Not My Will But Yours Be Done: Learning to accept God’s Sovereignty

John 19:26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

As I was going to sleep last night, a thought popped into my head. Mary lost a child to a brutal death. In fact she lost at least two! James, her biological son with Joseph it is believed was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. This is no mother’s plan! Mary had to be numb and collapsing as she saw Jesus, the son of God, being crucified on the cross. God did not tell her that this was the road to salvation. It is safe to say that she was not in agreement with the dangerous path Jesus was walking. In her wisdom, she wanted to keep him safe, just as she had always done. She remembered fleeing from Cesar when Jesus was a baby. She remember how this precious life changed her very existence as he grew in her belly. She had done everything she could to sustain him, to keep him alive, to be a good steward of God’s amazing gift. Surely him hanging on the cross was not God’s will. Jesus did nothing as she expected. And yet, even from the cross Jesus was concerned for his mother and providing for her.

No matter how great the plan we make as a mother, God’s plan is better. He has the end goal end in mind, when I cannot even see the finish line. His love is for all of humanity. My love is for a few. His judgment is not clouded and mine is darkened by my own selfish desires. His path is consistent, he neither wavers nor stumbles. God’s plan for Jesus was perfect. God’s plan for Jonathan was perfect. Oh, how weighty those words are for me! They are bitter in my soul. Please hear me, while God did not cause my son’s death, he didn’t stop it either–AND HE IS COMPLETELY ABLE TO! To accept God’s sovereignty in my son’s death is one of the hardest hurdles in my faith. Yet I have believed that he is sovereign in the good things in my life. Why not in death as well?

He has a purpose in allowing Jonathan to die, and as I learn to open myself to the possibilities in his purposes may the friction between my will and God’s will be removed. What is happening in your life right now that you find yourself saying, “Surely this is not the will of God.” Are you battling cancer, is a loved one ill, have you lost your job, is your marriage in shambles. Can we pray as Jesus prayed?:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes. (Matthew 6:9-13, The Message)

The Hypocrisy of People Pleasing: Learning to Write to my Father’s Glory

Matthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

 Hi, my name is Karisa, and I am a recovering people-pleaser. It has been one minute since I drank my last complement. I loved the feedback that I received from a client this morning. “I hired a poet to write a business letter. I’m very smart cookie. She did an awesome job in a short period of time.”

We are constantly getting input on how we are doing from our fellow man, but God’s review has to be the only feedback that counts. This is a serious stumbling block for me. I tend to beat myself up for mistakes, and struggle to have the same response no matter what criticism is received. I get sick to my stomach until I hear back that I’ve done a good job. Therefore, rather than writing each job to the glory of my Savior I am constantly needing a pat on the back to think I’m any good at writing. Jesus puts it bluntly. “Right living, wrong audience=no reward from God” Wow, there is no qualifier there. It doesn’t say that we receive less of a reward, it says “no’” reward. Why?

At the heart of hypocrisy is people pleasing. If I am doing things of God, but looking for man’s approval I will never be satisfied. I will have no reward in heaven because I am not concerned about heavenly things. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I will never measure up to the expectations of others, because none of us do! So why look for man’s approval, when that approval will always fall short of God’s? What can man give me that God cannot?

If only God were more public with his praise of us! But, instead Jesus tells us, He rewards in secret. (vs. 18) We are looking for immediate gratification; I want to see that what I am investing in is worthwhile, producing results, and having lasting effect.

Satisfaction with God’s approval alone. It is only when I seek my Heavenly Father first that all of these other things are added to me. Lord, I praise you for making me a writer. As I live a public witness through written word, may I seek your will in the quiet place that is just between you and I. Remove all hypocrisy from my life, writing, speech, and actions. Amen

Sold Out for Heaven:What does Heaven Treasure?

   Matthew 6:19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and ruste destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Garage sales are a chance to cleanse, and a nice distraction for me today (Wrote this Saturday). Recently I heard that a family may have found pirate treasure in their attic–complete with mummified hand. Gives me chills, just thinking about it. Case in point that you cannot take the treasure with you . . . and apparently you can’t always take your hand with you either.

Sometimes we get too focused upon the clearing out of our junk and miss the second part of the verse. Store up treasures in heaven. What does heaven value? Heaven values anything that lasts for eternity, has ongoing results, and is not limited by sin. A few examples are found in Jesus’ prayer:

A personal relationship with God

  • We call him Father
  • His name is backed by the power of his holiness
  • results occur on earth and in heaven when we call on his name

God’s will

  • He desires good things for us (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • His will is trustworthy
  • Obedience always works to the good of his creation

Forgiveness

  • We have a sin debt we can’t pay
  • He paid it for us,
  • So pay the debts others who owe us

Purity

  • He sacrificed a spotless lamb for us
  • Delivers us from the grip of the evil one
  • Shows us how to live an abundant life

 

Are we sold out for Heaven? When we know how valuable the kingdom of God is, everything else is. . . well . . .rusty.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

Today is my daughter’s heart check up. She has had them since birth, and in fact, before birth. We knew that she potentially could have had a heart defect and the ultra sounds looked for any problems with her developing heart. If they had found any, they could have done surgery while she was still forming in my body!

Depression, suicidal thoughts, can lay deep within our hearts and, because man looks at outer appearance, we often miss the pain and anguish within. But God, he knows our anxious thoughts. He searches within our minds, our souls, the core of who we are and is able to help us in ways that no one else can.

We all need regular heart checks, from the God who shaped our hearts and knows the things that we try to hide, or may not even be aware of. I was not aware of the rage I had stored up as a child. God brought it to the surface, exposed the monster within so that it could be removed and I could heal. Now, I open my heart before him, wanting nothing to hinder his will in my life. I know no better surgeon.

We have to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading to become more deeply aware of who might be at risk for suicide. Think about this. Jesus knew that the disciples were going to betray him, and he knew that Judas would turn him over.  David in the Psalms asks, “Where can I hide from you?” Psalm 139  God knows our children, what is happening inside their hearts, their rooms, their wallets, their school, the church, with friends and at home. Wouldn’t it be great if he reveals the spiritual battle going on? But clearly, from scripture, we see that he does! Again and again to the prophets. Again and again to Jesus and the disciples. I promise you that he does it still today! He loves us, and he wants the best for us. Lets pour out our hearts to him, and prepare our hearts to minister to all who need hope.

Where Can I Go For Help

“Do you have your exit buddy?”–Crush (Finding Nemo)

When I began my healing process my counselor had me create a crisis sheet. Steps to take, people I could trust, ways to protect myself. One of the most important parts of the plan was having the person I could call at a moments notice and they will be there. Dori was that fish for Marlin in the movie Finding Nemo. She was loyal, insightful, an encourager, good listener (even if she had no short term memory) Who is your fish?

When Jesus sent out the disciples he sent them out in pairs. Why? Because this world is going to have obstacles and they are much easier to climb when we are not alone. My kids went to a warehouse that had a floor to ceiling climbing wall. Neither made it to the top the first time. Even though the spotter told them what to look for their fear made it hard to listen. Defeated they went on to other activities. Natalie was the first to go back to the wall and try again and this time she knew that the harness would hold her, so that fear was gone. She climbed higher, but still got stuck and looked like she was going to give up again.

The spotter (without a harness mind you) climbed up the wall beside her and coached her on how to climb. She quickly made it the rest of the way. At the moment she was ready to quit, the young man was her partner to the top. Who is your partner in those moments of depression? Please hear me the other person doesn’t have to be perfect, but they do have to have certain qualities that you are currently lacking. They need to see the bigger picture of your goals when you get stuck in the middle. Who is your exit buddy! ?

Reaching the TopSuccess

Tempo is discipline!: Finding our God given beat

Matthew 11:16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17“‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;

we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Today I got a lesson on rhythm. I used a metronome to help my son find the beat for his violin lessons. He is learning eighth notes; having to stay in tempo has had him tangled up and frustrated. In an instant he went from haphazard, it sorta sounds like “Can-Can” to it really sounds like “Can-Can”.

Now just to be clear, I love beat when others are creating it, and actually gravitate towards rap music, which emphasizes beat. If you see my minivan windows vibrating, now you know why. You will often see a rapper moving his or her hands in a back and forth motion that are short and long. They are staying within a structured meter.

I struggle with keeping tempo in my writing even though I studied the meter greats for my writing degree. I found trying to squish words into a rhythm annoying! Just let the words have their say was my belief. Unfortunately it wasn’t my teachers belief and this course was my lowest score in English. Beats, whether in writing or music, are discipline and they matter! And I STRUGGLE with disciple! I feel that what I’m trying to say gets lost in the beats, or the beat gets lost in what I’m trying to say.

Obviously it not an impossible task because many talented writers and musicians find the beat. The rapper and beat become partners, singing to and around each other; plotting out poetry that is flexible, alive and active. But can I create a beat myself? Can my writing set a tone in your lives? Absolutely! Jesus’ ministry was Allegro (fast and upbeat), whereas John the Baptist’s preparation was Grave. Why were two God commissioned men preaching so differently? John was the transition from the law of sin (death), to abundant life in Jesus Christ! They both set different tones with the music they played, but both brought repentance, redemption, and restoration to those chosen and willing to follow. It says that there is an order and purpose in each note that we play. It also says to me that each of us will play our own God given tempo. The things that don’t change are Christ provider of our beat, prayer, scripture, fellowship, and witnessing. Every single powerhouse in scripture had these five disciplines as part of their music. Some of us may be playing Ode to Joy and others Visee-Allemande Grave, but both take discipline . . . who knows, with God’s help I may try my hand once more at that iambic pentameter.