Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Prayer

Thank you Lord for all my life has held. All of the good. All of the blessing. All of the richness--which includes all of the trials, all of the pain, all of the chiseling and shaping of my heart. Thank you for taking on my debt that I could be freed from my rebellion, my self-obsession, my fear into the truth of your love, your grace, your peace. Thank you that nothing in my life, no pain, no tear, no hard place has ever been wasted. But each moment instead became a stepping stone of greater understanding of Who You Are. Of all the richness in my life, of You I'm most grateful. May my life surrendered give witness to Who You Are and what You can do in a life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rambling Thoughts of a Middle-Aged Woman

I sat across from my friend, sharing the questions plaguing my heart as of late…

What’s next?
What does God want me to do?
As I age, how should my role shift?
What do I want to do?
What gets me going?
What’s my passion?

I paused and said something like, “I don’t think I’m in a mid-life crisis…I’m just trying to figure out what’s next.”

She countered back, “Well, that’s kind of what a mid- life crisis is isn’t it? Maybe you’re not in a mid-life crisis… more of a mid-life analysis.”

God whispered truth through her words. I realized in “mid-life” you have two choices. It all comes from mid-life analysis. But that analysis can lead to crisis reactions or to prayerful response. What matters is how you respond.

I’m not freaking out and ready to do go anything dramatic. Please know “crisis” is not a part of my heart. But I am seeking direction and it was sobering a bit to realize I’ve reached this point in my life.

Even if the boys weren’t gone, I’d be facing these questions with only one more year with Peter at home. It’s simply the season of life I am in.

And that’s OK.

I’ve had richness and depth in my 40+ years. The wrinkles on my face I wear as badges of honor for the learning, the growth, the triumphs in my life. It’s OK to be where I am.

God’s ordained me to be where I am.

That’s freeing if you really think about it.

So much of our culture fights aging rather than celebrating the growth and progress. I don’t want to get caught in that trap.

So I will celebrate where I am. I will ask the questions… not out of fear of missing out, fear of what time I have left… but in anticipation, knowing that every part of my 40+ years has been purposely orchestrated by God in preparation for what’s next.

Lead on, Lord. The best is yet to come!

 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Words to Think On...

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. Ephesian 1:7

 
Forgive me for not getting this posted Friday. Parent Teacher conferences are around the corner, holiday travels are about to commence and anniversaries loom on the horizon. Mentally and emotionally energies run short.

So once again rather than share my own particular thoughts, I’m simply going to share with you the words of another that God has used to challenge my heart as of late. The topic? Forgiveness. The Speaker? Oswald Chambers.

May God use his words to challenge, encourage, and draw you nearer to the One who loves you like no other.

 

Conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost blots out every relationship on earth and leaves one relationship only – “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned!”

God does forgive, but it cost the rending of His heart in the Death of Christ to enable Him to do so.

Beware of the pleasant view of the Fatherhood of God—God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us… The only ground on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ.

Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony of Calvary.

It cost God the Cross of Jesus Christ before He could forgive sin and remain a holy God.

The revelation of God is that He cannot forgive; He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God by the Atonement.

To say God forgives us because he loves us, it makes the Cross unnecessary.

Jesus death was the very reason He came.

Anything that belittles or obliterates the holiness of God by a false view of the love of God is untrue to the revelation of God given by Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ hates the wrong in man, and Calgary is the estimate of His hatred.

When once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vice, constrained by the love of God.

Father, it’s easy for us to think your forgiveness stems from your love. But you can’t just forgive sin. Your holiness makes it impossible to tolerate sin. It must be atoned for, paid for. May I never forget the immense cost of my sin and rebellion. May the price of my self-rule always stand before my heart. Your love does not cause You to forgive us. You love caused You to pay my debt Yourself. May it change my life to understand that the extreme of the Cross is how much You hate my sin. How can I not respond? May always, at the top of my list, be this for which I’m thankful.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Will...

And going on a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying "My Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:39
 
The words leapt off the page.

They struck at the heart of recent challenges with which I struggled. The answer really was that simple. If only it was that easy.

We know a thing is right, but we try to find excuses for not doing it at once. To climb to the height God shows can never be done presently, it must be done now. The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually. ~Oswald Chambers

To be honest, lately I’m feeling my age. I’ll be moving more deeply into the last half of my decade in a couple of weeks. I’m coming home from my classroom more fatigued than any year before. The issues in my back and neck discovered this summer are flaring again. And it’s my own fault.

I’ve found that when I exercise regularly and keep the supporting muscles strengthened, I don’t have any pain. But when I get busy, when I skip a workout – or two, or three… - the muscles tighten, nerves complain and it takes weeks to reconquer the pain. I know what I need to do. But I don’t want to do it. And by the time the pain flares, it hurts to do it which does not make me any more eager to work out.

So right into this situation Chamber’s words speak.
The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually.

We see this in scripture:

Abraham’s simplicity in his obedience and calmness to sacrifice Isaac.

Jesus’s prayers of surrender in the Garden that led to calm determination on the road to Calgary.

I see it in my own life. God called me to a particular fast in worship this year. The whole year. And it’s been easy.

Why?
Because it was already decided in my heart.

The discipline of the athlete, the faithful care of a parent…perseverance in the most difficult challenges because it’s already settled in the heart.

I pray that I can get my selfishness out of the way and accept this reality of my age and body. I have to work out. I have to want it. I have to will it. I have to make the commitment within before it happen.

I will must replace I should…
I will must replace I need to…
It must even replace I want to….   because I won’t always want to!
 

What discipline are you facing? What sacrifice are you struggling to walk out? Remember Chamber’s words: The sacrifice is gone through in will before it is performed actually.

 

Let’s find our own gardens and do the hard work ‘til we can say, I will.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Patterns

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I love patterns!

I love discovering a pattern that helps me understand the math I’m teaching my kids. Anytime I find a pattern it makes it easier for me to understand things.

Recently God helped me understand a pattern about faith. It really clarified so much about faith and trust!

It started with Oswald Chamber’s explanation how what Jesus shared was never common sense but “revelation sense.” He went on to say that “Faith must be tried before the reality of faith is actual.” [Oct. 30th My Utmost for His Highest]

What I came to understand was this cycle or pattern that Chambers identifies.

1) God reveals a truth about Himself.
2) I choose to believe and trust that revelation.
3) God brings me into circumstances where that truth is tested-I’m given the opportunity to act on my belief-and my faith becomes reality as God proves his revelation true.

Revelation, Belief, Testing, Proof.

This is what it means in scripture when it says Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The Word reveals God’s truth. We believe it. We maintain belief on it in the test and see it come to pass.

That believing before we see it is explained in Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 

The other weekend I experienced this cycle and totally saw it come to pass.

In preparation for a long weekend home, I was frazzled and harried from the huge end of quarter load of paper work, report cards, etc. – all which must be done before I left as there would be no time to work on anything before the deadline which coincided with my return.  Plus, I returned just in time for Andrew’s anniversary, which rose heavy before me this year. Squeezed in the middle was a trip home to be with family – precious but always hard, the reminders stark of the changes in my life and family compared to those of my siblings. So I faced the weekend stressed, weary, and emotionally drained. How would I get through?

But as I prayed that week before, asking God to help prepare my heart and meet me in my weakness, He reminded me of Isaiah 58:11

The Lord will guide you continually,
    giving you water when you are dry
    and restoring your strength.

He challenged me – Will you believe it? And Oswald Chamber’s comments came to mind.

God had promised me strength and refreshment. Would I believe what He said was true? Would I trust Him? Would I stop worrying and walk in confidence that He would give me all I needed and more to get through the 7 hour solo drives, the long weekend and whatever memories flared, and the emotional strength for Andrew’s anniversary?

I had to make a choice.
I chose to trust.

And as I walked out the weekend, the drives, the family visits, the return home, Andrew’s anniversary, all of it… God’s promise proved true.

Revelation, Belief, Testing and Proof.

 

So many people complain about the “tests and trials” of life. But that’s where we experience God. That’s where our faith moves from knowledge to assurance. That’s where we experience the confirmation of His promises. Why would you want to miss out on that?

So often we look at things from the wrong perspective, just like I did going into my weekend. But when I let go of my fears and held on to God’s Word, truth became known and made real.

 

Father God, help me to make your Word my foundation and not my fears. I want to receive your revelations with belief, knowing regardless of what I see and feel, they will prove true over time and eternity. Remind me when I’m at the crossroads between doubt and belief to cling to the revelation regardless of the trial. For it’s in the test that your promises will be experienced. May I not fear the tests but be thankful for the opportunity to experience you in deeper and more meaningful ways. Thank you for your patterns, for your constancy, for always being true to your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just Who Do You Think You Are?

They scoff and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. Ps. 73:8
 
 
I don’t even remember where I was headed. I don’t even think I was late. But when that car merged on right in front of me, at what felt like a snail’s pace, I braked and grumbled. I think, “Idiot!” came out of my mouth.

And then the Spirit whispered, Why do you think you are so important?

What? I have to be honest. It really made me stop and pause.

Why do you think you are so important? Why are you more important than that person? What right do you have to call him an idiot?

Man! Talk about a reality check.

Shamefully, I couldn’t answer.

Why did I think I was more important?
Did he really do anything wrong or just inconvenience me?
Am I so proud that I’m above everyone else?
My time more valuable than anyone else’s?
My wants and desires, even my needs, more critical than others?
 

That day started a pattern. One that keeps repeating in my heart and now causes me to see it everywhere else too.

How much of our anger, our inconveniences, our sarcasm and complaints are simply reflections of our pride?


The other week I attended a workshop after school. It was advertised to save me time, to help over the next quarter. But that proved to be far from the case. I discovered later that the presenters had failed to follow protocol, but that really didn’t justify how irate I felt that evening. Talk about ranting and raving...hours later! To be honest it bordered on hatred! How dare they waste my time?!

Did I really just say that? Ouch! Sometimes it’s hard to see yourself in truth.
 

Again, the Spirit’s question whispers through my mind.
Why do we think we are so important, so much better than others?

I’ve always admitted to battling pride. Being a people pleaser, I have often focused way too much on my performance in efforts to gain others approval to create my sense of security. What a shaky foundation!

But I never realized how deeply pride has rooted into my heart. What right do I have to complain against another? Just because someone inconveniences me in some way, am I of more value than they are? Do I have any idea of the story of their life? I, if anyone, should understand that! I’ve experienced the sting of others not understanding the complications in our lives with the boys being ill, with the boys being gone. How could I be so self-minded, so proud and self-inflated, to inflict my wrath on others?

I leave you with the Spirit’s question this week.
Ask Him to show you if you too struggle with pride.

Why do you think you are so important?

You might be surprised at where it manifests.

 

Father God, forgive my arrogance. Forgive me for making myself more than I should, more than others. Help me to recognize the places pride has infiltrated my life. Help me to recognize the pride behind actions, the pride behind words, the pride behind thoughts. Do a deep work and root it out of my life. I want nothing between me and You. Help me to see myself and others the way you do. Help me to serve and put others before myself. Extinguish pride from my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Long time memories

I wrote this 13 years ago today, a year after losing Andrew.

So much still holds true.
But truer still, my hope stands strong... God's love outlasts all grief.
No matter how it flares.


November 5
Everyone thinks we all are so strong.
Everyone thinks we all have moved on.
But deep down inside
It all is still there
The hurt, the pain, the sense of loss
The questions unanswered
The hugs not given
The moments missed & memories not made

Nobody says your name
No one addresses our pain
It's not their intent I know
Words go unsaid
Because words can't be found
But it isn't so much the words
As just having someone remember,
To agree that this way stinks,
To share the tears and just understand.

So I run to God.
I cry my tears and shout my questions
I vent my hurt and lament my loss
And I know He doesn't turn away
He doesn't get mad
There is no rebuke or condemnation
Only agreement... understanding... and tears of His own.
 
I will never understand
Why this way was the sovereign plan
It's a question on which I must not dwell
All I can do is give Him myself
My full self
-the questions
-the hurt
-the pain of missing you
-the longing to hold you, to see you, to touch you
-the longing for the sound of your voice and the light of your smile
 
Another day I can be strong
Another day I can have joy
Another day I will walk in peace
 
Today,
I just hurt
I am not whole
I miss my son.

Andrew Merrill Lubelczyk,
Aug. 23, 1995- Nov. 5, 2000