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unstuck

Yesterday I listened to Sunday’s sermon by Pastor Jody Ray.   I was very touched and knew I wanted to remember the points so I made this visual.    I was surprised to discover that one way of getting unstuck is to choose forgiveness.    I have things to forgive that I don’t even know about…or maybe didn’t want to acknowledge as something I could choose to forgive.

My first thoughts of action when I am hurt or angry is to retreat…just walk away…close the door.   I don’t want to work it out, go through more pain or worse yet, choose to forgive.   That’s hard, and it takes a lot more time and energy than just walking away.   But if it’s something worth keeping, then it’s worth working on.    Dang it.   I’ve been stuck in the middle.   I haven’t shut the door, but I haven’t addressed some issues that are keeping me stuck.   Not making changes means nothing changes.    Dysfunction continues or worsens.

Getting unstuck means moving forward.   It may mean choosing to forgive…others or even yourself.   If you are stuck because of shame/regret of something in your past, we must be faithful and accept an incredible gift from God…..he does not remember.

As far as east is from west—
    that’s how far God has removed our sin from us.     Psalm 103:12

I’ve often heard the phrase “Be like Jesus” and although it’s a hard concept, it is something to visualize as we imagine Jesus in the flesh.   But “Practice being God” which says the same thing sounds even harder and impossible.   God is omnipotent….I can’t do that.

I can get myself in a tangled theological mess if I keep at it.   Getting unstuck may mean choosing to forgive.   If God can forgive AND forget our sins, so can we.   I’m not perfect like God and I never will be.   But that doesn’t mean I cannot strive to be like Him.   God uses imperfect, simple things all the time for His purposes.

Forgiveness is hard and beginning to forgive is hard too.   Let’s just keep it simple with “All things are possible with God”  Matthew 19:26

Dear God, help me choose to forgive.   Help me get out of the way and let you shine through me.   I don’t know how to do it.     Lord, have mercy.       Amen.

 

 

 

The Aftershocks

kingIn the midst of a busy time at work, stuff going on with my kids, and financial challenges of budgeting maintenance for older cars, God is tugging at my heart and soul and I feel both the joys and pressures of listening to God.

He continues to work on me through my last post “Knowing Your Why”.    In the past year, I discovered a new worship song that just tugs at me.  The lyrics include Scripture from Joshua 3:5 “Consecrate Yourselves to me, and you will see amazing things.”   This scripture captures me.    When Pastor Jody told us about amazing things happening in the here and now, I was reminded of this scripture.   Our Lord is amazing.   His works are awesome.   This world is full of beauty and wonder.   How can we best tune in to see and know the awesome works of our God?

“Consecration means, “I will set aside the typical and put my spirit on ready to see where God is working around me so that I can join Him.” To cross the uncrossable we must 1) Fix our gaze on Jesus–sensing His movements and follow; and 2) Set ourselves apart from sin unto Him, being on constant alert spiritually for the hand of the Lord around us”

Sermon by Lloyd Stilley,

http://www.lifeway.com/Article/sermon-crossing-our-jordan-joshua-3

The spirit is willing but the flesh is week.     This takes discipline.   This takes focus.    Do I have time for this?   How do I not have time for this?

All that I am facing and worrying about in my life will be worked out when it’s worked out.   Give it to God and leave it.    But I’m the one that wants to FIX it.   Am I male?   I think even though I’m the youngest of three girls, I took on some typically male instincts along the way.

I digress, but shouldn’t I be DOING something?

“Idle hands are the devil’s workshop” Proverbs 16:27

Scripture clips can be wonderful inspiration…or dreadfully misinterpreted.    Ultimately, “There is a season for everything……a time for keeping silent, and a time for speaking” (Proverb 3).   Which also means a time for listening and a time of waiting.   How do we know which?     Prayer….and waiting.    Instead of wallowing in worry, we must work the serenity prayer.   We must meditate and surrender.   God’s been trying to tell me this over and over and over.   Am I listening?    Am I ready to surrender?    After getting 2 children to adulthood and a 3rd almost there, I might be seeing that I can let worries slowly destroy me, or let trust allow me to rise above all worldly dangers.

I can let worries slowly destroy me, or let trust  in Him allow me to rise above all worldly dangers.    

This is where the remaining lyrics of that worship song guide me.

We need Your revival
Holy Spirit fire
Burning ever brighter
In our souls
Kings and kingdoms falling
Hear your people calling
King of Kings we need a miracle

God can work a miracle in me by letting me learn how to trust in Him.    Praise the Lord!   Let it be so!    Help me get out of my own way.

The King is among us
And His glory surrounds us
And His fire is falling as we sing
The Savior is for us
And His love is victorious
And revival is rising in His name

Elevation Worship,  “The King is Among Us”, Wake up to the Wonder, 2014

Revival is here.  I’m ready to follow You, dear Lord.   Work in me, O Lord.   Lead me.

Know Your Why

Over this past year I have had a spiritual awakening.    Just a hint that if I reach out in faith, I will encounter and hear from God in amazing and awesome ways.   But first, I’m at the stage of recognizing that I’ve been blocked from growing in faith due to fear, neglect, laziness and wallowing in stress.   I have to accept that it’s me that has been doing the blocking….not God.   So I recognize and ask for forgiveness and I’m ready to move forward.

And today was a great day to get more motivated.  Earlier this month we said goodbye to the Senior Pastor where I work.   He had been here 27 years and this church has experienced amazing growth through those years.    It was bittersweet to say goodbye, but also joyful to see a family walk off into retirement with a whole new world to explore.   Today the staff heard from our new Sr. Pastor, a former Associate Pastor who is returning after being away for 5 years.    He has a great testimony of what happened at his church over those 5 years, and it illustrates how God continues to be a living, loving God in the here and now.

We were challenged to “Know Your Why” as prefaced by this video.  What a great vision to help us move forward personally and professionally.   He encouraged us that since we are all unique, that we me must be who we are in this process.   No pretending, no trying to be super hero, no jealousy over who we want to be….just be ourselves in why we do what we do.

He also hit a chord with me talking about moving forward with not just head knowledge but heart knowledge of our mission.    I have truly felt and understood the concept of heart knowledge with the passing of a dear lady, Heather Hagler.    All she asked is that “God be glorified” in her cancer journey.    Her dear husband has taken that mission full force and shared some of his most profound, yet simple spiritual teachings in the last few months.   His one minute meditations, blog entries, and facebook updates have blessed me immensely.   I feel like he has taken my hand and brought me to a closer walk with God.    But at what cost?    Did his wife have to die for me to open my eyes and learn how to be in continual relationship with God?    Please, dear God, no.   Heather is a dearly loved wife and mother and Christian and teacher and friend.   It is painful to think that someone sacrificed their life for ME.  Oh really?   Have you not learned that someone sacrificed their life for you by now?    Heart knowledge.

Pastor Jody told us that when we know our why, we will witness amazing things in our midst, but we won’t know how….because God works in mysterious ways and we need to give Him all the glory.

Your servant is listening, speak Lord to my soul.

 

Return to my baptismal home

st. philipWhen I heard we were going to St. Philip for our weekly chapel, I got really excited.   I had wanted to return to St. Philip for a long time, and never made it a priority.   But this day we were headed there to worship and encourage the leaders of this ever transitional community.   I wondered if I would feel something special when I returned.  I wondered if I would remember the building…the place my parents brought me as a newborn and partnered with the community upon my baptism nearly 50 years ago.    I was not disappointed.

The church looks pretty much the same, and upon entering the Sanctuary, the stained glass window draws you in, just like it did many years ago.    I bounced with excitement, knowing that the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow still shines, and still calls us to come and enter His presence.

Corey Shores, Worship Leader/Student Pastor, and the worship team of St. Philip welcomed the Mt. Bethel staff, and led us in an invitation to worship God and lay down our burdens.   Letting down my wall of worry and responsibility is a well known block for me that tries to keep me from encountering God.   It is a wall that I have allowed, and I still struggle at times to open up my soul.   But just like that stained glass window that shines the light of day and the light of Christ, God can use even me to shine His light.   This message was made clear to me again when Pastor Steve Brumbeloe reminded us of the faithful woman who just wanted to touch the garment of Jesus….He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  Mark 5:34

What amazing freedom, if only we will let our wall down and allow God to shine through us.    I immediately felt called to pray for all people in the St. Philip community who have their walls up.    I pray that they have the courage to come encounter the one Light that shines through Corey and the worship team at St. Philip.   I pray that walls come down and the grace of our Savior will shine upon them.

New HOPE New POPE

Watching this video of the announcement of the new POPE, and you can’t help but be excited and filled with Hope.    I’m so glad Father Roderick is podcasting and helping us understand this historical moment.    His enthusiasm is infectious.    

Many Protestants are asking, “why should we care about a new pope…..we don’t worship him!”    Hopefully, no one worships the Pope, but there is still great joy and hopefulness that He will lead the Church (the Roman Catholic church, but also the universal church to some extent) to be more credible, more compassionate, more peaceful.    

There is much uncertainty, more than I have ever felt, in my world….mostly for my country. I must rely on God more than ever that no matter what happens, God is in control.     More than ever, we need to tend to today and not worry about tomorrow.    

So today, we can all take great hope in a new leader to bring about humility in all of us.       

2 Chronicles 7:14

New International Version (NIV)

14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

 

Lord, in your mercy……………………..

Hungry for God

I have to wonder if I’m really hungry for God. I hope I am. You would think someone who says they are a Christ follower would actually be hungry for God…. ready and willing to listen for God’s voice and direction in life. But maybe I haven’t been. For a long time I’ve been in survival mode just trying to cope to maintain my role as wife, mother of 3, and employee at a large church. Some days it’s all I can do. Listening for God requires you to be clutter free, ready to listen, and ready to act. I haven’t felt prepared for that for a long time. and Yet my spirit is willing. I’ve been lazy. Listening for God is a discipline… an exercise. It takes work and I haven’t found the time to engage and yet if it’s important to me I will find the time….I will make the time. I have similar excuses for my physical health. I haven’t taken the time to do what I need to do. I feel guilty for not spending more time on housework or more time with my kids. I’m full of excuses. Lord I want to be hungry for you. I want to hear your voice in my life. I want to live according to your will. Work with me right where I am to develop the disciplines I need to hear you. Help me to desire You above anything else. May I live as an instrument of your peace every day. Lord, in your mercy……

Gratitude

I really dislike organized holidays. There is so much pressure to get the right gift, go to the best event, or do the right thing. What is ever good enough? And yet holidays are the best time to express thankfulness and gratitude.

Luke 17:18-19 NIV

image

Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

You never know if you might not get another chance. Tell someone thank you for making a difference.

Gratitude

I really dislike organized holidays. There is so much pressure to get the right gift, go to the best event, or do the right thing. What is ever good enough? And yet holidays are the best time to express thankfulness and gratitude.

Luke 17:18-19 NIV

image

Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

You never know if you might not get another chance. Tell someone thank you for making a difference.

VOID

If we don’t watch it, life can pull us down in a tailspin of busyness and responsibilities.   And if we don’t make time for reflection, meditation, and worship, we (I mean, I ) will find myself empty of anything spiritually enriching I can hold on to.      What a waste.   

Today I was able to experience some Advent meditation time at various stations in the style of Catechesis (a Montessori type Christian education program).    Soft music played, lights were strong enough to read, but dimmed.    Many stations had you light your own candle.       At each station, we read various sections of the Christmas story, or the prophecy of Jesus.   

Here are some of my reflections:

  • The wise men had to TRUST as they followed that star.    Do I have that Trust in God?
  • The Christmas story has a theme of humility and poverty.   We try to avoid these things.    How can we embrace where we are?
  • God will bring the LIGHT and bring us out of darkness.
  • When Mary was with Elizabeth her heart “leapt for joy”.    What makes your heart leap with joy?
  • What about me makes people call me Blessed?
  • Bethlehem means House of Bread.    Here, with Jesus, God nourished us.  
  • God has nourished me by giving me a mind and body to feel Him, know Him, love Him and serve Him.
  • NOTHING is impossible with God.   
  • Lord, let me offer all that I am for the mercy of your plan just like you did for Mary. 
  • What is the treasure in your heart?
  • Seek, and ye shall find.
  • Emmanuel…..God with us.     God, dwell in me.   

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