Sunday, August 24, 2014

When Trust Meets the Road of Rubber

A number of years ago when we were facing a move that we knew would have us moving again in less than six months I was new to reading the Bible.  I actually wasn't even reading the Bible as a whole, I was more or less just taking a peek here and there, too afraid to look too closely for fear of what I might find it saying to me.

Even though I had been a regular church goer I had come to a place in my life where I needed to put shoe leather to what I said I believed, rather than just let someone tell me what I believed.  I believed I had reached the point, to use several vernacular, "given my life to Christ, surrendered to Christ, believed Christ."  I don't know what you would call it.  Some are very offended by any words that reflect any action of faith on the part of a spiritually dead person, but there was something different I knew deep down I needed to do.  God had wrapped the gift and was handing it to me, I had to ask him to lift my hands from my side so I could take the gift and unwrap it.

Something was happening in my life that would end up rocking the very foundation I thought I had in Christ Jesus, but it was something that was a specific action during a specific time in my life where I had to let the rubber meet the road and say either, "I will follow wherever you lead," or "I will try and manipulate and figure my life out on my own."

It was during this time period, when my circumstances for living, for my family, my children, my home was totally out of my control.  We had to move and it sucked.  We tried everything we could to stay where we were for just four more months but we hit a wall every time.  We had to move.  For four months.  And then, move again.

It sucked.  It really, really sucked.

But during this time, during this struggle not only of physical circumstances, it was a spiritual struggle most of all.  Do I trust God enough to take care of this situation?  Am I willing to trust Him even though I can only see the inconvenience, the difficulty, and the stress of the situation, will I trust Him to take care of this for me?

It was a day of choices.

His way or mine.

I'm humbled to say now, that I "choose", yes, I made the choice to follow His way, not mine, to follow Him and the reason I did, was because as I wrote above, I was just peeking in the Bible, just kind of playing with it at that time, not really wanting to take it seriously, when one day, when I was crying and praying and whining I decided to try this Bible thing and my eyes fell on this verse.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Trust.  In the Lord.

With all my heart.  Not just some of your heart, Ronda, all of it.

Don't lean on what you think you know, lean on me.

In everything you do, from here on out, try to see me in the circumstances.

And you know what I'll do, I'll make it all work out just fine.

He got me with that verse.  Just that one verse.  (Smile).

It's been a wild ride ever since.  We moved.  We moved again four months later.  And a few more times after that.  If I've learned one thing from my life as a Navy wife, it's this:  The Navy never moved us.  God did.  Every time.

But He got my heart that day.  He got my attention to see the attention He pays to every detail of our lives.  He wanted me to live the moves and the pain of them and the sadness and sense of loss and heartache because He wanted my heart.  All of it.  Not just a portion, not just the part I was giving him on a Sunday morning.

He wanted all of it.

And He wants all of yours too.

Not to be mean to you or to make life less fun and sufferable, but because He knows how painful it is for us to try and figure things our for ourselves, NEEDLESSLY, when He's right there.  Waiting to take you by the hand and walk with you through the crap that this world brings.

It's only one word that will change your life and your thinking and your behaviors and your beliefs.


You may think your circumstances are dictating your life, but they're really not.  God has an intricate, detailed plan in motion from the minute you are first formed in your mother's womb to the last breath you take on this earth.

Trust in Him with ALL your heart.  Don't trust your understanding or your logic or your rational thinking.  In everything you do, get to know Him through everything, see Him in everything you do, ask Him to guide you in everything you do, and your paths, your plans, your desires will work out better than you could have ever controlled or manipulated or planned.

Trust Him.  He's got you.

And boy, does He think you're awesome!


Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, August 22, 2014

Confession, Part two

I hit that darn invisible light switch yesterday.  The one that used to be on the left side of our previous home and is now on the right side in our new home.  Remember?

It got me thinking about the act of confessing that I told you about the other day.  I've been praying for you and wondering about you hoping that God is beginning to free you from some stuff that He's been trying to get you to let go of for quite sometime.

Anytime we try something new, at least for me anyway, I get gung-ho starting out and then hit a plateau and before I know it, it's like I never started the something new.  Ugh.

It's the same way with confession.  You might have read my last post and brought your dump truck of garbage and dumped it into the landfill - a suitcase wasn't going to hold out maybe?  Wink, wink.  That release may have felt really really good.  But now, here you are two days later and you're feeling the same crap creep up on you again.

Don't fret.  Do NOT fret.


Don't stop confessing.

Even if you are thinking, "Ronda, I will never get anything done, there is just too much to confess," don't stop.  This is where trust comes in, that thing called faith that you have been given.

Got doesn't pummel us with each and every sin or missing the mark all at once.  He knows it would kill us if He did it that way.  We have our general recognition of I'm a sinner, saved by grace and by this I know all is forgiven and I confess this.  But the day to day sins or the sins of the past, are brought to light slowly, and ever so gently so that instead of feeling like you can never confess EVERYTHING at once, He leads us into a quiet place of confessing as we go along.

Sometimes confession has two parts.  If you are convicted of a sin, say you were short with your employee or your child, and because you are practicing this walk of confession and you confess immediately your missed mark, than a little while later, it may come to your mind several other times in the past where you were short with someone or inpatient.

As the Holy Spirit brings those things to your mind, and don't go digging for them, let Him show you  them, you can then confess those things, put them in a suitcase because they will fit in a suitcase and leave them at the foot of the cross.  You don't need a dump truck in God's way of handling the past.

Our hearts are feeble and easily overwhelmed.  He knows this about us and He's a good dad and doesn't want to stand beside us with a long list of sins for you to feel guilty over.  We may do that to others, but God does not do that to us.  Not since Jesus anyway.

If you have children you know that when they have broken a rule you and they need to be disciplined you don't bring up the offenses of two years ago, you deal with the offense of the day.  The past offense may need to be addressed, but not at the time of the present offense.

When a person is arrested and goes to court on multiple offenses, each offense is a separate count in a court of law and is dealt with separately.  (At least that's what tv teaches - wink, wink again).

My point is:  you may be FEELING that it is pointless to confess because there is TOO much to confess.  Don't base your confessions on your feelings.  Base them on the freedom that has been won for you in each confession.

Let me say this loudly and in big letters.


Now, the next part of confession is what to do about the consequences of our sins.  And this is the trickier part, because this is where God's enemies, and our enemies too, want to trip us up so we FORGET that we have been cleansed from our past sins.

Just because we've confessed doesn't mean we are set free from the consequences.  There is no punishment to be made in God's mind.  That was placed on Jesus Christ.

BUT, confession does not always stop consequences of the action.

HOWEVER, God, because He is merciful and just and caring and forgiving and kind and loving has the power to carry us through the consequences, holding us close, carrying us like a dad carries a little child after a long day at Disney World.  He's got you in the consequences too and He's not going to leave you.

You can take that to the bank.

God's got you.  The consequences may come and may be there until the day you die, but that doesn't mean you have to keep confessing the same thing over and over and over and over and over again ad nauseum.

Jesus is there to carry you through, to keep your eyes forward, to lean into through the struggle of throwing off what shame and guilt and regret want to throw on us.  He's got you.

Before you know it, your list of unconfessed sin will be so short, you will be living in the moment and so close to the Spirit of God that you WON'T WANT to do anything that comes close to sinning.

So hang in there, keep confessing, keep receiving the grace as God lavishes it on you.

You're so loved by Him.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When confession frees the soul, the body sings

If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
1 John 1:9-10

confess - to admit you did something wrong or illegal; to talk about or admit something that makes you embarrassed, ashamed, etc.; to tell your sins to God or to a priest

homologeo - to confess, acknowledge, agree, admit, declare

hamartia - a sin, failure, missing the mark

katharizo - to cleanse; make clean; removing all admixture (intermingling of filth)

adikia - injustice; the opposite of justice; unrighteousness, as a violation of God's standards (justice) which brings divine disapproval; a violation of God's justice, i.e. what is contrary to his righteous judgments (what He approves).

It's so hard these days to come clean about something we've done wrong.  I struggled for years with secret sins that just weighed on my mind and heart, causing me to obsess and ruminate over and over again by justifying the things I'd done, the secrets I kept, trying to find peace from the turmoil and torture secret keeping left me suffering under.

It's really hard to come clean in 2014.  Not that it was any easier in the first century or 1453 or 1876, but it seems like today it's even harder to come clean and say, "I have sinned.  I have missed the mark."

Every "sin" has an out these days it seems.  They've got their own labels, their own party line, their own support network so that instead of saying, "I've missed the mark," it's ok to say, "I missed the mark but it's only because I have this disease or that disorder or that prognosis."   It's allowed more and more each day to discredit or justify  an actual conscious behavior since it is "caused" by something that has been found in a medical book or by an association.

Don't get me wrong.  I know we have stuff that's wacky about us.  I've said it here before, I have A.D.D. and that little brain "disorder" can and has helped me to miss the mark on more than one occasion.  I'm not making light of mental disorders or physical sufferings.  I'm NOT.  They are very real and very difficult and I have deep, deep compassion for you if you are suffering right now with any mental un-health.  Please hear me out.

It may be just me, but I've observed that there seem to be only a half a handful of ways offered to deal with this condition called sin or missing the mark..  Religion offers up two ways:  1.  go in a box, tell a priest, get your absolution and your orders for hail Mary's and be on your way.  2.  Have a group confession of sin, receive absolution from the minister and come back next week.  3.  Pretend we are all good people making bad choices.

I want to offer you a fourth technique.  And before I share this, I want to put this disclaimer up first:

This does not minimize the basic need to know and understand  that all mankind is sinful.  That all mankind cannot live a perfect life.  This goes deeper than the most important fact that Jesus cleansed us all from all sin, those we know, those we don't know, those we will commit, those we have committed.  The gospel message is clear, we have been pardoned for all sin, for all time because of what Jesus did on the cross.  So, with that understanding I don't think it is necessary to make that wonderful truth my point.  I hope to build on that wonderful Truth in a practical and applicable way that I don't think is talked about very often.  I get that, and I know you do too.  But getting that general view of the gospel does not always help us rise above the more specific and personal ways God wants to bring His gospel into our hearts to free us from "those" sins.  Those sins that we know, those sins that we feel guilty over, those sins that shame us.  Those sins that we can name and label.

Those sins.

That being said, from here on out, consider my two cents worth on this.

Agree (confess) with God that you are not just a "sinner"  or have a disorder or a disease and use that as your excuse for your behavior, but when you feel the guilt of what you did do or didn't do or should have done but tried to avoid or whatever is the case, agree with God, confess it right there on the spot.

And then, let it go.  If you need to make things right with someone, ask God to show you how.  If there is nothing to be done than move on.  But walk away from the guilt and shame of unconfessed sin after you've agreed with God about it.  Walk away from it.  See that "confession" as placing your missed mark in a suitcase or a bag or a box and taking it and laying it at the foot of the cross where it's meant to be and meant to stay.

See, if we confess, if we agree that we miss the mark in a whole host of ways, not just in the "big" sins like murder or lying or cheating or sexual sins or our general sinful condition (and isn't it funny how even all of those have excuses for now), we begin to taste freedom.

You are not meant to live under the power of your past, present and future sins.  You are meant to live victorious in spite of your past, present and future sins.

But what we do, what comes natural to us is to justify our missing the mark.  We like to blame it on our condition, our disorder, our childhood, our boss, our spouse, our job, our church, our dog, our teacher, our president.  What is unnatural for us is to blame it on the one who actually put the shoe leather to the action:  Me, you, us!

When we have guilt for past sins that dog us it often plays out like this.  See if you can relate.  I am reminded of a past sin and then wonder if I'm really forgiven for it, but my child comes in the room when I'm feeling guilt for that sin and he or she may be crying or just simply asking if they can have a drink of water, yet I snap at them for no real reason, except that I'm dealing with this guilt that won't leave me alone and I take it out on the first person or thing that is near me when it hits.  Then that child, because its feelings are hurt, goes and hits her baby brother because mommy (or daddy) snapped at them and they feel bad and then the baby starts crying and you have to deal with two crying children at the same time your spouse walks in the door and sees crying and yelling and decides he should just turn around and go back to work.  Then you get mad at your spouse for leaving you with two crying children when all the while if you had realized......

that if you confessed your sin the moment it struck you and agreed with God that yes, what I did was wrong and I'm trusting that you have taken care of my guilt and then went on to believe he is faithful and just to forgive you for missing the mark and trust that he is purifying you from all unrighteousness and cleansing you from the intermingling of filth that lies hidden in our hearts, what a completely different household you would have in just a few short seconds.

But, when we have to set up a time to confess to a person either publicly or privately, individually or as a group, a lot of crap can still happen, a lot more hurt feelings, a lot more fighting, a lot more crying will develop between the time we recognized our guilt and the time we can "confess" IT as an individual missing of the mark or a group collection of missings of the mark.

Confess on the spot.  Agree with God on the spot.

If you are feeling guilty, that's a good thing sometimes.  That's the Holy Spirit telling you to confess so you can move on.  Don't wait for an appointment, do it on the spot!  Don't waste your time trying to justify why you did it - "I'm this, I'm that, I have this disorder, I have that diagnosis, this happened to me as a child."  Ok, so you do.  But that doesn't do you one bit of good when you don't agree with God that you still behaved crappy but please, God, lavish the blessings of your purification and righteousness on me one more time anyway.  We make him out to be cheap and his grace, his beautiful grace is tainted when we do that.  When we make excuses for missing the mark his grace is worthless.  When we acknowledge we've missed the mark, not resting on our excuse for it, but really confessing that my condition or disorder or my past does not give me license to continue to miss the mark then the purification really can start.

Don't settle for your diagnosis allowing you to have rude behavior.  You're better than that.  Jesus in you makes you better than that.  Don't let your diagnosis keep you from seeking the first treatment and maybe the last treatment or medication you ever need.

Confession may be the only treatment you need.  You don't have to get a prescription for confession.  You don't have to worry about medicinal cocktails in your system wreaking havoc on your emotions and your mental status.


King David knew what it felt like physically to not confess.  He said that when he kept silent his bones wasted away through his groaning all day long.  He said God's  hand was heavy on him, taking away his strength like a hot summer day.  He knew what it was like to have his sin always at the front of his mind like a video playing constantly of his sin.  He felt crushed by the weight of unconfessed sin but when he confessed, when he agreed with God that he had done wrong, the weight lifted, he felt the washing of a clean soul right with God.  He wanted the things God wanted for Him, He wanted the pure heart and the steadfast mind.  It wasn't just a general condition he confessed, it was specific.  He knew what he had done wrong and he walked through the prison doors of unconfession a free man when he confessed specific sins to God.

Confess.  It's good for the soul.

God does not want you burdened by your past, present and future sins.  He does not want you in guilt or pain or shame one second longer than is necessary to place your eyes back on his forgiveness and love and mercy and away from the oppressive heat of unconfessed sin.

You are not going to surprise him by anything you confess.  He already knows it about you.  Confession is for you, not for him.  Confession, agreeing with God on how and when and why you've missed the mark countless times is the door you need to go through to receive the blessings that he won for you on the cross.

Don't wait till Sunday or when the confessional booth hours are open.  Confess now.  Be free now!
The only person hurt by you avoiding the reality of God's truth about your sin is you.  (And maybe your kids or your dog or your spouse or your co-workers or the lady behind the cash register at Walmart or Target.)

You are the one who has the problem.  Confession is the solution.

It's pretty cool to have access to instant cleansing when you instantly confess you've done wrong, thought wrong, spoken wrong.

Pack this crap up and leave it at the cross and start living the life He won for you.



2 Samuel 11-12; Psalm 32; Psalm 51; Romans 6:11-23; 2 Timothy 2:22; Titus 2:11-14;
Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 Peter 4:1-2; 2 Peter 1:3-10; Jude 24-25

Saturday, August 9, 2014

In darkness God's truth shines most clear

I remember reading Corrie Ten Boom's book, "The Hiding Place."  I remember reading about when she and her sister Betsie were in the concentration camp Ravensbruck during the Holocaust when six million Jews were exterminated and another five million also were killed, and there were women all around her, of all Christian backgrounds, yet, in that dark place they could worship the Savior all of them knew.

"They were services like no others," she writes, "these times in Barracks 28.  A single meeting might include a recital of the Magnificat in Latin by a group of Roman Catholics, a whispered hymn by some Lutherans, and a sotto-voce chant by Eastern Orthodox women.  With each moment the crowd around us would swell, packing the nearby platforms, hanging over edges, until the high structures groaned and swayed.
     "At last either Betsie or I would open the Bible.  Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text we would translate aloud in German.  And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, back into Dutch.  They were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the light bulb.  I would think of Haarlem, each substantial church set behind its wrought-iron fence and its barrier or doctrine.  And I would know again that in darkness God's truth shines most clear."

I can hardly look at the pictures of the refugees in the mid-east.  My heart aches for those forced out of their homes by terrorists, rockets, hatred and revenge.  The stories of execution and murder because one does not profess one religion over another is baffling to me.  Simply baffling.

Because they are Christians or whatever label that is hated, they die.

Yet here in the United States we live.  We go to our denominational churches, singing music in our denominational flavor, in our denominational orders of service and worship, yet we have no fear of anyone forcing us to give up our beliefs, practices, traditions and our homes or die.


I wonder, if, or when, such a day may or may not come, will they look at us western Christians who call ourselves by such added names as Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterians, Orthodox, or Catholic, will they even care that we are of the Southern end, the Missouri side or the Reformed?  We will not die because of the name in front of our Christian name.  We will die because of Christ.

Doctrines matter and doctrines divide.  But only one doctrine, only one name is what is causing death in the mid-east and Africa and other parts of the world.

Not Wesley, not Luther, not Calvin, not the Pope.


He's the threat.

If you carry His name above all other names, you are the same threat.

I get the reasons for taking stands on certain doctrines of faith and practice.  I get it.  Each of us, led by the Holy Spirit moving us when we understand something with clarity and certainty is something I am well acquainted with.  I ginosko what it's like when God leads us to take a stand and not move.  We gotta do what God leads us to do.

But, and this is a big but,

Christians, all flavors of Christians, are being murdered or forced out of their homes and villages.  There is no checkpoint for denomination or doctrinal stance.  All types of Christians are being targeted.


If terrorists consider any flavor of Christian a Christian and equally deserving of death, than why do we western Christians not see other believers not of our flavor or doctrine with the same eyes?  The name of Jesus is the target.  If you claim the name of Jesus, you are the target, no matter what doctrines or stands you take.

Remember what I said, I GET the reasons for doctrinal divides, I really, really do BUT, will those divides really matter if or when the day of evil arrives again on our shores?

A Baptist doesn't get a Lutherans take on Communion or Baptism and draws the line.  A terrorist doesn't care.

A Lutheran sees the sola scripture, sola fide, sola gratis and draws the line.  A terrorist doesn't care.

You baptize babies and your non-denominational neighbor doesn't and both draw the line.  A terrorist doesn't care.

If collectively, in a terrorist's eyes Christians are seen as Christians no matter where they worship or what and how they practice, then why can't we see the same?  Is it really the doctrines that are dividing us or is it our own hollow hearts?  

Oh that God Almighty God would give His people this same spirit of oneness as Corrie and Betsie experienced, before darkness comes.  Let it not come after we've been banished from our homes with nowhere to go, but let it come among us now, sweeping not only into our Sunday mornings but also our Tuesday afternoons and Thursday evenings.  Let His Holy Spirit fill us each with a love for each other that knows no bounds, that is not hindered by doctrine or creed, but sees only the heart of the hurting.  The hearts Jesus knows, the hearts Jesus lavishes his grace on too.

With much love and

"And I would know again in darkness God's truth shines most clear."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

When the Stones Were Dropped

Based on John 8 (some words added for effect, not literal translation).

The sun was peeking over the Mount, coloring the sky in shades of yellow, orange and red
He walked among the quiet stones and lifted up his head.
They gleamed and shimmered, reflecting quite a sight
But nothing to the glory that was hidden in broad daylight.

He saw her standing there, her hair mussed and tears falling down
upon her face that was once made up to hide her imprinted frown
She was standing there, between the men, shaking and trying not to run,
When He looked at her and saw right through the things that she had done.

The men surrounding her said, "what do you say about this woman who has broken our holy law?
"She should be stoned, she should be punished for not heeding to Yahweh's law.
"We caught her with a man with whom she was not wed.
What do you say, will you be the one to help us stone her until she's dead?"

He looked around and when he could not see the man to answer with her to this charge,
he knelt down and began to write, using his finger for a pen,
Not answering their questions of what should be done,

He kept writing, we don't know what, and when he was finished he stood tall,
"If any of you have not sinned, then please, I'll stand back against the wall.
You can pick up your stone, hold it tight in your hand, be sure to throw hard,"
then he stooped back down and wrote some more, and did not erase or discard.

The words continued to be penned and as he wrote they began to leave,
no words were spoken just the sounds of dusty feet refusing to believe,
the oldest to the youngest finally left and walked away
the questions slowly stopped, there would be no snapped trap today.

Only he and the woman were left,
she was still shaking and overwhelmed,
His voice was gentle as he spoke to her , "where are they who condemned you,
has no one picked up a stone?"

She shook her head and said, "no one sir," looking around to be sure,
His eyes pierced through to hers, his heart so full of concern,
Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave this life of sin."
Did she stay, did she run, did she wander away basking in the great win?

What did he write that day on the ground, we will never know
Did he write the sins of the men who brought her there?
Their lies, deceit and lust
Or did he list the times they all used the girl to heed to their own disgust?

We may not know the words he wrote, but whatever he wrote was true,
He pierced the hearts of those who judged and those forgotten few
The young who watched the elders rage, were caught in the crossfires too
They saw their lives before them, empty and aimless to pursue.

The words spoke loudly, this much is true
What would they say if they were written about you?

Have you suffered, have you sinned, have you faced the traps of deceit
Do the stones get thrown at you for what you continue to repeat?
Do you find the stones held in your hand for those who sin worse then you
Or have you laid your stones down, for he has ransomed you too.

He told her, go now, leave your life of sin,
For it's not the way we win.
I'll be there to hold you, I'll be there to see you through
The life you thought you'd never leave, will let go of you.

I'll be the one to hold you when the fears of life surround,
just look to me to make a way from the earthly bounds.
Don't fret, don't fear, don't take another step
Feel my hand holding yours as I hold you safe...and kept.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Photo Albums of God

Where does he keep them, those memories lost
In the minds of bodies that still pump and shoot neurons to the muscles still working,
as the beautiful minds fade and forget, 
where do their memories go?

Does he have a storehouse in heaven with categories on file
of births and weddings and birthday parties and soft spoken smiles?

Does He pull them out and look at them like an old photograph book
Does He remember with a smile the day she first took Him at His word and stepped out in faith
To give her life to Him and walk and not glance back with a look?

How far away does the east keep them from the west to guard her mind from the past
But what about those memories of courage, trust, and faith and fun
Are they placed in His storehouse of life's moments that will forever last?

Does He have them filed by moments of triumph, moments of courage, moments of joy?
Will He remember them by the years of growth like the markings on a chart remembering 
our height as we stood up straight to get the tallest mark?

Where does He keep them, these memories lost and forgotten, each moment that mattered to Him or someone along our path?

When we're with Him, when we're Home, will we pore through the stories and laugh and smile and rejoice as we finally see Him beside us, through the things that did come to pass, through the days that weren't wasted?

Will the cloud of witnesses stand behind us then and chuckle and laugh and say, "I remember when."

"I remember watching you from above and cheering you on as the dreams you had made fell to the majesty of His dream for you.

"You couldn't see it then," they might say, "but we knew His plan was good, see that smile on His face there, you didn't know it then in your tears, but He knew you were right where you needed to be."

The memories of the pain can never be washed entirely away, for the days of joy were made in the days of grief and heartache, of disappointment, rage, and fear.

They are all a part of the story that got us here today.

What could be changed, wouldn't be changed, for the story has to be told, of the miracles that are your life, too many to be left untold.

When the mind gets tired and the memories fade, they only get filed away 
for the moment when we all go home, oh what a glorious day.

To see the things that mattered much more than what we could have ever thought, played out in someone else's life we never could have wrought.

The albums will fly open, the laughs and chuckles too.
We'll see His face on every page, see there,
He's holding you!