a While

 …’cause I really didn’t have  anything extraordinary to share. Life is really good and I am grateful. I am about  to be a first-time aunt and my sis and her  husband are finally back in the ‘ham. I  would love to have amazing things to constantly blog about but I don’t. It seems false for me to force it so I haven’t.

 But Today is a New Day

 …and I have something to share 🙂 I have recently been introduced to the writings of  Brennan Manning and he is challenging me  in ways I cannot yet articulate. (but there will be forthcoming posts soon!) Below is something fantastic and raw and I had to share it with you!

Excerpt from Ruthless Trust

“Sensing that if I bare my soul I will be abandonded by my friends and ridiculed by my enemies, I remain in hiding, borrowing from the cosmetic kit to put on my pretty face. I veil my unstated distrust behind a cheerful countenence, mask my fears behind sanguine pretense, and

present a false self that is mostly admirable, mildly prepossessing and superficially happy.

Later, I hate myself for my flagrant dishonesty. Who can I turn to?

In what may be the most stunning sentence in the entire Bible, Jesus says, “I call you my friend.

Raw honesty with Jesus about our doubts and anxieties, our lust and laziness, our shabby prayer life and stale religiosity, our mixed motives and divided hearts is the risk we take in the certainity or being acceptible and being accepted.

It is the full and mature expression of invincible trust.

Jesus is the friend who will never fail, the faithful one who will never be lacking in fidelity, even when people are unfaithful to Him, the stranger to self-hatred who estranges us from self-hatred.” 

Brennan Manning  “Ruthless Trust”
pp. 102-103

My Thoughts

I find myself hiding from God because of my own self-disillusionment. I think, “I’ve been a believer for 7 years! I should be “better” than I was when He first saved me, right?”

So I see myself as a failure, the condemnation sinks in and I hide. It is no better when the church I love so much reinforces my beliefs about what my failures mean:

I am weak
I am lazy 
I am an immature Christian
I should have “this” under control by now
I am not plugged in at church
I am not in a Sunday School class
My quiet times aren’t regular enough
I am not filled with enough of God’s spirit
I have not memorized enough scripture
I am not enough
I am not enough 

And when those who have put me on a pedestal see glimpses of my imperfections they in turn become disillusioned. They get angry. Their own fears rise up that if their preachers, teachers, leaders, elders, deacons, small group leaders and other pedestal-dwellers aren’t doing any better than they are then there is no hope for them either. I represent what they fear the most.

So we all end up hiding. We all end up far from communion with God because we believe He is keeping an account of all of our failures. This is the LIE that keeps us from Him, isn’t it? But there is hope in the TRUTH of the the gospel that calls all imperfect, haggard sinners to come and drink daily from the river of life. The Life-Giver who does not hate us as we hate ourselves says, “Come, all you who are weary…” 

The Lies I Learned in Church

I believed that I could come to Jesus initially as a ragamuffin but, later had to come as a Pharasee. After a undertmined amount of time had passed I was no longer allowed to come to Him as the messed up girl he rescued. I had to put on the appropriate clothes, speak appropriate “Christineese”, attend all of the appropriate church events (on time), serve in all of the appropraite ministries that complement my gifts and talents, please all of the appropriate people, meet all of their expectations and

just
sin
less.

The Poverty of My Soul

This, I am finding is a bunch of crap.

I ‘ve been miserable and I am tired of it! I want the freedom to live as a beggar EVERYDAY! I can play the role I was given when I entered the church, be clean on the outside and still be full of dead men’s bones-or I can come as a little child to the lap of Jesus -no matter how much mud covers me.

I am beginning a journey of learning what actually pleases God and not what pleases man. I apologize in advance-I am going to make some of you mad in the process. But I love you 🙂

My hope is that the outcome of authentic Christianity will be a richer prayer life and communion with God and that the overflow of this will be pleasing to him, joyful for me and attractive to a lost world.

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Jesus
Mark 12:28-29 

The richness and fullness of God’s grace.

The power that raised the dead, far above
   all earthly power and authority.

Adoption as an heir and daughter.
Every spiritual blessing in heaven.

Made old and blameless before God.
Redemption and forgiveness.

Knowing the mystery of God’s will.

The riches of God’s glorious inheritance, promised and sealed with the Holy Spirit.

A Chosen Race-A Royal Priesthood-A Holy Nation!

The assembly of the firstborn- Free access to the inner courts of heaven!
Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace!

In Ephesians, Paul prays that God will give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. 

That we will have the eyes of our hearts enlightened THAT WE MAY KNOW the hope to which we have been called!

Pray that God will enlighten the eyes of our hearts to see that we already have ALL things in Christ. 

He has not withheld anything from us. More than that He has given us His SON and all of the blessings that come with being children of the KING!!!     

Rejoice today saint 🙂 You lack no good thing!

I was listening to a James MacDonald Sermon yesterday on the radio.

He was talking about how he always thought that when scripture says, “Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.”  it meant that once unbelievers see Jesus they will be like, “Oh, I see now and He was there all the time and I never saw Him.”

Pastor James went on to say, “It’s not like that at all! Just like in their life on earth they denied Christ and never repented or recognized Him as God neither will they when He returns. Unbelievers will be forced to their knees; they will not go down willingly.” That’s why there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, because in life that is what they were doing…gnashing their teeth, rejecting God. They will remain in that state for eternity-eternally rejecting God.

I haven’t searched the scriptures about it yet, and I am not sure I agree but I thought it was interesting. I had never heard that take on it before.

“Strong storms are over the western half of Jefferson County. They show signs of the potential for damaging winds. They also have deadly lightning and torrential rains. Much of the Birmingham Metro up into extreme southern Blount County will be affected. Be in safe shelter as these strong storms approach.” ABC 33/40 Weather Blog

Alabama has been under a drought for at least a year. Recently the Lord brought flooding rains to the South. Bad for some but good for most. Today, as I hear the distant thunder rumble in the distance I am giddy! Did I mention I love thunder, lightning and pretty much all severe weather? (I mean no disrespect to anyone who family has suffered loss by a tornado or hurricane.)

The power of storms wakes me up to the power of God. They stir my soul and snap me out of my complacency. Suddenly, I remember I am an alien here and this is not my home. I think of the the last storm that will come and a coming King. No matter what happens, I am in safe shelter as this strong storm approaches!

Riding His white horse, His eyes are fire, a sharp sword in His mouth and on his robe and on his thigh He has a name written, KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS! The best ending to the best story ever told! At least for believers. Oh God, that unbelievers would hear you and see your storms as merciful warnings!!

I digress.

So a drought in my life it seems is ending as well. I am writing music again and have two songlings that are just peaking their heads through the soil of God’s marvelous love. Ahhhh! That was completely cheesy! I am starting to sound like Beth Moore!!

Anyway, I see some fruit and it gives me joy that the long winter is over. Praise Him!

About 5 years ago I heard the story of Blaise Pascal’s encounter with God and of the note he wrote about it and sewed into his coat pocket. I was so blessed to find it tonight again and marvel 🙂

Pascal’s Vision

When he was 31 years old, less than eight years before his death, Pascal had an overwhelming experience of the presence of God. He apparently made hasty notes, during the vision or immediately afterwards, so that he might always have at hand a reminder of what had happened to him. He transcribed these onto a piece of parchment and sewed it into the lining of his coat, where his servant found it after his death. There is no evidence of his having mentioned the experience to anyone while he lived. The parchment reads as follows (Bible references added; translation by Emile Caillet and John C. Blankenagel, Great Shorter Works of Pascal, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1948):

Memorial

In the year of grace, 1654,
On Monday, 23rd of November, Feast of St Clement, Pope and Martyr,

And others in the Martyrology,

Vigil of St Chrysogonus, Martyr, and others,
From about half past ten in the evening until about half past twelve,

Fire!

God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, (Ex 3:6; Mt 22:32)
Not of the philosophers and scholars.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
God of Jesus Christ.
“Thy God and my God.” (Jn 20:17)
Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except God.
He is to be found only in the ways taught in the Gospel.
Greatness of the Human Soul.
“Righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee,

But I have known Thee.” (Jn 17:25)
Joy, joy, joy, tears of joy.
I have separated myself from Him.
“They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters.” (Jn 2:13)
“My God, wilt Thou leave me?” (Mt 27:46)
Let me not be separated from Him eternally.
“This is eternal life,

That they might know Thee, the only true God,

And Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (Jn 17:3)

Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ

I have separated myself from Him:
I have fled from Him,
denied Him,
crucified Him.
Let me never be separated from Him.
We keep hold of Him only by the ways taught in the Gospel.

Renunciation, total and sweet.
Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day’s training on earth.
“I will not forget thy words.” (Ps 119:16) Amen.

Muslim Woman in Niqab

“Then the angel of the LORD told [Hagar], “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count.”The angel of the LORD also said to her:

“You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the LORD has heard of your misery.

He will be a wild donkey of a man;
his hand will be against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.”

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi…”

Genesis 16:9-14

Hagar. When I think of her I usually think, “What a sad situation she was in.” Already a slave she was asked to sleep with her master and bare him a son because he and his wife could not conceive. I thought of Sarah and how she and Abraham did not trust that God would fulfill His promise of the son of promise (Isaac).

When the true son did come, Ishmael became a threat in Sarah’s eyes. So she ordered Abraham to send he and his mother away-somewhere far away where they would never again remind her of her own faithlessness and unbelief.

I felt sorry for Hagar but I didn’t really like her. I thought of her as a schemer maybe and was a little bothered by the fact that she would have slept with another woman’s husband. ( I know the culture was different but they must have known it was wrong…?) I guess I thought poorly of her and felt a little like she “got what she deserved.” After all, the arab nations came from Ishmael as God promised…and I didn’t trust them either, right?

But after reading her story with fresh perspective from the Holy Spirit I see now that I had never seen her at all. So this is the Hagar I see today:

A Slave: She had to do what Sarah asked, didn’t she? I am sure she felt she had no choice but to obey.

A Woman: She had no husband. She was dishonored in that society for being unmarried. If it had been me I might have been thinking,” Well, at least if I am sleeping with Abraham I might get more respect around here, especially if I bare his child.”

A Daughter: This is when God reveals Himself to her. Hagar says, “This is the God who SEES ME.” Had Hagar felt that she had never truly been “seen” in her entire life? She was now no longer invisible. Finally, Someone had seen her but moreover this Someone had shown love and protection for she and her child. Oh Father, you are always the one who sees and delivers 🙂

A Mother: After learning she was pregnant she probably felt that her life was meaningful now. Scripture says she despised Sarah (Gen 16:4) after learning she was pregnant and there is no doubt Sarah despised her! She treated Hagar so badly that Hagar fled to get away from her. And in the wilderness as her teenage son lay dying she cries out again to the One Who Sees for salvation. And He answers.

Tears streamed down my face as I read her story again, this time God answering my prayer to give me a heart for Muslim women. These women who are hidden away in houses and treated as less than a whole person. These women who live their lives in seclusion and fear. These women who have no rights are covered until they are no longer visible to society or to the world. Oh God help them to see that the same eyes that saw Hagar in the desert sees them now in that same desert land thousands of years later!

In visions, in dreams and in their hearts. Open their eyes to see the well of Living Water.