The Secret is: It’s  just a Nerf War

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This should be interesting. I had a dream a few mornings ago.

It went like this:

I was in a large warehouse and one end of it was glass (we could see out).  It was  a church.  It wasn’t fancy but it was cool.  I was actually in a back area helping with a class.  Many of the members were wearing t-shirts with some cool logo.  It was a pretty hip church. (Similar in many ways to our church except we meet at an Elementary school).  There was worship going and as I said I was in a back area helping with a class (maybe new members class or something with adults).  Rather suddenly the building was being surrounded by an army.  They looked very organized with full on uniforms, helmets, dark goggles and fully equipped with Mega Nerf guns.  (The boy had a birthday recently and asked for and received a Mega Nerf Gun from Nana.)  They also had regular Nerf guns and what seemed like unlimited ammo.

We have some Nerf gun wars at our house on occasion.  And some of the Nerf bullets hurt when you get hit with them.  And the Mega Nerf guns…well, if you are too close when you hit someone it can leave a mark.  Of course, none of the Nerf guns are deadly.

As the army surrounded the church people began to get very nervous and fearful.  We had a few generic Nerf Guns (imagine lame Dollar store guns with fake Nerf bullets) but we had very few bullets.

I decided to go stand in a back hallway out of range of the bullets.  Because even though, I wasn’t alarmed, it still hurts to get hit by a Mega bullet.

As I was standing in the back, these guys started come into the hallway from the outside.  They were dressed in matching t-shirts similar to our church t-shirts. And they began taking people into a back room and talking to them.  A man came up and asked to talk to me.  I went to talk to him.  I knew who he was, a friend from high school.  He was a familiar person even though I didn’t immediately recognize him. This is significant because many times the enemy comes to us as someone familiar to us or someone who knows our past.

We went into a back room, where round tables were set up and people were having little meetings. The man began to offer me a beach with a waterfall.  The beach with the waterfall is a place I have had frequent dreams of…it is a desert that has a large cliff with the bluest waterfall pouring into a beautiful blue water hole near a blue beach with very gentle waves…no one is there, it is a completely peaceful place.  He told me that if I switched to his side, the waterfall/beach would be mine.  But, I knew that the that peaceful place already belonged to me.  I told him, “You are promising me something that already belongs to me.”  I wasn’t angry just found him incredulous.  He very quickly became frustrated with me.  He went on to meet with someone else.  I followed him.  I followed him to this beautiful bay front property; a house with a boat dock next to it.  He knocked on the door and began to promise the owner he could have the house if he would change sides.  The owner was willing to do anything to “get” the property that he already owned.  I tried telling him, “It is already your property….don’t buy this guy’s promises.”  The owner was so full of fear about the pending war that he wanted to take the deal.  The owner actually walked out on his boat deck, into the water shaking his hands toward heaven…he was very distraught.

I went back to the church and spoke to the pastor.  I kept telling him, they only have Nerf guns and it might hurt but it isn’t going to kill us.  It may be very painful to be hit over and over but it will not kill us.

Then I woke up.

All I could think was…  We are willing to trade what God has already given us or promised us, to avoid a war that is fought with guns that cannot kill us.


The secret of all the things coming against us is that  it may be painful but in light of Eternity, all the enemy really has is Nerf bullets loaded into Nerf guns; it’s not permanent, nothing here is.  We take it all so seriously and it all feels real but with a Kingdom perspective, it is all so small in light of how big our God is.  We have to hold on to what our God has promised us, keeping our focus on Him.  I hear an old song coming on…”Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, then the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and  grace…”

 

 

The Least of These

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This idea has been swirling around in my head for a while.

Reading in Matthew 25:31-46 About the coming judgement.  The King separates the sheep from the goats.  He tells the sheep, “…for when I was hungry and you gave Me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me;  I was sick and you visited Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.”  They answer Him asking when did they do these things.  The King’s response was down in verse 40, “Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you did it for one of the least of these My brethren, you did it for Me.”

I have often thought about this and how we (America) send missionaries to foreign lands (before I get blasted with responses…I believe in missions and we support several missionaries)  yet, “our brethren” right her in our city are left to their own devices.  On one hand, because of pride, many of us never ask for help when we need it.  We may ask the government for help…we put a lot of faith in our government for help.  What happened to “look to the hills from whence comes my strength.”?   We have friends who run a ministry for the homeless and they struggle to raise support for their ministry (shameless plug for Lost and Found ministries…click here)  but we have no problem sending money to build houses in South America.  I get it.  As Americans it is very easy to throw money at an unseen problem but the homeless man we see every day on the corner seems able-bodied and should get a job.

That’s not what this is about.

I went to the grocery store yesterday.  I didn’t buy any creamer because we just went on a family trip (spent a lot of $$) and payday is on Friday.  I bought milk for the children.  This morning, while I was making my iced coffee, I ran out of creamer, I used milk.  Moms do it all the time.  We quietly put someone else’s need before our own.

Around Mother’s Day the Hubs told me he wants to give me $200 to spend on myself (clothes,getting my nails done, whatever I want) but he was sure that I would take the cash and buy something the kids need.  I would be tempted…I really would like to get my eyebrows waxed…they are out of control.  As parents that’s what we do….we buy our kids new clothes while we wear the same thing year after year.

I’m not sharing this to toot my own horn.  These are quiet things most moms do every day.

I’m presenting the idea that there are times when the thirsty person we need to give a drink to is our family members.

Our niece is with us once again.  She is three years old, the same age as my daughter.  She needs stability; she needs love and kindness and discipline; she needs to be clothed and fed.  She is a little smaller than our sweet, well-nourished baby so, we could give her hand-me-downs, that’s okay, but I have already purchased a few brand new items for her because she deserves to have some things in her life that are new and especially for her…thus, no creamer, and that is okay.  Because sometimes we need to clothe someone in need.

Talking to my sister about this recently and how we fuss at our children to clean their rooms.  She told me that she made a decision to just go in and help her twelve year old with his room without complaining about it.  It is serving.

Often, we think of serving as it relates to our church or community and overlook opportunities to serve our own families.

We have extra people living in our home…almost always… from foster children to extended family.  I’ve given up on my house being super clean until my kids grow up.  (I don’t really care if it’s super clean if I’m honest…things that matter to me are relationships, books, art…it’s okay).  Because of our situation, we often have dirty dishes in the sink.  I don’t like doing dishes.  Never have, probably will not develop a desire to do dishes.  A few months ago the Hubs volunteered to do dishes…he offered to make sure dishes get done.  I appreciate this very much; it is a small act of service that I appreciate.  Does he do all the dishes?  No.  When someone does something for you, then you don’t mind doing things for them.   When the head of the household serves it creates an atmosphere of serving in the home.

Maybe your elderly parent lives with you…you have taken some in.  Maybe you are providing food for them, you have fed someone who is hungry.  Maybe you are a foster parent, and you are clothing someone who was naked.  Perhaps you have gone to prison or jail to visit someone…all these little things you do every day, even for family, count.

They matter.  They may seem small to you but they are big to someone.

You matter; you make a difference in someone’s life.  YOU!

When you serve your family, begin to treat it as if you are doing these small things for Jesus, Himself.

As you change your attitude at home and see yourself as a serving person, it will not be as difficult to see yourself serving in your church, your child’s school (homeschooling moms do all the volunteer work at their school), or in your community.  Just because you do not serve every single Sunday at your church does mean you aren’t contributing.  Contribute where you can, when you can as much as you can.  It’s not about being the volunteer of the year…it’s about quietly and graciously serving.  And it’s not what is seen that is important.  Of course everyone sees the worship team and pastor…that’s a given.  Your prayers for them matter just as much as what they do.  Rocking the babies in the nursery so a mama can attend service is HUGE!  Believe me…it’s HUGE to that mama.

Sometimes it is as simple as giving a smile and a compliment to the cashier at the grocery store.  Or picking up a piece of trash out of your neighbor’s yard.

Even if no one else sees, God sees.

Be a blessing to everyone, everywhere and start at home.

 

 

Trust ME

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This is a Word for a friend.  Someone needs to hear this today.

Last year, life went crazy and a little sideways.  It’s a long story.  Nothing was as it seemed. Everything seemed swirly.

Thankfully God allowed the “crazy” to happen at the perfect time.  I was backed into a corner.  I could not react the way I wanted to…God knew.

At the time I prayed and I told God, “I cannot trust this person.”

We have all had situations come up when we cannot trust the people closest to us.  When trust is broken…it devastates.

In that moment, when I felt I hadn’t been hearing from God; in that moment when I felt my emotions were overwhelming His voice I heard, “You don’t have to.”  Relief flooded me.  I don’t have to trust this person…a weight lifted.  Then God said, “Trust ME.”

Like I have so many times in my life, I trusted Him.  I knew that I could believe what He said to me.  He is a good Father.  His plans are good.  I can trust Him.

There will always be times in our lives when people fail us.  Sometimes they are failing us for the first time but sometimes they are failing us for the fourth time.  You don’t have to trust them, but trust Him.

When He says, “I have a plan.”  You can trust Him.  When He says, “I know how much this hurts.”  You can trust Him.  When He says, “You are going to make it through this.” You can trust Him.  He keeps His words.  He always does.  So when He says, “Trust Me”  You can trust Him.  He LOVES you.  He LOVES your children even more than you do.  He is for you and not against you.  He is for your relationships, your marriage, your parenting, your ministry…He is for you.

When you cannot trust anyone else, trust Him.

 

 

Plumb line

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Plumb line

A tool that consists of a small, heavy object attached to a string or rope that is used to see if something (such as a wall) is perfectly vertical.

My brother-in-law has been reading my Bible. He told me this a few weeks ago.  I have many Bibles but my favorite study Bible is my NKJV Thompson Chain-reference Bible.  My friend, Jennifer bought it for me about 12 years ago for a college class I was taking.  The cover has fallen off and been taped back on with clear packing tape.  Should I get a new one?  Maybe, but I have many notes written in the this Bible and I don’t want to start over.  My little notes are sometimes revolutionary…I find myself asking, “Did I write that?”

This morning Bible was open to Zechariah 4.  I assumed  brother had been reading there.  I read part of the chapter and I checked out some of my notes.  I remembered something (veaguely about a plum line from a Beth Moore study I did….must have been the tabernacle study because it was about building….someone remind me!!).  In any case….  The prophet Zechariah says this, “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple.  His hands shall also finish. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.  For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel .  They are the eyes of the Lord, which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.” (Verses 9-10).

So the plump line is vertical…straight up and down; Like our relationship with God should be.

I became curious and began to search out who Zerubbabel was.  Zerubbabel  was one of the kings in Jesus’ linage: He was an ancestor of Jesus….on both sides of his parents’ families.  Jesus was an heir to the throne on His mother’s side and on His adoptive father, Joseph’s side.    If Jesus had a human foundation, Zerubbabel was in it.  That is interesting.  Zechariah’s prophecy had multiple meanings (many prophecies do).  He was prophecying about Zerubbabel building the physical temple in those days and he was prophecying the future Messiah.

The plumb line word is very interesting to me.  Plumb lines were used all those centuries ago and are still used today (or should be…I’ve lived in some places where the walls seemed a little “off”).  They help keep things straight.

I have a confession.  I have struggled with my freedom in Christ and holiness.  It can be a confusing topic.  I grew up in a legalistic environment and God was pretty angry and He was looking for reasons to punish me.  At a pretty young age, I had faith for my salvations but struggled with the idea that I was lovable.  Basically…if I didn’t “do the right thing” all the time, I would never find favor with God.  God was pretty stingy with His love and favor. Then freedom began to come and I found that God loves me…not based on who I am but based on who He is.  I cannot earn nor diminish His love.  Okay, so what exactly is holiness?  He makes us holy because we are screwups and without the blood of Jesus, we will never be holy…so what’s the point of every doing the “right” thing?   My answer is doing the “right” things us aligning ourselves with Jesus, The Plumb Line.  When we alight with The Plumb Line we come into alignment with our Father; our relationship with God is strengthened.  

Then we become the plumb line for someone else, pointing them to The Father.  

It’s about us, but it’s not about us.  Our holiness is about others coming to a knowledge of God.  It is about others coming into relationship with God.  We do not behave in the same ways non-believers behave because of who our Father is.

Fear cannot be what drives us.  Love must lead us.   

We often miss our opportunity to love because we want to be “right”; we want to “win”; we want to have or back up our “opinion”.  Is it worth it?  Even our opinions?  Are they worth sacrificing relationship? Do they point to Jesus or demonstrate love? 

We seem to extend a lot of grace to non-believers but withhold it from one another.  Can a believer have a “bad day”?  Or even a stressful season of life?  Growing pains often effect the people around us. These are the times we can be the plumb lines…pointing even the believer back to Jesus.  

This means we have to start asking ourselves… “Is this just? Pure? Noble? Lovely? Of good report?” (Philippians 4:8). Will this matter in a week?  A month? A year?  Ten years?  Does this point to Jesus? 

Your Sword

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Considering Ephesians today and the weapons of our warfare.

 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Ephesians 6:11-13

Our weapons were not designed to wield against each other.

Seriously consider this the next time you fling a scripture in someone’s face…we are suppose to fight our enemy and our enemy are not PEOPLE.

People were designed for love.

Our war isn’t against flesh and blood but against Satan and his minions.

Approach the enemy with ruthless fervor.  Approach people with love.

If you feel someone needs a scripture flung at them, pray for them.  Don’t throw your sword at them.  Pray and allow God to move on them.  God can do more in a nano-second than you can do in a lifetime of quoting scriptures at them. Trust God.  He loves them.

That is all….

More Bible Journaling

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Here are some more Bible journaling pages….

I am loving this…falling in love with The Word all over again.  

   
    
 
Wish I would have painted under my writing…the scripture would have stood out more.  

  

Written Epistle

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Epistle:  noun|epis-tle :letter; especially a formal or elegant letter.

I have been defacing a Bible, according to the Hubs.   He calls them “Bible tats”. The Hubs is sure this is some kind of abomination.  He was also taught that he shouldn’t read his Bible in the bathroom….so pray for him.  My brother-in-law says its okay because it’s a NIV bible and that isn’t a “God-endorsed” version.  He is kidding around.  Do not throw away your NIV bible.  What am I talking about?  

Bible journaling.  Type it in on Pinterest…you will find many, many examples.  

I’ve been enjoying it because I have never been a great at drawing but I am finding I am not as bad as I thought.  Plus, I love visuals of scriptures…it helps with memorization. Today I was working on this scripture in 2 Corinthians 3:2.  

  
This is a comination of colored pencils and watercolor.  

As I was putting away my Bible, I had a doodle paper that I slipped between the page.  I forgot it had some white acrylic paint on it.  I wiped the wet paint off quickly but it smeared my ink.  

  
Talk about a visual.

Made me think of how weak our faith is at times.  All the miracles, all the love, all the gifts, everything, smeared; blurred; unreadable. Maybe those are the times we are being re-written.

You may not have noticed but in the first picture I wrote “epistles”.  The scripture actually says “epistle”.  I needed to rewrite it but I thought my ink was permanent.  The spill made it possible to rewrite a mistake.  God gives us that opportunity almost daily.  Reminds me of a message by Pastor John Ragsdale.  He said, “Don’t worry if you fail the test.  God always has a retake test.”.  I’m not sure if that’s comforting or a little scary but it is true.   

There is no shame in your screw up.  You will have another chance to get it right.   

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.   2 Corinthians 3:2-3

Be that elegant letter today.  What a reminder to me today from one of my favorite passages.  God bless you today!