Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Table for Two

I love date nights with my husband. I like to hold his hands and look into his beautiful dark eyes. I like to remember why I fell in love with him and why I still am. He is an amazing man and I am thankful each day to know him. I remember a time in my life, my close friends, those who knew back when, can testify to this, when the relationship was nothing more than a knowing in my soul. I always loved Daniel. I tried to think of the moment, when I fell in love. Was it something he said or did? Was it the gumball machine ring he proposed to me with? Was it the letters he wrote? I’m not sure. I think it was just him. I knew him without really knowing him. It was more than a feeling but a knowing. Recently, I have been in a familiar pattern of thoughts. Thinking introspectively, trying to figure if the choices I have made were the best for my family. I said to the Lord, “I don’t feel strong enough for this walk. I feel like quitting.” And he said to me, “Religion feels. Relationship knows.” I thought to myself, “Okay, what does that mean.” And the Lord began to speak to my spirit, he said “Rituals make people feel certain ways. Religious practices give people a sense of closeness or oneness with me; but in times of distress they no longer feel that closeness. They begin to fear. Their faith wanes. They lose hope and they forget me. A person, who has a relationship with me knows me, so when conflict arises and they feel distressed it doesn’t change what they know about me. I am still God to them and their knowledge of me keeps them from forgetting who they are in middle of the conflict.” I’m reminded of a movie I saw as a kid, “I’m Gonna get you Sucka” starring Keenan Ivory Wayans. It was urban, it was 80’s and it was poignant. The main character was a military officer who returns home after his brother dies from a Gold Overdose. Anyway, he gets engaged in a warfare with “The Man” who is responsible for his brother’s death. Long story short, there’s a scene when he walks out of a building to a beraid of gunshots, and instead of him recalling to memory his military training, he starts panicking. He runs around screaming, “They shootin’! They shootin’!” I imagine there are times, when we forget our military training, we panic and we start yelling and screaming for help. As I mentioned before, I’ve been thinking a lot about my choices. And I have to say, that all of them, since the day I asked Christ to be my Lord have been about… Him being my Lord. I’m sitting at a table across from the unfailing love of my life. I look into His eyes and I know him. He is mine and I am his and every choice I make is because of him. It doesn’t matter who else there, whether in the room or at the table. This is a table for two. The psalmist David wrote about this theme, in the 23rd Psalm “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil.” As I prayed this morning, this scripture came alive in me. I saw myself, sitting at a table across from my Lord and at this table were seated all of my enemies. My enemies are not people though there are probably people who despise me for reasons they themselves cannot explain. But the enemies that I speak of are ones that I am powerless to destroy outside of the power of God. I speak of a greater enemy, the betrayer of my soul, “Jesus sat at table with a betrayer, Judas. The disciples sat at the table, they broke bread and drank wine. Jesus even washed their feet. They all sat with the betrayer who would sell out Messiah for a few pieces of silver. Imagine, their distress. Their hope had been in the Christ, how could Judas betray him? He can’t suffer the cross. If he dies, all of our hope dies with him. Simon Peter, proclaimed, “Not so Lord.” Death wasn’t a part of the plan. We were going to make him King. He can’t die. I for one, remember when I first started this walk, April 23rd 1996. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know it would take this long or take me this route. Yet, there is a constant knowing I have in my soul even when I feel betrayed; not by God, or my husband or my children, but by my circumstance. I told God this morning, you are still the God who answers prayers and works miracles. That has not changed and I refuse to believe that you are God who holds back blessings to teach lessons. That is not my God. This process has not been about me getting to a place of perfection, sinlessness and worthiness. I don’t have enough lifetimes for that. What this walk has been about is me coming to the knowledge of who I am in Christ and knowing that regardless of the crisis, I am known and loved by you. I have become more aware in these months and years of God’s goodness and grace; and it is this knowledge that has produced in me a will to live and not die. There are always going to be betrayers. Debt is a betrayer. Illness is a betrayer. Fear is a betrayer. Rage is a betrayer. And, like Judas, they seek to kill the life in us. But, Christ overcame death. He lives. And he has given us life and everything that we need for this life. Timothy 6:6 says “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” If I am “godly” and have no contentment in it then I have not gained what Christ died for me to have. This is what the process is for. Not to produce in us a worthiness for what it is we want but in understanding that what we need we already have in Christ. We have gained everything in Christ. God is All Sufficient. There is no deficiency in Him. There is nothing I can give him that he hasn’t already given to me. Today the Lord prepared a table for me in the presence of my enemies. I sat down and he said, “I am the bread of Life, whoever eats of me will live forever.” My prayer is a spiritual breaking of bread and drinking of wine. As I prayed, I mediatated in God's word and I remembered why I fell in love with him and why I still love him. It’s because He first loved me. It’s because of his Unfailing Love. I know him and he knows me. I love him today and always because he always is. Always is God. Always is Good. Always is Faithful. Always is Love.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Psalm of Natrietia

The awesomeness of God I cannot measure, it overflows all around me It would take me a million lifetimes to count back all of the ways He has been good to me His greatness has been poured out over me… His mercy has endured my weakness And his love has buried my darkness His love is strength to my bones His power fills my soul and my eyes well with his compassion His grace over me is like a cloud full of rain To God be glory, honor and praise He has made my life a canvas for display He writes His will on the sleeve of my heart And paints His victories on my face His light shines on me and I am saved from all my fears His beauty is more grand than the finest gold, the purest diamond cannot compare to His majesty His peace is like the wind at my back, He breathes on me and my life is renewed each day He strokes my face with the whispers of His love He touches me in the hidden place of my heart The weight of His goodness is immeasurable He gave me life He humbled me He awakens me to hear His voice calling in the morning He quiets my soul so that I can hear His promises… all of them true. He is my Lord, my God and my King To Him belongs, honor and strength He is my portion, my bread and my wine. He is peace within my soul, His love is at the gate and He surrounds me With favor as with a shield Surely, He has been good to me, I cannot count all of His blessings… He loves me and He has given me his life to live for all eternity. Eternally He … He loves me Eternally me … I love Him Eternally Love Eternally God I see.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fear Less

Sometimes I tell my hubby that I wish we could move to a village in some far away jungle with native people who make their own clothes and harvest their own food. Sometimes, I want a quiet life on hill with no worldly responsibilities like mortgages, school uniforms, medical insurance, debit cards and gas guzzling vehicles on crowded highways… Sometimes, I want a simple life void of this worlds many distractions, politics and economics. And sometimes, I fear less… We all have fears. We fear failure. We fear success. We fear poverty. We fear death. We fear, but we were not created to. Fear imagines itself greater than it should. It masks itself as responsibility and preparedness. It says, “do this” but it can’t. It says, go to school, get job, get married and find happiness with no self assuredness and no real way of attaining its goal. It says, I’m brave, I’m confident, all the while feeling dread and loneliness. This is fear. It has no power, except what we give it. And that is the real shame. I have learned from the word the Lord that perfect love puts fear out of our hearts. When we have been made perfect in the love of God then we can live fearless lives. I said to the Lord today, “You complete me,” you make every component of my being, my spirit, my mind and my body secure. I do not fear because you, Lord, are my hiding place. I dwell with you and you dwell with me. We are one. The perfect love of God is unfailing, His love does not fail and it is the knowledge of that love that keeps fear in its place. The word teaches us that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of Power, Love and a Good Mind. Instead of the fear of failure, Christ gives us the power to succeed. Instead of the fear of lack, Christ fills us with the spirit of love – the knowledge of God or the “knowing” of God’s nature, to be intimately acquainted with Him enough to “Know” that he will not allow you to lack anything you need. The bible says that if you lack wisdom to ask and he will give it to you liberally without finding fault. Instead of the fear of death or sickness, the Lord promises to give us a good mind, free from the anxieties and stresses of life. Scripture teaches that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. Where are the strongholds? In the mind. Conflict is a necessary part of life. It is on the battlefield that we discover the warrior inside of us. It is the place where giants are defeated. It is in the face of fear, that we discover who we really are. Who we really are, is who God created us to be? We were not created to fear, but to worship. You might say, is God that insecure? That He needs people to worship him. Well, no. He doesn’t need our worship. We need our worship because we were created for it. You say, explain. And I will. Your vehicle was created to be driven. It requires a number of things in order to work. One of things necessary is fuel or its alternative, but whatever the science behind the mechanics of a working vehicle, we can agree that fuel is necessary for it to work. You can put sugar in it if you want, but you won’t get very far. And sure, you car will still be a car but it’s potential and or purpose will not be fulfilled without the proper maintenance. And so it is with you and I. The Lord is our creator. He created us in his image and in his likeness. We are not mere flesh and blood, but spirit. And like Him, our spirit is not fulfilled with natural sources of energy, like food and water but with spiritual sources of energy. The source of our energy is Christ. Jesus said, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have life that last forever. Jesus wasn’t a vampire, but a Savior to a dying and lost world. In the context of the scripture, found in John chapter 6, Jesus is having a meal with His disciples and he is teaching them a principle. At the beginning of this same chapter, Jesus performs a miracle of multiplication. He makes a few loaves feed a multitude of people. Later, in the same chapter he walks on water. But to his disciples, he makes a beautiful case. He says, “I am the bread life and whoever comes to me will never hunger and will never thirst,” and then he says, “And the bread that I give is my flesh.” I know this is hard to understand, even his disciples said, “This teaching is too hard. Who can listen to it?” But Jesus replied, “The words I speak to you are spirit and life.” In other words, this word I speak is for your spirit and if you feed your spirit you will live and not die. You can not deprive your spirit of what it needs and expect to live fully…completely. Worship is what you were created to do. It is how you feed your spirit and discover who you really are. Who you really are is not what you see on the outside but who you are inside. It is on the battlefield that we discover who we really are; but the battle is not a fist fight. It is a faith fight. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of our testimony. Jesus is the Lamb that was slain for our sins. In the Hebrew culture, there were ceremonies and sacrifices made for the atonement of sin. A lamb was often used as a sacrifice. The priest would pray for the person bringing the offering (lamb) and would pray that God would not look at the person’s sins but rather the sins of that man/woman would be transferred to the animal, who was then killed/sacrificed. The penalty for sin is death. And so, people would make sin offerings to make themselves clean again. Imagine, that. For every sin committed, a sacrifice was needed. But Christ, came to be that sin offering for the entire world… once and for all. He shed his blood and became a living sacrifice for us all to have relationship with the Father. We are no longer accused or guilty because of the blood Jesus shed. He is the Lamb of God. So, we overcome fear, not by hiding, but through confrontation. And we confront fear, with our faith in Christ. It’s a battle that has you already been won. This morning I was reminded of Johnny Cochran, “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.” I said, “Lord, you know I was guilty. I was a mess, Lord. But you defended me. Christ was my defense. I should have gotten the death penalty. But because of your goodness. Because of your unfailing love, I received an opportunity. You gave me freedom. You gave me life. You sent your word to me when I was in the prison of my mind and you saved me! And because of your salvation, I am free.” I told the Lord, “I don’t prescribe to the order of this world. I have made life choices that make no sense to the average person. Faith never makes sense to the unbelieving, but that’s okay. I trust you Lord. What should have happened to me hasn’t happened because the glove doesn’t fit. Poverty doesn’t fit me. Guilt doesn’t fit me. Fear doesn’t fit me. Sickness doesn’t fit me. Depression doesn’t fit me…so You must acquit. Case closed. Battle won.” Many of us our in a place in our lives that we don’t want to be in. I don’t want a thankless job. I don’t want to be unemployed. I don’t want to be sick. I don’t want these bills. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want these hard headed kids. I don’t want the IRS. I don’t want this addiction. I don’t want these FEARS. And the Lord, is saying to and I, “So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid …I complete you, says the Lord. I make you whole again. What you lack, I will be the God who makes up the difference. Give me what you have, put it in my hands, and I will multiply my strength in you… I will multiply my joy in you… you will overflow with the love that I have for you. Trust me now, and know that I am the Lord, Unfailing Love, Prince of Peace, Almighty… Your creator. You were not created to be fearful, but fearless.