The Choice

Jesus loves everyone yet, so few ever think to truly love Him in return. Most refuse to believe that such a man existed as the Son of God and the Son of Man. The idea seems impossible so, they downsize Jesus into a form they can relate to and understand. Prophet, teacher, a myth, philosophical allegories are the boxes spiritually blind human beings use as a neat place to categorize and store Jesus. Once packaged and labeled, He is then stuffed in back of a dark closet of the mind. Jesus becomes another file to pull up from memory to be used as self justification or to impress another with personal intellectual prowess. In those who are bitter toward God because they don’t approve of how He governs or are mad because He didn’t acquiesce to their personal requests, Jesus becomes a weapon of ridicule to use against those who name, Jesus and are known as His followers. Jesus Christ is a favorite curse word for those who in their anger of not getting what-they-want-their-way, deny the existence of God even though, their whole angry state of being and every word they speak against God and His Son, defines them. Still, Jesus loves them and views them as equal with all of God’s errant children. Many of the religiously pious also, miss out on recognizing the power of God’s love expressed to the uttermost in Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Man. Priding themselves upon adherence to traditions and doctrines, they trade in the power of God for a form of godliness and their pride inhibits the power of God’s love from transforming their lives. Yet, Jesus loves them. Still others live out their lives by instinct, following the desires of their heart that can never fill what every heart hungers for, the filling of divine love. Jesus loves these children too. He gave His life for all of us in obedience to God, His Father and also, to all of God’s errant children, as an expression of pure, sacrificial love. He poured out His blood for the purpose of covering all of our error to give us the opportunity to reconcile with our Father by adoption through Christ that we might become like Jesus, sons of men and sons of God. Though Jesus made this sacrifice centuries ago, it still remains open for an unknown length of time but not forever. This offer is available to everyone because God plays no favorites and above all things: God honors the ability He gave us, to choose. Whatever any of us decide to believe about Jesus, or the place we give Him in our life is our personal, sovereign choice and no matter the consequences, God will not take that power of self away.

Look around you, look behind the present virtual-iron-curtain of delusion, and examine the true state of the world in which you are living. The world offers many things but it doesn’t offer love. It is a hard, cruel place that entices all with exciting, temporary pleasures that generally, come at the personal expense of self and others. The world created by human beings is vicious, a place where one will become either predator or prey, and the struggle to survive over-rides any happiness derived from material gain or personal power. Into such a world everyone of us in born and also in each of us, is a void that hungers for divine love. Instinctually, we know what we hunger for is the very ingredient missing that keeps the societies we build from becoming a paradise. This realization when we allow it and then couple it by looking within to see we are like the community we live in because it is of us and we too lack divine love and are possessed by a dark void. A hole, where love that goes beyond a warm feeling or a fragile, emotional bond is absent, a cavity in the soul that only divine love can completely fill. None of us can give the world what we don’t have and the only, way we can receive the love we hunger for and the world so desperately needs is to allow Jesus to come into our lives and be made complete. This doesn’t mean we will become instantaneously, perfect but when we are reconciled to a right relationship with God, when we are adopted into His family, a spiritual training process begins and though we remain human as the offspring of man, we also become the spiritual children of God. Choosing first to accept God’s divine love by accepting Jesus as the person He describes Himself to be and personally, applying his sacrifice is the first step in learning how to love as Jesus loves. Learning to love Him back is the process of living for Christ rather than for self and then, choosing to love others with the same kind of divine love we receive from Jesus in hopes that others who are hungering for love will also, invite Jesus into their lives.

I see turmoil increasing in the world around me and the specter of it causes even this old believer to sometimes, feel threatened. It seems darkness is descending and many are actually, calling for that descent. Angry ears are deaf to love but the night enveloping the world is the void that exists in every fallen human being; a gaping black hole that only divine love can fill. Jesus is the embodiment of divine love. None of us have the power to change or fix the world but each of us retains the power of personal choice. Jesus is the answer and He satisfies our great lack, one hungry heart at a time. If you are troubled, consumed by the turmoil without and within please, take a second look at Jesus. Read the Bible and consider who He says Himself to be and use the power God gave you to be saved from the gaping need within that only, Christ can fill. In a world that seems bent on self-destruction, choose Jesus; receive true love and eternal life.

Joy in an Era of Deception

Sunshine is streaming through every window this morning. The sky is blue and clear on every horizon. It’s still autumn and the grass around my house is green due to the extra rain we’ve been blessed with this year. The sun’s return is exciting after so many days of clouds and I can’t wait to get outside. I put on my slippers and wrap myself in a throw, then open the door leading to my deck, and then stop. Things are not as they appear from my sunny window, a small cracking of the door makes me painfully, aware of how cold it is outside. I was deceived as much by my longing for warm weather, as by the appearance of a warm, sunny day, despite my knowing reality of cold temperatures, in the high desert during this time of year. Disappointed I quickly close the door, grab a cup of coffee, and settle in front of my sunny window with my Bible in hand. It’s cold outside but thanks to Jesus, I have all that I need and though deception may frustrate my desires, it can’t destroy my joy.

As I read and pray, applying those passages to my life, I consider how easily I can be deceived into believing what I want to believe. I think about the times and the deception that pours into my life through another kind of Windows. I’m connected to the world by the screens filled with words, voices, and images, through Windows that open but offer a sense of glass-like protection from the harsh reality containing the view of the outside world that they offer. Without experiencing the climate and conditions of the hard-copy that I experience as virtual reality, I can’t know the full truth of what I view, read, or hear. I’m very likely, to fill in the blanks with my imagination, fueled by my desire to experience what I am longing for. It is my unmet needs and wants that set me up for deception.

The internet is a virtual world of opinion, fantasy, and longing. It is also, a place that promises wealth and power to those willing to use the internet to manipulate others. We all present ourselves somewhat, differently online than what we are in reality, we can’t help it. It is natural to show our best selves publically but some take it to a whole other level. Social media is a narcissist’s dream come true, giving them the ability to re-create themselves as they wish to be and even, the ability to create many false-selves useful for manipulation. Those with good intentions, looking to fill some unmet desire through online experience, are prime targets for those who gain good feelings about themselves by abusing others. Even when there is no abuse intended, people can be deceived by their own imagination filling in the blanks of limited information with what they are looking for in another. When enough time passes for the reality to emerge, people find themselves feeling tricked and used. Sometimes, they are tricked but mostly, they tricked themselves. Online personas aren’t entirely, real but there are real people behind them. Virtual personas can’t feel pain but the people behind them are badly hurt every day.

As I sit in my sunny window, enjoying the warmth and the glow that is a very different reality on the other side of the glass, I consider how God wants me to walk through this new era. How do I maintain joy in a world where most people now, connect virtually more often than in real life. Just as I need warm, sunny days, I need human companionship. How do I participate in the new world, in the midst of so much deception and maintain my joy? The answer comes to me and it comes by the same source that believers have trusted in for answers for many centuries, from God’s Word. It is in allowing God to govern my desires and in my allowing Him to fill my need that protects me from deception. It is in pointing others to Jesus for answers, rather than to me that keeps others from seeing too much in me. Though, I can’t always control how others might imagine me, or always know when they have an ulterior motive, I can trust God’s protection. As in all the ages past, I am to be in the world but not of it, and fulfill my calling by taking the truth about Jesus into a dying world. It isn’t about me, it’s about Jesus and in that fact, I find security from deception. The world is changing rapidly but Jesus remains the same and the joy I have in Him is enough to satisfy every need and desire.

Give Thanks in all Things!

Father, thank you for allowing the darkness in my life

So, I might recognize Your Son Jesus as the true Light!

Revealing the evil works that fill the world with strife;

Daddy, thank you! For rescuing me from evil’s night!

Your Son died for me and translated my death to life!

 

Father, thank you for the cruelty, animosity, and hate

That sent me running toward your Kindness and Love!

Jesus, opened the Door my sin shut, changed my fate!

Daddy, thank you! For Grace intervening from above;

My adoption in Jesus that ended my orphaned state!

 

Father, thank you for sorrow, pain, and constant war

That keeps me turning back to you for joy and peace!

The Righteousness of Jesus in the place of sin’s mar!

Daddy, thank you! For restoration and inner peace!

Shepherd keeps me close; won’t let me stray too far!

 

Father, thank You for placing me within Your Kingdom!

Forgiving me and placing me in Your new world to come!

Through Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Ruler of Your Kingdom!

Daddy, thank you! I sing, dance, and beat on my holy drum!

Faith, Joy, Hope, and Peace! Spirit Heralds of your Kingdom!

 

Thank you, Father! I rejoice! You are All in all things!

 

 

 

Joyous Rest

Empowerment entwined in purple stems of lavender, growing on the east side of the old, grey wash house. Expertly cut and crushed to fill heart-shaped sachets’, then tucked beneath my pillow to assure restful dreams between lightly starched sheets sprinkled with rain-water. Moon beams filtered through sheer white Pricilla curtains, to guide my thoughts toward a gentler land, filled with peace. This the greatest gift my grandmother gave me out of her love; a taste of the Heavenlies, safe from the turmoil of the oppressors, the controllers who ruled my childhood through chaos and emotional terror. Her sweet gift a demonstration of the ability given to those who belong to Jesus; the ability to rise above and find refuge in He who is seated at the right hand of God. Her gift enabled me to survive the destruction of my childhood and also, prepared my heart to receive Christ and find refuge from a sin-torn world in Jesus.

I am much older now, my childhood is far behind but the world hasn’t changed. The oppressor still does his best to force a bit of fear in my mouth and bridle me with terror. He wants to ride my life’s energy and use my talents, as he works to force me to submerge my purpose into his but my life is hidden in Christ. The good works I am to accomplish are predestined in Him. They unfold before me each day and by obedience I walk to fulfill my Father’s Will for my life. There is no agenda for me to create or adopt, no warlike crusade to embark upon; I am to live a simple life in Christ. When the oppressor breathes heavily down my neck, in my spirit I fly to the Rock that is so much higher than I and I find strength to continue. In Jesus I rise above the fray and find life, love, peace, and joy in a place even better than the refuge created for me by my grandmother. This place of safety and healing is available to all who belong to Jesus. It is accessed through trust in God, prayer, and time spent in God’s Word. Strength and hope are found in Jesus (now, sitting in the seat of God’s good works) who has gone ahead to prepare a place for us; our Heavenly refuge that we visit now but one day will be Home. I believe that every room in my mansion will be filled with the scent of Lavender. Oppression will be forgotten and, and every heart filled with love, joy, and peace. There will be no temptation for one human being to control another because Jesus will be recognized as Lord of all and God’s good work on earth fulfilled. That which was predestined at the founding of the earth will be completed and those called and chosen in Christ will enter God’s eternal rest.

Ephesians

Joy on the Ragged Edge

Tired thoughts; scattered dust drifting in the air;

Denied a refuge from life’s ragged edge;

White knuckled in the now; possibilities nowhere!

Time’s pounding beat battering sledge;

Constant pain; relentless torturer doesn’t care!

Relationship split by prideful wedge;

Everyone’s looking for something! Life isn’t fair!

Confusion leaves truth on sanity’s edge;

Stress and exhaustion coupled; an untenable pair;

Life on the horizontal, without any hedge!

No purpose or hope; I want to pull out my hair!

Past isn’t pretty! Bury sins; Don’t dredge!

Ignore deep damage; but baste the outer tear;

Feigning courage as I totter on the ledge!

Don’t look below! Now, come down from there!

Look up! I Am here! Wisdom, Knowledge!

Faith! The vertical perspective! Delivering prayer!

Jesus is my refuge from the ragged edge;

He is my joy; He lovingly mends my every care;

By Grace He removed sin’s dividing wedge,

At the cross, vertical met horizontal; it was there

I found life, love, hope; My Protector’s hedge!

My worried head cradled; He counts my every hair!

 

Jesus Shepherds My Heart

Many things I hoped for; things I thought would be,

And still longed for; settled deep into the sediment,

On the bottom of my “River of Forgotten Dreams” .

Days rolling, pounding youthful aspirations of glee,

Into haunting memories; lost in regretful rudiment;

Hazy days in deep flowing purple ambition streams;

New rain! Emotions flood-rush! Setting sludge free…

Temptation calling revived desire; plots defilement;

Set to trap settled content in heavy guilt schemes;

My Merciful Master designed a better plan for me;

Grace intervened! Rescued from sin’s impediment!

Not abandoned in my “River of Forgotten Dreams”.

Jesus shepherds my heart so sin won’t destroy me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dusty Joy

Every day believers are exposed to a plethora of information, an overwhelming amount of data to process. It is becoming harder to decipher truth from fiction and genuine faith from deception. Christianity is rapidly changing due to the internet and many who name Jesus aren’t known by Him. His name is used to disguise ideas opposed to Biblical teaching and unbiblical agendas. The digital age makes it easy to package any counterfeit in an eye-pleasing manner to lure in unwary consumers. Beautiful memes containing a veneer of truth conceal subtle lies that subliminally entice believers’ away from the narrow path and rob non-believers of true saving faith in Jesus Christ. Bible verses pulled out of context and used as toothpicks to support man-made theologies is an old trick of deception that is highly effective in this era of too much information and too little wisdom. Even born-again believers, considered to be spiritually mature can be temporarily deceived when they neglect daily washing in the Word and spiritually collect the dust of human words and wisdom. The joy of Jesus is diminished when not properly nourished and no other diet suffices for spiritual health and a right spiritual attitude of joy than daily feeding on God’s Word. Even digital Bibles get dusty when set aside and ignored and no matter the advances of technology, the true source of wisdom hasn’t changed. Don’t settle for substandard spiritual truth; test the spirits by comparing every word written about Jesus (including mine) to the divine truth of the Bible.

Dear believer, if your joy seems distant and you are discouraged, confused; click the link that takes you to divine truth and away from the digital dust-storm of deception. Align your heart, mind, and actions with the Words of the Bible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and bathe in the pure light of Jesus. Rejoice as the dust and dirt of human wisdom is filtered away; and find strength to endure this deceptive, abusive age, in the sure, future promises of God. Give your joy a daily dusting. Cling to Jesus! Hold on! He is returning soon!

Joy and the Black-Bird

Happily married forever and eternally it seemed;

Duty bound to fidelity, too mature for temptation;

Seeing the completion and death of all Joy dreamed,

Joy lost herself in reverie, deep spirit contemplation,

Denying her utter aloneness even when it screamed!

Old women don’t need love that is mostly sensation!

These things Joy told herself, this reality Joy deemed;

Ignoring those thoughts that caused Joy any hesitation.

 

He appeared! A tiny black-bird, lighting on Joy’s shoulder!

Suddenly! Singing many sweet songs Joy had forgotten!

Buried feelings arose, living! His love songs grew bolder!

Emotional flood! Youth’s soft wrapping red-silk-cotton…

Wake up! With resolve of sanity, Joy bid heart,” Be colder!”

Wisdom’s warning: What’s sweet conceals what’s rotten!

Blissful dream of youth Joy had couldn’t beckon any golder!

So Joy gave herself to the fantasy knowing she shouldn’t otten…

Proof that sin’s reach is long, even when we’ve grown older;

Destroyed happiness, dreams blowing like Arizona wild cotton!

Sin’s temptation came by denial of Joy’s feelings left to smolder.

 

No matter how many years we live, no matter how mature we become in Christ, and no matter how many sins we’ve struggled against and achieve victory over, the inner war against sin is never over until we leave this present world. The sins we conquer never completely leave us but crouch in the dark corners of the mind waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Denying negative feelings and emotional needs instead of taking them to the Father for filling, can give opportunity to temptation. We are most vulnerable when we perceive ourselves as invulnerable and beyond temptation. Pride is a faulty replacement for honest reliance upon God. Every born-again saint is still also, a sinner and no sinner/saint is capable of living a holy life when depending upon self. Only by inner-vigilance under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, and daily washing in the Word, is any believer able to accomplish the purpose predestined for us in Christ and avoid falling captive to the sins that beset everyone.

 

Joy for Those Who Struggle With Sin and Temptation

Jesus lives in me but Pam still lives here too. Everything Jesus is I am not and everything I am not Jesus is. Before Jesus revealed Himself to me and I placed my faith in Him, I followed the desires of my heart without questioning them. My heart led me to a dark and desolate place and if Jesus hadn’t rescued me, I would have died there. I was lost in my sin and there was nothing good in my heart to lead me away from death. I knew no other way to live than to seek the fulfillment of my desires, even when it became obvious that the things I loved most were destroying me. Jesus, the embodiment of divine truth, is the light shining in the night of my heart who rescued me from death and is leading me in a better living Way. Jesus saved me from death, the final consequence of my sin and He is teaching me to live according to the Spirit rather than by the desires of my flesh. Because I am born-again in spirit but still living in flesh and blood, there is a war raging within me as I struggle to overcome my sin. I am not alone for this is the condition of every true believer in Christ Jesus. I and every other child of God is a soldier in this very same war, the inner struggle with sin and temptation. Jesus is that faithful ally who supports His own in battle, strengthens us with His righteous joy, and assures us of final victory.

Jesus is validation for every believer who struggles with sin and temptation because Jesus the Son of God is also, the Son of Man who won the war with sin and death, while living in a body of flesh and blood. Jesus possesses experiential empathy and compassion for every sinner; even though He is the true Son of God and never sinned. Jesus is not a far away God of icy perfection; Jesus relates to all we suffer because Jesus also, suffered as a human being. Jesus knows the struggle with temptation and the weakness of mortal beings to sin because He endured the agony of resisting the desires of the flesh that are enmity against God. Through obedience to His Father, He prevailed over sin and temptation and then offered His body and blood as a sacrifice for those who have no hope of thwarting (on their own) the sinful desires of their hearts. This graceful act proceeded from the righteous joy that He possessed through perfect obedience; in resisting sin to the point of sacrificial death and opening the floodgates of God’s forgiveness for every sinner, who believes and repents. Set free from the curse of death, the war against sin began and rages inwardly, in every follower of Christ; the war that still rages inside of me.

I am a hardened soldier in the war against my sin. Satan my deceptive enemy never sleeps but watches me waiting for the opportunity to tempt me when my flesh is weak. He knows He can’t destroy me because I belong to Jesus but he comes at me hard, doing his best to cause me to stumble and destroy my credibility in Christ. When I stumble, he chortles with delight and heaps accusations and guilt upon me. Nothing pleases him more than to see me wallowing in guilt, shame, and sorrow for my betrayal. In this decade’s long war, I have lost many battles but because of the forgiveness that Jesus bought for me, God restores me and I rise to fight again. I am not Jesus and to win this war, I desperately need Him! Everything I am not, Jesus is and because Jesus lives in me, His victory is mine. By faith in Jesus, I endure this constant inner war, strengthened by His righteous joy. By the hope He made sure, I look forward to my full redemption from sin. FREEDOM! With the peace within that will also, govern a restored world! Truly, this war that I and other true believers fight is the dreamed of war to end all wars!

 

Luke 4:1-13, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, Romans 7:14-25