Thursday, July 28, 2011

Real Hope - Daring to Experience Fullness

What Joy there is in Living for God? I am His! I am joyful!
Real Hope has nothing to do with what a person, a church, the government, a job, riches, or anything can do for you. These can only bring short-term satisfaction. Tell me about yourself? Tell me who you are, not what you do! Our identity is found in our source of hope.

Real hope is only found through Jesus. Anyone who commits to live for Jesus, to give their everything to Him, will know real hope. Accepting Jesus is an all of you surrendered acceptance unto Him or a none of you option. You can't partially be God's! Many people go to church, serve in ministries, attend studies or meetings, get involved in good causes and have kind-hearted intentions, but even with all of these great qualities, they can still miss Jesus. HOW?

Knowing God is different than following God as His believer. Do you believe in God, that there is a God, that God is real OR do you believe God and confess Him to be your Master? When a person follows God, that is, becomes His disciple, they no longer live for themselves but they offer their every breathing moment to being who God created him/her to be. Faith is about being (surrendering), and through believing, you will naturally do (obey).
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
We can't do our way into God's heart. We can never please Him enough by all the great programs, events and activities we are involved for Him. The Bible says these kinds of actions are like fifthly rags to Him (literally dirty, used menstrual rags - I know that is not a pleasant picture, but it is Biblically how He describes our good works.)

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:5-7)

We must be His child, be redeemed, be forgiven, be filled with His Spirit, be ready, be relational, be His child, be a source of living water, be His recipient of grace, be healed, be changed, be motivated by love, be attentive, be listening, be Christlike.... be everything He desires us to be. In Christ, it matters first whose we are, not what we do.

Being His comes before serving Him. Are you His? Does He possess all of you? Are you totally abandoned unto Him? Are you ready to go, walk, speak, sit, pray, hug, rest, etc because He asks you to?

I don't know what God will have me do today... living as His child is a daily adventure. What I do know is that I need to be His, always available, always listening, always ready, always seeking to be walking instep with His Holy Spirit. I know no other way of living, and I wouldn't want life any other way. The peace and joy from being in continual access and communion with God is the greatest delight anyone could attain in life - nothing else compares. My heart is filled and my joy is complete.

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.(Romans 15:12-14)
Sure, laundry is piled out of hampers, papers are scattered that need to be filed, meals have to be planned, responsibilities and deadlines must be met.... living with, in and for God doesn't make the practical details of life disappear, but it does bring a fullness of living into even the most mundane tasks like scrubbing a tub, pulling weeds, or cleaning the garage.

Christians have a poor reputation in the world. Hypocrites are everywhere; people pretending to know God. People thinking they know the answer or truth to life's purpose want to do something great, successful, powerful, financially thriving, and influential. Everything we do: our plans, our desires, our schedules, our programs, our buildings, our things, our activities, and our ideas can be purposefully used by God, but the act of doing is not what makes us His.

Living for God brings real hope that is not some man-made, artificial promise that will never satisfy your every need.

Only being rightly related to God can give the foundation to begin abundant living. He is the beginning, the source, the motivation, the goal - He is everything and complete! He surpasses our wants, needs and dreams - when we surrender to Him to have His way in our moment by moment practical life.

Are you stepping out it in real hope today? Do you dare to walk by faith and experience His fullness?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Casey Released

Words, in Anger and Revenge, Kill
Totally unplanned, I ended up at the hotel immediately behind the Orlando Prison where Casey Anthony was about to be released. The news said she would leave on Sunday. I had flown into the Orlando Airport for a trip that had been planned for six months to help a girlfriend before, during and after surgery. She is from NM and I am from TN. With God there are NO coincidences... no chance happenings... no lucky moments. In a web of time beyond my understanding (but totally in God's hands), time, people and events collide for purposes allowed  by His permissive will.

Driving from the airport, I noticed as the mapquest directions became shorter (indicating our hotel for the night was near), we passed a wall barricaded with two rows of spiral barbed wire strategically placed between an inner and outer wall. "Barbed Wire"...  razor barbed wire normally signals a prison/ correctional facility. My heart sensed... Casey must be here.

As we turned on the final road for our hotel (well, a motel since the doors were open to the parking), we drove past a handful of protesters carrying large signs. "MURDERER" was prominent on one. The big, red painted words were intended for cameras and Casey's eyes pierced my heart. (The vulture media was in position, even at our motel, aiming lights and cameras to the facility)

That could be me... I am guilty of so much in life... what about you? (Didn't Jesus say if you hate someone in your heart you are guilty of murder?)

I prayed for Casey, and against the desire of satan - the accuser - to keep her in a inner prison more powerfully guarded than with barbed wire and gun toting police. Satan is dancing! He is the only winner in this whole situation. He delights in people being killed, destroyed, and trapped from ever  knowing God. He cares not who his victim is... a baby, a young mother, a family, a generation, a city, or a nation.

Could what I felt be the type of pain Jesus felt deep within his heart of compassion when a crowd angrily determined the proper punishment for the woman caught in adultery?

Read carefully, John 8: 3-10,

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Who are you in the case of Casey Anthony?

How do you judge?

A Scribe or Pharisee - You have duly noted the guilt of Casey Anthony, and in your heart or words sought punishment, even vengeance (justice), for the sake of the precious dead child, Caylee. You uphold the law and want to Casey to suffer punishment (even death) since her daughter was killed/murdered. You cringed at seeing a young  mother party with friends, to you this behavior that was caught on tape proved her guilt. You were persistent in your call for punishment.

Jesus stooping down and writing on ground - You waited, listened, and refrained from passing judgement. You are taking time to hear from God. You remembered what God requires of each of us, to "do unto others as you want others to do unto you, to "forgive others as He has forgiven you," and  to trust God since He says, "Vengeance is Mine."

The Adulterer - You are guilty and people know it. You have a reputation that follows you and you are scared that you will never be set free. You are in a prison... you have been for a long time... Fingers point, ugly words are thrown... You know the receiving side of vengeance, anger, blame and shame. Fear and hope encircle you. Dark frightening nightmares are reeled as nightly reruns. It feels there is no way out, and the love of God is for others... good people, not you.

Of course, we all know the public answer, the" supposedly good Christian one" is always to be like Jesus. But for a moment, why not be REAL... and answer these questions....

  1. Have you ever sinned? or can you answer, "Yes" when Jesus said, are you the one "who is without sin"?
  2. Are you the Lawmaker? Are you the Judge? Did you pass judgement on Casey? 
  3. Did you see what happen? Are you able to know the hearts and the absolute truth of Caylee's death?
  4. If your worst actions in life, especially as a teen or in your twenties was on video, what would people think of you? What would your reputation be? What if we could know your secret thoughts? What if we magnified your life and scrutinized every detail? 
  5. Have you ever been either rightly or wrongly accused? Has all the circumstantial evidence pointed to you? Has this ever happen to someone you love?
  6. Did you ever have compassion on Casey? Did you imagine how you could be like Christ in response to this very horrible situation? Did you cover it all in prayer? Did you listen for God?

As we rested in bed late Saturday night, we heard several helicopters fly overhead at 30 minute intervals until about 1 A.M. My sincere prayer was for Casey to leave in the night protected from hatred, and to somehow encounter God's love. I covered the area in spiritual prayer calling upon God to move in her behalf.

Does she deserve such compassion, grace, mercy, protection? Of course not... but do any of us?


Friday, July 15, 2011

Obesity - What is the Solution?

So what is the new buzz, everyone is talking about... Obesity.

'What is the solution for obesity?' is not the first question to answer. 'What is the problem that caused obesity?' needs to be addressed initially. Obesity is just the 'other side of the coin' of anorexia/bulimia; both are unhealthy behavior lived out through lies we believe. Can you identify the lies?

We hear those words - "I hate you."

Today government policy making officials think they can solve obesity, but they come up with the worst solutions... what do they want to do about Obesity?  This week, I heard that there is serious discussion about removing obese children from their home, family, and parents. And where will they put these Obese children? No one knows - as if the government can handle more children who are fosters of the State.

"The Biggest Loser" Facility would probably satisfy the desires of the government, encroaching, nanny-state, policy makers. Come to think of it, if they take obese children from parents, wont they soon be wanting to take away overly skinny children.... where will it stop?

We need to acknowledge God!

If we don't recognize God's natural laws - His laws being higher than man-made laws, how can we be rightly accountable (personally responsible) to God? God's laws are constant. In the Bible, we can learn right living from wrong living (which is sinful). Sin breaks our relationship with God - We can not know Him or hear Him when we live in sin.
"Certainly sin was in the world before the law was given, but no record of sin is kept when there is no law" Romans 5:13.
Obesity is a sin issue. Don't start throwing angry darts my way! Grace, grace, grace is sufficient for any sin area in our life.And the person who is obese is often in sin because of the result of sinful choices made against them. If a child is sinned against, cut apart by harsh unloving words, sexually abused, etc, the child will over-eat, unconsciously desiring to be unseen... to keep from being abused again... to even feel a sense of control over their body that was stolen by another. In suffering, in pain, in brokenness, we live in a cycle of sin.

Apart from knowing God and living a loving, following life with Him, people have little hope for making right decisions.
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8).
Seek Him - He is reaching out to you! He loves You!
So how is it sin? Sin is doing anything being disobedient to God. And, no one gets away with sin. We all suffer consequences and most always we also cause others to suffer. No one is isolated (able to not painfully effect people with our wrong choices).

What is important to know is: there is NO perfect shape or size! We simply need to be living obediently to God day by day, step by step, in grace, repentance, and out of love for God.

The mind-set (what we really believe that shows in our daily actions) is the source from which sin flows... out of the heart our actions flow. Our heart includes our mind, will and emotions: what we think, what we do, and how we feel. If our goal is to change behavior, we first need a change of heart. We need to identify lies, and replace them with truths. Our mind can be renewed and transformed to align rightly with God by reading, praying and studying the Bible which is of course God's Word.

Our will functions out of our mind-set; We consistently choose to do what we believe.
"To focus our minds on the human nature leads to death, but to focus our minds on the Spirit leads to life and peace" (Romans 8:6).
"Do not be conformed to this world, but continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is-what is proper, pleasing, and perfect" (Romans 12:2).
The only way to change behavior (that being, 'what we do') is to change what the think about and believe as truth.

Emotions are developed by our experiences. Love, gentleness, attention, appreciation, respect, and the like, help us to be emotionally positive, healthy, and  consistent. Anger, impatience, ignoring, neglecting, ridiculing, bullying, abuse, and actions like these create in a person emotions that are negative beliefs, unhealthy, and unstable. The door to our emotions is AGAPE - God's unconditional love! (I will explain this more in detail below.)

The reasons are many:
  • Emotional Eating to fill the void of not being loved, being abused/violated, etc.
  • Computer, Gaming, TV sitting activities for more than 2 hours daily
  • No physical exercise: walking, running, backyard playing, jump rope, biking, skating, etc
  • Recess removed from schools (I had 2 recesses a day - one 40 minute and one 20 minute) 
  • High calorie processed fast foods - both restaurant, tv style dinners, junk food, sodas
  • Few healthy home cooked meals from mostly scratch (for the newer gen that means whole foods)
  • Habit... you eat because it is time to eat and you eat portions to fill your large plate or family habits
  • Skipping breakfast (breakfast is proven over and over to be the most important necessary meal!)
  • Starbucks, other fancy coffees, smoothies, etc. (calories add up quick especially if daily intake)
  • Bored, recluse, no contact with people, no friends, etc.
  • Bad choices (like a domino, one wrong choice can spiral too many when we don't repent)
Most people struggle with a multiple list of reasons. God may want you to know which ones you face or He may want you to never go one by one through the issues. What He does positively want is for you to know Him and to know His love and acceptance of who He designed you to be.

Losing weight is a constant struggle for many people, especially if they are obese (what an ugly word that is to many people!). Inside the physical body of every obese person is a priceless soul that needs to believe - to in a knowing way accept  that they are LOVED. Beloved one, God loves you!

God will show you the path to walk in obedience.

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1John 4:11).

"Am I loved? Does he/she love me?" cries the heart of every person.

Once we by faith believe God that He does love us, we must begin to unconditionally love ourselves.

No one should be loved for performance (conditional), but instead for who they are (unconditional). Frankly, a person isn't often what we see on the outside or what you see when you look in a mirror. Who we are is the core essence of our unique person; no one is the exception. 'Who we are' was God breathed into us -designed by God - and therefore, we will be restored to our original design by God... if only we will surrender our will, and let Him be LORD of our life. God always completes what He begins.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6)

Do you know this cycle? Do you have insight to share with others who are hurting?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Casey Anthony is Guilty - Of What?

Telling the Truth is the only Hope of Being Set Free
A jury of Casey Anthony's peers found her not guilty!!! of murder 1, aggrevated child abuse, and manslaughter. She was found guilty of lying to officers. Everyone knows this is true. She definitely lied to the officers. Three years of propoganda against Casey Anthony has been defeated. Caylee has not been given justice, but Casey has. It was an American virtue to not be charged for a crime that was not proven. And this has been renewed for each of us as citizens.

To be honest, something in my heart of hearts has told me that this case is not about truth - it is about lies.

This case is a cause for us to learn:
  • You should not convict someone until they have their day in court.
  • Evidence must prove guilt beyond a shadow of doubt.
  • The media, public and talking heads do not have the facts.
  • Murder is not right no matter who does it.
No doubt Casey Anthony is guilty, no matter what the verdict of the jury says! But we must all ask, looking at the facts, what is she guilty of? We are a country of laws that give each American citizen the God given right to be innocent of a crime until proven guilty.

I do not always agree with the verdict of the jury. But I do in this case! I saw no facts proving Casey Anthony was guilty of murder or of child abuse. I want to know what really happen, but I am so relieved. Hopefully one day we will hear the truth. This is a lesson in not listening to talking heads.

We must remember a shameful reality of our court system today. Trials are not about truth. Trails are about winning. The State prosecuter wants to win. The Defense wants to win. Both care not about what really happen to Kayle, and this is pitiful. Truth does not always win out in courts of law. It should be based on facts.

The judge allowed the State to present evidence that was given only to make the jury angry and dislike her. The State spent millions of dollars against her. Still the government did not meet it's burden, and justifiably given a "not guilty" verdict. The jury did what it was suppose to do. They decided the State did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

What do we know with absolutely?:
  • Casey became pregnant at the age of 19.
  • Cindy and George (her grandparents) took good care of Caylee.
  • Many photos and videos show Caylee was happy. She enjoyed time with her mom.
  • Caylee was taken care of with a clean home, toy filled backyard,
  • Caylee is dead.
  • The decomposed bones of her body was found in a swamp.
  • Casey would not tell anyone where Caylee was while she was missing.
  • Casey had a tatoo, danced, partied and lied.
  • Her family has many relationship problems. It was common to hide truth and lie in her family.
The very best action Casey Anthony could take was to speak the truth, to tell exactly what happened. It would be better to die of the death penalty and tell the truth, than to lie. The only way for Casey be ever be free is to come clean and tell the truth. If she does not satan will imprision her for life.

None of us know what happened, expect Casey Anthony. Whether we will ever know the truth, the facts presented as evidence did not tell us what happen. Aggravated child abuse has not been established by the state. Matter of fact, it is insulting to people who have been horrifically abused to hear the State claim this charge.

I don't think I would personally like Casey Anthony. From what I have seen it would have not be easy to be a friend. It would have torn me up to listen to her lie and toy with people who were seriously trying to find her daughter. Her behavior was bizarre. I usually don't say this but she appeared very selfish. She definitely emotionally detached herself from the events - almost a psychotic episode of detachment from reality.

My hope is that maybe now, Casey can tell the truth and really be set free. May God help her in these days to come to become really the person He created her to be. And the guilty whomever they may be, I trust God to punish. Caylee's death will be vidicated in the end. God will make sure of it - I am certain.

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Critical Heart

I have been very guilty over the years of having a critical heart with myself, others and life in general.

God, Change My Critical Heart!
 Maybe it has something to do with trying so hard to live life "right". It is not so much that I held others to my standards, which I really hoped were not mine but God's. I think, it more had to do with the fact that in order to not 'fall off the apple cart' of life, I needed a sense of stability around me.

How could I live a life that glorified God, correcting all of the errors of my past, if I didn't have like-minded thinking about me? I needed the support, and the example.

Does that make any sense or did I just stir up a bunch of old leftover thoughts and try to make it appealing with a fresh scoop of cool-whipping-excuses?

Does anyone like being avoided, disliked, tolerated?

I don't. I never have, but I haven't always had the benefit of knowing what it is to life a normal life, to have the majority of my thoughts being peaceful, clear and light with joy.

I was complicated... and that is a huge understatement!

So, the junk in me that I was so trying to work through would often bust out in a quest of wanting to see others embrace truth bathed in morally sound responsibility. So many people in my life did not take responsibility for the wrongs of their actions or words. From a teen, I wanted the guilty to be held accountable. But I  have had to find rest in the act of forgiveness - letting go and letting God be the ultimate Judge of hearts. Long ago, I learned I was hurting myself more than the person I wanted to pay for their crimes.

But I really think, while I let the done deeds of my past perpretrators to be forgiven, I became vigilant to be the superhero of justice. To me it was pretty simple, God is right and we need to align our ways to His so that we can be molded into Christlikeness. While this is all truth, and a great personal goal, I many times overstepped my authority and my role of being God's daughter.

I get especially irked by church-people - people who are suppose to know better and to desire to live according to the Bible standards.  I hate when people are frauds, fakes, liars.. when the say one thing to one person but lie with ease when the circumstances or audience has changed. When their words and actions turn with the ease of a color wheel shining upon an aluminun tinsel tree. The shading of the truth does not matter as long as they look good to those they consider "important".

But doing this only hurt me, or at least hurt me the most.

So, yes... I finally see my critical heart and it reeked. I am sure I have seen it here and there before, but now I see how tiring being a busibody and self-righteously detective has been. I really bet being in my company was often like sitting next to putrid stink. No wonder, I found myself often tossed away without a thought like week old trash decomposing in the heat of summer. Yes, it hurt me, but I also hurt others.

As my mind clears in this new phase of wholeness in my life, I pray the Lord to temper me to love others more than myself, and to see the good in people and circumstances more vividly than seeing errors. May I be the fragergence of newly bloomed flowers after the gentle spring rain. And just maybe, I will cause a few more people to linger - to stop and smell His flowers - and to seek to know the cause of my peaceful delight.

What a blessed change of heart that will be!