Am I Cross Fit?

35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

Hebrews 10:35-36

King James Version (KJV)by Public Domain

 

I’ve completed my first week of Cross Fit. Three years ago I had my hip replaced. After completing rehab, I stayed. Three times weekly I visited the gym, utilizing all the weight machines and performing floor exercises and stretches. I thought I was in pretty good shape. Until this week.

My instructors have been men half my age who were unmoved by my pleas for mercy. “Remember I am older than your mother…” They laughed but were unrelenting.

The general premise of Cross Fit is functional fitness. In other words, they say not specializing is their specialty. Participating will not develop skills for a specific sport but is aimed at overall fitness. Many of the moves are replicas of activities of daily life. Well…life as is was meant to be. If I lived on a farm a hundred years ago, I would be lifting, tugging, running, jumping, and sweating. Not so much today sitting at my computer.

Concurrently, I am leading a women’s study on the book of Hebrews. The included verse from the KJV says you have need of “patience” but is translated by several other versions as “endurance.” I haven’t jumped rope in over fifty years and the concept of needing endurance presented itself to me after fifteen jumps.

This verse also leads to a promise. By investing into exercise, endurance is the intended by-product. Yet, after three years of weight lifting and gym work-outs I huffed and puffed like an old lawn mower about to run out of fuel.

My study in Hebrews includes a verse from chapter two admonishing us to not neglect so great a salvation afforded us by the Lord. I am lazy in Bible study, prayer, ministry, and faith. I do what I have to do to put in a good effort and most of the times I’m pretty satisfied with myself. I invest much more effort into my Christian walk than I do at the gym but I see a scary parallel.

I spend time studying about prayer, ministry, faith, and teach the Bible every week as I have for over thirty years. But if I don’t stretch myself by actually doing ministry, really loving, seriously exercising faith, and being a living Bible to a lost world, I can end up sore, out of breath, and ill prepared when real life sets in.

I can be satisfied studying about things of God just like I am satisfied with my gym performance. It takes something like a spiritual version of Cross Fit to show me how truly inadequate I am for the job.

Yup. I’m pretty sore in places I’ve forgotten I have. But I’m not giving up. The discomfort is a reminder there is a promise. I’ll remember that as life makes me sore.

 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/girl-playing-with-a-skipping-rope-photo-p253830

Highway to Heaven

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21 KJV Public Domain

 

Seems like I have achieved the perpetual taxi-driver status in life. Not too long ago, I attended thirty-three visits to doctors in less than two months. Too bad there is not some kind of reward for this activity. I would win.

Not only do I chauffeur people to doctor’s visits, I have nine cats, two horses, and one dog that need to go, too. My precious Airedale has developed an eye tumor. The specialists want to remove his eye…but so far, he is responding to some eye drops which have slowed a part of his disease. Relief over my local vet’s decision to hold off on any drastic treatment added to my resolve to stay committed to his rigorous eye drop schedule.

However, my dog needed an evaluation of his intraocular pressures. The specialty clinic is seventy-five miles away and we left my country home at 6 a.m. to present him to his vet at 8:20. I’d never been to the main clinic, so the Garmin GPS came out of retirement to support the moving map I have on my phone. I’ve learned to not depend on only one source of information when I am faced with finding a destination unknown.

A glossy laminated map of the city sat on my empty passenger seat. My dog rested comfortably on his driving bed fit neatly into the cargo space and folded-down seat area of my small station wagon.

The GPS had been in retirement since I obtained an Android phone. Since I anticipated its use on this trip, I updated the maps through a four hour computer session. The printed map, the updated GPS, and the phone were my security in a foreign land. My knowledge of the city is limited but I did have a general sense of direction to travel.

As my luck goes, an accident occurred at exactly the exit recommended by both devices. With only a few minutes to seek an alternate route, I scrambled to coordinate enough information from the three sources to get me off the expressway. I experienced much disorientation.

I could read the major road names on the map but my old eyes couldn’t focus on the small roads that would have given me a clue for an escape. The temperature in the car was so low to keep puppy comfy and my fingers were numb and cold. The touch screen on the phone would not respond to my frozen digits.

The map on the GPS may have been able to be expanded to allow me to visualize the surrounding roads so I could formulate a viable alternate route. But my focus on the touch-and-go traffic preempted my attention. In other words, I was temporarily out of luck.

Twenty minutes from the appointment time, I phoned the clinic to report my location and prayed they would still be able to see my dog. Thankfully, the receptionist assured me I would only be a few minutes late; they would wait for our arrival.

The feelings of disorientation, panic, confusion, and being unsure of the reliability of the devices reminded me of times in my spiritual walk when I have been detoured. I have the Word of God, assurance from believers around me, a written map in the form of great books and Bible study materials, and a direct line to the power source…still, I may question my direction and understanding of the instructions given to me by what I believe to be from God.

The words of assurance, “Keep going, you’re almost here”, compelled me to continue and put faith in the interpretation of the maps.  Could I be that kind of encouragement to a confused fellow traveler giving concerted effort to stay straight to the final appointment?

Many times I’ve heard another believer question if they’ve interpreted a correct message from God. Our individual roads through life may vary but our map is always written by Jesus in His blood.

Hang on weary traveler. Keep going in the direction you know is written in His Word. Rely on the map that never changes or misleads: Jesus. As panic overrides your better judgment, don’t hesitate to confirm your direction with a believer who has been there.

We were only seven minutes late to our appointment at the end of a one and a half hour trip that took two and a half hours. Detour and all, we arrived as anticipated patrons and were received as if we were on time.  Eternity will be like that. No matter the detour in this life, if you’re following the map of Jesus, you’ll arrive welcomed and on time.

 

Photo credit: wwwfreedigitalphotos.net/Communication Stock Photo
By TCJ2020, published on 02 March 2011
Stock Photo – image ID: 10032417

 

 

 

 

Debt-free!

Romans 13:8-10 King James Version (KJV)
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

 

I love my cash back reward card. I hate debt. So, I use this card like a debit card, only purchasing what I can afford. There is never any balance to pay at the end of the month. I pay it all.

There is already a nice chunk of cash accrued for Christmas purchases and it will seem like found money when I redeem it. The convenience has to be weighed against the threat of electronic gremlins I’ve encountered. Trade-offs are inevitable.

Life recently thrust me into additional spending due to several convergent emergencies. Since I had the funds to cover these expenses, I made a transfer to pay this month’s balance. Once cleared, I would have available credit to continue to purchase as events unfolded; sometimes carrying cash is not desirable.

I was told I would have to wait twenty-four hours to confirm the transfer. Of course, the transaction occurred on a holiday weekend. I experienced slight anxiety, checking with the bank and the credit card company, over the next day to confirm my zero balance.

I confess. I worried, contrary to scriptural admonition.

As I worried, I saw the parallel many people experience concerning the payment of their sin debt. Just like the teller who assured me the transaction would be viable, Jesus demonstrated by His ultimate transfer through His shed blood on the cross. Even though Paul told us we can know, many still wring their hands in anxiety unsure that the payment actually has been made. Never knowing if your sins are forgiven is much worse than worrying that the electronic bank gods have done their job.

When I finally confirmed that I had a zero balance, I felt rather joyful. Relieved that the electronic gremlins had not rallied; I rejoiced that the transaction went through without a glitch. It’s a great feeling to know there is nothing owed. It’s a freedom I value by never extending myself into debt. Once debt has been experienced with all of its consequences and pervasive nagging, a rationale mind develops a strong aversion to return.

Sin is debt. It is something owed we can never repay. To clear our balance, we need to have a guaranteed transfer to wipe us clean. Only the blood of Jesus can do that for us, and when it happens, the joy experienced far outweighs paying off our monthly balance. And, the accrued rewards will last way beyond Christmas into eternity.

 

Phot0 credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net, By Stuart Miles, published on 11 March 2013
Stock Image – image ID: 100146108

You’re All I Need

 

 

2 Corinthians 9:8 King James Version (KJV)
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work

By Public Domain

 

My first discipline in higher education was in fashion design. Unfortunately for my inner diva, I was an average student. My counselors wisely guided me into chemistry and biology, subjects in which I excelled and made a living with for the next forty years.

But, there remains one afternoon from my pre-teen years that is brilliantly recalled. The event is responsible for a life long fascination with style and fashion. I’m guilty. I love make-up.

On that fateful afternoon, I was mesmerized by a Yardley of London cosmetic representative who was doing makeovers in a local Detroit suburban department store. She was glorious. British to boot, she favored Twiggy with her mini bleach blond hair cut and “fab” sixties make-up. At nearly six-feet tall, I was unable to hide myself within the crowd that surrounded her. She made eye contact. I was picked for a re-do.

My thirteen-year-old face was as clean as a whistle so there was no ‘re’ to ‘do’.  I left there in a delirious cloud anxious to share my painted lower eyelashes with Mom who I was sure would appreciate my wonderful gift. Not so. She chased me around the house with a washcloth, which only reinforced my fervor to do it again.

When I dress each day, I search through my collection of products to complete the application of cherished face paint. I really don’t wear a lot of product but I like to have some if I choose to. Even when I get ready to go to the gym, I have a routine that works for sweat.

I grab one small zippered pouch with stuff I use only for the gym. Everything I need is in that small bag. When I return home I shower and repeat the process, assembling my paint from several bags containing a variety of colors and choices. (Color is another addiction. I express it in my quilting and I have the fabric to prove it.)

I looked at all the stuff I had strewn over my countertop and asked myself a question. Why is it I can get ready for the gym with one small bag and think I need all this other stuff to get ready for the rest of the day?  What was the chorus from that new praise song at church? You’re all I need? Christ is enough for me, we sang. I have to seriously evaluate that statement. I sing it but am I living it?

A thought occurred to me.  Like the overabundance of cosmetics I play with each day, there is so much in my life that is just color and extra. Duplicate and double. It may be fun and pretty but could I do the task with less? Is there some way I can arrange only what I need into one basic bag and serve God unencumbered and free? Will I have the wisdom to de-clutter my life and just focus on the absolute essentials?

Peter tells us in his second epistle that Christ has given all things that pertain to life and godliness. Christ embodies all that we need in this life. I make life more complicated by multiplying resources until I am buried with confusion and burden unable to sort out a clear path to what’s really important in life.

Maybe I should toss everything and pare down to one small bag. More importantly, I need to look to Him for all things and follow Him as He guides me into only those things giving us the knowledge of Him and calling us to glory and virtue.

Is there a lipstick shade called “Enough”? I’m in!

 

Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/By keakguru, published on 07 April 2014
Stock Photo – image ID: 100253882

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sin of Cleome

James 1:13-15 King James Version (KJV)
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

During my training as a Master Gardner in my county, I participated in a seed exchange with fellow students. I had admired some Cleome in the garden of a friend and she graciously shared with me a small handful of seeds. I think I put them in a tissue, folded it around the seeds, and stuck it in the pocket of my jeans. Oh boy, I thought, free seeds!

Tossing them into some spaces around my heirloom roses, I envisioned their beauty coming to fruition the following spring. I was told these seeds would survive even the coldest of a Tennessee winter and not to worry about sowing them so late in the fall. A biennial, the Cleome sprouts from last year’s seeds, grows, and makes more seed to be germinated the following spring.

Recently, I meditated on the above verse from James as I wrestled late summer’s Cleome out of my heirloom rose bed. When the plants are fully grown, they bear thorny prickles like a rose. They take a handful of good soil with them when removed and I resent the holes left behind in my custom-mixed potting soil for my beautiful roses.

Cleome grows to four and five feet tall depriving my roses of needed sunlight. They are extremely prolific, and in my opinion, should be classified as a noxious or invasive species. What I admired from a distance, when brought into my own garden and tolerated for the past twenty years, has become a nuisance. I applied an extra application of pre-emergent weed killer this spring in hopes of deterring the Cleome from germinating—again.

As I write, I am looking through my studio window out into my garden and rose bed. It is clean as a whistle under another application of seed killer. My arms are slashed and pierced from pruning and my back is sore from the pulling, hauling, and digging required to remove the evil Cleome. But, the roses are pruned for the winter and bear the signs of lack of sunshine and stolen nutrition.

How much sin is like Cleome! It looks really good from a distance or with a brief encounter. Others can really sell sin because it looks so good for them, and they are always eager to pass out the seeds to get you on board. How innocently we tuck those seeds into our lives believing a delicate tissue can hold the power contained within them. How astonished we are to experience their long term re-occurrence, day after day and year after year, befuddled at the consequences of something that seemed so innocent at the time we tucked it into our pocket.

Many times I murmured under my breath, “What was I thinking? If only I had never sowed those first seeds!” It would not be an underestimation to calculate that I’ve grown a million seeds in a small bed over twenty years. Never did I imagine the extent of invasion from one small handful of tiny seeds. Isn’t sin much the same?

As a much more experienced gardener, I am very diligent in investigating those “free” seeds offered to me by well-meaning friends. I study to show myself approved before I make another mistake of that magnitude again.

I apply the seed theory to my spiritual life as well. As I’ve matured as a Christian, I’ve learned to seriously consider my choices beforehand to avoid having to reap the unexpected deluge for the remainder of my life. Not that I am immune to making stupid, foolish choices anymore, it’s just that I remember the Cleome and remember to think twice and act once. Guard your pockets!

Picture Credit:By Surachai, published on 07 February 2013
Stock Photo – image ID: 100138323 http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Eunique Relationships

1 Corinthians 7:8-9 King James Version (KJV)
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

Recently I searched the internet for information on the male perspective of infertility. Since my ministry is with women, I have little exposure to hear from men when they find themselves infertile.

I found some interesting information about the Rabbinic perspective on infertility that gave me some insight to teach my lessons on the book of Daniel. Unlike my contemporary barren girlfriends, the barren ancient Jewish wife was perceived not only as the afflicted, diseased, deficient spouse but as a woman whose husband was not fulfilling his role as pro-creator.

According to Judith R. Baskin in the article “Infertile Wife in Rabbinic Judaism” (http://jwa.org/http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/infertile-wife-in-rabbinic),  childlessness was perceived as a “grave misfortune” for both spouses. However, a male’s failure to generate offspring “violated a legal obligation, since men alone were obligated to have children.” The article further explains how a couple could be together for ten years, and if no offspring resulted, they were permitted to divorce and try again. A woman could marry after a second failed union for a third time only if the new husband already had children.

Wow. This perspective is shocking; to think women were shown so much compassion in the ancient world. The matriarchs who suffered a closed womb were driven to deep, gut- wrenching prayer and Baskin explains the Lord yearned for their prayers and supplications. It’s amazing to meditate on the deep, serious responsibility Jewish men had for creating life as well.

This tremendous burden on Jewish men makes me see Daniel and his three friends in a new light. Their submission to the Babylonian king to become eunuchs and continue their blazing devotion to the one true God is breathtaking. Of course they understood their lives would be devoid of marriage and its benefits but they must have suffered deep anguish at not being able to fulfill their legal obligation to produce offspring.

Jeremiah also was forbidden to marry. Poor Jeremiah was asked to perform so many unusual tasks as he wept along carrying the same burden of being unable to fulfill his call to procreate. Even a brief, light study of his book exposes his loneliness in faithfulness and his obedience in isolation.

The Apostle Paul is debated to have had a wife, but it is clear at the height of his ministry he was alone. He ended his life alone, asking for books and a warm coat from a jail cell.

The women I minister with live in every form of marital relation. Widowed, betrayed or abandoned, single again, divorced, and never married women sit around my Sunday school class each week. We look to the scriptures each week for instruction and comfort to live our lives. We relish the stories of our ancient mothers who lived through betrayal and abuse, childlessness, poverty, and loss.

Thinking about the men who lived the single life in the bible as inspiration to find comfort, instruction, and guidance is unique for a group of gals. Yet, after looking at the sacrifice of these men I can see they are great examples of people who missed an intimate relationship and still served God mightily and boldly.

My ladies inspire each other with their faithfulness and boldness to serve the Lord. Women have been our main examples, but after this study I think I can offer a new insight about these unique “eunuchs” who sacrificed marriage and family to serve the Sovereign Lord. Of course, our Lord is the ultimate example as our High Priest who sympathizes with all of our weaknesses, male or female.

The bottom line is this: our call to serve the Lord is not dependent upon our satisfaction within marriage. Men and woman are called individually to be faithful first to Him. The outcome of our service can be great even if our state of motherhood or marriage is not.

My friend is pictured above on a recent medical mission to a severely impoverished African country. This friend has applied what we have learned in our Sunday school huddle about being a great servant under not-so-great circumstances. She has experienced the gamut of human pain and disappointment in life, yet she serves and loves greatly. Like Daniel, Jeremiah, and Paul, she has wept and been faithful. I include her photo as a testimony to the power of a great God who makes all things work together for the good of those who are called.

Know that my ladies will look at a bunch of single guys in a new light, as examples of sacrifice and strength to be obtained from a compassionate, loving God who loves to see our faces turned up in prayer.

God Moves in Mysterious Ways

Deuteronomy 26:8
And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:

Jeremiah 21:5
And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

William Cowper is reported to have suffered from deep intermittent depression. A brief look into his life reveals the common temptations of man: loss of love, failed efforts, and unreached goals. Yet he is credited as one of the most beloved poets of his age. It has been several hundreds of years since he penned his hymns and poems but they speak to me today in fresh whispers and wisdom.

Out of the great depths of disappointment, he was able to garner tremendous strength and understanding. For many of us, this is the path to knowledge. Our trials teach us so much more about life, the Lord, and ourselves than prosperity and success.

The Lord’s mighty arm to save is always above us not only for eternal salvation but for the daily ongoing help needed to make it through each day. The same God who demonstrated His power to the Israelites in their ancient trials stands by to intercede for those who call upon Him for help.

Sometimes I forget this. I think I have to drum up solutions and resources from my own feeble reservoir and feel I am somehow outside the camp of God’s mighty army. Fatigue and despair can lead us to feel distant and outside of God’s outstretched arms. Failure and confusion keeps us from watching the battle plan unfold, and as I huddle in a bush for a moment of respite, I am tempted to doze off hoping it will all go away.

But, it doesn’t. I need a reminder to focus on a mighty God during the intensity of battle. Cowper says: “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head.” His hymn, God Moves in Mysterious Ways, penned in 1744, also encourages us to look behind a frowning providence to see His smiling face. The smoke of our troubles can hide the Lord who is reaching toward us for our deliverance.
My trials rage. Sometimes I think I can hear the blast of the cannon just before I am hit with another round of pain. I have to hold fast to the fact that He ever liveth to make intercession for me. I have to believe He is my advocate and will deliver. The hymn reminds me that “God is His own interpreter and He will make it plain.” I am alone in my confusion but only because I relinquish my standing as His cherished child.

In our day of great technology, the temptation exists to forget the majesty and strength of our great Creator. He walks on the oceans and rides along the storms. As fascinating as it is to be able to read an electronic submission from any where in our world, our abilty to call upon the One who created all is much more magnificent. And, He hears. Cowper encourages us with this:
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.
Enjoy this link and meditate on your position in the hands of a mighty God with strong out stretched arms:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtnapVDuPfg

 

Photo Credit: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot, published on 21 December 2010
Stock Image – image ID: 10024983

Two Essential Bags

Mark 12:30-31King James Version (KJV)
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

We are commanded to do two things: love God and love your neighbor. I am reminded of this commandment every time I try to pack a suitcase.

My last commercial flight forced me to pack only two bags. Each bag must meet specific size requirements so I may be allowed to carry them on avoiding the baggage check. Within my bag, I am limited to sizes of fluid containers and must adhere to other regulations prohibiting certain things like scissors or sharp objects.

Each time I pack, I struggle to meet all the regulations. I unpack my suitcase several times until I get the contents down to the bare minimum meeting all the requirements. I have to seriously prioritize my belongings taking only the bottom line of stuff. Plus, I rearrange the contents between the rolling bag and the hand bag to make the most suitable weight distribution. How I hate having a sore shoulder from lugging things I could have easily rolled in my little suitcase.

I pack under such stress because the ultimate goal of arriving at a destination is so appealing. I have to consider the activities I will participate in, the weather I will encounter, and the length of stay. As challenged as I feel packing two little suitcases, I continue because I look forward to my destination.

So, why do I balk at doing the two things Jesus asked me to do before I arrive at my final eternal destination? Yes, it is challenging to love God as I should. Loving those around me is even harder than getting three days of thirty three inch inseam jeans and two pairs of size twelve shoes into a carry on bag. But, if Heaven is more wonderful than the view from a helicopter over the Waimea Canyon, why is it so hard to do those two things? Do I really appreciate the joy of Heaven enough to overcome my failure to please God doing just two things?

It’s helpful for me to study my travel brochure before I embark on a journey. I don’t want to miss any sites or restaurants or museums in the area. The disappointment to learn that I missed a botanical garden or fabulous eatery has prompted me to always do a thorough internet search prior to any travel. Is this the problem regarding Heaven? Have I studied diligently to understand what awaits me so that I am prepared when I get there?

The next time I pack, I know I will repeat the same gyrations in organizing stuff. It will encourage me to consider if the effort to pack two suitcases is greater than my effort to meet the two requests of the Lord. Cargo is placed on a plane to balance the aircraft for safe and efficient flight. Should my efforts to balance my obedience to the Lord’s request be any less critical? Just like a plane out of balance can crash, a spiritual life out of balance can leave us on the runway in splintered fragments of refuse.

Check your bags, Christian. Are you carrying just the right stuff for a long stay in eternity? Love God and love those around you and you’ll discover your ticket is upgraded to first class!

 

Photo credit:http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/kauai/index.cfm?park_id=4

A New Neighborhood

And he answered them, “You give them something to eat” (Mark 6:37 ASV).

The mass feeding is recorded in all four gospels. Each gospel writer records the need for food as well as the perceived impossibility of provision by the hands of the disciples. They believed the only solution would be an exodus of the crowd to a local restaurant.

Jesus said, “You feed them.” Incredulously they exclaimed: “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”(Mark 6:37 MSG) Eight months wages would be unattainable even if they pooled their resources.

I’ve fallen into this same pattern of thinking; I see solutions based on what someone else has done, or if all else fails, an action I’ve taken in the past. Solutions have to be based on what I can do.

But Jesus said to his disciples: stay put, watch me work, then get involved. How can I watch the Lord’s hand if I am rushing ahead? How can I see what He will do right where I am if I have decided to move on to another place? Often “somethings” end up as “nothings” because the power came from my own efforts and not from the Lord.

Isaiah 32: 17 tells us that “the work of righteousness will be peace and the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever” (NASB). How often in my efforts do I discover the worry, anxiety, and fears explicitly dismissed in scripture? In the absence of peace, is it possible to be righteous?

Peace is a litmus test for believers. In the same passage,  the Message says we will live in a peaceful neighborhood with quiet lives and endless trust. What comes to your mind when you envision such a lifestyle? Does it come close to where you are living spiritually now?

It doesn’t mirror where I usually live. I long for a rock-steady unwavering faith able to withstand all of life’s trials. I am far from my goal and I need to be reminded that He is God and I am not.

Is your feeding station an unruly hungry crowd, a failing relationship, empty pockets, or a situation requiring solution beyond your grasp? The black hole you find yourself sailing through into uncertainty may be road to the peaceful neighborhood where you will fall into the Lord’s strong arms.

Each morning I have to decide to trust, watch Him work, and participate… because the hope of peace and endless trust waits.

 

(Photo credit: Residential House Stockhttp://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Residential_g296-Residential_House_p95636.html ImageBy samarttiw, published on 08 August 2012Stock Image – image ID: 10095636 )

My 777 Prayer Experience

Revelation 19:1-2 King James Version (KJV)
19 And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
2 For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
King James Version (KJV)
by Public Domain

The past seven days have been a focus of prayer, repentance, and growth under Anne Graham Lotz’s “777: An Urgent Call to Prayer” campaign. Visit Anne at her website here: http://www.annegrahamlotz.com.

Awaiting the delivery of one of her recent titles, Wounded by God’s People, I discovered the 777 (so named for the seventh day of the seventh month including seven hours of fasting) campaign and eagerly signed on. The results of my experience follow.

Discovering the Valley of Vision Puritan prayer book is a delight. Another Amazon purchase is anticipated so I may be able to delve into the entirety of the prose Anne spooned out in tempting bites.

The final day of the campaign climaxed as she offered seven hourly prayers and scriptures for meditation. The suggested focus reminded me of the ACTS approach to prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. Worship, repentance, and thanksgiving were concluded with intercession for protection and deliverance from evil, exaltation of Jesus, and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our world.

I greatly needed the portion on repentance. Anne listed fourteen possible areas of sin, each followed with a sentence prayer and the conclusion, “I repent.” I find it very easy to look at other’s sins and be deeply astonished. My sins, however, are so well hidden to my conscious mind and are elusive to my unconscious. No surprise here that my tendency is to see myself in a much better light than I should.

Each one of us has “buttons” or areas of unique weakness that disable our best efforts at following Jesus. My most favorable marks came in the areas of ingratitude, neglecting Bible study, envy, slander, unconcern for the lost, and lying; these are not problem areas for me. I love truth, the Word of God, telling others about Jesus, and praising God for who He is and what He’s done. However, I failed in hypocrisy and pride, robbing God, and fear categories. How could I not admit that assessment of my own abilities, attitudes, and service fall short of God’s expectations of me? And, don’t forget the critical spirit category. Anne offered this explanation: “Finding fault with someone because he or she doesn’t measure up to my standards.” I had to repent…

From the Valley of Vision, Anne shared this:

Before thy cross I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin,
My iniquity that caused thee to be ‘made a curse,’
The evil that excites the severity of divine wrath.
Show me the enormity of my guilt by
the crown of thorns,
the pierced hands and feet,
the bruised body,
the dying cries.
Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God,
Its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought.
Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price.

I am so sorry. Amen.

I have been afflicted with an unbearable situation for several years, only able to bear it because I have gotten in the yoke with Christ and trudged along in His strength. I would love to say I have experienced deliverance, forgiveness, and release, but I have not. This problem persists and is embedded into my life without any foreseeable relief. Naturally, during 777 I cried out to the Lord to change things, realizing I must change in the process as well. My heart longs for release, but He spoke…

I have taught my students to cautiously interpret dreams, attributing these unconscious messages to late night pizza versus spiritual truths. I also know He is exceedingly abundantly able to do beyond all that we ask or think, so I try not to put a very big God into the small box of my thinking. I had a dream…

My situation will not change because of my dream. A touch from the Sovereign One reinforces the reality of His presence, His outstretched Hands, and His ongoing love for me. As I’ve told my students, perhaps He allowed this to occur because I needed it so badly. The sense of His nearness came not only because of a dream but due to the confession of the sin that separates from His Holy fellowship.

777 allowed me to pause, repent, reflect, grow, and to hear. Our God is ever faithful, able to save to the uttermost. Thank you, Anne, for your guidance and your love of our wonderful Savior.

 

Photo credit: freedigitalphotos.com/By scottchan, published on 04 July 2012
Stock Photo – image ID: 10090175