Saturday, November 19, 2016

Whatever

It's hard right now, isn't it?  The election didn't calm the storm; in fact, it seems like the waves are getting higher and visibility is diminishing even further.

At least that's what it seems like.

That cloudy glass is, well, cloudy.  We can't see clearly our hand in front of us so a lot of filtering and sifting and sorting out of truth from fiction or rumors has to be done.

It's not an easy task.  Some may say it is quite impossible.  The more informed I try to be, it seems the less truth there is out there and more opinion and heresy.

So I'm taking a pause from looking for truth in the stormy places for awhile and I'm spending my time following the advice of Paul, who lived through a tumultuous time, and I'm fixing my thoughts on what he suggests.


Whatever is true.....think about.

Whatever is noble....think about.

Whatever is right....think about.

Whatever is pure...think about.

Whatever is lovely....think about.

Whatever is admirable....think about.

Whatever is excellent...think about.

Whatever is praiseworthy...think about.


There are truths we can think about.  There are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy things we can spend our time thinking about.  We don't have to look too far to find them.  If you are a student of the Bible, you can then follow his second instruction:

Practice.

Whatever I learned from Paul...practice.

Whatever I received or heard from Paul...practice.

If you know anything about Paul's story, any of his hardships, his testimony, his B.C. days, his A. C. days, you can practice how he handled adversity, untruths, difficulty in relationships, argumentative audiences, disgruntled friends and family.....

Practice what the Bible records him doing.

I think he spent a lot of time thinking.  Prison will give you that.  Time to think, time to write. Thinking about true things, noble things, right things, pure things, lovely things, admirable things, excellent things, praiseworthy things....

perhaps to keep him from not dwelling on

lies
undignified actions
wrongs
impurity
ugly
shameful
mediocre
disapproving

THINGS.




We can feed our souls one of two ways.

1.  With truth or
2.  With fear

When we feed our souls with truth by thinking on true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable and excellent and praiseworthy things.....

we don't have time to think or mourn or lament or grieve the opposite.

Whatever is.......

True - aletha - unconcealed, what can't be hidden, undeniable reality when something is fully tested - it will ultimately be shown to be fact

honorable - semna - honorable, grave, serious, dignified

right - dikaios - correct, righteous, impartial, just in the eyes of God

pure - hagna - free from ceremonial defilement, holy, sacred, in a condition prepared for worship

lovely - prosphiles - pleasing, agreeable, acceptable, dearly prized, worth the effort to have

admirable - euphema - well reported of

excellence - arete - moral goodness, virtue, uprightness, perfection

praiseworthy - epainos - praise, commendation, approval, commendation that fits - is appropriate because it relates to God's will

Think on these things.

Whatever......

You have learned - manthano - to learn, come to realize

have received - paralambano - to receive from, take with me

have seen - horao - to see, perceive, attend to, experience, look upon, discern; to see with the mind, perceive with inward spiritual perception

these things we would do well to 

practice - prasso - to do, practice, a routine or habit

think on - logizomai - to reckon, to consider, take into account


We really only have two choices in our life.  To live in truth or to live in fear.  If we fear, we don't have the complete truth yet.


Whatever........


Peace,

Ronda

Philippians 4:8-9






Saturday, November 5, 2016

Down to the wire

I've prayed.  I've worried.  I've fretted.  I've feared.  I've prayed.  I've let go.  I've worried.  I've fretted.  I've feared.  I've prayed.  I've let go.

Repeatedly, the last several months.

It hasn't changed a darn thing.  Well, the praying has, but nothing else has really made things better, except the fact that I realize I'm in good company with the rest of the worriers, fritters and fearfuls.

We all have our beliefs and our sureness down pat.  There's not much that could really change any of our minds, no matter which side we've landed on right now.

I've seen the repeated memes comparing the two candidates.  I've read the reasons why one's sins are worse or not as bad as the other's sins.  Ad nauseum.

Those thoughts haven't changed my thoughts.  I doubt anyone's have been changed.

Setting aside the criteria of character for one running for President of the United States, what else matters in this election?  That question has been answered by a host of experts too.  Supreme Court appointments, health care, defense, national security, blah....blah....blah.

What else matters?

If we Followers of Jesus really want to walk our talk and talk our walk, what matters is how God views each of the candidates.

He said something awhile back, something about not looking at the outward appearance of things, but instead he looked at the heart.

We can't look inside the heart, we can see the actions but even then we only see snippets of the actions they want us to see.  Whether in a good light or a bad light, nothing is as it appears on TV or in a meme or anywhere else.

Only God knows the full story.  Only God knows the circumstances.  Only God knows the heart's motive.

But.......(you knew that was coming),

We still have two flawed people, vulnerable and exposed to the world.

Both of them look like all of us.  Whether in small ways or larger ways, all of us can relate and are guilty of at least one of the sins these two people have listed next to their names on a 24 hour news cycle.

When I think of them in this light, my heart hurts for them.

I wonder if they know and believe that Jesus still loves them.

I wonder if they know and believe that Jesus died to free them from the sin that we so mercilessly point out to them.

I wonder if they hate the reminders continually being brought up again and again and again.

I wonder if they want to scream at all of us, "Leave me alone, this is between my God and me!"

I wonder if they struggle with the voices (not just ours, but the hidden voices) that taunt them and say "Look at what you've done!  How could you?  You're not that bad.  It could be worse.  You only did what you had to."

Maybe I'm the only one who has to wrangle those kinds of thoughts.

I wonder if they are tired and weary and heavy laden.

I wonder if they wish they could push the restart button of their lives and do things differently.

I wonder if they do, what would they do differently.

We're stuck with flawed human beings, no matter which one we get, each of them is greatly flawed and both are a great reflection of the people they will be leading.

If God's grace isn't for them, it isn't for us either.

That's a hard pill to swallow.

Ugh.

No matter who wins, the call of the Followers of Jesus is clear.  Prayer for our President is needed like never before.  We want to be free from the sins that bind us so must I want them to be free of the sins that bind them, no matter who is President.

Our job is clear, come November 9th.

It won't be a time of lamenting and stewing, but a new time of ceaseless praying, if not for them, us.

I want the best for my country and my children and grandchildren.

It looks like God is in the business of using very flawed people to remind me how flawed I am without the grace and love of Jesus Christ.  I pray that whoever wins, comes to know and live out that truth too.


Peace,

Ronda


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Look out Home Depot!

A long time ago a German monk took it upon himself to denounce the shenanigans of the Catholic church.  In his time the church was corrupt (gasp!) and those who held the power were found to be untrustworthy with the offering basket (gasp!).

So this monk found the courage to face the truth and as such, face the enemies of the truth.

And.....

Voila', we have the Bible written in many languages, read by believers all over the world.  All because one person used the tool he had, the only tool necessary, truth, to seek true justice.

We've been digging like that German monk ever since.

Many like to let others dig and receive the benefit of the diggers' labor, not having the opportunity or the compulsion to dig themselves.

Until.....

They do.

Until they come face to face with something that their old tools don't help or fix the situation they are in.

Maybe it's a wayward child, or infidelity, or any number of sufferings that face the human race.

They dig in their ratty old tool belt and come up with only a screw driver or a hammer, when they need a tape measure and a level and wrench and a drill and a saw.  The screw driver and the hammer used to be enough but it isn't anymore, and the suffering they are suffering doesn't get fixed or removed by those two small tools.

We are at a time in history where our tool belts need to be restocked.  We don't have the right tools for the job.

Yeah, we can borrow our neighbors tools, but pretty soon, he'll be knocking on our doors asking for his tool back because he needs to use it for his project or crisis.

You  need to buy your own set of tools.

You need to get a new tool belt, one that is sturdy and can carry many tools.  Maybe one of the cool ones now with wheels and a handle to pull it from site to site.

If you're dealing with the same problems in the same way and getting the same results - frustration, disgust, anger, defeat - it may be time to up your game and get more tools.

The good news is you won't have to run up a bill at Home Depot or Lowe's to get a good supply.

The tools you need are free.

Those foundational tools will still be necessary, but to really make your project shine, you need some more help.  Some better tools.

Only you know what you need.

Do you need courage?  Strength?  Passion?  Purpose?

What is your need?  What isn't working?

Do you need joy again?  Hope?  Mercy?

Then get them!  Now!  You know where to look for them.  You know the aisle they're in.  Don't ask someone to show you, go look yourself.  Take a stroll around the hardware store, you may find tools you didn't think you needed but boy, they sure could come in handy.

Don't wait for someone to drive you to the store to shop.  Don't wait for someone to show you how to find what you need.  This is something only you can do.  You and

Jesus.

He'll give you the new tools that you need.  They've been there all along, bright and shiny on a shelf.  You only need to reach up and take it.

Go shopping!  I give you permission to run up your credit card bill and have a blast!  Get what you need and then some.  Fill your cart, rip open the packaging and start using it, whether you know exactly what it's for or not, start playing with the tools and build your life.

The good life.  The life we live in between.  The only life you get on earth.

What are you waiting for?

A sale?


Peace,

Ronda

Matthew 13:52


No Vexations Allowed

If the last year and a half has shown us anything, it has shown us how worried the citizens of the United States are.

The statements of one political party set their opponents on edge and vice versa.  Just reading through the comments on any political post and you can see the distress that is going on in the hearts of Americans.

We are all so afraid.  So worried.  So scared.  So horrified.  So offended.  So repulsed.  So, well, you get the idea.

There's a lot of worry going around - believer and unbeliever, Democrat and Republican, male and female, sinner and saint.

We're all a little STRESSED out at the moment, wouldn't you agree?

But what we're experiencing right now really isn't anything new, because in the words of King Solomon, "There's nothing new under the sun."

As much as this culture right now is fretting, the saints in heaven are probably saying to each other, "Been there, done that," about us down here in the present battle.  We're not special nor is our time period any more special then the ones before us whether 100 years ago, 1000 years ago or 5000 years ago.  In all the history of the world, there really is nothing new under the sun.

The behavior and inclinations of men and women have not changed since the first couple hid from their Creator.

The only thing that is significantly different is that we, inhabitants of the year of our Lord, 2016, have a few more history books to look back on to see that there truly is nothing new under the sun.

Politics have been corrupted for centuries.  Males have objectified women.  Women have sought to be as powerful as men.

But for those of us watching, even though our minds tell us there is nothing new under the sun, we still battle with our own fears and anxieties of what will happen on November 9th.  What does our future hold if those who predict catastrophe if the opponent wins really does happen?

What can we do to get through?

Hide?  Ignore?  Run to Canada?

I think the answer is quite simple and doesn't involve packing.

Banish anxiety from your heart.

To banish something in the Hebrew light means to turn off (literally or figuratively), to turn aside, remove, stop, take away.

Anxiety is something we all suffer, some more than others, some chronic, some on an acute basis.  Probably a lot of us have an acute case of anxiety now, but those who have chronic anxiety can feel your pain.

Anxiety is another word for vexation - the state of being worried or annoyed; something that worries or annoys you.

Basically it means that you are being harassed or irritated.

It's not easy to stop vexing things from overcoming our minds let alone our hearts, but it is exactly what Solomon advised in his ancient writing called Ecclesiastes.  He advised to banish Ka'as - our sorrow, vexations, anger, provocation, wrath and grief - from our hearts.

Peter said to cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us.

To throw all our worries and cares and concerns and anxiety on Him.

No matter what November 9th looks like, the cause for anxiety, worry and concern will still be there.

So what are you going to do about your own supply?

Are you going to coddle it and comfort it and please it and carry it with you as you go about your life that will be the same routine on November 9th as it was on November 8th?  Will it help you or anyone else to keep doing the same thing again and again, hoping for a different outcome?

Believers, brothers and sisters, who will you be on November 9th?

If you're overwhelmed by worries, anxieties and concerns now, what will you do to change that for the future?  Your baggage is not mandatory for the future.  In fact, it's totally unnecessary to carry baggage that someone has already took from your hands and nailed it on a cross.

We have the invitation to throw all our worries - our questions, our shock, our judgments, our fears, our concerns, our vexations - throw them all on the Lord Jesus Christ because

He CARES for us.

Banish these from your heart and throw them on Jesus.

When they come around, you lock the door, put the CLOSED sign on the window, and tell those anxieties where they can go.

It's in your hands.

If you like carrying the burdens around and you find comfort in that, well .....  carry on.

(But aren't you tired of lugging around those heavy bags?)

Jesus doesn't want you to carry garbage you were never supposed to carry.

It's time for us to look like we trust Him.  Really trust Him.

If we don't fake it till we make it, then what hope is there for people who don't know where they can really put their fears?

It starts with the Family of God.  It's time to walk the talk.

Today.  Not November 9th or January 20th or any other future date.

Today is the day.

Little faith, little God.  Big faith, big God.

If you're carrying around your anxiety, worry and concern unnecessarily, you are going to have a hard time seeing a Big God do Big Things.

It's time, friend.

Banish anxiety from your heart.  Put up the no trespassing sign, stand watch, and arrest anything that tries to make its way back into your faith filled heart.

You were never meant to know evil.  Pretend you don't

                                     and just cast all your


                                                       vexations


                                                                        on Him.

As many times as it takes - cast it all on him.  When they come back as quickly as you've banished them, show them the door.  They'll give up eventually.  Fight for your heart!  Fight for your peace of mind.  You were never meant to know fear.  Practice living with childlike faith.  If you practice it will get easier because practice makes perfect!




Peace,

Ronda

Ecclesiastes 11:10
1 Peter 5:7
Genesis 2:17




Sunday, October 30, 2016

What do you have to lose?

When one seeks to know the heart of the heavenly Father, laying aside what one thought they knew for the adventure of seeking what He wants you to know about him, interesting things begin to happen.  Things you couldn't prepare for or imagine.

When one boldly gives God a timeline and says, "Ok, show me you, and show me you NOW, I'll give you a year," He has a funny way of drawing you in and showing you in a year's time you have only begun to scratch the surface of all he wants to show you about him.

And by then, it's too late, you're in....like Flynn.

All of a sudden seeking God's heart, if you're not careful, becomes a subtle addiction. A good addiction, but still an addiction.

A craving starts and when you want to walk away because He's grabbing your heart and pulling you away from the safe and comfort of your oh so blah and comfortable and boring comfort zone, you get pulled back in because your comfort zone isn't so cozy.  In fact, it's rather prickly.

You try to sit in your old comfortable chair and recline in your old comfortable ways telling yourself that you can go back to the way you were BEFORE you started seeking to know him, but in the end, the footrest of your recliner snaps down with a jolt because you have to know more.  You have to understand him better, because he has brought up so many more questions that you didn't know you even had when He was in a box and you were safe in your comfort zone.

Words now jump off the pages of stories you thought you knew because you'd heard them over and over and over and over again when the church calendar told you you should hear them, but this time there is something different about them.  Something is.........new.  And relevant.  And, dare I say, exciting.

Your heart is unsettled because the familiar way is dry and tasteless and without spice, lacking dimension or relevance to selfish and self centered and self absorbed you and me.

But when you take the courageous leap to discover the heart of the Father, not just the words that tell of his heart, but His actual abiding in your heart, and you listen and you turn your ear to a voice that  once was muffled by the comforts of your recliner and now is clear and loud by the wind breaking open the prison doors of your mind, you begin to crave the whispers and long for the gentle echoes of his wooing gentle voice.

As the treasure hunt for seeking the heart of the Creator of the world and the Savior of all men begins to unfold, taking you in directions you would have never dreamed you would go, to areas you had firmly said, "Never" in the comfortable days, you see the light for your path taking you in the place of greater joy and peace than you had ever experienced in your comfortable yesterday.

It's not without pain, this seeking the heart of the King of Kings, and it is not for the faint of heart either.

As you begin to see the world through the eyes of the Heart who gave up his comfort zone to walk among our world, the paths of suffering start to appear but the addiction of knowing and having to know what the Master would do or say or how he would endure takes your eyes off the suffering that lies ahead and to the side and taking up the tail wind.

You just want to know Him.

You want to know what He means when he says that he delights in showing mercy and kindness and justice and righteousness.

You want to know what it looks like and feels like to see the sin and yet still have great and abiding love for the sinner, especially when the sinner is you.

You want to know how he continues to not turn his eyes from the evil his creation does, when all we who are in comfort want to do is turn away, turn off, unfriend, and unfollow.

Then you will have that moment when you know that out of all the people in the world He is the one who gets you.  He is the one who understands you completely.  He and he alone sees the whole picture, the hidden as well as what's out there strictly for show.

He knows the real you.

And you're not afraid anymore to realize that he does.  (Actually, you are relieved to know that he knows the real you and can't believe he still wants to be with you).  You don't scare him away and that's what you don't know until you start seeking his heart.

Religion and rules will always entice you to believe that if the you stray from their paths you will lose His favor.  They gang up on your mind telling it you know his love and grace is unending, and bully your heart that has never been convinced.  You know with your mind.... but your heart doesn't believe that you know that you know what you know.

So you give up and give in and put up and forget.

But God doesn't.

Mercy, God's heart size mercy, doesn't give up or leave you.  His heart is the treasure.  His heart is the goal.

You will no longer be comfortable when you start the journey to know the heart of the Father.  Not just memorize some verses, but seek to know his heart.

You'll have moments of great joy and celebration and other days and weeks and months, and yes, even years, of great pain and suffering and wondering where he is.

You'll never be the same.

You won't be able to go back to your old ways, but it won't be because you can't go back it will be because you'll no longer want to go back because the new you doesn't quite fit in the the old wineskins.   He'll grab and hold your heart so tight that to go back and give up what you learned along the way will be too big a price to pay to be who you were before you sought out his heart.

When you taste and see that the LORD is Good, your addiction for knowing his heart as one that will never leave you will not require you to sit in a recovery circle of anonymous faces, hearts fearful and ashamed.  This addiction is allowed and encouraged.

You just have to start.  One verse.  One prayer.  One plea.

Father, help me to know who you are and who I am and who I am not because of who you are.

Really, what do you have to lose?



Peace,

Ronda

Isaiah 30:18-22
Isaiah 41:10
Isaiah 41:13
Isaiah 42:3
Isaiah 42:16
Isaiah 43:1-2
Isaiah 45:2-3
Isaiah 46:4
Isaiah 48:6
Isaiah 48:17
Isaiah 50:10
Isaiah 54:4-8
Jeremiah 6:16
Jeremiah 17:7-8