Thursday, March 26, 2020

Sifting through the Nets of Remembrance....My Pursuit of the Almighty



REMEMBER!

This word.

It is important to the Lord.

So far, in my reading through the Bible program, I have completed The Law and The History books.

I was curious how many times the Lord asks us to remember....

I cheated.

I used a word search feature on my Olive Tree Bible app.

51 times (and, there are possibly more depending upon the context)!

He wants us to remember Him...His wondrous deeds...His acts of love toward us...His rescue...His salvation...His covenant.


As I said, remembering is important to the Lord...and it is, also, a vital part of celebrating Sabbath.

Not only are we to rest on Sabbath, but we are to remember the Lord our God who has "brought us out...and into His new Kingdom..."

This strikes me, probably more in these days, as many of us are quarantined in somewhat of a "forced Sabbath..."

What a great time to celebrate with remembrance in our family circles all the Lord has done on our behalf.  It's a pretty great thing to do during this Lenten Season, as well.

(By the way, I recently wrote a blog on the joy of my own "forced Sabbath" several weeks back - you can link that blog post here.)


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With this introduction, I read a quote that fits where I'm headed in this blog:

"Memory is a net..."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I thought of this quote again, as Bay and I were watching The Chosen (if you haven't started it, oh, do! It's free on YouTube or VidAngel. Here's another link to the first episode).


As Jesus climbs into Andrew and Peter's fishing boat, He gives a lesson to those on shore (and in the boat) about the Kingdom...Nets are for gathering...and, the net will be cast wide to bring in followers of Jesus in the new Kingdom, and then one day all will be sorted out.


Writers write.

Whether good or bad, those who are compelled to write, practice writing.


I decided to sort out the memories in my memory-net that had to do with God's hand leading, loving, "learning-me" in His ways...

I sat down, pulled out a piece of paper, and at the top wrote these words, "I remember..."

An odd memory popped into my head, so I just went with it.

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Bay and I hadn't been back from Kenya long, when a dear friend, a mentor, a co-worker in youth ministry, a Bible Study leader in our church, a woman of great faith, passed away of cancer.

For years, she had led a women's bible study in her home, comprised of women from all over the community.

When she passed, several of the ladies came and asked if I would pray about stepping in as their new "teacher."

I prayed, and God seemed to give the nod.


That first session was the hardest moment in all of my teaching that I can remember.

My thought: What am I doing? I can never be her...Who am I to take her place?

No, I couldn't replace her (and I truly wasn't a wanna-be), but I had felt "called by God" to this task.

In fact, at one moment in my praying and seeking direction, the Lord reminded me of a moment on the night of November 24, 1970.

I was on my knees, digging under my bed, looking for a Bible.

Earlier that night, I had given my life to Jesus, and was incredibly CHANGED in the instant of a mere prayer!

As I scrounged through the junk stuffed underneath, I prayed another prayer, which I clearly remember (I had no idea how dangerous this prayer was):

"Lord, if you can ever use me in the life of other women to know You, could You use me?"

I've said it many times, oh, if only I had known how He would answer down the road, I'd have climbed under the bed!


That prayer from my lips came from God's heart through me to be another memory in my net that, YES(!), He definitely had plans...

All I knew in that moment, as I stood before a dear group of gals (many much more seasoned-in-Christ than I), is that I was there as the Lord's servant.

Insecure.

Unqualified.

Bankrupt.

Trusting.

All I wanted to do was share Jesus and do life with these women.


I wanted others to be as excited about Him, as His explosion into my life had left me...

While it was important that the Lord affirm my calling, the women affirmed me, as well.

They became my greatest cheerleaders.

They gave me a platform to practice, a training-ground to grow in researching and speaking...

They were my instructors, much more so than I ever taught them.

Because they were, I do what I do today...

Still, at times, insecure, unqualified, bankrupt, but TRUSTING.


What did this memory do in me this week?  Why should it matter to you?

1) I'm reminded I am still called. In this new season of "coronatine," where events are being cancelled, and I am quarantined at home, there is still a venue open to me. As much as I fear that venue (cameras and technology are big fear-triggers), I can learn to adapt (even if I am an old-dog-learning-new-tricks). It's time to move out of my comfort zone once again, and #bebrave. So, be watching for what this might look like for me. You get the role of being my new "cheerleaders" and "instructors," if you are open...

2) AND, I challenge you to pull out your "net," and examine it for your special memories of how the Lord has moved in your world, exploded into your ordinary, and become hope-sharers to your family and to others through the tools of social media, and through encouraging notes (snail main, email, text-messaging....)

REMEMBER!


Thursday, March 19, 2020

Hynagogia: My Identity, Future Generations, Living in Lent...and my Pursuit of the Almighty!

Lent: The perfect season to reflect on all I am because of His death for me!


The Lenten season keeps marching forward....

I continue to pray, "Search my heart, O God & reveal to me what You see..."

He is!

I also continue to pray, "Awaken my spirit, that I might draw near..."

And, in keeping with my pursuit of the Almighty, and looking for Him to show up in all sorts of ordinary places, well....

...He's answering these prayers, too!

Today's blog is along these lines...

You can breathe a sigh of relief - it is NOT Coronavirus related! (smile)

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A week or two, before I turned the calendar to March, I learned a new word (once again I prove to you I am a verifiable WORD-NERD!).

Hypnagogia.

You may not have ever heard it before, but you have, undoubtedly, experienced it a time or two.

It's a Greek word that either means "being led into sleep" or "being led out of sleep."

Psychologists have researched Hypnagogia, and strongly believe that in this state there is a strong correlation between realistic fact and creativity...

...and, many right-brained folk seem to find the key to their expanding imaginations in this world between consciousness and unconsciousness.

(Side note: Artist, Salvador Dali did. He called this state "slumber with a key" and used it as inspiration for much of his art - I know, his art was strange, but, as a surrealist his work was unprecedented...and, it sold...for a LOT of $).

Dali's most famous piece, "In Persistence of Memory" (1931)

In this particular place where my mind wanders aimlessly along unfamiliar trails, I have, a time or two, heard the Lord's voice very clearly.

Whilst I must use caution here, I am fairly certain it's His voice...

It sounds like Him.

And, I only know that it's Him, when I take the time to match the words I hear with His Word - truth!

I always check what I think is His whispered-word against HIS WORD!


(Side note: if my husband were listening, he would probably be humming some strange music to indicate the weirdness of his wife's mentality... If that's how you feel, just know you're not alone, and I take no offense.)

Why do I tell you this nonsense?

This happened one time years ago quite clearly...but, after it happened again I looked on google to see if there were a label for this strange phenomenon that occurs between sleep and wakefulness...

I was assured there is....but, didn't allow it to discount what seemed to be the Lord "awakening my spirit" to His voice first thing that particular morning.

These were the words I heard, exactly as I heard them (I wrote them down as soon as I got up, and have pondered them, now, for weeks)...

"Treasure the fruits-of-your-love by living RIGHTEOUSLY before them."

The key phrase was "fruits of your love," and, as I pondered, realized the fruits of my love, my earthly love, are my children...

In all actuality, this, then, is a message for us all as parents (and yes, grand-parents).

If I treasure my children (and, I do treasure mine - they are 0h-S0-dear to my heart), then I will show it by living out righteousness in front of them - consistently.

There is NO QUESTION, that at my salvation, the Lord instilled His righteousness within me.

I AM RIGHTEOUS!

It's an undeniable identity truth....just as "I AM DEEPLY LOVED," is also an identity truth.

Fact is I sometimes struggle to live-loved, and, I also struggle to live righteously:

To walk as Jesus walked.

To live-out "blameless and without reproach."

To be "virtuous and noble."

To follow the Lord's admonitions.

To be "one whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is desirous of being conformed to the will of God (from the ESV Study Bible, Strong's Lexicon)."

However, if I treasure my children as I say I do, those fruits of my earthly love, I will live my identity.


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I teach often on spiritual identity.

I've never thought of the necessity of living it out in this way, as my WHY...

Perhaps, narcissistically, it has always been for my own benefit...

But, this is CERTAIN: living out our identity in Christ Jesus is INVALUABLE for the sake of future generations! 

Especially, if I want them to live their best life!*

As I finished up reading Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, weeks back, this teaching comes frequently from God's mouth through Moses' lips.

I am reminded how the sins of parents are passed on from generation to generation; but, so is righteousness (to the thousandth generation, in fact)...




Here, then, is the message from God's mouth to my heart:

Follow me, living your life out of who I died to make you to be in-me, that it might go well with you AND your children...

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Within this post, there are two lessons to ponder:
1) Are you doing this before your children and grand-children? Living out of your identity for their spiritual-sakes?

2) Are you watching, listening, paying attention to where the Lord may show up in your ordinary world? Because He might even show up in the midst of hypnagogia!!!!

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*Obviously, there is no guarantee, as we can not know what motivates our children's hearts, and to see them walk a different path is not a "shame on me!"  However, this guideline is a help in pointing our children to the right path, if and when they are ready to make that choice. We can know for certain, we have done all we can to point them in God's direction. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Want a Little Challenge? A New-to-Me Spiritual Discipline.....and my Pursuit of the Almighty


A new-to-me spiritual discipline has to do with "divine seeing."  

Learning to pray with the "eyes of our heart."

Probably most Jesus-followers have heard of Lectio Divina - "Divine Reading."

A way of reading (and re-reading, at least four times) Scripture for the purpose of reflection, response and, of course, prayer.


I, in particular, love this type of practice.

It's a most comfortable form of reading and praying that fits my personality most.




But, not everyone responds, or enjoys study and prayer in the same fashion.

Some folks worship more through art (paintings, sculpture, or other created media), via creation or through creating...but, all by means of "sight."

As the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesians, he asked that God would give them wisdom and insight, and that the "eyes of their heart would be enlightened... (Eph. 1:17-18).

King David made this proclamation:

The heaven's declare the glory of God;
The skies proclaim the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1)

Then he goes on to say,

Day after day, they pour forth speech (Psalm 19:2)...

In other words, as we "look and see" creation, it has something to say to us!

That is Visio Divina...not just looking, but seeing, and hearing!

One can practice Visio Divina, praying with the eyes (holy seeing) as we look deeply & listen equally to what God-through-nature is saying to us. That is, if King David knew what he was talking about (smile)...

...and, we can also listen to the Lord, as already mentioned, through other media.


With this in mind, I've been practicing.

Starting easy.

I've used pictures I've taken, and pictures I've found on the internet...

Here are three:




With this background, the remainder of this blog ties in with what I shared last week....so you may have to go back and re-read it, or read it for the first time...

I mentioned that I've been praying two prayers every day over Lent...and the Lord is showing up as I pray them.

Not always comfortably so...but definitely challenging me and convicting me in His ever-so-gentle-way!

One of those prayers is this: 

Awake my soul, Lord God Almighty, that I might draw near!

It's a dangerous prayer....and one the Lord wants to answer, because from Genesis onward through Scripture, He proves how much He longs to be intimate with His followers.

This prayer initiated with a story in Numbers about Moses' sister, Miriam...a revelation that snuck slowly into my heart as I practiced Lectio Divina...

But, the very next day I had set aside for practicing "Visio Divina."

I wasn't looking for something in particular that tied into the day before, I was just browsing Pinterest for pictures.

Very! Randomly!

My goal - to answer this question: What causes me pause?

From there, I'd begin my prayer journey.

Here is the picture that caught my eye:


Why?  I don't know... I can't really tell you.

First look, I saw the three asleep and thought it was the guards at Jesus tomb.

Then I looked closer - duh! It wasn't the guards - it was the three disciples Jesus took with Him into the Olive Press (the Garden of Gethsemane) the night He prayed His most vulnerable prayer EVER!

I read the passages that tie in with this story (Matthew 26, Luke 22, Mark 14, John 18).

I'm the disciple in the front (probably Peter, after all, his mouth often got him in trouble - GULP!).

That's how I sleep - all covered up - mouth buried - hugging myself tightly...

My spirit is so willing....BUT....my flesh is so weak...


Can I not watch and pray for one hour?

How can I possibly be victorious over the soon-coming temptation?

Once again, the Lord affirmed my prayer... "Awaken my soul, Lord God Almighty, that I might draw near!"

So, what's the purpose of this blog?

Maybe to simply introduce you to a new-to-you spiritual discipline...

A practice whereby you begin to see Jesus, His heart, and His messages to you that lead you to prayer in new and somewhat different ways...

The thing I am learning over the course of 2020 as I seek to pursue Him more deeply -
1) He is right in front of me...always headed my way!  He is pursuing me!!!!
2) It is through spiritual practices, where the most deepening intimacy is revealed.

Here Him say to you:

Awake, my beloved...
Awake, oh sleeper...and Christ will shine on you!
(from Ephesians 5:14)

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A Leprous Heart...Spiritual Preparation, Lent...and my Pursuit of the Almighty


As I entered the Lenten season last week, I mentioned a four-part prayer I'm praying each morning from Psalm 139.


Let me assure you, it works!

The Lord's a gentle-God, but still a convicting-One...

...and, in His graciousness, He's showing up and doing just that!

I'm good with it.

The more I trust Him with the authentic-me, the more I meet Him intimately.

I also mentioned that there was one other Lenten-prayer I'm praying...and saved it for this week.

First, some background.

One of the spiritual disciplines I've added is to read-the-bible-through over the course of 2020.

I've done this before, but have found when I do, I read to get through the assignment, and don't really spend time contemplating as I should.


Since I recognize this about me, I'm being more intentional to apply the "pondering."

Two and a half weeks ago, I read the story in Numbers 12 about Aaron and Miriam complaining to one another about Moses.


(It smelled strongly of jealousy to me...) "Has the Lord only spoken through Moses? Has He not spoken through us, too?"

Their complaints reached God's ears, and the Lord called the three of them to the Tent of Meeting, rather like being called to the principal's office.

The Glory of God descended in a cloud, and the Lord gave the two a severe "reminder." Not sure why Moses was there...but, maybe he needed God's affirmation!

"I speak to Moses as one face-to-face...why were you not afraid to speak against him?"


When the cloud lifted, Miriam was white with leprosy...

Moses prayed on Miriam's behalf:  "Heal her, Lord! Please, heal her!"

Leprosy would have sent Miriam into exile, unable to draw near to the Tent of Meeting, and therefore to the Lord.

But God...

He stepped in, sent her outside the camp for a period of seven days, and then she returned...healthy and whole (and, I imagine, without complaint)...

This isn't about why Miriam was cursed with leprosy and Aaron not...(I have my suspicions, though).

This is about something entirely different.

When I first read the story, I wondered if the punishment fit the crime...

Yes, I questioned the Lord.


Sometimes I grumble...just like Miriam.

I compare myself to others.

I "long for Egypt"...the way things once were...from time to time.

I recognized, I deserve Miriam's fate.

She wanted MORE.

Sometimes, I want MORE (of the wrong thing).

It's the same sin that trapped our mother, Eve, by the way...

Miriam met her unmet needs with anger, and she took it out on Moses (which was really taking it out on God).

So, in essence, the Scripture says, God treated her as if her father had "spit in her face."

Her skin-disease matched her heart-disease...and, therefore the punishment was equal to the crime...

Both were leprous.

Consequently, Miriam was sent outside the camp -


A time out, of sorts.

The more I contemplated, I realized, this action by God was not to reject her.

Not to curse her.

It was not because God didn't love her.

BUT, because He did.

The Lord loved her enough that He wanted to awaken her soul to her sin, so that she might draw near to Him again.

Even though she had behaved badly, the Lord wanted her to be near!

He wants all His people to draw near....

...and, it starts with the cleansing of confession!


With that, the second Lenten prayer began to form in my heart.

I want to learn from Miriam in a pro-active kind of way.

'Awaken, my soul, Lord...may I truly step out of my stubborn self, my competitive desire for MORE...that I may draw near to You."

And, that's my prayer:

Awake my soul, Lord God Almighty, that I might draw near!

It wasn't a day later, and the Lord confirmed this prayer in yet another way.

Stay tuned...that's next week!