ISO God’s Will

God uses our everyday experiences to teach us. A couple of days ago I was sharing with the women at our weekly Women’s Bible study class something the Lord had recently revealed to me. He brought to mind a past experience.

After my divorce, I spent a few years working in retail. When I first got into retail I was clueless as to how companies evaluate and assess employee performance to come up with a rating – a rating that determines one’s annual raise. I’m not sure if all companies have the same practice, but this company required managers to provide three positives and three negatives for every eval. No exceptions.

My boss was a very sweet woman. She was nonetheless – a boss. And although she could find no fault in my performance, she did find room for improvement. As I recalled the moment, my boss was praising my job performance…etc. Then came the but… “You are always on time, blah, blah, blah… however… you are not always at your duty station.” I was like – what?!. “It’s not detrimental, but when your shift starts you need to be on the sales floor, in your department. That’s where I need you.” She went on.

I knew I was always at work up to 15 minutes early.  I clocked in and out, promptly. And the Lord said that’s like – church attendance – to me. I had thought about it before. But the Lord reminded me that I can go to church, Sunday, Wednesday, Bible study, etc… and still not be where He needs me.

For many reasons, Americans have hang-ups with church attendance, whether it be for or against. Many Christians have left the church for one reason or another. Unbelievers simply think of church goers as hypocrites. We say one thing – but practice another. I am one of those Christians that left the church. But the last couple of years I’ve been working my way back in, but I admit I am not impressed with the new church menu i.e. made to order – mega-tech – brick and mortar meetinghouse.

So where was I going with all this? Well, first – from the voice of my favorite singer-songwriter, long gone but not forgotten…

“We were given the Scriptures to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing.”  ― Rich Mullins
The Lord was impressing upon me that church attendance, weekly Bible studies, etc. serve a purpose. Other than the obvious, that purpose can be different for everyone. My response – Lord what is my purpose? 

When I considered God’s will for my life I remembered the words of Rich Mullins…

“God did not give Joseph any special information about how to get from being the son of a nomad in Palestine to being Pharaoh’s right hand man in Egypt. What He did give Joseph were eleven jealous brothers, the attention of a very loose and vengeful woman, the ability to do the service of interpreting dreams and managing other people’s affairs and the grace to do that faithfully wherever he was.”
― Rich Mullins

“I would like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you’re doing as ministry. Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toilet or not. Your ministry is the way that you love people. And you love people when you write something that is encouraging to them, something challenging. You love people when you call your wife and say, ‘I’m going to be late for dinner,’ instead of letting her burn the meal. You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife sometime, because you know she’s really tired. Loving people – being respectful toward them – is much more important than writing or doing music.” ― Rich Mullins

We may have different experiences, but we fall into the same darkness. We jump into the same abyss. We trip over the same potholes. We get sucked into by the same sinkholes. 

Still, the God that leads me – leads everyone that He calls, everyone that calls on His name. God has a place for everyone He calls. He guides there. He meets us there.

“My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:26

As believers, we must not forsake the assembling of the saints. But it’s not our presence in “church” that God desires. It’s our heart. When He has our heart – we will be in the assembly of saints and we will be where he needs us to be – when He needs us to be anywhere. But God doesn’t necessarily need me to be present anywhere. He does desire that I be willing to be present wherever He wants me to be.

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8 (NKJV) 

Sometimes, we only need to be still and wait.

Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10

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ISO Curiosity

Commitment vs Surrender

Surrender vs. Commitment
Adrian Rogers, a famous 20th-century Baptist pastor, once went on a mission trip to Romania. Over the course of two weeks, he bonded with his interpreter but hadn’t learned much about the man’s thoughts. So toward the end of the trip, he asked the man, “Tell me, what do you think of American Christians?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” came the strange reply. This, of course, only made Dr. Rogers more curious, so he began to press the man for an answer.

After several attempts, Dr. Rogers finally said, “Why won’t you tell me? I really want to know.”

Finally, the interpreter capitulated. “Well, OK then, but you’re not going to like my answer. I don’t think you Americans understand what Christianity is all about. Back in the 1960s, you started to use the word ‘commitment’ to describe your relationship with Christ. However, any time a word comes into usage, another word goes into disuse.”

The man continued, “Until the 1960s, you Americans talked about ‘surrender’ to Christ. Surrender means giving up control, turning over all to the Master Jesus. By changing to the word ‘commitment,’ your relationship with Christ has become something you do, and therefore you are able to keep control. ‘Surrender’ means giving up all rights to one’s self. You Americans don’t like to do that, so, instead, you make a commitment.”

The Act of Surrender
Have you truly surrendered—not just committed—your life to Jesus Christ? Maybe you have “prayed a sinner’s prayer,” maybe not. Maybe you’ve surrendered in the past but have taken back control of your life. In any case, be sure to settle this issue before you stop reading this. 

Source

Thank you for reading. Be blessed!

New Book!

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Well, I finally finished my book. The Lord is so good! I had never considered the significance of fathers, until the Lord opened my eyes…

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Be blessed!

God’s Mercies are new Everyday

I closed 2017 with a new role, wife. Yes. I remarried after 22 years of living single. The year 2017 was marked by unimaginable grace and mercy, not just for me but for my household. Yes, it is a bit of a cliché, but it truly took me taking a leap of faith into unknown territory, literally, to behold God orchestrating a new beginning. To experience God’s miracles from the sidelines, is nothing compared to being God’s miracle. Actually, 2017 was a year of 360 change for me, one blessing after another. It was marked by events I was not even considering, like remarrying after 22 years of being alone, not even in my wildest dreams and traveling. Surrendering to change is not easy, so allowing the Lord to guide me through so much change was a bit scary at times. Often, I hesitated. I questioned every decision. I prayed asking God to confirm my decisions. The change was going to happen. It had to happen, because if we live for Christ He changes us and when He changes us, He never clues us in as to when, or how he will cause this change. So, when he sets change in motion we have to be willing to allow him to work in us rather than resist at every turn. Like Rich Mullins sang,

“Surrender don’t come natural to me
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls
Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees”

Change was coming. I knew it when I was laid of from my job in Sept. 2016. Layoffs generally cause all kind of change, mostly nerve wrecking change. I can say that after facing 3 layoffs, and two of those in less than a year. I was scared. I was frustrated. Then, my only close friend went home to be with the Lord. She had been in the hospital for a few months.  I saw her as often as I could. I sat with her.  I prayed for her and with her. I called our Christian friends to come pray for her. Only one came, Richard. He prayed and I sensed the inevitable. I just wasn’t ready. I did not get to say goodbye to her. Not again my Lord!, I prayed every night. I felt so alone. This was my first job after years of unemployment. I had been employed just over a year and it was only part-time at that and I get laid off. It was my first real job after seven years of underemployment and unemployment due to my first layoff in 2008, when the rug was pulled out from beneath me.

That first layoff turned out to be a harsh lesson. Year after year I was stripped and battered by circumstances, powerless to do anything. Every which way I turned I ran into closed doors. My soul was weary. My thoughts were constantly on the Lord for comfort, for wisdom, for courage and strength to face every day anew. His mercies are new everyday, He says and I trusted in those promises. Still, I was getting older. I was chasing 50. I questioned my identity. Trusting in God was a moment by moment thing. By 2016, things looked promising, but time was passing quickly then the wind changed. I get laid off and now my friend was gone. I had no one to talk to. I prayed. I prayed. I read God’s word. I prayed.

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Storms clouds looming over the city made me reflect on the past few months.  They made me realized that in this Christian walk of ours, storms will come our way bringing both pain and joy, though it seem joy is afar off.  The storms do pass. Sure the storm clouds looked ominous, but they did pass as the Lord is always in control in the storm.

April 1, 2017 after 22 years of living single, raising my children, grandchildren, working to provide, trusting in God in all things and fully persuaded that I was meant to spend the rest of my days on this earth living single, content in the place the Lord had me…Well, lo and behold…a voice from decades long gone…reached out via Facebook.

“Yes. I am the Jeff you knew. Proof: almost got in trouble at the Airman’s Club with your brothers car, and sitting in your mom’s house when they came to the door and told you your brother had been shot .
When I saw this message, I was taken by surprise. I have thought about you a lot since back then. I did not respond back in 2010, I had met my soul mate after 2 failed marriages. I knew that if I responded and she saw it would upset her.
She was very jealous, I knew she was the one that I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I really knew God, had put us in a place to find each other. We married in October of 2011.
A year and a half ago we found out she had liver cancer, worst day of our life.
3 weeks ago my wife lost a tough battle, she is now pain-free sitting with my Heavenly Father. Sorry I didn’t respond in 2010, I hope you are doing well.
Maybe one day if our paths cross we can sit for a cup of coffee. Take care, and my God bless you. Your friend, Jeff. 

I responded with “Oh my gosh! You remember all that!!! I’m in tears. So sorry to hear about your wife. I know it’s a difficult time….you will be in my prayers. I too have thought about you often…the one that got away. God has a perfect plan for everyone that trusts in Him. Take care. I’m here if you need an ear.

I text my sister…”you’ll never believe who just messaged me on Messenger! She’s like, who? Still in shock I text..Jeff! Remember? She’s like, “no way!!!! She remembered. Everyone I spoke to after this remembered, Jeff. Through the years, those that had met him when we dated asked if I ever hear from him. I never did. When he rode into the sunset he was gone. I often wondered if he was still alive. Was he happy. Then came Facebook. I did a search of old friends on Facebook at the end of 2010. Many old friends, I could not find, those I did I was not certain if I had the right person. Jeff was one I was not sure of, so I messaged him and asked him if he’s been stationed here in 82. I never heard anything back so I assumed I had the wrong man and forgot about it. It’s been 16 months since that first conversation and I still can’t believe how the Lord orchestrated so much change to bring me to this place. What place is this? It’s a place where the Lord set me to show me His glory, His favor, His mercy.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
I cannot find in my own
And He keeps his fire burning
To melt this heart of stone
Keeps me aching with a yearning
Keeps me glad to have been caught
In the reckless raging fury
That they call the love of God

https://youtu.be/IhKZn8gdN-E

As with any divorce, there is always left over hurt and distrust. Age can also make one a bit more skeptical when it comes to romance. I had completely surrendered that need to the Lord, yet when Jeff appeared, all those emotions resurfaced. I had not realized that God had been preparing my heart to love again. I had a love for this man that time could not diminish, that was so true, but time and trial had made my heart distrust love. I questioned God. Why this man? This is the only man I would even consider for a relationship, but marriage? I couldn’t. I prayed.

Rich Mullins sang about it…

Well the night was cold and my heart was
Hidden very safely in a shell
But I knew somehow I’d have to run that risk
Have to open up myself
Look at the stars on the face of the sky
They’re the same ones Abraham saw
Come under my wings I will make you shine
Give you strength enough to love

Oh now I’m getting strong enough
You helped me chip my way out and open myself up
And for the snow that comes with winter
For the growth that comes from pain
For the joke I can’t remember
Although the laughter long remains
For the faith that brought to finish
All I doubted at the start
Lord I give you praise for all that makes
For the hatching of a heart

Well my face was smooth and featureless
Just like an egg
And if I was moved you would never guess it
By the look upon my face
But You said man looks without but I look within
I can see the love you hide
It’s a matter of doubt it’s a symptom of sin
It’s a problem of too much pride

And I now I’m opening up wide
Wet feathers pulled out from beneath me
And You’re teaching me to fly
For the strength that comes with friendship
For the warmth that comes with hope
And for the love time can’t diminish
And for the time love takes to grow
And for the moonlight on the water
And for the bright and morning star
Lord I give you praise for all that makes
For the hatching of a heart

Rich Mullins The Hatching of a Heart

Revelation 3:7-8

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

Zechariah 9:12

Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope; This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.

 

Psalm 46:10 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Be Blessed!

The Sunset
Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30: 4-5

 

Home…finally!

My dear friend, Lupe passed away on Monday night. She had spent the afternoon with her grandchildren, her estranged son and her husband. During their visit she had an anxiety attack and the nurse had to give her something to calm her down. Hubby asked her if she was afraid and she said no. Everyone left, but her husband who stayed with her until she calmed down and fell asleep. Since she was out he figured he would go home and take care of some stuff and come back the next day. Soon after returning home the hospital called him and told him he needed to return to the hospital. He got there as fast as he could. She was in rough shape. Lupe was having a difficult time breathing, but her hubby said she was sleeping peacefully. He said she gasped. She took her last breath and went home.

I could not have known that my visit the Wednesday before would be the last time I would see her. I had car problems during the weekend, so I was not able to visit with Lupe on Monday morning. She usually had dialysis on Tuesdays and was out the whole day, so I would not visit until Wednesday. That visit would never take place.

I have not had a chance to cry for my dear friend. I will miss her. I hate that I had to hear about her death from my sister, that read it on Facebook. I know her husband was probably caught up in the moment, but he thought enough to call family living hundreds of miles away, but could not text me to tell me my dear friend had passed. Family quickly posted on Facebook. My flesh was offended. I called him right away to hear the news from him and all he could tell me was she had passed last night. He could not talk anymore because he had another call coming in. So, I confess I have been wounded. This flesh! Who will save me?

Well, last night I had a dream. In my dream I find myself at home. We were all there. It was a beautiful home too, very spacious. I looked out the window and saw Lupe and her husband pull up in front of the house. I could see her husband look back as if he were reaching for something in the backseat, then Lupe opened the door and got out of the car. She darts to the front door. It opens and she quickly walks in. Yes, she walks in. She is smiling ear to ear. She is dressed in jeans and a nice fitting top. Her hair is short and styled. She is beaming with joy. She is looking so young, healthy and happy, completely restored. I had never seen her that joyful. From the look on her face I could tell that she was happy to be home.

We can see her. I can’t see who “we” are, but I know I was not alone. For some reason, I get the feeling that she is looking for me, but she never sees me. We don’t engage in conversation. She is walking around just a smiling…she kinda seems to walk on and then I wake up.

It was truly awesome. I was happy for her. I was confident the Lord had given me a glimpse of what my friend had just experienced. Going home. As believers in Christ we all want to get there. We all want to go home. Our loved ones will miss us when we leave this earth, but truly the next life is more than we can imagine. Jesus had prepared a place for us that will surpass anything on this planet, of that I am confident. It sounds morbid, but I am so glad that Mercy came running to save my friend from further pain and suffering. He leaves me completely humbled. Our God is an awesome God! I am trying not to harp on how I found out about Lupe’s death, because the Lord was gracious to show me how she got home.

Praise God, for His mercy is new everyday!  Be blessed! sunrise-2011