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




Do you believe in your product?

I used to be a consultant for a home skin care line.  I loved the product and when I decided to become a consultant I did so because I wanted to get the discount on the products I used.  I loved the product and it was easy to share with others why I loved the product.  It was easy to share what about the product worked for me, what results I saw, why this company's products were better than a competitor's similar product.  I made many sales on my testimony alone.

But it seemed that a potential customer could sense when I loved an item in the product line and used it myself from the times I was given a new product to peddle that I hadn't tried but the company said was good.  I had a much harder time convincing a customer that the new product was good based on someone else's testimony and not my own.  I realized customers wanted to know why I wasn't using it if it was such a great product.

If I tried to deter talking about why I didn't use it, but so and so loves it, the customer was more apt to shut down and not even consider trying the product.  I was the face of the product, whether I used it or not and if it was "not" I didn't make a lot of sales.

Those were good teaching lessons for me as a follower of Christ both then and now.  Not to make light of the Gospel by putting it in sales terminology but how do you promote your product as a follower of Christ, how are you "selling" your product?

Do you spend more time telling about why the "product" works so well for you or do you sell your "product" by telling your customers how good the "product" has worked for people you know?

If you want to win souls for Jesus and you can't figure out why nothing is working in your efforts, you might take the time to ask yourself those questions.

Jesus is not a product we sell, but a person who changes us from the inside out.  If your outside is singing the right tunes and declaring the right words, but your inside is hollow and you don't believe your own sales pitch, than why on earth would anyone else believe what you say is true about Him?  Why would they find a need for him if you have no need for him on the inside?

Just something to get your brain and soul thinking outside the box a little.

As always-
Peace,

Ronda

Friday, September 11, 2015

Put your right hand in and shake it all about

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, "Do not fear; I will help you."

I get nervous when the LORD impresses upon me words that I find in the Old Testament.  I don't know why, maybe it's because of the Hebrew, the right to left reading; or maybe it's the characters versus letters that make me a little twitchy.  I like Greek words.  Although they aren't much easier to decipher, at least I can recognize some of the letters that look somewhat like those in the English alphabet.

I don't know why I get nervous around Hebrew.  Maybe it's just because it's THE language.  The first language.  The ancient of ancient languages.  I get nervous around it especially when it seems the more I try to understand a Hebrew thought with an English speaking mind the more my mind spins around the word or phrasing.

That happened today.  I got stuck, or should I say, I kept seeing the phrase "hold you by your right hand."  I had been in the Word, getting my dose of comfort on this anniversary of horror when I stumbled upon a verse in Isaiah I had highlighted long ago.

I love that verse.  It is comforting, and I quickly felt its power as it settled in my soul.  But I couldn't get that right hand business out of my mind.  This probably seems really silly to you, but I could not let it go.

Right hand.  Right hand.  My right hand.  God takes hold of my right hand.

Well if God is taking hold of my right hand, what hand of his is he taking hold of mine?

So, you guessed it, a digging I go.

And I'm still digging.

Enter Psalm 63:8, bringing along a flashlight - My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.  Psalm 139:10 chimed in too as it brought out the pick to break apart a rock covered wall - Even there Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

So can you picture it like I'm seeing it right now?  My right hand is being held by God's right hand.  Like when two people meet, which hands do they shake?  Right, right?!

So if God has my right hand and I have God's right hand, we're facing each other, right?  If God had my right hand by his left hand, we would be walking next to each other, wouldn't we?  Kind of like that God is my co-pilot nonsense.  I don't think that's how God rolls.

I don't think that's the picture God is trying to show me.  If God and I are joined by our right hands, we're facing each other.  Eye contact is being made or at least we are face to face, better yet, even if I can't see his face, He sure can see mine!  What is he seeing, I wonder?  Fear, excitement, anticipation?

If God and I are joined by our right hands and we are walking along, one of us is always going to be walking backwards, aren't we?

If God and I are joined by our right hands and one of us is always walking backwards, wouldn't it make sense that the One walking backwards is the One who can see what's coming because He's already been there and He's just leading us along, like an eager father trying to surprise his blindfolded child as he leads him out to the garage where his new bike is parked.

"Steady now, I've got you.  Just one more step than we're off the front porch.  Easy now, there's the broken concrete, step over carefully.  I've got you.  We're almost there."

See, when we can't see what lies ahead because we're blinded by whatever may be blinding us - our sin, our pain, our shame, our grief, our.....fear - God has us, by our right hand with His right hand.

I haven't found out a lot about what that left hand is doing, but I'm thinking that Holy left hand may be wrapped around my waist, every once in awhile it's knocking a branch or two out of the way, but mostly it's just keeping me steady as I walk in the dark, trusting the sound of His voice.

"Do not fear, I will help you."

Peace,

Ronda


Monday, September 7, 2015

Rejoicing and mourning with those who do the same


When we became a part of each other's lives, 
when things were good and fun and carefree, 
we never could have imagined 
a day in a very distant future 
when our lives would be invaded by a grief 
known personally by the Father Himself.  

We've been called to walk beside you, 
we've been called to walk behind you, 
we've had to look away when your pain was too great
 for us to hold
 and 
we tenderly put you in the arms of the Only One 
whose arms are big enough to carry
 the burden you were called to bear.

You took us to the place where a part of him now lays, 
waiting for the great trumpet to call him from his sleep,
 his body made whole and his laughter heard loud and clear.  
A hallowed place, guarded by unseen angels, I'm sure.  
Where wildlife visit and munch on some sage brush.

Till the great trumpet sounds.....













Saturday, September 5, 2015

Fighting the Good Fight

Fight the good fight of the faith.

Fight - agonizomai - to contend for a prize, struggle; to struggle, like engaged in an intense athletic contest or warfare

Good - kalos - beautiful, as an outward sign of the inward good, noble, honorable character
      A good that inspires (motivates) others to embrace what is lovely (beautiful, praiseworthy), well done so as to be winsome (appealing)

Fight -  agon - a gathering, contest, struggle in the soul, a grueling conflict

Faith - pistis - faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness

This is my good fight.  As I struggle to reconcile my bipolar God - fight/don't fight; love/hate; bless/curse - which is it God?  "All of them," He says.  As I struggle in the beautiful and noble, yet grueling conflict, I wonder, how you are doing in the struggle of trust.

If we were sitting at my dining room table and talking, you and I might find each other comfortable enough to share our deepest struggles.  I may share with you how much I have struggled in specific areas in my life and you may share with me your struggles in areas of your life.

But we're not.

But I want you to know that if we were, I would.  I would tell you about the times God carried me, pulled me, dragged me, lifted me up, held onto me when I had no strength to hold onto him.  I would.  I would tell you those things, those struggles, not to boast in me, but to boast in Him.

I tell you now, here on this blog, what I would say face to face because I want you to know, without telling you any of the specifics of my past (and frankly those specifics are irrelevant) - I know what it is to struggle.  I know.

So when I write on this blog and, to be honest, I really get sick of hearing myself (and I'm wondering if the time is coming to shut this blog down, yet he compels me to keep writing, to keep blabbing, to keep vomiting words that from where I sit as I nurse, if I were following this blog, I'd think the writer may need some medication) - I must write from my heart as it is the only place where He speaks to me.  The place where He has changed me, where he has freed me, where he has made me whole and holy in his sight.  

I do lead a bipolar life on here, wouldn't you agree?  But you know what?  I think that is what the struggle is - bipolar - having or marked by two mutually repellant forces or diametrically opposed natures or views.  Duh!  I think that's the churchy word for sinner and saint!

If we are not struggling for the beautiful, then maybe we're not in Him.  (Gasp, see how judgy I am?!)

I want to love the sinner and hate the sin, but so many times I get them reversed.

I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, but most days I'm loving me with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

I want to love my neighbor as myself, but so often I find myself judging my neighbor as I judge myself.  Harshly and with mean words.

Then, to add to the challenge here in America, someone has used the word of God to convince us that our rights supersede all other commands of God.

What a bipolar struggle to be inspiring the life of a follower of Christ is.  We do it so poorly in our own eyes, don't we?  But I wonder what God sees.

"Fight the right battles," he keeps waking me up to tell me.  "Fight the right one."

"Which is the right one, Lord?"

"The one you struggle to love me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Fight that one harder, then we'll talk about the others."

So, that's where I'm at as I struggle to fight the good fight.  Where are you?

Peace,

Ronda