Turn Down the Noise

Psalm 17:6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words (ESV. )

The other day my husband and I got into an argument. It started with a misunderstanding. I walked in the living room to find the children watching a learning video. I asked (or attempted to) my husband a question. He didn’t hear all of what I said. There was too much noise. He told me first to speak louder, then responded with a statement that didn’t match my inquiry. We both thought we could just speak louder and the communication would be fine. It wasn’t.

Not until the television was quieted and the kids were settled did the mess actually get resolved. Both of us clearly thought we understood the other person. But we didn’t. I sought God shortly after in prayer and exclaimed in frustration, “Speak louder. I can’t hear you!” In that moment a spiritual light bulb went on. God was speaking. He didn’t need to talk louder. I needed to be quieter.

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I have been processing the times in my life when I thought God wasn’t speaking. I’ve discovered a few things.

  • God communicates primarily through His Word.
  • He doesn’t always use words
  • God speaks through His creation (sometimes people)
  • Silence doesn’t mean ignored
  • His voice is, in general, more like a whisper
  • You have to listen to hear
  • He speaks through peace or a “check/caution”
  • If we are in sin or not seeking wholeheartedly we cannot usually hear (though there are scriptural examples of God speaking through a donkey or using a whale with Jonah)

The bottom line is…God and the world around us has lessons to teach. We must be humble enough to recognize them and apply the wisdom to our lives. Sometimes our lives are too loud to hear Him.

Today, I want to encourage you to be still. Read the Word, pray, and let your prayer be a two way conversation. Speak, then listen. Or perhaps let God speak first. Just recently I’ve been doing that. My formula used to always be “I speak then He speaks.” Really, what He has to say is more important than my words. God is much smarter.

Get somewhere quiet. Or at least be in solitude with yourself. Riding a bus is alone although there’s people around you. In the car. The shower. While vacuuming. On break at work. There’s time if you really want to.

Get quiet. You never know what He’ll say.

1 Samuel 3:10 ESV And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Job 13:22 ESV Then call, and I will answer; or let me speak, and you reply to me.

Psalm 119:135 ESV Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.

Colossians 4:2 ESV Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Growing People Change

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

I attend two different women’s studies. One is every week on the book of Ephesians, and the other every other week on the book Living the Five by Jim and Jennifer Cowart. The second group just got done with the second topic, Growing People Change.

Have you ever known someone for many years who never seems to grow or mature?

They’re still as angry and hot tempered as ever. They are bitter. Touchy. Still ungrateful. Little self control. Prideful as can be.

I know a few like that. I call them “fat babies.” Scripture has something to say on this…

Hebrews 5:12-14 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Here’s another way to put it…

Galatians 5:19-23 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Luke 6:43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit…

Having just come out of the fall feasts and the time of harvest, I immediately thought of fruit when I was at the study. We are supposed to be growing, emulating Him more. After all, fruit determines the root.

  • What is the fruit of my life?
  • How do I treat those I dislike or get on my nerves?
  • Am I more patient?
  • More kind?
  • More forgiving?
  • More broken?

These are tough questions, but must be asked. If we can honestly say we aren’t better than we were, say a year ago, something’s wrong. We are then full on this world and feeding our flesh, not our spirits.

If you are what you eat, what are you eating?

Today, I want to challenge you to be committed to grow. Years ago someone suggested I write the fruits of the spirit vs the fruits of the flesh out on paper and keep it visible in my home. It would serve as a regular reminder to seek God first and desire to produce good, God honoring fruit.

Whatever we do for God, whatever we call our “ministry”, whatever social status we have means nothing if we are not becoming more like Messiah. God isn’t after what you do as much as who you are. When He has you, the fruit will follow. After all, we aren’t sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.

Ephesians 2:1-3 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

Here’s the great part…

Ephesians 2:4-6 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

We are made alive in Christ.

Surrender each day to Him. Often the most uncomfortable and most unpleasant things He asks us to do actually mature us best.

We can’t glorify Him unless we are willing to change. Happy changing!

1 Corinthians 14:20 ESV Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Galatians 4:9 ESV But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?

Small Fights and Church Hurt

Ephesians 5:15-16 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

“I once asked a very successful woman to share her secret with me.”

‘I started succeeding when I started leaving small fights for small fighters…’

-Dana Ives

I saw a post on Facebook. Here’s part of it…

It was about choosing battles wisely and fighting for more worthwhile things like dreams, ideas, goals etc. I’ll add God’s will, His promises, healing and freedom. In general, gossip, people’s misjudgments, petty disagreements, and minor differences aren’t worth the fight. It’s a small fight.

Ephesians 6:11-12 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We are in a spiritual war. The enemy would like nothing more than for believers to be stuck in bitterness, division, and disagreements. Interesting enough, after seeing that post I was sent something regarding “church hurt.” My family has experienced trauma from a previous congregation. It’s taken years to recover. The details aren’t worth getting into. But what I do want to mention is that I didn’t start truly healing until I stopped fighting with my past.

Trauma can cause a person’s automatic thought process to be unhealthy. I rehearsed and replayed the “unfairness” and pain, I suppose in a desperate attempt to understand it a different way. There was this nagging feeling that if I could just go through the details and examine it enough, I’d gain the information needed to feel better about it.

It never happened.

Why? Because I was at war with it. Essentially I was inflicting myself over and over and over hoping it would heal me. Twisted I know, but when you’re in it you don’t see it. It was habit in its worst form. Not too long ago God spoke to me on this.

Give up the fight and surrender to me. You can’t change what happened. But, I can help you change your present so you have a better future.

All things working together for good as in Romans 8:28 is difficult to believe smack dab in the middle of pain and trials. God has given me a powerful yet simple revelation that has been life changing for me…

Our definition of good and bad isn’t His.

Joseph’s hardships in the Bible eventually put him in a position to save the tribes-his brothers-from famine. Nebuchadnezzar saw God in the flames with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. What we consider “bad” may be good in the long run. That’s why, hard as it is, we must surrender our lives to His will.

Stop fighting and start surrendering, forgiving, and loving.

Today, I want to encourage you to cease fighting over past traumas and current issues that you can’t control or don’t really matter. Don’t lose faith over something or someone that hurt you. God can use what happened for something good. I can picture someone reading this saying, “Don’t tell me my child’s death was for good” or “my husband walking out on the family isn’t good.” Yes, there are very painful, unfair, sinful things that happen to us. That isn’t good. But it doesn’t mean your life is over. If you’re still breathing then God still has a purpose for you. Your future can still be good. Very good.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God planned beforehand. Isn’t that amazing? He knew you and me and everyone else before we even existed. And He has a plan.

There’s a place to fight. And there’s a place to let go of the fight. Sometimes the greatest victories come when we choose to let go and surrender.

Psalm 121 ESV I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

God’s Love When Human Love Fails

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

They say love heals. And it does. Love is good. And it is. God is love.

Recently my husband and I had a conversation that was tough. I could see the pain on his face.

Why is it some people’s love doesn’t feel like love?

Then it turned on me.

I don’t feel loved by you either.

He said that calmly, but it fiercely hit.

I say it often. Others we know have said it. Currently my husband reached out to someone and ended up feeling wounded. A person that has said many times they loved him and cared for the family. And their actions have shown it before. Deeper questions began surfacing faster than I could process at the time.

  • What is love?
  • How should we love others?
  • How should we love God?

A while back on Facebook someone left this comment…

I wouldn’t want some people to love me as they love themselves.

Matthew 22:39b…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

That above verse isn’t a charge to love ourselves per se, but more of a model of the golden rule. It tells us (assuming a person is taking proper self care) how to treat others in a nutshell. Even so, it’s so broad. People come from different backgrounds and hold their own perspective on things. Love to me might look different than it looks for you.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me about this. I could feel my emotions bubbling. My husband feels I don’t love him. He feels like his friend doesn’t either. I know this person enough to say they do genuinely care. And I love my husband.

Human love fails.

How often have I sought love from people when God is my main source? Too often. I have lived large stretches of my life feeling totally unloved. Many people actually did. I didn’t appreciate or recognize it. I’ve heard it said we accept the love we think we deserve. I’ve always been great at absorbing knowledge and regurgitating it. However, the challenge for me is having it sink in and receiving it. I’m learning that now.

This is what God spoke to me strongly in my spirit.

We give and receive love differently. And most of all, sometimes we just fail. Love considers what is best for the other person. Sometimes we humans just think of ourselves.

What if a person can’t be what someone else needs? What if God sees that it isn’t love for the other person to engage, at least at the time? What if I’m speaking a love language some, like my husband, can’t understand? What if?

Human love can be beautiful and strong. People have died for their love of another. But love isn’t just a feeling-it’s a person. It’s God. And the love God gives is perfect, unfailing, and never ending.

Human love is flawed. Sometimes people don’t love like they should. And other times we are seeking something only God can give. That movie line, “You complete me” is touching. But it’s not how healthy relationships should be. We should seek to share our wholeness with others, not seek solely for a void to be filled.

Today, I just want to speak to the heart that is hurting from human love. Perhaps you don’t feel loved by anyone. Others don’t love you or not as you want or need. Maybe you’re feeling lonely and empty, seeking someone to help you feel better. People aren’t meant to do life alone. That’s OK that you want connection. However, God must complete us first or we will only share our broken pieces with others.

God desires us to be healthy, healed, and whole. However, we must trust Him. I know how hard it is. Believe me, I do. My life has had disappointment and discouragement. But God sees the whole story. He knows the eternal perspective.

When we realize God is always with us, it doesn’t feel like blind faith. God isn’t visible and yet, His invisible “visible” attributes are everywhere (Romans 1:20.)

You are loved by the Creator of everything you see. Let that sink in. That is the love you need first and foremost. Once you live loved, the rest will come. I’m living out this beautiful truth now, and you can too.

Romans 8:37-39 ESV No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Taste and See

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

Psalm 34:8 is in my spirit.

This Sukkot was the least celebrated of all since I’ve started observing. My son’s autism needs and behaviors coupled with my husband’s new job had us watch the feasts from a distance. I felt like such an outsider. My family is already often uninvited or unable. A week ago I felt a bit of heaviness. It was as though I was watching others gather their harvest in joy. I am left on my knees, with only my tears, heart, and whatever worship I can offer.

My hands are empty.

I told the Father at the beginning of Sukkot I felt sorrow and shame. I had no harvest. I couldn’t even rejoice properly. On the first day, after everyone was in bed, I was on my knees in the dark living room in prayer. With a candle lit, I told God that I could only give my heart. My hopes. Dreams. Desires. My full devotion. I can’t do the elaborate week long camping trip. We are unable to put up a sukkah. My son doesn’t even like tents or forts.

A question was in my heart.

Do I still please you Abba?

Interestingly, I have heard His call for me to “taste and see.”

I didn’t get it at first.

What am I supposed to do? What do you mean taste and see? I got a picture. As I held out my hands that appeared physically empty, all of a sudden I saw fruit. In fact, my hands were full to overflowing.

(I’ll connect it in a minute.) I just recently started attending a women’s group at church on the study of the book of Ephesians. One verse especially ministered to me.

Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will

I have been predestined.

No, I’m not here to talk about theology. I’m simply saying the fact that my Abba knew me and planned my life before I even existed hit me.

So, I’m entering into Sukkot thinking about God’s omniscience and His eternal perspective. As I’m seeking my harvest, I realized something. It brought me to tears.

This has been the best harvest yet.

I haven’t gained many things I directly sought. But I grew.

I’ve learned what love is. I finally get what forgiveness is. I’m more patient. Words I would’ve said without hesitation I’ve held back. I am approaching life with a gentleness I haven’t walked in before. God has been teaching me restraint and faithfulness. How to walk by faith, not allowing feelings to determine my perspective.

I have prayed with diligence. God showed me that though I can’t see anything with my natural eyes, there’s been much spiritual change.

Eternal fruit.

There’s a harvest that never rots, molds, or depletes. It’s eternal, and the greatest harvest a person can reap.

In my shattered state, God met me. Me is replaced with Him. On the outside, I have the least harvest and poorest service to my King. Others see my garments torn, with holes and patches. My hands have nothing.

But God has smiled on me. I had little to offer, but I sowed faithfully in tears. In return, I tasted and saw Him.

He has loved me, and I love Him.

I pray your eternal harvest is plentiful and wonderful, and that you taste and see the goodness of God. There’s nothing that can compare to it. Nothing.

Luke 7:37-43, 47 ESV And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

It’s About Knowing

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

This season is the most deliberate I’ve encountered in a long time. I sense God asking me to re-prioritize, pull back, and share with thoughtful purpose. I’m especially focused and mindful. When life gets heavy, it’s time to reexamine where our energy is devoted.

No to posting this, saying that. No to careless action.

When I started this page (Facebook disability page for encouragement) I just knew I was called to communicate to the Body and I have a heart to help. Somehow. In some way, however small. But I have been humbled as I’ve been blogging and posting on social media for years. I want my words to be His words. Too often they are still my own. Flesh and spirit are at war.

These past few days I’ve been inquiring of God to hear Him clearer than ever before. I desire to know when He’s speaking. No doubts. No guesses. Interestingly, His voice has seemed more fuzzy. There’s appeared to be greater static.

Am I not tuning in right? What’s going on?

I am heard and known in the pursuit.

It’s the pursuit.

I chewed on that for a bit. Jeremiah 29:13 came to mind. Seeking God with all of my heart will make Him “found.” I of course am the lost one. This truth is becoming so apparent.

God desires to be found and He wants us to delight in the pursuit.

Pain, trials, testings, persecutions, attacks, needs etc are opportunities for us to find Him. Anything that brings us to our knees in brokenness and yearning is a beautiful thing.

I know pain. I’ve felt more than I thought I could in life. But what I assumed would cause me to burst at the seams actually deepened and strengthened my chase of the Creator.

I don’t know what you’re going through, but I know this: it’s about knowing. Not doing, understanding, gaining, prospering, or even hearing.

Join me in crying out to God to know Him and find Him. One mystery after another. One revelation after another. Day by day. When we know Him, everything else has a way of falling into place.

Your life has purpose. I promise you this. And the greatest purpose is to find Him.

Psalm 40:16 ESV But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”

Luke 11:9 ESV And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

My Grace is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Ever had one of those days? Weeks? Months? Even years?

God has been teaching me, more intimately than ever, what 2 Corinthians 12:9 is all about.

Grace.

Most people use “grace” in the context of “grace period” or giving mercy/benefit of the doubt. But grace also means the empowerment of God. Yes, we are saved by grace. But what does that really mean? And how does that affect us in our day to day lives?

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

I always saw grace as mercy. But mercy is not getting what we do deserve. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Stay with me here.

My son is severely autistic. His behaviors and the result of parenting a child like him has repercussions many don’t grasp. We have no real family support. It’s difficult to have much of a social life, though we try. There’s no vacations. Money is spent on repairs and trying to keep our house presentable. My husband has had several job changes (not due to his fault) the past couple of years. He was mocked, given the hardest tasks, great reviews but denied promotions for almost ten years at one job. Towards the end a manager blurted out they didn’t like he was Jewish.

Two years later a slew of upper management at that company was charged with embezzlement of likely over 500,000 and selling pallets with drugs in them. But my family suffered for many years. We’ve lost friends. We’ve been slandered. And we’ve hit almost breakdown at different points.

But this is what I’ve learned that I want to pass on to you.

Grace is God’s strength to do His will.

I’ve been hearing “my grace is sufficient” over and over in my spirit.

When I’m scrubbing on my hands and knees (with back pain) the fecal smearing that’s not coming out in my son’s room…

My grace is sufficient.

When we don’t know how we’re going to pay that bill…

My grace is sufficient.

When we hear painful gossip said about us…

My grace is sufficient.

When bitterness is knocking at the door of my heart…

My grace is sufficient.

When we are misjudged or rejected…

My grace is sufficient.

When I’m in physical or emotional pain that seems unbearable…

My grace is sufficient.

When I’m sleep deprived again from caring for my children…

My grace is sufficient.

When I need to fix something else that is broken or damaged…

My grace is sufficient.

When there’s things going on that only you and God know about…

Yes, His grace is sufficient.

Life is hard. We all fight battles others don’t see. When you have a disability or care for someone that does, life is especially tough. Sometimes it’s moment by moment that we must live.

God sees. He hears. He knows.

Fight for your joy. Fight for it with all you have. There’s so much to be thankful for. Thank God every day for something.

Remember, His grace is sufficient. I’ve wept over the sins I’ve committed and my shortcomings. But I keep going. May you also. Don’t give up. Receive His grace. God’s grace is really His love for us. Although it’s uncomfortable to struggle, it matures us. We learn more of Him. And that is something I’m incredibly thankful for.

Matthew 10:29-31 ESV Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Good Soil

Mark 4:8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

I’m taking a break from my personal pages on social media. I sense God is calling me to draw closer. But there’s another reason. I want to be the good soil. The season I’m in has felt like cares of this world have tried to choke out the good. But I’m learning that in order for a harvest to happen, seeds must be planted. Ones that are covered by darkness in cold dirt. The seed itself must break for life to come forth.

God is breaking me more and more.

I am a fairly transparent person. But I have felt God call me to pull back, say less, and draw closer each day. I told someone that I feel like I have nothing left to pour out. I suppose that’s a good thing in a way. Because then what I do give is not of me. And that’s how it should be.

Right now, I don’t see my harvest. But I know it’s coming. And it is built upon the faithfulness of seeking my Creator. In the darkness. In the cold. In the brokenness. Day by day, little by little. As this world gets darker I pray for laborers.

Matthew 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few

If Satan’s not bothering you, you’re not bothering him. -David Wilkerson

It is in the mundane, steady diligence that a harvest is sown. Faithfully planting, battling weariness (see Galatians 6:9.) The dirt is under your fingernails. With sweat and a vision in your heart, you labor. But this isn’t work. You are not working it as much as it is working you.

As you dig, plant, and water-patience is developed. You learn love isn’t a feeling; love is a choice and sometimes a hard one. Joy is in the gratitude of sowing and eventual reaping. Peace comes through understanding where your provision comes from. Kindness develops through the waiting. Empathy is matured in us as we move through the discomfort and pain. Goodness and faithfulness is in the discipline of sowing and intimately knowing where our seeds comes from. Gentleness is softly received when it’s realized the sowing isn’t in brute strength or bluntness. It is tempered slowly by the Holy Spirit. And self control is in restraint and proper measure. Not too much water. Not too much sun or shade.

Trust.

The harvest comes in trust.

Today, I want to simply encourage you to stay faithful and keep laboring. A harvest comes after sowing. Sometimes in tears for a long time. But it comes. Some reaping is in this life and some in eternity. Even when life doesn’t make sense, keep sowing. I believe there’s so much fruit we cannot see that takes place in the spiritual realm.

Be the good soil. He always has His eye on you.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.