What Do You Want Me To Do?

When I hear the same message more than once within days, I tend to pay more attention.Lately, it's how God has been speaking to me, because He knows I've prayed, "Lord, make what You want really clear because I don't always get it the first time, OK?"

101_0027 As a writer, I am also a reader. This should come as no shock (at least I hope not!) as I have a blog and read others' as well. And there's still the stack of books on most flat surfaces in my home.

However, today, as I caught up on my e-mail reading, a post from The Christian Pulse warranted my attention. There was a post written by Charlotte Riegel entitled "Can You Help Me?" where she spoke of Jesus' question, "What do you want Me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51 NIV)

I addressed the same issue in a post back in the middle of December 2012--you can read it here.

Yesterday, I arrived at church very late. I woke up late, not feeling well, but I knew I wanted to break the habit of not going to church because I ...(fill in lame reason here).

(Before you get all up in my face about this subject, I know there are legitimate reasons for not attending church. I am NOT speaking of those reasons. I am speaking STRICTLY ABOUT MYSELF, and the lame reasons I SOMETIMES use for not attending church. My health issues have a lot to do with that; I assure you they ARE legitimate. However, I have found God speaks in definite terms, [i.e. Go here..., Do this..., thou shalt not...] whereas the enemy of our souls uses the same lies as he used on Eve, [maybe you shouldn't..., I don't think..., You better not...]. That being said...)

I knew my showing up at church would be an act of worship between God and I. He knows my heart, and He knew what it would take to get me out of bed and into the car for the 28 mile drive.

He also knew I needed to hear the message Pastor Tony was preaching.

I don't know if Pastor actually said the words, but I heard, "What do you want Me to do for you?" loud and clear during the message.

And for the first time, I answered Him. I answered Him with specifics, because He is very clear about things; no wiggle room there.

I'm waiting, with expectancy, to see how He's going to pull this one off. I have no doubt He will, in His time.

Read Mark 10:51 for yourself. I looked it up in the Message, NLT, KJV, Amplified, Living Bible, and NIV. The scripture is the same. (Remember, He DOES NOT change.)

What do you want Him to do for you?

Unbelief? Or My Six Words?

I've been dealing with a health issue of late. I'm fine now, but while I was going through it, I had numerous people "praying over" me. Please don't misunderstand. I welcome prayer.

I'm considered a 'prayer warrior'--one who will pray at any time, day or night, for an issue brought to my attention. I will keep at it, until I hear otherwise, or have peace over the matter. Sometimes I'll pray for a day and not pray again until a week later. I will pray for as long as the Lord leads.

But I never prayed for my own healing.

I've never been one to 'demand' God heal me right now simply because I asked it in Jesus' Name. I see that as me thinking God is a magician, here to do my bidding. I've never experienced God in that way. My first inclination is to ask Him,"What do You want me to learn from this?"

"How will this bring You the most Glory?"

I remember when my mom had cancer. She stayed with me during her treatments, as she was too weak to care for herself. In that six weeks of daily radiation (52 miles each way), I had a cancer scare of my own. I remember thinking, "Lord, if I have to have cancer to show my mom Your glory, bring it." It wasn't even a conscious thought--it was just suddenly there.

I believe the things that happen to me, happen because my Heavenly Father allows them to be there.

How else would I learn? How else could I testify? How else will I encourage others to seek His Face in the middle of their trial?

I hold tightly to six words found in Daniel 3, found in verse 18.

(Starting in Daniel 3,) Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and He will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if He does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

Six words. "But even if He does not..."

I may not like the trials set before me.

He could have healed me at any time, or not at all.

He still can...if He chooses.

Six little words. I believe them.

I Don't Feel Like It!

I've been sick lately. Not an allergy/cold/headache-y sick...

I've had an ongoing chronic health issue that's gotten worse over the last two months. It makes me feel very tired and well, crappy.

Stuff has started to pile up.

Sigh.

I know there's stuff I should be doing.... but I don't feel like it.

I have piles of papers with snippets of wisdom on them...(tweets? blog posts?)

Paragraphs that could be the start of awesome articles...(book chapters? articles for publication?)

I just don't feel like it.

Add the usual "shoulds" to my daily routines--clean the house (because the kitchen floor is adhesive in spots)/ cook real food (because the take-out places are starting to recognize my voice) /and the most important one,

God is still waiting for me.

Yes, there have been times when I've left Him by the wayside... because I didn't feel like ...

Praying...

Reading His Word...

Talking to Him in some other tone than whining....

I sat in my own little corner, moaning my body's betrayal, not feeling like doing anything about it.

But then today... I could choose to not feel like it...or choose to do it anyway.

If I failed, I would be no worse off that I've been over the last two months. But if I was successful in my attempt...?

Please don't misread what I'm saying here. I truly had (and continue to have) a health issue that wipes me out so completely, I sometimes don't make it to the bathroom from the bedroom (a span of 12 feet). I made a pan of lasagna the other day that resulted in a 3 hour nap. There are 'invisible illnesses' that are truly devastating to experience and affect many women's daily lives. I have had a glimpse into their world and can be so empathetic to their circumstances.

I can only speak for myself.

I chose to do a long devotion today, even though I really didn't feel like it.

God was waiting for me--and graciously poured out His wisdom and love on me.

In His strength, He will guide me! In His unfailing love, He will Lead me!...the Lord tested the Israelites...'For I am the LORD who heals you!' (Exodus 15-NIV) Promise after promise. No hand slap because I've been away--He knows the afflictions I've had. I'm not condemned for my feelings.

And neither are you.

The mess may still be there. You still may not feel like doing anything about it.

Choose to feel like it. Even when you don't want to. And watch what my God will do.

Plausible Deniability

Plausible Deniability. I first heard this phrase in one of my favorite movies, "Max Keeble's Big Move". Max, a picked-on seventh grader, planned some 'pay-backs' for the bullies of the school to coincide with the last week Max was there before moving away. He asks his real friends, a boy nicknamed Robe and a girl named Meagan to help him set up the pranks--explaining all the blame will fall on him, (after he's moved away) not them. They didn't know what they were jumping into, but they trusted Max. As they won't know all the details of his plans, they have 'plausible deniability'.

Without going into much detail, Max arranges things so the bullies who were taking advantage of the more helpless ones get put into place. Those who were bullied finally have a say.

The ones who were laughed at, robbed of their lunch money, made to feel inferior; all the different ones; were finally united by the actions of one individual.

Justice was served. (I love a good 'underdog' movie).

I couldn't help but think of how God gives us plausible deniability. God works things to happen in our lives for our good. ("And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him..." Romans 8:28 [NIV]). We don't know all the details, or how elaborate His methods are to accomplish what He wants for us. We don't even know who else is involved; how intertwined our lives are with others. We go along with what He asks; not knowing what He has planned next--but trusting Him all the same.

And I couldn't help but think of Jesus.

How the actions of one person could change the whole attitude, one person at a time.

Plausible deniability.

We will not be held accountable for what we have done in this life if we have accepted Jesus as our personal Saviour. (1John 1:9 [NIV])

He will take the blame.

His blood washes us clean; white as snow. (Romans 10:9 [NIV])

Are you jumping into what He has planned for you?

Friday...Finally!

It's been one of those weeks. I was flying high on the heels of a great long weekend of dynamic church services--and then the enemy struck. He was throwing disappointment and bad attitude around like it was candy at a Christmas parade. I almost succumbed to it, a few different times, until I remembered..

I remembered my anointing.

He has called me to make art, to write, for His Glory. He has blessed the work of my hands.

"I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit--just as it has taught you, remain in Him." 1 John 2:26-27 (NIV) (bold letters mine)

Get thee behind me satan. I'm not for sale.

Memphis - Part 2

If you want to find the best places to eat, ask the locals. The ones who live right in the city (and I do mean downtown)--these people will tell you where the 'locals' go to eat. When we asked 4 people and got the same name 4 times out of 7 suggestions, we were pretty sure this was going to be the place.

The Blue Plate Cafe, at 113 Court Square South in Downtown Memphis is one of those places. Their menu, (which we were encouraged to take home) is printed on newsprint and has 2 pages of newsy facts and quotes; perfect 'while yer waitin' fodder.

Breakfast is served anytime and prices are extremely reasonable. The only things we found on the menu over $10 were the 'Country Ham with 2 eggs--$10.99' (But know that the slab of ham COVERED the whole plate) and the dinner special, served Monday--Saturday nights of "ALL YOU CAN EAT CATFISH--$11.95".

Need I mention the biscuits and gravy? Or the REAL Southern grits? Oh. My. Goodness.

The line was out the door when we arrived, but we only had a 10-20 minute wait. We ate there twice in our 5 days in Memphis, but as good as our meals were (and they were EXCELLENT!) our waitress, KATRINA, was the best. (We waited for one of her tables when we went back and she remembered us.) All the staff are very hardworking, attentive servers; polite to all customers--greeting the regulars by name--like a hometown eating establishment should be. Katrina was no exception; she went out of her way to be sure we had whatever we needed. And could that lady MOVE! I would not get in her way when she's on a mission! She made sure our visit stood out and did Memphis proud.

I want to go back! And I'm waiting for one of Katrina's tables!

Things Are Not as They Seem

As we were cleaning up my yard last Spring, my landscaper asked where I wanted these lawn ornaments to go; did I want them here or somewhere else in the yard. I chuckled, knowing I hadn't put them there--they had grown there happily, under the protection of the overgrown holly. This got me thinking about circumstances that had occurred over the past few weeks.

I started to get miffed about things I normally let slide-- I started to question everything; my purpose in life, my daily routine--to the point of breaking down into inactivity.

I forgot (not totally) that God was in full control of my life, and did not need my help.

As a matter of confession, I started to believe some of the lies the enemy had been feeding me.

Things came to a head when I realized I was acting, or not-reacting, to anything.

I was at the point I felt powerless to do anything about it. I recognized this, but felt helpless to do any thing about it.

It was then I timidly opened my Bible. "Seek Me first..." drifted through my mind... God brought me to a place in 2 Timothy...snippets from chapters 3 and 4...(NIV--bold print and italics mine)

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive...ungrateful, unholy...unforgiving...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--having a form of godliness but denying its power. (3:1-5)

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it. (3:14)

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (4:3)

Looking back over these last weeks, in the light of these Scriptures, this makes more sense to me.

Jesus said to "Watch and pray". Beware the tactics of the enemy... because things are NOT always as they seem. Stick with what you know to be true.

Deception has Reared Its Ugly Head...or Has It?

I've been deceived.I should have recognized it; the signs were there but I missed them.

How could I have gone from 'helpful' to 'prideful' in one seemingly fell swoop?

Ah...the whispers of the enemy. He specializes in this very tactic.

I started writing this post yesterday, on the 24th. I could not continue. The enemy of my soul had stopped me again...or had he?

I knew the direction I was heading when I started writing...I was going to spout about the rotten chain of events that had been weighing me down lately. Those enemy tactics that seemed to be working. But I could not continue to dwell in that noxious stew. This starting and stopping had never happened to me before.

This unfinished post became just another thing on my 'to-do list' I had no interest in doing.

But today...

In reading through my 242 e-mails (I had let those pile up too), I came across 2 separate instances from 2 completely different directions; both referring to John 10:10

My NIV states, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." My Living Bible says "(red letters)...My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." (bold letters mine)

Why am I allowing the enemy of my soul to get me down?

I know I acted in a way that was most pleasing to God.

I know I did what had to be done.

I know without a doubt, because I prayed through every decision I made.

Crappy stuff fell on my head; I had momentarily forgotten to wipe it off before I became crushed and paralyzed by it.

Thank You LORD, for letting me stew in my stuff long enough to smell its stench, but not long enough to be crippled by it. Amen.

New Growth From Dead Wood

This lilac shrub suffered a major setback from a surprise snowstorm last year. I was afraid it was done for; the damage seemed too drastic for it to survive. It sure looked like a goner.

I thought for sure I had a dead tree on my hands. I had no choice to wait it out and see what developed in the Spring. The pieces of trunk looked like they would be dead wood, no longer of any use to the tree.

I couldn't help but see the correlation with the disciples after Jesus died.

How could there be life after the crucifixion?

I know in my heart I believe it...but...do I really know it? In the same way I can meet someone and know immediately whether or not they can be trusted with my prayer requests? That kind of 'knowing"?

It's been a few months now, the lilac is starting to bloom. I would peek at it through the window, daily, wondering if I needed to have it removed.

Imagine my surprise (and delight) to see, not only new growth, but strong new shoots preparing to carry the needed nutrients to the flowers yet to come!

There will be new life coming out of the 'dead wood' in our lives, as we seek to live in the fullness of God.

Earlier this week I determined to terminate a toxic friendship I knew was not bringing Glory and Honor to God. Why would I want to continue this friendship? Out of habit? Out of feeling obligated to her and her husband?

Is this really how He wants me to plan my day? To carefully arrange my mask so that I wear the perfect facade while harboring resentment and dishonoring behavior inside of me?

1Peter 2:9 calls us "...a chosen people, royal priesthood, a Holy nation..."

Knowing who we are in Christ is about as real as we can be.

I'm not giving in to the enemy's lies--not even for a moment. Rid yourself of all that keeps you from giving all you can to JESUS!

If He can see to the health of a green plant after a storm, how much more will he do for you, His Beloved?

Good Friday Has Passed

Back in late October 2011, we had a surprise snow storm. The snow was thick and heavy, causing some breakage of tree limbs. The lilac bush in my yard bore the brunt of the damage. (You can read about this in my Nov 8-2011 post) Two of the older thick branches were broken off by the weight of the snow. When I first saw the damage, I was heartbroken, thinking too much damage had been done and the bush wouldn't survive. All my gardening magazines stated lilacs shouldn't be trimmed more than a third of their wood; it would cause too much shock to the plant and it would die. It was too late to do anything about it. What's done is done.

The Good Friday service I attended reminded me of this lilac bush. While I'm thinking the lilac bush is as good as dead, the onlookers in Jesus' day must have thought that about Him. Jesus hung on that cross, cruelly beaten, bleeding life's precious blood from His hands, His feet and His side.

How could He survive that?

He couldn't.

But He said He would be back:

"We are going up to Jerusalem," he said, "and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death...mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise." Mark 10:33-34 (NIV)(bold letters mine)

So life would appear from what would seem dead. But, we have to wait until the proper time.

I noticed the same thing about the lilac bush the other day.

Adding Prayer to Lent...the Final Three days.

I am full. My cup is overflowing.

I have had these 3 days of so much prayer; so much closeness to God and physically feeling His Presence that I have had moments I couldn't speak.

It started with my determination to start my Friday in devotional time.

"...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness..."(Matthew 6:33 NIV) "...seek and you will find..."(Matthew 7:7 NIV) "...seek and you will find..."(Luke 11:9 NIV)

Afterwards, I got many errands done; the ones that had been on recurring 'to-do' lists. I washed, dried and folded three loads of laundry. I made a big ol' pot of bean chili (simmering all day and making the house smell wonderful) I made a smaller pot of black bean soup. I worked on an art project I had been neglecting. I got three boxes ready for the mail. I spent time with friends Friday evening at our Bible study group. I went to our church's prayer vigil from 10PM-1 AM, and had a prophetic Word spoken over me.

I was filled with a new energy from that Word.

I slept.

I awoke, renewed.

I continued to slash things off the seemingly endless 'to-do' list. I went from shop to stop, finding good prices, consolidating my efforts, even finding the best route to not waste any extra time....and all throughout the day, I had the certain feeling I was totally in the moment.

I was giving praise to Him and I was indeed thankful.

I'm in the middle of reading Ann Voskamp's book,"One Thousand Gifts";(I'm not done with it yet, but I highly recommend it.) In it, the author wrestles hard with God, with the injustices of this Earth and comes nose to nose with a quote from Alexander Schmemann about the Eucharist [thanksgiving].

About giving thanks for ALL things. Bad things. Hurtful, bloody things. The things that make us dig our nails into our palms and scream until no sound comes out...

'Eucharisteo' she calls it.

Jesus went to the cross for our sins. He endured the betrayal, the beatings, the whipping, the carrying of the cross, the spikes in His hands, His feet, and the spear in His side. Jesus dies that cruel death for each one of us. If there was no one else, He did it for you. For me.

"After taking the cup, He gave thanks..." Luke 22:17(NIV) "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it... do this in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19(NIV)

The miracles happen after we truly give thanks.

Eucharisteo.

I pray this journey of adding prayer to Lent has brought you closer to God. I know I am not the same.

Adding Prayer to Lent - Day 37

Today started out so promising...

I got up early to go food shopping so I would be back in time for the workmen. Before I got home from the store, the headache had already dug its heels in deep. This pain would require more than the standard pain reliever. Sigh. Migraine meds will mean a nap, ice, and a fuzzy head. For hours.

Reading my Bible today was impossible--so today became a day of rest.

I could still pray, as God brought dear ones to mind.

I gave today to God--He knew what I was feeling like; if He allowed me to have this pain, it's ok with me.

And then He gave me worship.

What a mighty God we serve!

Adding Prayer to Lent - Day 36

It's been another prayer-filled day. I continue to pray for my friends facing tough circumstances.

I continue to pray for the names I wrote down at the nursing facilities.

I was called upon to pray for the outcome of a friends court case today.

The prayer needs keep coming.

I don't know if I would have been as aware; as conscious of the depth of the needs; had I not been purposely focused on having intimate prayer time with Jesus.

It's alot like something I learned about God. The more I give Him, the more of Himself He gives me.

The more time I spent with Him in prayer, the more He gives me to pray about.

Naturally, this makes me a target for the enemy of my soul.

The workmen will be here at the house again tomorrow. Odds and ends need to be tidied up. Things will go wrong, as mechanical things do. The right headlight on my car will continue to work intermittently. There will be circumstances demanding to be brought to His throne room.

My armor is in place; I am outfitted to fight the enemy.

I will continue to pray.

Adding Prayer to Lent - Day 35

I have felt led to devote myself to prayer today.

I have had various prayer requests come in--

Friends are going through horrific circumstances-- Illness is taking and changing lives-- Meetings are happening where the outcomes affect future livelihood-- Children, of all ages, are thrust into situations never imagined by their parents--

The enemy is sowing discouragement, which leads to despair and ruined lives. The enemy wants to keep us looking at the circumstances around us so we take our eyes off God. The enemy wants us to have no hope. He wants our futures to look as bleak as his.

Today, I stand in the gap and pray for you.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus; He's waiting.

"Submit to God, resist the devil--and he will flee from you." James 4:7 (NIV)

Today, I stand in the gap for you.

Adding Prayer to Lent - Days 33 & 34

WE HAVE HEAT! You can always tell when the heat has kicked on...the dogs are right there, at the radiators, enjoying the warmth.

If you've been following our new furnace saga, you will notice this simple cry of 'WE HAVE HEAT!' is a welcome utterance. Our installation started a week ago to install a unit that, we were told, would be a two day job. Perhaps, under typical circumstances, this would be true.

HOWEVER...

My husband and I learned a long time ago, that we are the recipients of odd occurences. It's a given, we don't even question it anymore. "Murphy" is alive and well and lives with us- ("Murphy's Law--That which can go wrong, WILL go wrong, at the worst possible moment.) When things DO go well, we have that expectant feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Stuff happens to us, we are convinced, so we can show others the way to handle these oddities.

GOD knows best and has something better planned for us.

Take our dogs. They are all rescues from abandonment or abuse situations. The little black and white one was literally drop-kicked off a porch. Her x-rays show old broken bones and arthritic joints. She has very few teeth in her mouth, due to the poor nutrition in her early years. She is also allergic to chicken. There's not much dog food out there that has no chicken, so we grind up beef and deer hearts, livers and other stuff we don't eat, but the dogs love. As you can tell from the photo, she is a far cry from starving.

The brown one, we've had for 11 years. He was a lost dog who needed a home. He is now blind due to cataracts and glaucoma, has aches and pains and congestive heart failure. He knows left and right, and gets around fine, albeit slowly, and knows if he is confused or 'lost' in the yard, all he has to do is bark and mom will come find him. The beagle was an abandon too, but hates raised voices and will gulp her food as she was bullied by other, bigger dogs.

Different personalities--different needs--all equally loved. All accepted just as they are.

We didn't know Jesse would one day go blind, just as we didn't know furnace part(s!) would be defective directly from the distributor. We couldn't know our furnace would be a difficult installation--not the worst one they've had, but pretty darn close.

We are convinced the enemy was and is using these things to discourage us, to cause us to have a negative attitude. My heart was breaking today as I read the horrific things some of my friends are going through (through no fault of their own); pets and dear family members have passed away, illnesses, consequences from sinful decisions and disappointments abound. It seemed everywhere I looked, there was another blow.

I've chosen to add prayer to my Lenten days before Resurrection Day. I'm sure the enemy of my soul is livid.

But I remembered a scripture...from John:16:33 (NIV)

"...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

What promises to hold onto! Grab tight and HOLD ON!

Adding Prayer to Lent - Day 32

The continuing saga of the furnace continues...and I have a confession to make. With all the running around to be sure the furnace guys had all they needed and the keeping the dogs from freaking out over their change in routine, I have been running around this house like a chicken with my head cut off. It's Saturday, and I had plans of cleaning the kitchen floor (it REALLY needs it!) I also had some other things on my to-do list. However, Friday night I fell asleep in the recliner (again) and, as a result, did not get the restful sleep I had hoped for. Thus, my whole day was kind of out of whack. I was also short with my husband, which is not a usual occurance. It was a Romans 7 thing...the things I don't want to do I end up doing, and the things I want to do I don't do.

I sent up a quick prayer/Cyn/Psalm style-- "O LORD, deliver me-- I don't like this behavior in me, but I don't seem to not like it enough to change it. O LORD, deliver me. Show me...help my unbelief...

And then it hit me...

I hadn't prayed.

I had been too much "Martha" and not enough "Mary".

O Lord, forgive me for trying to do life in my own strength today.

I need Thee; Oh, I need Thee! Ev-'ry hour I need Thee! Oh, bless me now, My Saviour; I come to Thee! (I Need Thee Every Hour--Annie S. Hawks,1835-1918/Robert Lowry,1826-1899)

Am I really surprised that the enemy was able to gain a foothold?