Seasons Change

I have owned several copies of Oswald Chambers’ book, “My Utmost for His Highest”. He seemed to be so legalistic, expecting more performance than I could ever muster.

But then a friend tweeted and posted a FB request that everyone read a particular entry. I did. And I’m hooked.

I will note that I have an updated version, which is much easier to read than the original.

My listening notes for today:

Faith by its very nature must be tested and tried. And the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character must be proven as trustworthy in our own minds.

– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, October 31

Exposure

Sometimes when I finally “get it” it hurts. My heart hurts from the joy, sadness, relief, wonder. I am in disbelief that God just talked to me. Little ol’ me. He just put things into place in front of me in a way that clicked. The best kind of learning. The joy of dots being connected in my mind and heart. No, not the discovery of the meaning of life, but almost.

I had one of those moments this morning. My heart hurts with the joy of wanting to just tell everyone exactly what happened, how it happened, in the hopes of sharing that kind of moment with others. I know I can’t re-create it. I think it was the infinitesimally brief moment of connection with God. Any more than that and I think it would literally kill me.

Several nights ago I got another brief message that I recognized as “from God”. The message was simple. “Expose yourself” (in relation to Him). I’ve started to realize that these mini messages can mean any number of things. Does that mean “expose” in the sense that I need to be more brutally honest about myself TO God? Or does that mean “expose” in the sense that I need to be more exposed to God as a form of input – face time with God. Though I am trying to improve on both areas, the latter seemed the more important.

Since I don’t have a regular morning devotional book, and I’m not currently using any kind of regulated Bible reading plan, I spent a day or so mulling over what more exposure to God would mean. I settled on reading the Gospels. I haven’t spent time there in a long time.

As I’ve recently shared, I struggle with legalism, and yet any mention of the Law in the Bible throws up a mental road block. Today I was reading in Matthew 5. Verses 17-20 are where I found my “a ha!”. I want to share my journal entry because, well, I want to put it out there in case someone else needs the same message I got today.

The verse I read in my version of the NLT

Matthew 5:17-20 NLT
[Jesus talking here – giving the “Sermon on the Mount”] “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s law will remain until it’s purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. but I warn you — unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!”

My Journal Notes:

“September 19, 2008
Matt 5:17-20
Did Jesus say all of this to highlight the “old way”? He’s talking about your/our ranking in the K of H, then closes saying unless we’re perfect following the law we’re out of luck anyway…

It’s hard sometimes because Jesus’ death changed it all, so it is confusing to me to read his words to know if what he says is part of the old or the new.

God has absolute requirements (the law). Those requirements have literally no way of being met.

God can’t change who He is. Those requirements are facts. Laws of God are Laws of Nature. He didn’t arbitrarily choose them, they just are. Jesus came to fill the requirement so we could have that relationship with God.

This is the part that swirls my brain.
— God and sin can’t coexist – it’s one of the “rules”, “laws”, “facts”.
— God’s “laws” are just examples of many many ways to illustrate what sin/evil/wrong is.

Jesus, in the rest of chapter 5, was establishing that he wasn’t a dissenter, a rabble-rouser, a radical trying to change the truth about God. He was telling the people that the God of the Jews is still the same God, his laws are even more difficult (impossible) to keep, but still to be desired. They [the laws] were still in force and always will be. Laws = Right. But he came to fulfill them because we are not capable. He is the SOLUTION to: How can God and I be in a close relationship when I am a sinful human and God cannot be connected with sin?”

Legalism in my life is when I think that I somehow can work harder to meet God’s requirements of perfection. Any striving I do in that area leaves me bitter and angry. I will NEVER be able to modify my behavior in a way that is good enough. Never. If I end there, then I’m miserable.

God so badly wants to be with me (us) anyway that he worked up a plan that would take care of his laws and would restore our relationship. That plan was Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the requirements (laws) with his perfection, took the (undeserved) punishment for sin FOR us. Because of Jesus, I do not have to struggle to live up to anything in order to be connected to God. God is not repelled by my sin any longer. If I accept all this (everything I’ve written here), then Jesus’ life and death are EVERYTHING to me. It’s my way out of legalism. It’s my restoration. It’s my hope.

Hey, guess what! That’s “Good News”! 😉

Seriously, though, I know what I have written is very simple to some. Being stuck in legalism is nasty. It’s a place of “not getting it”. So many voices saying “But it CAN’T be that simple…”. I think it is.


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Post Script:
The K-Love verse of the day…

This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
~ 1 John 4:10, NLT

There is no time like the present…

“For the next 60 days, try to stay in a continuous, honest conversation with God, willing to do his will moment by moment.”

SoulRevolution.net

This is the beginning of a challenge put forth by John Burke in his soon to be released book, Soul Revolution: How Imperfect People Become All God Intended.

John Burke spoke at the Leadership Summit and lodged some serious nuggets in my brain.

I missed out on being able to buy an advanced copy of his book.  🙁  Sadly, I was unaware that it had not yet hit stores, so I just figured I’d pick one up from Amazon.  It will not be shipped until October 1.

But God is moving in my mind and in my heart.  I am going to start the challenge by myself, right now.  Life’s too short, and this is too important, to put off until later.

Anyone want to join me?

Smile, God loves you…

Did you ever get a warm fuzzy when you remembered someone special? And remembered that they love you. I still get that way when I think “John loves me.” My heart gets fuller. I smile inside. Pulse quickens. “Oh yeah.” **Smile**

I believe that’s what’s supposed to happen when you hear someone say that God loves you…isn’t it?

Child of Mine

An awesome spin! I loved this movie. It is a really fun take on what it means to be a Child of the King. Enjoy

Song – You Are A Child of Mine, Mark Shultz
Movie – The Lion King

The Practice of the Presence of God

I found this book in my boss’s office a couple of years ago and asked if I could read it. It isn’t very long, and can be difficult to read (Brother Lawrence was a seventeenth-century French Monk), but it is well worth it.

I lost track of the borrowed (and returned) book, but finally re-found and purchased it for myself. I am reading it once again and would like to share a passage with you that I feel I should read on a daily basis…

Being questioned by one of his own society (to whom he was obliged to open himself) by what means he had attained such an habitual sense of God, he told him that, since his first coming to the monastery, he had considered God as the end of all his thoughts and desires, as the mark to which they should tend, and in which they should terminate.

That in the beginning of his novitiate he spent the hours appointed for private prayer in thinking of God, so as to convince his mind of, and to impress deeply upon his heart, the divine existence, rather by devout sentiments, and submission to the lights of faith, than by studied reasonings and elaborate meditations. That by this short and sure method he exercised himself in the knowledge and love of God, resolving to use his utmost endeavor to live in a continual sense of His presence, and if possible never to forget Him more.

That when he had thus in prayer filled his mind with great sentiments of that infinite Being, he went to his work appointed in the kitchen (for he was cook to the society). There having first considered severally the things his office required, and when how each thing was to be done, he spent all the intervals of his time, as well before as after his work, in prayer.

That when he began his business, he said to God, with a filial trust in Him: ‘O my God, since Thou art with me, and I must now, in obedience to Thy commands, apply my mind to these outward things, I beseech Thee to grant me the grace to continue in Thy presence; and to this end do Thou prosper me with Thy assistance, receive all my works, and possess all my affections.’

As he proceeded in his work he continued his familiar conversation with his Maker, imploring His grace, and offering to Him all his actions.

When he had finished he examined himself how he had discharged his duty; if he found well, he returned thanks to God; if otherwise, he asked pardon, and without being discouraged, he set his mind right again, and continued his exercise of the presence of God as if he had never deviated from it. ‘Thus,’ said he, ‘by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God as it was at first to accustom myself to it.”

As Brother Lawrence had found such an advantage in walking in the presence of God, it was natural for him to recommend it earnestly to others; but his example was a stronger inducement than any arguments he could propose. His very countenance was edifying, such a sweet and calm devotion appearing in it as could not but affect the beholders. And it was observed that in the greatest hurry of business in the kitchen he still preserved his recollection and heavenly-mindedness. He was never hasty nor loitering, but did each thing in its season, with an even, uninterrupted composure and tranquility of spirit. ‘The time of business,’ said he, ‘does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.”

The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence, pp. 28-30

Remain In Me

Today, it’s going to be about Remaining in Christ. My quiet time this morning was me asking God a bunch of “How?” questions. How do I do what he wants me to do? I am most comfortable when I have things under control. If I let go of control, chaos ensues. Or at least it will in my realm. So, I asked God how I was supposed to both let go of my control-freakiness AND stay responsible and accomplish the things that are mine to do.

The answer I got? “Remain in Me”

Tamera wrote this morning about words. This was another thing God was teaching me out of my reading this morning (Psalm 59:12, 16). My words are one way that sin makes its way into action. Speaking sinfully is sin. I know that it can start even earlier, but this is one way it sneaks in that I’m feeling particularly attuned to this morning.

I don’t think I can remain in Him AND say things that are sinful, negative, hurtful, condemning (including self-condemning) or defeatist. I like Tamera’s idea of a focusing bracelet. I’ve done that before. And have removed it when it stops being a reminder.

What do you want to prayerfully remember today?

A Quiet Heart

I just love it when God speaks to me from different directions – when He’s really trying to get me to “get” a point.

I knew I was going to post this quote below, but before I got started, I also read this post by my friend Kerry, over at and baby makes four.




Do Not Rush.
Trust.
And Keep a Quiet Heart.

I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work. Then one can feel that perhaps one’s true work – one’s work for God – consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day – the part one can best offer to God. After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.
— Annie Kearie, 1825-1879

As quoted in Keep a Quiet Heart, by Elisabeth Elliot, p. 9

I guess I won’t be doing my minute by minute plan for tomorrow…

Love God – Part 2

On Thursday, I posted about the message I’d received about what I am to DO. And what I got was to “love God”. But I left off with a question that I have been thinking about since then. How?

So far, I have found two things that I can do to show love to God:

1. Do my work lovingly.
I’ve been blessed with several blogs on service lately. Ann V. at the Holy Experience of LISTENING posted Cleaning: My Quotidian Liturgy. Tonia at Intent, wrote The Courage to Serve. What I have been most impacted with is how little “free time” I have to love God with. These ladies shared such a powerful point. I have to love God with my “busy” time. During that time I am caring for my son, caring for my husband and home, and working for my employer. These acts that I perform are all “acts of service” which is truly a love language. So, in these menial tasks I perform on a day to day basis, I can complain, suffer and trudge through them, or I can be acting in love. Even if the particular task isn’t directed at loving my husband or my son, I can simply be loving God by doing my work well and without complaint.

2. Offer my body to Him.
We are literally begged (by Paul) to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. Offering my body to my spouse is an act of trust and love. Similarly, offering my body to God is also an act of trust and love. I’ve been struggling, as ever, with my pride and unwillingness to give up eating something I want, when I want it. I am not talking about going on some crazy diet. My intent is simple, to eat only when I’m hungry. Period. And yet, my struggle continues. If I feel pain, I want to eat to numb it. If I’m bored or am in the mood to procrastinate, I want to eat. But I have come to believe that my continual, prideful, obstinate, deliberate overeating is plainly, and painfully, gluttony.

If I am to give my body as a living sacrifice to God, I don’t think I can continue to also treat it so shamefully. If I’ve given it to God, it would then no longer be mine to abuse.

I’m going to have to chew on this one a while too. I welcome any thoughts…comments…

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Today’s instructions: Love God

I just LOVE it when God sends me the same message more than once. It grabs my attention. It makes impact. There’s something healing in knowing that God really does communicate back. I know some people might think that it’s just coincidence, but these God messages almost always relate directly to some struggle I’ve been having, or question I have been asking.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been struggling with the Law vs. Grace dilemma. Yesterday, I discovered the the OT laws aren’t where I should be focusing my time and effort (as I am a Gentile). Today I got Matthew 22:37:

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’

So, how does one go about loving God with everything?
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