Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Please be guided accordingly

Have you noticed when you try to stop doing something for your own good, often you find yourself going in the opposite direction to an extreme? Or is it just me?

Now I have been trying to stop mothering everyone, giving unsolicited advice. Why, maybe not as much as my daughters would like, but I am trying. But then I find myself giving all grace and no truth. Allowing others to do as they please and never telling them it is foolish, or even how it is hurting you. But this is not good either.

John 1:14 tells us when Jesus came, He was full of grace and truth. He allows us to go our own way, make our own choices, but not without telling us the truth.

In property management, the position I currently find myself in, I have come across this sentence we use in letters to clients: "Please be guided accordingly." We use this phrase at the close of the letter when we have told them the dire consequences they will face if they continue their current foolishness, such as refusing to pay their bills, park their cars in restricted areas or allowing their children to mark the buildings with chalk. We do this, knowing they may ignore the warnings, indeed it is their choice to do so, but consequences are thoughtfully and carefully explained.

I love this phrase because it reminds me of an important truth.

In the rest of life, there are those we are close to and love and out of that love, we need to point out the dire consequences of continuing in foolishness or hurtful behavior. But then let it lie and allow them to make the choices themselves. We release them with the information and pray they will be guided by it.

Maybe that is clear to you, but to me, this is new. I still need to point out foolishness, hurtful choices, especially when I am the one being hurt. I need to give the truth, and then the grace to allow others to make their decisions, yet still love them.

Truth and grace. Together.

Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed. -- Psalm 85:10

Sunday, May 23, 2010

the still waters

It's been a while.

To catch up on my life, as expected, we were kicked out of Claridge House and I was offered a position as an assistant to our company's president.  So it ended up, I got a promotion of sorts and I feel great peace where I have ended up.  The office is busy and the people are sweet; the location is nice and I am able to go out every day at lunchtime for a walk, or to shop, or to study at the nearby library.  God has indeed been caring for me in ways I could not have expected or planned.  Al has had the same job for several weeks now and he comes home before I am even out of bed.  To be able to cuddle with him each morning has brought much peace.  God has provided this schedule for the weeks I needed the car each day to get to my new job.  God provided my new job in River Vale where I am no longer able to take the bus, and also provided a job for Al to allow me to take his car every day.  How wonderful is that??

So this afternoon I had time to walk to the brook nearby.  There is something about that spot, as I stand on the narrow walk bridge over the brook, where I pause and ask God to speak to me.

Today the waters were clear and clean, running briskly and sparking in the sunshine.  Up ahead, there was a spot where the waters were still, almost like glass, and you can see the reflection of the trees.  And I felt like He was telling me to be still and rest in this moment of peace in my life.  He has given me such healing!  Of course, there is more to go, but I am so grateful for how He has led me to still waters.  Right now it is enough to pursue righteousness and allow my life to be His reflection, to follow the flow, not to plan ahead at this point but to wait until His plan is revealed.

How beautiful You are, My Beloved!  How You have shown Your love for me!  I can I resist You? I will not resist but lay back and rest in Your arms, always and forever.

Psalm 23 
The LORD is my shepherd;

I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a time to weep

Ecclesiastes 3

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Today my little white dog KC was put to sleep.  Sweet to the end, he had laid there bleeding for two days and the vet said the time had come.  I had to take my evening walk alone.  No greeting bark was heard on my arrival back.

Today a letter was sent that sealed the end of my time at Claridge House.  I lasted a year, but now in 9 more days, I will need to leave and not come back.  The residents and vendors I speak to are sad and I want to weep.  But nothing can be done.

And that is it, really.  Nothing can be done.  Gio struggled to accept and understand.  He was mad at us.  When it was time for us go the vet with KC, and to leave him there, Gio kept saying "not yet, not yet!"

Not yet.  It is never time enough.  We want to hold onto the warmth, like the September days when we want summer to last forever. But the autumn winds blow and reminds us that we cannot stop the seasons.  We cannot stop the aging.  We cannot stop time and death and change.

But the snow piles melt and spring returns.  The days lengthen and the sun burns bright reminding us of the circle of seasons, giving us hope until we are united with our Beloved.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

It is NOT up to us

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery...

and they thought...

It is against the law.  What she did, it was immoral, illegal too in our town.  We cannot just let her get away with it!  What will the others think?  They will think it is alright for them too!  It is a bad witness.

And you, Jesus, have been befriending these people, these sinners.  Tax collectors, harlots! You do not come from the God we serve!  The God of Moses who gave us these laws that we have been trying so hard to get Israel to follow.  God will take away our land again if we ignore the law.  We will not do it, nor allow and encourage these others to break the law too.  It is up to us and we will do whatever we have to to hold onto our nation.

"In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"

Let them all see, this crowd who loves you, what you are really about!   Let them see your disrespect for the law.  Show yourself to be an impostor!  Come on, come on!  What do you say?

They made her stand before the group...

and she thought...

Jesus, why do you let them treat me this way?  It is true what they say, but they did not take my lover too, they only took me!  They have no interest in my life, my sin.  It is you they are coming for.  My lover was a man, an important man at that.  It is I, the disposable woman who they took because I am nothing to them, like an old worn out dog, not even that valuable.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.

Jesus, they say you are different, that you value women and children too.  See the women who follow you.  They say you are kind to them and to all: the rich and the poor, the learned and the simple, the religious and those far from God.  What are you doing drawing on the ground when they will soon stone me?  Help me! Protect me.  Save me, Jesus.  Forgive me! I am a weak and sinful woman!

"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

and Jesus thought...

I love them all, these confused souls who think they do My Father's will and yet cannot see His love and power in Me.   Fill them, Holy Spirit, so they can see their need for the mercy that I so long to give them.  And let this woman feel the pain of her sin and the joy of the forgiveness I will show her.  Father, Our children, they fight and hate each other!  How it makes me weep and how I long for the peace of heaven. There they will all sit together at Our table, laughing and embracing one another.

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin. -- John 8:1-11

 "It is up to us," that is the lie.  We can not beat down the sin of others with stones.  Only the Holy Spirit can draw souls, convict and heal.  

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Keep your hands to yourself

Our sweet baby, Giovanni, is no longer a baby really. He is 3 1/2 now. He has developed a habit of doing things intentionally, that he knows is wrong, and then say "sorry!" Although we are quick to forgive him, I have been considering how to correct him. In His mercy, God stepped in, and in the process, helped me understand too.

The other day, Gio hit our dog, KC, and then before he could say "sorry" to KC, he nipped at Gio. Gio, who was standing next to me at the time, looked at me with big sad eyes, holding his hand. And I said to Gio, "You should not hit KC, because he will bite you."

That nailed it for me. Obeying God is not about anything else but our good and protection.

It it not about getting into heaven. Jesus has paid the entire price for our sins. God does forgive us every time.

It is not about getting God to love us. God loves us because He is love, not because we are lovable.

It is not about our witness. The world is not impressed by our perfection. It is drawn to God by our love.

It is not about God's ability to use us. God delights in using broken vessels. Check scripture. All who are used by God are imperfect. This shows God's power.

God gives direction for our good, for our protection, for life and peace. And we get to choose. By our choice we demonstrate our trust of Him.

The world will bite us, so keep your hands to yourself.

Jeremiah 17

This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pray where your heart is

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:26-28

How do we know how to pray in God's will?  We know we are supposed to pray in God's will, but how can we do that if we don't know what He plans to do?

I have come to the place where I am comfortable to pray where my heart is, with confidence and with openness.

God wants us to come to Him honestly and share our heart.  So we can come to Him and pray for healing of physical or emotional brokenness, restoration of relationships, protection of ourselves and our friends, provision for our families.  Those are all good and worthy things to pray for.  These are all things God can do and desires to do for us.

But what if it is not in God's will to heal, to restore, to protect and provide in this circumstance?  This is where I can get stuck.  God, in His mercy, does not reveal our future to us.  Although I long to see my future, experience has shown me that I can not handle it.

Actually, that is not what matters.  What matters to God in prayer is where I am right now, that is what He wants me to pray for.  Even if what I desire is not God's will, as I perservere in prayer, God will change my desires and aline them with His.  As I prayed for things, I can see this progression, this journey. Day by day, as God and I walk together by reading His Word and my praying honestly to Him, He shows me His perfect will.  I need to be open to it.

And it needs to be a process.  Sometimes God wants to give us our heart's desire.  But sometimes, we need a while to accept the difficult parts of life: the wayward child, the abusive relationship, the inevitable death of family members.  He does not rush us through this, but works in prayer to comfort and encourge us as we grieve these losses.

So for now, just pray where your heart is and trust Him to take you step by step, where you need to go.

After all, that is what Jesus did...

"Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him. Luke 22:42-43

Friday, January 01, 2010

He holds me by the hand

Psalm 37

3 Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

My boss (and oh how I love and respect her!) talks about being politically correct in the workplace.  Do the right thing, take the right action, be nice to the right people, avoid being seen with the wrong people  in order to be assured that you will keep your position and succeed. She is a pro at being politically correct and I watch her and take notes, to be quite honest.

But then, there is this place where we part company, her and I.  My Boss holds me to a higher standard...then again maybe that is the wrong way to put it.  A higher standard sounds like a harder standard, but it is not like that at all.

He wants me to trust Him and do good.  Even when it seems foolish, when it is politically incorrect.  Mostly, although I may not want to do these things, when I am obedient to Him, I find it is actually easier.  I experience the truth that "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt 11:30)  When I do the "difficult thing" such as remain calm and be kind and pleasant to people who are upset when they come to see me, I find blessing in the truth that Love does overcome.

I used to want to be rich and famous.  Well, sometime the baser part of me still wants those things.  Then I used to want to save and fix my family, my friends, well, the entire world around me!  But praise be to God!  He has healed me and revealed that only He can save and change hearts.  He only wants me to trust Him and do good.  He wants me to wait patiently for Him to act.  Only then can He work in my heart and in the hearts of others.  But it is Him, not me.

No amount of plotting, scheming, lecturing, striving can secure riches and fame for me.  And now I realize that if this is not of Him, I don't really want it anyway.  I want to be in His will, whatever that is.

Whatever riches He gives me, He wants me to share and not keep!

He wants me to Make Him Famous!  Give Him the Glory!

And this means I get to Be Still and Rest in Him.

7 Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act.
Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
12 The wicked plot against the godly; they snarl at them in defiance.
13 But the Lord just laughs, for He sees their day of judgment coming.

16 It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and rich.
17 For the strength of the wicked will be shattered, but the Lord takes care of the godly.

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.