Friday, December 26, 2014

Then You Can Keep Christmas

PC: Sereina

"Are you willing 

    to forget what you have done for other people,

          and to remember what other people have done for you;

     to ignore what the world owes you,

           and to think what you owe the world;

     to put your rights in the background,

     and your duties in the middle distance,
     and your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;

     to see that your fellow human beings are just as real as you are,

     and try to look behind their faces to their hearts, hungry for joy;

     to own that probably the only good reason for your existence is not what you are going

     to get out of life,
          but what you are going to give to life;

     to close your book of complaints against the management of the universe,

     and look around you for a place where you can sow seeds of happiness —

are you willing to do these things even for a day?

Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing 

     to stoop down and consider the needs and the desires of little children;

     to remember the weaknesses and loneliness of people who are growing old;

     to stop asking how much your friends love you,

          and to ask yourself whether you love them enough;

     to bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts;

     to try to understand what those who live in the same house with you really want,

          without waiting for them to tell you;

     to trim your lamp

          so that it will give more light and less smoke,

     and to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;

     to make a grave for your ugly thoughts,

          and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open —

are you willing to do these things even for a day? 

Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing 

to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world

     stronger than hate,

     stronger than evil,
     stronger than death —

     and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago

     is the image and brightness of Eternal Love?

Then you can keep Christmas. 

And if you can keep it for a day, why not always? But you can never keep it alone."

– Henry Van Dyke (1852–1933)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reversing the Master's Order

 O how often we have sought to be able to pray the effectual prayer for much grace to bear fruit, and have wondered that the answer came not.  It was because we were reversing the Master's order.  We wanted to have the comfort and the joy and the strength first, that we might do the work easily and without any feeling of difficulty or self-sacrifice.  And He wanted us in faith, without asking whether we felt weak or strong, whether the work was hard or easy, in the obedience of faith to do what He said:  the path of fruit-bearing would have led us to the place and the power of prevailing prayer.  Obedience is the only path that leads to the glory of God.  Not obedience instead of faith, nor obedience to supply the shortcomings of faith; no, but faith's obedience gives access to all the blessings our God has for us.  The baptism of the Spirit (John 14:15-16), the manifestation of the Son (John 14:21), the indwelling of the Father (John 14:23), the abiding in Christ's love (John 15:10), the privilege of his Holy friendship (John 15:14), and the power of all-prevailing prayer (John 15:16), - all wait for the obedient.
~Andrew Murray, School of Prayer - 23rd Lesson
 * * *

I have been reading through Andrew Murray’s “School of Prayer” and this paragraph resonated so with me, particular this sentence:

“We wanted to have the comfort and the joy and the strength first, that we might do the work easily and without any feeling of difficulty or self-sacrifice.”

This statement pretty much sums up my flesh.  This has been changing over the years, but initially this was was really strong in me.  Wanting the milk before the cow, so to speak.  It has taken a process for me to see that the difficulty of seeing my flesh needed to lead me towards gratitude and obedience.  I didn’t initially feel grateful to be seeing my sin, it just felt icky and I wanted to be changed.  Though I had been a Christian for many years, obedience at the heart-level in all the particulars of my life, especially in my relationships at home with my family, was a new and foreign idea to me.  I wasn’t accustomed to the obedience God was actually looking for and I didn’t necessarily want to go through the "process of change," I just wanted to be changed.

Thankfully the Lord doesn’t leave us in the condition we are in.  When we come to see our need to seek Him, He is right there where He has always been right next to us waiting for us to receive His love that has also always been there.  Through my process with the Lord He has shown me that it is suppose to feel icky when I see my sin, and that He is showing it to me so that I feel icky enough to be motivated to do something about it... according to His leading.  There were many times that after seeing my sin I did something, the wrong thing according to my understanding, and He got my attention again drawing me to Himself with correction and instruction on what to do different the next time.  This cycle has been repeating, with the Lord patiently and lovingly correcting and instructing, drawing me closer and closer to Him, showing me what more to surrender and how to walk in obedience and cooperation with Him.  It is through feeling the difficulty and continuing to see our need to increase self-sacrifice, all the while cooperating with the Lord that we can begin to feel the comfort and the joy and the strength.

I still occasionally find myself feeling the difficulty of seeing my sin and I am so thankful to experience God’s presence in the moment reminding me that it is He who is showing it to me and that He is doing so with purpose to help me.  He reminds me that I have a choice to make, and that I no longer have to stay stuck in the difficulty, or go into self-condemnation or self-pity but that I can surrender self and begin to work in cooperation with Him.  He has been helping me put things in order, in His order.

Are you letting God work with you, are you letting Him walk you through the difficult and the self-sacrifice and trusting him for the comfort and joy and strength?  Are you letting God put your life in order, in His order?

                                        Isaiah 55:8-9

                                       “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
                                             neither are your ways my ways,”
                                             declares the Lord.

                                       “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
                                             so are my ways higher than your ways
                                             and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 * * *

Scripture referenced above by Andrew Murray:

Baptism of the Spirit

John 14:15-16 (AMP)
If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever

Manifestation of the Son

John 14:21 (AMP)
The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]

Indwelling of the Father

John 14:23 (AMP)
Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.

Abiding in Christ’s  Love

John 15:10 (AMP)
If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.

Privilege of His Holy Friendship

John 15:14 (AMP)
You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.

Power of All-Prevailing Prayer

John 15:16 (AMP)

You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as [b]presenting all that I Am], He may give it to you.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Recognizing the Hand of the Lord

I am currently reading "Release of the Spirit" by Watchman Nee

Discipline is plentiful in many lives, but recognizing the hand of the Lord during those years of discipline is rare indeed.  ~Watchman Nee, Release of the Spirit

A little over 4 years ago the Lord put two very precious ladies in my life, one of which pressed in with me personally to address matters of my heart, essentially disciplining me.  I began to learn things that resonated with my spirit and that began to change my view of the Lord, which in turn changed my relationship with Him for the better forever.  Through our discussions I came to realize something that was new to me then, even though I had gone to church most all of my life… I came to realize that the Holy Spirit corrects and instructs us in things big and small… if we will listen, if we will let Him.  I remember that moment of all of a sudden recognizing the Holy Spirit’s voice in my past for the first time.  Several memories flooded through, revealing that He had been there with me all the days of my life, but I did not recognize Him, I did not "know" His voice.

Two main memories stood out… 

The first memory was during a pivotal time in my life.  As a young adult I had been living fully in my own power, living life for all the fun I could find for myself and I was hitting bottom fast and feeling very miserable in my soul.  I remember the evening very well, it was a moment where I was contemplating ending the misery and loneliness and I had the means to do so in the palm of my hand.  Something made me stop and put things away.  It was not long after that, that my life began to take another direction as I found I was tired of and no longer satisfied with the life of the self-indulging entertainment filled life I had been living.  When that memory and then the realization flooded into my mind that what stopped me was the Lord… He literally saved my life that night.  The gratitude flooded my heart.  My heart was ever so touched by His love for me.

The second memory that stood out strong to me was an afternoon with my 2nd born who was about 3 or 4 years old at the time.  She was in the middle of a screaming crying meltdown, and I was at my wits end as none of my efforts to appease her or control her had worked to this point… and this was a frequent occurrence.  I remember feeling flustered and just didn’t know what to do, I don’t specifically remember praying, but I remember that a very strong thought overcame me, a thought that didn’t make sense and actually contradicted all the “human” wisdom within me.  I didn’t want to do it, but I did it anyway… I scooped up my screaming crying little girl and hugged her.  Her screaming and crying softened to a wimper and she melted right into me and we hugged for the longest time.  I didn’t know it at the time, but that strong thought that overcame me was the Lord teaching me how to love my daughter, causing me to meet her need in the moment.  It would take me so many more years of muddling through these fits, first trying to control her out of it until I would finally give in and scoop her up.  I never once considered that the Lord was helping me or wanted to help me more with my parenting through all of that.

My dear daughter was 13 when I met with my dear new friend for the second time.  Somehow our conversation got on the topic of my daughter’s anger and I was explaining how proud I was that she was learning to manage her fits better.  This dear friend asked me a simple, yet profound question… she asked me, “Do you want your daughter to control her sin or be free of it?”  DOH!  Who wouldn't want freedom from sin?  Is that really possible?  The idea of becoming “free” of sin resonated deep within my heart and I wanted that more than ever for my dear sweet daughter. 

I remember previously reading scripture relating that we ought to be free of sin, and because it wasn’t something I saw around me I remember being confused and therefore brushing these scriptures aside.  All of a sudden, scripture began to open up to me in a new way.  I began this new journey of learning what it means to love like Christ loves and to listen to the Holy Spirit, to hear Him speak to my conscience correct me and instruct me.  I began to seek Him, asking Him to help me see how I sin against my children, asking Him to show me what to stop doing and what I need to begin doing.  I began to see that “offense” was HUGE in my life, and that I needed to give it up. 

I had been going to church nearly all my life and I have heard many sermons on forgiveness and yet, for the first time, Christ-like forgiveness began to take on a whole new meaning and bring "life" into my life and that of my family.  I saw that I had passed the spirit of “offense” and “anger” to my daughter.  The Lord showed me that “I” needed to begin to repent to my family for my sins against them.  I made many mistakes, with pride being strong within me I held back (in the flesh) at times…  it was hard and painful, and the internal battle was strong… my flesh was in the fight of it’s life…  thankfully, there was just enough desire for the Lord in my heart to give Him something to work with and within a few months the Lord did a miracle.  I call it the first miracle the Lord did for our family.  I noticed my daughter was no longer having screaming fits, no longer stomping down the hall and slamming the door, no longer tearing her bedroom apart.  My husband also noticed something new was going on.  We asked her about it.  Her response was, “I just don’t feel angry anymore.”  Now, this doesn't mean she doesn't ever get angry any more, but she doesn't feel that “out of control” anger she once did on a fairly regular basis.  When she gets angry now, she is able to talk about what is going on inside of her and we work out together what she can do in each specific situation to relate in love the next time and she is willing to repent when it's necessary.  Our conversations about her anger are calm and include lots and lots of hugs and squeezes.  She is now 17 and I am so delighted in her and am so grateful to the Lord for rescuing my daughter and rescuing a relationship that was leading toward death and destruction.

There is SO MUCH that has happened in the past few years since this new beginning.  It’s been a process of increased recognition of the Lord’s voice and His discipline in my daily life.  I know there is so much more growth needed and there are things I do not recognize yet that He will help me to recognize when He knows I am ready.  My heart is so filled with gratitude that the Lord just doesn’t let us go, that He didn’t let me go when I didn’t know His voice and that His patience with me is tireless and endless. I am ever so grateful to be able to recognize the Lord's voice and say “Lord, thank you for loving me so much.  Yes, Lord, YES I am willing to obey!”  I am so grateful to be able to recognize the discipline of the Lord and boy am I aware of the work He is doing each and every day within my heart.  He is quite busy.

I would like to note that the Lord used the Lifestyle of Learning™ ministry as a large part of my growth in parenting and growth in gaining my daughter's heart along with my other children.  I like to give credit to this ministry every chance I get for leading me to know the Lord in a newer and deeper way that changed the course of our family.  

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Path We Are On

Photo by Sereina Charise

If we are habitually 
grumbling or complaining, 
we should beware: 
the path we are on 
leads away from Christ.
—A House United  (Francis Frangipane)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Learning to Give the Best One

Something we have been focusing on in our family is giving the best to one another.  

Last week our family was getting ready to go out and we were getting things set up in the car.  As part of coming know my children at the heart level I can now often see their attitudes as they are living life before they are expressed outwardly.  This was true on this day as we were preparing to leave.  I noticed my son was setting up to “take” a particular seat in the minivan for himself and the above thoughts that we have been focusing on came into my mind.  I used that as an opportunity remind him about giving the best to our siblings.  Later, as the kids were piling into the van I heard him ask his sister, “Where would you like to sit?” Not knowing that my son had his eye on a particular seat she responded with choosing a different seat than the one he had his eyes on.  They then proceeded to settle into their seats.

I thought about how easy that communication between them was, and I was grateful for the consideration and kindness that was expressed between the two of them.  I thought about how my son was willing to give up what he thought of as the best if his sister also wanted that seat and I told him how grateful I was for for his willingness to give precedence to his sister.

We have more work to do in this area in our family and it’s good to be seeing good fruit coming from the work we have done so far.

You can learn more ways to teach children how to love their siblings in the Love’s Actions Seminars. Just click on the link below:

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