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.

Did I Say That???

Recently I wrote a post titled Fear Defeated. Did I say fear was defeated in my life? If I did, I apologize! As I write this, I’m listening to (and dancing in my chair!) to Matt Maher sing “What A Friend We Have In JESUS” …. oh, what glorious Truth! Even on days lke today when apathy seems to have set up like concrete in my veins, I cling to the Truth of the song. I have a Friend in JESUS; more than a friend, a brother and constant companion. It’s surprising, in a way, that even someone secure in their salvation can fall into depression. After all, knowing that we are held in GOD’S Hands should take care of any off or down feelings, right? I wish it did! (And if wishes were horses, I’d be a wealthy woman 😉 ) ….

I doubt there’s a human alive or dead who hasn’t wished for something they don’t have. Even David, the great king of the Israelites, a man who commanded great wealth and armies, wished for something he didn’t have. Despite his many wives and concubines, David desired a woman who was married to someone else. To solve his ‘problem’, he had the woman’s husband murdered, freeing her to marry him. He paid a heavy price for her, too. Their firstborn died, and eventually David lost his throne to his son, Absalom. Here is David’s accounting of how he felt when he went against the LORD:

“When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. For day and night Your Hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat.
Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You took away the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You at a time that You may be found. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.
Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the LORD will have Faithful Love surrounding him. Be glad in the LORD 0and rejoice, you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart.” – Psalms 32:3‭-‬7‭, ‬10‭-‬11 HCSB

Even the great king David experienced fear and depression, but he knew with Whom his salvation lay, and where he needed to place his trust. Fear has to be defeated daily. It might seem trivial to someone else, but I assure you that our fears are real and have to be recognized. Until we can do that, it’s going to be difficult to give it to GOD or to defeat it. How do you defeat something you don’t recognize? How about these Scriptures for guidance against fear?

“Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your GOD Who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6 HCSB

“In GOD, whose Word I praise, in the LORD, whose Word I praise, in GOD I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” – Psalms 56:10‭-‬11 HCSB

“Do not fear, for I Am with you; do not be afraid, for I Am your GOD. I Will strengthen you; I Will help you; I Will hold on to you with My Righteous Right Hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 HCSB

“For GOD loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only SON, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 HCSB

And this one is one of my favorites:

“Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up; though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.” – Micah 7:8 HCSB

GET BEHIND ME, SATAN, FOR JESUS IS ON MY SIDE!


AMEN!

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

It is well with my soul. Have you ever listened, really listened, to the words of that hymn? If you can, read the story behind the words Horatio Spafford penned in 1873. In tragedy, he found that “Peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). These are the original lyrics, as noted on Wikipedia:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to knowa
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul! b

[a “know” (at the end of the third line) was changed to “say”.
b “A song in the night, oh my soul” (last line)
was changed to “Even so, it is well with my soul”.]

How many of us can say the same as Spafford? Can we lean on our LORD the way Spafford leaned on Him, and go on from tragedy – in peace! – and do the work GOD calls us to? I find it to be a hard task to let go of hurt and resentment, and yes, jealousy, because I compare my life and my hardships to others….. Oh, but that is just looking at the outsides of their lives! Do we really know what those we are looking at with their ‘better’ lives have gone through? Do we know their hardships and their tragedies? No! Even knowing someone well and having a closeup view of their lives doesn’t allow us to understand and to know what they have gone through. As humans, I think we tend to look at others through somewhat rosy glasses, and judge them for having what we think we want/deserve. Perhaps that’s why JESUS said in Matthew 7 not to judge others. For myself, on my own, I find it impossible to have peace and contentment. It is only when I can release the hurt and negativity to my LORD, and lean entirely on Him that I find peace, and then it is truly well with my soul.

Like everything else in life, attaining true Peace – through JESUS CHRIST – is a choice. Like Mary, listen to the words of the angel Gabriel:

“For nothing will be impossible with God.”

And let my answer be as Mary’s: “I am the LORD’s slave. May it be done to me according to your word.” – Luke 1:37‭-‬38 HCSB

Amen.

From the Library of Congress.

Loss

I lost my Tigger today. He joined my Rascal and Sugar, and all the other companions I’ve had the privilege to take care of in my life.

He was the first of the feral cat colony I worked with in Oklahoma City who would come to me to be petted. When I moved to another part of the state, he was the first I brought inside to take with me. I got to bring his younger – and much bigger – brother with me as well. They adapted quickly to living indoors and being spoiled, but Tigger was never a really robust, healthy cat. I’m thankful that his brother Patrick is both. I’m glad I got to have given him what I hope was a good life. It makes me sad that he’s gone, but I’m happy he’s no longer sick.

R.I.P. Tigger 2010-2018

Tigger and Patrick

Prayer …. Genuine or Fake?

There was an elderly, hard of hearing gentleman in the church I grew up in, who, when called on to pray, would pray long and loudly. You could almost feel the collective groan that would rise from the youth group. I know he had the utmost respect for the LORD and a genuine love for the people of the church, but as teenagers, we looked at his prayers as an agonizing ordeal. We had no appreciation for the life he had lived, and we didn’t really want to hear the needs of the church itemized. Now, I honestly don’t remember if he prayed for individual people or for the state of the church, the nation, and the world. We mostly tuned him out, preoccupied as we were with who we were sitting by or where the cute boys were sitting, or how long it would be until we could get something to eat. Were his prayers genuine, or was he like the Pharisees praying on the street corners, looking to impress the passersby? I believe he was genuine in his faith and his prayers, but to me, the real question today is how his prayers impacted others. Did he bring people to a closer relationship with GOD, or push them away with his long-windedness?

How do we pray today? When asked to pray, are your prayers designed to impress people? Are they really gossip disguised as prayers? Are they intended for GOD’s ears, or for other people? I like short and sweet, and I try hard to remember what JESUS said about prayer: “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your FATHER knows what you need before you ask Him.” – Matthew 6:7‭-‬8 NIV

Jesus went on to teach His disciples (and us) how to pray. He taught them: “This, then, is how you should pray:  ‘Our FATHER in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly FATHER will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your FATHER will not forgive your sins.” – Matthew 6:9‭-‬10‭, ‬12‭-‬15 NIV (I think that last verse deserves some intense attention from us!)

Pray genuinely, with praise and supplication. Our GOD already knows what we want and, more importantly, He knows what we need. If you are in such a black hole, in such pain that you can’t think, just say ‘JESUS’. The Holy Spirit is here with us to carry even our groans and our cries of distress to the FATHER, and JESUS is there as our Advocate and SAVIOUR. Amen.

Listen to 7eventh Time Down sing “Just Say Jesus”

One day

Have you heard Jeremy Camp sing “There Will Be A Day”? It begins like this:

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end…..”

There are days when my head and body ache, and my eyes are gritty like they are full of sand. I’m tired. My mind wants to shut down and sleep, but instead of rest, the instant my head hits the pillow my brain is caught up in a maelstrom and swirls around in an avalanche of random thoughts. I want to get up and go and do things, but the wind sucks away all of my strength. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. My desire is to fight, but life weighs so heavily on me.

“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

Am I alone in feeling this way?

All I have to do is open a social media site, or turn on the TV or radio, or pick up a paper to see the misery and anguish that permeates society. We are surrounded by complaining, grasping, whiny people, who often drown out the muffled cries of the ones dealing with real suffering and tragedy. No, I don’t count myself as someone who has real cause to cry. Most of my issues, physical and emotional, can be attributed to decisions I’ve made without waiting for GOD’s answer.

The song goes on to say But I hold on to this HOPE and the Promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering…”

I pray that when things, when life, looks and feels hopeless, you will raise your eyes and look to JESUS. He walks beside us, and He will carry us when we need it. He will take our burdens if we’ll just let go of them – picture this: your hand is gripping the handle of your baggage, then loosen your fingers and move your hand away from it…. Flex your fingers. It feels so good, not having to lug that heavy load!

I long for the day when JESUS returns and the enemy is conquered, because then we will have a new heaven and a new earth; a place where GOD Himself willwipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelations 21:4 ESV

Conclusion? Life sucks sometimes. I can blame others, I can claim victim status and vie for sympathy, or I can lay myself and my burdens at the foot of the cross of JESUS, and carry on with His help. What will it be for you? What a friend we have in JESUS! Amen!