Join me...

Join me...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Perfect Planning

I love the beach!  We just returned for a few days of sun, sand, family and fellowship.  The sound of waves crashing against the shore, the smell of salty air (well it smelled like seaweed this time) is so soothing.  The night sky was so vast and full of stars.  Night after night the sky put on a light show for us.  I have never witnessed so many shooting stars.  We were all like kids, so excited every time one passed over.

Every time I visit the sea shore, I think of what a mighty God we serve.  I stand amazed and always sing (quietly of course, don't want to scare anyone)  a verse of "How Great Thou Art".  Who but God could have designed this wonder? 

David, describes it like this in Psalm 8, "When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers -the moon and the stars You have set in place - what are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us".  In Job 38 the LORD challenges Job when he questioned the LORD's wisdom.  The LORD lays out a series of questions that I love to read.  I can just hear Him speaking. 
"Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and thick darkness?  For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores.  I said, 'Thus far and no farther will you come.  Here your proud waves must stop!'  I love this!  Our creator!

God has designed this universe for us.  Perfectly planned.  We are surrounded by beauty and wonder.  He loves us so.  The next time you look up and see a beautiful painted sunset or drive by a lake and notice the moss covered trees at dusk let it be a reminder of His love for you.  You are loved!  You were planned for!  "And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love.  Death can't, and life can't.  The angels can't, and the demons can't.  Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.  Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

Be at rest and filled with peace.

Until we visit again...
Carmen

Saturday, July 16, 2011

You Just Do

"How do you get through things you don't want to do?  You just do."  Jaycee Dugard


Recently I watched an interview with Jaycee Dugard.  Her first since her rescue.  She is an amazing young woman with a story of not only surviving but thriving in a captive situation filled with abuse.

Her quote from above has brought to mind another quote.  This also from a woman, a mom, that had lost her child not to abduction but death.  She was asked how did you survive?  How did you go on?  Her answer, "I didn't mean to.  I just kept getting up everyday". 

How do we survive difficult times?  How do we survive a scary, maybe even terminal diagnosis?  How do we survive broken hearts, abuse, neglect, infidelity, bankruptcy, loss of job, loss of spouse, death of a child, addictions and a host of other terrors? I have often said of a tragedy, "I could never survive that. It would kill me".  You probably have said the same thing.  Jaycee addressed that thought when she made the statement, "You just do".

In Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT it says, "The unfailing love of the LORD never ends!  By His mercies we have been kept from complete destruction.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each day."  Beth Moore said a couple of things on this subject in "A Woman's Heart, God's Dwelling Place".
"God's measure of mercy is offered according to need.  In the moment we say (we could never survive) those words, our ratio of mercy matches our present need.  But when the time arises and the need escalates, so does the grace required for us to make it!  God is always sufficient in perfect proportion to our need.  Every morning He has already set aside the omer for our daily need".  She goes on to say, "God's grace is always there prior to our need.  We must receive it.  You and I can survive anything but we must want to".  In "The Word For You Today", it defines grace this way, "This word "grace" simply means "all of God you'll ever need, for every situation you'll ever face." 

Through the difficult times in my life, and believe me I haven't faced any thing like Jaycee Dugard, I look back and ask myself "how" and just like Jaycee, I just did.

Jaycee didn't sugar coat her ordeal.  She wrote a very candid book about it.  You don't need to sugar coat your situation either.  Life stinks sometimes.  Really bad stuff happens to really good people.  The Bible says in Matthew 5:45 NLT "...He (God) sends rain on the just and the unjust".  The difference for the just is that we have an advocate in Jesus Christ.  We are a patient of the "Great Physician".  We have a power source, the Holy Spirit who prays for us when all we can say is "You know God" or "HELP!"  A power source that fills us and strengthens us to do anything that is required.

Why did God allow such a thing to happen to Jaycee?  I don't know.  There are some things that we may never have the answers to on this side of eternity.  I have found in my life, often after, in hindsight, I can see how the situation grew my faith muscles and how God used the situation to work together with other things in my life for my good.  I also know this, I have much more compassion for others in an area that I have struggled with and I also have had some great opportunities to come along beside someone and say "Hey, I've been there and I survived and you will too.  This helped me..."  We live in a terrible sin sick fallen world.  The Bible tells us that we should expect trouble, trials and difficult situations.  They all have the potential to make us stronger.  In them, we learn that God's grace is sufficient.  Jaycee not only survived, she thrived in a most difficult life.  She became better instead of bitter through her ordeal.  She has the opportunity to use her experience to help many others who have suffered child abuse.  God never allows His children to suffer for sufferings sake.  It is always for a greater good, because something in eternity is at stake.  Don't misunderstand me.  Surviving is a process.  It's not easy and it takes time. 
Remember the old Andrae Crouch song, "Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus.  I've learned to trust in God.  Through it all, through it all, I've learned to depend upon His Word."  

As a dear old sister in the faith always said, "God'll do to depend on." 

Until we visit again...

Live blessed
Carmen

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Not Returning to Egypt-Part 1

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 NIV

During our last visit, we talked about staying free and how difficult that can prove to be at times.  My favorite Bible teacher, Beth Moore, defines captivity in her Bible study "Breaking Free" like this, "A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her."  When you look at captivity with that concept in mind, it becomes easier to believe that there are things that bind us. 

Every person's life and experiences are different.  I think that is one of the reasons God tells us in His Word to "...work out your salvation with fear and trembling."  Philippians 2:12.  The Amplified Bible says it like this, "...work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ).  Assuming that Christ is your very own Savior, you must then remember, you and God must plot the course for your freedom trail.  Here is a glimpse of mine.

For me, my first steps to freedom came with the realization that I must change.  Me, myself and I must become emotionally healthy. I could no longer remain in the state I was in.  I was responsible for making the change.  I could no longer wait on anyone else in my life to change first or even change at all.  As the old song goes "It's me, it's me, it's me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer."

Along with the understanding that I must change, I knew that I was not going to be able to change on my own.  If I could have accomplished that, I wouldn't be where I was.  All of my best efforts could not change me.  All of my co-dependent behaviors, my over-eating, my feelings of wanting to control, my living with fear and anxiety, and with boundaries that could be moved easily by those I love must begin to change.  Yet, I felt helpless to change   Satan continued to remind me, "You've tried this before and you couldn't do it.   Don't even try now.  You will just disappoint yourself and God."  I felt defeated in so many areas of my life.  What must I do differently?  Where is the missing link for me?  I needed help!

There are times in our lives that we need another godly set of eyes to help us see our selves and our situation in a different light.    As my mom has said many times, "sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees".  Do you have godly counsel in your life?  A pastor, professional counselor, Sunday School teacher, a friend (one that will be willing to speak the truth in love) or an older Christian mentor to help guide you through the trees?  One of my own godly counselors, Gil, helped me see that we Christians are how God carries out His plan.  He uses us to love, admonish, counsel, direct and protect each other.  In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us that we are all one body (all Christians).  Verse 16 says, "Under His direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly.  As each part does it's own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing full of love."  Proverbs is full of verses encouraging us to accept good counsel.  Take the time to look at a few, 11:14, 12:15, 15:22, 19:20 and 24:6.

The decision to seek help was the first step for me.  I have wandered off the trail a few times.  I can still handle situations in my life the "old way".  I do know this, I'm farther down the road than I was and I am much quicker to get back on when I see I took the wrong exit. Where are you on your freedom trail?  Did you just get on or did you take the wrong exit and and now need to return to the path?  Maybe you've been traveling awhile and see yourself getting stronger each day.  Wherever you find yourself, remember, every step brings you nearer to the abundant life God has planned for you. 

Until we visit again,

Live blessed,
Carmen

Monday, July 4, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

We are celebrating early in my little corner of "the land of pine trees and lakes".  I hear the faint pop of fireworks as I write tonight on this Independence Day eve.  Celebrating the birth of America's independence and freedom from Great Britain is a wonderful time in our country.  Amazing favor from God! 

I have found that there is so much more to freedom than the initial action of being set free.  I suspect that all those enslaved through history have encountered this realization.  Certainly the Israelites looked back toward Egypt several times on their journey to the promise land. 

In Galatians 5:1, Paul reveals something interesting.  "So Christ has really set us free.  Now make sure that you stay free..."  (NLT)  Staying free.  My mom once said to a loved one, "there are more ways to be in prison than to be behind bars."  Have you found this to be true?  Over the years I have been held captive in a few areas of my life and if I'm not careful, I can return to bondage easily.  Why is that?  Why is it so much easier to return to the unhealthy familiar than to move forward in the healthy new?  Once again Paul can shed light on this dilemma.  Galatians 5:16 (NLT)  says, "So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit.  Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves."  He goes on to say in verse 19, "...and the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict."  For most of us the real work of staying free begins after we are set free.  In the Expositor's Bible Commentary the authors have these thoughts, "It is not always enough to "will" something, for good intentions are not always carried out.  Our wills must be energized by God Himself."

Fortunately, we have a lot of help from our "energizing"  God!  Phillipians 2:13 has these words of encouragement that have brought me comfort many times when I worry that I might not be able to withstand this battle within me.  "For God is working in you giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him."  Thank you Lord!

I never want to over simplify "staying free" for those who are in a battle for their very life.  It is a process and we will always need to vigilant to watch over our hard fought victories.  Satan, the great enemy of our souls, will continue to try to take back lost ground.  Be alert!

In my next post, we will explore this subject further.  I certainly don't have all the answers but what I have learned in my own life, I'm willing to share.  Wouldn't hard earned experience be wasted if we didn't use it to help someone else?

Until we visit again...

Live blessed
Carmen