Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Her latest "game" of sorts is kind of like "I Spy." Wherever we go, driving in the car, her little mouth never ceases. "Did you see that bird, Mommy?" "Oh look, they have a flag with butterflies on it." "Look, look, an icycle!" I try very hard to "see" what her eyes have found, while also keeping my car on the road.
Last week, my Ellen missed the bus - again. It had been a horrendous morning. I took Derek to work with kids in tow. I thought it would be nice to grab the girls some breakfast at the golden arches so we wouldn't be rushed to eat cereal when we got home. I had also realized I ran out of coffee at home and convinced myself if I just bought one cup from Mickey D's, I'd be good to go for the rest of the day.
I handed Ellen the keys and my coffee while I carried Zoe (wrapped in a blanket) to the door of our home. I still don't know how it happened, but as Ellen fumbled with the keys in the lock, my single cup of coffee crashed to the porch floor and exploded. I've never been one to scold children for spilled drinks because, hey, gravity happens. But, nonetheless, Ellen burst into tears. So by the time we got the tears dried and soul mended, her teeth brushed and her hair patted down (don't ask,) the big yellow school bus with the obnoxious flashing light on top went zooming past our house. Ugh. Back out into the cold we go!
On our way home from dropping Ellen off at school, Zoe started her game again. It's especially exciting for her right now with all of the Christmas decorations.
"Oh, Mommy, did you see that? They have a Santa Claus on their roof!"
"Mommy, Mommy, did you see Frosty the snowman?"
And then the one that struck me funny, "Uh-oh, Mommy, those two houses still have their lights on. That's a waste of e-lec-tricity. They should turn their lights off, huh, Mommy?"
I found myself explaining to this little mind how some people forget to turn off their lights, but then found myself preaching to myself as the words flowed out of my mouth. "Zoe, some people don't worry about what electricity costs. They are just happy to continue to let their lights shine. They know it brings happiness to others."
Ouch. Conviction. When I am convicted, my heart physically feels like it's being squeezed, perhaps by the hand of God. It's almost as if my heart stops beating for a moment with one last thump in my chest and my soul speaks to my head, "Did you hear what you just said?"
Yeah, I heard it.
For many of us, this season hasn't been too merry so far. I know there has never been a time in my life when I know so many around me are experiencing such drastic loss. For many, there will be no presents under a tree. For many, there will be no tree. For many, there will be no home in which to put a tree, much less presents.
But there is still Light.
I found out in recent months, having always know that Ellen's name means "light," that Ellen's name truly means "God's light" or "God's radiance." The word "El" means God. I also knew when I named Zoe, that her name means "life." But in recent years have discovered the great mystery of what "zoe life" - life immersed in God - truly means. I also think it particularly funny how my favorite song when I was three was "You Light Up My Life." Coincidence? I think not.
We have light and life to offer others. We have been graced with the presence (presents?) of God in our hearts, His wisdom in our minds, His spirit in our souls. But how often do we find ourselves completely bogged down by the physical reality of this world right now and before sharing our light and life to others stop and think, "How much is this going to cost me?"
I have always considered myself a giver - a generous spirit who will give you the shirt off my back if you need one. You need me to clean your house? What time should I be there? You need to stay in my home because you have no heat? Come on in. You need me to drive you forty-five minutes away because you don't have a car, and oh by the way, you can't help me out with gas money either? Get in, buckle your seatbelt. But lately, folks, it's been a different story.
Oh, I still give, and give, and give. But I've been guilty in a different way. After spending the day cleaning someone else's home, the little "self elf" says, "Well, there's a day wasted you could have been cleaning your OWN house." After sharing my washer and dryer with a neighbor who doesn't have one, the "self elf" speaks again, "Water bill, electric bill, oh yeah, and think of YOUR family's laundry you could have gotten done today."
Guilty. Convicted. Sitting here rebuking myself for how much I preach to those around me to take care of "the least of these" when my own heart has't been in it much either.
But again, there's Light.
Through a simple observation of a child, God's light shone on my heart and reminded me of the one Truth. God never stopped to ask Himself, "How much will this cost ME," when He gave us His Son. Jesus never stopped to ask Himself, "How much will this cost ME," when He gave us His Life.
It's more than the "Reason for the Season," friends. The message is meant for us to wrap our lives around it, internalize it, live it. Simply put, we need to SHINE.
We need to shine harder and shine longer, maybe more than we ever have before. We need to dig deep into our souls and find His love which will serve as our Energizer batteries to keep us going selflessly, because guess what? Someone else's life might depend on your light today.
I hope someone calls who needs help today. Maybe God will put someone on my heart. He's really Good at that.
It's only 10 in the morning, but I think I'm going to go turn my lights on. PP&L has nothing on me.
Oh, and by the way, "Merry Christmas."
Thursday, December 04, 2008
The Identity Crisis I'm speaking of is scattered throughout the body of Christ. For every four people you hug in church, at least one of them still doesn't know where they belong. They still haven't accepted the fullness of God's love. They still haven't grasped their purpose or the significance thereof, and what's worse, some of us other "body parts" have made them feel like they don't belong. Some of them - some of us - are still wounded, still hurting, or maybe simply still searching for where we belong in the Body of Christ.
If you need a reminder:
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 proclaims:
12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, "Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body," it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; or again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
Now I must ask, who are you in the body of Christ? Do you know? Are you the head? Do you contribute to the workings of the body? Are you the face - always smiling, always entertaining to make people feel welcome? Are you the mouth - singing in the choir, proclaiming and exhorting? Are you the hands - the doers, the people with the "helps?" There are many parts in the Body of Christ - the legs, the feet, the backbone, the eyes, the ears, maybe even the heart. What body part are you right now?
It's interesting to consider this question. I find myself being different parts at different times. I still believe my biggest role in my church is to be an encourager or cheerleader - that can be many different body parts, if you think about it. But I also have a role in the world, and that's interesting to contemplate as well.
You may be thinking, "Where are you going with this, Danielle?" Where am I going with this? Lately God has really been impressing this idea upon me. If we don't know who we are in the Body of Christ, then how can we ever take root and grow?
Furthermore, how can we grow others? When the scripture says, "22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." I have to assert that most members of the Body of Christ have it completely backwards. We honor our leaders, bestowing all kinds of praise and graciousnesson them, and yet we forget to care for "the little guys," or the "least of these." I know way too many people who have left the church because they said to themselves, "Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body." Just as my hands must take care of my feet because they can't really rub lotion on themselves, the church must do a better job at taking care of all body parts.
As I said before, there are those of us who are still wounded, there are those of us who are still hurting and still searching. We need to know who we are. We need to know our purpose. We need to heal the wounds of our past to step into this purpose - to help root and ground those who are still searching.
I am reminded of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. Jesus spoke:
3 "Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. 8 And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear."
When a person knows not who they are, where they belong, what their purpose is and what they should do, they tend to be a seed or a spore that floats on the breeze and never takes root. This seed can be eaten by birds, scorched by the sun and overcome by thorns. I know, because I am one whose life story can attest to all three. But I can also give Glory to God for allowing me to finally find good soil and begin to yield a crop.
Who are you in the Body of Christ? If you don't know, truly give it some thought. Are you the arms always ready to hug? Are you the smile which always brightens someone's day? Are you a foot which serves as a foundation for others? What has God brought you through? How does this reveal your life's purpose?
Perhaps you can see those around you who are floundering to take root. Perhaps you are the mouth which has a word for them which will help them to finally stand in one place. Perhaps you are the hands to help secure them in the earth, the heart of love which can nurture them, or again, the eyes who can see, and help them to see who they are in the Body of Christ.
We must know who we are. We must know our purpose. We must know our strengths and be able to at least acknowledge our weaknesses if we are ever to truly advance the Kingdom of God. We must relinquish the fear which keeps us from facing our pasts and healing them. We must shrug off whatever it is which keeps us from carrying out our purpose.
God has been waiting for you.
I guarantee, someone else is waiting for you, too.
Monday, October 27, 2008
It is a season of Servanthood, except this time I'm not frying donuts or stocking shelves or getting paid, for that matter. Everyone around me - my closest circle of family and friends - is in need. I am their only common denominator, the one who is being called to help over and over again. I hate to admit it, I'm tired. But I know through my selfless works, they may see Christ, so I continue on. You and I both know they need to see Christ.
I wonder how Christ did it. He walked from town to town, constantly followed by 12 men, who for the most part, didn't always "get it." In every town, more people flocked to Him, most of them needing something, some of them sitting back in judgment of Him. He had to feel drained. He had to want to disappear, didn't He?
My husband and I packed up five years of our life beginning in July to move to a new home. That was five years multiplied by four children's Christmas, birthday and Easter presents and all the junk in between. It was five years of "our" stuff. It was five years of Theatre Company costumes, sets, props, makeup and more. We sifted through it, packing up what we needed and dispersing what we didn't, and we did it all by ourselves. We had no one to help us. Through it all, we learned an important lesson - we're not as young and energetic as we used to be.
When we finally were "under one roof," we had to make a bedroom out of an unfinished attic space. What a creative adventure lay before us, but in the meantime, we had beds in the living room, boxes in the dining room and it seemed like it would be forever until we could get our house settled.
Then, on September 4th, tragedy struck. My grandparents' home of 30 years, including where my mother had lived for the past two years, burned to the ground. Of course we praised the Lord for the lives He spared because of a miracle of a matter of minutes. It was also a miracle my daughter Zoe was not there and I know angels were all around us that day. But my mother and grandparents lost everything. Four days later my grandmother found out she has degenerative disk disease. She now uses a lift chair and walks with a walker. Last week it was confirmed my grandfather who has Alzheimer's has an aorta which is almost completely blocked. A massive heart attack is imminent, but the doctors say it could be two months or two years, they don't know. As we sift through the ashes, literally and figuratively, more jobs are added to my plate. My first job is to go through 33+ pages of household contents for the insurance adjuster and place a value on each item or look it up. Can you say, "Ugh"? As my mother and grandparents struggle with the decision of where to live next - to rebuild or not to rebuild, I know in my heart I am already called to be one of their caretakers in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Ever since I moved in, my neighbor next door has been in need. She is an adult victim of child-abuse, and now a victim of domestic abuse. Her three children are wards of the court. Every day I either get a knock on my door or a ring on my phone. Every day, she needs something, anything. It doesn't matter what it is, I'm the only one who is there for her.
Two weeks ago, one of my best friends stopped by my house. She and her child needed a place to stay. They had no lights, no heat and no hot water in their house. Hotel Danielle was officially opened within a matter of minutes. I provided beds for both and hot meals and baths ever since. In a couple days, she will move into a new home. Then, Danielle's Moving Service (and I think Redecorating Service) will officially be open for business. Oh, and may I add, the next door neighbor is moving out, too. Guess who she called to help her???
Yes, I am being poured out. My husband is right here with me. We don't exactly know what God is doing through all of this, but we know He's doing something.
I can't help but stop and chuckle. A few years ago, had I been pulled in this many directions, I would have been ghost. I wouldn't answer my door or phone. I mean, sure, I've always been a servant, but not to this many people all at the same time.
I stop again and think of Our God. He has the concerns of the world being prayed in His ears. The people who need Him far outnumber the little group I'm serving. And I praise the Lord because when we need something He is never "ghost". He is ever-present. He always listens. He never leaves and never forsakes. I stand in awe, and am so glad to have learned, of His amazing Love for me.
Today's email scripture from "My Utmost For His Highest" states:
As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. John 20:21
"A missionary is one sent by Jesus Christ as He was sent by God. The great dominant note is not the needs of men, but the command of Jesus. The source of our inspiration in work for God is behind, not before. The tendency today is to put the inspiration ahead, to sweep everything in front of us and bring it all out to our conception of success. In the New Testament the inspiration is put behind us, the Lord Jesus. The ideal is to be true to Him, to carry out His enterprises.
Personal attachment to the Lord Jesus and His point of view is the one thing that must not be overlooked. In missionary enterprise the great danger is that God's call is effaced by the needs of the people until human sympathy absolutely overwhelms the meaning of being sent by Jesus. The needs are so enormous, the conditions so perplexing, that every power of mind falters and fails. We forget that the one great reason underneath all missionary enterprise is not first the elevation of the people, nor the education of the people, nor their needs; but first and foremost the command of Jesus Christ - 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations.'
When looking back on the lives of men and women of God the tendency is to say - What wonderfully astute wisdom they had! How perfectly they understood all God wanted! The astute mind behind is the Mind of God, not human wisdom at all. We give credit to human wisdom when we should give credit to the Divine guidance of God through childlike people who were foolish enough to trust God's wisdom and the supernatural equipment of God."
I am not wise or astute. I am quite the opposite. Although I have not disappeared from the needs of my fellow man, I have done my share of complaining. But I can see His hand now. I can see His work. Throughout my exhaustion, I continue to serve and bite my tongue, giving Him more thanks for equipping me more than I turn to whining.
I thank the Lord for the chance to be used. I thank the Lord because He chose someone like me. I thank the Lord, for although I've let Him down time and time again, He continues to mold me and shape me, purify and refine me. He's given me a ministry to reach those who now stand where I once stood. It isn't comfy cozy - there's a lot of sacrifice, exhaustion and no paybacks. There's a lot of going deep inside myself and revealing stuff I would never choose to share. There's a pouring out - there's no other way to explain it. I give and give and give of myself - as did our Lord, and I know you've been there, too.
But isn't this what we are called to be? Missionaries to the world? We are to be Christ-like. We are to have compassion. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I may never go to Africa or Honduras or anywhere overseas for that matter, in the name of missions. I went to the Navajo reservation once in New Mexico and Arizona. But my mission field is right here, right now, next door, in my home, for my family, for my friends. We can never stop being Christ to those in need.
Friday, October 10, 2008
From my favorite Christian Artist of all time, Rich Mullins.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I have tried. I have prayed to God that He would bring His message forth for you. But each time, the message became many fragmented messages, and I knew not where to begin. That is, until today. I received this scripture in my inbox and I knew. This is what sums up all of my experiences in the past months. This scripture penetrated my heart and even now, at this moment, I feel like someone is stepping on my heart with a heavy combat boot until I get this message to you.
I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians.
From "My Utmost for His Highest":
"Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of his indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and He spent himself to express it. The great inspiration in Paul's life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor. Do I feel that sense of indebtedness to Christ in regard to every unsaved soul? The spiritual honour of my life as a saint is to fulfill my debt to Christ in relation to them. Every bit of my life that is of value I owe to the Redemption of Jesus Christ; am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His Redemption into actual manifestation in other lives? I can only do it as the Spirit of God works in me this sense of indebtedness.
I am not to be a superior person amongst men, but a bondslave of the Lord Jesus. "Ye are not your own." Paul sold himself to Jesus Christ. He says - I am a debtor to everyone on the face of the earth because of the Gospel of Jesus; I am free to be an absolute slave only. That is the characteristic of the life when once this point of spiritual honour is realized. Quit praying about yourself and be spent for others as the bondslave of Jesus. That is the meaning of being made broken bread and poured out wine in reality."
This is where I stand right now - in debt to you and in debt to Christ. I owe you something. I owe you the knowledge and assurance of God. Because I have it. Simply because I have it, I owe it to you.
Let me tell you a story about a little girl who grew up with a lot of pain. This little girl had a tumultuous relationship with her father, was rejected by her grandmother, was abused by a family member and faced further rejection time and time again throughout her life until she almost felt she wasn't worth anything.
But deep inside her heart, God had planted a seed - a calling. She belonged to Him and He was never going to let her go.
But when a child experiences rejection, they learn to reject. This little girl didn't know how to accept love - especially something seemingly so far off and distant as God's love, so she ran. Every time God showed her a blessing, she turned the other way. She ran and ran and tried to control her life and make her own way. But because God still loved this child, He wouldn't let her have her way. He wanted her to have His way and maybe, just maybe, accept that all the pain she had been through as God's purpose for her life.
And here I am - no longer a little girl, but finally accepting the fullness of God's Love as a little child. God has brought me to the crossroads in recent months and He has finally revealed His purpose for my life. Psalms 138:8 says He's going to fulfill His purpose for me. You're a part of that purpose.
In January of 2007, I began walking. I was tired of bouncing around like a molecule in life, not knowing where to go. I was tired of the rejection letters from potential employers. I needed a job. So with a college degree, I became a doughnut fryer at Weis Markets. I saw hours of the morning you may never see.
Then Wal-Mart called me for a third shift stockperson position. Although I still knew that this was not where I would be forever, while I was stocking shelves, I continued to talk with God and sing His praises.
Then He called me to The Pregnancy Care Center. It was here where the real work began. Just like Moses, God brought me to the place of my greatest sin, and He revealed His purpose for my life. He showed me the tools I had in my hands - writing, performing, speaking and singing - that I would use like Moses' mighty staff, if I would just throw these tools to the ground and see what God would do with them. He called me to revisit the deep pains of my past, rip off those ugly scabs that had grown infectious and receive the cleansing of the true Antiseptic - the blood of Jesus Christ.
I began to write a book about my pain and healing. On June 17th, completely frustrated with my work at The Pregnancy Care Center, I prayed that God would show me how much longer I needed to work there. I told God I knew He had me there for a reason and I wouldn't leave until He released me. Four days later, I was called into the Executive Director's office and they even used these words, "We're releasing you." Although I cried, it wasn't tears of sadness. I knew God was about to do something big.
Six days later, I submitted my book proposal to Hartline Literary Agency. Five days later, Hartline wrote to me to tell me they accepted my proposal and will represent me for the publishing of my book.
Now you would think I would be swinging from the chandeliers with praise. For a couple days, I was. I was on cloud nine. But the reality is, not everyone is going to read this book. I have to figure out other ways to reach those of you who now stand where I once stood so I may bring you healing.
These are the scriptures I'm leaning on real hard right now:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you…and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
I am in debt to you. I am burdened for you.
Whether you are in my Theatre Company and choose to mock God when I mention Him, or you are in my church and know me well; whether you are the mean guy who pushes the carts at Weis Markets or my friend who says they believe in God but won't commit much more than that, I am burdened for you.
God has delivered me from a painful past. Women who have lived lives like mine usually get caught up in a life of alcohol, drugs and meaningless, loveless relationships - seeking love in all the proverbial wrong places and ending up emptier than empty. (yes, that is possible.)
God has directed my paths. All I had to do was start walking - learning to rely on Him and praise Him when the storms were blowing - seeing His truth in all of my circumstances.
God has healed me. One by one, my infections of FEAR, sarcasm and rage are disappearing. He is replacing the ugliness with a new countenance.
God loves me. He loves you, but for whatever reason, you keep Him at arm's length, or maybe even a mile away. Someone somewhere, hurt you or rejected you along the way and when you think of God you think to yourself, "I'll never be good enough for God's Love, so why should I even try."
Well, friend, my Bible tells me "For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall have eternal life." God "so loved (you)" He gave His son to die, and it wasn't a pretty death either. At that moment of His death, even God turned His face. For at that moment Jesus represented all of the sin and the ugliness of the world - of you and me. Talk about rejection, especially when Jesus didn't deserve it.
I am burdened for you. And why? Because I want this for you. I want you to be healed. I want you to be freed from the vicious cycle of walking, falling down, and having to pull yourself back up. I want you to experience the fullness of God's love for you. I want you to know what that's like. I want your freedom!
I want you to experience true forgiveness - forgiveness for yourself, your offenders and maybe even God. I want you to be able to forgive your offenders, but first you have to repent of the hatred you have held in your own hearts against those offenders. Yes you have, don't pretend you haven't hated them for all these years.
You then need to ask God to call up every offender in the movie screen of your brain. One by one, forgive them. This may take awhile.
Then, you have a couple of options, you can come accountable to those you've hurt, or not. We can let God work that one out.
But finally, you have to forgive God. Don't deny you've been mad at Him, too. You have. Admit it. Also, it's here that you might have to forgive yourself for being the wayward child that you've been. You did some ugly things while you were off the path God designed for you. You let yourself down and you haven't forgiven yourself. Yes you did, don't deny it. We all have.
Then, believe and receive. Believe in His word. Receive His love. God's Love is not conditional.
Tell me how I can help you. Tell me where I need to go to reach you. The weight on my heart still hasn't lifted. I am still in debt to you. I still have great conflict for you. But until you tell me or God shows me what I can do for you or how I can reach you, I can only continue to pray for you, and I will.
Jesus died for you.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
This morning, instead of reading my email devotional and spending the rest of my morning praying, I began to dig a little deeper into the text of my devotional. So much was revealed to me in just one basic chapter of Luke. I had gone to bed last night, troubled with a thought on my mind. This morning, the answer was revealed. I'm learning more and more about that joy which comes in the morning.
The trouble in my mind popped up when I just happened to stop by the bookstore yesterday afternoon. Derek loves to peruse the collection of Graphic Novels since he's busy writing a very kingdom-minded one himself. I wasn't really looking for anything - just glancing at titles really. Then, one book title jumped out at me, "God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer."
I was immediately annoyed. Who are all these people who walk away from God and get these lucrative book deals to write against God's Word? As someone who is doing everything I can to birth a book for God's Kingdom, this title stuck in my craw, so to speak. Although I wasn't about to buy the book and read it, I did check out its summary and reviews on good old Amazon.com. I'm still annoyed.
Reviewer after reviewer talked about how great this book was, how it raised questions which have plagued Christians for years - how it reminded them of why they "left the faith," so to speak. There were a few who challenged the idea that the author didn't give any real answer in conclusion, but as I told you, my answer came in the morning.
I woke up to an email devotional entitled: HIS RESURRECTION DESTINY. The scripture was Luke 24:26 "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?
"My Utmost for His Highest" states:
"Our Lord's Cross is the gateway into His life: His Resurrection means that He has power now to convey His life to me. When I am born again from above, I receive from the Risen Lord His very life.
Our Lord's Resurrection destiny is to bring "many sons unto glory." The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We are never in the relationship to God that the Son of God is in; but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When Our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life, to a life He did not live before He was incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before; and His resurrection means for us that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we shall have a body like unto His glorious body, but we can know now the efficacy of His resurrection and walk in newness of life. "I would know Him in the power of His resurrection."
"As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him." "Holy Spirit" is the experimental name for Eternal Life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the Deity in proceeding power Who applies the Atonement to our experience. Thank God it is gloriously and majestically true that the Holy Ghost can work in us the very nature of Jesus if we will obey Him."
Christ suffered. He suffered persecution, suspicion, speculation. He suffered misunderstanding by His peers and His disciples.
Christ suffered what would be deemed today as cruel and unusual punishment. He was beaten and spat on, His body pummeled, His flesh ripped open. His hands were pierced. His feet were skewered. His arms stretched so far as to cause asphyxiation - He couldn't breathe because His chest could not move to take in air.
Christ Suffered. And He did it so that we could enter into Glory with Him. We did nothing to deserve it. We did nothing to make God love us. But God loved us enough to give Christ to suffer and die for us.
We, as believers, are to become like Christ. We are to die to ourselves and live as Christ lived, love as Christ loved. And yes, sometimes, we must suffer. But all things - whether accepted as a test of faith, or a testimony to a miracle - are meant for our good and are designed so we may enter into the Glory of the Living God.
Who are nonbelievers to question this? This one author has written a series of books - all questioning and attempting to debunk Christianity - most of these books were written by former believers who just didn't get it but are now serving the devil by trying to tear down the building up of the kingdom of God. What a shame.
Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary had an interesting take on this verse in Luke:
"He could not have been a Saviour, if He had not been a sufferer. Christ’s undertaking our salvation was voluntary; but, having undertaken it, it was necessary that He should suffer and die. Secondly, that, when He had suffered these things, He should enter into His glory, which He did at His resurrection; that was His first step upward. Observe, it is called His glory, because He was duly entitled to it, and it was the glory He had before the world was; He ought to enter into it, for in that, as well as in His sufferings, the scripture must be fulfilled. He ought to suffer first, and then to enter into His glory; and thus the reproach of the cross is for ever rolled away, and we are directed to expect the crown of thorns and then that of glory."
We are "directed to expect the crown of thorns and then that of glory." I don't know where these nonbelieving authors are searching and not finding, but the Bible has never failed me.
Monday, February 11, 2008
I want you to know, I did not forget you. I want you to know, weeks ago I set to writing this message - "Spiritual Wedgies." I wrote it, clicked "save," walked out of the room to refill my coffee, and when I returned, my computer had entered into one of those "automatic download/restart modes." When I turned my computer back on and logged back into this blog's management site - there was nothing. NOTHING. I received a Spiritual Wedgie while writing a blog about Spiritual Wedgies. Coincidence? I think not.
So, being absolutely spent for the moment, I let it go. I decided I would return to it eventually amidst my other writing projects. And I did. I came back to write it again. Guess what happened? My newly revived laptop - with its brand new hard drive - developed a faulty power cord. If I so much breathed the wrong way - Power Out. Game Over. No Battery back up. No hibernation mode. Dead. There was virtually nothing I could do about it except buy another power cord.
I shopped around. Best Buy - do they really live up to their name? Staples - puleeze - theirs was $83 bucks and they couldn't guarantee me that it was compatible with my model. Wal-Mart - good old Wally World - they had the best price, the universal adapters and all, BUT, I would have to wait two weeks because they were out of stock.
So I waited. I hate waiting. Did I tell you the subject of the book I am writing is WAITING? Yeah, God's working that one out! Anyway... so in my waiting period, I decide to go back to my faithful dinosaur PC which sits in the corner of my Dining Room. Now, before I got my laptop up and running, I had been working on my dinosaur with absolutely no problems at all. What happens when I try to start managing different writing projects there? I run out of internal memory. No matter how many files I deleted, the thing just chugged and chugged and hiccupped and chugged until I physically felt I was going to scream.
And that, my friends, is an example of a Spiritual Wedgie.
They come like a thief in the night. They are irritating. They are ruthless. They can make the greatest of spiritual highs fall down into the lowest of lows. They bite at you, with each nibble, filling you up with all of the irritable ugliness of the person you used to be and were afraid to become again. What are they? They are Spiritual Wedgies and they've come to steal your joy.
Forgive my humor as I talk about a subject that is serious. Sometimes, there is no other way to make plain what spiritually happens to us except to use the very commonplace, something to which we all can relate.
We all have a place on our bodies where our two legs join together at a place which is known as our hindquarters. I now feel like I'm referring to horses, but anyway.... We all wear clothing - be it pants, underwear, skirts, even hose, ladies, and we ALL inevitably have had a time in our life where the fabric on our bodies gets bunched up into that little space between our, ahem, hindquarters, and things start to get uncomfortable. That's the very unofficial definition of something sixth-graders still giggle about - A Wedgie. It is a little wedge of fabric, if you will, that gets into the wrong place at the - wait, is there ever a right time? - and it irritates us until we have no choice but to find relief.
Have you ever been in a conversation where you are looking someone right in the eye while they are talking? They are talking, talking, talking, talking, but you're not hearing a word they're saying. The only thing on your mind is, "I have to pick this wedgie."
Sometimes, we can do it with the greatest of ease. We grab a hold of our pant legs as we stand up - voila - no one saw anything. But there are those which, no matter how much you slide, bend, scoot or dig, they're not coming out. You must excuse yourself to the bathroom for true Wedgie Extraction.
Sometimes we don't even realize they are the cause of our irritability. Ladies did you ever go an entire day feeling irritable and as soon as you took off your shoes, you felt better? It's as if the shoes themselves are pinching your happiness nerve and not letting endorphins get to your brain. You don't know why you are so miserable. But then the shoes come off and "ahhhh...," you feel better. You think, "Oh my gosh, my shoes were bugging me all day and I didn't even realize it." That's how wedgies work and Spiritual Wedgies work even harder. The only difference is Spiritual Wedgies usually last longer than a day and affect all those around you and leave a disaster in their wake.
I started this post on February 11th. Today is March 29th. For nearly six weeks, I have been attempting to get this message to you. All the while, the Wedgies have persisted. Two weeks ago, I reached a chapter in my book that was based on Psalms 27:14, “ Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” I knew exactly what it meant but I was having the greatest struggle putting it into words. Then this past week came into existence.
Monday was like any other Monday. I was exhausted from an overly zealous Easter weekend with my four children, but it was Monday - my lack of excitement was to be expected. Some issues had arisen with our Theatre Company, which I decided to deal with later and I trudged on.
Tuesday, I woke up in extreme pain. It seems I had “slept wrong” and I could not move my right leg. I couldn’t even lift it to pull my pants on as I was getting dressed. I had important meetings at work in preparation for a big event that was held today. I could not call in sick. I had no choice but to grab my cane and almost literally, drag myself to work.
Wednesday, I visited the chiropractor and was feeling a little better physically, but in various situations in my workplace, things were not going well. Deadlines were being missed. Stress was mounting. The issues with the Theatre Company were still not resolved.
Thursday, it seemed like nothing got done at work. All of our printed materials were supposed to be delivered. Our screen printed baseball hats were supposed to be delivered. As I left work for the day, knowing how much work awaited us on Friday, I just looked at my Supervisor and said, “It’s all going to be fine. God’s going to work it all out.” I left work that day knowing He would.
Thursday night, as I was preparing for the Theatre Company to meet with members from Harbor Light and Manna Unlimited Motivations to rehearse for the program we are performing at Revival Tabernacle on April 6th - “How May I Help You? A Celebration of Hope & Healing for Our Nation and Community,” my printer refused to print the scripts and my laptop kept powering down for no reason. I dragged my laptop and printer to the rehearsal. When the script started to print, I ran out of toner.
Finally, Friday morning, I arrive at work, fully expecting everything to be there, ready to be assembled into packets. Surely God had come through for us.
My Supervisor walks into my office and runs down a litany of bad news. Our printed materials have not even been printed. The hats are probably not going to get here, and the rest of what we needed to create, print and distribute was yet to be determined. Again, stress mounted. Slowly, our work started to come together. Then, GUESS WHAT HAPPENED? The printer/copier BROKE DOWN.
Those of you who know me would think by now that I would have turned into my alter-ego Katie Kaboom - you know the old Danielle who used to scream, get mad, thrust into action which consisted of slamming doors and pounding tables. But Katie didn’t show up. I calmly came up with a Plan B - run to Staples and make copies, but I first had to run home for a CD-R. When I stopped at home, I remembered I needed something else to be ready for me when I got back to the office, so I called. The printer had miraculously started printing, there was no need for me to go to Staples. By the time I got back to the office, everything was printed and the icing on the cake - the baseball hats were delivered moments later. The printed materials had not only been printed, but they had been picked up in Williamsport and were on their way “home.“ Everything came together beautifully and God worked everything out.
In life, there will always be the unexpected events of flat tires, cars not starting, unexpected bills, direct deposits not being deposited directly, landlords who decide to sell the house you're renting, printers, computers and other gadgets not doing what they’re supposed to do to make life easy - you name it - there is plenty in this life that can be irritating. This - the stuff of which life is made - has a tendency to get under our skin, get us down in the dumps, makes us feel defeated. And when you let a wedgie like this ride, you can be in a bad mood for weeks until you suddenly stop and realize it's time for Wedgie Extraction.
God gave me a promise - several promises actually - but the one that will act as the trigger for the domino effect which puts the rest into action is the book I'm writing. I believe this promise. I hold onto this promise. This promise has been affirmed and confirmed in so many ways, I can't begin to tell you. Maybe someday I will.
All of this started with a dream about being pregnant, but in the dream, the child within me died. The following Sunday, Prophet Tim Hines was at church and said, "God conceived something in you a year ago and it died inside of you. Now is the time to PUSH!" Because of the significance of this pregnancy imagery, I've begun to realize that my Spiritual Wedgies are like contractions. I've learned something, though. I'm not focusing on the little ceramic bunny in the corner while I do my Lamaze, I've got my eyes on God. I'm RESTING in HIS PROMISE!
Something tells me there are some of you out there reading this right now that are going through something. And it's not just one thing, it's one thing after another, after another. It's driving you crazy. You can't get a break. Your mood is altered and your biting heads off left and right if someone so much as dares to ask you a question.
You, my friend, have a Spiritual Wedgie and yes, you're due for extraction.
Now, more than ever, renounce that devil whose taking joy in your anger. Don't let him ride! Don't let him steal your joy in the Lord. Don't you realize you're giving him what he wants! Renounce him by the blood of Christ - you're free! He can't take a hold of you and your situation because God already claimed you as His own.
Then breathe. Ask the Lord to open the eyes of your heart to see where the lesson needs to be learned - to see the next step that has to be taken. Not all of these attacks are from the devil. The Lord is trying to show you something, too.
Keep your eyes on God. Seek patience, faith, hope, joy and rest in His grace. It is there for you to have because He loves you - not because of anything you've done or because of anything you are, but because of who He is and what He's done.
I see now - Satan has been doing a little dance through the access to the technology in my life and my health. This just confirms the fact my book must somehow be a threat. He knows it is meant to save souls somewhere, so he's trying to stop it.
The ministry of the Pregnancy Care Center where I work is also a threat - we’re saving lives and changing lives of the men and women we meet. We have been blessed to introduce many of our clients to Christ. Certainly, the devil doesn’t want that!
Community Hope Help and Healing? Does the devil want this? Does the devil want us to commemorate the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and re-assess our commitment to social justice? Of course not! That means we as a church might re-ignite our call to reach out to all who are oppressed in the Name of Jesus and also take a stance against our own complacency!
Satan might as well bark up somebody else's tree! Through it all, I haven't given in to his lures and temptations. I have clung to God's promise to me. There were moments, sure, when I felt like screaming, but I fixed my eyes on God again and He helped me through the next big push.
In my waiting, God revealed to me (very vividly, may I add) how this next chapter will take shape. “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”
Now I challenge you to stop letting those Spiritual Wedgies steal your joy in the Lord. Extract them!!! Rest in the knowledge of God and His grace and He, as always, will pull you through. Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
In the midst of it all, I have learned to praise God for all things. All good gifts around us are sent from Heaven above. If you woke up this morning, Praise God. If you were able to accomplish even one load of laundry, Praise God. If you ate at least one meal, Praise God. The list can go on and on and on, and will forever in my life.
While I haven't been writing my blog, I have been writing a book. It is entitled, "As I Wait Upon the Lord." When I haven't been working on my book, I have been crafting "Stonez of Remembrance," my new line of prayer beads that I will be exhibiting and selling on consignment. When I haven't been beading, I've been sculpting "Soul Sisterz," my new line of hand-felted dolls. I have also been moving my Theatre Company forward with some performances, illustrating a children's book, helping to manage the creation of my husband's Graphic Novel, and working with three groups of musicians in the composing of the 22 songs that Derek, our friend Lisa Rae and I wrote for next fall's play, "The Rhythm and the Blues." I've also been coaching Ellen's "Odyssey of the Mind" team and being lastly, but never least - a wife and mother.
So, you might say I've been busy. I've been busy searching for what God will have me do for the sole purpose of bringing Him glory, and He has definitely filled my cup. In all of my "busy-ness," God is there. He never leaves my thoughts. I have reached a place in my life that I've longed for - a measure of faith that is tangible and visible. It's even audible when I'm singing His praises while I'm cleaning my kitchen. It is far too easy in this fast-paced, chaotic world to forget to "squeeze God in" somewhere. And so, I rejoice in letting you know that I'm still walking.
So why am I telling you this? Why do I keep this blog? Why do I feel compelled in such a busy schedule and life that I lead, to come here in front of my dinosaur computer and write a message to you? I could just as easily write this as a chapter in my book. Why did Paul write letters to the church of Corinth and places beyond?
I can tell you that I feel God calls me to do this, to write this. But why? I can tell you. There is one simple thing that every human being needs in this world. It's a form of love, but not just love. It's not food. It's not water. It's something beyond that.
I write this blog - one of my too many ministries - to encourage you. Because I know that God wants more of you and He wants to provide more for you. He wants more of your life and He wants more for your life. He wants more of your time and He wants you to have more for your time. He wants to bless you daily. He wants you to love Him. He wants to love you.
When we draw nearer to God, He draws nearer to us. God wants to live in our working and playing, in our lying down and in our rising up.
I have learned this. It has been a long, hard road. For the most part, I've made it harder for myself as I did more ignoring God than hearing Him over the years. But now that I'm walking, it is part of my walk to tell you. It is now my journey to "Go Tell It on the Mountain" what God has done in my life.
I regret the fact that it has taken eight weeks to sit down and do this. I have so much more to tell you - miracles that were performed right in front of my eyes:
- walking away from a thunderous crash of my car and another colliding, without a scratch on either vehicle
- after living six months without a dryer to aid my laundry for a household of six, looking at my dryer and saying, "Lord, I really need a miracle right now," plugging the thing in and it starting
-waking up last Saturday, crippled with pain - for those of you who don't know, I have Fibromyalgia - and just praying and feeling this... healing, there is no other word for it, moving through my body, releasing muscle fiber after muscle fiber
-and there's more.
God is REAL, people. He is the Healer, the Deliver, the Mighty God, the Alpha, the Omega. He knows you, He wants you and He loves you. Why are we so afraid to be loved sometimes? God is perfect. His love His perfect. His love will never hurt you and it will never let you down.
I plead for your forgiveness for not being faithful to you, dear friends. I know how badly we all need encouragement. I, myself, tend to get bogged down in self-doubt and second-guessing. I need encouragement and lots of it. I praise God for the husband that I have, because he actually provokes me to be encouraged. I know some of you actually look for my blog posting for this needed encouragement, and I failed you, if only momentarily.
This morning, I woke up to take Derek to work. It takes me five minutes to go up the hill and down the hill, but I woke up thinking, "Ugh. I have to get up seven days a week. He gets to sleep in two days a week. That's not fair." I put it in my head that when I came back down that hill, I was heading right to my bed, and I didn't care when I got up. Then something changed in my spirit. God stepped in. I walked into the house. I made a pot of coffee. I put a load of laundry in the washer. I sat down to say my prayers. While I was praying, God said, "You have a blog to write." I thought to myself, "okay... on what subject?" God said, "Well, you're still walking."
That's right - I am still walking. I don't think I've ever walked this long before. I've given into more temptations, fallen off the straight and narrow way, ignored God for weeks on end, run from God more times than I can count, but I - Danielle Renee Murphy Scott - I... am STILL... WALKING.
WOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH. - Did I ever tell you this keyboard doesn't have an exclamation point? Yeah - I'm really missing that right now.
Praise God if you know what a miracle it is to be still walking today.
I'm walking. But today, Lord, I feel like running.