Monday, September 25, 2006

JOY

One of the most awesome Pastors I have ever had in my life is a man by the name of Scott Camp. He Pastors Fellowship of Joy in Arlington. He is an awesome speaker and, I believe, a genius. I will never forget what he used as an illustration one Sunday as he spoke on the Joy of the Lord.

Pastor Scott asked everyone in the congregation to do something. For you to have the full effects of it, I'm going to have you do what he asked us to do.

Say "Happy". Where do you feel it?

Now, say "JOY". Where do you feel it?

You feel "happy" just in your mouth and your jaw. Say it again and you will see what I mean. However, when you say the word "JOY" (say it, JOY) you feel it in your stomach, don't you? Hmmm! Our happiness is based on circumstances. Happiness is superficial as it only felt "at the moment".

JOY comes from deep within. JOY comes from spending time with the Lord and knowing Him in His fullness. JOY is what we feel when we have assurance that God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us to save us from our sins. JOY is what we have when everything is falling down around our ankles and our world is upside down.

Nehemiah 8:10 says it like this . . . "the joy of the Lord is your strength".

It only makes sense then if the JOY of the Lord is your strength, JOY will be the FIRST thing the enemy tries to steal from us. If we let the enemy steal our JOY then we have allowed the enemy to go too deep. Remember, JOY is from the depths of you. I refuse to let the enemy steal "MY JOY". Happiness comes and goes -- JOY remains.

I leave you with scriptures that have ministered to me even today.

Psalm 16:11
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand is pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 30:5
For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Psalm 43:4
Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.

Isaiah 61:3
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Let the JOY of the Lord be your strength today. Know that His JOY is from the depth of your innermost being. There is no situation that God cannot handle. And remember, if He's not God of everything then He's not God at all.

God Kept Going

I am not good at keeping a journal. I have several -- all for different years and none are complete. About 4 years ago God spoke to me about 3 women in my life. Three women that I did not know very well. God told me to begin praying for these women, their husbands and their children. God told me to write it all down in a journal. So, I did. I kept this journal faithfully. I prayed for these women. I called their names out to God. I called out the names of each of their children to God. I called out the names of their husbands to God. I faithfully prayed for them. The more I prayed for them -- the more I loved them. The more I prayed for them -- the more I got to know them. None of the three women knew of this. God told me to keep it to myself. It was MY journal, MY prayers and MY thoughts. Having said that, I will reveal only what I feel necessary to the purpose of this writing.

One of those women became my best friend, Jeri (aka Jbob). She is so special to me. She is like a sister to me. I can tell her anything and fear nothing. I am totally safe with her. About 2 months ago, I gave Jeri the journal. I knew I could. I knew it would be safe with her.

One of the other women in the journal was and is my Pastor's wife, Cindy. She is a precious Godly woman and inspires me. Cindy has the awesome ability to become transparent for women without losing her dignity. She amazes me with her Godly wisdom and her gentle spirit.

The third woman will remain nameless for now and forever. I prayed for her as diligently as I did the other two women. I loved her. I prayed for her husband and I prayed for her children. This woman hurt me. Jbob told me that it hurt me so deeply because I loved her so deeply. I immediately changed things in my life to keep her away from me. I did not want to look at her. I did not want to touch her. She hurt me. Then, I began to feel that sickening feeling that I deserved it. I was not good enough to be loved by her. I deserved to be hurt. I hated feeling all of that so I put even more distance between us. I put the journal up; never writing in it again. Never praying for her again.

I was wrong. God, forgive me. I was wrong. She hurt me. She really did and I was justified to hurt. I was never justified to be in direct disobedience to God. I quit praying. Had I kept praying the pain would have been lesser and I would have "gotten over it". The thing is, she probably has no idea that she hurt me. She never will. It is over. By the grace of God, I am over it.

To this date, the relationship is not restored but I love her and I am praying for her again. I can touch her. I can hug her. I can love her. You see, my prayers were not nullified just because I QUIT praying. Those prayers that I prayed for her all those months, were still between God and I. God says that He hears our prayers.

God did not promise us a life without pain. He actually guarantees we will have pain. He also promises a way of escape when there is temptation of wrong doing (see I Corinthians 10:13). I was wrong (dead wrong) and in complete disobedience to what God had told me to do. I caved! My temptation was not my sin. My reaction to my temptation was sin. Disobedience to God is sin. God still blessed this person because I prayed blessings on her. God told me to. When I stopped -- God kept going!

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,
James 5:16

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Forgiveness

Today was Lesson III in my Bible Study, "The Power of the Praying Woman" by Stormie Omartian. The lesson was entitled "Praying to be Free of the Past". In our roundtable discussion, the topic that seemed to come up the most was "forgiveness". I always think I have this one covered. I always think I have forgiven everyone and then, Boom!, it hits me in the face again. Our past is always with us. Our past is part of who we are. Why do we have such a hard time breaking free from the past?

Stormie said this today: "Your past is history, it is NOT a prophecy of your future.". Well put! She went on to say that forgiveness does not make someone right, it makes YOU free. Forgiveness releases you to love God more. (Give Stormie another couple of points.)

What does unforgiveness really do? I heard it put this way once: Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Unforgiveness turns to hate. Hate is sin.

How do you forgive? I mean REALLY forgive? Have you ever put a bandaid on something that needed stitches? It will heal without the stitches but the wound will reopen many times before healing happens. Ever heard of "wounds that do not heal"? OK, God, I've got wounds that need stitches.

I learned today that forgiveness is not a one time deal. We are changed from glory to glory, strength to strength. Imagine a wound -- how many layers of skin have to heal for the wound to be truly healed? Ah, then the scar. When you see the scar, THEN you know you are healed.

Just because someone has died does not mean you do not have to forgive them. Death is not forgiving. There was a person in my life that said and did horrible things to me. I was so young. I needed this person to nurture me and to teach me. She was mean instead. She died a couple of years ago. I did not grieve. She died without my forgiveness. She never asked me for it. She did not deserve it. I must forgive her. What can my forgiveness do for her now? Nothing. What can my forgiveness do for me now? Forgiveness will release me to love God more. In the grander scheme of things, forgiveness will cause me to be more pleasing to God.

So, do I revisit the past? Do I go back there? Will it further my healing or will it cause the pain to go even deeper?

On the way to Bible Study this morning, I remember thinking about my Facilitator, Kathy. I kept thinking how she probably would not be able to relate to this lesson very much. She was raised in a Pastor's home. She had loving parents and has a wonderful marriage. She has such a pleasant life and has probably been sheltered from a life of sin and regret. Well, maybe so, but even Kathy has to deal with unforgiveness. She shared a story with us concerning her extended family. It is her story and I will not tell you about it now but I cannot imagine what her family has gone through and how hard it must be to forgive in this situation.

Unforgiveness is a cross we all must bear. Bad stuff happens to good people. Bad stuff even happens to Godly people. Why? I do not know the answer and there is not anyone on earth who can answer that age old question.

Have you ever needed to be forgiven? We deal with unforgiveness with others. What about needing someone to forgive you? There is nothing more empowering than being forgiven.

Father, in the name of Jesus, help me today to break free from my past. Help me to truly forgive those who have hurt me. Reveal to me those things that I need forgiveness in. If I have caused any pain, please forgive me. Order my steps in Your Word that I may be pleasing to You. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be truly acceptable to You, Father. Your Word teaches me to walk in forgiveness. I have been forgiven so I must forgive. Change me from glory to glory, strength to strength. Create in me a clean heart. Let my words be few. Amen.

Giggle



Webster's definition of GIGGLE
laugh in a silly manner

The word "giggle" itself sounds silly, does it not? There are days when I just need a good giggle. Today must have been one of those days. I had lunch with my best friend, Jeri. We always seem to draw a lot of attention when we are together. Probably because we are totally oblivious to anyone or anything around us. It is all about us and what we are involved in.

Today was Jeri's turn to buy lunch. She was buying so she got to pick the place. I was driving so I'm not sure why I actually drove to the place she wanted to go to. I guess it is true about what they say -- you get what you pay for. The food was terrible and there was no service (that is why I hate buffets), but the company was great. I love spending time with Jeri.

Yesterday I was with Mandi and the kids. We giggled a lot. The kids were giggling at the door when I drove up. Mandi and I giggled with (and at) the kids throughout the day.

Giggling is good for whatever ails ya!

Try some today.