Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Truth is Hard

There are truths that I love about God.  I truly feel better when I dwell on them.  I feel calm.  I feel safe.  I feel refreshed.  There are many truths that give me the warm and fuzzy feeling all over.  It doesn't take much for my mind to accept these kinds of truth because I feel so good when I meditate on them.

Truths like:

Jesus loves me.

Jesus forgives me.

Jesus died for me.

Jesus fights for me.

Jesus is my friend.

Jesus is beside me.

Jesus died for everyone and wants all to be saved and to know him.


Don't you feel good just reading those words.  If you're like me it doesn't take a lot for your mind and heart to agree on those truths, does it?

The gospel, we like, in a nutshell.

Under these truths life is simple.  And peaceful.  And restored.  These truths bring comfort.  (At least to me, anyway).

I made the conscious choice over 25 years ago, when my warm and fuzzy feeling was getting backed into a corner by some harder truths, to search out the Source of all Truth.  My life has not been the same since.  I still get my warm and fuzzy feelings, but in the process, the Source has shown me some harder truths too.  Truths I don't like to really think about or dwell on or declare, like I'm going to in a minute here on this screen.

(My fingers are already a little worried about what their task will be).


Truths that are hard and I don't much care to dwell on them so I pretend they don't exist:




Jesus loves those who will never love him back.

Jesus forgives those who will never want his forgiveness.

Jesus died for those who will never die for him.

Jesus fought for the souls of those who will never believe him.

Jesus longs to be a friend to his enemies.

Jesus is beside me even when I sin.

Jesus died for all, but not all will be saved.


Ugh.

I don't feel warm and fuzzy when I read those truths.



Another truth I shied away from for a long, long time and kind of left sitting in a corner, knowing it was there but hoping it would somehow, someway just magically disappear was this truth:



There is evil in this world.




I'd read the passages about prowling lions and deceitful snakes and sneaky foxes but I still hung on to my Pollyanna persona that there is good in everyone and with just the right amount of love and patience evil could be stamped out of a person.

Which is true, and most certainly possible with the authority of Jesus.

But the reality is this:

There is evil in the world and not all evil is recognized as evil, but it disguises itself to be fair and loving and just and right  even though.....it's quite the opposite.


Ugh.


Truth is hard.  I don't feel warm and fuzzy in these truths, so does that mean they are not true?

We can't truly be free until we recognize that the very truth that frees us is both warm and fuzzy and gut wrenchingly frightful.  We can't believe one without the other.  Well, we can, but we're not really free if we choose to ignore one and just live on the wisps of the other.

God's truth is hard.

Recognizing we are sinful people, with hearts of evil, not good, is a hard truth to reconcile when the world is telling us otherwise.

The more I read God's word the more I realize the bigger picture is much bigger than I ever imagined.  The battle is real.  The war is won, but the battle is real.  God's side is the only side true believers can be on (and there you go, I can hear you already, "Ronda, are you saying I'm not a true believer because I don't agree with you?" - No).

But I am saying God's side is the only side true believers can be on.  If we're not on his side seeking true justice, true mercy, true humility, true surrender to his authority, we're not true believers.  (Calm down you who may be thinking I'm declaring a works salvation - that is NOT what the point of this is either, and the truth about that one is hard too.  Jesus spoke his harshest words to the very people who all thought they had one foot already in the door to heaven.  We would be wise to assess our own hearts beside his "woes" and those words "Away from me you evil doer."  Our hearts are what will be judged, not our actions or affiliations.  Just sayin'.  Our actions can do a great job disguising our hearts).

True believers want what God wants, not what we want God to want.

True believers want His truth to reign.  All His truth.  In every issue, in every circumstance, in every heart.

True believers love God's truth, the hard truths as much as the warm and fuzzy parts.

That's where the battle is left to be fought, in our own hearts.  The battle is having the courage to look at the hard truths when, if you're like I was and still am at times, would rather look at the warm and fuzzy truths and shout those out loud and strong and hope the hard truths are told by someone else.  The cost may be high if God is calling you for such bravery.

You may lose a lot of friends.  Family may shun you.  Even those you fellowship with might not see it the way God is showing you.  That is hard.  But Truth is hard.

It is wise to count the cost of seeking all Truth.  But when you're done counting, don't be afraid.
Here's what I know about seeking Truth even while knowing the cost:



It's worth it.



Every misunderstood conversation and lost relationship is worth the misunderstanding and/or loss if it means knowing Jesus Christ in the fullness of His truth.

Every lonely moment you spend crying out to him instead of going with the crowd is worth it.

He's worth it.  His truth is worth it.

He'll show you and remind you and enable you to rest in this truth:  that in the end it will all make sense.  In the end what can't be celebrated together here will be celebrated together with him, There.

The Lord loves unity, but unity can only come with individual hearts surrendered to Him, not to a party line, a denominational line or any other color of line.  When all hearts surrender to Him and his ways and his methods and his workings, THEN.....

Then there will be peace.

Then . . . .

He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.  Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.  All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever...He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.  And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.  And he will be their peace...


Seek His truth.  The courage you need is waiting to be used by you.

Peace,


Ronda


Matthew 23; Matthew 19:28-30; Luke 11:14-54; Luke 14:25-35; Micah; Matthew 7; Luke 13


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winter keeps no secrets

Driving around the countryside of Wisconsin in winter can be a little depressing if you're looking for pretty things.  There are only three colors right now:  brown leafless trees, fields of white snow and gray/black snow along the roads.  The pretty blue waters of the lake nearby is covered in white.  Even the birds that come to our feeders only have a smattering of red (woodpeckers) on them.  The cardinals and blue jays come but their visits are less frequent than the nuthatch or the chickadees that visit daily.

It's just an earth tones time of year.

The interesting thing about this time of year, amidst the barrenness and lack of vibrant color, is what is revealed in winter that stays hidden in summer, hidden behind leaves and vibrant bushes and other foliage that mask the secrets only winter can tell.

If you drive around, you can see houses that are normally hidden in summer, there are long abandoned cars that jut out of the landscape, the rust peeking out of the snow blanketed covering.  Fences are seen, hunter's tree stands jut out upon the white landscape, resting and waiting for its hunter's return.

So much is revealed when winter comes.

The harshness of winter is not afraid to lay bare its unseen summer mysteries.

It seems we are in a winter of sorts spiritually/politically/emotionally as a country right now.  To separate one from the other would be foolish because they connect us in ways that only reveal themselves in winter.  Sort of like the spiritual winter we seem to be in right now.  There's nothing like an outsider to politics turned president to reveal the winter of our hearts.

What is it about us that when change comes we resist so much?  What is it about our fear of what man may or may not do that can send normally reasonable and fun summer people into such turmoil?  Do we sleep in summer, lulled by the pretty landscapes of color and foliage and nice summer breezes, so that when winter comes we are unprepared, even surprised by the coldness and fears of our own hearts?

The spiritual winter of our souls are being laid bare and it's not a pretty picture.

The hatred and angst, the fear and discontent, hidden in summer's beauty, now showing its ugly head when its costumes are off.

Winter's secrets are only revealed in winter.  Soon summer will come again, but even though the secrets will once again be covered up by summer's beauty doesn't mean the secrets are gone.  The homes will still be hidden among the leaf covered trees, the tree stands will be less noticeable, the fences will be disguised, but not one of them will have disappeared permanently.

Our winter heart can easily be seen when the times of testing come.  We can cover it in summer, but just because we can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there.



Peace,

Ronda

Psalm 66: 16-20

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.  I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.  If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!  

  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

Have you made your resolutions yet?  If you have resolved to spending more time in the word of God this year I would like to invite you to my Facebook page where you can read and study and answer short questions each day a from a small portion of God's Word.  When we get to Day 365, you will be able to say that you have read the entire Word of God from cover to cover!

You can scroll back to Day One which was started on December 1st.  You can go as fast or as slow as you like.  Have a notebook and pen handy to take notes, write down questions, record answers, or just doodle!

Have a blessed New Year and may 2017 be the year God finds His people awake and alert in ways never seen in past generations.

Peace,

Ronda

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