Posts Tagged: death

Attacked, but Not Powerless

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (ESV)

Just ran into a friend fresh in the process of grieving the death of her newborn grandson. She relayed that the enemy was attacking her in the midst of her sorrow with a barrage of doubts and fears that everything that she does is meaningless.

Our enemy is merciless! He is no respecter of grief, depression, or even joy! Some of the seemingly happiest people are under deep attack. Why? No matter whether any of us believe in our creator, Satan does. He hates God, and his goal is to destroy everything God deems beautiful and good. We are the crown joy of God’s creation. As wonderful as nature is, only we are made in the image of Yahweh and receive His breath of life, therefore, we are Satan’s prime target.

Recognizing that Satan will not relent is crucial. Protecting ourselves and gaining ground does not happen by accident. We must guard ourselves, be secure in what we believe to be true, be true to the character God has placed in us, and continue to exercise our spiritual muscles. Warriors train, they listen to the guidance of their commanders, they prepare every day for battle, and they stay alert.

Lord, I am really battle weary today. Help me to rest in your arms tonight and allow you to strengthen my body, mind, and spirit. Amen

 

 

Delivered from the Dead Life

Romans 8: 9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesusd from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (ESV)

9-11But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! (The Message)
Clearly, I sit close to death. My tent pegs are set in the valley of the shadow of death. My campfire struggles against the icy blasts of the grave . . . but it does not go out! For the past few days I have been looking at my surroundings and asking, “Why have you placed me here Lord?” I question, not out of complaint, but out of a genuine desire to understand God’s purpose. I want to fully participate in his plan of salvation.
God is delivering me from the dead life by causing me to die completely to self. I know, weird right. But, think about this, when a surgeon is doing a heart surgery they most often stop your heart in order to repair or replace what isn’t working. God operates on our bodies in much the same way.
In this valley of the shadow of death, God is removing all fear. I have some hardcore fleshly reflexes that hinder my spirit from living life to the fullest. God is using my near death experiences to open my eyes to the power that heaven has here on earth, right now.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . . (Lord’s prayer)
I’ve said that phrase almost 2,000 times since my birth and I only have a cursory understanding of its meaning. I’ve met men and women who bridge the divide of heaven and earth. I’ve witnessed their discipline and drive towards obedience to the Lord’s will. This is not just a “because he is Jesus” prayer! He invited his disciples into heaven’s activities, which means that it is possible for the rest of us. There is no elite Christian team! We are all ragamuffins, capable of bringing down giants when we die to self and live for Christ.
Lord, reveal heaven to me and may I have the eyes to see your glory on earth. Amen!

 

“To Lie Passive in His Hands.”

“For so he giveth his beloved sleep.” — Psalm 127:2

In my last post I spoke of not striving, but abiding in Christ for what I lack. I may sit here a while, as the Lord seems to have something for me here. Today I stumbled upon a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled, The Peculiar Sleep of the Beloved.

God why haven’t you removed this thorn from my flesh so that I am energized to glorify You? I try to understand why I struggle to sleep, or feel rested. Many of you understand insomnia at the deepest level. Diet changes help some, keeping a sleep routine is positive, but nothing I do results in the deep level of rest my mind and body are desperate for. I strive to sleep. Both Spurgeon and the Psalmist remind us God gives sleep to his beloved, no striving necessary.

Jesus did not get much sleep throughout his ministry, but was able to sleep in a boat during a storm while his disciples panicked.  Or how Peter could sleep, chained between two guards, or many men and women of faith, who faced certain death could rest before their execution.

There are so many aspects I love in Spurgeon’s sermon, but of course poetry speaks to me the most. He quotes Madam Guyon (A French Mystic, and amazing Christian influence of her time).

To me tis equal, whether love ordained,

My life or death, appoint me pain or ease;

My soul perceives no real ill in pain,

In ease or health, no real good she sees.

One good she covets, and that good alone,

To choose thy will, from selfish bias free,

And to prefer a cottage to a throne,

And grief to comfort, if it pleases thee.

That we should bear the cross is thy command —

Die to the world, and live to sin no more;

Suffer unmoved beneath the rudest hand,

As pleased when shipwrecked, as when safe on shore.

Are you shipwrecked like me? Do you look at the ship, tossed and smashed again and again as equal to the life on calm seas? I am honestly not pleased with my circumstances, I don’t fully trust God yet in all things. I am asking God to help me with my unbelief and he is answering! Rest dearly beloved, as a free gift. He will not let us falter in his love!

Grow to do one thing, and do it well. Abide (live in) His love for you. Amen!

The Frangrence of Triumph

2 Corinthians 2:14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;…

As I grieve I want to wear the perfume of triumph! It comes from knowing who God is, trusting what he is doing and believing he will reveal his truth through us. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains that those who won battles were doused in sweet fragrances. My fragrance should be Christ because he is the source of my victories. I have had many! To claim victory we have to remember His faithfulness.

  • He chose me
  • Plucked me out from despair
  • Equipped me with scripture to fight the devil’s schemes
  • Made me a prayer warrior
  • Caused me to delight in others
  • Gave me a desire to share his love
  • Crushed the enemy’s attempts to destroy me through abuse and fear!!!
  • Defeated the grave long before I had to place my son in it

 

Too often I wear the scent of death. My circumstances are complicated and constant, but God is faithful to give abundant life. I see his hand so clearly, yet I turn my eyes to what isn’t and begin to act like God is not enough for me.

Today I allow you, Father, to wash away my sorrow. Lord, infuse me with the scent of understanding your ways. Discipline my brokenness. May my life become a beautiful fragrance of glory in the midst of a world filled with the dank scent of despair.

Life Springing from Death

Fall is my favorite season, and as I walked through the woods I was reminded of why. It isn’t just the fall colors, or the cool nip in the air that revive and remind me of the divine. It is that even in death, life is given.

Take this log for example. It is teeming with life! Fall reminds me that death is not the end of God’s story. There are millions of possibilities that lay hidden beneath the surface ready to burst forth and display his provision and splendor.

Some of us feel like an empty shell, or like this fallen log! I declare to you with complete confidence that there are a million seeds of life planted inside you ready to spring forth! I once thought that I was without purpose, but I see clearly that life is in every cell of my being! I want to give that life to you.

Allow this season to be one of hidden possibilities. Trust God’s provision for your life and let him reveal the life growing inside of you.

Love you dearly!

(Shared on Facebook October 21, 2015)

Near Death

I’m not sure what to call the consistent string of crazy things that keep happening to me while in the car. I’ve had all kinds of things thrown off work trucks and yesterday, while on the interstate, my car accelerated and the breaks stopped working during rush hour traffic. I’m in total awe that not once did traffic stop. If it had I would have hit the cars ahead of me at 50miles/hour. The route I take is always stop and go traffic! I felt the breaks finally give just a little so I pushed with all my might, threw on the emergency break, which up to this point wasn’t working at all and pulled onto the shoulder. When the tow truck came for the car he said that the throttle was stuck on open.

I am going to do a little praising if you don’t mind!

Thank you Jesus for helping me to not panic! Thank you Lord for giving Daniel the strength to talk to 911. Thank you Jesus that Natalie turned from crying to praying. Thank you Lord for protecting us and the people around us. Lord, it really feels like the enemy is seeking to destroy my family. May I become all the bolder in proclaiming your truth, whatever my circumstances. I’m near death, but so were you. The enemy tried to destroy you before the cross repeatedly. You submitted to your Father’s will even though it led to a cross! I submit to your will, you will be glorified! Amen

Sometimes it Doesn’t Matter That We are Walking on Water, We See the Wind and Sink

1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 19We love, because He first loved us.…

Sometimes it doesn’t matter that we are walking on water towards Jesus–we see the wind and sink. Fear is a constant threat in my world. My oldest son potentially had an undiagnosed metabolic disorder that may have contributed to his mental state; his brother, shows some of the same symptoms. Tuesday night he woke up screaming in pain. Since, I have felt fear pressing in, leaning into my thoughts, promising me more loss, more heart ache, more sorrow. Fear is the opposite of love. When I fear losing my family, I am not loving them.

As fear consumes love it becomes easier to lash out, let our thoughts run us, and to lose sight of God! Fear was the very first reaction to God in the garden by Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Peter sunk while walking on water because he saw the wind and was afraid, he took his eyes off Jesus. (Matthew 14:30) We forget that God loves us from head to toe. Last night my entire family was exploding at each other. The fear was becoming more concrete, and love more abstract.

I don’t remember consciously crying out to God, but I must have, because in an instant the fear was gone. I don’t know how else to describe that moment. One second I was raging because I felt so helpless to fix what’s wrong for my son, and the next I wasn’t. I was overwhelmed by love and peace flowing from the inside out and I was equipped to spread that peace to the rest of my family.

The circumstances haven’t changed! My son still potentially has a deadly illness and my daughter and husband most certainly do, but I am not afraid. God will find a way through these circumstances, and I will follow that path. I love the line from the movie Scorpion King,, as Jesup faces certain death he tells his brother Mathayus to “Live Well,” and his brother responds, “Die free.” God wants us to live well and die free. We cannot do that if we are afraid, we negate the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and allow fear to rule our actions.  In Romans 8, Paul describes our bondage before Christ, as being a “slave to fear”. Perfect love casts out all fear! How do we love perfectly?

Dwell on the fact that God loves you right where you are, and that he came for us while we were nailing him to the cross. Like Monty Python’s Black Knight we can say concerning all circumstances–including death, “Tis but a scratch!” But, unlike Monty Python, its no joke.

Past or Present: The Finish Line is Ahead not Behind Us

Grief is not made for fence sitters. At this level it will either make or break you, there really is no in-between.. Grief reveals what you believe in your heart and then begs the question, “What are you going to do about it?” Do we define ourselves by what is taken from us or by what God has given to us?

Last night I melted down. Not because of bad things, but because through Jonathan’s death others, also deeply struggling,  are choosing life. As good and amazing as those miracles are, I found myself saying, but I want Jonathan! Natural right.

Actually those of us who believe in Jesus Christ, who are being led by the Spirit and not our nature, need to be maturing towards believing death where is your sting! Otherwise, every time I am reminded of what I have lost rather than what has been gained, I am undone, derailed–my faith unravels. For some this may sound a bit uncompassionate, but let me give you some clear examples of what I’m talking about.

Would you want a surgeon operating on you who couldn’t get past the patient he just attempted to save that didn’t make it? Or would you marry someone still pining over the boy or girlfriend that they didn’t marry? That would be miserable!

I am a miserable Christian if I am still burying my dead and not following Jesus’ example.

Philippians 3: 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.. . .13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

The power of the resurrection is that what lies ahead is far greater than anything we leave behind! Like Paul I cannot claim that I have made this power central to my character yet. I have the head knowledge of this truth, but it has not penetrated my heart. The Lord has revealed (vs. 15) that heaven, and being with Jesus forever is still very abstract to me. But, Father I ask that you become my finish line! Open my eyes wide to your truth, your love and help me to mature in faith. May I become more focused on the living and celebrate with you that life is springing forth from Jonathan’s death. You are keeping your promise to me. Amen!

The Void of Your Presence

The void of your presence

Presses hard into my thoughts today

Jumbling the jigsaw pieces

Within my fragilely framed reality.

How can I ever complete this puzzle

without you?

Leaping, Shouting, and Singing

Proverbs 15:13 13 A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.

The irony was not lost on my friend and I. The day we chose to do this photo op, my usually cheerful baby was having none of it. She was mad and crying the whole time. Sometimes our heart is sad, because it is broken by deep loss. Many times, even when I am laughing my eyes give me away. I got free crazy bread just the other day because the cashier thought I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.

Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. I want my words, my life, and my example to flow from a heart filled with unexplainable joy. I am just plain not there yet, so how do I transition from a sad to a joyful heart? Important Note: Scripture doesn’t say HAPPY, it says JOYFUL. I am not happy that my son is dead. I’m not happy that there is so much pain, sorrow, sickness and fear dominating us. I’m not happy that friends I hold dear are faced with divorce. I’m not happy about many things.

Happiness is very fleeting, but joy raises weighted shoulders, so that I can lift my arms to the heavens to give thanks no matter what crashes around me. This isn’t a blind action, you go into joy eyes wide open, joy must be intentional. Some of the most oppressed people are also the most joyful. Their hearts are wide open the possibilities in their suffering. They discipline themselves in reading scripture, fellowshipping together, prayer, and witnessing (attesting to what the have seen and heard).  Oh Lord, may I become so saturate in the joy of your presence that leaping, shouting, and singing become second nature. Amen.

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