Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Death Of Dreams

I had the opportunity to meet an extraordinary mother yesterday.

We received a referral for a 25 year old man who was in need of some help. His mother agreed to meet us at his apartment after she finished work, so off we went.

What we found was heartbreaking and as we completed our assessment, and listened to their story my thoughts raced and tears threatened more than once.

You see, this young man was a high school hero. He had received scholarships to continue on. His future seemed bright and successful, and listening to his mother talk about her *baby* made it obvious that she had been very proud of him.

One day, for no apparent reason, everything changed.

He started acting out, becoming angry, sometimes even violent. She would be called to school over and over again. He began hearing voices, and seeing things that were not there.

Finally came the diagnosis: Her bright and beautiful son, in his senior year in high school with seemingly everything awaiting him in the future that she had ever dreamed of for him, was a Bipolar Schizophrenic.

Everyday she goes to his home. He is unable to live with her anymore because he became a threat to other family members, so she goes to him. She fixes him a meal every day and brings it to him. She cleans his home and buys him new clothes and sheets every couple of weeks because he will not allow anyone to take anything out of his home and then bring it back, so she cannot wash his things.

He lived in filth. The coffee table was filled with a huge pile of cigarette butts and ashes, along with discarded cigarette packs. The couch was almost too dirty to even sit on. His clothing, what little he had on smelled, and his nails were long and nasty.

Yet, there she sat, this mother, looking at her *baby* with love shining from her eyes. While others were afraid of him because of his size and his unpredictability she remained faithful, giving up vacations, giving up time with her other children, because he needs her.

As we stood by her vehicle before we left she poured out her feelings.

"I told my church family that I had so many dreams for him, for his future, and now all those dreams are dead. I guess I had too many dreams for him, maybe that is what happened."

While we drove away I couldn't help thinking about my Father. You know, for a few years I turned away from Him, turned away from His blessings. And I became unrecognizable. My heart, my soul became filthy with sin and all of those things of God that I once held so close, all the things that I once wanted to do for Him, became a distant memory as I changed into a completely different person.

I do not know what kind of dreams He had for me, what He would have done with my life had I continued to walk with Him.

But in that mother I could envision Jesus. I could see Him looking at my filth with love in His eyes. There were so many things I should have done, I could have done, and through her eyes I could see how much it truly hurt Him when His dreams for me died.

"I just want him back," his mother said. "I just want him back like he was."

She said he told her once, "I could have really done something, before this thing got in my head."

My eyes filled with tears as I listened to her go into detail about just how he felt he needed to *remove* the thing that was there.

And then I remembered that day, almost 13 years ago when I stood again at the altar. And I thought of Him looking at my life before that day, and longing to have me back. And that day I removed that which was holding me back. I changed my filthy garment and reclaimed my place in His house.

Though those old dreams may have died, He has new dreams for me. One of those dreams is to help others, to reach out to those that are hurting. And as my mind replays yesterday, and recaptures the love I saw shining in the eyes of a parent, I am so thankful that, like this young man, my Father never gave up on me, never stopped wanting me, never let go of the possibility of dreams...for me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Consider Your Ways

It can happen to anyone. That burning desire, that drive, that passion that was once consuming can wain in the face of the adversary, can dull with the humdrum of everyday life.

Have you ever suddenly realized that you have nothing left but some ashes from what once was the focus of your energy?

For 16 years the remnant that first returned from the Babylonian captivity forgot their zeal to rebuild the house of God. When the Samaritans came on the scene to mock and oppose their goal, they threw their hands in the air and said, "What's the use?"

And while God's house lay in waste, they proceeded to build their own houses, pursue their own interests, and forget their commitment to God.

But, God did not forget. "Consider your ways," He implored.

He said through the prophet Haggai (1:6-11), "You wonder why you have lost your blessings, why nothing you do will prosper? You have become self serving!"

There have been times when I have found myself in this situation. Things don't move as fast as I would like, or someone says something to discourage me, and I realize one day that I have let myself down, and, more importantly, I have let God down.

After Haggai spoke the people responded and obeyed. They committed themselves to rebuilding the House of the Lord.

And when they responded, God responded to their obedience by promising to be with them.

Today, I am responding to Him. I know I have been complacent in some things, perhaps letting the discouragement of things not happening in my time draw me into a relaxed attitude about something I should always have passion about.

I have considered my ways, God. I know that there are areas that I have become slack in. But I am ready to work today, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and put my shoulder into the task at hand. I want to see a work done for You, I want to see souls won, lives changed! I'm ready, I'm willing, and able, with Your help, to get busy!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Let Me *STRESS* ~ Sunday Is My Favorite Day Of The Week!!

Every week I look toward Sunday. Through all the events of every day life I am able to remain focused knowing that Sunday is on the way.

I have some beautiful mornings in His presence, and I He is on my mind so much of the time that I feel so close to Him.

Plus Mid Week service is so refreshing to my soul.

But...there is something about Sunday...maybe because it has been set aside just for Him...that makes it my favorite day of any week.

Yet there is a shadow that overcast each Sunday Morning, so that by the time I reach the doors of the church my stress level has reached a high for the entire week!

I don't think MY family is alone in this. I look around on Sunday Mornings before service and see many faces twisted in the same stress-induced mask that I wear.

I honestly believe had my family been around 125 years ago it would be the same...I would be standing by the buckboard with my Bible waiting, then silently praying all the way to church that the mules would pick up the pace.

It doesn't matter how prepared I try to be, something happens. And this morning while driving to church, pushing the *horses* under my hood as fast as I legally could, and fighting the tears of frustration welling up in my eyes, I conversed with my Friend.

"I have tried EVERYTHING I can think of, Lord!"

"Nay Nay," He said. "You haven't tried ME."

How true. But no longer.

I bring the BIG stuff to Him, but...well...

This morning I had a revelation in the midst of my own catastrophe. It doesn't have to be this way. Because even though I can't figure out the solution, I can trust Him to help me to.

Sunday is my favorite day of the week, and with His help, I'm booting the stress to the curb, and I'm gonna hitch my wagon and ride on!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Little Space Of Grace

God has always called for separation from His people. As part of the Law of Moses, He insisted that His people be holy and not to partake of the immoral ways of the world around them.

As Ezra returned with some of those that had been exiled to Babylon it was revealed to him that the people of Israel had taken wives and husbands of those that served other gods besides the One True God of Israel.

Upon learning this Ezra did not say, "Oh well, we will just overlook this. After all, they were living among those that did not believe, so naturally they would be affected by it."

Ezra rent his clothing, plucked out his hair, and grieved. He fell before God, not proclaiming *their* failings and transgressions, but the failings and transgressions became his own.

Ezra 9:5-6 And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the Lord my God. And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.

He was mourning the fact that the Lord had delivered His people, just as He promised, only to find they had not lived up to their own promises to God.

He said; "And now for a little space grace hath been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage."

God had spared them, just as He said. He allowed a little space of grace for them to escape the bondage they had existed in all of those years.

Have you ever thought about that moment when you stood at the altar and He met you there, just as His Word said He would? His promises are always true.

We do not live under the law as they did in the days of Ezra, but we are still called to live separate from the sin around us. We are not to *marry* ourselves to the things of this world, and we should never allow ourselves to enter in to a relationship with sin.

Standing at the altar God gave us a little space of grace and broke the shackles that the world had on our souls. He gave us freedom. By allowing ourselves to be joined to the world in *relationships* contrary to the Word, we once again place ourselves under bondage.

And just as with His people so long ago, when we fail our failures affect others. Our own man of God mourns, taking on the weight of our transgressions against God.

As he comes before us with the Word of God we should find a place of repentance, set aside those things which are contrary to the things of God, and seek again that little space of grace God has allowed us.

Remembering His thoughts toward us, seeking His will, knowing His way, Thankful Always For His Grace!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Needful Thing

Luke 10:38-42 tells of two very different sisters, Martha and Mary.

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Man, I can relate to Martha right now.

I have, over the years, always considered myself to be a worshiper. Recently I seemed to come awake in myself and realized that life has encumbered my worship.

I can remember many times in prayer, staying at His feet, letting my tears flow, and just loosing myself to my worship of Him.

But it seems my life has picked up pace, and I find my prayer time relegated to slots, and my mind racing as I try to get everything done in my busy life.

I don't know when Mary departed and Martha took over, but I miss the Mary in me.

Oh, I am sure no one else has ever been in this place. I know everyone else is perfectly able to juggle their homes, their jobs, their children, their church activities and even ward off world hunger and help devise plans to fix the floundering economy, and STILL bask at His feet!

Yea, I know I am the only one who feels overwhelmed and under prayed at this time in my life.

So, since it is just ME with this problem, I plan to attack it head on.

It is important to live in a clean environment and to take care of those I love. It is important that I am involved at church and that I give my all at work also.

There is certainly a place for Martha in my life. But I have let things trouble me and worry me that have NO place in my life. And it is time that I got back to what is the needful thing for me to make it.


I am taking back my prayer time without the time limits. I am letting go of the things that have shortened my study time.

My love for Him has not lessened. My need for Him has not decreased. But somewhere down the freeway of my life I have taken an exit that has left me frustrated and discouraged with my never-ending obligations.

And I have lost sight of the way that once gave me my peace, my comfort, my strength. I know I cannot survive with constraints on my time with Him. So, I will subdue my Martha, and draw on the Mary side of me once again.

For it is in His Presence where my troubles vanish, where my heart is mended. In the Presence of the King.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Living In The Land Of The Lost

In Jeremiah 29 we read of the letter to the captives in Babylon.

29:4-7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon; Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

God caused His people to be taken captive, as we read in verse 4. Taken from Jerusalem they were also removed from their places of worship, their way of life. And they mourned.

In Psalms 137 we read: By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion.

They found themselves surrounded by people who worshiped many gods, people who knew nothing of their traditions, people who wanted to be entertained by the songs of the heart of Jerusalem.

Psalms 137:4 says: How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

How indeed?

Sometimes, in our walk with God, we find ourselves surrounded by circumstances. Through seemingly no fault of our own we wake up in what seems to be a strange land, in the very midst of our own captivity.

Our instinct at that time can be to withdraw, retreat into the safety and solace of our own pity filled thoughts, as we long for what we no longer have.

God certainly does not want us to forget who we are, yet in the days of captivity, He implores us to live.

It is during these times that we build our own empire of faith as we wait for our deliverance. We should continue to live, continue to love, continue to sing the songs of Zion! We should still rejoice, still praise, still worship, because He is STILL able, still there, still listening, still answering!

Jeremiah 29:11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

He already knows the answer, already has the plans for your release, already is listening for your call, already waiting to respond.

It may seem that you are living in the land of the lost, serving out your captivity, praying for your freedom. Those darkest days can be used to grow your faith to higher magnitudes than you ever imagined. And through your trial you can gain riches beyond measure, strength beyond reason, and peace.

Yes, even surrounded by those who would have you to fail, you can have peace.

In spite of the oppositions you face, live.

In spite of those that would see you fail, live.

In spite of the world and all its trapping, live.

In spite of the naysayers, and doubters, live.

In spite of circumstances and sorrow, live.

In spite of the darkness, live.

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

Even when it seems all is lost.... LIVE!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I Have A Friend

"Oh Lord You know, I have NO friend like You."

I have been blessed throughout the years to have many good friends, friends that I could call on, no matter what, and know they would come through for me.

I received a phone call from my sister the other morning. It was so nice to talk to her. We have always been especially close, well, since we grew up to become women. Talking with her, always makes me smile, and even though so many miles separate us in the physical, you can't separate heart.

I have learned many things in the years since I left the nest and soared out on my own. Some lessons were sweet, some bitter.

I sat after prayer last night still feeling the sweetness of the presence of the Lord and suddenly He started to talk to me. It was like meeting a Friend over a cup of coffee and reminiscing about our past together.

Again and again He brought to my mind the times He has given me promises. And again and again He brought to my mind how He fulfilled every one.

We sang an awesome song Sunday called "I Have A Friend" and that song began to play in my heart.

I know there are people who call me "friend" and I know, without a doubt, that at some point I have let them down. I am positive I have not been as supportive, as thoughtful, as caring, as concerned, as in touch as I should be.

And as life has evolved and helped me become the woman I am today, I have found that I don't like to share some things with others, no matter how much I value their friendship. There are some things that are just better off not said.

But, see, I have this Friend that sticks closer that a brother (no matter how close I feel to mine). I have this Friend that I can turn to with every problem, with every situation. It is Him that I long to run to in times of trouble, and it is Him I want to rejoice to in times of joy.

I left my church family last night after a wonderful time of fellowship and headed to the store alone. And it struck me that I was alone. After years of noise and laughter it was just me and my thoughts. So naturally they shifted to my Friend.

Joshua 1:5 I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Isaiah 45:2-3 I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron; and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou may know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

He knows who I am, and He has given me promise after promise to remind me of who He is to me. He knows me by my name, and I know Him by His.

He is Jesus, the love of my life.

Lord, I long for You today. I long for Your fellowship, just to be close to You. I don't know what I face in the days to come, but You know. And I am placing it all in Your hands. Thank You for the comfort, the shelter, thank You for the laughter and peace. Thank You for knowing me, and loving me in spite of myself. I love You, my sweet, sweet friend.