Choices – Part 2

How amazing is it that not only does the Creator of all give the created the freedom of choice, but also no matter what choices we make throughout our lives, both knowingly and unknowingly, Father God’s compassion is so great that He continually gives us new chances to choose again.  Every day He sets before us the opportunity to choose between life and death (Deuteronomy 30:15).  Every day His mercies are new.  (Lamentations 3:22-23).  You may give up on yourself because of the choices you have made, but your Heavenly Father does not.  He is faithful to complete what He started (Philippians 1:6).

His love is so great that out of His joy and delight in you, in me, He CHOOSES to extend favor rather than to take offense at our sins. What is that favor?  Grace = “The empowering Presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do.”  

Let that sink in to the very depths of your being!

I remember the first time I heard this definition of grace taught to me by James Ryle.  It made grace so much more real to me.  When I would hear “unmerited favor”, it created a perspective in me that My Heavenly Father was barely putting up with me.  Learning that the Greek word for grace “charis”  comes from the root word “chairo” which means “to rejoice, be glad, delighted” literally rocked my world.  It is out of our Heavenly Father’s joy and delight in us that He acts towards us.

If your perspective is our Heavenly Father is “merely putting up with us” it creates fertile ground within us for a belief that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection created “blanket coverage” and it becomes very impersonal.  When in actuality, it’s very, very, very personal.  It’s all about you.  Yes, the person you see looking back at you from the mirror is the very reason He never gives up.  Spending eternity with you and with me is the reason He created us.  (John 3:16-18)

What is God saying when He tells us that every day the choice between life and death is ours?

To choose our Heavenly Father and to choose to trust His heart towards us is what it means to choose life.  How do I know that?  When Eve chose to doubt the heart of God towards her, death entered the world (Genesis 3), i.e., separation from the very One who creates us and is the source of life itself. (John 1:4)

As much as spending eternity with me and with you is God’s desire, He still created within each us the capacity for free will to choose whether or not we will love Him and trust Him or to choose “something other” than Him.

That “something other” can take many forms … control, isolation, money, manipulation, understanding, anger, or bitterness to name just a few.  When Jesus cried out “forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34), He was not just speaking of those present the day of His crucifixion.  Jesus was praying for you and me as well.  Jesus knew that just as the enemy deceived Eve, he would constantly parade choices before us trying to get us to doubt the heart of God; to believe either that God is holding out on us or that “something other” can keep us safer than God can.  Let me assure you, you are definitely not alone in sometimes choosing “other than God”.  We’ve all done it in one form or another, including the Apostle Paul.  (Rom 3:23).

The kicker …. it’s no surprise to our Heavenly Father.

The psalmist David tries to capture in words the vastness of God’s intimate knowledge of us; His provision for us; and, His presence with us in Psalm 139.  I encourage you to read the psalm in its entirety and let it permeate your being.  As David is writing this psalm, he shares how the revelation of such loves impacts him:

It is the most amazing feeling to know
how deeply You know me,
inside and out;

    the realization of it is so great
that I cannot comprehend it.
Psalm 139:6

Our Heavenly Father knows more about each of us than we know ourselves.  With all of that insight, still His choice is to love you and me.  Now there’s a reason to hope!

Do you believe that your past choices are too great for God to overcome?

Do you believe that your circumstances are beyond what God can redeem?

Watch this amazing testimony of Ian McCormack to see just how many opportunities God provided to choose Him in the most dire of situations and what God can do when we do choose Him.

Choices

I am freshly amazed at how the Creator of All gives the created the freedom of choice.

Think about someone you love.  Think about how many times you either have, or have wanted to control their choices so they don’t get hurt, make mistakes, hurt others or just simply have a better, fuller more enjoyable life.

Since I’m made in God’s image, that tells me He experiences the same longing and yet always He chooses to let us choose (Deuteronomy 30:15).  Otherwise, it would not be unconditional love, it would be control.

Recently while walking I became aware of a very simple choice that can have great impact.  What might that be?  Two seemingly innocuous words … and, or.

I have been blessed with the gift of administration.  However, it had become quite burdensome trying to plan everything for everybody to keep their worlds safe and running smoothly.  I heard myself praying “Jesus show me where I should be depending on You OR my gift of administration.”

Suddenly I realized that was the problem!  It isn’t OR, it is AND.  Only when I use my gifts AND Jesus is when I receive the freedom He would give me in exchange for the burden of planning I was experiencing. Jesus orchestrating my gift (Isaiah 26:3).  Jesus guiding how I use my gift (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Jesus showing me the boundaries in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).  Jesus being the supply of the very energy to cause the gift to function in my life via the eternal waters of life from God’s very throne (Revelation 22:1).  My part is being diligent to follow His lead both to develop the gifts He has put in me and to implement those gifts.

If we depend on what He has given us, be that our giftings, people, things in our lives, “OR” Jesus, that gets us in trouble.  We get out of balance; out of rhythm.

The “AND” provides us our metronome.  Jesus gives us the beat and rhthym of what needs to happen when.  He even provides the how … the crescendos, the decrescendos, the changes in tempo.  He is the heartbeat behind it all.

It’s constant you know, this freedom to choose “and Jesus”.  Every moment of every day, the choice is always ours.  Now there’s a reason to hope!

Conductor Of My Heart

Conductor of My Heart

Like A Rock

Like a rock

Like a rock

As you gaze at this picture what is your immediate response?  No thinking here … your instantaneous, uncalculated response.

Why am I asking?  Because of what Holy Spirit revealed to me in Psalm 73:26

My health may fail,
and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
He is mine forever

As I read I felt led to study the Hebrew to gain more understanding of what my Heavenly Father has promised to me for the places in me that are the most weak and weary.  The depth of this wonderful truth and promise unfolded before me.

God is the strength,
like that of a rock cliff that cannot be moved,
of my heart – all that makes me, me:
my inner me, mind, will, heart, soul,
my knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory,
my inclination, resolution, determination, and conscience.
He is the strength of the heart of my moral character,
the place out of which comes my appetites,
emotion, passions and courage.
He has chosen Himself to be my portion,
possession, award, share,
and parcel (i.e., of land – a place to dwell)
since ancient time,
continuously, perpetually,
and for the unending future of eternity.

WOOOO HOOOO!!  Now there is a reason to hope!  I don’t have to muster up the strength I need.  Instead I get His strength, like a rock, as my supply and place to dwell.

My prayer for you is you will open your heart to receive your portion of the infinite supply Your Heavenly Father has for you so that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit!  (Romans 15:13)

The Trap

Bear-Trap

There is a very fine line between humility and self-deprecation, i.e., belittling or undervaluing oneself.  That line is like spring-wire on a trap.  Who’s trap?  Good question.

Be sober, be vigilant;
because your adversary the devil
walks about like a roaring lion,
seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8 NKJV

Humility is realizing my genuine need for God in every moment of every day to fill me with Himself so that I may be all that He created me to be.  Without Him, I am like a light bulb with no power attached to it.  It does not mean the light bulb itself is worthless.

To be blunt, I’m calling God a liar when I self-deprecate myself and call myself worthless.  Father God paid a HUGE price to clear away all obstacles and hindrances that separate me from Him in order that we may spend eternity together.  His actions tell me what He deems my worth. (John 3:16, Romans 8:32)

Where am I going with this?  Glad you asked.

Today is Mother’s Day here in the United States.  It’s a VERY big deal.  It should be, after all Mother’s create space for life to happen in the womb and in the world.

I’ve never had a child.  Enter the trigger wire.  It’s very easy on this day for me to get focused on all the things I AM NOT.  That is the path my enemy would like me to take in order to devour me, steal my energy and my hope.

What’s your trigger wire?  What sends you down the path of focusing on what you are not?  Is it  your health, your weaknesses, your failures, your finances, lost loved ones, unreached goals, the successes of people around you, something else?

Some may say this is a discipline to motivate yourself to be better by focusing on what you are not.  As I type this to you, I see this image of someone digging a deep hole at the start of a race, jumping in and saying this is the place I need to start … rather than on level ground at the starting line.

The bible does tell us to first examine the plank in our own eye, before trying to take the speck out of another person’s eye (Matt 7:3-4).  So it does call us to know ourselves and to be honest with ourselves and with God about who we are – a work in progress that is completely loved by the Creator (Ephesians 2:9-10).

However, Jesus also tells us:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it:
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22:37-39

Did you catch it?  “Your shall love your neighbor AS YOURSELF”.  If we love ourselves by belittling and undervaluing ourselves, we are going to do the same to the people around us.  Do you see how that could be a problem???

Fear not … the Owner’s Manual tells us how to live REAL without self-deprecation.

Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray.
Pray about everything.
He longs to hear your requests,
so talk to God about your needs
and be thankful for what has come.
And know that the peace of God
(a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding)
will stand watch over
your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
fill your minds with beauty and truth.
Meditate on whatever is honorable,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is good,
whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.
Philippians 4:6-8

What those verses look like for me today are:

  • This blog post is an answer to my prayers, i.e., my honest conversation with my Heavenly Father this morning about how I was feeling about myself and this day.
  • I am thankful for His truth that sets me free to receive His love for me, to be able to love myself and to love those around me.
  • I am filled with His peace in exchange for the agitation with which I woke.
  • As I choose to focus on beauty and truth, what is honorable, right, pure lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy, my thoughts are flooded with images of my Mom; the many women I know that are mothers; and the opportunities that have been afforded to me to be the love of God to nurture and create space for life in the lives around me.

Our Heavenly Father can and wants to do the same for you, regardless of what “your trap” may be.

Click picture for slideshow.

Hide and Seek

Click on photo to see slide show.

I was surprised in my last post to find my Heavenly Father hidden in the darkness.  He wasn’t through with surprising me.  I was completely caught off guard these past 2 weeks to find Him in the midst of qigong.  I have quickly had the opportunity to put to the test the quote from my last post that has been resonating within me asking how willing am I to keep my heart “unoffendable”?  Lucky me ;-)

“If you’ll keep your heart unoffendable
I will use you to demolish the things that tried to demolish you.”
Testimony by Elizabeth Reisinger

For those not familiar with my story – four years ago I’d reached the point that I told my husband I would “do anything” to get rid of Fibromyalgia Migraines that were lasting up to 12 weeks at a time.  His response to that was to pray for me and as he prayed I heard repeatedly “acupuncture”.

Bottom line of that experience, I learned that judging something can cost you big time. Acupuncture has helped me more than anything western medicine had to offer.  But it was only when I repented of the judgement/offense I had held towards eastern medicine that I was able to reap the benefit of what Father God has provided for thousands of years through acupuncture.  As I experienced great relief I made the comment to my Heavenly Father “it would have been nice if You’d provided this a little sooner.”  He softly replied, “you could not receive it with the judgment you had in place.”  I couldn’t argue with that!

Well, “my offend-able-ness” was about to be tested again.

Enter pangu qigong.  I’ve been skirting my way around it for several months.  Again, leary of the unknown and thinking it best to “protect myself”.  OK, I confess I can be a slower learner :) .

Right after my most recent post, what just happens to pop up on my Facebook newsfeed but a class being taught by my acupuncturist on pangu qigong.  As I glanced at the post I heard it again “if you will keep your heart unoffendable …”  Hmmmmmm – I had a choice to make.

I read about it www.pangu.org.  I prayed about it.  I asked for my husbands’s thoughts.  I asked for my BFF’s thoughts and asked another friend to pray.  Everything was lining up to tell me to “check this out”.  I had so many questions.  Are you in this Father?  Is this You providing this for me?  Come Holy Spirit and be my guide.

You know what?  The head knowledge of Matthew 7:7 has become experiential for me – if I seek Him, I will find Him … in the darkness, in things and places I never imagined.  How? As simple as the child’s game of “Hide and Seek”.  The catch is we MUST seek and keep on seeking … always, always seeking Him.

It’s not that our Heavenly Father does not want to be found.  He has hidden Himself in all He has created like a lover calling to a lover saying “show me you are interested”.  All the feelings that each of us hold within our hearts of wanting to be desired, courted, chosen and sought after – where do you think those come from?  I’ll give you a hint.  We are made in His image.  Yup.  There is a constant invitation from our Heavenly Father in everything around us  to seek Him out and find Him in order for us to delight in one another as we discover one another.

And, it is not that our Heavenly Father wants to make things difficult for us. Here in America we have “Easter Egg Hunts” for the children at Easter.  Colorful egg-shaped containers holding delectable treats are “hidden” by parents pretty much in plain view for children to seek and find with squeals of delight on Easter morning.  The children are not remotely aware that it was the parents that provided the opportunity for discovery and delight.

How many times are we like that? We are on a hunt and we don’t even realize what Father God has put directly in our path for us to discover to delight us and to provide for us.

So what discoveries did my Heavenly Father have waiting for me in qigong?

The Chinese imagery of sun (masculine strength), balanced with the moon (feminine strength) coming together in balance suddenly became My Heavenly Father (masculine strength) balanced with the nurturing of the Holy Spirit (feminine strength) all coming together in one being – Jesus – the first of many children, which would include me! Embracing “all the goodness the universe holds for a golden future”, became embracing all My Heavenly Father has created, called good (Genesis 1:31) and deeded to me through:

Jesus – the exact image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of creation, the eternal.
It was by Him that everything was created:
the heavens, the earth, all things within and upon them,
all things seen and unseen,
thrones and dominions, spiritual powers and authorities.
Every detail was crafted through His design,
by His own hands, and for His purposes.
He has always been!
It is His hand that holds everything together.

(Colossians 1:12-17).

Qijong is all about having life force energy flow through you unobstructed.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  “But the water I give them,” he said,“becomes a perpetual spring within them, watering them forever with eternal life.” (John 4:14)

According to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19) is taking on new dimensions for me.  I’m realizing I have no clue what those riches in glory look like or what form they may take. But my Heavenly Father has promised me if I do my part to seek Him and will keep my heart unoffendable, He will cause the eyes of my heart to be flooded with light, so that I can know and understand the hope to which He has called me, and how rich is His glorious inheritance He has prepared for His children.  (Ephesian 1:18)

Now there’s a reason to hope!   Care to join me?

Dogwood Sun Shining Through

Hope for stuck places

You're Mine.001

It sounded like a war cry.  I heard it as I lay on my acupuncturist’s table earlier this week.  I felt a literal crack and something shift in my being.  All I saw was blackness and darkness, which scared me.  I started to say under my breath and then a little more loudly, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.  I belong to Jesus.  But the darkness did not lift.  I could not reconcile the darkness I was seeing and what I was hearing.  Even with the intensity of the cry, the voice sounded familiar but how could the voice of My Heavenly Father be part of this darkness?  I continued to repeat Jesus’ name waiting for instruction/revelation of what to do next.  No instruction came to me.  I was left with the ringing of “you’re mine” so clear within me; an unquestionable knowing that something very significant had just happened; but no understanding of what it was.

That state of limbo continued through to the next morning.  Without answers or understanding, the best thing I knew to do was to declare truth over myself as I walked:

  • The blood of Jesus redeems me from the hand of the enemy (Ps 107:2)
  • The blood of Jesus means satan has no place in me, no power over me, no unsettled debts against me (Rom 8:33-34)
  • Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, made righteous, just-as-if-I’d never sinned (Rom 5:9)
  • My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, redeemed, cleansed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus (1 Cor 6:19)

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “the truth will set you free”  (John 8:32).  Well that’s exactly what it did!

Shortly after declaring these truths over myself I recalled the verse

He made darkness His secret hiding place;
as His pavilion (His canopy) round about Him
were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Psalm 18:11

Then I heard “you get it with your head, but you don’t get it with your heart that YOU’RE MINE.”  I looked again into the darkness and it split apart to reveal a diamond-shaped sphere of pure light on a throne.  It was so powerful that it was hard to look at while at the same time mesmerizing.  I heard it again “YOU’RE MINE”.  Oh how I wept as my heart “got it” and echoed “yes, I’M YOURS”.

Revelation came to me that the darkness was a filter of doubt rooted in my years and years of physical pain through which I was seeing Father God and His love for me.  This filter had kept a pathway open to one part of my heart creating an exposed, unguarded target for the enemy’s firey darts of torment, self-doubt, self-hatred and the darkness those poisonous darts inflict as they accompanied the Fibromyalgia flares in any of its ugly forms .  The crack I’d heard and the shift I’d felt the night before was Father God hidden in that dark place revealing to me a part of my heart that I did not even know was stuck in the darkness of doubt.  He is the light that darkness cannot quench (John 1:4-5) no matter where it resides, how long it has been present or how vast it is. His presence will destroy it.

I was completely undone.   How incredibly surprised I was.  I started to laugh and cried out   “You’re everywhere …. even in the darkness!!!”

Now in the “fairy-tale” version I would write “and she lived happily ever after with no more problems”  Trust me, I wouldn’t argue with that … but actually I think I’ve received something even better … unconditional hope :)

The Fibromyalgia pain did not go away.  It actually has been a very physically painful week – but I was safe in the midst of the storm, torment, doubt and self-hatred had no place to take hold.

Then came a 2nd gift while driving to work listening to a podcast.

“If you’ll keep your heart unoffendable
I will use you to demolish the things that tried to demolish you.”
Testimony by Elizabeth Reisinger

This woman’s battle looked completely different than mine, but the truth God told her resonated through me as I listened.

I propose to you my Heavenly Father is using this blog as a way for me to demolish the very things that have tried to demolish me.  Amazing, at least to me it is.

I have more to share on keeping your heart unoffendable in my next post. But for now I have a question for you:

Where are the stuck places in your life?

My most recent experience is just one of many that allow me to testify to you that truly unconditional hope is available to you even in the most stuck places of your life, whatever they may be.   My prayer for each of you reading this is you will be delightfully surprised to find our Heavenly Father hiding in that dark place and experience for yourself the sudden the brilliance of His presence breaking through the clouds as He reaches down from on high to draw you out of deep waters; to rescue you from your enemy who always attacks when and where we are weakest; and to deliver you to a place of safety because He delights in you (Psalm 18:16-19).

I’ve not been myself recently

Because I’ve been confused about who that is.

Time for a little more transparency here.  The Fibromyalgia has been in flare for close to two months now.  You may have heard the expression “running on borrowed time”, well I’ve been running on borrowed energy.  Last weekend, I came to a crashing halt.  I just wanted the pain to stop and I had no more answers.  Like I said, transparency.

There is no way I can say that I enjoy being in that state, but not once in my life has my Heavenly Father failed to meet me when I reach that point.  As I type this, I see this picture of someone drowning.  They are kicking and flailing to do the best they can with their own resources to save themselves, but it’s not until they stop that anyone else can reach them to help them.

Enter my answer, in a most unusual form.

I’m on my couch on Sunday morning, not able to make it to church.  My phone rings and it is my very close friend. She has severe back pain.  Can she come and use my massage chair?  Little did she know she was the answer to my prayer.  Don’t tell me our Heavenly Father doesn’t have a sense of humor :) .

God can and truly does take what the enemy purposes for evil and turn it to His good purpose. (Gen 50:20).

During our time together my massage chair was able to minister to her need and she ministered to my need to find out why “having answers” was so important to me. Through her prayers and questions I saw a moment in my past when I was a young teenager.  I was put to bed for weeks because I had postural tachycardia (think REALLY fast heart rate just changing positions from laying down to standing up) and the medical team had no answers. Enter the lie that life stopped for me because I had no answers.  Add to this the fact that my Father was a surgeon and when he had no answers … life stopped, literally.  No wonder answers have been so important to me and felt so huge.  No wonder it has been so easy for the enemy to confuse me into believing that there must be something wrong with me and that I am flawed because I have yet to find “an answer” to eliminate Fibromyalgia from my life.

As Holy Spirit revealed this faulty belief, i.e., lie that I had embraced unknowingly, He also showed me a vision.  I was standing in God’s hand with Him looking at me from all different angles and telling me “I don’t see any flaw/anything wrong” like someone inspecting their workmanship.  I had to make a choice would I believe my Creator that I am not flawed, or would I persist in believing that there must be something wrong with me.  I was stuck.  Which would I believe – my circumstances or my God?

I wish I could tell you I instantly made the right choice.  Instead, revelation came to me that the truth is when I don’t have answers all I need to do is rest and wait on My Heavenly Father to provide the answers, rather than flail about like the drowning victim I mentioned above.   The truth is with or without answers, I’m safe.  My Heavenly Father will provide. How can I be sure of that?  Matt 6:8, 25-34 Tells me my Heavenly Father knows everything I need before I even ask and He will provide it, so there is no need to worry.

I was out walking the next day pondering all of this and suddenly a flip switched in me “there’s nothing wrong with me” … “there’s nothing wrong with me” … it is the absolute opposite point of view from what I have believed and what I have “heard” every time I hurt.  The pain has been sending the message – there’s definitely something wrong with you.  NO!  The pain is an attack, it is not me.  My Creator wants me to see me the way He sees me – there’s nothing wrong with me.  There is nothing wrong with His handiwork.  (Ephesian 2:10 )

I flashed back to what Holy Spirit told me in 2008 when I had to take medical leave because of Fibromyalgia.  I was feeling like such a failure that the FMS was still present. At that time, my Heavenly Father asked me if the enemy continues to attack, does that make you a failure?  This flashback to 2008 was followed by a vision of England from WWII.  Germany continued to attack England over and over and over and over.  England never gave up, but they needed the help of their allies to destroy their enemy.  There was nothing “wrong” with England, their enemy just wanted them destroyed. Hmmmm … that sounds like my enemy as well who comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

The enemy may want me to be destroyed, but he has already lost.  Yeshua has already won this one for me!   How do I know that?

Furthermore, we know that God causes everything
to work together for the good of those who love God
and are called in accordance with His purpose;
because those whom He knew in advance,
He also determined in advance
would be conformed to the pattern of his Son,
so that He might be the firstborn among many brothers;
Romans 8:28-29 Complete Jewish Bible

My response was/is Holy Spirit help me to walk this out, just as You helped Daniel in the lion’s den.  Right in the midst of the enemy attack, help me to stay aligned with Your truth that there is nothing wrong with me and Yeshua has won the battle for me!

As I write this to you, I realize it is no coincidence the timing of this flare and attack on my identity.  In late February, I had the opportunity to go to a wonderful course by Alison Armstrong.  While I was there, my Heavenly Father provided to me the revelation of who I truly am.  And so, I close today by being myself, my true self, and sharing that with you.

Who Am I