Unto Himself I’m Brought

When I think of how we get to “know” God, I think about how we get to know people. We spend time with them and we communicate in many ways. We also experience people. By spending time together we grow in relationship, since we don’t see and experience God in the same way we do people. We need to reframe our perspective to contemplating spiritual experiences with God, and those come best through surrendering to His goodness, even when we do not at first understand that is what is happening.

Finding God is not as hard as it might seem, I we ask, and begin to look...

Sun rise clouds. Finding God is not as hard as it might seem, I we ask, and begin to look…

The following is an excerpt from Streams In The Desertby L. B. E. Cowman and Jim Reimann. From August 21. [I added some photos of mine.]

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“He brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:19)

What is this “spacious place?” What can it be but God himself – the infinite being through whom all other beings find their source and their end of life? God is indeed a “spacious place.” And it was through humiliation, degradation, and a sense of worthlessness that David was taken to it. Madame Guyon

“I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself.” Exodus 19:4DSC_0285

Hearing to launch on “full surrender’s” tide,

I asked the Lord where would its waters glide

my little boat, “To troubled seas I dread?”

“Unto Myself,” He said.

Weeping beside an open grave I stood,

in bitterness of soul I cried to God:

“Where leads this path of sorrow that I tread?”

“Unto Myself,” He said.

Striving for souls, I’d love to work too well;

Then disappointments came; I could not tell

The reason, till he said, “I am your all;

Unto Myself I call.”

Watching my heroes those – I love the best –

I saw them fail; they would not stand the test,

Even by this the Lord, through tears not few,

Unto Himself me drew.

Unto Himself! Earthly tongue can tell

The bliss I find, since in his heart I dwell;

The things that charmed me once seemed all as naught;

Unto himself I’m brought.

selected

What are you willing to let go of to draw near to God?

Abba, Help us to see You through your lenses, not our finite, selfish ways. Help us to begin to see you even, and especially, where we least expect. Thank You for your promise to be with us, even to the end of the age! Amen

Our Natural Response And How To Balance It.

When I face something new, a change or difference of opinion, what is my first response? Am I thankful or do I complain? I am not pointing a finger, unless it is at me. I am thinking “out loud” here.

Complaining

Complaining

I think my natural response, and possibly the natural human response is to duck responsibility. I don’t want to seem inadequate or not good enough. I might make excuses. If I can’t find someone or some thing to blame, it is tempting to say there are other powers beyond my control like, “The Devil made me do it!”  (This is intended to be funny….) The root of this is pride.

I’d hope I have matured and humbled to the point where I know better than to blame others when I am really at fault. My parents raised me to be honest. I now try to look at my part first, like Jesus said, take the log out of my own eye before I try to take the splinter out of the other person’s eye. (from Matthew 7:3-5)

Then there is the other side of the spectrum where one might automatically take the blame for whatever went wrong. I suspect this happens most when others around us, especially if they have authority over us, choose to blame us instead of taking responsibility for their own messes. In these circumstances it can become easier to take the blame than to straighten it out. If this goes on for a length of time this response becomes second nature.

Weathering the storm/accepting too much responsibility.

Weathering the storm/accepting too much responsibility.

As I grew away from escaping responsibility, to accepting my responsibility, for a season I had a taste of this over correction. My first response turned into an apology.  This usually comes with low self-esteem.

God sees us as His much-loved children he is raising us to become increasingly like His Son Jesus every day. The key is to understand this perspective, that our Creator God loves us. He made each of us the way are for reasons we may or may not know in this life.

Regal and at rest.

Regal and at rest.

Let’s accept ourselves as loved.

Accept that we can not always have it “our way.”

Accept that we can not control other people but we can control ourselves and our responses.

We can take an honest look at ourselves, knowing we are created by God in and for love, and balancing it with the knowledge that we are imperfect and in need of help. Help that only God can give.

Forgive. This means to release expectations of others and even of ourselves. Often the hardest thing to do it to forgive ourselves. We begin to experience God when we forgive.

Do you want to be like the screaming eagle? The storm swept doves? The alert yet resting cardinal?

I love the traditional prayer of confession. It is often recited rote so that it loses its meaning, but if prayed thoughtfully, it is a powerful way to realign with the will of God to bring us to balance and rest.

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen

 

Thoughts About Majesty And Terrorism

What do Majesty and terrorism have in common? I argue that power and control are the points of contact between these two. They might be considered opposite sides of the same coin.

Light, shielded by the clouds, is similar to our inability to stand before the Majesty of the True God.

Light, shielded by the clouds, is similar to our inability to stand before the Majesty of the True God.

Majesty has legitimate power and authority motivated by love and goodness while terrorism is the illegitimate struggle to gain power and authority it wants, but can never have, because it is uses fear, and not love to get it.

The very same skyline as the previous photo, at sunrise, on a different day.

The very same skyline as the previous photo, at sunrise, on a different day conjures a very different sentiment.

Let me attempt to clarify.

Terrorist’s by definition use violence to create fear to have their way. The Roman empire used it, Hitler and Stalin are well noted for their extreme uses of force to coerce their populations to submit to their will.

Majesty, however, is supreme power or authority. Supreme is the best of the best in authority and quality in every category.

Our multifaceted God is THE supreme power and authority anywhere and every where. This God does not manipulate and motivate with fear of life and limb. The God of the Bible has all power and authority, His perfect love for us as motivation. He already has the power. He chooses to use it for good. God invites us to be in relationship with Him. Never forcing.

Granted free will does not always work out to be pretty. The first people God created crossed over the one and only restraint they were given and that opened the door to terrorism. We have been created in the image of God, yet we are not God. I believe we all have a bit of us that has a wish to be God if we can. This nature unchecked brings forth the Hitlers, the Stalin’s and terrorists of our day, like the recent events in France that have rocked the western world.

We need to keep in mind that the first couple had a tempter! And so do we. That one has many names, among them is the Father of Lies and the Deceiver. This other realm is in competition with the One True God of love.

When we are hurt by people in authority over us, by breaking promises or not fulfilling their God-given responsibility to love and care for us, that too opens the door to the tempter to draw us away from truth. We find ourselves afraid and we become confused. The tempter tells us that God is not good and does not love us. So we look to find someone to protect us. In our ignorance we self-protect, self-medicate or choose to believe the lies of the terrorist of our souls.

We have always been in a battle for our minds and our lives and we most often yield control to the one we know the best. What we fill our time and mind with will most often determine our choices.

We also need to forgive those who hurt us, intentionally or unintentionally. The tempter uses our lack of forgiveness to keep us as his prisoner. By letting go of our bitterness and resentments, giving them to the Majestic Good, we become free agents again, able to accept the Love of God.

I can imagine some are asking how can we get to know a God we “never” see? I say we see God in the random acts of kindness that ordinary people do every day. We “see” God in a smile and in the beauty of creation.

But if you want to get to know God intimately and in an accelerated fashion, read the word of God, the Bible. Begin with the Gospel of John that tells the story of the God of all creation who became man in the person Jesus Christ of Nazareth. For some of us who have read it more than a couple of times, try reading it again, but I urge you to slow down and let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart about this God who became man.

How do we respond to terrorism? We respond with the opposite. If it comes to us in violence and fear, we respond in love, peace and tender care. Don’t get me wrong. These are not natural human responses. They are however, truly majestic ones, that only the Supreme God can supply. And He will if we ask and allow Him to work in us first, then through us.

Where have you faced fear? Can you forgive today? Can you ask God to help you respond in the opposite?

Abba, we live in fearful times. So much we once thought safe is lost. As much as we want to turn back, we can not. Please Heavenly Father, we give you our fear and hurt. Fill us with Your love. Grant us courage to trust you, even when we can not see or understand. Your perfect love casts out fear! I choose to live in that perfect love with you. Thank you for being faithful to Your promises, because you are the God of Majesty, not terror….

 

Could Faith Be A Sixth Sense?

We are taught we have five senses: Touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste. Then we have the Apostle Paul who tells us in 2 Cor.5:7 that. “…we walk by faith, not by sight.” I think we have a spiritual sense too.

What's behind the door?

What’s behind the door?

Looking at the photo, one might have a lot of questions. The door itself is old and worn from use and the elements. Many people have passed through it. But it is dark on the other side. Why go there? One can hope it is good, but the door itself is not naturally inviting.

What sort of anticipation brings people through it day after day, year after year?

As we face the beginning of another year, from my perspective, I think I can accurately say, this year 2015, has more questions out in front of me than answers compared to any other year in my life. So, where is God in this?

That is where I believe faith comes in. Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” This is not our wildest dreams. I believe this applies to the promises of God to us. And our faith is placed in our Creator who made the promises, and His perfect ability to keep His word.

Granted, the answers do not always come the way we hoped or expect, but they come.

The photo is of the door to a large basilica in Italy where Saint Francis is buried. Hundreds or more people pass through that door every day. Many go looking for hope and assurance of their faith. We too are moving forward into the unknown. We do so by faith, not by sight. Every day is a new adventure. We can wake up with dread, or we can face each day, month and year with promises from our loving God

-God will never leave us or forsake us. Heb, 13:5

-Jeremiah 2911 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Isaiah 30:

18 Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
    and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
    blessed are all those who wait for him.

19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

 These are just a few of my favorite promises. We trust in the God who made them by faith, not seeing. We walk this earth by faith every day, trusting we will keep breathing.

How do you “see” God sustaining you? What are your favorite promises from the Bible?

I bless you as you begin 2015 with the faith to receive a deeper knowledge of the love of God for you as you walk through the yet unknown doors, and with the following from the Apostle Paul:

1 Thessalonians 523 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Looking Back…To Go Forward

The New Year is a natural time to reflect on what was, and plan for the future. But what do you see?

The sun sets on another day. "Eagle Clouds" to remind us that we are under the shadow of His wings.

The sun sets on another day. God placed “Eagle Clouds” to remind us that we are under the shadow of His wings.

As I look over the past year, I am in awe of the faithfulness of God. I faced several life changing things in 2014 and I am sure many of you did too. Through it all I know God has been with me. Sometimes I have felt very alone, even isolated. Yet, when I stopped to look for God I found Him ever-present. I only needed to take my focus off my circumstances or pain and there was evidence of His love and care.

This weeks photo reminded me of Psalm 91:4

He will cover you with his pinions,
 and under his wings you will find refuge;
 his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

We are constantly under the shadow of the Almighty, whether we are aware of it or not. And His faithfulness is refreshed daily.

Lamentations 3:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

 The following is probably my favorite of the old hymns. The language is a bit antiquated, but the words, to me, carry the weight of the power found in God’s promises to us.

“Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been,Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

(Refrain)

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own great presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

(Refrain)”

© 1923. Ren. 1951 Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 60188
www.hopepublishing.com
All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

When I look back on the last year, asking God to show me His faithfulness to me in both good and trying circumstances, I am amazed. For decades now I have looked back and seen the handiwork of God that brought me to where I am today. God, my heavenly Father has been tremendously faithful to me.

I can hear one good friend saying “Yeah, but you’re different!” To which I reply: I am not different. I may have practiced looking for God in my life more than some, but Abba, our Creator loves us all equally and uniquely. He is equally available….

Laying this foundation of the faithfulness of God in our lives is important for moving forward into the new year and each new day. His mercies are new every morning! Making God’s love and faithfulness a fundamental part of our mindset liberates us to trust Him as we venture in to each new day.

What a great way to move into a new year! I have an exceptional number of uncertainties facing me in 2015 as I am sure several you do too. I choose to move forward with these promises, and others, from my loving heavenly father, to cheer me and guide me.

Please take a moment to look for and connect with the faithfulness of God in your life….

Abba, help me to allow you deeper access into my life today and every day. Forgive me for ‘taking charge’ when Your way was harder at first, but so much better over all. Give me the courage to rest under the shadow of Your wings.

Thank You for being unchangeable and completely reliable! Thank You for being merciful and slow to anger and for pardoning my sin. Thank You for giving me the gift of your Holy Spirit to live in me, and for the abundant peace that flows freely from You when I allow You to lead!

You bless me beyond words…everyday. I cling to the bright hope before me, because You sustain my life for a purpose. And when You call me, You are faithful to see I have all I need to accomplish what You have set before me.

Bring on the New Year so we can go together! Amen!