Overwhelmed By You, LORD

Big Daddy Weave sings,

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

We are faced with problems on a daily basis, some as trivial as what to wear or frustration with our hair, others huge and in our faces like dealing with cancer or another life-threatening issue. (I HATE cancer!) Honestly – and I’m preaching to the choir here – the idea of being diagnosed with cancer is overwhelming. Two of my five siblings are currently living with cancer and one is considered cancer-free at last (that’s three out of six…. what are the odds?) I’ve had several procedures to remove pre-cancerous cells. When you hear the word ‘cancer’, the ‘Big C’, in the same sentence as your name, it is overwhelming, and NOT in a good way! How do we deal with such a diagnosis?

Having a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, waking up the loss or paralyzation of limbs; a special needs child with illness, losing your livelihood…. the list goes on and on, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. There are many overwhelming things in our lives, many without cures or solutions, so how do we deal with them? Natalie Grant sings “Help me want the Healer, not the healing….” I want to be overwhelmed by GOD, not life. Is it even possible? Yes, absolutely. Letting go isn’t easy. Holding tight to the problem, we think we can control the outcome. We think that we can eliminate the problem; we rely on doctors to solve the issue. Only the LORD, the GOD Who created everything, can take away our pain.

“The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.” – Psalms 34:17‭-‬19 NLT

GOD doesn’t always provide an earthly cure to whatever is causing our pain. What He gives us is Peace; something that can’t easily be explained in words. I certainly can’t describe it adequately. Look into the eyes of someone who is at peace in spite of their circumstance, and you see someone who has JESUS in their heart; someone who is overwhelmed by GOD, and in the arms of the Healer. You do know that Jesus is called the Great Physician, right? He can take away our fears and our frustrations, if we allow it.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

(Written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, 2001)

My Mentor(s)

“Mentor – An experienced, trusted advisor….”

Throughout most people’s lives, there will be numerous mentors; people we trust, people who mold us and shape us to the best of their abilities. I’ve had wonderful mentors, and I’ve had just the opposite of wonderful, people – mentors? – whose evil and destructiveness I almost didn’t escape with my life.

Our parents are our first mentors, guiding us through our childhood and teenage years. Parents can be be good mentors, showing us how to deal with life in a positive manner, or they can teach us how to live in ugly, disfunctional ways. Growing up, we – my siblings and I – were taught right from wrong, we were taught that actions have consequences, and we were taught discipline. (Yes, I rebelled against those teachings.)

Our teachers can be our mentors. I hope I never forget my first grade teacher, Mrs. Alexander, or my art teachers, Mrs. Homer in Sand Springs, OK, and Mr. Bond at OBU. They loved what they did, and they loved their students, drawing out the best in each of us. Jorge and Cynthia Fick, who taught me much about the elastic arts and life in general.

Some of the people whom I looked to as mentors hurt me; scarred (that’s scarred, not scared…) me, emotionally and physically. Eventually – I’m a slow learner! – I remembered the One Who wants to mentor me / us, and Who will never hurt me / us in any way. When we accept JESUS as our Saviour, we become a new person. At the moment of Salvation, Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, becomes our Mentor and Protector for the rest of our lives.

“This means that anyone who belongs to CHRIST has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new Life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Jesus becomes not only our Mentor, but He becomes the best friend you could possibly imagine, and better. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Happy is the house that shelters a friend,” and “A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere and before him I may think aloud. The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one.” Walter Winchell defines a friend as “one who walks in when others walk out.”

That’s exactly what JESUS does. He is the One that we can be completely honest and sincere with, because He will never disappoint. I can tell Him my deepest secrets, confess my most heinous sins, and He won’t reject me. He doesn’t judge me, He just Loves me. He is the One Who walks in, and stays in, when our human friends and family don’t. He is the One True Mentor, the One we can trust as the most experienced, most Trust-worthy, and Who will never advise us wrong. In 1855, a man by the name of Joseph M. Scriven wrote a song called “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” The first verse goes like this:

  1. What a friend we have in Jesus,
    All our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry
    Everything to God in prayer!
    Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
    Oh, what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry
    Everything to God in prayer!

“Fight the Good Fight for the True Faith. Hold tightly to the Eternal Life to which GOD has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.” – 1 Timothy 6:12 NLT

My prayer for you today is that you have the Ultimate Mentor in your life!

My Happy Place

The ocean calls to me with the rhythm of the tides as they ebb and flow. It’s something inexplicable; a feeling deep in my being. The sound of the surf breaking, the distinct smell of saltwater, the wind blowing in from the water, the incessant sound of seagulls….. it all serves to ground me; it’s my Happy Place. I’ve heard many people express their dislike of the sea, saying that it’s humid, noisy, dirty. Oh, the sea can be those things, but it is so much more. There’s a primal quality with the tides; a siren song as they call to our innermost beings. I’ve read that the sea is a harsh mistress, and I can understand that, but it can be a gentle lover, too, caressing and soothing. When I am at the ocean, and I experience the tide continuing it’s course, inexorably constant, the outgoing tide washes away my stress and worries while the incoming tide brings peace and contentment.

The tide is an apt analogy for how GOD works. When we accept Him, He washes us and caresses us with the gentlest tides. He washes away my cares when I rest in Him, while bringing serenity and peace into my life. The enemy throws storms at us, sending huge tides and monstrous waves at us, trying to wash us away – our LORD is our Anchor in the riptides and the maelstroms of life; without Him, we become like the wrecks at the bottom of the sea. Jesus said,

“I tell you the Truth, those who listen to My Message and believe in GOD who sent Me have Eternal Life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” – John 5:24 NLT

“This Hope is a strong and trustworthy Anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into GOD’s Inner Sanctuary.” – Hebrews 6:19 NLT

Who Do You Trust?

“Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery. ….. Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means safety.” – Proverbs 29:1‭, ‬25 NLT
“Then JESUS said, ‘Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.‘ ” – Matthew 11:28 NLT

I have learned who and what to trust the hard way, in the school of hard knocks called Life. That’s how I’ve always done it: physically and verbally abusive relationships, demeaning bosses, condescending ‘friends’. I’ll probably continue to have lessons on trust for for the rest of my life. I have learned that there is ONE person that you can trust, implicitly and wholeheartedly, and that person is JESUS. He will never leave me, He will never forsake me, and He will never, ever, hurt me. Hear what the psalmist says:

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is Good! His Faithful LOVE endures Forever. The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” – Psalms 118:1‭, ‬6 NLT

What can mere people do to me, he asks. Compared to what my GOD can do, people have no power. They can do harm to my physical body, they can take all of my worldly goods, they can hurt me emotionally, all in this life on earth – but in the overall scheme of things, anything that happens to me here pales in view of eternity with my JESUS. I may moan and cry and complain because that’s what we humans do, and I may ( okay, I do ) pray and even beg for deliverance from the circumstances. Deep inside me, I know that whatever is happening is temporary. Even events that drag on for years, uncomfortable things and memories that last a lifetime – it will all go away and turn to ash when exposed to the GLORY of my Saviour!

I may never trust another man, and I will continue to be cautious with new friendships because of my experiences. It is incredibly freeing to know that that ONE, the CHRIST, has my back and my complete trust. I pray you can experience what real trust through JESUS CHRIST means. As the Apostle Paul says, “May GOD our Father give you Grace and Peace {and TRUST}. We always pray for you, and we give thanks to GOD, the Father of our LORD Jesus Christ.” – Colossians 1:2‭-‬3 NLT

AMEN.

If Your Heart Turns Away

“The LORD your GOD will delight in you if you obey His Voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the LORD your GOD with all your heart and soul……. Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your GOD and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the LORD your GOD will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the LORD your GOD, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” – Deuteronomy 30:10‭, ‬15‭-‬20 NLT

Even though the LORD gave these words to Moses and the rest of the Old Testament for His chosen people, the Israelites, He intended for successive generations of both Israel and the rest of the world to heed them. He created all people, and He wants us all to know Him, regardless of race or nationality or gender. He expects nothing less than total devotion to Him, and that looks putting Him first in our lives….. over family, over our jobs, over OU / OSU football ( or whatever sports team sucks you in…. ) This means putting Him first financially. Do you spend at least as much on Him as you do eating out, shopping, buying tickets to sports events, pampering yourself? Do you resent the time spent in church? I’ve known so many people who complained about going to spend time in God’s house for a few hours a week, but had no problem spending 3 or 4 times more hours in a bar. “….. if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed.”

What turns your heart?

Michelangelo’s Moses

Oh, Give Me Back My JOY Again

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of GOD’s Armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of Truth and the body armor of GOD’s Righteousness. For shoes, put on the Peace that comes from the GOOD NEWS so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of Faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on Salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD of GOD. Pray in the SPIRIT at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” – Ephesians 6:12‭-‬18 NLT

“Oh, give me back my JOY again; You have broken me – now let me rejoice. Create in me a clean heart, O GOD. Renew a loyal spirit within me.” – Psalms 51:8‭, ‬10 NLT

I have to share this devotional from the NIV Ragamuffin Bible:

“A profound mystery: GOD becomes a SLAVE. This implies very specifically that God wants to be known through servanthood. Such is GOD’s own self-disclosure.
Thus, when Jesus describes His return in Glory at the end of the world, He says, “It will be good for those servants whose Master finds them watching when He comes. Truly I tell you, He will dress Himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them” (Luke 12:37).

Jesus remains LORD by being a servant.

The beloved disciple presents a mind-bending image of God, blowing away all previous conceptions of who the Messiah is and what discipleship is all about.
What a scandalous and unprecedented reversal of the world’s values! To prefer to be the servant rather than the lord of the household is the path of downward mobility in an upwardly mobile culture.
To taunt the idols of prestige, honor and recognition, to refuse to take oneself seriously or to take seriously others who take themselves seriously, to dance to the tune of a different drummer and to freely embrace the servant lifestyle — these are the attitudes that bear the stamp of authentic discipleship.”

“And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your FATHER already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of GOD above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” – Luke 12:29‭-‬31 NLT

Can I get an Amen? These are POWERFUL words!

Royal Military College of Canada memorial window Sir Lancelot wearing the whole Armour of God

Fearful? Stressed Out? Traumatized?

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord : He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” – Psalms 91:1‭-‬16 NLT