Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What would happen if the world's believers prayed like a Muslim?

We're struggling here in the United States.  Our world is topsy turvy and we're struggling to keep our balance.  At least I am.  Our citizens keep drawing deeper and deeper lines with no end in sight.

I got a call from my daughter yesterday, after I blasted my frustration on Facebook, lost a little bit of my ground and had to shorten my sin list again.  There were plenty there too.  I raised her right, I guess, because she called it like it was and told me to get it together.  Well actually, I said get it together, she said to get off Facebook.  I'm not quite ready to do that, as much as I probably should, I have this hope deep inside that this social media world that has permeated our fiber is for a higher purpose.

Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I'm not ready to give up.  Yet.

A year ago today hubs and I were in Istanbul, Turkey.  A picture popped up on my memory feed with the two of us standing in front of the Blue Mosque.  And then it hit me between the eyes.  Pray!  Pray like the Muslims pray.  We don't have to go to a special building and wash our feet outside before going in.  We don't have to even take our shoes off if we'd rather not.  We don't have to do anything else but stop what we're doing, turn the phone, the computer, the tv, the radio - all of it off - and just take ten seconds to pray the Lord's prayer.  If you miss the time, so what?!  We're Christians living in Grace - but if you miss, pray as soon as you remember.  Get back on that prayer horse and ride!

So this is my call to you, Christians...pray.  Weak faith, strong faith, small faith, big faith.  Pray.  Start a wave of praying the Lord's Prayer five times a day, sunrise, noon, midday, sunset, and evening.  Let us Christians stand - or sit or lay flat on your face - as one all over the world and pray the prayer Jesus taught us.

Our Father,
who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

Add "for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever.  Amen." if you so desire.

Let's pray, Church!  Let's fill the heavens with a collective prayer the Lord Jesus taught us to pray.  It is the prayer that unites believers around the world.  It is the prayer all flavors of Christianity know.  It is the prayer that unites, that glues this fractured body together.  We don't need anyone special to lead us, we don't need to go to any special place.  Stop what you're doing, set your phone alarms (I know you have them), then pray.

Pray like you've never prayed before.


Peace,

Ronda





Monday, December 7, 2015

Keeping the List Short

As you are awakening from your sleep and seeing life/God/the Bible/faith with a new view, old habits are going to try and bring you down.  Sometimes they'll win, but I want to share with you what has worked for me after the lightbulb turned on and things started becoming clear.  The veil was removed from my clouded mind and what I once thought I understood, with some difficulty, became easier and easier to understand.

This business of sin.  More importantly your list of sins.

You know them.  I don't have to try and pull them out of you or get you to see what ones are the big ones the bad ones or the not so bad ones.  You know.  You've been dogged by them for years, I'm sure.  They come at you when you least expect it, taking your thoughts captive, robbing you of joy,  belittling you.  They tell you those sins are the reasons your faith is weak, God couldn't love you/forgive you/trust you.

Today is the day you will put them to rest.

This is how.

Make your list of the above things I just mentioned.  If it helps to write them down and you have enough paper do so.  (wink, wink) As they come to mind, imagine them being placed in a suitcase.  Each sin gets its own suitcase.  Don't worry, you won't have to carry them too far.

As you put each sin that comes to mind in its own suitcase, take that suitcase and place it at the foot of the cross.  Then, look up.  Jesus is there.  You may see him as he is being crucified or you may see him sitting on top of it, in all his glory.  Whatever way you see him though, He's there.  Leave those suitcases filled with your specific sins there.

When you get all your sins packed in their suitcases (each sin gets its own bag for this exercise) and you set them at the foot of that cross, turn around and walk away.  You can look back at Jesus and wave, blow Him a kiss too, but don't look at your luggage.  It's not yours to worry about anymore.

Now, after you've got today's list written, the suitcases packed and left at the cross and you're walking away, waving back at Jesus, whistling a tune, feeling RELIEF, some of those sins are going to try and jump out of their suitcases and back on you.  Be ready for it.  It will happen.  But that's ok. When it does happen you stop, don't look at the suitcase or the sin as it is trying to push itself out, but instead say this, "Jesus, I left that bag with you.  Please make it leave me alone."

This will be a battle you'll have for awhile, but a short while if you remember what I'm telling you to do.  As long as you realize it's going to happen, you're ahead of the game.

Those bags you left today have no business torturing you tomorrow.  Once they are left at the foot of that cross, that is where they stay.  You have no business picking them up and carrying them with you.

Many will try and get you to pick them back up.  Be prepared for this too.  Those you sinned against.  Those you hurt by the lies you packed in the bags.  Those who know the "real" you won't like to see you with peace.  But you don't let yourself get overcome by those, you just keep telling Jesus, "Keep my baggage.  Keep my baggage.  Keep my baggage."

In a little while, today's baggage rack will be a memory that becomes more and more distant in the rearview mirror.

Now, here's truth.  I hate to tell you this, but....you will sin again.  You will.  It's in our fleshy nature,




BUT!!!!!!! 

Because you know where to put those sins, immediately when the Holy Spirit convicts you you have sinned, pack that sin up in a suitcase and repeat the exercise.  You no longer need to waste time on thoughts that deny or deceive you into thinking you have to wait till Sunday or when you're alone or after you've prayed real hard to pack up the sin and lay it at the cross.  Do it as soon as you can!  It only takes a spit second.

Once you get this practice down and deep in your mind and in your heart, the deeper understandings of God will begin to come.  I have found the deeper things are revealed when I keep my sin list short.

Now,
what I am not saying: 



1.  Unless you confess every single sin you are not saved.  No.  The blood of Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all sin.  This is the way you keep the communication channels open between you and him.  If you have unconfessed sin, like a blocked artery not able to get oxygenated blood to the body, unconfessed sin blocks clear communication between you and him.  If the Bible is too hard to understand for you, it may become easier if you practice doing this.

2. I have to list every single sin.  Are you kidding me?  Do you know how long that would take and how defeated one would feel?  No, God will reveal things to you little by little.  He's a good dad, a gentle dad, overflowing with compassion for you.  He knows how much your heart can take.  I still have sins from years ago that surface from time to time, that I haven't confessed.  But when Jesus brings them to mind I confess them quickly and trust that if that past sin was keeping me from hearing him now, in the present, that he clear clear the blockage and quickly.

3.  You have to do this with a priest, a pastor, a congregation, or two or three.  No.  Absolutely 100% NO!  Not just no, but HELL NO!  This is between you and Jesus.  It ain't no one else's business for now and forevermore!

Are you ready to give it a try?  Are you ready to start tasting real freedom?  Today's your day.

Remember, just because those bags try to jump back into your hands after you lay them at the foot of the cross, it doesn't mean they have to be confessed again and again and again.  Just call Jesus, he'll come and get them.

Don't do anything else but these four things and you will be waking up refreshed and renewed.  

1.  Confess individual sins as they come to mind.
2.  Pack them up in individual suitcases.
3.  Drop them at the foot of the cross.  (don't forget to blow Jesus a kiss and wave)
4.  Run!  Run free!

Soon you'll be ready to learn about all those things that before were blocked.  I'm rooting for you!

Peace,

Ronda


1 John 1:9



Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's a conundrum

To say the least, Christianity in America is a conundrum.

Ugh.

Guns.  No guns.  Rights.  No rights.  Safety.  Fear.  Refugees.  Terrorists.

Ugh.

A plethora of "difficult and intricate problems."  To say the least.  But, unfortunately, my brain never quite stops at saying the least I have to say.

It would be different if we were totally uneducated, unschooled, illiterate, unable to discern.  It would be much different if we were like in the dark ages, the days before Luther unlocked the Word of God from the pulpit and we only had the educated and learned to tell us what the locked words said.

Those days existed.  Thank God they no longer do.

So here we are.  Americans.  If you're my age, born in the 60's you've lived a pretty prosperous and fairly protected American life.  Our parents and grandparents experienced war.  Our mothers raised us in the light of feminism, some, well really, many disregarding and shaming their own mothers before them who stayed in the home and raised a family.  One, because their opportunities to do otherwise were limited or non existent and two....see number one.  We, of the 60's, were part of an in-between time when everything that once was valued, suddenly, in many ways, became ridiculed and shamed.

Our feminist leaders, fighting so hard for equal pay and equal rights and equal opportunities, breathed into women a fire of confidence, but their grandchildren and great grandchildren are now living without great purpose and meaning, second guessing nearly every institution, and struggling to find direction.  Did feminism win what it set out to do?

At the time, maybe, but 50 years later.....I'm not so sure.

We have man-boys and woman-girls.  And in the midst of it all we are a country that is hated by a small group of people that is tearing the United States into even more tiny pieces.

My nieces and nephews, of high school and college age, at Thanksgiving this year shared they were thankful they themselves have not been hurt by terrorists.

Let that sit for a minute.

They thanked God they had not been hurt by terrorists.









Where just one to two generations ago thanks was said for home, food, and clothing this generation is thankful that they have not been killed by a terrorist.

Does anyone else find something wrong and unsettling with that?

My friends and family, who profess Christianity are in two entirely different camps on gun control, abortion and homosexuality.  How can that be that there is such a divide among believers....in America?

This is what I would like to see among all my brothers and sisters in Christ.  It may not be a solution, but it certainly can't hurt.

Stop.

Stop and pray.  And then pray some more.

When your church doors open on Sundays and Wednesdays or whenever else they open, do nothing but pray.  Let the non essentials go.  There is no emergency meeting that needs to be held that cannot wait.  There is no song that needs to be practiced that cannot wait until all have prayed.  There is no sermon that needs to be written that cannot be better spoken from the heart.

Pray, Church.  Pray hard.  And then pray even harder.

The way things have been done in the past are not cutting it anymore.  The enemy is at our doors, and wringing our hands and going through the centuries old motions are not going to keep them from busting down the gates.

Our children are thankful they have not been killed by terrorists!!!!!!!!!!!

Our Christian children are being raised in fear that they will be killed by terrorists.  In America, of all places.

Does that not bother anyone enough to stop yelling and not listening and stop arguing and stop shouting and stop blaming?

America is flawed.  But since its birth it has been a place of refuge for those fleeing from tyranny.  People came because of our founder's constitution.  Now people hate America because of our Constitution.

It's not about more laws.  It's not about less guns.  It's not about our rights.

It's about Jesus Christ, who paid the ransom for us all.  We live in this conundrum of time, following Him, in a government established by Him.  Yet, His followers are doing everything but asking Him, what do we do?  

Church, we have to show the way.  There are no other reasonable options coming through.  Our elected officials are a mess because we, God's precious kids, are a mess.  But we can't show the way when we don't agree on THE WAY!!

Our country is a mess because God's church is divided.  It is not a liberal's fault or a conservative's fault.  It's our fault.  We didn't create all the mess but we're helping to make it messier.  It is our responsibility to confess, to repent, to beg God for mercy.

We have not loved enough.

We have not overcome fear enough.

We have not trusted enough.

But it's time now to pray that we love enough, that we fear less, and trust more.

It's time to trust with all the faith He has given us, not cower under our critic's pointing, blaming fingers.  

Jesus did not condemn those of no faith, he shook his head at those of "little" faith.

It's time, dear followers of Christ.  Brothers and Sisters of all who call on the name of Jesus - none of us have it all right and all of us have some of it wrong.  But Jesus doesn't think like us, act like us, or falter like us - thank God - He knows the right way.

He has given us the tools we need to endure.  If you have faith, you have all you need.  It's time to strengthen it.  It's time to start working out at the faith gym.  Time's are going to get more difficult, but only so that our faith gets strengthened.

Our children are afraid.

No more.

We are either who God says we are... or we're not.  It's not about the size of your faith, whose faith is true or weak, it's about how we are going to start using the faith we have been so freely and mercifully given.


Peace,

Ronda




Saturday, December 5, 2015

All means.....all

I've had two words on my mind lately.  It started out with just one, but then it led to one more and now two words are having a wrestling match in my brain, one trying to pin the other, but both have really good moves.

It started with a word I highlighted many years ago.

Wholeheartedly.

As in, "But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly."

And,

"Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly."

Oh, if only the Word of God would just stick with that one word.  I, of course, had to be nosy.  I couldn't just look up that Hebrew word and let it sit there and soak for awhile.  No.  I had to simultaneously ask and answer the question, What other words are translated #4848 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance?  I'll never learn.

Ready?

Just a smidge of a sampling from a word that is defined as, "to fill, accomplish.  The completion of something that was unfinished or the filling of something that was empty."

Are you sure you're ready?  Ok, don't say I didn't warn you.

bear
came
come
come to an end
cover
crowded
completely
drenched
 enriched
finish
 filled
gorge
 is satisfied
heaping up
make succeed
making full
overflowing
satisfy

So, you have some homework.  I've given you some clues.  When you have done your homework, consider this:

In the New Testament, the Greek uses a word multiple times that has a similar definition - "whole, all, entire, throughout.  That is Strong's # 3910.

It is used strongly (no pun intended) in this scripture:

"See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.  Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it is dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of the lamp shines on you."

I told you there is a second word wrestling in my mind.  That second word is another word used for that Greek word, #3910.

All.

Care to know where it is used?

Among other places, but most significant to my wrestling match, it is here:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind."

How much is all?

The "whole, entire, total amount, quantity, as much as possible."

So to encourage you....not to shame....but encourage you....

As much as possible for the moment you are in right now, love Him with everything you have.  Don't worry about how you didn't love him yesterday or last week or twenty years ago.  Don't step into tomorrow's worry bus and wonder if you'll be able to love him for tomorrow's moments.

As much as possible, for the moment you are in right now, love Him with your whole heart, soul, strength and mind.

That's all He's asking from you.

For the moment you are in right now.  When you get to the next moment, deal with the next moment. But for now, for this moment, practice loving him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.

He's not expecting perfection from the get go.  He's offering freedom for the moment you and I are in right now, with this breath.

At that moment it will be said of you, "My servant, (YOUR NAME HEREhas a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly."  That's the only moment that matters for the moment we're in.

Your wholehearted all will be enough.



Peace,

Ronda

***************************************
Homework hints:

Peruse Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua ( wholeheartedly is used 8 times in these books)
See if you can find #4848 in Jeremiah 31:25 and Psalm 20:4; Genesis 29:27

You'll have fun looking for #3910 in Luke, around chapter 11.

I'm not spoon feeding you people!  Why do you want to be spoon fed anyway?  Grow up, stop being lazy, and live the faith you were given!  You're not a spectator, so stop acting like one.



Thursday, November 26, 2015

Life as a Noun

I used to hate diagramming sentences in English class.  I could always get the subject and verb right.  Easy peasy.  But when it came time to drawing lines thisaway and thataway.....ugh.  I was terrible at distinguishing between prepositions and predicates and things that dangle.  Adverbs and adjectives were a little easier to discover.  Is it any wonder I am the run on sentence queen?

But I wonder....

What would the world be like if there were only nouns in our vocabulary.  If the only words we used were object words, like

apple
truck
shirt
boy
girl
house
farm
book
tv
couch
dog
horse
cow
egg
hamburger
bun

Would there be a word for Love or Joy or Compassion?  How would our lives be different if we lived like we were all just nouns with no verbs or participle phrases or prepositional phrases or run on sentences?

Some of us do live more on the noun side than a complicated sentence diagram.  Our lives live in the mundane and are very content to be there, thank you very much.  Change - a verb telling a noun I need to move - makes a noun feel very uncomfortable.

Nouns are easy.  They are one word.  They are easy to spot.  The most complicated thing about a noun is if it's dressed up in PROnoun garb or is wearing its PROPERnoun clothes.  That's about the excitement a noun has in its job description.

Nouns are happy right where they're at, but what if we all just lived our lives as a noun?

Boy.  Girl.  Kiss.  Child.  Boys.  Girls.

Wait a minute.  Wait just a cotton picking minute!  Where's the juice?  Where are the details.  How did one plus one make two then three, four and a gaggle of kids?  What would our life be like if we only lived like nouns?

Some of us are living like nouns while others of us are living like a fragmented sentence structure, with no clear subject, predicate, verb or dangling participle to our name.  Our lives are one continuous run on sentence with no beginning middle or end in sight.

Which are you?

Do you have some verbs and adjectives next to you, breathing life into your Noun world?  Or if you were a diagrammed sentence would there be lines jutting out all over the place trying to find a spot for all your extras?

Jesus has made you a noun, but He's called you to live like a verb with some beautiful adverbs and adjectives to describe what he's called you to do and to be.  Like: live courageously, love deeply, forgive abundantly, grieve freely.

You are not meant to live like only a bump on a log.  You are meant to be a verb on the log, providing nourishment to all the other bumps around you.

Live like a verb and throw some adjectives and adverbs into the mix.  Get daring and don't fret if you end on a preposition.   Don't worry about what dangles and runs forever, your work is not being graded,  I promise you that!  Come on, get up you Noun.  Stretch out that scrunched up faith, put on some clothes that end in "ly" and MOVE!


Peace, oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Ronda




Monday, November 23, 2015

Pressing on

I know.  It wasn't a very long break.  I've always been teased that I'm afraid I'll miss something, and even though I was sure I was DONE with social media, here I am.  Catching up on what I've missed.

Sidebar - my parents took a picture of me when I was about 3 years old.  They had company over playing cards or something and when I was sent upstairs to bed apparently I didn't stay in bed.  When my parents opened the stairway door to check on me after everyone had left, there I lay, sleeping, cuddled up on the floor between the bottom step and the door.  I AM afraid of missing out!  Lord, help me, it's true.

So, anyway.  A new start, a push of the restart button.

Did you know that when the Apostle Paul wrote the words I have as a tag line at the top of my blog he used a word that means to pursue, to persecute, to chase after, to zealously hunt down, earnestly desiring to overtake?

What do you press on and pursue and chase after with earnest?

I think all of us who belong to Christ wish to pursue and chase after Him earnestly, but we get stuck on the little obstacle called remembering.

No one had more he wished he could forget than Paul, formerly called Saul, the ISIS of the first century.  No one had more memories to tackle and push down and try and hide and forget and run from then Paul.  We're not talking little regrets either, we're talking about murder - over and over and over again - of women, children, and men whose only crime was their belief in a man named Jesus.

So when we see those lovely words about pressing on and straining toward, don't miss the introductory words of that sentence:

Forgetting what is behind.

Our job is to not only press on, but press on while forgetting to remember and remembering to forget.

You have no business bringing up the past to yourself or anyone else.  You have no business reminding God of all you've done to convince Him that you are undeserving of His mercy and love.

Your only business is to pursue and hunt and chase down and never give up chasing after Jesus Christ and the prize that awaits.

It's time to forget about it.  It's time to lay the past to rest.  It's time to give the past it's funeral, to cover it and bury it and walk away.  You can't change a second of it.  Not one lousy second.  What's done is done.

Stop torturing yourself.

These verbs are your responsibility now - if you belong to Christ:

Forget the past
Reach towards the future
Press on

In that order.

So when you're straining and pressing and you see a marker for the past, forget the past.  Remember to forget the past.  The scar may be there, but when someone asks how you got it, just say, "I forget."

God has.  Now it's your turn.


Peace,

Ronda









Sunday, November 15, 2015

Taking a Break

I'm taking a break from cyber world for awhile.  I don't know how long but...I need to.  For my own well being.  As selfish as that is, it's the truth.

I've been "feeling" the push to do so for awhile, but I waited to see if the "feeling" would pass and I would be able to push through and keep visiting cyber world every day and become more informed and less angry; more enlightened and less need to sucker punch.  But I haven't.  In fact, it's a daily battle to hold off the negative from happening.

Many times I scroll through the feeds of Facebook and Twitter and clicking on links only to find them covered up with advertisements for things I don't need nor do I want to see.  I get bored waiting for things to load and then am disappointed when the links are hateful or so one sided that the weight of them leave a bad taste in my mouth.

It's been a long time since I've gotten up in the morning without first looking at my phone or iPad to see what I missed.  Maybe I'll start reading more, praying more, studying more. Maybe I'll just start breathing more.

Maybe Paris is the big sign God is using to tell me to step back and live the life He's made for me instead of watching and worrying about the lives of those who I have absolutely no control over.

It hurts to see the pain and broken relationships occurring because we have so many more venues to share our thoughts, yet the more we speak the less we hear each other.

I don't need to know what so and so thinks about this or that.  And I most certainly don't want any of you to be wondering what I think about this or that before forming your own opinion or, most importantly, seeing what God thinks about this or that first.

So thank you for coming to visit and thank you for coming back if you did.  I wish you well and most importantly, I wish you God's

Eirene,

Ronda


Monday, November 9, 2015

When Mercy Calls Your Name

I didn't know exactly what mercy meant until I felt it.  I knew the definition of it from my religious upbringing.  Something to the effect of God not giving me what I deserve and instead giving me what I don't deserve.  Wait, maybe that's grace's definition....I get them mixed up.

Mercy me, I am challenged to write what I've learned about mercy, both in head knowledge and heart knowledge.

Let's start with the head:

Mercy - eleeo (verb) - to have pity or mercy on, to show mercy.  The word has often been inadequately defined merely as clemency or forgiveness, holding back deserved punishment or affliction.  Actually, eleeo means to relieve affliction, alleviate suffering or distress, ease misery.  It is the concrete expression of pity and compassion for the destitute or those in misery which undertakes to mollify or remove their suffering.

I find words easier to understand if I see how they are used in a sentence or a scenario.  Take for example how it is used in Matthew 5:7; 9:27; 15:22; 17:15; 18:33; 20:30, 31.  Each of these scenes the word eleeos (mercy) is used in a way that if I were to translate it for you I would say this:  Lord, feel my pain!

Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are those who feel the pain of others for then their pain will be felt by others.

Matthew 9:27 - As Jesus went on, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Jesus, feel our pain then please do something about it!"

Matthew 15:22 - A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, feel my pain and help my daughter."

Matthew 17:15 - "Lord, feel the pain of my son and help him," he said.  "he has seizures and is suffering greatly...."

Now, I wasn't at any of these encounters Jesus had with these suffering people.  And if you read this from our 2015 eyes, at first you may think mercy is the beginning of the definition I shared above.  "clemency or forgiveness, holding back deserved punishment or affliction."

Isn't that the first thing we think when someone is suffering and in great pain.  They deserve it.  They did it to themselves.  That's what they get for smoking, drinking, chewing, overeating......etc. etc. etc. If that's all you read in these passages, I agree, it's an honest conclusion to reach.

But you can't just read those passages, you have to read the rest of the story and see what Jesus did next so you may see like I did they were crying to him to help them, to relieve the suffering.

Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you," and their sight was restored.

Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.  And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

You see what the blind man, the Canaanite woman and the father did, don't you?  They asked for help.

They saw Jesus, they believed in his power to heal and they asked for help in their suffering.

I would venture to guess that they were not asking for clemency or forgiveness.  When people suffer and believe the lies that they somehow cause the suffering and even deserve the suffering, forgiveness is not the first thing they seek.  There is an unhealthy belief that they are getting what they deserve.

But Jesus doesn't operate that way.  At least it doesn't appear that he does in these lives.

He felt their pain, he agonized in their suffering.  He hurt just as much as they did, but he wasn't going to just heal them for his sake.

The hardest thing for a sin drenched slug to do sometimes is ask for help.

That's why Jesus had to do the work on the cross.  If he had waited for us to realize we needed help, he would still be waiting.  Our sins would still be unpunished and the suffering we suffer may be directly related to our unredeemed sins.

But they're not.  His work on the cross has taken care of the punishment we deserve.

Some of our suffering may be consequences of things we've done, but some may just be because we live in a sin drenched world.

Jesus sees and feels and hears and suffers our sufferings no matter where they originate.

But just like a whiny child who whines and complains and gets angry when things don't go his or her way and refuses to ask for help to do something his mom and dad are more than capable of helping with, Jesus sometimes, not always, but sometimes does the same thing.

He has no problem waiting for us to ask for help.

Lord, have mercy on me!  Lord, help me.

Please, Lord, help me.  I can't see and I stumble and I feel people laughing at me, making a joke of me as I walk along blindly, my arms held out trying to find my way.  

Please, Lord, help my child.  I know I don't deserve anything you have for me, but Jesus, help me anyway.

Please, Lord, help my son.  We've tried everything, we've gone to the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best of everything and still my child suffers.  Lord, help me.  Please, help me.

So Jesus is good at eleeo.  Ir comes from the eleos (noun) of his heart.  The attitude, the disposition, the feeling, the compassion he has for us.  He wants to help us.  He longs to relieve us from our daily suffering and misery.

But he also likes to be asked.

I know though, that I am very, very guilty of expecting something from Him, just because I know he knows and he could do something about it. I would guess that he appreciates being asked for help and not just assumed he will help because he's God and he should know my needs and want to help me without needing me to ask.

(Hmmmmm.....I don't appreciate anyone assuming I will help just because I am a "Christian" and that's what Christians are supposed to do.  Maybe I get that characteristic from Him.  But when I'm asked and aware of what the need is, I will do my best to find a way I can help.  I think that comes from him too.  But you have to tell me what your need is before I can help you.)

Often, when I'm whining and complaining to him, but not asking him for help, this still small voice whispers, "You just need to ask me for help."

So I do and he does.  Not always immediately, nor in the way I think he should, but when I cry out to him for help, immediately I am released from the suffering and misery of trying to figure out things for myself or waiting for answer to drop from the sky.

He just wants to be asked.

Lord, help me.  In the eleos that is in your heart, eleeos me!  Help me.

All we have to do is ask.  Go ahead, ask Him.  Jesus doesn't just talk about showing mercy, he acts mercifully.  Always has, always will.  He is a noun and a verb, evenly balanced.  ASK!!!!

Peace,

Ronda


Eleeo (verb)

Matthew 5:7; 9:27, 15:22; 17:15; 18:33; 20:30; 20:31
Mark 5:19; 10:47, 48
Luke 18:38,39
Romans 9:15, 16, 18; 11:30, 31,32; 12:8
1 Corinthians 7:25
2 Corinthians 4:1
Philippians 2:27
1 Timothy 1:13,16
1 Peter 2:10
Jude 23

Eleos (noun)

Matthew 9:13; 12:7; 23:23
Luke 1:50,58,72,78 (and this tender mercy - tender means comes from the gut, the deepest part of his being, I can hardly stand it! Friends, God is soooooooo in love with you); 10:37
Romans 9:23,11:31; 15:9
Galatians 6:16
Ephesians 2:4
1 Timothy 1:2
2 Timothy 1:2, 16,18
Titus 3:5
Hebrews 4:16
James 2:13; 3:17
1 Peter 1:3
2 John 1:3
Jud 2, 21






Saturday, November 7, 2015

When God gets a bad rap

My words and actions don't always help keep his reputation good either.  If I could only make my heart translate to my fingers the words to describe the God I know.  The real God.  The God who has blasted through my life and blown up the lies I thought were truth about Him.  I fumble with the right way to say what He truly has done, can do, and wants to do in the life of the weakest saint and strongest sinners.

But the translation gets lost and muddled and misappropriated and, like many before me, who have trudged through words and done a better job of interpretation than I can do, they fail too.  Even those who penned the words Jesus said, who heard him say what he said, who wrote it down as the Holy Spirit gave it to them, their words fall and fail just as hard as mine do. 

Falling down, down, down, bumping against hard rock and steel, making dents here and there but still not breaking through to the soul.

And God lets it.

Doesn't that drive you bananas, Church?!  It does me!  He is the one who gives faith.  He is the one who gives wisdom, understanding, and grace abundant, yet somehow, for some reason known only to Him, He keeps the door open enough for us to walk through, yet closed enough -not latched or locked, just resting on the latch - so that somehow we are the ones who have to push the door open. To enter into the place of His rest, His truth, and His hope.

We can't unlock the door to our hardened hearts, but we do, I think anyway, have to be the ones to push the door open to let the fulness of His light in.

Lots of people walk by that unlocked door thinking it's locked, that God is keeping it locked so we can't walk in.  

But here are some clearly written words (your misinterpretation of them is your fault alone):

The door is unlocked!

Jesus is on the other side of that unlocked door, knocking, trying to get your attention - boy he has to use some hard things to get you to notice - but he's there on the other side as you walk by a door you think is locked.  You hear the knocking.  Knock, knock, knock.  He's on the other side of that door, standing there, waiting for you to just give it a little poke with your finger.  You don't even have to try and turn the knob, just give it a little push with your pinky.

Or don't.

That's why you give God a bad rap (pun intended). 

You say, "If God were really a loving God He would open the door wide so I could see Him standing there on the other side."

Friend, if you could see God, you would fall on your knees and His light and goodness would be too bright for your mind and soul and eyes to handle. 

You say, "If there is a God, He would be a fair God and He would stop the evil that is going on."  

Friend, He is a fair God and before you can blink, His fairness will be distributed, evenly and without doubt.  All things will be given their fair and just reward.  Are you sure you want ALL things to be made fair your way?

You say, "I don't deserve God's love and grace after all I've done."

Friend, you're right.  But God doesn't give like we give.  God's reward and punishment is so not like our system. 

You say, "If there is a God, why didn't/doesn't he do something to fix my past, my present, or my sins I keep repeating.  When God does what I require of Him, then...then, I'll believe there is a God."

Ok, Friend.  Sooner or later you'll have to stop telling him how you would fix your life and just let him fix your life.  His way.  Your way isn't working or you wouldn't be arguing with him.  Stop arguing and telling him what to do.  When you can make a tree, then you can tell him what to do and how to do it.

You say, "I don't like God because his people are a bunch of hypocrites."

Yep.  No argument there.  Jesus wouldn't disagree with you, but the word Jesus used was based on a theatrical practice.  Acting.  We pay a lot of money to watch people act in movies and waste a lot of time watching them act on tv.  Why do you like those "hypocrites" and applaud their indiscretions not holding them accountable by not paying to see them with your time and money?  Why is their hypocriteness less hypocritical then a follower of Jesus?

See, you have all these excuses for why God is not trustworthy, yet all those things are on your terms,  based on second hand knowledge.  You haven't found out for yourself.  You haven't pushed open the door just a little bit to let his light in.

You've used a lot of excuses and pointed a long finger at many reasons why, but in the end, it really is up to you to open the unlocked door.  No one can do it for you.  I can't.  Your friend can't.  Your annoying spouse can't.  Your even more annoying Christian neighbor can't.  Only you can walk through the unlocked door.

Jesus unlocked it for you.  If you need help to open it, He'll do that for you too.  But stop wasting your time finding more and more reasons as to why you won't at least let God speak for Himself to your life.

The blame game has to stop.  The accusations have to be laid down.  Either God is who He said he is or He's not.  


Peace, Friend, really, I wish you

Peace,

Ronda


To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Wicked Shingles Shenanigans

I've had an interesting few weeks, and after you read this you may have better understanding as to why I got a little testy on here - two deleted posts because I was so grouchy - and a vomiting of words on Facebook that spewed all over undeserving friends.

Three Saturdays ago I woke up with a pain in my left hip.  As those of us over 40 often do, I blamed it on sleeping wrong and waited for the pain to work its way out.  It didn't.  It hurt Saturday.  And Sunday.  I couldn't sit or lay down without pain.  I had a bruise in the area where it hurt so I assumed I probably had run into something and hurt the tissue a little deeper than normal.  Being a nurse, the last to seek help, I avoided doing anything about it because

A.  I had already self-diagnosed myself with a deep tissue injury, nothing can be done for those

and

B.  I would go to the doctor on Wednesday, when my time off started, if it wasn't better.  As I stated, being a nurse has made me seek medical help as a last resort because our self diagnosis skills are so good.  Plus, going when I had to work just made things more complicated.

To which my husband shook his head and scolded me, "You need to go to the doctor."

I will, Wednesday.  Surely, it will be better.

It wasn't.

I started losing sleep.  There was no comfortable position accept standing and tylenol wasn't even coming close to taking the edge off.

Wednesday morning I went to the doctor.  I couldn't sit in the waiting room, I couldn't sit or lie on the examining table.  I was sure I would have to have an X-ray.  The pain was on the hip joint, the bruising was still there, yet when the doctor came in and took a glance at the red area two inches above the joint she said, "Oh no, you're not going to like this."

Ugh.  You don't want to hear those words coming from your doctor.

She checked out my range of motion in the hip, it was fine, and then said, again, "You're not going to like this.  It's shingles."

What!!!!!

Noooooooo!

Yes.

So, I texted my husband who was in the waiting room, Shingles.

Crap, he texted back.

Yep.

On the way to the Pharmacy to pick up the antiviral my doctor prescribed and the blessed pain pills, we joked that I would be going to the theater stoned the next day.

Sidebar:  A couple months ago I bought two tickets to see Wicked on tour.  It was a gamble to get them and expect my husband would go, as it is hunting season and the rut would be on his brain.  But he said that October 22nd would be the last possible day it would be safe for him to go and if I wanted to go he would be available to go with me (roll eyes and mutter, brother).

So, back to my shingles story.

We joked about me being stoned, but at least I would be able to ride the 90 minutes in the car and sit for the show, I hoped.

The pharmacist told me the side effects of the anti viral had been found to be minimal and I shouldn't have any problem.  Did I need to take them with food? I asked.   You can, he said, but you shouldn't need to.  Just in case I did, we stopped at the grocery story so I could take them with crackers.  I was able to get three doses in by the time I went to bed.  The pain meds were kicking in and I was good to go.

Until I woke up in the middle of the night more nauseous than I have ever been.  In.  My.  Life.  The thought of eating anything, let alone a cracker so I could take a pain pill - Shingles hurt, bad; the stories are true I can testify to that - made me so sick I didn't know what I was going to do.  By 8 in the morning, the day of the Wicked show, I was so sick, there was no way I could be better to make it to the 2:00 matinee.

My husband tried to find someone to use the tickets, but on that short notice, on a Wednesday of all days, there was no one.

We were going to eat the tickets, that is if I could get past the nausea.

By midday, when we got in touch with the doctor to see if I could have something for nausea, she told me to stop taking the antiviral.  (Oh yeah, on the medication handout it said there is a chance of an adverse reaction of nausea, vomiting, headache, and diarrhea.  I had the first three.  #4, or would that be #2, was probably just a matter of time).

Once the antiviral got out of my system and the pain meds were working, I was feeling pretty good.  It wasn't easy to sit or wear underwear even, but I was doing better.

Five days later, feeling better and lamenting we were not able to see Wicked, I took a chance and emailed my sad shingles story to the venue hosting Wicked.  I asked if there was some way, anyway I could exchange my unused tickets for any unsold seats in the remaining performances.  I would even provide documentation from my doctor if needed.  (Surely someone has tried to use this story to say they couldn't go).  They promptly responded and said although they couldn't replace the Wicked tickets they would gladly send two passes to another upcoming event (non Broadway) in the future.

I said that would be lovely.

Then I thought, well, why not ask Wicked themselves?  What could it hurt?  The worst they could say was, "No."

So, I found the email for THE Wicked, on Broadway, in New York City and emailed them my sad Shingles story.  To which they contacted the venue, who contacted me again and said I could exchange my tickets for unsold tickets for the Oct.31 show!

So, hubs and I got to the venue 2 1/2 hours early, and got BETTER seats then the original tickets I had purchased.


My shingles outbreak may or may not be responsible for someone who had been standing in this long long when we got there, 2 1/2 hours before the show, to hopefully get tickets.  If it was you, I'm so sorry.


We had a great time, the show was awesome and all is well.  The little bit of the antiviral I got seems to have suppressed an extended run of the shingles.  The rash is fading and the pain is very minimal.

So, if I got testy and sassy in the last few weeks here or anywhere,  please accept my apology.  Pain affects us in more ways than one.

Moral of the story -
1.  If you're a nurse, don't self diagnosis, at least get a second opinion, a doctor's  is preferred.
2.  Never assume it's over.  Nice words do go a long way, and if one answer is no...but, the next answer may be Sure!
3. Always good to have proof.   I didn't have to have documentation to prove my plight, but I did bring it along just in case.

And most importantly,
4.  There are still really nice people in this world who care even though they have never met you.

Peace,

Ronda




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wanna go for a walk?

I wish I could go to Eden and be like Adam and Eve before the Fall.  I wish I could be waiting for God to come by so we could go for an evening walk, like Adam and Eve surely got to experience.  Wasn't God walking in the garden in the cool of the day when Adam and Eve first experienced the guilt of what they had done?  Surely it was God's routine to walk among His creation like a gardener walks among her garden, talking to her plants, breathing in the beauty of her hard work.

I wish I could go there and hear the sound Adam and Eve heard before it was a scary sound.  They didn't see God walking, they heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.

If we were in that garden, before it became tainted, and before we knew fear or shame or guilt, can you imagine the peace that flowed like a river among God's creation, creatures of of all kinds both human and beast, insect and fowl, sea bearing and land crawling.  How beautiful it surely must have been.

God is still walking among His creation but it sure is hard to hear his footsteps sometimes.  There's so much shouting going on, so many words being blasted like rockets across the cybersphere, many, I'm sorry to admit, coming from my own hands. But I know he's here, walking among us, peace flowing from his pores pulling us to him, calming us with his mercy and renewing us with his hope.

If you or I were in that garden before.....

We wouldn't have a care about elections or disagreements or doctrines or rules or laws or pain or the evil that is done to each other.

We wouldn't because it wouldn't exist.

But, we're not in that garden....but God still walks among us, even though the garden is full of weeds and thorns and choking disease.

We shout back and forth to each other "If Jesus were here he would belong to this party or that party, this church or this one."  We can't imagine belonging to a party or church that Jesus wouldn't belong to himself.

If Jesus were here, walking among us, would his words join in with ours or would he stick to the script he followed when he was here the first time.

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of me.

I lay down my life for my sheep.

I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.

Don't be afraid, just believe.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Sons of God.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock....But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Take courage, it is I!  Don't be afraid.

...if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain,  'Move from here to there' and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I can hear the sound of Him walking among us.  It gets dulled by the noise around me, but I can hear Him.  He's hovering around, seeking those who are lost and trapped in pits we can't get out of on our own.  He's among us right now.  Plodding through the muck of our lives, not afraid to get dirty, not afraid to walk in the stink that we're covered in.

I can hear the sound of Him making His way to lift us from our slimy pits.

I can hear the sound of Him as He calls to us, "I'm right here.  Listen for my voice.  I'm right here and I'm never going to let you out of my sight."

I can hear Him, can you?

Go sit in his garden, breathe in the majesty of his creation.  Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Your eyes will one day see what for now only your ears can recognize.  Soon you will see him...face to face.  His eyes will penetrate into your soul, your ears will hear the kindness of his voice say to you, "See, I never left you, I was there with you through it all."

Soon you'll feel his hands hold yours.  As he pulls you close to him you will hear the beat of his heart.  The heart that has beat countless beats counting the minutes until he brings you to him face to face.

You are His, Friend.  You are his child.  We are His children.  It's time for us to live like we believe it.  Listen closely, can you hear him walking towards you?


Peace,

Ronda








Sunday, October 25, 2015

Blind as a bat or 20/20 vision?

I am extremely nearsighted.  Whenever I get my hair cut and the stylist asked if they can set my glasses on the counter for me, I hold tightly to them and say, "No, thank you.  I would hate to have to look for them in an emergency."  I keep them in my hands because there is one thing I cannot do if I don't have my glasses on - SEE where my glasses are!

Having perfect vision is something I am really looking forward to about heaven.  No more glasses.  No more eye exams.  No more.  Perfect 20/20 vision.  Marvelous!

In heaven there will be no need for glasses. There will be no need for contacts or reading glasses or braille or seeing eye dogs.  We will all see and we will all see perfectly.  There will be no need for someone to tell us to watch our step or to describe the color orange.  There will be no need for stumbling descriptions of what a sunset looks like or a blade of grass or a flower petal.  Our vision will be perfect.

We don't have perfect vision now, but we do have something very close to it.  Something that is not hard for us to attain, yet came at a great cost to the giver.

Faith.  More succinctly, childlike faith.

Childlike faith has 20/20 vision.

Childlike faith doesn't need to know the answer to why and how questions.  Childlike faith already has the perfect view, the view of faith like a child.

A child doesn't understand what is involved in praying, but he or she does understand that they need to grab their father's hand and talk to him.  A child doesn't worry about what is said or how it's said or even if the words don't make sense.  A childlike faith just lets the words roll off the tongue and heart and trust that the Father hears the babble.

A child doesn't understand why it's dangerous to cross a busy street, but a child does feel the hand of a loving parent as it holds tightly to the child's hands.

A child doesn't worry about shopping for groceries and cooking meals and providing clothes for him or herself.  A child doesn't even think about wondering if the clothes or food will be there tomorrow, the child simply trusts the parent to provide them when the need arrives.

A childlike faith reads God's word, not expecting to understand, but trusting that God is speaking as it is read.

A childlike faith doesn't worry about premillenial or amillenial arguments.  A childlike faith doesn't worry that its adult mind isn't smart enough or wise enough or can or cannot read well enough.  A child like faith reads anyway.  A childlike faith searches anyway, knowing the search will continue but that's ok, because God is holding the flashlight and giving the child just enough light for the step in front of him.

A childlike faith doesn't rest on what he or she has learned thus far.  A child explores and takes apart and practices in pretend play the things it's small heart and mind is absorbing.

A childlike faith believes without having all his questions answered.

A childlike faith trusts in the way only a child can.

A childlike faith reaches up to a Savior already reaching down.

A childlike faith feels no shame.

A childlike faith feels no fear.

A childlike faith sees what an adult's eyes cannot see.

A childlike faith hears with ears an adult no longer uses.

O you of little faith, where is your childlike faith?   Could it be your faith is small and weak because your childlike faith has grown dim?

Open your eyes and see Him like a child sees Him!  Like you once saw Him before you got big.


Peace,

Ronda

"For we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

fix - skopos - to look at, contemplate, keep your eye on


Monday, October 19, 2015

If you were a river....

Divided we stand, united we fall.  Backwards right?  United we stand, divided we fall....that's the correct order of the phrase, right?  It's the American way, remember?  We are built on unity....sort of...it's really hard to figure out exactly what our country is united on right now.  I'm having a hard time seeing unity, are you?

What is it about unity that we strive so hard to get it, yet at the first hint of disagreement or a difference of opinion it quickly disappears?  We want it until we have it and then look for ways to lose it. It's interesting to me that we are so quick (I am throwing myself in this mix, believe me) to give up and walk away from something or someone at the first drop of strife, without stepping back and trying to see the bigger picture before walking away from someone or something.

Division is not new.  It's not a 21st century problem or a problem that was from the dark ages or even before.  Actually, division was around when Jesus was around and it was caused by Jesus even when he was live and in living color.

Division came immediately after people heard truth from the proverbial horse's mouth.  It wasn't truth that was passed down or told by someone who heard Jesus say it to so and so and so and so told my sister.  No, quite the opposite.  They heard it from Jesus' own lips.  They heard his voice, they saw his face.

During a Jewish feast Jesus stood up and in a loud voice - and loud in this scene means to cry out, shout - picture Jesus shouting as you read this:

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

Everyone within earshot heard these words shouted by Jesus himself.  They didn't have to read about it like you and I do.  They heard those words, with their own ears.

And guess what? Ignoring the words he just shouted, the people argued about who Jesus was.  They argued about who he was and...where he came from.  (Those really important things).

He's a prophet.

He's the Christ.

No, He's not the Christ.  How can he be the Christ?  The scripture (this guy heard Jesus say the scripture part), the scripture says he will not come from Galilee.  This guy comes from Galilee.  The Christ will come from David's line and from Bethlehem.  (I guess the Christmas story hadn't been written yet, even we 21st century folks know that one.  Duh!)

Instead of running to the man shouting that He is the living water and having their spiritual thirst quenched by Jesus, in the flesh, standing there in front of them no less....they argued.

Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.

The schisma was made, the unity they shared just a few minutes ago listening to him speak was quickly torn, not by what Jesus said, no one took the time to reflect on that.  No, the schisma, the tear, the division came because of displacement, a modern term to describe someone who focuses on something else rather than face the uncomfortable feelings of the situation that caused them.

It's much easier to argue about things that are neutral, that have really no consequences (until they do), to avoid the discomfort of the real issue.

This is what has been going on since Jesus walked the planet and millennia before, and is going strong two thousand years since Jesus shouted truth.

(I know if we were there, if we heard his voice, saw his face, touched his hand, we would soak in the words he spoke.  I know we would.  We are just so much better now than those people back then).

Divisions are nothing new.  What happens because of divisions are nothing new either.  Families break up, churches split, countries turn on each other.  It's all natural human behavior, caused by that bloody three letter word - S. I. N.

God is not surprised by the division.  He lived it then, He watches it now.  There's nothing new under the sun.

Or is there?

The early church had to sort out what Jesus did that changed what they had been brought up to do.  No more sacrifices?  Woohoo!  But what about all this religion that is embedded in their DNA? It takes time for habits to die or for new habits to form.

Luther came along, opened a book that had been locked up for over a thousand years from the people who it was meant to be for.  He wrote it in a language people could understand and what happened almost before the last i was dotted and t crossed?  Division!

A tear here, a rip there, a shredding over yonder and we are a house divided even further than before the book was written in a common language.

Yet instead of going to what Jesus said and did, we are still following in the footsteps of those first century folks and arguing about how he said it, what he probably meant, what scripture really says here, not looking to see what Scripture says there....

If we could only rest and reflect and wonder and gaze at the simplicity of his words, shouting down through the ages:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture says, streams of living water will flow from within him.

Imagine if every believer, no matter the size of their faith, reflected on the powerful truth of those few words of Jesus:

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture says, streams of living water will flow from within him.

Simple belief.  Childlike trust leads to living water flowing like rivers all over this land.

Imagine what that would look like.

Where would division go?  Washed down stream to the waiting gulf and oceans.

What would we talk about if we weren't divided?  Who else, but the Source of the Living Water.  (This is what He did for me, what has He done for you?  Can you hear the conversations already?)

What would other countries think of a country inhabited by people who lived like they truly believed they were Living water?

Beautiful dream?

Or beautiful possibility...


Peace,

Ronda

John 7:38






Thursday, October 8, 2015

Never Means.....Never

The news gets worse everyday.  It's challenging not to give in to despair, to hold on, to not give up, give in, or give out.  I wonder, how does God do it?  How does He see everything that goes on in this wicked, wicked world and still love us?

You and I both know that if you or I were God we'd handle it all differently.  We'd be driven by law or grace, surely not both at the same time.  We'd either be condemning and display our wrath, or pat our little creation on the head and say, "You're so sweet."

I can unfollow, unfriend, ask to not be shown this, or simply go off the grid where I am oblivious to anything that causes my blood pressure to rise and my spirit to faint.

God can't.

God won't.

Isn't that awesome?!!!!

When I've had enough, God hasn't.

When I've run out of words to convey what my slug brain tries to voice, God's words echo - over and over and over again.

Never will I leave you or forsake you.

Never.

Never will I leave you or forsake you.

Never.

Never.

Ever.

Never.

Never will I leave.

Never will I leave you.

Never.

Never will I forsake.  You.

Never.

You know what never means both in English and in Greek and Hebrew:

Never.  No way.  Absolutely not.

When all else is falling to pieces and breaking our hearts and spirits, God is still there.  When the news is grim and getting grimmer every hour, God is still there.

Never.  No way.  Absolutely not will I leave you or forsake you.

Never means never.

Not a hard one to remember, just a hard one to see amidst the evil that is trying to swallow us up.

Never.

He's got this.


Peace,

Ronda

For further study of the things God says "never, no way, absolutely not" about.

Genesis 8:21; 9:11,15; Jeremiah 32:40; Lamentations 3:22; 
Exodus 14:13; 31:6,8; 34:10 Joshua 1:5; 10:14; Psalms 9:10; 28:5; 34:5; 94:14; 
Isaiah 28:16; 45:17; 58:11; 60:11,20; 65:20
Matthew 13:14; 16:22; 24:21, 35; 26:35; Mark 10:15; 13:19,31; 14:31; Luke 1:15; 18:17; 21:33; John 4:48; 6:35, 37; 8:12; 10:5; Acts 13:41; 28:26; Romans 4:8; Galatians 4:30;
Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 2:6;
Revelation 3:5, 12; 18:7, 21,22, 23






Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Our story in His-story

What will history say of us who live during this time?  What will we tell our grandchildren and, Lord willing, our great grandchildren about this time?  What questions will they think of asking us as they study this time period?  When they open their history books to the pages marked 2015, what will they say to their classmates and teachers about us as they are taught about the days we are living in right now?

I wish I could go back and talk to my ancestors, not just the ones I knew personally, two great grandmothers, but I'd like to talk to those who were the first to take the risk, the first to leave Germany - their families, their friends, their work - all to come to America.  What in the world, I would ask, was so bad that you were willing to give up everything to come to a place where you knew no one?

I wonder if they could put into words the reasons why, or if they felt a little like I feel right now, at a loss to put into words that make sense how they viewed the world in which they lived.

You and I are born into this time of history through no choice or desire of our own.  No other time period held a spot with our names on it except this one.  This is the time period in which a Heavenly Father lovingly placed us to live and move and have our being.  It wasn't by chance that any of us ended up here.  It wasn't by chance that we were born into the family we were born into.  It wasn't a coincidence that we were placed in the exact spot where we sit today - I as I type, you as you read.

We were placed here for a reason, part of a Divine plan, for a specific purpose.

What we have suffered, are suffering, and will suffer is not out of our loving Savior's sight.  It is part of a bigger plan any of us could even imagine.

The question is:  How will your role be talked about two hundred years from now?  One hundred years?  Fifty years?  Twenty?  Ten?  One?

Is the fight you are in the fight God has called you to be in, or is it the fight you've chosen to be in because you didn't like the place he picked for you?

Deep thoughts, I know.  Too serious, I know.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the ancestors before us could have told us why they did or didn't do what they were chosen for?  Maybe I'm the only one who wonders such things, maybe I need to drink more or work more or just stop praying so much then none of this would ever get in the way of my own attempt to avoid my calling.

What will be said of us as history looks back at our time?  Will our faith be recognized or our fear be more noticeable?  Will our hope be a beacon or will our fear stamp it out?  Will our courage be empowering or will our fear hold us back cowering?  What will our descendants say of us?

I know what I want them to know about me.

She believed God and followed Him with her whole heart, soul, mind and strength.  I've got a long way to go, but he keeps giving me eyes to see the light for just the next step.  It's time to think pass the troubles of today and ask God to show us how he is using them for the future.  I think it's time anyway.  He may be telling you something different, but that's what I'm hearing.

How will you be remembered in your history book?

Peace,

Ronda

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.




Permission granted

I'm a little twitchy as I write this.  At risk of much rebuke by those much smarter to me in the areas of the Apostle Paul and Ancient Greek thoughts and customs, I get a little twitchy.  My RN degree does not cover the words that are banging and thrashing around in this mind of mine.  But they've been there, at the forefront for quite a while, and today is the day I've got to begin to let them be free to have their say.

I will confess up front, I am taking two passages right out of a greater context and not spending time looking at the historical and cultural angles.   I'm sure they are very valuable, but I am doing what many claim is the wrong thing to do (myself included).  I am picking a verse(s) and going with it.  What I pray you do is read the context surrounding it, and I highly encourage you to do so.  I am going to take these verses and put them smack dab in 2015, without apology.  If this is the day we part ways, so be it.

These words were not highlighted in my bible years ago.  In fact, I have never highlighted them on paper.  But God has kept them highlighted in my mind I guess.

And so....today is the day for exploration.

Everything is permissible for me - but not everything is beneficial....Everything is permissible for me - but I will not be mastered by anything.

Everything - all that exists
Panta - all the whole, every kind of

permissible - allowed or permitted by laws or rules
exesti - permitted, lawful, possible

beneficial - producing good or helpful results or effects; producing benefits
sympherei - am profitable to, combine in a way that brings a profit (gain), especially by a concurrence of circumstances that results in benefit or advancement

mastered - one having authority over another
exousiazo - to exercise authority over, I am ruled, am held under authority

constructive - helping to develop or improve something; helpful to someone instead of upsetting and negative
oikodomeo - to build a house; I build, build up, edify, encourage

If you want to look two verses up, the two verses in all of the Bible that use these sentences, I'll wait. 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23.

Panta is exesti - but not panta is sympherei.  Panta is exesti, but I will not be exousiazo.

Panta is exesti - but not panta is sympherei.  Panta is exesti, but not panta is oikodomeo.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News, tells us Jesus has defeated the powers of sin, death, and the devil.  Grace has entered our world.  Grace, the undeserved favor of a Holy God now rests on each and every person from the beginning of time until the last breath is breathed.  There is no sin that has not been covered, paid for, and thrown away as far as the east is from the west.

If you trust that Jesus' Victorious work on the cross has done all that you can never do, you can rest completely in God's grace.  There is no sin that you have committed or will commit that is not covered under his Victorious work on the cross.

You can lie.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can steal.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can cheat.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can kill.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can overeat.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can abuse your spouse.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can think only of yourself twenty four hours a day.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can live a life totally separated from seeking God's will.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can have sex with someone of the same sex.   Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can blow up three buildings and kill thousands of people.  Because of Christ, forgiven.

You can do anything and everything your sick and evil heart desires.  Because of Christ, it is forgiven.

But the question is, how is doing any or all of these things beneficial to me or those around me?

If I lie and Christ forgives, does that make lying beneficial?

If I steal and Christ forgives, does that make stealing beneficial?

If I cheat and Christ forgives, does that make cheating beneficial?

If I kill and Christ forgives, does that make killing beneficial?

If I abuse my spouse and Christ forgives, does that make abuse beneficial?

If I think only of my self and Christ forgives, does that make selfishness beneficial?

If I live a separate life outside of God's will and Christ forgives, does that make life without him beneficial?

If I have sex with someone of the same sex and Christ forgives, does that make homosexual sex beneficial?

If I blow up three buildings and kill thousands of people and Christ forgives, does that make doing so beneficial?

"Oh, but Ronda, the good that comes from _______, _________, or _________, how can you judge someone or something who does this? "

I can judge because I have done a lot of these very things and they have not been any benefit to me.  In fact, the opposite.  

So if you are rejoicing in permission and see only good benefits, ask yourself this....Is everyone else, besides only me, benefitting from my freedom?

You want to keep killing babies legal because the good that goes on is more important?  Ok.  The truth is the benefits aren't all that great.  There are mothers and fathers and grandparents and siblings who mourn the loss of those innocent lives.  Is that the good you are thinking of?  Oh, that's right, it's the free mammograms.

You want to make it legal for marriage to be redefined?  Ok, in Christ, forgiven.  The benefits?  Hmmmm.  Nothing that you couldn't have gotten without redefining thousands of years of one covenant.  There are legal documents called wills and Powers of Attorney nowadays.  But ok, we'll look for the benefits.  I'm sure they're there.  I'm sure one little mandate by one Court is making your inner struggle go away too.

You are at risk of being called a hypocrite if you say these things are ok in your mind.  If these things are ok you have to say EVERYTHING is ok.  Go ahead, Paul said it.  But he took it a step further.  He put checks and balances in his statement.

Not EVERYTHING is beneficial.  Not EVERYTHING builds someone else up.  And that is the goal of EVERYTHING we are to do.  

That's what Jesus did.  He did what was good for everyone.  He did what was going to free EVERYONE.  He made the selfless sacrifice for EVERYONE and was VICTORIOUS on a cross used to defeat him. 

There is NOTHING you can do to save yourself from the consequences of EVERYTHING his sacrifice gave you the freedom to do.

Your choices have consequences.  What you support, what you vote on, what you voice or don't voice   - your actions, every single one, has consequences.  Just as there will be consequences to my writing this, I'm sure. 

I love you too much to not tell you this.  I don't care if you unfriend me, unfollow me, burn my book, whatever.  I don't care. 

I care about you and I don't ever want you to say to me, "Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

Jesus loves you so much more than I ever will.  His love forgives what we humans could never forgive.  He doesn't say "don't" to be mean to you.  He says it to protect you.  To protect your heart. To protect your soul.  He loves you enough to tell you the truth about the choices you are making.  I must have courage to do the same.

You are His precious child.  His love is deeper than anyone or anything can ever give you.  I pray you know that.

Peace,

Ronda



Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  
Do not be deceived:  
Neither the sexually immoral 
nor idolaters 
nor adulterers 
nor male prostitutes  
nor homosexual offenders
 nor thieves 
nor the greedy
 nor drunkards 
nor slanderers 
nor swindlers
 will inherit the kingdom of God.  
And that is what some of you 
WERE.  
But you were washed, 
you were sanctified, 
you were justified
 in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
 "Everything is permissible for me" - 
but not everything is beneficial.  
"Everything is permissible for me" - 
but I will not be mastered by anything.  

In the whisper of faith the size of a mustard seed, you are forgiven and set free.  Walk, no RUN through the prison doors Jesus opened for you.




Sunday, September 27, 2015

Can you hear God singing over you?

He is you know.  Singing you songs of comfort and encouragement, cheering you on, drawing you nearer and nearer to him.

I can't wait to hear the tune, but mostly I wish I could hear his voice, like I do when I hear a song this side of heaven.  I wish I could...and I almost can....but then it gets covered in white noise and commercials and distractions.  Oh the distractions.  An A.D.D.er's worst enemy.  It's not that we're low on distraction, it's the opposite.  We are overwhelmed by distraction.

I wonder if there's a lot of that pseudo ADDing going on in the world right now.  We can't hear Him singing over us because of all the things that we are getting distracted by, that are filling our ears and our minds and our eyes.

Take a breath, close your eyes, shut off the tv, the computer, your iPad, the radio, your phone, and just listen for His voice.

Can you hear it?  He is singing.  If you listen closely, you can hear him singing softly and oh so tenderly his love song to you.

You are mine.
I love you.
There is nothing you can do to change my love for you.

He delights in you like a new parent over their newborn child.  He sings sweetly, softly, holding you close.

Can you hear Him?


Peace,
Ronda

Zephaniah 3:17

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

When the Product stays hidden on the shelf

He drives me crazy.

Jesus.  He drives me crazy.

I say this somewhat tongue in cheek, but I am a bit serious.  He does drive me crazy.

Just when I think I've got something about him figured out, he shows it to me again, from an entirely different viewpoint.  Maybe it's because he himself is a little bit of crazy.  I mean, one minute you are basking in grace and the things about His mercy that make you feel so safe and loved and, dare I say it.....Good.  The next minute.....He's not so nice.

I mean really, Jesus, which one is it?

I get the whole justification thing.  I get that there is no-thing I can do to earn His love, His approval, His salvation.  Nothing.  He did it all.

But then there's a whole other mysterious level that comes next where you live in grace, but at the same time there is still this pull to live right and judge myself and others in the light of the law.  That thing the Bible tells me he canceled - the written code, with its regulations, that was against me and that stood opposed to me; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

I mean, really Jesus, I can't do anything, you did everything, but then you say things like this:  "Jesus looked at them in anger and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts."  What say you on this?

If I can't do anything to save myself and to live by the faith you yourself gave me, than how am I responsible for a stubborn heart that causes you to feel two emotions at the same time - anger and distress?

Anger - ogre` - anger, to teem, swelling up to constitutionally oppose, settled anger rising up from an ongoing opposition; proceeds from an internal disposition which steadfastly opposes someone or something based on extended personal exposure, i.e. solidifying what the beholder considers wrong (unjust, evil); implies that it is not a sudden outburst, but rather God's fixed, controlled, passionate feeling against.

deeply distressed - sullupeo - to be moved to grief; I am moved to grief by sympathy

stubborn - porosei - a covering with a callous, hardness (from porous, a kind of marble, used later of a callus formed on fractured bones)

See why I think he's crazy?  At the same time he's feeling one emotion, he feels another.  Hmmmmm, sounds like a lot of us......

My problem is I get stuck on either or.  I'm either very grace filled about someone or something, or I'm very law-filled about someone or something else.

I wish I could be evenly balanced like Jesus.

All the while he's got this anger percolating, he's feeling this deep grief outside of the anger.  He's angry for stubborn hearts but he's grieved and hurting that the heart has been so stubborn as to not see his grace.

It would be so easy to chalk this up to the problem of the ancient Pharisees, but I'm a modern day Pharisee.  I want Jesus to act and behave in the way I think is the way he should act and behave to reach the hearts that are in this century.  Why doesn't he see it my way?

Am I the only one who thinks this?

We can feel free that grace has won our place in heaven and that we don't have to feel condemned when we do a stinky job of selling our Product.  But then at the same time, we are warned not to rest in that.  Our salvation is won, but it doesn't mean our hearts are not at risk of becoming hardened.

If I get too uppity about the way I would handle things were I God, and become angry with Him when he doesn't comply, my heart gets a little more calloused, a little more hardened, and soon, I may refuse to accept His ways at all when they continually do not match up with mine.

Or, if I get too grace heavy, the opposite happens.  Hardened bone can endure a long time and carry a lot of weight, but softened bone becomes brittle, fragile, unable to hold much of anything, let alone carry a grace drenched heart.

We have to beg him for both - grace and truth.  We will starve if we have more of one than the other.  Our hearts will either break or our hearts will turn to stone.

I can be the Pharisee that is looking for a way to condemn Jesus' children, those with the mustard seed sized faith, by what they do or don't do.  I can also be a Pharisee whose heart is hardening because Jesus is not doing what I think he should be doing.

Or the third option is this:  I can pray and beg and plead and surrender to His outpouring of grace and truth first on my own heart so that it spills over on the hearts that need a balanced Jesus.  The One who is full of grace and truth and never is more of one than the other.  He really isn't crazy.  He's just God...who once lived in human flesh.

Peace,

Ronda

Mark 3:5; Colossians 2:14