Sunday, December 29, 2013

Look Up!

So… It's the end of another year and it's time to do a bit of thinking about what happened in 2013 and what needs to be accomplished in 2014.  A friend of mine wrote this and I think it sums up what I hope to do more of this next year.  Enjoy!

No, I haven't tried everything.  But I have spent many decades trying to acquire things, power, wealth, status, security, belonging, and still… "vanities of vanities."  It is as one finally comes to the foot of the cross, with empty hands, a broken heart and contrite spirit and looks up that the answer is clear.  Jesus.  Have you seen Him lately?  Not the sentimentalized Jesus that gives you warm feelings like comfort food, not the Jesus Who is there as a self-help motivator in becoming a better you in your personal quest for self-actualization, not the Jesus to petition for personal gain (name it and claim it) or personal growth.  But the Jesus Who looks down at you from the cross, sees deep into the core of your being and says, "My child… You are My focus.  I am paying the price… It is finished…"

And it is done.  No more empty searches.  No more counterfeit gods or idols.  For I have seen His eyes, hear His voice.  And I know He is enough.

Jesus, the gospel.  All external to ourselves, something we cannot do ourselves (Eph. 2:8-9).  Is He sufficient?  Absolutely!  And for all time!  But only if we stop augmenting the gospel with other things, even with our best intentions and our best actions, to have a "value added" product.  

Only Jesus - His sufficiency.  Nothing else - only Jesus.  Jesus.

The gospel has power (Romans 1:16).  His Spirit, Who can indwell us, has power (Acts 1:8).  We want control.  We try to box in the fullness of the Word - Jesus - and His Spirit into manageable and predictable adjuncts to our personal quest - done in our power, in our timing, and in our way, and hopefully within our own comfort zone.

But freedom is available.  The problem is that I am my own jailor holding the keys to my own cell (my life of searching but never finding.)  And I fear of letting go…

And yet He looks at me with longing, loving, satisfying, and knowing eyes and says:

"It is finished.  I've paid the price of all you owe.  Come, My beloved, unto Me.  Let Me give you wings to soar as eagles.  Let Me enlarge you.  You carry so many weights and burdens and hurts. Time to downsize!  Release your grasp on all things - even your very life - and reach out with empty hands to Me.  Let Me embrace you, renew your strength, give you My vision and My hearing for spiritual things and a new heart - whole and unbroken - part of My own heart.  With My heart of passion and compassion beating inside you, filled with the power of My Spirit and My Word, and your senses functioning supernaturally, you shall walk in My paths with confidence and clarity.  Your hands will be extensions of My hands, your voice will affirm and speak with My anointing.  And you shall know the intimacy with Me for which I created you.

Beloved, stand, emptied, at the foot of My cross.  Let our eyes meet.  Look up, My child.  Look up."

Like I said, I hope to spend more time in quiet communication with my heaven Father.  I hope to 'look up' and listen.  And be renewed.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Too Many Tasks To Get Done

So… I know that Christmas is supposed to be the merriest time of year.  Right?  And we all know that it's the busiest.  Right?  But when the 'busy' outweighs the 'merry,' getting ready for Christmas loses some of its cheer and even the most jolliest amongst us can become a bit cranky.  Am I talking to anyone out there??

Early this morning, I just happened to read this entry in the book Dialogues With God by Francis J. Roberts.  I plan to read it the next few days to get my head on straight each morning.  It will help me so I decided to share it.  This first part of this writing is a prayer to God, the second is His answer.  Enjoy!

"My Father, I am not capable of doing all those things that are demanded of me in the course of a day.  For every task completed, numerous other needful duties are left undone.  This is not a complaint that life is over burdensome but rather a cry to You for understanding and for wisdom to improve the situation:  how to reach the end of the day with a feeling of some degree of satisfaction in a job well done.  It is not restful to sleep on loose ends - to be forever uncomfortably aware of the multitudinous tasks still waiting.

For as time passes, so much of what I have failed to accomplish can no longer be done at all.  Surely there must be enough time and enough strength provided to do the vitally essential things.  Dear Father, I not only fail to accomplish the task but lose my sensitivity to Your guidance, and in doing this, I soon have also lost the joy I would have had if I had pleased You."

"O My child, do not bring to Me the unfinished tasks.  There will always be work to do.  This also can be a snare of the enemy; for he would deceive you into feeling that all work is worthy in itself - that simply to be occupied is good.  This is not true.  To sit still, yes, even to have recreation, is sometimes just as important and ofttimes more so.  

Give Me a heart that has learned how to become quiet and to rest.  Anybody can work.  Few people know how to be quiet.  Being quiet is not being lazy.  Most lazy people are never truly quiet.  

You must be able to collect yourself - to take time and absorb the Spirit of God.  For to be freshly filled with the Spirit will bring the guidance and direction and wisdom and the will to do His bidding.  The purpose of spending time with God is more than simply enjoying His presence:  it is to fit you for the labors next at hand.

So come to Me, as I have so often invited you to do - heart open, hands uplifted and empty.  Don't bring Me your work.  Bring Me yourself.  It is you that I love, not your enterprises.  The more you draw near to Me in singleness of heart, the clearer will be your guidance on life's pathway and the less danger there will be of your substituting human activities for Spirit-directed ministries.

Keep your heart tender, lest your work become destructive."

I did a quick search to find out more about Francis J Roberts.  She passed away in 2009, but her writings live on.  I plan to read everything she has written…. just as soon as Christmas is over….

Saturday, December 7, 2013


So… We got home from our sunny, blissful Caribbean cruise a week ago and I'm still recuperating, especially since Iowa is in a freezer right now.  Did anything odd happen on our cruise?  Of course!  'Odd' follows me...

We sailed on the Celebrity Reflection, a spanking new city-sized ship with a modern hip feel.  It's the flagship for the Celebrity fleet and the staff and services were top-notch. The entertainment was crazy good and unique to this ship; standing ovations were given which is very unusual for lethargic Rolaids-munching over-fooded audiences.  And speaking of food, it had flavor galore and eye-candy appeal; I had Lobster Melange for Thanksgiving dinner.  It, too, was stuffed.

This ship had a Molecular Bar which mixed up outrageous libations with foam and liquid nitrogen.  The bartender was a real showman who flipped bottles in the air and 'spilled' smoking stuff onto the bar. I had to sample the "Coming Up Roses" concoction with muddled rose petals and limes.  Delicious!

One morning, I saw a rainbow which was for my eyes only.  It was directly out our balcony window and lasted just a couple of seconds.  John was in the shower and missed it.  If you've read my blog entitled "My Favorite Cruise Story No. 1," you know my affinity for rainbows and what a treat they are for me.

I Zumba-ed, of course.  John and I kicked up our heels on the dance floor.  In fact, I wore a pedometer and tracked 67,600 steps in 7 days.  Many many steps are my friends on a cruse ship and help counter-attack all the extra calories.

We ported in St. Martaan and jumped into a rickety van for a private tour of the island.  It's always interesting to see and hear what the locals think we should see and hear.  Stopped at Maho Beach which is famous for being right next to an airport.  Supposedly, people can touch the wheels of airplanes as they fly so closely overhead on landing.  I did not do this.  I watched from a distance; I need my fingers.

We tasted coconut milk straight out of a coconut.  This ain't Iowa!

Our guide dropped us off at Orient Beach which is where the locals like to tan sans lines.  It's a nude beach and we saw several parading about getting their jollies from me trying to avert my gaze.  Old nudes… everywhere….

Yes!  We heard an accordion and followed its sound to this little man playing for pennies.  He couldn't play very well, or hear very well… I thought about trying to play his accordion but thought he might not understand…  so we listened and gave him lots of pennies!  He's my kind of guy!

Even the towel creatures were top-notch on this ship!  I was impressed with this guy sitting on my side of the bed.  I would guess that our room steward won the towel-folding contest!

But the oddest thing happened during the night right in our stateroom.  John and I always pack our pillows as cruise boat pillows are normally foam.  We have very luxurious goose down pillows that squish into nothing and easily fit in the suitcase.  Well… I don't know what John did to his, but it exploded one night.  He said he got up that night to go to the bathroom and was horrified to see his face and hair covered in downy feathers.  I woke up to a fairyland of feathers floating in the air.  I'm not kidding, it looked like a snowstorm.  They were everywhere and stuck everywhere.  Oh... how we howled… It was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.  I think I aspirated some!  As we opened our door, they flew out into the hallway!  We sent some flying out our balcony door! As we opened drawers, they flew in.  Days later, we still saw feathers on the carpet in the hallway a hundred doors away from us.  We picked them off of each other the rest of the week, monkey-style.

I'm sure our room stewart was not laughing.  It had to have taken him hours to clean it up.  Poor guy.  He was headed for home after this particular cruise and did he have a story to tell!  We decided to tip him extra.

I couldn't help but be reminded of how the Holy Spirit fills believers in order to explode out of us onto others.  Just as feathers fill a pillow, believers are filled with the Holy Spirit of God.  As I walk through my daily life, I am to be Jesus to those around me and, in simple terms, it's the Holy Spirit that gives me the ability to do this.  The bible calls this 'bearing fruit.'  I should spill this fruit out to everyone I meet.  It doesn't have to be a big deal, though sometimes it is.  I should be encouraging others, lifting burdens, caring, offering hope, peace and love.  It's not my natural tendency but it needs to be.

There should be some residue of Holy Spirit, just like the feathers that showed up all over after the explosion.  Have I made a difference in that person's life?  Have I encouraged her? Cared?  Given of myself?  I believe that giving out this fruit of the Holy Spirit has a ripple effect and passes on and on.  It lasts and has effect far into the future.

As I unpacked my suitcase, yup… you know what I'm going to say…. I found feathers mixed in my underwear and makeup bag and feathers ended up in my dryer lint catcher.  I didn't just leave them on the ship, they followed me home and are still spilling out.

The feathers made me smile and reminded me that the Holy Spirit is always with me and longs to spill out fruit wherever I go… into any situation… anywhere… and onto anyone and everyone...