It Is What It Is!

The sun coming up over the trees this morning. How do you envision "Acceptance?"

The sun coming up over the trees this morning. How do you envision “Acceptance?”

My really good friend Karen says that to me a lot. “It is what it is.” At first, it seemed to me to be a cop out. I felt she used it as a way to not deal with something that needed to change. That can indeed be the case at times, but a lot of the time she was right. “It is what it is” can remind me to accept the things I cannot change. Anything else is wasted energy.

Generally speaking, I’m a “can do,” “cup half full” kind of person. I am tenacious and rarely give up on anything I have started or committed myself to. I like a challenge. So to me, “it is what it is” got under my skin… at first.

Then I began to face some of the things in my life that either would not or could not change. Physical aging is one easy example. I am a baby boomer. I find my once seemingly “invincible” athletic body succumbing to injuries, hormonal changes and general gravitational pull as it hurts, expands and sags in all the places it never did before.

When I began to contemplate acceptance, I began to see more clearly the truth of the fact that the only things I can actually change are those things directly within my personal control and responsibility. On an average American day I do have control over what I eat, where I go and when, what I say and to whom, as well as how I do and say, what I say and do.

Beyond that, I have no control over the weather. I have no control over other people or the traffic I may find myself stuck in. Those things, and SO MANY more, fall to the category of acceptance.

“It is what it is” has become a way for me to let go of those things and people I was never intended to try to change. It does not usually mean I give up and walk away. Though it does remind me to mentally and emotionally take a step back. Breathe. Ask Abba what He sees, and what He wants me to see. Then I can ask God’s advice about how He wants me to proceed and for the courage to follow through.

Now, most of the time when I say to myself “it is what it is,” I am accepting that “it” is not actually my responsibility. And I am accepting responsibility for what I can change…me.

Acceptance is not always a cop out. More often than I care to admit, it is wisdom. Acceptance allows me to be in sync with God. I stop fighting unchanging circumstances and people, who at first look, seem to be obstacles in my path. Instead, I begin to look for what God is doing. I look to step into the flow if His Spirit.

Flowing in the will of God in the power of His Spirit

Flowing in the will of God in the power of His Spirit

I ask Him to give me His love for those who are “not cooperating” with my concept of progress. Funny isn’t it, how those very people are the ones God has sent to help make me more like Jesus… and to love them as He does.

For my aging body, I can accept that gravity will do its thing. Yet, I can rest and feed it nutritious things to keep the process from careening me to a premature demise. I can also choose to stay young at heart. Like a great bumper sticker I once saw: Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.

I invite you to join me in the full version of this great prayer.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

Will you join me is asking Abba for wisdom? Abba, What do you want me to accept today? What do you want to give me the courage to change today?

 

Honor Our Fallen For Freedom

When I was in Boston this week, these thousands of flags were being staked in to the grass on the Common.

Thousands of flags on the Boston Common, each representing the life of a Massachusetts soldier lost fighting for and defending our freedom since the revolutionary war.

Thousands of flags on the Boston Common, each representing the life of a Massachusetts soldier lost fighting for and defending our freedom since the revolutionary war.

Please take some time this weekend to honor those who have served to gain and maintain or freedoms of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Join me in praying for those in active service who defend our constitution and protect us. Feel free to include “first responders.” Those are the ones who run into the flames and to the trouble so we can run away to safety.

Freedom always comes at a cost.

May we always be grateful!

 

Strategic Prayer

2014-05-21 15.00.55_2What prayer isn’t strategic? Honestly. Anything that touches the heart and hand of God must be strategic. Right?

True, and yet being guided by God to pray His will in His way, can be more effective and fruitful than praying only what I want.

Praying God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven is a big motivator and calling for me. In other venues I have talked about helping to provide an environment where the Holy Spirit can work. I am committed to praying for spiritual awakening and revival in New England and beyond. Part of that for me includes joining others to help New England be the kind of environment where the Holy Spirit can freely draw people to faith in Jesus.

Sometimes God calls an individual, a small or large group of people to pray specifically for something that will help create the openness to God’s work. Sometimes the call comes with a need to be at a certain location, often an historic one. Or, to do things like take communion on the site. Sometimes, the call comes to specific people because of their family history or personal experience of over coming. That history and experience gives the individual authority in the heavenly realms in the eyes of God.

I am a descendant of Myles Standish, who came over on the Mayflower. So isn’t “interesting” that God has planted me in New England.=} Geographically, I live between Salem and Gloucester. These are two major historical port towns north of Boston that my ancestor Myles Standish is known to have visited. Both with enough “sorted” history to explain why a descendant of the May flower might be helpful. Boston is another port he went to, though he landed with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, to the south of the big city.

Over the last few years I have often been on teams of just a handful of people to go pray on historic sites to stand in with a attitude of repentance and forgiveness for things that transpired centuries ago. By forgiving and receiving forgiveness, we take back the  Godly authority our fore fathers gave up by their actions and attitudes that did not please God. The discord, fear and bitterness that became a common place function in towns is broken and replaced with freedom, grace and an opportunity to change. It does not usually bring instant change, but an open door to cooperate with the freedom to gear God above man.

This week I went into Boston to pray with my friends Christ (rhymes with wrist) and Jennie. This was not a combination site-seeing prayer walk. This was intentional. We went to the site of the first house in Boston to pray concerning one of the roots of pride and rebellion in Boston. God had lead Chirst to do some studying about the settling of Boston and that lead us to this monument. Shawmut was the original Boston and Blaxton was settled here for five years before it became Boston in 1630.2014-05-21 14.50.53 It was intense time of prayer as we asked for and extended forgiveness on behalf of the historic figures. Their interactions created one of the openings to pride and rebellion in the area. We asked God to close that access and to bring healing of the wrongs done in the past and for the restoration of humility and peace.

We stood on a warm sidewalk in the still spring air. As soon as we finished a STRONG breeze kicked up. Wind often represents the Holy Spirit. Am I nuts?  Just sayin’ =}…. It was an interesting coincidence. One we all took note of because the contrast was significant. And because these sorts of things often happen with this sort of strategic prayer assignment.

What difference did it make? Honestly, I am not sure of how to measure it. We each had a strong sense of the favor of God as we obeyed His call to pray in this way, at this place, on that day.  Time will tell. We will watch the news and continue to pray for awakening and revival in New England. This is just one piece of a grander plan than I can not grasp. I have learned that it is for me to hear and obey. I am in this area for any number of reasons. Strategic prayer is one.

There are other ways to pray strategically. How do you pray when you become aware of wrongs done in the past? Ask God to make you aware of how you can pray for revival and awakening where you are!

 

Where Does Love Come From?

DSC_0438The first and great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength and the second is like it, to love your neighbor like yourself.

Have you tried it? I have. For decades I have kept these eternal charges at the forefront of my life. How have I done? Well, I’m not sure I want to talk about that, really. Honestly, I am growing, but I have failed miserably far more than I care to remember. I have been the good Samaritan a few times, but I also have passed by plenty of times.

The Westminster Catechism is a teaching of the church from the 1600’s. It is a series of questions and answers designed to help us think rightly about us as humans in relation to God and his creation. It begins by asking, “What is the chief end of man?” and the answer given is: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” It sounds like the first commandment with “enjoy” thrown in. I guess that does fit the idea of love! Glorify can sound so much like work, so adding enjoy helps to bring balance. All of this is intended to be fun!

So how do I do that? How do I love, glorify and enjoy someone I can not touch or see in the flesh, or talk with like I do with you. You and I can interact with and receive a recognizable, tangible response. God is the transcendent creator of EVERYTHING and he called it all into existence from of NOTHING!

How do I relate to that? How do you relate to that?

We can only love, glorify and enjoy the Creator of all things because He first loved us. The short answer to the initial question, “Where does love come from?” Love comes from God. Just as God is the source of all life, the creator is the source of all real love. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.”

Genesis 1 gives us a glimpse of the origins of love. (Emphasis mine.)

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

[Genesis 1:26-27 The Hebrew word for man (adam) is the generic term for mankind and becomes the proper name Adam]

When I first learned that in the account of creation, God refers to himself in the plural, I was floored. Male and female are the likeness of the creator. God is complete and loving. It is the trinity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit who created us, in love, and declared that we are “very good.”

Accepting God’s word that declares me as “very good” from the beginning and forgiven from the foot of the cross, has helped me to begin to own the love of God for me. That reality in turn, fills me and becomes the constantly flowing source of unconditional love.

I have learned that I can not love God unless I allow Him to love me first. I have to cooperate.

God has given us all a free will to enter into relationship with him or not. I can choose to hold on to my independent ways and to nurse the offenses that have come against me. Doing so will keep a barrier between me and the fullness of God and the love he has for me. It plugs up the flow that is always available.

By persisting in my own sin and not forgiving and releasing others to God, I choke off the flow of the love of God.

By persisting in my own sin and not forgiving and releasing others to God, I choke off the flow of the love of God and my growth is distorted.

Or, I can choose to release the pain of those offenses and let God take it to the cross. I can hand over to him my tendency to want to live by what is right in my own eyes that I, with the rest of the human race, inherited from Adam and Eve. When I forgive and release, the access to the love of God is released in my life. This is the recipe for a life full of love.

"Dancing Trees" A possible representation of the love and joy of the Trinity, and of human lives well lived.

“Dancing Trees” A possible representation of the love and joy of the Trinity, and of human lives well lived in the love of God.

Not only is our Creator the source of love, he is the sustainer. By handing over my fears, hurts and sins, I open the way to let love flow through me.  If I do not release them, I am the chief loser.

Will you join me in trusting God? Give Jesus everything the Spirit of God prompts you to release. Do not go searching or dig up things you have already dealt with unless it is clearly still a problem. But ask and listen. Will you then ask for a fresh infilling for the Love of God?

I challenge you to allow God to love you first! I promise, you will not regret it!

What’s Next?

The view from a Colorado mountain top, but there is always another summit.

The view from a Colorado mountain top, but there is always another summit.

When I was eight years old I attended my first overnight summer camp. I loved the archery, arts & crafts, horseback riding and canoeing. But most of all I loved to swim! The camp had an annual mile long swim across the very large lake in the north west corner of the lower peninsula of Michigan.

I still remember the name of my cabin mate, Susan Wade. She and I asked to take the challenge joining the older campers who were going to swim the mile. I think it was a little more like pleading and begging them to let us do it. The life guard, instructors decided we were strong enough to make the distance. They always kept a boat in the water with the swimmers the entire way, just in case.

Did we make it? Yes! Susan and I set the camp record for the youngest campers to ever complete the mile. That is saying something since my mom had attended the same camp as a young girl! Our names joined the other milers from every preceding year with our names on a plaque in the camp meeting hall.

As a proud “miler” I determined at the ripe old age of eight, that my life goal was to become a Red Cross certified “WSI,” a Water Safety Instructor. For the next decade I set my sights on achieving the Red Cross standards as soon as my age allowed.

Fast froward: Age seventeen. I was in the diving pool of Huron High School in Ann Arbor. Imagine underwater wrestling, learning to rescue a swimmer in distress. I was exhausted and trilled! I had just successfully completed my final requirement for my WSI. I was fully qualified! The view from the “summit” was rewarding!

The funny thing is, by the time I was dressed and walked to my car, a sense of loneliness or almost defeat came over me. I had achieved my “Life Goal!” I was only 17! I felt empty, hollow. There has to be more to life than this!?! I knew I was young, but this hollow feeling marked me for life.

What’s next?

Do I set another goal? I don’t especially like this feeling of “after achievement.” In the moment of victory over rigorous standards and self, it feels great! But it doesn’t satisfy for long.

At that point in life I was a baby follower of Jesus. It took me nearly four more years to realize that the only satisfaction that truly lasts is in walking daily with God. For years I have been learning to allow the love of God to become my goal and fulfillment. I have learned to plug into His strength and acceptance in the let down moments of “after achievement” and well as in the victories and the defeats.

The camp is gone now. My plaque burned or perhaps rotted under the foundation of one of the condo’s that have gone up on the sight. My WSI? I never used it for a job as a life guard or anything else. My strong willed children, who were very reluctant home schoolers for the few months home schooling was necessary, also rebuffed most of my attempts to teach them to swim.

I have learned, the point of a goal is less about the goal and more about the process. As I lean on God and learn the ways of God, His hand and His heart of love guide me.

At each “what next?” in my life, God meets me.

These times are excellent for re-evaluation. They are also good to reflect upon and receiving the approval of God; His love, delight and even pride, in my following Him as faithfully as I can. [As Paul said in Phil. 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”]

The emptiness of the “after achievement” is largely gone these days. In stead, it is usually replaced with a sense of the anticipation of yet another adventure. There is always another journey with another summit.

Abba gives me the strength and wisdom to “run through the finish line.” He also holds the plans for my future. God is actually more engaged in us finding the way forward than we are, so we can relax, at least a bit=}. As we faithfully complete the thing He has put in front of us today, we never have to worry about our significance or my, “What’s next?”

I know many people who currently find themselves at a place of “what next?” Are you among us?

Are you tired, afraid? hopeful? lost or confused? Something else? Ask Abba for a sanctified imagination, then ask Him to show you how you are trusting Him and how you are not. Don’t get introspective, but just ask. If you ask sincerly, He will find a way that you can hear. Listen for His still mall voice. Give God the things He asks for, like fear or confusion. Then ask what he wants you to have in their place? Such as love and as sound mind, taking each thought captive to Christ.

Next, with a sanctified imagination, ask Abba God how He really sees you. listen as He places words of loving affirmation in your mind. Don’t push these good words aside as “mere self talk.” Let them sink into your being. 

Be blessed to know you are eternally loved by the Creator of all things!

 

Unity Growing, National day of Prayer Observed.

“Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (PS 133:1)

Two Massachusetts State Reps who follow Jesus.

Two Massachusetts State Reps who follow Jesus.

Yesterday was the national day of Prayer. People all over the country joined to humble themselves and to pray for our country. I do not have the numbers of denominations present, but we had many “flavors” of Evangelicals, and Charismatics along with Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventists and more for Noon Prayer yesterday. We met at the State House to worship, repent and to pray for the Nation. Time was spent focused on each of the following areas: Government, Church, Military, Family, Education, Media and Business.

2014-05-01 19.31.04The photo above shows the shofars blowing to open the evening meeting in Boston. The seats are empty because we are all walking around the chairs in a show of unity to pray for our state and nation.

Did you find a way to observe the National Day of Prayer? I would love to hear what you did. If you did not know, or forgot, there is no time like the present to pray for our nation. Please pick one of the areas I just listed and take one minute to pray for the United States.

Please consider praying 30 seconds to a minute each say for a week using one of the segments of our nation listed above in bold.