Fix My Eyes

Have you ever come across a verse in the Bible that makes your eyes pop open, because it is so relevant to you in that instant that it’s as though GOD Himself just spoke it out loud to you? I love it when it happens to me!

“Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my Light.” – Micah 7:8 NIV

BOOM. Take THAT, Satan! So much of the time, we are so overwhelmed by the circumstances we are in that we become totally focused on putting one foot in front of the other. As we are trying desperately to see the next step, and hoping it is solid enough to hold us, we forget to lift our eyes enough to see the hand stretched out to assist us. We act like we’re blind, feeling our way through the flood or fire or rain of our situation, tap tap tapping the path, hoping for a clear way. Why are we so determined that we have to do it on our own – like a 2 year old, “I do it!”; that we have to assert our independence, when the LORD of the Universe is waiting right beside us, ready to help??? Is it such a bad thing to accept help?

Miss Independence. If I were in a pageant, that would be me. I can do it. I grew up trying hard to be accepted by my big brother, and I knew I had to be strong and not a “girly-girl” to be one of the guys. When I went into the workforce, I found a job in a builder’s supply, the heart of ‘man-world’. If I couldn’t prove my independence, my ‘I can do it’ attitude, I wouldn’t survive in that atmosphere….. so that’s what I did. The men learned that if I was told I couldn’t do something (implied was ‘because you’re a girl‘), then I would do everything in my power to do that thing. Whether it was determining the difference between a framing hammer and a finish hammer, or stocking 50# boxes of nails and screws; learning to drive a forklift and unloading (and loading) trucks, I did it. Presented with a challenge, my attitude became “I will do it …. on my own, and I don’t want your help.” Those years, and all of those jobs would have been so much easier, so much more pleasant, with someone at my side helping. After years of the struggle, I met and married a man who was truly a partner to me. He didn’t challenge me; he worked alongside me and we learned from each other.

That’s the relationship we can have with JESUS! He doesn’t dominate the relationship, He doesn’t ‘boss’ us, He is there, beside us, to carry our burdens so that we aren’t staggering under them. We may still stumble and fall, and the enemy will still come at us with his arrows and throw obstacles in our path, but with JESUS at our side, we have the help we need to go on. Keeping our eyes fixed on JESUS, we aren’t focused on the ugliness of the enemy….. and trust me, he is UUUUG-LY. Worry, anxiety, frustrations, hurts and hatefulness, bullying, gossip – these are ways the enemy gets us to gradually look away from JESUS, until we are immersed in them and we’ve completely lost sight of the LORD. That’s his goal! Don’t let him win.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with GOD’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with CHRIST JESUS Himself as the Chief Cornerstone. In HIM the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the LORD. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which GOD lives by His SPIRIT.” – Ephesians 2:19‭-‬22 NIV

I pray today that my eyes will stay fixed on my LORD, and off of the frustrating circumstances. I’ve read the back of the Book, devil, and you LOSE, dude.

Listen to Fix My Eyes by King and Country ☝️

Trust …. In GOD, or Man?

When I finally stopped my busyness this morning, and realized I was pushing GOD behind all these ‘pressing’ matters of daily life, I opened my ears and heard this song by Unspoken on the radio:

You brought me this far
So why would I question you now
You have provided so why would I start to doubt
I’ve never been stranded, abandoned or left here to fight alone
So I’m giving you control

Immediately following was this song, sung by Tenth Avenue North:

As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

How many times do we do just these things that are addressed in these words, feeling stranded, abandoned, and alone; feeling hopeless, in pain and in tears? Every day? Right now? This minute? I confess to all of these feelings and more, sometimes. I have HOPE, though, because I know that my GOD is here and in control. He never left me to deal with all the junk in the world by myself, but instead, He has always been right beside me, even when I was blatantly ignoring Him! The song by Unspoken goes on to say this:

If peace is a river then let it sweep over me
If I’m under fire I know it’s refining me
When I hear you calling out I follow now wherever the road may go
I know you’re leading me home

And Tenth Avenue North ends their song with these words:

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You’re with me and You won’t let go

What a promise! When we stop running from GOD, and we call on Him to save us through our faith in the LORD JESUS CHRIST, He is right there. Remember what Paul said when writing to the church in Philippi?

“Rejoice in the LORD always. I will say it again: REJOICE! Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the Peace of GOD, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS.” – Philippians 4:4‭, ‬6‭-‬7 NIV

What an incredible TRUTH is spoken here! Once we become a child of the Living GOD, Creator, Architect, Great Physician; the real Master of the Universe, we are set free from the worry and angst of this world. We receive His Perfect Love and His Peace; a Peace that is inconceivable and incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t received it. It doesn’t mean that suddenly everything will come up roses; rather, I believe that it means that we will come under heavy attach by the enemy, Satan. He doesn’t want us to find contentment in our circumstances, and he does everything possible to get us to blame God for the bad, the evil in the world, and especially for anything that has happened (is happening) to us.

Again I ask, are you feeling stranded, abandoned, and alone; are you feeling hopeless, in pain, and in tears? It isn’t easy to rejoice in horrendous situations, or when things are falling apart around us, but I promise you, when you lay whatever it is at the Feet of JESUS, He will give you Peace! In recovery ministries, we suggest writing (yes, picking up a pencil or a pen and a sheet of paper, and actually writing as a tangible, visual reminder!) a Gratitude list. Nothing to write down because life is just that bad right now? You say nobody loves me, I’m alone, no job, sick (sick and tired of being sick and tired yet???), and etc….

Here’s a little help. Number one on your list could be: Toilet paper.

Okay? Now, go from there. I had to start with some real basics when I began the journey, and toilet paper made it on my list! I can add that I am alive, reasonably healthy, have transportation, I can drive, and I have my animals. Does that help you get started? By myself, by ourselves, we are not enough. With JESUS, we are. Trusting in man, and trusting in myself only gets me into trouble. Trusting the LORD may not get out of my trouble, but He does carry me through it. I am not alone.

AMEN.

Thank You GOD, I’m Not EVER Alone!

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” – Isaiah 43:2 NIV

I’m so glad we don’t have to do this stinkin’ life journey alone! That statement hasn’t always been true for me. I ran long and hard, trying to get away from GOD. I couldn’t get away from Him, not matter how hard I tried. Once you accept JESUS into your heart, you’ll never be alone again. (“Reckless Love”, sung by Cory Asbury really gets into how much our Creator GOD Loves us!) While I was running and rebelling against everything that is true and right, my GOD never deserted me or turned His back on me. Once His, always and forever His, Hallelujah!

I ran into flood waters and fires and all manner of dangerous situations, and through it all, through all the years I turned my back on Him – He never waivered. He pulled me out of life and death situations; He didn’t let go of me. Stop and think about this: When emergency personnel reach out to rescue a person caught in flood waters, they get wet; they risk everything to save someone who is in trouble. Firefighters run into the flames, and risk being burned or injured themselves for someone they don’t know. Military and law enforcement, firefighters, any emergency personnel – these people are all heroes in my book! If mere men put themselves in danger to rescue me, how much more will my Saviour? He Loves us that much, to save us through His sacrifice. (“I Am Not Alone” sung by Kari Jobe ….

We are promised Hope and Peace and most of all, Love, through our faith in JESUS CHRIST. Paul says it so eloquently in one of his letters to his fellow followers of Christ, many of them brand-new Christians, in Rome:

“Therefore, since we have been Justified through Faith, we have Peace with GOD through our LORD JESUS CHRIST, through Whom we have gained access by Faith into this Grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the Hope of the Glory of GOD. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, HOPE. And Hope does not put us to shame, because GOD’s Love has been poured out into our hearts through the HOLY SPIRIT, Who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:1‭-‬5 NIV

May the Peace of our LORD JESUS CHRIST reside in your heart. Listen to “Because He Lives” sung by Matt Maher – “I’m alive, I’m alive because He Lives …. ” absolutely beautiful!

So, does this picture look like trouble, or what???

Hold My Hand!

Parents all over the world say to their children, “Hold my hand!” We reach out to our children to (try to) keep them out of mischief and trouble, and we’ve all seen or experienced the child who twists and turns and pulls and cries in order to get loose. Think about how protective a human parent is …. how much more must our Creator Love us and want to protect us? Regardless of how irritated and frustrated we become with our children, or how much they pain us, we don’t stop loving them. Neither does our LORD quit loving us when we make poor choices. He is right beside us, holding our hand, through every life event, every sickness, every trial we go through. He holds our hand while we are making life-changing decisions, and He continues to hold it throughout our lives.

I am personally at a crossroad, facing some major life decisions. Would you pray with me that I see clearly the direction the LORD is urging me to go? Hold my other hand, as He holds my right hand? As the Apostle Paul wrote: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the LORD JESUS – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful Grace of GOD.” – Acts of the Apostles 20:24 NLT

“For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your GOD. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.’ ” – Isaiah 41:13 NLT

Photo credt Hellokids.com

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