Category Archives: the Spirit

hold my hand

child-holding-fathers-hand

 He knows what is in the darkness,
    and the light dwells with him.
Daniel 2:22


Fear according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary

fear

noun

: an unpleasant emotion caused by being aware of danger : a feeling of being afraid

: a feeling of respect and wonder for something very powerful


Some fears can be healthy, protecting me from something that could be potentially dangerous.  But other fears cause me to think and react irrationally, becoming imprisoned by whatever it is that is causing me such an adversion.  This kind of fear can even keep me from obeying God, from hearing the Spirit speak to me, from feeling His pricking at my heart.

Instead of running or hiding from this emotion called fear, I need to go to the words spoken in Daniel 2:22.  There is no mystery with God and he’s never surprised or caught off guard.  He never wonders how in the world is He going to deal with this thing.   I need to remember, I am not alone here.

God is with me here in this moment of darkness, this hour of adversity, this season of not knowing why.  It is not darkness to Him because He is Light.  He is in complete charge of the mysteries of my life, those things that cause me to feel fear.  He holds me, my fears, my mysteries in His hand.  And because He does, I do not need to run, or hide.  I rest in Him, my Abba Father.


no fear

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Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

With the turning of the new calendar page again this year, I have been wrestling over the last few weeks *the one word* I wanted to claim for this year.  For a while it seemed as if I was coming up empty-handed, the words that would come across the page just did not seem to be right.  The Spirit was leading me elsewhere.  For some reason this past Christmas the phrases, “Do not be afraid,” and “Fear not,” as the angel spoke to Mary and to the shepherds continued tugging at my heart.

So this year, it’s not just one word that I am claiming for my spiritual focus.  I’m claiming the phrase no fear because I know that His Word tells me to “not be afraid” throughout scripture.  I know this, but yet it seems many days I don’t live it.  And truthfully, it’s not about my being afraid – it’s about my trusting in the One who tells me to not be afraid. 

I could make a list of things I’m afraid of. On that list some of those things seem big to me, and some small.  Some of the things stem from my own insecurities, from worry.  My mind tells me there are so many things I need to fear, I should be afraid of.  But my heart tells me, I want to live in freedom, not in fear!  


Mind-boggling

Collection of hundreds of Free Bible Verse from all over the world.

However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”
the things God has prepared for those who love him—

It’s so easy to read through these words without really thinking about the words.   Take some time . . . read each phrase . . . ponder on what each says.

What no eye has seen . . . 

What no ear has heard. . . 

What no human mind has conceived. . .

I think I have a pretty lofty imagination, but not even stretching my five senses, each to its utmost limits, my understanding falls vastly short. I can’t even begin to have an inkling of the glory, the riches, God has in store for those He calls His own.

Mind-boggling.  Inconceivable.  Unimaginable.

Rejoicing in His Promises  . . . because these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.


renewing

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The other day while thumbing through some notes found in the Bible I had used for many years, I ran across these words that had been shared in a past study.  I had to smile because of the coincidence of the content and my *2014 word* RENEW —— Coincidence?  Ummm…. no, I don’t think so!

Renewing the mind is a little like refinishing furniture. It is a two-stage process. It involves taking off the old and replacing it with the new. The old is the lies you have learned to tell or were taught by those around you; it is the attitudes and ideas that have become a part of your thinking but do not reflect reality. The new is the truth. To renew your mind is to involve yourself in the process of allowing God to bring to the surface the lies you have mistakenly accepted and replace them with truth. To the degree that you do this, your behavior will be transformed.  (source unknown)

Growing up with parents who enjoyed antique shopping and a grandmother who had her own little shop, I spent quite a bit of time being my dad’s “helper” when it came time to refinish many of the furniture finds.  Some of the pieces were unbelievably ugly, and often I would think “there’s no way this piece is going to ever find its way into our home.”  But as my dad would painstakingly strip away the layers upon layers of paint, the beautiful original wood would be exposed.  After all the steps of the taking away the old were complete, the process of replacing it with a new finish would result in a total transformation of the piece.

So stumbling across the words I had written down years ago, the message was clear.  The transformation that I desire is not just a switch of one behavior to another, but it is a process.  And just like refinishing furniture, it’s tedious and messy work.  It’s not a one-time exercise, but it is one that I need to do daily. This renewal must come not only from the outside in, but more importantly from the inside out.

What does this look like?  For me, the old are the lies that I have allowed the enemy to whisper into me; it’s the walls that I had built up over the years to protect myself; it’s the healing of hurts and scars.  The new is daily asking the Spirit to show me the things I have hidden deep in the recesses of my mind and heart.  To show me, to break my heart and my mind of anything that blinds me, no matter how much it may still hurt, from His Truth.  

The great Exchange – new for the old.

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stopping in at  Bonnie Gray’s . . .  come join us


peace beyond understanding

from ann voskamp ~ a holy experience

photo from Ann Voskamp ~ a holy experience

 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4: 6-7

Shalom – Hebrew for Peace.
A study of Hebrew words reveals meaning beyond their spoken pronunciation. Each Hebrew word conveys feeling, intent and emotion.
Shalom is more than just simply peace.
It is complete Peace – contentment, completeness, wholeness, well-being and harmony.

The Shalom that can only come from Him who created and put all things into place.

Experiencing this peace – this Shalom – came this past weekend.  It was more than just the intimate, serene outdoor wedding setting.  Even more than the beautiful sun-filled, blue skies that filled the Austin Hill Country.  Yes, it was even more than friends and family that gathered to share in the Joy of the joining of the oldest son, C and his bride as one in marriage.

This Shalom was the Peace that could only come from fervent prayers asking for the Peace of God that goes beyond my mind and heart’s understanding.  

During the weeks before the wedding, many nights of sleep were interrupted by a bad dream night after night. Only this wasn’t really a dream, it was like a movie replaying in my mind the deep wounds from venomous words and divisive actions at another such wedding scene eight years ago.  There was no Shalom.

Knowing that unlike at the beautiful wedding of daughter K a little more than a year ago, this time the wall of space and people would not be there to protect the Joy my heart desired for this occasion.  With each replaying of this late night “movie,” an overwhelming sense of unrest would stir in my heart because I did not want anything to take the Joy away from this wedding day either.

In the dark of those nights, I would call out in my heart to my Abba Father, Yahweh.  His Peace was always present with me there in the dark, night after night after night.  And peaceful sleep would soon return.

Each morning after, I would wake wondering,
Was this some sort of spiritual attack? 
A portent of possible pending drama? 
Something designed to take the joy from this time?

Sharing these thoughts with my dear friend L, the weeks and days before the wedding found us praying together.  We prayed for Peace that would transcend, that would eclipse, that would go so far beyond what my mind and heart could understand.  We prayed for that Complete Peace, His Shalom.

Last Saturday, the big day had finally arrived!  The venue was absolutely serene.  Despite earlier reports of rain coming in with our first “big” cool front, the weather was beautiful.  Skies were blue and the sun was shining through the shadows of the massive oak trees.  There was even a herd of Longhorns nonchalantly greeting the guests as we drove through the ranch gates.  Was this the peace I had prayed for?  No.

As we were walking up the stone walk towards the early arriving family members and a few other guests, I heard a still, small voice say to me . . .

“The Peace you’ve prayed for is here, He goes before you.”

It was in that moment, I understood.  That movie that had been playing over and over in my head in the nights before had been a reminder to me that in the dark, in those uncertain times of my life, His Shalom, His Complete Peace has never been absent from me. 

Now instead of those anxious thoughts, an overwhelming sense of Peace washed over me – the assurance His Presence walks every step of the way with me.  I have that Peace that surpassed all my understanding.  The Prince of Peace is guarding my mind and my heart!


hope in things not seen

BUzCf88CAAErel3photo from Twitter screen shot

Hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees?

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.
Romans 8: 24-26

I hope in things not seen.  At the times when my words feel inadequate, I’m not left to myself.  John 14:26 promises the Counselor helps me in my weaknesses, in my inadequacies.  When I am weak, He is strong.  

I pray with waiting expectation, not in a state of limbo.  In Hebrew, wait’ comes from a word meaning ‘to bind together’ and figuratively means ‘to expect.

I wait.

Not in fear, not in despair.

My hope is in God and I wait expectantly for Him to intervene in His time, in His way.  And in the wait…
I grow closer to Him with the bonds of Love.


not a single moment

andrew murray_2.002

May not a single moment of my life be spent outside the light, love, and joy of God’s presence and not a moment without the entire surrender of myself as a vessel for Him to fill full of His Spirit and His Love.
~Andrew Murray

Daily.

Surrender.

Yield myself completely.

He is the Giver of all things good. Surrendering to Him every day is a choice. A choice that helps me let go of the wants, the desires, the hurts, the wrongs I want to cling tightly onto. Those very things that keep me from experiencing God’s best for me.

It’s a choice I should make with every single breath I take.


mouse trap

MousetrapGame2

Growing up, one of my favorite games to play with the cousins and friends was Mouse Trap.  Definitely a classic board game.  Building the elaborate Rube Goldberg’s like mousetrap was only half the fun . . . the other half was laying in wait, hoping to turn the crank trapping all the other players in the cage.

We were going through some old games the other day and discovered Mouse Trap hidden at the back of the cabinet. Taking all the pieces out of the pretty beat up box reminded me how much I had enjoyed that game not only growing up, but also playing it with my own kids.  But what really struck me was thinking how much this “kids” game is just like the “traps” we face in life.

Satan delights in taking something good, twisting and turning it in our minds and hearts, directing our focus on to something we want.

Something we want so badly that we elevate “it” above God.  We get so wrapped up in what we think is something we need, something we think we just have to have, right now – no matter what.  Our focus is sidetrack, going after the bait that’s been carefully placed, enticing us – laid out right there in front of our eyes.  We forget the many wonderful things our Creator, our Abba Father has so lovingly given us.  Once our eyes and heart become transfixed on satisfying our desire, Satan steps right in ready to meet that craving with what he wants us to have.  It’s never anything that is good for us. Never.

The cage is coming down on us, ultimately drawing us away from God.

Just like any good stalker, the enemy has been watching us carefully.  Watching.  Waiting.
Looking for those weaknesses, those times when we will say yes to his bait. He studies our emotions, looking for any vulnerability – loneliness, hurt feelings, fatigue, dissatisfaction, uncertainty . . .  anything to get our minds distracted away from time with our Father.   We get so caught up in the twists and turns, the enemy’s bait pulls us in, urging us to take the bait right now.

Doubt sets in.  His best scheme.

“Did God really say . . . ?”  – Satan wants us to question The Truth.

“Are you really saved?”Satan wants us to question our salvation.

We even begin to rethink God’s Word to justify our choices, to justify our sin.

But I don’t have to play Satan’s game.  He may be laying in wait, setting up a trap but I’m not helpless against his schemes.  I have an Abba Father who protects me, a Savior who intercedes for me, and the Spirit whose got my back and my front and my sides.

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. ~ James 4:7

 


guard your heart

prov 4_23(2).001

My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Proverbs 4:20-23

Guard:

  • protect somebody or something: to protect somebody or something against danger or loss by being vigilant and taking defensive measures
  • one assigned to protect or oversee another

For as long as I can remember [well almost as long], I’ve both heard and read the Proverbs scripture.  But you know when I read this Word a few days ago, it was again fresh and new.  God is so good to remind me – every single day I renew my mind to His Truth.  He transforms me.  He is in the business of changing my life.

I started thinking about how through many years I’ve sat through many different Bible studies, different sermons, different teachings.

I had listened.  I had heard God’s Word.  [But . . .

I would count myself in attendance.  Smiling, nodding my head in acknowledgment, I even took my notes.  All the while patting myself on the back for my head knowledge. . . ]

But something was still missing.

Problem:  My head was getting it, but it was like my heart wasn’t working right.  I wasn’t always willing to listen to my Guard on duty – the Spirit.  I wasn’t always confident of His presence and leading.  The borders around my heart were compromised.  It was a problem of my heart.

For a season, I put the Word aside. Yes, I had my reasons . . . or at least that’s what I told myself.  Oh, I would open the covers of my well-worn leather Bible.  But I wasn’t paying attention.  My eyes and my ears were simply going through the motions.  I needed what my friend Laurie calls God’s CPR.

God’s CPR is taking the Word and pouring it in so it penetrates into your heart.  It has to go beyond head knowledge.  Just like in real CPR, I needed my heart to be “pressed” so the Truth would circulate through my mind AND my heart just like the life-giving oxygen God breathed into me the day I was born.

During that season I felt deserted, rejected by just about everyone around me.  I felt used.  I felt I had no real purpose.  Life for me was just going through the motions.  I was renewing my mind everyday to something, but that something was not the Truth. As alone as I felt, something kept telling me I wasn’t alone.  I recognized the voice of my Guard on duty ~ the Spirit.  It was such a beautiful whisper. 

Answer:  Instead of me doing all the “talking” with God telling Him how I needed this taken care of and that solved, wallowing in a good pit of self-pity, questioning why – – –  I was simply quiet and I listened.  Quietly listening with my broken-heartedness, paying close attention to the words and the phrases the Spirit poured into my heart to heal and transform me.

I knew I couldn’t do CPR on myself!  I had to decide who I was going to believe . . . my thoughts or His Truth.

Is something causing you to feel overpowered, controlled, defeated?  Which voice are you listening to?

 

 


grace comes after you

IMG_0522God’s Grace has a drenching about it.  A wildness about it.  A white-water, riptide turn-you-upside-downess about it.  GRACE COMES AFTER YOU.

The day started off with me anticipating my first drift fly-fishing trip.   The morning sun was warming up the day and the fish were biting.  Off to the west the dark clouds were starting to build as we drifted into the middle-fork of the Flathead River and the current was beginning to churn.  All of a sudden our lazy day fishing on the river turned into a white-water, turn you around, try to avoid the rocks in your flat bottom boat adventure.  Our plans were no longer our own.  It was time to brace for the ride!

My mind flashed back to our ride down the Flathead River as I read from Max Lucado’s book Grace, the sentences:

God’s Grace has a drenching about it.  A wildness about it.  A white-water, riptide turn-you-upside-downess about it.  GRACE COMES AFTER YOU.

And so it is with Grace.

Grace comes after you.

It rewires you.

From insecure to God secure.

From regret-riddled to better-off-because-of it.

From afraid-to-die to ready-to-fly.

Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26 HCSB

See to it that no one misses the grace of God.
Hebrews 12:15 NIV

Have you been drenched by Grace?


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