Desperate

Jesus, You were spit on, ridiculed, beaten, called a drunkard, a glutton and a liar. You were betrayed by many including those close to you. You beheld the hatred, the depravity, the gross reality of the state of the human heart. You were hung on a cross between ungodly men, mocked and provoked.

Yet you died for those who had committed these sins against you. You gave your life so that these and many millions after them might have hope, a chance at salvation, and eternal life.

Yes, you were disgusted by the religious leaders, yet so merciful that your love changed Saul to Paul. You got angry, even turned over tables, but never committed sin.

You witnessed the atrocities man is capable of, you heard our pathetic excuses, you saw our doubt and unbelief.

Yet, you died for us.

You knew there would be more of us, generation after generation of self-righteous, flesh-gratifying, self-loving, immoral humans, born into sin.

Yet, you willingly went the way of the Cross.

Your love is unfathomable, your mercy undeserved, your long suffering immeasurable and your grace, ever amazing.

I want to love like you do; to see hearts, instead of hands; to see possibility instead of reality, to see hope instead of despair and life instead of death.

Oh, to truly be your hands and feet, all the time. This is my prayer. I know that kind of love is impossile without Your love, without Your spirit dwelling in me. Teach me, show me, mold me. Forgive me my pride and arrogance, my detestable desire to be right at all costs, any bitterness or hatred towards people who I disagree with. Humble me and break my heart for what breaks yours.

For You are the only hope and my faith is in You always.

The love in the No-nos

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As Nana instead of mama, I can get tickled when my almost two year old granddaughter is testing my daughter.  I have earned that right but I am wise enough to hide my laughter.  My cousin’s wife has termed it being “rascally” when she starts acting like a little stinker.  This usually happens when she is fighting sleep, but lately with the two’s looming in the near future, it happens more often.

She will go up to something she knows she isn’t allowed to touch and get her finger as close to it as she possibly can and look at you, studying your response.   There is a snowman dish that captivates her, but she knows she can only look at the “no-man”, not touch.   The other day, she touched it and took off running.

She is trying to see how far she can push before it’s too far.  What can I really get away with?  Will this really hurt me, or is mom just saying that?  What happens if I touch the forbidden?  She runs full speed ahead trying to taste, touch and see everything as fast as her little legs will carry her.  When she knows she has committed a “no-no”, she will swing those golden curls back, look at you and swat her own little behind, all with a smile on her face.

She knows exactly what she is doing, yet there is something in her that rebels.  She doesn’t always just listen and obey.  At times, she has to learn the hard way.

This morning, I was contemplating sin and temptations and how long suffering God is with us.  I am a firm believer that Jesus died for my sins, but I also believe when I committ them, I need to repent.  Daily I pray that God will search my heart and help me to live a holy, committed life for His glory.

I thought about my granddaughter’s behavior and it reminded me so much of us as God’s children.  Oh, how He loves us!

How often do we run through life anxious to see it all and do it all, and we wander too close to the things that God knows might cause us harm?  He warns us, yet sometimes we fail to heed the Father’s voice.  That seemingly harmless conversation we are being lured into might cause us pain later.  A still small voice whispers, “no-no” but we ignore the plea and carry on, like a toddler running with scissors.

Thankfully, when we fall, He is there to pick us up.  He willingly forgives the offense and loves the hurt away if we let Him.  If we are smart, for our part, we will repent and learn something and we don’t have to repeat that lesson over again. We aren’t toddlers trying to figure out who is in charge.  We do already know that God wants the best for us, and that His plan for us is perfect!  Why do we question that?  If He keeps something from us, it will always be for our benefit.  If He changes our direction, it’s to keep us on the best path.

His banner over me is love.  Maybe we can remember that the next time the spirit of God is dealing with us about something.  His no is always shrouded in love, just like ours are with our children.   It always means, I know a better way or I want a better outcome for you.  It means, I love you.  Trust that love.

 

An authentic love

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Many times I am asked to explain what I mean when I talk about feeling close to Jesus and having more than a superficial relationship with Him.  How can I say he is my best friend?  How do I know when He is guiding me in a certain direction?

When I was very young, I was taken to church by my mother and grandmother and as I grew it continued to be part of my life.  In my pre-teen years, I went for the fun and games, to see my friends and because I genuinely wanted to be good.  I wanted to do the right thing and I was afraid of the consequences if I didn’t.  Somehow, in spite of all of the lessons telling me that Jesus died for me and how much He loved me, I couldn’t wrap my head around what it meant to be in a relationship with Him.  There were times I felt more inspired than others, but I still didn’t grasp the depths of His goodness at the time.

Many years later, after multiple failures and the death of my mother, I found myself in a bad place.  I felt alone, insecure and without much hope.  As a young wife and mother, I didn’t feel like I had anything left to offer the ones I loved.

But slowly and surely, the things I had learned in my youth came back to me and the timely words of a friend reminded me that there was somewhere to find strength and peace.  I found myself thinking about God and wondering what it would feel like to run to Him and cast all my cares in His lap.  Would it work?  My mind, educated in the bible, said yes but my emotions were a wreck and my doubts numerous.

I don’t remember the exact day and time like some people do when they have life-changing experiences, but I do remember feeling like I didn’t have anything to lose.  Why not cry out to God?  I was at the end of me (and therein lies the key).  That was almost twenty years ago and I haven’t regretted my decision to fully surrender to Jesus, not one time.

On the contrary, my love for Him has grown by leaps and bounds.  He has been my friend when there was no one else who could possibly understand me.  He has forgiven me though my sin was deep and He freely gave this precious gift of salvation.  All I had to do was believe and ask and surrender my life to Him.

Has it been easy?  No, I would be lying if I answered that with a yes.  There were times I felt weak and frail when He has been my strength.  When I felt faithless and my shortcomings seem to come in droves, He was long suffering.  When my tears fell like rain, He taught me to have joy in spite of my circumstances.  When I was afraid and fearful, He spoke peace.  Making a decision to surrender didn’t make things perfect and life still had it’s curve balls to throw but now I had a perfect God to run to, Who gave strength like no other and a peace that I had never known my entire life.

Having said all that, I still haven’t fully explained how I feel so close to Him, why I am certain of His abiding presence and direction.  How do I know how much He loves and and how can I confess such an overwhelming love for Him?  Intentional time spent with Him, loving Him, getting to know Him and in the process, getting to know me.

The only way I know how to explain is this.  When you love someone (and I’m not talking about the superficial relationships this culture is wrought with), you spend time with them.  You get to know them.  You read their notes or letters over and over again because you want to discern how they really feel about you.  You’ll take the time to discover what moves them.  It’s not a “hook-up” or a “best friends with benefits” type of attraction.  It’s way deeper than that.  You put them first and even in the midst of life’s craziness, they remain a priority.  You look forward to their touch and you share with them your heartfelt thoughts and desires.  You turn to them for direction and advice because they know you so well, they are the best to give it.  You take every opportunity you can to be in their presence.  It’s intentional.

This made all the difference for me.  I went from feeling like I was outside looking in, to a beautiful, holy relationship with my Maker.

I felt inspired to share this on this beautiful rainy Sunday.  We will all have our perfect sunshiny days, but we will all also experience the rain.  Let us love Him intentionally, placing Him in the proper place in our lives.  When the rain comes, He wants to be your shelter.

 

The other side of the fog

Sunday morning Word

This morning I was studying the story of Joseph from his coat of many colors and the telling of his prophetic dreams, to the jealous brothers casting him into a pit, and then selling him into slavery.  But all along God had a plan and He positioned Joseph to save Egypt and Canaan from famine.  A good outcome didn’t look possible to the human eye, guided by the flesh.

I was reminded of one of my recent trips to Miami to be supportive to my youngest daughter and visit my almost 8 month old granddaughter, struggling with an infection in her lungs.  Since her diagnosis of Cystic Fibrosis, she has fought and won many battles in the short time she has been around to bless us.  I attribute this to many prayers.

On the particular morning, the fog was thick and blanketed everything for miles.  My travelling progress was impeded as I slowly navigated my way through the unknown.  Visibility was limited, and I found myself a little nervous because I couldn’t see the cars coming toward me from miles away and I was unsure of what was creeping up behind me until the headlights broke through the fog.  I found myself focusing on the fog and its dangers, ready for the sun to break through and begin to burn it all away.

I felt the stirring of the Holy Spirit as I realized that once again, God was trying to teach me something.  You know, if we slow down and pay attention long enough, we can hear that still small voice.

Such is life.  In this journey through the vast unknowns with Cali, I know that on the other side of it, there is clarity.  I cannot begin to figure it all out now, to predict what is coming or to visualize the hidden hazards along the way.  I can apply this to so many situations in life; those where I can barely navigate on a daily basis, much less discern the outcome.

But, this I do know; on the other side of the fog, there is a Son and He always burns for me.  His will may not be understandable at times, the outcome may not always make sense to me, but I will continue to live in the knowledge that He wants the best for me.  In the midst of a broken, fallen world, He is my hope, my strength and my refuge.

Remember, it was never God’s intention that we live in a broken, fallen world that is filled with sin and hurt and hate.  And, He loved us enough to send His Son, to give us a chance at redemption, restoration and an eternal life, a life much more important than the short one we will live out on this earth.

Love until it hurts

Who will tell them they are loved?

All the weary, worn and broken.

Will we merely pass them by?

Words of healing left unspoken.

No, Not I.  I said, “I’ll go.”

And heed their silent cry.

Take my hand and join me.

Let’s touch a life that’s gone awry.

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Matthew 25:45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

We all know someone who could use a hug, a smile, some love and if we don’t it’s easy enough to find out.  This is just a reminder to myself and to others to give back, share your heart and whatever else you have to share.   Blessings!

Change can be good

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What if we could look at things differently sometimes?

We are all on that carousel of life going round’ and round’, involved in so many different things.

What if we could stop it and step off and take a good open-minded look at some of our situations?  We’re great about observing other homes and lives and making what we think are wonderful, albeit sometimes critical observations.  What if we looked at ours from that same point of view?

Take a deep breath and look at your home, your family, your job.  Look from the outside instead of from where you are.  What are the things that are working?  What isn’t?  Could any changes be made for the better?

I find that the more time I make for prayer and reflection, to slow down, find a quiet place and think, the more likely I am to recognize or realize problems, to see the areas I need to work on, to allow my Creator to whisper solutions to me.

We have to be able to admit it when things need to change, that we aren’t always right and that we don’t always have the answers.  This is the hardest part for me, the surrender.  I have to surrender all of my earth-bound dreams and desires and goals and ambitions to the lover of my soul, the One who knows the best route for me, the One whose plans are perfect.

Sometimes I feel like a stubborn, know-it-all child who doesn’t want parental intervention.  Surely, God sees me that way at times.  As my walk progresses and my faith is strengthened, I find it easier to “let go and let God”.  I’m finding that when I do this, this life is a glorious one to live.

Mitch Teemley

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