Celebrating Friendship

REPOST FROM 3 YEARS AGO:

I wrote this note and sent it as an email to some very special people in my life.  My husband Henry was one of them. After reading it, he told me that it might be one of the best piece of writing I have ever done.  So I want to share it with all of you.  I hope it touches your heart and stirs you to tell someone how important they are to you.  If it does, feel free to share this blog post with others.  It will bless them I believe.

~Susan 1/24/14

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I began my day today thinking about the importance of FRIENDSHIP— Here’s where my thoughts lead me.  If you are reading this, I am thinking of you today!

“True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity, before it is entitled to the appellation.” ~ George Washington

I am thinking of you today because I believe that we are friends of this kind.  I believe we have endured some hardships and challenges along the way and that we have come out the wiser and stronger on the other side.

When I take stock in my life over the years and think of what in fact has been the greatest joy and sense of accomplishment, I find myself thinking of the people who have crossed my life in a significant way.  The interaction in the struggles of daily living and giving.  The joys of life lived together and the sorrows of the conflict it brings has given strength and insight to the meaning of LIFE and LOVE.

You, my friend are very dear and precious to me.  I love you and thank God for the times we’ve shared together.  The smiles, the laughs, the debates and deep conversations that invigorate our senses and stretch us to new places in our minds.  Without these movements in life, we would be drones or carbon copies of each other.  How tragic!! Life is about the abstract and the differences we meet. About how we learn to see through the eyes of someone different from ourselves, see the importance of their beauty and giftedness… While of course experiencing our Faith in the Living Christ, the giver of life itself.

You, my friend, Have done this for me.  I love you, yes, because we do connect and share our similarities, but I love your uniqueness and opposite-ness too.  That’s the wonder of it all, seeing you for you, not because you are like me… No, because you are “YOU.”

You, my friend, are in my heart today.  I am thinking about you, praying about you and just holding your life close to mine.  I woke today with thoughts of how important you are to me, and that life would not be the same had I not met you.

Thank you for the times we’ve had together.  If my life was over today, I think it would be somewhat complete, because I feel I have had the experience of knowing “TRUE FRIENDSHIP,” as I have had a moment in this life of “YOU” ~ My friend!

I love you,  God Deeply Bless and Enrich your life! Celebrating your friendship today!

Susan Stanton Clarke 1/24/14

 

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Did You Really Mean To Say That?

Recently, as I was scrolling through my twitter feed I came to this post by Christine Caine.  It spoke to me because this is a lesson I’ve been learning over the last year and I’d like to share my journey with you.

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I posted this meme on Facebook with a brief comment that truthfully could have given  ample space to all kinds of imaginations.  So, let me clarify why this spoke to me.

On face value — it could be taken as a passive/aggressive statement. Depending on the context of one’s own personal situation will determine how the reader perceived this statement.  I would have worded it differently had I written it myself, and I didn’t post it as an in your face statement.  what struck me most when I read it was  the beginning sentence — “You will never fulfill your purpose if you have to shrink yourself in order to stay connected to people or things.”  

Hmmm, words for deep reflection right there!

I would reword it by saying, “It is difficult to reach your goals if you have to shrink yourself in order to stay connected to certain people or things.”

As I have grown up into Christ, one of the things I love most about this season in life is the wisdom that accompany’s it.  Such satisfaction to be at peace and to have worked through most of the challenges of youth and young adulthood.  Fr. Richard Rhor’s book “Falling Upward” was significant in helping me understand where I am in life.  The move to Texas along with having a new business brought lots of changes over the past few years.  Christine’s words reflect part of my journey.

We’ve moved often. I’ve moved so many times in life that the thought of it was not necessarily exciting.  It meant rebuilding again.  If you’ve never had to do this, let me assure you it is one of the hardest things to do.  To start over in a new place.  Ugggh, I hate it!!!! When you are younger you haven’t built anything , but the older you are the harder the move is.  You are formed, you’ve solidified and grown into something solid and strong.  You’ve built relationships and friendships that support you.  You have sacrificed and poured out precious moments in life with others.  A bond took place, your life was planted … So, uprooting it is hard.

Here’s how this story unfolds for me … 

Every time we’ve moved my first goal is build relationships.  I purposefully want to become a part of community.  It’s important.  It starts by becoming a part of a group.  School, church, sports, where ever there is activity geared toward group participation.  I know how to do this and can make the necessary adjustments with little trouble, I am a people person.

BOOM!

Ha, Ha… What Christine’s encouragement spoke to me, which the reader doesn’t know is, God has been speaking these same words to me for a year.  I’m pretty sure her words were to encourage those stuck in trying to please others rather than do what is in their own heart.  Especially if you have a call on your life.  God has things for you to do that only you know.  Having the confidence to follow or respond to these desires can be frightening.  Some people don’t have trouble with this.  (Like the Type A or D which ever you choose to describe those driven personality types.)  But people like me who would much rather support someone else, need a push to put themselves forward and do something that focuses in on their dreams.  One of my greatest challenges is seeing my own value, however, that is changing for me…

I didn’t really like the part where she says “they don’t love you, and never did…” That’s really unimportant when you have grown up.  I think it’s better to say— “You can do it, be confident in who you are.  You know what’s right, so follow that.  Do what you know God is calling you to do.  Trust Him.”  

It takes courage to leap into the unknown.  That’s all this was for me, it was another encouragement to continue to do what is in my heart without fear.  Other people don’t stop us unless we allow them to.  God is our strength.  Not everyone will agree with us, or support us, but when we are sure that God is leading us, (especially when one has been at this thing for 37 years,) we need to go ahead and step out of the boat!

I had the opportunity to go to a Cross-Encounter at my home church recently and the area that I have to admit I fight often is fear:  of failure, of rejection, of people’s opinions… I was encouraged by Christine Caine’s meme because it spoke to a place of weakness where God is speaking.  He is calling me out into the scary unknown.  I’ve gotten my toes wet, but quickly pulled back.  However—I know that God is calling me out of the boat.  I am saying  yes to the call and to follow where He is leading me.  This means that the path might be different from yours, and even off the old path I’ve traveled for so long.  He encouraged me, back in November 2016—  “Be fully who I have made you Susan.  Don’t apologize or minimize anything I’ve done in you.  It’s not important for others to know or understand, no… what is important is that you trust and follow me!”  Following Him means to me that I need not fear to take the turn in the bend.  To go to new places and TRUST fully in Him even as the path may be unfamiliar to me!

Shalom friends! I love you!

 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].” Ephesians 2:10 Amplified Version

 

 

Consider The Lilies of the Fields

Inspired by a vintage fountain pen, the “Swan” produced by Mabie Todd Pen Company, circa 1920’s, and filled with Iroshizuku Ina-Ho, a Japanese gold ink .img_7561

“…If you wish to be a writer, write…”  Epictetus

The sausage is slowly baking in the oven.  The washing machine is humming, and churning away in the background.  Mmmm, a delicious smell floats into my office from the pork-a-licious fat drippings in the pan. I’m at my desk, flipping through Instagram on my computer while paper and pen await.

(“Instagram”… Friends from every corner of the world.  A global community. Urban, and country, its life through the portal of photography…) I enjoy each picture I encounter.  I’m poised, I’m ready.. now Susan… write!

Today is Saturday, January 14, 2017 — “I am good at the analog, yet I know the digital is important too.”

REFLECTIONS

I sat quietly this morning, listening.  The birds were singing.  Hmmm, how happy they sounded.  I was drawn to the kitchen window hoping to see them in action. (Birds are so beautiful you know.)  As I stood there watching, my thoughts went to the scripture in Matthew’s img_7589Gospel…“consider the lilies of the fields…”  I search for my bible, then I look for this verse, I found it!

Matthew 6:19-34 is Christ’s teaching on money, possessions and worry.  He connects our desires, and our focus on what we naturally think gives us life, (the pursuit of all things material), to the deep debilitating energy of worry. I had forgotten that He also used the birds in this discussion.  I am looking and listening as I re-read this account…

“…Look at the birds, they don’t plant or harvest or store in barns for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And aren’t you more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”   (vs. 26,27 NLT)

My meditation for 2017 is ~rediscovering the sacred in everyday life.  I am looking for God in every moment.  I treasure life, its precious.  There is tremendous beauty to behold.  If I’m looking, and intentionally noticing, I’ll learn the art of enjoying life.  I know how to worry,  I think most of us do because we are human.  It is the most natural thing to do. Yet,  Jesus is guiding us toward a deeper truth that life is more than ” the business of gain” …the hustle and bustle driven by the basic need to survive.  He turns our thoughts toward a  world unkown.  A world where God, our heavenly Father is actively involved in our daily living.  How interesting that he chose the birds and the lilies, things very present, all around us, yet unknown unless we pay attention.

I hear the Lord saying… “Listen.” “See.” “Notice.” So, ok, I need to stop and…

“Look at the birds, for they…”

“Consider… the lilies of the field, they …”

Thank you Lord, I am encouraged by this observation today.  How beautiful and in sync those birds are.  How lovely and alive they seem, completely comfortable, and at home here in God’s good earth.  I am reminded again that we have to look deeper than the surface, as there is mystery, beauty, hidden treasures to be found.  Slow down, look, listen, observe, and reflect.  God is present.  The sacred is found in the everyday, ordinary, mundane moments in life. I am reflecting, looking at the beauty around me and I’m reminded that in all of God’s amazing creation, my life is valuable because I am human, I am created in the image of God… can I trust Him?  Yes, I can because… He cares for me!   The Kingdom of God is not seen so easily with the natural eye, it takes some refocusing.  It’s hidden but can be seen if one turns to see…

Jesus is our guide, choose to follow Him.  God’s Kingdom is known and experienced through the Holy Spirit who Jesus sent.  As we choose to follow Christ, Holy Spirit makes his home in us and leads us, showing us the way of the cross…

Finding the Sacred…

Life is sacred

 

Finishing The Race

As 2016 gets into full swing, I am looking ahead.  The past is gone and today we put into motion that which is or is to come.  One of the things that I keep meditating on this year is “finishing the race.”  There are many distractions and situations that can pull me away from making everyday new with Christ.  There are all kinds of natural things that can draw me away from the Kingdom.  As I’ve grown in the Lord I’ve come to realize there are many things that appear on the “spiritual” side of life that are not truly Kingdom purposed. 2016 is a year of focusing in on the important, Christ-centric motives and characteristics of the Christian Life.  Not only have I reach a natural age of maturity, but I’ve come to a strong, solid age of spiritual maturity as well.  I am so fixed in my relation to Christ and the cross.  My roots are really deep in the well of life.  These two scriptures are something good to meditate on as we continue our journey into circa 2016:

Philippians 4:4-9 New Living Translation (NLT)

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

And

Hebrews 12:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

Although I titled this “Finishing The Race,” I don’t see it is as a competition with others.  I see it as a determined decision to follow Christ into His Kingdom and let His revolutionary life transform me in the midst of a world that is in complete contrast to it.  And so, keeping my eyes fixed on him I won’t get off track. Living this way means that I will have to say no to the crowd on the side of the road, and pressing straight ahead keeping the cross in front of me. Because like Paul wrote in the letter to the church in Galacia

Galatians 2:20-21 Living Bible (TLB)

“I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not one of those who treats Christ’s death as meaningless. For if we could be saved by keeping Jewish laws, then there was no need for Christ to die.”

I am leaning into, relying on, and fixing all my thoughts and desires completely on Him.  My life is no longer mine, but fully submitted to my Glorious King.

Have a very blessed 2016 my friends!

Go deeper in the life of Christ, seeking Him over all else!

I love you!

What Would Jesus Say?

>I recently read a book that stirred me to do something I haven’t done before.  The book is called LORD SAVE US FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS – Why is the Gospel of Love Dividing America? by Dan Merchant

The book was inspired by a bumper sticker which was on a car parked in a church parking lot.  I am not going to write a review on the book, however I found it very enlightening and actually it challenged me to look at my own life.

Dan Merchant put on a jump suit covered in all sorts of  religious bumper stickers and hit the streets of NYC.  He asked people five questions to which were geared at finding out what people think about God, Creation, Christianity and the political culture war.  Their responses were amazing.

As the political wars heat up in our nation, people are watching the church.  One man’s answer to one of the questions really struck me.  He was asked about if he likes Christians.  His response spiked my interest!   Here is his answer–“Yeah I do like the red letter Christians”.  Dan asked, “What do you mean by that, who are they?”   The man answered, “They do what Christ has taught them, and they act like Him. This is what I think being a Christian is, isn’t it?”  

The young man talked about all the angry, harsh, judgemental voices who say they speak for Christ.  Interestingly enough, he is not a Christian.  People are listening to what we do and say and these interviews prove that it’s true.  Jesus is not political… He is not Republican or Democrat.  He would probably be considered a moderate.  Anyway, moving on… I decided that I need to read the red letters in my bible.

In the Plethora of knowledge and information being slammed at us, it is easy to forget what Christ said about many things.  Over the last decade, I have walked through some very interesting places.  I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many of God’s people who by our standards are successful.  I have learned a great deal from these pillars in the church and stay close to the foundations of faith they have laid in my life.  However, I find myself desiring to go back to the beginning; to where it all started for me, because it was there that I found a freshness, a new birth and newness of life.  The sweet experience of drawing close to Him, coming to meet Him without any agenda.  Just simply to sit and be in His presence.  He was the focus, not me and not the teachings of current human leaders.

The red letters continue speaking to us today.  Man is still flesh and blood.  We deal with the sin nature every day.  Just because we are Evangelicals, Full Gospel, Charismatic, Word of Faith, Reformed, Methodist… (the list goes on), doesn’t mean that we can’t be seduced by the power of dogmatic religion.  Because we ARE human, we are still very susceptible to becoming HYPOCRITES in the worst way.  Hypocrisy is what Christ so vehemently opposed.  Saying one thing and doing another.  Professing that we love Him, yet hating, judging, condemning and rejecting others.

One powerful point that spoke to me from this book is that we have become a — BUMPER STICKER SOCIETY.  Yes, Twitter, Facebook, texting, even WordPress–lol, and all the other bleeps that come across our lives everyday… We’ve become so isolated and impersonal.  Dan made a great point and it is resonating in me.

“We have become a society of shout outs; we shout out complex thoughts and ideas in a short, summarized quote or sentence.  We are satisfied because we think that people have heard us. We like this because we don’t want to become uncomfortable with the whole process of interacting with someone.  Most people do not want dialogue, they just want a place to tell you what they think without opening to you the courtesy of a response.”

What a brilliant observation!!

I for one am just tired of it!  This type of communication is creating people who do not know how to have conversation or deep shared relationship.  They do not know what to do with someone who has a contrary opinion or a desire to go deeper into what you just said.  They become talking heads who are more passive-aggressive in how they deal with people, and they simply do not know how to embrace those who think differently, ask questions or have opposing views.

“What Did Jesus Say?”

I desire to be like Christ, that is my goal.  I might not always be who you think I should be. Oh well, Sorry, just because you don’t understand me or don’t like what I am saying does not mean that I am bad, wrong or rebellious.  No sir, I am Born Again.  My Father God has sealed me with His Holy Spirit and He is AT WORK IN ME causing me to grow up into His Image.  I belong to Him. I belong to His body, and we; you and I, belong to each other. That settles it for me.  I am inclusive not exclusive.  I am like my Father.  (now I am not talking about the doctrine of inclusion, don’t misunderstand me, I am talking about loving people and being open to others even if they are different than me).

Jesus warned us that the leaven of the Pharisees is Hypocrisy and just a little bit will grow and infuse the whole lump (dough or bread).  Hypocrisy is birthed in pride and self-centeredness.  Self absorption can be very Holier than thou and expresses it’s self in what we think looks very spiritual.  The Book of James has a lot to say about that.  However, humility is the true measure of spirituality.  Not money, success, position, power or title.

As I was reading in Matt 5 – 7 I found the Lord’s exhortation to us …

Matthew 5:38-42   to go the extra mile.
Matthew 5:43-48   to love our enemies.
Matthew 6:1-4      don’t boast about what you are doing.
Matthew 7:1-6      don’t judge others (because you can’t see their inner motive) unless you want that same  judgement.

Jesus came to a community of religious people who were self absorbed, self focused, they were the keepers of the scriptures but blind to the truth.  They became very aggressive and political when he spoke to motives of the heart.  He is speaking those same things to us today… How will we respond?

I’m praying to meet people who aren’t one way conversationalists, self absorbed, self promoting, egotists filled with one thing!  I long for those who want to dialogue.  Brethren who really want to talk and engage others, who are not afraid to discover who I am as opposed to forcing me to become who they think I should be.  Christ is one of these people… He is calling us to be the same.

The Journey

The Red Letters…
WWJS

Coming Out – Rethinking The Norms

REPOST FROM 2012 UPDATED

I hope that this title drew you to see what my “coming out” is all about.  I’m wondering how many people made certain assumptions without reading the article. If you are this far into it, let me assure you this has  has everything to do with my belief system and core values based upon the Word of God.  This article comes out of thirty-five years of walking with Christ.  The last fifteen years especially have had tremendous impact on the growth I’ve experienced.  It’s time to write, to publish.  Why you ask? Because there is so much to say.

I dreamed of this day.  I’ve wrestled fear and labored with sleepless nights.  Emotionally, it finally came and like Neo in the Matrix, I took the red pill. Once I began the journey out of the systemized menagerie of the learned religious experience, a whole new world opened up to me.  — Like Neo I am experiencing some challenging, life altering awakenings.

Let me say right here that I am not, Emergent, Seeker Sensitive, or Liberal.  I am a born again, Spirit filled, believer and I am deeply committed to Christ.  A lover of truth, I am passionate about the health of God’s Church, His body, His living people.  I am ready to engage in this dialogue.  It is important, it is necessary. “God, give me courage and grace, because it is enough, and though I’m week, YOU ARE STRONG”. (2 Cor. 12:9)   “I need You Lord, empower me to stand strong in YOU, because I know religious intimidation is about to come”.

This is the first of a series of articles and I’m coming out for the one I love the most.  My precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  He alone is worthy of all my praise, undivided attention, and adoration.  I believe the scriptures in the original languages are the correct Word of God.  All the other books we have are translations.  Reading these translations alone is not enough and it’s proven that when taken literally, things get twisted.  I’ve come to love Exegesis, (reading them in their own time removing myself from the picture and allow the author’s true meaning to shine through) because exegesis reading has changed my Bible reading.  This has caused my understanding to change too.

I am a believer, a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend, a teacher, a pastor, a mentor and I belong to a large body made up of many nations of people called ‘The Body of Christ.’  I was an alcoholic in my early 20’s when I came to know Christ in a very powerful and personal way.  I have no doubt that I would have died young had I not believed the message of the Cross.   Where would I be had I not received the King with His glorious Kingdom into my life.  I’ve tried blogging, but writing is not easy for me.  However, I know I need to break into this “Online Community” and engage in conversations that are very important to the life of the Church.  I believe God wants us to dialog because no one has ALL THE TRUTH, we really need each other.

Truth be told —I HATE, HATE, HATE conflict.  I am not a type A personality, I don’t like to push or drive people to do things.  It’s particularly hard to get them to do it “MY WAY”.  I am a team player and love to see the group as a whole function in harmony.  That is so fulfilling to me.  So, because of this, it is difficult for me to demand and push people.  I find that pushy people are often self-absorbed.  More of a broadcast system than listeners or friends.  I know that there is a place for this in life and within organizations, it’s just not something I am comfortable with.  This doesn’t disqualify me as a leader, no it causes me to dig deep and rely on God’s Spirit to stand strong in difficult situations, that’s all.

There is a problem in leadership throughout the Body of Christ.  It is “narcissism”.   —A narcissist uses people for their advantage.   Unfortunately this has been how leadership relates to people often.  Their vision and goal, and their needs and wants,  supersedes all others.   Often it involves coercion through guilt, bullying and manipulation of some kind.  In fact this has been my experience in ministry at least half the time— “being bullied into something”.  However, there is this thing on the inside of me that won’t let me surrender to  “the things as they are” culture when I can see they’re not right.  I love it when the underdog succeeds.  I want to see the marginalized used and grow.   I believe this is God’s heart because Jesus clearly reveals this to us … Which brings me back to the title point.

I’ve been through many things over these last thirty-five years.  I am a bible school graduate.  I have been in ministry full-time on and off over the last twenty years.  Five of those years I was a regular bible teacher in an established Bible Institute in Central America.  It was there that I actually began to search the scriptures in a much deeper, historical way.  I began asking important questions about things which I had been taught.  I also had many questions about how the inner workings of ministry really should work.  (Frankly, because what I was experiencing was so contrary to many of the teachings of Christ).  As I dove deeper into Paul, and other writers of the New Testament letters, I found many contradictions.  My questions arose especially on teachings about Authority and Submission.  Also, on the topic of Women in Ministry, and rules for the home.  I observed many women who had very abusive husbands, and one by one be turned away from the church.  Why?  because we were powerless.  This inability comes from doctrinal beliefs on men’s roles in marriage, and it really caused me to pause and ask  —  “Lord, is this really the truth, you are only pleased if they submit and obey?”  These questions lead to study and much to my surprise, things aren’t as simple, or as obvious as we’ve been made to believe.  The Greek reads differently than my English version.  So a new life opened up to me.  A life of theological study and higher learning.  It was tough going in the beginning, but I pressed through.  Thousands of hours later, here’s my conclusion…

I repent —I repent (turn away from and go in the opposite direction of) leading people in the culture and structure that creates a double standard.  One for leadership and another for those considered to be layman.  These leadership teachings create a double standard system that follows the world’s way of leadership which is opposite to the leadership of Christ.  If we look at the teachings of Jesus and Paul with exegesis eyes, we’ll see contradictions, and note there is an error being taught.  This error is creating an elitist group of people who abuse ‘POWER OVER’ God’s people to promote their own visions and agendas.  Power and control is more important than humility and sacrificial love.  When held up to the scriptures it falls short and is nothing more than the Shepherding error of the 70’s and early 80’s gone to seed. The scriptures teach true relationship and accountability, but there is no place for narcissistic, arrogant, nepotism in the body.  I am standing up against what I see is a dangerous ideology.  To be a leader in Christ I am required to be a servant.  Not just to him, but to all.

I have changed my mind on a number of teachings on Authority and Submission.

I have also studied at length about the gender issues that envelope the denominations. Because of this study I am persuaded in the egalitarian point of view in interpreting the scriptures.  I go to Central America every year to teach a class on Women in Ministry.  I have taught this since 2002 and I have discovered through better exegesis that the text doesn’t really say what I thought it did .  I have seen first hand the subjugation of women and girls simply because of gender.  In fact the scriptures being  used to support male governing over women come out of Gen 3:16.  However, Genesis 3:16 is the effect of the fall of humanity.  A closer look gives light to this fact.  Also, Romans 5 leads us to understand that Christ has redeemed us from the power of the curse and it’s effect over humanity.  So, it is important to ask the right questions when studying the texts that speak about women.  When we see tension and contradiction in scripture, we have to look closer.  This class has changed my life completely.  Thirteen years of study on this topic, weighing both sides carefully, is how I’ve come to my conclusions.

Also, the question “Who is the Church?”  I think we have missed some important insight from Paul.  An exegetical study of Ephesians helps us to understand that the Holy Spirit’s gifting in the body might not be so dogmatic or divided (average person and clergy).  We’ve gotten it wrong here when we believe that leadership is the most important part.  The body of Christ is the Church.  Every member is equally important to God and should be to each other.  I truly believe that these gifts are more functional than positional, and that’s where the enemy works most with pride and deception.

One last thing, —“IMAGE IS EVERYTHING”— I believe this does not promote the Love of God, or lead people into peace.  It creates schisms, pride, and clicks.  It empowers others-over-others,  not submission one to another.  It promotes a system of peer pressure and performance based actions to which we get in or out.  The question is, “why do we go to the world to learn how to LOVE AS CHRIST LOVES”?  He is nothing like the world’s system.  No matter how prolific or polished we are, SELFLESSNESS is still the test of God’s love.  Humility is not something that we can fake for too long.  Our character comes forward and people can see it. —Thank God for His Grace, we are a work in process all the way.  BUT, it’s wrong for leaders to have a double standard.  We are to denounce the works of the flesh, the carnal nature, and be transformed by the Spirit’s life.

This DOUBLE STANDARD is the key issue.  When the church becomes a club, as the Apostle Paul corrects in his letter to the Corinthians, he calls those who are in that state “BABIES IN NEED OF MILK.”

Over the last decade I have been on a journey with the one who has rescued my soul from the disease of pride —A sickness that effects everyone around them but the one who has it.  

Through a very difficult time in life, I came to understand clearly how important humility is.  In fact through the valley and wilderness the key lesson almost everyday was “Humility, The Missing ingredient.”  I was born again, again.  I never want to go back to the world I came out of.  The past is behind.  The future is forward motion… I live in Freedom and true liberty in Christ.

Finally, my prayer and dedication:

“In the wilderness I met you beautiful Lamb of God, the True and Living Christ, who delivered me out of deep and gross darkness.  You established my life again and you are leading me.  You are the Good Shepherd who lays down your life for the sheep.  Oh, my soul delights in you Oh My God, My King!!  When everyone else turned away Lord, YOU WERE THERE!  I LOVE YOU! It has been the most incredible journey into the heart of God.  Thank you for loving me so much Lord, and leading me in to the secret place where your love grows stronger… Purified, tested and tried by fire.  It’s precious to me.”

Thanks for reading, it’s simply a cry from within my heart to see the broken lifted, the pure in heart encouraged and God’s Love prevail in His Church! To know you, and the depth of your Mercy and Grace… Come Lord Jesus, Come!

As The Eagle Soars

Isaiah 40:27 – 31  (New Living Translation)

“O Jacob, how can you say the Lord does not see your troubles? Oh Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth. He never grows week or weary. No one can measure the depth of his understanding. He gives power to the week, and strength to the powerless.  Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion, but those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will walk and not faint. 

What a beautiful word picture!!!  This amazing ability to soar up, lifted by the wind, higher and higher  —yet like Pilgrim, from the classic “The Pilgrims Progress” by John Bunyan, I’ve found myself in all kinds of situations along the lower path, known to us as the valley.

The valleys, Uugghh…those difficult times of questioning…  “When God, when are you going to come rescue me?”  The feelings and emotions wrestled with there — the choking, suffocating, fear infused, self doubting moments— deep periods of unbelief.  We’ve all been there… and they’re hard to maneuver sometimes.  But it’s here in these darkest places where we learn to TRUST. 

Learning to lean in, and rely on, the Character of God, wow this is what it all boils down to!

He is FAITHFUL and TRUE.  This is His character.  In chapter 40 in the book of Isaiah, we see the Prophet, moved by the Holy Spirit speaking of the vastness and supremacy of God.  Yet this great and powerful being, Who hold’s the heaven and earth together, is Israel’s Faithful Helper. This word picture, when planted in our mind, helps us to see God’s will for restoration.  Why is this important? because without understanding, we stumble around in the dark.  When we are stumbling around in the dark, we miss all kinds of things.  Another thought to consider is — How can we trust a God who says one thing, yet does another? Does He express both good and evil towards us? Or, are there distinct characteristics between darkness and light?  These are questions that need answers.

–Speaking of darkness, It is the complete opposite of light.  Jesus is the Light and Life of Men.  We get off track by not staying focused on Him.  He is the complete expressed image of God.  Everything must process through the redemptive work of Christ.  If it doesn’t line up with redemption, we need to reconsider it.   The church today needs to remember Christ’s anger was aimed at the religious, hard-hearted, pharisee.  With all of their “cult of religion,” they were no closer to God than those they judged.  God is Love.  Let’s remember this in all that we do and say… (Just a side note from the author. *wink*)

God is a patient and kind Father.  He is committed to keeping us on the right path.  Never far away at all, but to our natural eyes and senses… it’s hard at times to perceive Him.  Faith and Patience the two power twins come along side and lift us up.  They are the unseen force, like the wind.  These two super powers when joined together blow a powerful gust of the Spirit’s anointing which will carry us up… The illustrated example is beautifully spoken by Isaiah, just when Israel was in need of major encouragement.

Isaiah 40:1 starts off with “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God.  How beautiful!  God said, “Be comforted my people – I love you, I am here for you!”

If you are in need of help, strength or encouragement today, let this insightful picture of the eagle, as he glides on the wings of the wind, go deep in your heart and mind.  Reach out with TRUST, believe that God wants to rescue you.  Your life is important to Him, as Jesus shared … “consider the Lily’s of the field… How much more your Father in Heaven cares for you…”  (Matt. 7:28-30). And yet Jesus asks the crowd, “why do you have so little faith?  Friends, resist the urge to believe God is bearing down on you with oppression to teach you something, no, that’s the work of darkness.  He is in the valley with you, leading you out… Look up to heaven, where your Help comes from!  Your help does come from the Lord!

Isaiah spoke encouragement to God’s people then, let those words speak the same encouragement to us today! THOSE WHO WAIT (trust in, believe on) THE LORD, will have wings like the eagle and… THEY WILL SOAR WITH RENEWED STRENGTH.  GOD WILL RESCUE THEM.

Seeing through the eye of Faith changes everything!

Silah!

Blessings Friends