Tag Archives: faith

Remember the Miracles

25 Oct

There have been points in time since August 2012 that Brett has been confined to bed rest 24/7.  During one of those times, I read the book One Thousand Gifts aloud to him. It chronicles the life changing journey of the author as she takes the time to write down the gifts that surround her.  She carefully notes each one and numbers it on the paper.  But in between the numbers, real life happens.  Hard life.  Challenging life.  Still her focus on thankfulness remains.

The book was one of the ways God helped us keep our attitude right and focus on a thankful lifestyle at a time when that might not have been our initial response.  So over this last bit as we’ve been walking through some new challenges –doing life between the numbers–one of the key concepts from the book keeps making its way to the forefront of my heart . . . God’s good gifts are in plain sight.  His miracles do not hide. The question is, will we see them?

God has really seemed to bless me with the ability to see everyday miracles.  To notice and have a sense of awe at all the things that needed to occur just so I could be blessed on that particular day, in that particular moment with that specific glimpse of Him.  It’s mind boggling when you think about it.  The events that occur at just the right time.  The things that simply “fall into place” right when you need them to.  When you consider how long in the making that specific action/thing/gift was and how many things had to happen preceding it for it to take place at that very moment in time–Wow!  Amazing.  I’m going to be so bold as to say . . . miraculous. They are evidence that the Extraordinary is active in every single ordinary day.

But as wonderful as those things are, they really don’t begin to even scratch the surface of the real miracles, the unhidden gifts, He has blessed us with.  The true miracles in our lives give meaning to our special places, fill our calendars with significant dates, and are a part of all of life’s important events.  They wear smiles, laugh loudly, express all manner of messy emotion and speak joy to our hearts. Our miracles live in plain sight.

This is my Man.

brettcoffee Ever at my side. grad

Fighting at my wall.

Fiercely loving me at every turn.

Despite physical limitations.brettoutside

He is the Face of the Miraculous.

His testimony.  His life.  His endurance.

Lord, Your wonders do not cease.

♥  ♥  ♥

birthday

This is our Sweet Girl.

Passionate for her Savior.

brittlibrarianSteadily pursuing Him in an unsteady world.

Finding her standing stones and making camp at her Gilgal.

dosrbrittvbs

She is tangible proof that God desires the best for me.  She is His whisper of sweetness.  She is the work of His hands.

He is greatly to be praised.

♥ ♥ ♥

mdandmeThese are my Parents.

mdatbarb

Doing life differently than what they imagined.

1339015377515Persevering.

Serving.

Loving.

Conquering  the challenges of life.

                                       They possess treasures untold.  A new Faith Heritage.

The Intervention of Grace.

His love endures through all generations.

♥ ♥ ♥

rikwed

These are my heart children.  Some my spiritual off spring and some I pray will be.  All of whom I love.mikeandbill

sisandjutwedchip and the kids

derricklanden

For some the faith journey is yet to begin.

Others fight the good fight with tenacity.

And for one, the battle has been won.

Faith has become sight.575108_10151283288115091_1371622684_n

They are precious–every one.  Straight from His Hand.  A gift to my heart.

Blessed am I among women O Lord.

♥ ♥ ♥

And these beauties are my Sisters.1339013780358ladies

mygirlsbaptismkim

006Aren’t they breathtaking?karendebme

Is there anything more stunning, more fearsome, more miraculous than a chick with a Sword?

ladieswithpoohEvery single one of them has looked devastation straight in the eyes.

But they stand firm.

Dressed for combat.

Arms linked in faith.

Hearts filled with love.

 His love for me shines through these Warriors at my side!

And Oh, how I wish I had pictures of every single woman I am privileged to do life with.  You all wear the miraculous so well and I am in awe of you.

Father, may I never look this kind of beauty in the face and fail to praise you.

♥ ♥ ♥

The sight of my miracle crew is overwhelming to me and as I proofread this I feel my love for them slide down my cheeks. Sweet One, it is no different for you.  Your miracles do not hide.  Your gifts are in plain sight.

Look through the photo album in your own heart.  Study the faces.  Hear the sounds of joy.  Remember the tears of separation.  Take them in.  Family, friends, memories . . . .MIRACLES.

All walks of life, all circumstances, all manner of trials and through it all the Giver of good gifts is shouting love to you. Intervening in every one of your days with their smiles, their struggles, their presence.  Through them He Interrupts the mundane with the miraculous.  Beloved, these are the good gifts – the hearts – He has entrusted to you.  The miracles He has chosen to fill your days with.

How can we call a single moment ordinary when we are surrounded by the works of the Extraordinary?  Each one of them is a “stop and smell the roses” moment wearing skin.  They are revelation of God Himself.  His most prized creation.  His unhidden gifts. Blessings that live in plain sight.

And yet, I find that sometimes my life between the numbers obscures my vision. I begin to see the faces of my miracles as ordinary.  I forget by failing to remember.  Failing to remember that they are the works of His Hands.  They are the faces of His wonder.  My gifts do not go into hiding.  My miracles are all still there.  I just fail to see.  I forget to remember.  Oh Sister, do not let your life between the numbers steal your vision.  Let it be changed by what you see!  Open your eyes.  See your Miracles.  Remember your Gifts.

PSALM 77:11-14

I recall all you have done, O LORD;

I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.

They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about them.

 O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as You?

You are the God of miracles and wonders!

brettandbritt

I WILL REMEMBER!

Love Reaches Out and I’m Reaching Up

6 Oct

Unfortunately, the health issues I described in The God of More. . . .Much More have continued to challenge me and the all the sweet people I do life with. The follow-up tests revealed more areas for concern and the Biddinger Crew were, to say the least, taken a little off guard by the results. Maybe you’ve noticed the lack of posts in the last bit.  I honestly haven’t known what to say.  Not on the blog and not in life.  I can’t really put into words the gamut of emotions I have run as I have considered it all but I can share with you that they have pooled in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks on more than one occasion.  So, I’ve kind of withdrawn so that my tears aren’t misinterpreted or used by the enemy to shake another’s faith.  Does that make sense?

See, I truly am thankful for the opportunity to find out if I live what I say and to have my faith grow.  I look back and I see how tenderly God has been preparing me for this and He gave me the added blessing of writing much of it down on Glimpsed Glory.  Unchallenged = Unchanged.  God’s revelation of the well to Hagar.  The unimaginable inheritance of Rahab.  His absolute “Thereness”.  The list goes on.  He has set my feet firmly in His Word.  Praise His Holy Name.

Heart-in-BibleBut as thankful as I am and as certain that I am that this trial will serve His purpose, I confess that I wonder what it’s going to look like and how many times I’m going to have to remind myself that my thoughts are not the same as His – His are always better.  How often will I repeat Paul’s words that I may be hard pressed but I am not crushed, I may be perplexed but I am not in despair because my Jesus is with me?  I don’t know.  And I don’t want to over dramatize because I have no idea how it will all shake out.  It might turn out to be not much and it might turn out to be much.  I don’t know.

But He does and in the midst of it all, I have felt a quiet joy and steadfast love that can only come from Him.  I’ve heard myself thank Him for the trial and the chance to cling to Him.  What a blessing.  I know that the desire to praise and walk strong are gifts straight from His Holy Heart because apart from Him that Spirit of joy and strength just doesn’t live in me.  Probably doesn’t make much sense to someone looking from the outside, but Him blessing me with the chance to stand firm in Him gives me such a sense of His good pleasure falling on me. I sense His Presence in a different way.

And He has gone to such amazing lengths to reach out to me and talk to me – heart to heart.  He has listened to my prayers and lavished me with peace.  He heard my crying and whispered love over me.  He truly has spoken my language through the tenderness of the Saints and His Word.  He KNOWS me and He has met me, with Grace abounding and Love immeasurable, at every turn.

Sweet Friend, Dear One, Beloved in the Faith, He wants you to take Him, to take His Word, personally.  He KNOWS you.  His eye does not fall simply on mankind in a general way.  His attention and His affection are firmly fixed on you.  I know this to be true because I have heard His Voice in the pages of His Word.  Seek Him.  Reach for Him. He will be found.

PSALM 66

Shout with joy to God, all the earth!

Sing the glory of his name;

Make his praise glorious!

Father I join with all creation to declare that you are El Roi – the God who sees me.  You are Jehovah-Jireh the God who provides for me.  You, Lord, are my Banner and I will praise Your Name.

Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!

Bless Your Holy Name for the miracles You have done O Lord. I give you blessing and glory and honor for my rescue, my salvation and my rest. Too numerous are the mighty works you have performed to count, but I acknowledge that every good thing comes from Your nail-scarred Hand.

So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you.

For You made a public spectacle of them and crushed the head of death at the cross.  How your enemy must have cowered as you emerged victorious from the tomb.  In the Name of Jesus, I am protected from the evil one and all of creation will be delivered when He speaks.

All the earth bows down to you;

They sing praise to you,

They sing praise to your name.

I join in nature’s resound and day and night my mouth will pour forth your praise.  I will declare Your Glory and testify to the work of Your Hands as faithfully as the voice of the skies proclaim them.  I believe you Lord to be YOU.

Come and see what God has done,

How awesome his works in man’s behalf!

I am utterly amazed at the soul restoration You have blessed this woman with.  Your grace abounds — unending and undeserved.  You lavish me with love and call me child.  Oh Lord, if I had been told of the miracles you would perform in my heart, it would have been to wonderful for me to comprehend.  May I never tire of saying “Come and see what He has done with a wretch like me.”

He turned the sea into dry land,

They passed through the waters on foot—

Come, let us rejoice in him.

There is no challenge I face larger than you.  Though the water may threaten on every side I trust that Your Holy Hand will not let a drop fall on me without purpose.  And I rejoice that nothing is impossible for my God and all things are possible for those who believe.  Help me overcome my unbelief Lord.

He rules forever by his power,

His eyes watch the nations—

Let not the rebellious rise up against him.

Despite what my human eyes perceive You are not now nor have you ever been struggling with the enemy.  Your power knows no bounds and cannot be constrained.  Your watchful eye is always firmly fixed upon me as surely as it is the nations. Your attention and Your affection never change. Let no rebellious thought convince me otherwise.

Praise our God, O peoples,

Let the sound of his praise be heard;

He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.

For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

Let the display of the work You have done in my life cause those You have blessed me with to give you praise.  You have indeed set my feet on solid ground and fixed my feet firmly on the path.  Your Word has strengthened my steps and you have blessed me with the chance to look my faith in the face.  Your Presence has made me strong. Your love has steadied me.

You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.

You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water,

but you brought us to a place of abundance.

This temporal skin cannot hold captive Your glory nor can any physical limitation restrain Your Spirit.  How wonderful that this fire has come and this water washed over me so that my faith may grow and be proved genuine to my own heart and to those around me.  I KNOW that You are who You say You are and I will live hemmed in by Your Faithfulness.  It is the place of true abundance.

I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you—

vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble.

I will sacrifice fat animals to you and an offering of rams; I will offer bulls and goats.

The sacrifice of bulls and rams is not necessary for me because the Blood of my Jesus has done it all.  He has shielded me with Grace and welcomed me into the Most Holy Place to rest under the refuge of Your wings.  The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.  I am secure in Your Presence.

Come and listen, all you who fear God;

let me tell you what he has done for me.

The Blood of Love has paid my price.  The Blood of Love has made me new.  Let all the heavenlies hear, the Blood of Love has given me life. Though I have not seen Him, I love Him and my heart is filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.  I have heard the Voice of Love and my heart has been set free.

I cried out to him with my mouth;

his praise was on my tongue.

The fears of my heart flowed from my mouth and I offered Him thanks that nothing takes Him off guard and that He is always at work for my good.  I praised His Name and He gave me peace that surpassed my understanding to guard my heart and my mind.

If I had cherished sin in my heart,

the Lord would not have listened;

but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.

Oh how I thank you Lord that You do not give up on me.  You continue to shine your light on my life and heal every disease that is revealed.  There is no condemnation.  There is no shame.  For You listen to me O Lord and You whisper Love to my soul. You do not reject me.  You withhold nothing.  You open your arms wide and embrace me with LOVE.

Praise be to God,

who has not rejected my prayer or

withheld his love from me!

girlwitharmsup

Seek Him.  Reach for Him. He will be found.

Mrs. B’s Morning . . . How Cool Is That?!?

11 Sep

Just a quick blurb this morning to share a couple things and hopefully, there is someone out there that needed to hear them as much as I did.  I am in the midst of recovering from a collapsed lung.  I am also in the midst of preparing to share the Word in front of a group of Sisters from my home church next weekend.  I cannot tell you how God has used my fear over this weekend to strengthen my faith nor can I adequately paint a picture of the way the enemy has tried to twist it in my mind.

We have encountered obstacle after obstacle where this retreat is concerned.  You name it and the Biddinger Crew has looked it square in the eye.  Enough so that I have wondered if I had reached outside my bounds, if I was trying to labor in a field that God hadn’t called me to or stepped outside my appointed area of influence. My mind has tried to run amok with this thing time and time again.  But over and over, God has been there putting the Sword of the Spirit firmly in my hand and giving me Scripture to engage in the combat.  Time and time again, He sent my Nehemiah Man to the wall for me and sent Sweet Friends to refresh my heart.

This morning, as I was contemplating all of this, the thought came into my mind that I had been given the perfect way to gracefully bow down to my fear.  I could simply say I didn’t think my recovery would be far enough along.  And I began to turn this over in my mind and mull the idea that perhaps this was exactly what God had intended.  And all of this before my feet even hit the floor this morning.  The enemy appears to be an early riser but . . . . The God of More, the One who takes my anxious thoughts and gives me peace, He never sleeps or slumbers.  His eye is always upon His own.

Ever patient with me and bringing to life the Truth that His mercies are new every morning, He set about again to chat with this thick-headed child.  I just can’t help but marvel at the fact that He doesn’t constantly deep sigh at me, cross His arms, and tap His Holy foot in my direction.  But He doesn’t.  He continues to work with me.  It’s no wonder I giggle and relate so well when Paul tells the Philippians, “Oh I don’t mind repeating myself.  Perhaps this time you’ll catch it.” (Marilyn Paraphrase)

So, with no deep sigh and no Holy foot tapping, God began to speak to me by combining the Truth of His Word with the obedience of His saints.

First, I got a series of beautiful texts from my Sweet Girl before 7:30 this morning.

Text One:

“Mrs. B!  You won’t need to find a standing stone to remind you of God’s strength and healing in this situation!  It’s literally written on your chest!  How cool is that!?!”

She had no idea that the theme verse for the retreat is Proverbs 3:3 and the very thing I had been studying the evening before was His Testimony written on the tablet of my heart.  But I had not considered the stitched up gash left behind by the chest tube.  You are right Sweet Girl – How cool is that!?!

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;

bind them around your neck,

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Proverbs 3:3 (NIV, 1984)

Next text:

“I hope you get to spend time delighting in the Lord this morning Momma, because oh! He is delightful!
Listen to this:

Lam 3:27-33 “It is good for a man to beat the yoke while he is young…Though [the Lord] brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.  For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”
How God wishes we could learn the easy way, but He would rather bring us into His best for us as soon as possible than let us be comfy but unsatisfied! Praise the Lord for His mighty works this morning Mrs B!”

She did not know that the introductory teaching session will involve the “yoke of __________” we hang around our necks in place of God’s love and faithfulness. She did not know that I was grasping for understanding of this affliction — trying to discern the purpose of God.

She did not know – but He did.

Moving on to my morning devotionals. I receive the verse of the day which was Psalm 121:1-2 today, Girlfriends in God, and one other.

Opened the first one and read the opening lines:

In Christ, you are enormously gifted. You have an unseen enemy who is after that gift. 2 Tim.1:14 “Protect that good thing entrusted to you.” – Beth Moore

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–

guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:14 (NIV, 1984)

Ok Lord, I’m listening.  Those thoughts are my own fears and I will not succumb.  I’m announcing to the heavenlies that I’m standing firm in JESUS.  Dressed head-to-toe in Him, fully armored up and believing that the prayers of the saints are at my back, I will be brave.  I will cast every anxiety on you because you care for me.  And I will not shrink back. Nothing, absolutely, nothing is beyond Christ Jesus and I refuse to sell Him short.

Faith isn’t about my feelings but, I confess to you that I love the sense of His Good Pleasure falling on me.   No deep sigh to be heard.  No crossed arms vibe in the room.  No floor tremor from a tapping foot.

He took my anxiety, my prayer and my petition, and He gave me His peace.  He took my less-than, who-wants-this junk and He gave me Himself.  He is always the God of More.  I cannot say it enough.

So God had reassured me through the obedience of the saints and His Truth.  But He wasn’t quite finished yet.  He had one more thing to say on the subject.  I opened my last devotional and read Romans 12:11 (NLT). . . (don’t you love HIs humor)

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

Marilyn paraphrase again, “Child, you’ve been hanging around in your uncertainty long enough.  Go to work. ”

I have to believe that while the name at the beginning of that sentence may change, the message is meant for every Sister reading this post.  Beloved, don’t you let the voice of the enemy shout you down–You declare that Love speaks louder. Don’t you let those doubts make you feel small–You proclaim that Truth is bigger. And don’t you let that serpent tell you that you are less-than because Girlfriend, YOU SERVE THE GOD OF MORE!

(Written with much love for my Sweet Child and thankfulness for her inability to keep the goodness of her God to herself.  I love you Punkin!)

The God of More . . . Much More

3 Sep

The post today is going to be a little strange and full disclosure, more than a little lengthy.  It’s going to mix parts of the present with the recent past and even merge parts from years ago when we met Joni and Ken Tada at family retreat.  My clumsy attempts to summarize the events of the last few days by recounting the present and pointing to the past will be intermingled with the voice of one of the most godly, courageous women I have ever encountered.   All of this back and forth confirms for me and I hope for you too that no event ever happens in isolation.  The activity of God cannot be confined by time and not a moment of your life escapes His attention.

To give a little context, I am sitting on our couch bandaged tightly across my entire abdomen so the air in my right lung will not escape through the hole left by the chest tubes that recently took up residence there. For some unknown reason, this part of my body decided to take a vacation and interrupt the one we had planned to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  It’s been a rough weekend to say the least.  Complication after complication has reared its challenging head but God has met every one with the supernatural resolve to fight for me and show Himself mighty.  I found it to be “so God” that He revealed Himself to me with the following thought right before I visited the doctor and this situation began to unfold:

“Trials rip away the façade of self-sufficiency and make way for God’s miracles.  I praise Him for His constant attention and affection toward me.” — posted on FB in the a.m. Aug 30

facebook

The staff at the hospital was kind enough to let me call Britt and tell her what was going on before they doped me up for the procedure.  Her little heart was breaking (she’s 20 but it’s still a “little heart” to this Momma) and I so badly wanted to make it better for her.  But I couldn’t.  It was time to find out if I would believe God for her comfort.  I totally trusted Him for me, no matter the outcome, but I didn’t know if I had the tenacity to trust Him for her and for Brett.  The next few days presented that question over and over again.  Each time,  I said aloud, “I trust you Lord” and I repeated the verse from Psalm 28 I had started memorizing two days before . . .

“The LORD is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.”  Psalm 28:7 NLT (written on an index card the a.m. of Aug 29)

indexcard

Each time He was true to His Word. I love how He is always preparing us to face the next trial.  Always revealing Himself to be the One we can turn to and reminding us that everything has a purpose.

I was nervous about the medication I was getting because I knew that I would soon lose the ability to monitor what was spewing from my mouth. I never know what might come flowing out if I leave this tongue unattended and I didn’t want to be bossy or say something unfiltered.  The  E.R. Crew listened patiently as the drugs started having their relaxing effect and I explained that  “I needed them to ignore anything I might say under the influence because if I ever got to talk Jesus with them in the future, I didn’t want this to be what they remembered.”  Luckily, the jibberish I spoke wasn’t anything that threatened my sanctification!  I did quote a contorted version of Proverbs 21:9 to the three men hard at work preparing to help me begin breathing again:  Better to live on the corner of a roof than to have a nagging wife.  Hmmm . . . . . is this really the last bit of wisdom my brain wants to impart.

So I had gotten to talk to my Girl and, as the surgeons prepared to sedate me further and insert the tube that was supposed to reinflate my lung, I remember looking over at Brett and seeing such a mix of love and concern on his face.  I wrote later in my journal, “If her voice was the last thing I heard and his face the last thing I saw on planet earth, what a sweet send off it would have been. Lord, thank you for being Love to me through them.”  My God really is the Giver of all good gifts.  I don’t think I had any doubts left about that, but if I did watching my parents, my husband, and my sweet night shift friend do faithful vigil at my bedside certainly dispelled them.   He is today and has always been the unchanging God James describes.

My condition was very serious and the measures to correct it would not fall under my personal definition of the word pleasant.  The tube they originally inserted between my ribs was very large and they had to pry my bones apart to secure it.  As a result, it was painful all the time.  I was relieved when the surgeon said it could be removed and I looked forward to having that pain gone.  But when they took it out the diameter of the tube left a gaping hole and my lung began to spurt air and collapsed again.  There was no time to administer any kind of pain medicine so I received stitches and had a large needle for aspiration inserted without any numbing medication.  Youch!  To keep my mind from the events transpiring around in me I recited Psalm 15 which God had planted firmly in my memory the previous week over and over again.  I said the final line with particular gusto as the assisting nurses held my hands tightly . . .

“He who does these things will not be shaken.”  Psalm 15:5b (put in my memory folder Aug 20)

The following day one of the nurses asked me “What was that Psalm you were saying yesterday?” and I got to speak a good Word about the LOVE of my Jesus and He who IS FAITHFUL.  He always has a good work set aside for us to do and HE always gives us the equipping and strength to carry it out.  He never ceases to be active in our midst.

And while all of this is going on my Sweet Girl in Florida is declaring that “she believes God to restore the health of her Momma” for all the heavenlies to hear and is praying big, ambitious prayers on my behalf.  The circumstances may have looked bad from the outside, but Sister, does it get any better than that?  Well, the answer is yes because we are loved by the God of More. . . . Much More.  And blessedly, He allows us glimpses of the “More of Him.”

So this is the point when I must begin moving forward and backward in time. The things that transpired in between the moment above and my being released continued to show the glory of God.  I was blessed by my Sisters in the Faith rolling in one after another with blessing after blessing.  Funny that I had just written about our need for the Body and resting in the garage. God knows that simply knowing something very rarely results in it becoming a part of who I am and I praise Him that He will go to any length to make certain that I have fully embraced the Truth He has uncovered.

Here’s the flash back:  This link is to the full blog post the excerpt below, written by Joni Eareckson Tada, was taken from.  I had read it on August 29th and prayed to be that kind of an encouragement to my man.

Ken opened wide the front door so I could wheel out to the van.  For a long moment I sat squarely in the door frame, staring and taking it all in:  the shade tree dappling our brick path, blossoms bobbing on the crepe myrtle, and patches of sunlight on dewy grass.  It was the freshest of mornings.  Oh God, I breathed, If only I could feel as fresh.

After more than four decades of quadriplegia, I’m tired.  Please don’t think I’m a veteran or a professional when it comes to living in a wheelchair.  I’m not an expert.  MY BONES ARE WEARY AND THIN FROM BATTLING EVERYTHING FROM PRESSURE SORES AND PNEUMONIA  (I added the capitalization for emphasis there because it so screamed my man’s name to me)—to stage III cancer.  My question these days is never “Why God?”  It’s most often “How?”

How do I keep on going? How do I care about others when I’m consumed with my own physical challenges? How can I be kind and civil when pain wracks me? How can I find the strength to face this day?That morning, Ken had the answer.

“Why aren’t you out by the van?” he asked when he came from the kitchen with my lunch bag. Staring at the splendorous morning beyond the door, I answered him with a deep sigh. “Wait here,” he said, “I know exactly what you need.”

Soon he was back with a yellow post-it note. With a thick Sharpie, he had simply penned on it the letter ‘C.’

I gave him an odd look.  “It stands for Courage,” he said, “The courage of Christ. I can see it in your eyes, Joni, and you can do this. I know you can!” With that, he pressed the post-it on my shirt, right above my heart.

There is more and I urge you to follow the link and read the observations Joni shares, but this is the point in the blog where I stopped and prayed through tear filled eyes, asking God  to please give me the heart vision to notice when Brett is having a “deep sigh day” and the wisdom to know how to lift him up. I told Brett about Joni’s words and how they had made me think of his daily struggles and I hope I encouraged his heart with words of admiration for all he perseveres through.

The flash forward piece of the puzzle brings us to yesterday when I was released and allowed to come home with severe limitations. Brett had watched all that had happened from an unfamiliar vantage point.  See, he is very used to being the one in the bed but the other side of the rail is territory he’s not visited too often. It was hard on him.  It took courage to push through and do all that he needed to do.  But my Nehemiah Man, the guard posted on my wall, persevered yet again. Oh, he loved me ferociously through it all.  And while I’m familiar with the feeling of being helpless but never hopeless on the “other side of the rail” I wondered what it looked like through his eyes.

I didn’t need to wonder for long because as I settled into the recliner I will be calling home for the next few weeks my man wheeled toward me with his glasses on his head and tears at the corner of his eyes. Unbeknownst to me, he had read the blog I had chatted with him about–the one that made me think of him and the courage of Christ that he displays every day–and on his knee was a purple post-it note with the letter “C” written in black Sharpie marker.  (Since Brett has no finger function this was a very intentional labor of love on his part.)

With me sobbing and tears in his own eyes, he pressed his finger down on the post-it note until it stuck to his hand and held it out to me.  I pressed it on my chest and I felt the total love of the redeemed man sitting in front of me.

couragec

Oh yes, Beloved, my God is a God of More.  More than I can possibly conceive or imagine.  My God is faithful and trustworthy.  Not a single moment of my life escapes His attention or His affection.  He is the Giver of all good gifts and will never let His children settle for less than the More He has set aside for them.

The same is true for you.   Do not believe for a moment He has abandoned you in the trial Sweet One.   Your God would not take you there or allow the challenge if He did not have More for you on the other side.  You hang on with faith.  You pray big, ambitious prayers and you wait expectantly for your God to bless you. Listen to Him when He tells you not be afraid and consider Joshua 1:9 to be your personal post-it note straight from the heart of the Holy One. Press it on your chest Girlfriend, count on Him to do what He says He will do, and be confident that the God of More is with you.

“Be strong and courageous.

Do not be afraid;

do not be discouraged,

for the Lord your God

will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

Life on the Open Road Requires Some Time in the Garage!

28 Aug

“Sitting in the garage won’t make you a car,

and going to church won’t make you a Christian.”

car3

This is a popular quote I’ve seen posted all over facebook and used in different devotionals lately.  I tried to track down who originally said it, but it was attributed to so many people I wasn’t comfortable assigning an author.  So give credit to whomever it was you heard it from first and know that it did not originate in the mind of Marilyn Biddinger.  I’m not that clever.

As clever as it is, there’s something about those words that have made my heart a little uncomfortable each time I have read it.  I think I get the point —simply parking in a pew will not transform you into something you are not. But I sometimes wonder if as the Body, in a very sincere and good-hearted effort to distance ourselves from empty religion, we’ve gone too far and cast the meeting together of the Body of Christ as an unnecessary part of Kingdom life. An optional part of our relationship with Jesus.   If we have, we’ve unintentionally done ourselves and a watching world a huge disservice.

Please don’t hear me promoting empty church attendance as a way of doing life with our Savior.  But . . . the person sitting in that pew is much more likely to hear the Truth preached there than sitting on their couch every Sunday.  And since it is the Word of God that comes with the promise (Isaiah 55:11) it seems to me that we should encourage them to come park in that pew and find a little shelter from the elements outside any day of the week.  And, at what other time will a person who just wants to be good for goodness sake or do the right thing because it’s just the right thing to do, have a chance to be loved on by so many who have LOVE living inside them.

Doing life with the family of God, even though it can be a messy business, is absolutely essential to having a full and complete relationship with Jesus.  It’s where we have the opportunity to live life the most excellent way and where the world sees believers do life differently.  If it wasn’t essential why would the Apostle Paul tell us not to give up meeting with one another as some have done and why would the New Testament spend so much time telling us how to relate to one another.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,

but encouraging one another,

and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.  Romans 12:10

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits. Romans 12:16  (Sometimes I just have to go with the Amplified because it drives it home and leaves me no wiggle room.)

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Ephesians 4:2

These are just a few of the one anothers.  And guess what?  To do the “one anothers” there has to be others.  It’s the others that God often uses to change and refine us.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

It’s true that sitting in the garage won’t make you a car.  It won’t make you a car because that wasn’t what you were created to be.  I don’t think even a car would be content with just sitting in the garage all the time if it could choose.  And if it could talk, I think it might say something like “Hey, put some fuel in my tank, put the top down,  let’s go for a drive.”  That car would be itching to fulfill its purpose. Never leaving the garage wouldn’t even be an option.  It would ache to get out on the open road and do what it was made to do.  So while the purpose of that car is life on the open road, running 24/7 without coming back to the garage for a little rest and respite just isn’t going to cut it.  The road grime would build-up, the windshield would be smeared, and the fuel gauge would soon hit empty.  Balance is required for that car to do its job.  Even though it rightfully calls that garage home, it simply can’t do what it was it was created to do if it spends all its time just sitting there.  But . . . it can’t fulfill its purpose if it spends all its time on the road either.

Isn’t it the same for we who are called to be members of the Body of Christ?  You were created to complete the Body, to edify the Body, to encourage the Body and they were created to do the same for you.

 For as in one body we have many members,

and the members do not all have the same function,

so we, though many, are one body in Christ,

and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5

We need one another to wipe away the road grime, help clean the windshield, and fill our tanks.  It’s what we were created to do – love one another. Sometimes it’s good to be on the road alone and just let the Spirit blow your hair back.  Other times, you need to look over and see another driver headed the same direction.  It encourages the heart and spurs the soul to know we aren’t alone.  God gives us other road warriors to strengthen us and help us navigate all the twists and turns life throws at us.  We can’t dismiss the benefits of fellowship and meeting with the body of Christ.  The Truth won’t allows us to. Sisters, if we do we will miss out on the fullness of the abundant life God has planned for us. And so will those who long to see us.  I’m speaking from experience on this one.  Brett and I haven’t had the opportunity to physically enter our Church and worship with our Body in over a year.  As much as we enjoy having Believers here in our home, there’s just nothing like joining together with hands raised high and coming before the Throne with one voice.

And as for the one who pulls into their appointed parking space each Sunday . . . Well, do you remember the last time you met a whole slew of cars on their way to a classic car show?  The smile just creeps across your face as you meet car after car.   Shined and polished.  Buffed and beautiful.  You get all anxious waiting to see what the next one might look like and you start chatting with everyone else in the car about how awesome all those cars are as they keep rolling past you. Even if you aren’t a car enthusiast, there’s just something about seeing those cars, one right after another, that grabs your attention.   And when they arrive at their destination and they’re all lined up for the world to see, it is simply spectacular.

Spend a few minutes wandering among those beauties and you’ll soon be hearing story after story from their owners.  “Yeah, she was a wreck when I got her, but look at her now!”  “You wouldn’t have believed the shape she was in!”  Pretty soon your attention isn’t on the car anymore.  Nope.  Pretty soon, your focus is on the owner.  The one who poured all those blood, sweat, and tears into making that car what is today.  Same for us.

When Love congregates all in one place, it grabs people’s attention.  When we share the truth of the wrecks we were and let the Glory of the One who poured His Blood, Sweat, and Tears into us do the talking – well, Girlfriend, we are beautiful.  So you pull out onto that highway with the top down and the engine roaring the Good News, but don’t you forget that time in the garage is necessary.  And Sister, when we all line up, shined and polished, doing what we were created to do – we are absolutely spectacular.

car1

We are Wrapped in His “Thereness”

24 Aug

What if we believed, to our core, that God is always with us?  Not in some abstract way, but in the reach out and touch Him kind of way.  What if His “Thereness” was our reality and we, the ordinary, understood the very real, very tangible Presence of the Extraordinary?   Imagine truly grasping the ever-Presence that is the I AM.

His Word is clear.  He is with us – ALWAYS.  He will not leave us or forsake us.  Just as surely as every person we cross paths with today, God is there.  So what if, rather than having that be a concept we know, it was a reality we lived?  What if?

Part of “what if” for me would probably include keeping a much closer watch over the words that fall out of my mouth.  I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t allow them to just “fall out” but would take great care to fill them with grace so the King at my side would be proud to call me friend.

  • He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.  Proverbs 22:11

And I probably would use my time more wisely than I normally do.  I can’t imagine frittering away the hours watching HGTV, rooting for the House Hunters to pick the home that stayed in their budget, if I really grabbed a hold of the truth that God is sitting with me on the couch.  I have to wonder if He might be thinking that I was squandering the day He had entrusted to me very foolishly.  Given all He has accomplished, it’s hard for me to picture Him as content just idling away the hours with no purpose.  Yes, part of my “what if” would definitely include a wiser use of my time so His Majesty might delight in me.

  • A king delights in a wise servant, but a shameful servant arouses his fury.  Proverbs 14:35

Those are just a couple of the observable “what if” changes. The real “what ifs” would take place on the inside because I cannot fathom subjecting my HOLY God to some of the thoughts that fly through my mind.  Would I really feel jealous of anyone else in the world and stomp my foot about what they have that I don’t, if I realized the WHO that I am blessed with? What in the world could be of greater value than Him?  Would I honestly usurp His right to judge by silently evaluating the actions of others if I actually believed that the One and Only Lawgiver was there?  I could go on listing the things I struggle with and posing the questions about how they might change, but for me, and maybe for you too, all the questions boil down to just one:

Would we change if we believed in His absolute “Thereness”?

I am convinced that for all of us the answer is absolutely YES!  I have moments when I am acutely aware of His Presence and I’m certain you do too.  Times when the facts and the feelings of our faith converge and our souls fall into a holy hush that whispers, “He is here.”  We don’t try to negotiate the agenda of the day; we follow the still, small, Voice wherever and to whomever He leads.  We stride with confidence knowing that every step is falling inside the well-worn footprints of our Holy Trailblazer.  And we are unafraid because we are certain of His all-encompassing Love surrounding us on every side.  That’s the Truth of Him you know?  The I AM is present.

He leads the way knocking down the obstacles and challenges that rise up before you.

  • I will go before you and will level the mountains – Isaiah 45:2

He stands firmly on your right and on your left setting your feet on solid ground and lifting your eyes toward Him.

  • But you, God, shield me on all sides; You ground my feet, you lift my head high. – Psalm 3:3

And the Lord Himself has promised you Sweet One, that He has your back.

  • Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. – Isaiah 58:8

That is the real-time, real-world truth of it. He goes before us. He is on every side. And His glory is our rear guard.  We are, without a doubt, wrapped in His “Thereness.”  No part of our faith journey escapes His attention or His affection.  And while we may be limited to simply glimpsing glory for now, His vision toward us is totally unobstructed.  His love for us is unconstrained.  And His “Thereness” is unchanging.  Sisters, we may long for the day when see the truth of our circumstances clearly, but in the meantime, I pray we will embrace the reality of our here and now because He is Here and He is Good.

We don’t yet see things clearly.

We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist.

But it won’t be long before the weather clears

and the sun shines bright!

We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us,

knowing him directly just as he knows us!

1 Corinthians 13:12, The MSG

The Message:  The goal of The Message is to engage people in the reading process and help them understand what they read. This is not a study Bible, but rather “”a reading Bible.”” The verse numbers, which are not in the original documents, have been left out of the print version to facilitate easy and enjoyable reading. The original books of the Bible were not written in formal language. The Message tries to recapture the Word in the words we use today.

Unchallenged = Unchanged

25 Jul

Rather you are personally acquainted with the residents of Biddinger Boulevard or you have only peeked in through the window of this blog, you have to agree that they have faced some things on this planet.  Some challenges have come about of their own making and others, well, not so much.  But this is what I know as I prepare to write this post today:  Faith unchallenged is faith unchanged.

If I’m consistently praying for growth and asking God to increase my faith, and on my good days I am, then I have to expect opportunities to stretch my new faith muscles.  Times when I get to see if it’s just talk or if I’m willing to lace up my walking shoes and really step the thing out.  Today is just such a day.

Over the last few weeks I have been inundated with the truth of who God is and so desiring to have faith that can move mountains.  I’ve shaken off some chains that have shackled my feet forever and began believing Him in an area I was totally holding back.  I don’t want to overstate because I’m having to claim Scripture over it daily, but the point is, that I am believing Him for the victory.  I’m desiring to be obedient right now not when it is more comfortable for me or better timing.  I read somewhere recently that to truly experience the Comforter we have to be willing to leave our comfort zones.  There’s some truth to that for me because I have a tendency to become complacent after a while.

You’d think that with all we have gone through, just in the last year let alone the last 20 years,  that I would have been challenged enough for a lifetime.  How in the world could I have an unchallenged, complacent bone left in my body?  I’ve seen Him be BIG, HUGE, and FAITHFUL so often.  And yet, there are still places in the back of my brain that wonder, “But will You be faithful to me in this?  Will You be my refuge if I go there?  Will You protect me from that?”  I don’t want those back-of-the-brain places directing the feet of my faith.  But, unless I hit a challenge that makes me act, I will never know if I am truly living, moving, and finding my being in Him.  See what I mean?

I have to be grateful for the chances He gives me to know where my faith is at and to see the fruit of the growth He has prompted in me.  Did you catch that – “the chances He gives me to know . . . and to see”–?  Let it sink in a minute.  He already knows the depth and the breadth of my faith.  He knows what I will trust Him for and what I will believe of Him.  So who needs to be strengthened by it?  Who needs to see progress and have tangible proof that my faith walk is moving forward?  Oh my goodness Girlfriend – I do!  And so do you!

I need to know that there is fruit in my life of His Presence.  You need to look at me and see Him making a difference in my life.  It’s the same for you and the people who peek into your life.  You are the way that God has chosen to make Himself known in this generation among these people.  Every faith challenge you come up against is a new opportunity to shine like a star in the universe.  And don’t you know that Glory always shines brightest against a stormy background?

God does NOT need my growth or yours.  Does He desire it? You know He does. God does NOT need my faith to increase. He does NOT need your faith to increase.  But does He long for it?  Beloved, you can be certain He does.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.  Acts 17:24-25

He doesn’t NEED a thing from us.  But oh, how He longs to see us consumed by our NEED FOR HIM. He knows that only when we are consumed with Him will we be complete. Now, we’ll not get there this side of glory, but we can continue, by His grace, moving closer.  And so He lets us see the tangible proof we need to keep fighting the good fight.  He spurs us toward more.  That’s who He is.  That’s His goodness.  That’s His compassion.  That’s His LOVE on display to you and through you.

See, your God is ALL about you.  And that means you don’t need to be.  You don’t have to worry about what’s coming down the pipe because He’s got it. So, if something comes into your life that challenges you, and I don’t mean to sound trite, but Sister, rejoice in it.  I’m not minimizing whatever you’re going through at this time, LIFE ON PLANET EARTH IS HARD!  But our God has set His Face like flint and He will not withdraw from the challenge or let His children settle for a less-than, untested, unchallenged faith.  Oh Praise His Name, He loves us enough to call us to more.  To cause us to draw nearer.  To lean in closer.  To listen harder and to look more intently.

So Sister you let your talk become your walk and you move ahead with confidence.  Whatever obstacle, whatever dark cloud, whatever difficulty you have staring at you, look right back at it with eyes of belief, and know, to the bottom of your soul, that your God is about to break out of that storm and shine like the noonday sun.  And then Girlfriend, you better grab your sunglasses cause life is bright that close to Glory!

A Giant Love Story

7 Jul

I love reading the Old Testament.  I always have.  My Aunt Shirley used to have these children’s Bible books at her house that were filled with the Old Testament accounts of the larger-than-life events God chose to record from that period of History.  I can still bring the artist’s rendering of the scenes to my mind and feel the pages that recounted the mother of Moses placing him in the basket of reeds to escape death.  I can see the book lying open on the floor of her living room that drew me into the life of Hannah and made me feel so sad when she left Samuel with Eli. And I can recall the drawing of Delilah as she tried to coax Samson’s secret from him.  I doubt Aunt Shirley had any idea of the impact those children’s books would have on me, but I am convinced that they are one of the things God used to stir my heart at that young age.  Know what? I still love reading about those faith giants.

Noah laboring to build the ark.  —  Genesis 6

Abraham faithfully walking up the mountain. – Genesis 22

Jacob wrestling with God. – Genesis 32

Moses standing on Holy Ground.  – Exodus 3

Rahab dropping the scarlet cord.  – Joshua 2

Gideon fighting with a few.  – Judges 6

David choosing the stones.—1 Samuel 17

Elijah pouring the water. – 1 Kings 18

And the list goes on and on and on.  I am just as enthralled with them all now as I was when I was small.  But now when I read about the events in their lives, I’m reading the Book that gives the full account.  Not just the beautiful shining moments but the ones tarnished by human nature as well.   So not only do I know that Abraham was a man who trusted as he walked up the side of that mountain with Isaac at his side,  I also know he was a man who lied and slept with a slave girl.  I know now that the same Moses who rose to lead the Israelites was a murderer who ran away to avoid the consequences.  And David, who stood to face the giant, was an adulterer and a murderer who wanted to hide his sins from God in the worst way.

All of the giants of faith, every single one of those everyday people, led insignificant, messy, imperfect lives. And yet, He chose to display His love, His grace, and His power through them.  Apart from Him, their stories would have gone unchanged, been unremarkable.  Jacob would have remained a deceiver, David an obscure shepherd, and Rahab a prostitute. It was God who made them different.  It was God who wrote the extraordinary excerpts of their ordinary stories.  He was the Author who penned their significant moments and transformed their lives.  It was all Him—because the story, the history of it all—is His.  It’s His story.

Girlfriend, it’s still all Him and it’s still His story, but may I ask you to believe today with everything you are that His pen has not gone dry?  He is still about the business of writing the most extraordinary excerpts on the pages of ordinary lives – OURS.   Our imperfections do not scare Him.  Our insignificance does not deter Him.  And our messiness will not dissuade our God, who does not change, from swooping down from heaven and transforming our lives.

Now, from our chronos perspective in this very messy, very imperfect world, His story is still unfolding and we may find ourselves wondering where the giants of the faith have gone.  But make no mistake Beloved, they are here.  Oh, they are here.   I know this to be true because I see them every day.  I see them marching out to their mission fields in nursing scrubs, company shirts, and work uniforms.  I see them mowing a sick neighbor’s lawn and bringing a meal to lighten someone’s load.  I see them coming alongside a grieving family, offering comfort, and holding a hand. And yes, I see them putting Old Testament story books into the hands of small children and planting seeds of faith.

I see His wonders.

I see His miracles.

I see His LOVE.

And Sweet Sister, don’t you know . . . . it looks just like you.

Yep, you’re the one.  You’re the giant of faith He has raised up for this place and this time.  He has written His Name across your heart.  He has chosen you to display His grace and His glory.  Don’t you doubt for a moment that His story has always included you and it has always been one Giant Love Story. You know I used to tell my students that “authors always write to be read.”  Thinking about that now,  I don’t think “The Author” is any exception.  I might go so far as to say that the concept is absolutely Biblical.

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you.

Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit;

not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—2 Corinthians 3:3 MSG

Love Speaks . . . Through You

29 Jun

Oh Sisters in Christ, how I love you.  Ones I know and ones I don’t.  I love you because you are fighting the good fight in your homes, in your communities, and in your churches.  I love you because you aren’t perfect but you keep plugging away, confident that God will see to completion the good work He has begun in you.  I love you because no matter how hard-pressed on every side you may be, you cling to the knowledge that you are not crushed and your God has not abandoned you.  I love you because you aren’t afraid to be honest with your God about how hard it can be on this planet while simultaneously thanking Him for the very messy life you lead.  You carry so many loads.  You are responsible for so much.  Your to-do-list never becomes an I’m-done-list.  But you still press on.

So in case no one has told you lately, you are admired.  I’m in awe of all you do, amazed at the love you share, and I know it makes a difference in the lives of others.   I know it seems sometimes as if no one sees you.  No one recognizes all the love you pour into life.  So may I just assure you that not only does the One who has declared you to be the apple of His eye see you, those around you see you too.  Please forgive us for the times we fail to tell you how amazing we find you to be.  Please forgive us for not taking the time to give voice to love.

I know there will be those who read this and want to remind me that if we are doing things for the glory of God it really won’t matter who sees, who mentions, who takes the time to notice.  And I wholeheartedly agree that God sees and is enthralled when we live life for Him; when we love wherever we are in His Name. But, I also wonder if one of the ways God chooses to spur us forward might be through the encouragement, confirmation, and kindness of those around us.  I might even ask you to entertain the idea that there is Biblical exhortation to do exactly that.

  • After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” Acts 13:15
  • And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. Acts 15:32
  • Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
  •  For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.  1 Thessalonians  5:9-11
  • And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Every one of those verses, and there are many more on both sides of the Covenant Line, exhort us to tangibly love.  Even the word admonish, which might sound harsh if not investigated a bit, is an exhortation to love through instruction.  It means to appeal to the mind with spiritual substance, to exert positive pressure on someone’s logic, and to urge them to choose God’s best.

It seems to me based on the Truth of Scripture that I need to be looking for opportunities to notice and affirm those around me.  False flattery?  No, not ever, no.  That’s the enemy’s deceitful twist on building one another up—ingratiating for gain—Satan’s counterfeit.  But honest encouragement, honest appreciation, honest strengthening. . . done for no other reason than to say to your Sister, “I see you and I esteem you so.”  Girlfriend, this is more than just a good idea.  It’s essential to our doing life together as believers.  It’s what distinguishes us from the dog-eat-dog emotional environment so many women we know are devoured by.

See, here’s what I think.  If you and I were to begin to make a concerted effort to give voice to all the wonderful things we see the Sisters in our lives being and accomplishing, it would draw attention.  If you and I were to make an effort to express appreciation every time we see a fellow Sojourner going the extra mile, others would sit up and take notice.  If we were to come along side one another and celebrate the choices we see our sweet Friends making to serve others instead of being served, heads would turn. Why?  Because only a woman who has been changed by the Unchangeable One lives like that—no one does those things, no one gives voice to genuine love— UNLESS THE VERY PRESENCE OF LOVE IS LIVING IN THEM.

Do you get it Girlfriend?  The love you pour out on others spreads His fame and strengthens His Kingdom. It says to the world that He will not be contained and His LOVE will always change things, even the deep self-serving things that keep us from building up those around us.  Yes, only He can revive hearts and encourage souls, but what if you were the way He chose to do it?  What if Love chose to speak through you?  Doesn’t the idea of it make you almost giddy?  Oh, how I pray you walk away today being encouraged to give voice to love and your path crosses a heart that needs to hear it.

But I’m not stopping there.  I’m also going before the Throne with one more request. I’m asking Him to send you someone to speak the voice of love straight to your heart. To encourage you. To strengthen you. To  esteem you.  And may I just exhort you Sweet Friend to receive His message with full assurance of His Love and His desire to revive your heart because while I may not know you, I do know Him and I have no doubt, Daughter of the King, that you possess the affection of your Father’s heart and He finds you to be worth every word.

Girlfriend, You ARE the Miracle!

15 Jun

LAZARUS HAS BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD!

LAZARUS HAS COME TO LIFE!

JESUS HAS PERFORMED A MIRACLE!

Imagine the resurrection of Lazarus occurring in our no-holds barred tell everything social media society.  Oh, how the twitter birdie would be singing and the hashtags flying. . . . .

  • Martha warns of stench.  Jesus is not deterred! Lazarus lives!#stenchovercome #Christunafraid
  • Jesus frees Lazarus from the tomb!  Death clothes peeled! #rollingstones #outfitchanged

Not to mention the status updates that would be popping up on facebook pages all over Bethany . . . .

  • He seems better than before and I sure didn’t notice any smell! 🙂 –feeling happy
  • Saw Lazarus and Jesus today.  Both seemed in good Spirit. –with Mary and Martha

Funny thing is that even though the internet was still far off, news of the miracle spread!  It must’ve been all the buzz at the market place, at the synagogue, and around every Jewish supper table.  We get our information from the Apostle John and it’s guaranteed to be truth so we don’t even have to visit snopes.com to see if it’s myth or urban legend.  In fact, the passage in John 11 and 12 is so chocked full of truth that there is absolutely no way to look at it all in this small little blog entry.  So as always I’m encouraging you to go and read the whole thing and count on God to show your heart more and more.

When I’m leading a Bible study and I have a lot of stuff I want to share, I quite often tell the sweet Sisters who are with me what “I won’t be talking about” that night.  So if we were actually sitting face-to-face with the Bible in our hands, I might say something like “I was really torn tonight.  I thought about pointing out the way the Scripture specifically tells us how much Jesus loves Mary, Martha, and Lazarus before it notes “So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” At a cursory read we might think the two verses don’t fit too well together. But might it be that His love for them was the very thing that prompted Him to give these three dear friends, the ones He held in loving esteem, the opportunity to believe Him more and take part in glorifying the Father?  Could the same be true of us?  Might it be that the purpose in the wait from time to time is so that we might have a part in pointing the eyes of those around us toward heaven?”

Or I might have chosen “not to talk about ” Christ, who was about to raise a man from the dead, having those around Him roll away the stone and remove the death clothes binding Lazarus.  He could’ve just pointed at the stone and told it to move.  He could have disintegrated those linen strips with a Word.  Instead, He chose to let others be involved in shining the light into that very dark tomb and give them a role in setting the dead man free.  Sister, what kind of a privilege would it be to be known as a “stone roller” in the lives of those around us?  And how honored would we feel if we were given the assignment of peeling away the death linens so our friends, family, and neighbors could walk freely in the Truth?

And, of course the last thing that wouldn’t be discussed is Jesus calling Lazarus to life by NAME.  Oh, don’t you love to entertain the idea of what it must be like to hear LOVE say your name.  Maybe we’ll hear that very thing when we finally look Grace in the face.  And maybe it will sound something like this

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name;

and you are mine.”

Isaiah 43:1 NIV, 1984

Dear One, I so pray you take Him at His Word.  This is personal to Him and it’s meant for you.  Hear His heart . . . “Don’t be afraid Bunny.  I have rescued you and called you out of your sin.  You belong to me.  I won’t let you go.”  Now, you do it:

“Don’t be afraid _________.

I have rescued you

and called you out of your sin.

You belong to me.

I won’t let you go.”

Doesn’t that give you glory bumps?  Hear Him speaking right to you?

So if these are all the things we wouldn’t be chatting about, what in the world would we be considering?  Well, it would be those tweets and those status updates that would have our attention.  It would be the news spreading from ear-to-ear that would be at the center of our discussion.  Why?  Because people of all kinds are going to hear about the miracle Jesus performed in your life.  They will be absolutely a twitter about the new life that they see in you.  You will be modern day evidence of the miracle.  Living proof that Christ still raises people from the dead.   Indisputable confirmation that the Author of Life still revives hearts today.

The change in you, the transformation from walking dead to abundant life, will be beautiful.  Your entire life will be a testimony to His power, just like the life of Lazarus.  So, what of Lazarus the man brought to life in full view of those who believed and those who did not?

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there,

they came, not only on account of him

but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.

So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well,

 because on account of him many of the Jews

were going away and believing in Jesus.

John 12:9-10 (ESV)

That’s right.  The last mention we have of Lazarus in the Bible is under the heading “The Plot to Kill Lazarus” and the truth is, the headline over your life, if you are a believer, is similar.  Beloved, don’t you dare think for one moment that your enemy does not notice the difference you are making in the world around you.  Don’t you let yourself believe for an iota that living out the miracle every day is of no significance.  You may not be under the threat of flogging or crucifixion but the battle that rages is real.  The arrows slung in your direction may take the form of isolation, cruel words, and intimidation, but believe me when I tell you based on God’s exhortations to be aware, to be suited for battle, to be alert that they are part and parcel of “The Plot to Kill the Miracle.”  There is no doubt that your enemy, the devil prowls like a lion looking for someone to devour.  That’s truth, flat out.

But Girlfriend, here’s the bigger truth– the One who redeemed you, the One who called you by name, is not about to let you go.  FEAR NOT, the will of the Lion of Judah will prevail.  The Miracle will live!  And live to the full. He has summoned you by name, and YOU ARE HIS!

And just as certainly as the news of new life could not be contained in Bethany, news of your transformation will spread like wildfire.  I find that to be worth a status update.  Maybe even a change in my relationship status ♥– feeling loved.

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