Tag Archives: faith

He Speaks To Us In Songs of Deliverance

The Psalms have been songs of deliverance for me more than once. And so I go there, whenever I am struggling with anything—because it is there HE SPEAKS to me.

songs of deliverance

In those sweet songs I find comfort, I find healing, I find wisdom, instruction, and redemption. In those one hundred and fifty passages—I find HOPE!

They are the Bible’s most beloved poetical anthems of praise and glory to God!

It was C. S. Lewis who wrote,

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . .

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

― C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms 

So for as long as it takes, let us journey through this Book of Songs, looking for the reasons why we can TRUST God.

I believe we shall find such beauty growing there, that by the time we are finished, we shall have discovered our own Garden of Eden in it’s pages.

you are my hiding place

And, songs.

That, too!

There will be songs of deliverance, that shall bring with them, all manner of good things. We shall find messages that will bolster our strength and courage, as well as the substance and evidence, for our faith and trust in a God who passionately loves us.

As C S. Lewis encouraged us to do, we shall “complete our enjoyment” by consuming all the beauty we shall surely uncover there.

Come, let’s mosey together down ancient paths laid out for us thousands of years ago, gathering wildflowers from the darker vales of sadness and lament, as well as in the highland meadows with their prospects of hopefulness.

As we refresh ourselves here and there, by pools of still waters, we shall find His messages of love for us. Then, like Lewis we shall also be able to say,

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”   

songs of deliverance

A Closer Walk: Is This Abundant?

I sat in my ashes each day thinking, “Is this what God calls abundant?” I really wanted to experience the abundant life Jesus spoke of, but how in the world was I supposed to look at the shambles my life had become, and see it as abundance?

fire and brimstone pulpitI was raised believing in a God who was much too holy and righteous for the likes of me.

Whenever the “fire of heaven” would rain down from our church’s pulpit, I would shrink under my daddy’s arm, trying to hide.

I believed God was scary, angry, and wanted to send me to hell!

The church people I grew up with spoke of heaven, and going there someday “in the sweet by-n-by,” (whatever that was) but then they would do, or say, the most horrible things to, or about, one another!

All this got filed into my own internal file drawers.

By the time I reached eighteen, and was free to begin to make some decisions of my own, I was not sure of much, but one thing I was certain about. I did not want anything to do with God, church, or church people.

the prodigal roadSo I chose “the world” and a prodigal-road, which of course led to even greater hurts, disappointments, and failures.

At age 28, after being on that broken road for ten years I came to the conclusion that nothing I had found in “the world” was worth having, including Christianity.

I believed life held nothing but pain and I was weary of it.

I wanted relief and peace, so I came to the erroneous conclusion that the only logical thing to do was to end my life, thereby ending my pain.

Image result for voice from heaven

Enter for the first time this Abba-God speaking and asking a very simple question.

“When will you trust me?”

That’s all I heard but it really spooked me.

Image result for god speaking to man

Who was this Voice speaking?

And why was He talking to me?

I’ll admit I was shaken, but I was also intensely curious. Could I have been all wrong about God being absent and uncaring?

I had to know the answer to that question and so I began my quest to try to get to know who God really was.

I wanted to know if I could really trust Him?

Related image

I joined a church. I got baptized. (Admittedly one of the most wonderful days of my life!) I read through my Bible cover to cover, many times. I studied. I joined. I volunteered. I served. I did everything I could think of, all questing after this holy grail of “becoming an Overcomer-Christian.”

I wanted to be a Christian who not only knew God, but also one who totally trusted Him, and therefore God would be pleased.

Image result for people pleaser quotes

See a pattern here?

I didn’t.

So I wholeheartedly pursued God outwardly, yet still struggled to navigate all my inner-storms of unanswered questions and self-doubts that refused to be silent.

I kept thinking, “How can THIS be it!”

It all “looked right”  from the outside but it all “felt wrong” on the inside.

Image result for fast forward symbolNow fast forward to the days after leaving the hospital.

Once again, life is in ruins after having tried it ALL.

Image result for woman sitting in rubble after earthquake

I reasoned that, “I had held up my end.” with my wholehearted devotion to The Quest—but God had not held up His.

I mean, twenty years and here I was sitting in the ashes, again?

How was I supposed to reconcile this promised “abundant life” with my personal world in ruins?

Where was I supposed to begin to start over again?

journal

INNER TURBULENCE

There is nothing happening in you that escapes My notice.

How often you come to Me with prayers and petitions about what is happening around you, when the greater issue is what is going on—on the inside.

The anxious thoughts and jealous fears.

The resentments and bitterness you feel over your losses.

The anger because of what others have done.

Image result for storms

I AM much more concerned with the storms on the inside of your heart and mind rather than your outside issues of finances, possessions, relationships, and health.

Oh Sweetheart, it’s your heart and those inner storms you are fighting! First we must deal with those, then we can address all the wreckage from the outer squalls.

(You know I AM right.)

Come, take the time today for an inventory of the inner turbulence. We can deal with this. There is nothing we can’t handle together—and I AM here—right here.

Image result for jehovah shammahI AM Jehovah-Shammah for those sins weighing you down.

I AM Jehovah-Shammah with forgiveness.

I AM Jehovah-Shammah with tender compassion.

I AM Jehovah-Shammah with wisdom and correction.

I AM present My beloved, My own.

Image result for god love you

How I love you. How I listen for your slightest sigh!

Come to Me. I have your peace. I have your joy. Only I can give you these things.

(You know this.)

I see the weight on your soul.

Let me lift, (ah yes,) lift those weary cares off your heart.

Come.

There is abundant grace here, in My arms.

a closer walk

 

“Lord, you know how I long for my health once more. You hear my every sigh.”

Psalm 38:9

 

A Closer Walk: Sometimes You Need A Real Friend

We have all encountered Job’s “friends.” You know, those would-be comforters with their Biblical counsel that cuts like a knife.

But sometimes you need a real friend, like it or not.

faithful friend

I’m not talking about the, “Hey, how the heck are you?” kind of friend you see once in a blue moon. No, I’m talking about the kind of friend who will always be there, no matter what.

That kind of friend is very rare.

They walk in—when the world walks out.

Best Friends

So, there I was.

Life had ground to a complete halt.

Because of my daily blinding headaches I can’t work, I can’t drive, I can’t read or write, or even watch TV.

Now, it’s just God and me, and all the time in the world to chat.

Problem was, I didn’t want to talk. Not in those early days!

So, God did the speaking and I did the listening. What else could I do? I could barely walk across a room! Besides, have you ever tried to walk out on Omnipresence?

just a closer walk(Not likely!)

So, God begins to speak.

He starts by reminding me of others who had gone through a pretty rough time.

Guys in the Bible like Joseph, and Job, and Jeremiah.

I love the book of Jeremiah!

Jeremiah knew just what it was like to have his life fall apart, and yet he still wrote in the book of Lamentations,

Yet there is one ray of hope: his compassion never ends… Great is his faithfulness: his lovingkindness begins afresh each day. (3: 21-23)God was about to teach me this truth.

He is a faithful friend even when you don’t want Him to be.

Each morning He would show up dispelling my darkness with His Light and whispering His encouragement into my stubborn ears.

It may sound crazy, but in a way?

I resented His coming.

life is broken

Wasn’t it too late?

What earthly good would talking do now? My life was a mess with everything broken. (I mean, really broken!) I didn’t want to do damage assessment. I wanted things back the way they were!

God on the other hand, wanted me front and center—up close and real personal.

I didn’t know it yet, but He was there to bring the answer to a long forgotten prayer.

We were definitely face-to-face…

heart to heart with God

But heart-to-heart?

Not really.

So He asked me a question…

journal

ONE WAY

How do you think My children see Me?

Take some time. Really think about it.

What does the scripture say?

Jesus said to His friend Philip, “…if you’ve seen Me you’ve seen the Father.” You can always “see Me” by looking at My Son.

Now, look at the verse for today.

When I see you how do I see you?

When you see Me how do you see Me?

face to face with God

So often, My child, you try to see Me looking through yourself.

You wonder why your views of Me are clouded or distorted?

But, how could they be otherwise?

To see Me you must see Jesus. And to see you? The way I do? You must also see Jesus.

It is by your faith in My written word that you have been made right in My sight!

Where does your peace with Me (and with yourself) come from?

Yes, yes, being found right in My sight.

And, whenever I look at you, how do I see you?

Through My Son’s death and resurrection!

How often My children sing of “blood-bought and blood-washed,” but how few really SEE it!

walking with JesusI no longer see the darkness of sin when I look at you.

And you will never see Me for who I AM based on what you see in yourself.

There is only One Way, One Door, One Life. His name is: JESUS.

Now, do you see?

a closer walk“So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have a real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Romans 5:1

 

 

A Closer Walk: Storms That Shipwreck Our Beliefs

I didn’t believe anything could shipwreck my beliefs but I had never been in a storm like this one.

If I were to say that my doctors didn’t take my response to their diagnosis well—that would be putting it mildly.

These guys were men of science.

arrogant doctors

They thought my faith was absurd!

I was told in no uncertain terms that if I did not follow their diagnosis their would be consequences!

Prayer—What is that?

My beliefs only made them angry.

Their threats became nastier.

They informed me I couldn’t leave the hospital until they ran more tests.

More tests? The bills were already in the stratosphere and now there would be no job and no money?

How had my beliefs brought me here?

shipwreck

My life was spiraling out of control!

So I called for the Patient Advocate because even in the hospital we have legal rights.

I asked him for a clear explanation of what my legal rights were.

He told me my options and I checked myself out of the hospital A.M.A.  which means “against medical advice.”

I went home still experiencing all of my negative symptoms.

That’s when God “showed up” in an interesting twist of events.

The hospital wouldn’t let me check out without giving them the name of a personal doctor.

So I gave them the first name I could find but they faxed all my tests to the “wrong” doctor. Except he really was the RIGHT doctor!

He told me what was wrong with me, prescribed the correct medication, and most of my symptoms disappeared in a few days.

angry doctorAnd my angry doctors?

They made good on all their threats.

I lost my freedom because they revoked my driver’s license.

Losing my driver’s license meant losing my job.

The hospital costs for all their tests put me into medical bankruptcy which meant my five-star credit rating was gone!

My family whispered in corners looking at me like, “What did you DO to make God so angry?”

What about my remaining symptoms?

I still could not walk from room to room without leaning on the walls for support. I had blinding headaches that stayed with me all day. It was tough to focus my eyes to write; forget about reading or TV.

I sat on my couch each day in stunned, hurting, lonely, silence. I was numb with pain, both physical, and emotional. Forget about feeling anything “spiritual.” I didn’t want to read my bible. I didn’t want to pray. I did not call for the church or pastors to see me. I didn’t want to talk with anyone.

depressed womanI had nothing to say to God or anyone else.

I was angry and afraid.

My life as I knew it had been destroyed. I felt as if I had been shipwrecked.

How was I supposed to fix this mess if I couldn’t work?

I thought each day about ending my life. My anger, doubts and uncertainty made everything look darker and darker as I stared into that black hole called hopelessness.

Questions kept circling in my mind like, “What had I done? Where had I messed up? Why was all this terrible stuff happening?”

Wasn’t obedience to God supposed to equal blessings?

I was caught up in one of the worst spiritual storms of my life.

Just when it seemed that the darkness would swallow me whole—God showed upagain.

a closer walk

But now the Lord who created you, O Israel, says: Don’t be afraid, for I have ransomed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.   When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up—the flames will not consume you… you are precious to me and honored, and I love you.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Isaiah 43:1, 2, 5  TLB

A Closer Walk: A Storm That Terrifies

Have you ever been in a severe storm?

Man, I have. It was driving back from the airport in Wichita to Hutchinson, Kansas to stay with friends.

It was my first time in a “tornado watch.”

We left the airport under sunny skies but soon after a storm began to brew. It looked like we were driving into the wrath of God with pitch black skies in the middle of the afternoon. Lightning was hitting the ground all around us and the peals of thunder were so loud I thought the sky was splitting in two!

A storm unleashing its fury can be terrifying.

But what about spiritual storms?

They can be just as terrifying.

motoring through lifeWe can be motoring through life with our destination firmly fixed in our minds and “Wham!” we can find ourselves unexpectedly hurled into a cyclone of  emotional devastation wondering, “Where is God?”

That’s how I remember January 1999. My life turning upside down and inside out with all of my nice neat expectations shattered and in broken pieces all about me—caught in my own Hurricane Andrew.

Remember Andrew? Not only did Andrew erase everything in his path as he swept through central Florida, the tornadoes that spun off the main storm created all kinds of chaos and collateral damage.

That’s what I want to talk about.

Storms that catch us off guard. Storms that flatten and confuse us. Storms that test everything we believe and then leave us asking questions like, “Will I survive this? How will I survive this? Do I even want to survive this? What will I believe afterward even if I do make it through this?

What will survival look like?

I want to take you on my journey through a personal hurricane.

I want you to meet a God who walks in when the rest of the world walks out and marvel at a Savior who treads on the top of our storms.

I hope you will also hear a Holy Voice whisper, with a Voice so quiet that sometimes He must shut out everything else in our lives, so that only His Still Small Voice can be heard.

Okay, so here is where my story begins.

It’s January in the Central Valley of California. The weather is cold, foggy and miserable, which is normal for our winters.

I love my busy life. I have a job I love with people who are depending on me every day. I am tired most of the time but who isn’t in these stress-filled days we live in? When I’m feeling exhausted (which is most of the time) I chug another diet cola, get a new caffeine fix, and motor-on.

Flu is everywhere. It’s the season for flu. So I don’t think it strange when I wake up one morning feeling like I’ve come down with a “bug.” It’s a pain, but a minor inconvenience, not a devastating catastrophe. I curl up on my couch under my favorite quilt and resolve to endure a week of misery. But you know how flu is. As the day wears on I begin to feel worse until it feels like everything in my stomach is about to hurl, so I run for a bathroom. That’s the last thing I remember until I wake up on my bathroom floor lying in a pool of my own blood.

I’m laying there trying to figure out how bad I’m hurt. What happened and why does my face feel like I’ve been kicked by a mule?

I holler for help so a family member can call 911. Minutes later paramedics are putting me in the back of an ambulance and I am on my way to an emergency room at a local hospital.

a storm that terrifiesAfter three days of running tests my doctors come to my room to share their results. Starched white coats with grim faces and official looking clipboards begin to paint me a picture black and bleak.

They tell me of the health issues they believe I am facing.

Their findings were all based on erroneous information but that will only come into the light—later.

My doctors get it all wrong but in the meanwhile…

Me? I’m doing my best to listen and not freak out!

I try to listen hard to what these men are saying, but their “conclusions” don’t fit with the facts that I’m remembering and the evidence on my face.

In addition I am missing the most important thing I need. I don’t have the “inner peace” I depend upon when making life-altering decisions.

These doctors are telling me I need to begin a drug therapy program immediately, but when I ask them about side effects, they freely admit these drugs will cause great harm if they are the “wrong” stuff.

So I tell my doctors, “I have to pray about this.”

They just stare back at me in stunned silence. These men are used to being obeyed without question. They do not take it well when I tell them, “No, I will pray first—then we will talk about what to do.”

They argue with me but I stand my ground. They threaten dire consequences but I stand my ground. They storm out in anger but I am still holding on to my ground!

I want to talk to God FIRST.

In the middle of my storm I reach for the Gideon Bible next to the bed, trying my best not to panic.

Praying  a desperate prayer I say, “God I am in DEEP trouble. I don’t know what to believe. You HAVE to show me what to do—and I mean RIGHT NOW!”

I don’t usually talk to God like that, but when you’re caught in a TERRIFYING storm flowery prayers are the last thing on your mind!

After I prayed I opened the Bible to Isaiah 51 and this is what I read,

a closer walk“I, even I, am He who comforts you… so what right have you to fear mere mortal men, who wither like the grass and disappear? And yet you have no fear of God, your Maker? ~ You have forgotten Him, the One who spread the stars throughout the skies and made the earth. Will you be in constant dread of men’s oppression, and fear their anger all day long? Soon, soon you slaves shall be released; dungeon, starvation, and death ARE NOT YOUR FATE.” [Isaiah 51:12-14 TLB]

I closed the Bible and said, “Okay God, that’s good enough for me.”

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

A Bruised Reed and A Broken Heart

broken-heart2

I have become good friends with my fellow captives from the bible.

Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Jonah, and of course, Job.

I can relate to their frustration, their questions, and their bruised hearts. I, too, have days where I bruise my heart against the stone walls of my captivity; the squandering of my life. It is hard not to question a God of Justice when I look at my chains.

My heart has learned to “hold it’s peace” (most days) as I review my life in this vineyard barren of fruit and dreams, but there are those days (you know the ones) when my heart wails, and my mind rails.

When the injustice of it all overwhelms my hold on a quiet patience.

My mind begins to search for an answer to all this waste… and my heart?

It bruises itself against the stones and iron bars longing for freedom and fulfillment. The dam of passions breaks, and out pours my distress, bewilderment, and yes, my anger with men and God. The only thing that keeps my faith alive on days like this is my belief in a God who cannot lie.

I look to a Heavenly Abba and take refuge in:

A bruised reed He will not break…

My tiny flame of faith finds fresh fuel in:

And smoking flax He will not quench…

And my bruised heart finds its necessary hope in the words:

He will bring forth justice for truth.

There is rest for the restless here; hope for the heartaches, and finally… peace.

The DREAM~MAKER’S Promise:

A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.  Isaiah 42:3 NKJV

A Caterpillar’s Prayer:

Abba (Papa) you see all my internal struggles. All my outward expressions of frustration; the battles I fight within and without. Please help me today to internalize the peace of Your promise while externalizing the expressions of Your love and light to the ones in my life who need me. Help me… not to look at the walls that surround me, but rather to look up, and focus on Your love and faithful promises, that will see me through another day of frustration in this vineyard.