a collection of steps

Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Window Shopping

In believe, Bible, choices, Christ, faith, God, growth, Jesus, Scripture on October 3, 2009 at 2:03 pm

iStock-windowSmallOver the past few months I’ve been reading through the Gospels in my Bible. Starting with Matthew, I’ve read a chapter a day with a deliberate desire for God to reveal His Word to me in a fresh, new way.

By the time I reached the last verse of Luke 19, it dawned on me that God’s Word was so much more relevant and alive than all the times I had read the Gospels.

When this revelation fully manifested in my slow brain, I saw clearly that I had been ‘window-shopping’ through the most significant sections of my Bible.

“Oh, that’s neat,” I would say when reading how Jesus fed 5000+ people with a boy’s lunch.

“Huh, that’s cool,” I would mutter when I’d read that Peter got out of a boat and walked on water to Jesus.

I casually passed over these phenomenal acts of God’s Son with little more than a yawn and headed back to the Psalms where I could better relate to the ‘woe is me’, ‘please change my circumstances, Lord’  and ‘save me from my enemies!’ passages.

Don’t get me wrong, the Psalms are timeless writings of precious, heart-wrenching intimate moments of doomed souls crying out to God for salvation, deliverance, hope and healing. So why breeze through the four written accounts of God’s Answer to all those ancient pleas?

I am ashamed that I have merely glanced at the Gospels’ priceless treasure. In them is the path, the door, the key, the hope, the fruition of God’s promise to Abraham and all who would believe – by faith alone.

Now, I’m tearing apart my house like a crazed, madwoman who lost a valuable coin.  I’m selling everything I have to buy a field where I found a priceless pearl.

I finally get it.  The kingdom of heaven should be pursued.  It’s not history. It’s not a shopping expedition for what fits best into our lives.

It’s real. It’s here.

It’s mine.

Lost for Good

In believe, fear, focus, God, lessons, love, trust on September 26, 2009 at 11:46 am

They are quite a pair – deep red rubies nestled with shimmering diamond marquises in golden snowflakes.  The earrings were a special gift of love from my Mother, but soon became an object lesson of my Heavenly Father’s love.

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One morning, a few weeks after I received them, I woke to a nagging alarm clock and pushed myself through another morning routine.  Rattling off my mental list – lipstick, heels, lunch, jewelry – I grabbed the new earrings, tossed them into my suit jacket pocket and bolted down the 21 stairs from my apartment atop a restaurant in an old building.

I had managed to put one of the earrings in my left ear as I descended, but when I got out to the gravel parking lot, I reached in for the other and my finger slipped through a hole.

My racing heart smacked into a wall of fear. No way! I did not just lose that earring!  Where is it?! Is it in the gravel? I’ll never find it there!  Maybe on the staircase, I’ll go back…how stupid I am! Why did I put them in my pocket before checking for holes?! I have got to find that earring – I’ll break my Mother’s heart!

Hyperventilating, I ran to my car, stuffed my bags inside and quickly retraced my steps. Like a crazed madwoman I hunted for the missing jewels, scouring all 21 steps three times over. I went all the way back to the beginning of my day, mimicking my every move prior to the realization that my precious earring was gone.  Between screams at myself for being so foolish, I choked out, God! You can see it!  You can see everything! Please show me where it is! You know where it is God, please, please show me!

Every day for the next three months I begged and pleaded with God for its return. I even went so far as to suggest that He dispatch an angel for a swifter delivery!

The summer of ’94 cooled into a painful winter and my prayers became focused on a much bigger loss; another divorce. Crying myself to sleep one night I asked,  God, do You hear my prayers? Do you hear me? Do you care that my life is falling apart again?

His answer arrived unmistakably the next morning as I placed my bags in my car.  There on the freshly vacuumed carpet behind the driver’s seat was the missing earring.  I have never doubted his love and attention again.

I knew my earring had been lost for good.

Hidden

In believe, Bible, choices, faith on September 17, 2009 at 7:40 am

If your Bible was taken away today, how much of it would you remember?

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As the world becomes more and more intolerant toward those who uphold the Holy Bible as their moral standard, it is not so hard to fathom that Bibles will someday be outlawed.

With prayer – and any form of spiritual expression – being banned from schools, it shouldn’t be hard to believe that one day our personal copies of the Word of God will also be removed.

So, what if you could not walk into a bookstore and choose from hundreds of Bibles published in various versions, paraphrases, translations, colors, bindings or sizes? What if you could no longer have a Bible sitting on your nightstand, on your bookshelf, in your car or purse? How much of it would you remember if you could never read it again?

When America was founded, it was the standard textbook in every school. Our ancestors learned how to read from their family Bible. But that is not the case today. Political Correctness now dictates that ‘tolerance’ of all religions is the norm, though any Christian who has confronted this edict knows well that Christianity – and its Bible – are not included.

Still can’t get your head around this? Watch. Pay attention. It’s coming. Jesus warned his disciples as recorded in Matthew 24, that we will know when we see the things happening of which he warned us, like we know when the seasons are about to change.

So, dust off your Bible, crack it open and read. Know what God says about your life, your world, your end. Believe, be saved, get ready.

Soon, the only Bible you’ll have is what you hid in your heart and mind.

Lord, I have hidden Your Word in my heart so I won’t sin against You  (Psalm 119:11).  Help me be diligent in reading my Bible, which You so graciously wrote and preserved all through the centuries so I could touch it with my own hands, see it with my own eyes and believe it with my own heart. May You find me still believing when You return.

F Words

In believe, choices, faith, fear, help, Jesus, love, power on September 13, 2009 at 9:27 am

No other letter in the English Alphabet begin words that are so extremely polarizing than “F.”

To be sure, two of those words are embattled to the bitter end of life itself: Fear and Faith.

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More acutely for students is the dreaded grade: F. No other letter can mark a child so deeply.  To receive one means we FAILED.

Such a connection to ‘F’ can drive us down untold paths of perpetual failure, locking us into a prison cell with all sorts of nasty inmates: self deprecation, disconnection, stigma, depression, discouragement, disenfranchisement, etc.

Failure has such potential to kill a human soul that those who are wise to its power can weaken it with another ‘F’ word: Funny!  Truly, laughing at our failures is a God-given weapon to combat this deadly word.

(BTW: the ‘FAIL BLOG’ has the corner on this right now, so if this post is too depressing, go there, laugh your head off, then come back and read the rest of my post!)

This battle has armies on both sides:

Fear – Faith

Fault – Forgiven

Fierce – Funny

Famine – Food

Filth – Finery

Forsaken – Friend

By no means is that an exhaustive list, but you get the point, ‘F Words’ are at war. I won’t even list the most infamous F word since it probably popped in your head when you read my title. So dirty is that particular word, that common reference to it is the ‘F-Bomb.’ How ironic, given the devastation a bomb has in today’s society, both physically and metaphorically.

This war, as I mentioned above, has two captains: Fear and Faith. And, based on my studies of Holy Scripture and years of experience in both of these camps, I have concluded that the front lines of life are fought on the battlefield of the mind by these two foes. But by no means are they an end in themselves.  These captains war for two kings: Love and Hate.

The Bible teaches that Faith and Fear, to a human being, are the means by which we choose Love or Hate.  To live in fear is to vote for hate. To live by faith, is a choice for love.

Since these foes are not tangible on earth, like a gun or a kiss, they are often missed altogether. We search all our lives for answers to life’s questions and dilemmas, and yet, even when such a quest leads us straight to God’s Word our minds still can’t get our head around faith, how it ‘works’ (sorry about the puns, they just happen when I write).

The king of Hate works hard to disguise the simplicity of faith. By no means does he ever want you to get behind the power of faith.  If you do, you would be walking on oceans to feed nations with a loaf of bread. You’d be healing everything you touched and worse, casting him out everywhere you go!

No, wielding the sword of Faith is no easy task. Neither is Fear easy to flush out. So much of our lives are subject to its trickery we rarely view it as an enemy!

But I digress.

Why is Fear vs. Faith my topic today?

Early this morning my husband jostled me from a troubling dream. In it I was surrounded by demons. It was just me and one other person and I was screaming at the top of my lungs at them to ‘leave in the name of Jesus!’ but it wasn’t working. When I ‘came to’ I begged my husband to lay his hand on my mind and to pray God’s peace over me as I was filled with fear.

Only by knowing and understanding the power of faith was I able to know how to defeat the assault of fear in that nightmare.  The Truth set me free from its grip.

Do you want power over fear?

Know your enemy. Dig deep into a Bible as soon as possible. Find out who, what, when, where and why Fear is your enemy.  ‘be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’ (1 Peter 5:8)

Know your weapon. As a soldier learns to use and respect his weapon before he goes to war, so must we learn how faith works and how to use it against our enemy. Knowledge will dismantle most of Fear’s power, but you must understand that nothing in you has power over fear.  No method, mantra or effort on your part – outside of a choice to walk by faith – will defeat fear.

Get serious. Make no mistake: if Jesus is your Savior, then Fear has power ‘over’ you and Faith has power ‘in’ you.  To allow both, and it is your choice, is sin.  ‘…for whatever is not from faith is sin.’ (Romans 14:23b) You can’t have it both ways.

Choose your F Word: Fear or Faith.

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How do you get more faith?  Read your Bible every day and get grounded in a church that teaches the Word of God without apology.  ‘…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ (Romans 10:17)

Surprised?

In believe, faith, Jesus on September 8, 2009 at 10:13 am

As a child I was fascinated by the road.The Way Forward sign in the sky

We had a station wagon and relatives out west so in the summer we would pack it full and head that way for vacation. I managed to talk my Dad into letting me sit next to him by promising to be still.  No problem. My eyes were glued to his every move.

I caught on fairly fast that the road signs sometimes changed my Dad’s actions. If a sign had big numbers he would either slow down or speed up.  If the signs were green or brown, he might turn the wheel to the right and our wagon would curve in a big arc. That was cool because it made my little body lean real close to him and it wasn’t my fault.

Dad taught me what signs were for and how to read them. I’m grateful for that training as it really comes in handy when I’m the one behind the wheel. What I like about them is they tell.

Road signs tell me where I am, how to get where I’m going, warn me of dangers, measure my progress and build my anticipation. When signs are not there, I get lost.

This summer I began a journey through the Gospels of Jesus in my Bible. I’m now in Luke and today finished Chapter 2. My eyes are glued on what God is doing behind the wheel and a big sign is forming in my understanding: God provides clear signs for my safe travel.

God’s road signs started back in the Garden of Eden where he placed a big one that said, “Steer clear of this tree!” When they failed to heed that sign, He promised Eve that from her womb would come One Man who would cancel the curse of evil she and Adam were now under.  Throughout the subsequent years until that Man, Jesus Christ, was born, signs were there, telling, warning, measuring and building anticipation.

What I see now is how surprised everyone was when he finally arrived. Even his parents, after having one-on-one personal, supernatural visits from God’s angel, with clear instructions on what was about to happen and what to name the child, still marveled when shepherds rushed into the stable, prophets grabbed their child in the temple and openly  proclaimed his deity and kings showed up at their doorstep with gold. Am I saying they shouldn’t have marveled? No way. Who wouldn’t? Everything God does is marvelous.

But, as I read through the entire Gospel (it’s especially clearer in Mark), there is a pattern of surprise.

Surprise? Why? Did they not see the signs? Did they not read them? No. the signs pointing to the Messiah were well documented and taught throughout the generations. The problem was not in their lack of knowing, it was in their lack of believing. The surprise expressed by those who encountered Jesus was directly correlated to their level of belief or unbelief. It still is.

This lack of belief is what keeps floating to the surface in the Gospels. Near the beginning of his ministry Jesus comments on his disciple’s lack of belief and understanding. But as their time together increased, he became irritated, then incredulous and in the end hurt by their unbelief.

How convicting!  I have been an eye-witness to his incredible power both in my life and in others and still, after all these years of walking with him, I doubt!

Those who approached him with the faith of a child got what they asked for and he honored them openly for their belief. Those who tried to process his works and words through their logic, their pride or their ‘God-box’ were confused and/or offended.

Why are we surprised when God shows up? Believe the signs.

Plan B

In God, moving, plans, prayer, stress on August 28, 2009 at 11:38 am

There is no Plan B.

1966 Plymouth Fury VIP - #4(3)

It was 4:15 p.m. and the cables had been hooked to the ’66 for an hour to no avail.  My heart sank.  The old girl just wouldn’t stay running.

I assessed all the possibilities of not getting involved, but the marching clock was a cruel dictator and we were just about out of time.

I left my packing frenzy in the office and started down the stairs.  At the landing, I looked out at my husband, Pete, sitting in his 1966 Plymouth Fury VIP which he named after his Mother, Morine. I could tell by the expression on his face that he too was disappointed. His buddy was bent over the engine searching in earnest for the solution.

The Fury hadn’t run in a year. It’s an asset, by way of its age, a classic car, a sweet ride, but since we couldn’t drive her to our new home, we had to haul her up on a trailer. The dilemma at 4:15 was how do we get her on the trailer?

At 3200 lbs., Morine wasn’t going to get there by our brute strength. She had to stay running.

I walked down our gravel drive and said what no one wanted to say. It’s time for Plan B.  What the plan was no one knew but Plan A didn’t work.  The guys looked at me as if I had delivered a eulogy. I left them to mourn and headed back to my mess.

I had no sooner sat down in the chair to finish packing the box I had abandoned when I heard Morine – running!

I ran to the window and looked down at the driveway.  There she was on the trailer! I ran down the stairs, out the back door, down the driveway screaming and jumping like a crazed sports fan whose team had just won the pennant, praising God at the top of my lungs – Plan A WORKED!

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Within two hours of that blessed, victorious, divine moment, we were packed up and ready to drive away from our precious little House of Grace in Peoria, Illinois. I snapped this picture on my cell phone as a constant reminder to me that God is with us and has great things waiting for us in our new home.

But, Plan A was only half over. Would Morine start and run long enough to drive her off the trailer at the condo?  Of course, that wasn’t the only question. Would there be a ‘VISITOR’ parking space for her?  If she wouldn’t run, who will help us push her?  Certainly I couldn’t push her!

I started formulating another Plan B.

The three-and-a-half hour drive went off without a hitch and we arrived at midnight. My hubby parked the truck with Morine in tow on the street and we crashed hard.

The next day we drug our aching bodies out the door and discussed how the parking of Morine was going down. Thankfully, there was a ‘VISITOR’ space in perfect alignment with the path he planned to get her off the trailer. So far so good.

When Pete turned the key she roared like a lion, commanding the applause of a half-dozen bored kids from several balconies. He was in heaven. So he revved her again, well, a couple more times, just for the kids.

He put her in reverse and she obediently rolled off the trailer, then died.  Plan B was now in force.  But there was no Plan B.  We were stuck.  I had zero strength to push her, though the path to the parking space was downhill.  I guess Plan A was for me to push!

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Nope.  Plan A was walking up to us!  A man from around the corner who came out to throw out his trash, got distracted by the purring lion and when she died he said, ‘I can help you!’ and pushed her right snug into her little cage.  Isn’t she pretty sittin’ there?

I stood there with my mouth hanging open.  There was no Plan B!  God had a perfect Plan A the whole time.  We asked for His help and he gave it – all the way to the very last minute.  Yes, our hope was that she would run and stay running, but he gave us what we needed.  She ran up onto the trailer in Peoria – that’s what we needed.  She ran off the trailer at the condo – that’s what we needed.

End of Plan A.  No Plan B.  God wins. I learn.