Sunday, May 10, 2015

Invasive Weeds

1 Peter

1Peter 2:11 
Abstain from passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul...  It seems the war-waging  passions of my flesh were easy early in my walk to identify and deal with.  The closer I get to the Lord, the more stealth my sin becomes.  Mainly because the obvious has been dealt with.  Now I can find myself entertaining a heart condition that God would hate, and realize that I've been perfectly comfortable with this condition for a long time!  Of course I repent, but then it acts like those invasive weeds in the garden that send very woody roots out horizontally to spring up in unexpected places.  I am terrified by the fact that I ask the Lord to search my heart, I ask for conviction, but these things still can take their time to surface.  Just like the invasive weeds - you do not know they are there, but the root systems of your garden are being destroyed, infiltrated, weakened.  The nutrients intended for the vegetables are being absorbed instead by the invasive weeds.  Such a good picture of sin.  It weakens, limits, robs resources intended for Kingdom purposes and reallocates them to strengthen the enemy.   

So .... is that all there is?   Am I left with this picture of sin that prevails under the radar despite repentance?  "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Rom 8:37)  I believe our repentance needs to take an ax to the root of the sin.  Sometimes that - finding the root of the sin -  requires  soul searching, introspection, healing.  Fun example:  I am reading a book on "tidying up" the house, that involves massive purging of my stuff.  When I went through my wardrobe, I was to only keep articles of clothing that sparked joy.  But none of it sparked joy (except, of course, my kayaking and backpacking gear...).  I have had a terrible wardrobe my entire life.  I would buy clothing and never wear it.  The book revealed through it's research that people who grow up with other people's hand-me-downs (me) never learn what they like or dislike in their own clothing style.  The never develop their own style as a result of never learning to make clothing choices.  Boy, that got the bells going off.  Made perfect sense.  That is the root of the problem - - luckily someone else did the research, because that was not a topic I was about to devote a lot of introspection to, but it makes the point.  Clothes would not solve the problem, because the problem is not a lack of clothing, it is not knowing what clothing I like. 

So.... where does all this leave me?  I believe the Word.  I cling to every word of Scripture - it provides my oxygen.  We are MORE than conquerors because it says so.  We can not only overcome sin, but we can learn from it, be strengthened by it, help others through it, basically make a bigger dent in the landscape through conquering the sin than it made to begin with.  Sin's impact cannot be downplayed.  Sin, my own seemingly little and innocent sin is like throwing a rock into a still pond - - the waves it creates continue to disrupt the surface outward in all directions until its impact is absorbed by another surface, at which time its impact changes in nature and it takes on new life in its new temporary abode, until it is released again..... and again..... and again......  mindboggling.   So dealing with my sin is incredibly important to me.  I want goodness and godliness to be the reverberations I make in the world.  But if my strength is being sapped by the root system of the weeds - -  I will continue to struggle - fighting the weed instead of advancing in the Kingdom. 

"The Spirit helps us in our weakness." (Rom 8:26) 
                OK - - I am not alone.  I do not need to rely on my own resources to fight this battle.  God has acknowledged that I am weak, and provides support in my weakness.  I do what I can with what He has created me with, then, because I will still fall far short of the goal, He provides what I can never do to actually get me there.  But His help is in my weakness, not instead of using the tools (Eph 6:10)  He has given me.    

"For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death."  (Rom 8:2)  I once had no choice.  I was trapped in a system that was destroying me.  But being in Christ has replaced the desires, the goals, the idols that previously dictated my path by being the recipients of my worship.  I was unable to worship God before Christ - I did not care to worship God before I was in Christ -- now I not only intensely desire God and worship Him, but I am free from the entanglement with the previous idols  to worship the One who is truly worthy of it.  He is my desire.  He is my joy.  I can enjoy the smile of God.

That is the freedom that enables the introspection that can honestly deal with sin - at its root.  There are some roots that grow from woundedness.  The wounds become deeply tangled from years of "making do", as they send out shoots that can infiltrate many areas of our lives.  Sometimes when we pull up weeds, we damage other desired plants near them. Collateral damage. Our woundedness is usually the result of another person's sin.  The outward ripples leaving carnage in their path.  That is the ugliness of sin.  It is given new life yet again by me acting out of that place of woundedness, and withholding blessing, or quite possibly acting sinfully or disobediently with regard to another, instead of being a conduit of the Lord's goodness and kindness and loving on His behalf.  If there is such a thing as an "orphan spirit", this is how it looks  to me - - one who is compelled to do and be for themselves because they know of no other way for their needs to be met. 

But I "did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but ...have received the Spirit of adoption as (a) son(s) by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" When God dealt with a wound in me, He revealed quite clearly that in my own strength I did not, and could not posses the capacity to provide what He was asking me to give. In the natural you cannot give what you do not have.  He was asking me to give out of my poverty in that area, because it was He who would provide the riches I was to give from.  I was to provide the very thing for others that I had yearned for and never received myself.  Sometimes I was willing, sometimes I was not.  I repent because lately I have felt less willing to yield in this area.  Serving the passion of my flesh -  the desire to withhold giving what I still yearn to receive, never actually provides that "thing" for me.  Funny how I can have it to give to another, but by withholding it, I cannot give it to myself.  I remain bereft.  And it is in THERE that we find the  joy.  THAT is the Spirit of Life - - Being adopted as His child guarantees that the unmet needs will be provided by Him, it is at His hand that I receive.  The root of this invasive weed species is trust, and a spirit of contentment.  When I trust Him to provide, and find satisfaction in His provision, I live out of the place of abundance, freedom, generosity with my time and efforts.  When I am doubting Him, instead of being a conduit for Kingdom work, I partner with the enemy and work to suppress the truth of His goodness and faithfulness. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Manifold Wisdom of God

Ephesians 3:10
" that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."

It seems to me that just like there is a physical and a spiritual "church" - there is a physical and a spiritual "member" of that church. There are physical duties and blessings of the physical church, but once we step beyond the barrier of the physical, and explore the heavenly places of the cosmic church, I wonder if we understand our role there. I think looming large among these roles is to glorify God in His plan and its outworking. To be seen in all moments in a position of amazement, trust and wordless wonder at however God chooses to bring us all to that moment when every knee bows and every heart cries "glory" as His reign is revealed. To never loose sight of the fact that we were once dead men walking, but we have been saved to a life of forever living in the presence and acceptance of God. In reality, we live in shadows of this truth without really seeing this treasure for what it is. I know this is true for me because if I really lived in full awareness of my salvation - I would be so pre-occupied and satisfied with Kingdom work that I would not have time to focus on the pain in my hip....or my concern over the direction of our country.... or when I can get out kayaking..... or.......or...or...

If I live to make known the manifold wisdom of God to those in heavenly places - "they" - the rulers and authorities there - must see what I'm doing. "They" have seen and understood those good endeavors that have, by their intervention, become polluted with greed and pride. The rulers of the air enjoy greater and greater success as more people are deceived into following lesser gods. Their work at unravelling the "church" and her "members" has proven so effective that is seems their attack was planned before the church was even built. Their intel is reliable and timely.
So what does it mean to demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God to this realm?
Do they see what I'm thinking? Do they see the doubt that pervades my season in this wilderness? Do they see behind the things I do outwardly because I don't trust inwardly?
When Jesus called the pharisees "white washed tombs" He was being critical of their impeccable adherence to the Law without any inward devotion to Its truth. God is glorified when the world, here and in the heavenly places, sees a believer obey. But I think the heart of this message is that God is also glorified when, in the silent moments of un-observed devotion, our hearts bend to honor God with the moment in whatever way is ours to give. Be it stepping out in faith when our flesh screams NO, or silently stepping up to the plate in prayer for a brother in need when the world would rather criticize, or maybe even trusting through a seemingly fruitless season of circling the mountain - - Bottom line - I must live as one who believes the promises of God are truth. Doubt must be drowned out by scripture of His faithfulness. Fear must be shouted down by scriptures proclaiming His protective love for me. And in moments like these, when I think I've circled the same mountain so many times that surely the Lord has given up on my usefulness in the Kingdom, I will wait in eager expectation - because in His perfect time - the way in is found. But only as I seek.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Grace of Dissatisfaction

Words of a friend brought crystal clarity to a mountain I've been circling for a long time now. Those blogged words brought me back to my own blog, revealing just how distracted I've been from the path to joy, circling instead on the path of fun, healthy, happy pursuits. Nothing wrong with that- - unless you've basked in deeper pleasures and acquired a taste for joy. The past few years have brought many changes. I am a grandmother of five. I've started working out and now boast biceps that are nearly bigger than another anatomical feature in roughly the same vertical plane. Jake and I climbed a mountain in upstate New York- (large for Michigan standards, a joke for any one else's), developed a love of sea kayaking and the camaraderie that grows from exposure to conditions that require you, at times to actually rescue one another - We've started a neighborhood association that is a wonderful, community building pursuit in our declining Detroit suburb that has caused us, and many others, to see our property values drop to a third of what we paid for our homes. I've been elected Precinct Delegate - which brought me close enough to politics to hate it. Jake and I both remain gainfully employed in an area and a time that is challenging for many others. And last October we bought a television set, complete with cable - after not having a television signal in our home for the past 12 years. We quickly became addicted to NCIS. I am happy.

I lack joy.

I rarely engage the Word of God like I did before. God's Words were oxygen to my soul and food for my spirit - and created a strength that enabled me to traverse valleys the lowest I'd ever walked - fully aware of God's presence and provision - with joy. But the beauty of God's grace is that He has not allowed my distracted state of living to fill the void only He can satisfy. He beckons still - He has not abandoned me. Dissatisfaction in the midst of every reason to be fulfilled can only be described in two ways: depression, or a growing awareness that the path has veered off-course. God, being the ultimate joy, the highest pursuit, the ultimate satisfaction - will not allow that place in our souls to be satisfied by a counterfeit. He loves us too much. He demands greater commitment. The world will gladly accept a fake, but Kingdom transactions deal only in honesty.

The road back to joy begins today. Certainly not the first time I've declared this over the past few years. But this time it comes with a commitment with friends that will share the journey, the fellowship and time in the Word together - and provide much-needed accountability. Hopefully I'll blog the Spirit's workings as the springs of living water flow freely again.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Not much time for blogging these days. Enough time to boast in the Lord's provisions, however. This morning I arrived at Karmanos Cancer Institute for my breast biopsy, following a series of mammograms and ultrasounds that apparently had some ominous findings. They proceeded to do another ultrasound then were to mark the areas for biopsy and whatever... we never got that far. The ultrasound revealed the findings, but they were now normal (for a coffee-holic such as myself). So a little more hunting, the radiologist came in and hunted, and determined whatever they were to biopsy was no longer scary looking, so I could get the heck outta there, which I did. So I drove home, having taken a holiday day, giddy with having a freebie day to do with as I wished. A few chores into the day I decided to head out to pick up birdseed. I no sooner closed the door behind me and realized the house keys were on the other side of it, having been disconnected from my key ring for valet parking... So I headed out for birdseed and called our friend Donna, who has a key to our house... who was available to meet me for lunch and hand off the key... I just seemed that everywhere I turned God's provision was there to bless me. We step out of bed and never know where the day will take us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

mistaken identity

I thought this day would bring great grief. Last night, partially sleepless, was spent up staring, imagining, attempting to project how I'd feel once it was finally gone. I was actually afraid to see the moment come, not really knowing how I'd respond. The thought occurred to me that I've spent the past 10 years gnawing my entrapped psyche free from the jaws of this hard task-master - this un-approving god. Trapped somehow, in my belief that the part of me most valuable, was defined by this god. I've spent over 30 years of my life struggling at this altar - struggling to be someone I wasn't. I've offered tears, sweat, hours, years - - life - -years of life - - at the altar of this god. And now it is gone. My dining room is now occupied by a dining table - instead of being dominated by a grand piano. I am no longer a musician. I no longer need to try to be a pianist. I no longer need to continually feel that I am only half as good as I should be. And the waves of grief are not over the loss of music in my life - they are over the loss of life as the cost of music - - the loss of life at the altar of pride which demanded I perfect the turn of a phrase - to agonize over nuances so subtle, most ears would not even notice. Wise ears would not even care. I exchanged much life for that brief moment of sound, which once created, immediately faded away into oblivion, leaving little but exhaustion behind.
But instead of grief, I think I feel relief. This fight has taken many years to end.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

road to grace

The Lord has been really focused on a theme in my growth - at least that's what I HOPE is the explanation. The theme, I believe, has been and continues to be grace. The current means of teaching me about grace is through the emphasis of my being inconvenienced, expensed, delayed, overworked, and forced to put up with seemingly endless variations on a theme of stupidity in traffic (obviously, I am referring to others' stupidity....) etc., ad nauseum. It has seemed like one thing after another, people do the darndest things, you know.... And the more judgmental and critical and downright incensed I get, the more of it I encounter. And in more aggravating variations, situations. Then I get so focused in my mind about how inconsiderate and rude people can be that I begin to see all expressions of this as directed toward me. That was the trigger this morning that brought me back to my senses. The morning commute, my husband bracing himself against my agressive relationship with the accelerator... the diatribe that spews from my mouth when I had to floor it to get out of the way of a person who was about to smash into my rear quarter panel to squeeze into the closing lane beside us. Oh yea, and in my narcissistic state, feeling I was the recipient of all hostility, I initially interpreted the honking horn behind me as the lane crasher telling me to get out of his way, instead of the guy behind me who was about to loose his front quarter panel.... anyway, suffice it to say after the exhaust fumes cleared I sensed the Lord's nudge. "So... You think you're never the jerk, huh? Never make an honest mistake? Never have a lapse of concentration and need someone to give you a break??" And if I was still deceiving myself, I sensed further "How unfair or unjust was it that the Lord should lay down His life for you - for all the times you ARE a jerk?" He who knew no sin, becoming sin for me, not only forgiving my sin, but laying down his life for my self-centered, self-glorifying, prideful selfish self. He did this by choice. And I can't respond with grace when people drive like they're texting seven people at once, when they, for whatever reason seem oblivious to the fact that we are in rather tight community and need to show consideration to one another. When I was lost and living for myself, the Lord showed me extravagent grace by not holding my rude inconsideration against me. He took it upon Himself instead, then paid the price for my sins against Him. He didn't make me suffer the full consequences of my sin. This, however, is not in any way to be interpreted as condoning texting while driving.... :)

It is by this grace and loving forgiveness, that He brought me to cross, where by more of His grace I claimed Him as king. As I grow in understanding and appreciation of this amazing gift, I grow in my desire to live for Him, and die to self for Him. In my own strength this is all a nice fantasy. But in His strength, I have a chance to become Christ-like in my frustrations, in my road-rage-triggered moments. In His strength I have the opportunity to be an agent of His grace, bringing His love and hope into this realm that can seem so overgrown with hatred.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I've been so busy trying to survive the days... weeks... that blogging has been the furthest thing from my mind. Until this morning in church, when the sermon so loudly echoed a conversation Jake and I shared a short time earlier... over coffee... in bed. Life seems really hard these days. Having more medical issues looming, for both of us, and the stress getting time off work (despite very gracious employers - it's our work ethic that causes us the stress), the stress of potential complications - (been there... done that...), fatigue, depression, - the list can go on, but you get the picture, life is feeling hard. Balancing the "negative" we can't help but notice that somehow we've managed to get through the days, navigate the trials, the Lord has shown us favor (Jake and I both received promotions in our jobs in the same week), and that even though it almost always feels as if the bottom is just about to drop out, it hasn't. And I no longer add to the end of that statement "...yet". God's faithfulness builds an expectation of His continued faithfulness.

I am finally fighting my way out of a season of extreme dryness in my quiet time... and a discerning reader will suspect in that a LACK of quiet time... But somehow I feel the Lord has ordained this. I've gained a new perspective. I've watched the Lord, through this season, peel away yet another layer of the legalism I brought with me to salvation - the layer that believed that if people really wanted to spend time with the Lord, they could. If they really wanted to spend time in the Word, they would. If they wanted to call themselves Christian, then they really should. I'm not trying to say that there is no truth in this, - but I'm saying I now understand the difficult place of the young mom chasing toddlers, the single mom balancing work, parenting and school, and those of us working long hours and struggling. Yet at the same time, the Lord is drawing me... with a question. For years I had the luxury of basking for hours daily in the Word - time was cheap. For the past 6 months the Lord has been asking me what He's worth to me now - - now that it is hard - now that it is costly - now that it is sacrificial to seek Him. It is no longer easy, but He is ever so much more precious to me. I've had experiences of His grace that just aren't there when life is less of a struggle. I've literally been carried by Him through a day's work when pain from various "attempts at athleticism" have nearly crippled me. When the night's sleep was lost (due to living in close proximity to people who need a lot less sleep than me) and fatigue was heavy, the Lord lifted me up. All during the time when I wasn't meeting my "quota" of intercessory prayer time, or study of the Word... imagine that. I don't deny the sin of prayerlessness, but I stand on the promise of forgiveness, which causes my heart to swell with praises of my Saviour. I am being kept by grace. Not because I'm doing all the right things, but because of God's mercy, which has embraced the humanity with which He created me, and created a way for me to remain steadfast - even when my mind is wavering and my heart is weary. Hallelujah!