"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Archive for January, 2012

Aside

Desire

DESIRE

On a beautiful horse farm in Kentucky,  a tiny AKC registered Irish setter puppy was born.  He was perfect and his owner loved him.  One day a man came by looking for work and the owner felt he was unsavory and sent him on his way.  After he left, they found that their beloved puppy was missing.  The owner looked for them both, but to no avail.

The man who had taken the puppy was named Hurley and he found work at a salvage yard as the night watchman.  He trained the puppy to be a guard dog and named him ‘Dog.’  It was a dirty place and as Dog grew, he became very scruffy and untidy looking.  His long fur became clumped and matted.  The man tried to make him mean but the nature bred into him was to be kind and loving.  He had to bark when ever there were intruders or Hurley would prod him with a long ugly stick.  He was kept in a cage all day with no food or drink, and when he was let out at night he was fed dry dog food and water out of a dirty dish.  The man was not one to be kind and somehow the dog knew that this was not the life he was meant to live.

Each day was misery as Dog tried to sleep with all the noise of the busy salvage yard.  The nights were worse as he was kept moving by the lazy night watchman prodding him with a long stick.  He desired to be free.  Nothing felt right and he was in deep despair.  Every night as he patrolled the fence, he looked for a way of escape.

One late afternoon, a well-dressed man came to the salvage yard.  Hurley was just getting Dog out of the cage and preparing to feed him.  The man took one look at the scruffy mess of a dog and recognized the fine lines of a champion.  Deep inside he begin to wonder if this was his lost puppy.  He addressed Hurley and asked about the sorry-looking animal.  Hurley looked at him and narrowed his eyes and rasped, “What do you want to know for?”  The man replied, “How much do you want for him?”  Hurley almost shouted, “He is not for sale!”  The gentleman looked at him and said,  “Would you take $200?”  Greed lit a fire in the grubby man’s heart and he pondered for a moment.  “Why do you want this ugly dog?”  The man in the suit replied, “I’d like to give him a better life.”  “Well,” Hurley said,” you can give me a better life also.  I’ll sell him to you for $1000!”  As the suit reached for his wallet, he said “Done!”  and peeled off ten $100 bills.  Hurley took the money and growled, “I shoulda asked for $3000!”

The gentleman opened his car door and beckoned the scruffy sad dog to get in, but he hung back.  Hurley got out his prod and poked at the ugly critter and said, “Dog, go!” and waved the stick toward the car.  With his tail between his legs, he nervously got in the back seat of the Cadillac Escalade and laid down on the floor.  The motor started and his new owner drove through the gates and out of the prison

The new owner’s name was Franklin and he owned a horse farm not far away.  He knew in his heart that the pitiful hound was his lost puppy.  He took him home and called the vet and the groomers.  After a dog spa day and a compete medical check up, the dog felt strange.  He saw other beautiful dogs that were being petted and loved.  He longed to be one of them, but he knew it could never be. He was from a different world. The spa day had resulted in all of his matted fur being removed.  Now he was bald and even uglier than before and he was embarrassed.  He slunk into the breeding barn and found a horse blanket in a back corner and laid down, content to be alone, clean and away from the hated man and the salvage yard.

Time passed and the owner had the dog tested and found that he was indeed the lost litter pup.  They named him Champion of the Overcomers and registered his blood line. From then on “Champ” was his name though it took Champ awhile to recognize he was being called.  Franklin taught him to play and took him for long runs in the beautiful meadows.  He felt their love.  His new owner sat on the grass and held him and petted him.  His fur grew out and he looked so different. He felt brand new.  This is who the lost dog was meant to be. He was a beautiful pedigreed champion with perfect classic lines.  Champ was groomed regularly.  Franklin began to train him for an upcoming dog show.  He would be a real surprise to the local  kennel crowd.

Champ loved the attention and responded to the commands with joy.  When he went through the paces at the contest, he swept the awards winning his class and ‘Best of Show.’  Franklin and his family were proud of him and he was very happy.  So the ugly ‘junk yard’ dog became a true Champion with ribbons and trophies and experienced his true life.  He knew he was born for this.

We, too, are made for greatness and for the One who owns us.  We have fallen so far below the privilege of who He created us to be and we live in pain, lack, and despair.  Broken relationships make trusting others difficult.  Deep within each of us there is a desire – an ache to be more.  We don’t know how to get there but we know  somewhere there is an answer.  We look for more, but the desire has grown distant.  We try drugs, alcohol, sex and food to cover our pain only to find our drug of choice only makes things worse. And just like Dog, we have a Hurley or several Hurleys in our lives to tell us we are worthless and keeps us moving through the junk yard of despair.

So,” who will rescue us from this life” of pain and broken dreams?  Thank God, He sent Jesus Christ to redeem us out of despair, to fulfill our lost desire and bring us back to our Great Father who loves us and wants us to love Him in return.  He has a beautiful life for anyone who will draw near.

Now I want you to know that this is not the ‘religion’ that your parents tried to shove down your throat.  This is a relationship with the great Creator God of the Universe. Contrary to popular press, He is a good God.  His ‘loving kindness endures forever.  You can trust HIm.  You can know Him and He will talk to you.  He already loves you.

So, where is He when you need Him?

He is waiting. The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  And also, it tells us that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us.  Just like the poor lost dog when he stepped into the Cadillac.  He didn’t know that this step would set him free to be in an amazing relationship with his new owner.

Find out how much God loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him and move toward Him.  Each of us comes to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For you, it may be reading this post and realizing that there is more.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to a radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that God was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real to you and I promise that He will.

John 3:16 – 17  God so loved the world (put your name here), that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world (put your name here); but that the world (put your name here also) through Him might be saved.

Scriptures for further study:

Romans 10:11 & 13 10For with the heart man believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  11For the scripture says, Whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.  . . .  13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (You can be a whosoever today.)

Psalm 20:4 -5  May He grant you your heart’s desire And fulfill all your counsel!  We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.

Psalm 38:9  9 Lord, all my desire is [e]before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You.

Psalm 107:27-31  They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, And were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, And He brought them out of their distresses. 29 He caused the storm to be still, So that the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they were quiet, So He guided them to their desired haven. 31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness, And for His wonders to the sons of men! NASB

Psalm 145:19 He will  fulfill the desire of those who fear (this means to regard Him with respect and awe) Him; He will also  hear their cry and will save them. NASB

Proverbs 10:24 What the wicked fears will come upon him, But the desire of the righteous will be granted. NASB

Proverbs 13:19a Desire realized is sweet to the soul. . . NASB

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. NASB

Aside

Friendship

FRIENDSHIP

Lately I have been pondering about friendships and relationships in general.  What makes a friend?  What is the difference between a friend and an acquaintance?  What if I am a friend to them, but they are not to me?    When one marries another, there is an expectation of permanence so why the divorce rate?  Why do relationships end?

Definition of FRIEND in the Webster’s:

1a : one attached to another by affection or esteem

1b:  acquaintance

2a : one that is not hostile

2b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group

3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)

4 : a favored companion

There were more definitions, but these were the important ones.  I noticed that there is nothing there about the length and duration of the relationship.  It is my experience that some of the some relationships are forever and some are only for a season.

I know that there have been times in my life when I have wounded and offended a valued friend.  Often they have forgiven me, but the trust was destroyed and the relationship was damaged and never quite the same.  I find that I am still saddened by my actions.
I love this quote that I found in the comments at Webster’s:
“A friend is someone who is there through the good as well as the bad. A friend understands a point of view while disagreeing with it. A friend remains a friend through adversity. A friend takes the time to listen despite a lack of interest. The next time someone deletes you as a “friend”, ask yourself, were they really a friend?”
We all desire healthy intimacy with our friends and our spouse, but often the thought of letting down the wall terrifies us.  What if we let that one in and we are wounded?  What if we don’t?
I wrote a poem years ago after my divorce from my husband of eleven years.  The first lines are:  “The barriers between us are all carefully maintained.
                   They are nurtured by guilt, fear, tears and pain.
                   We hold ourselves off at a distance insulated and protected,
                    Unable to make a commitment out of fear of being rejected.
                   And the armour imprisons the wearer instead of making him free . “.
There is more, but you get the idea.
Scripture says that there is One who sticks closer than a brother.  I am privileged to know that One.  When He lives in my relationships, the loyalty and the trust level are much higher.  When the wound is from a fellow who is on the same path, I must trust in the One who created us all.
I wonder if true friendship and relationship are even possible apart from knowing Jesus and the Father?  I am in awe that I can now be wounded by a close companion and walk in peace recognizing that they are not my enemy but one who is struggling to do His will.  For me, I have determined that I will be a friend and cover another’s offenses.  I, too, will be wary if the door they closed opens again but I will receive them..

To conclude this, I choose to love those I have wounded and those who have wounded me.  I choose to live in peace with betrayal.  It is okay to hurt me.  I forgive and release tthe offender and I choose to walk in freedom.  Thank you Father God for your amazing peace and love.
Related Sites:
What to do when friendship breaks down. http://www.whenfriendshiphurts.com/blog/
Scripture References:
Proverbs 17:17, 18:24, 27:9
Psalm 41:9

Dancin’

Dancing with the Stars has become an amazingly successful television show.  We watch as the guest star struggles to be in sync with the professional.  They train hard and it can be very frustrating.  Often when they get on the floor, they bomb and then they are voted off!  Other times, the presentation is actually poetry in motion.  They move together as one across the floor.  The audience holds their breath at the beauty they are beholding and then they leap to their feet in wild applause.  The judges make their comments.  “Best dance of the night!’  “You have what it takes to win this.”  “You have beautiful lines and are a natural on the floor.”

Before this poetic and beautiful program, the clips show the struggle between the professional and the trainee ‘star.’  They almost quit, the training has proven so difficult.  Many of them were professional athletes before they attempted this new venue.  Sometimes they listen carefully to the trainer and then work exceedingly hard to become the dancer they desire to be.

So what does this have to do with Scripture?

When we invite Jesus into our hearts, He opens His arms and  invites us to follow Him.  We believe in Him for sure, but we don’t really trust Him.  We think we can dance better without following anyone.  We try to do it on our own and it looks like we are successful.  We get involved in the church and manuever into leadership.  We read our Bible and pray quick little prayers.

But this isn’t what He wants.  He wants a relationship.  He wants us to talk with Him, dance with Him, train with Him, be successful and fail and get up again.  He wants us to know that the path of rest is in His arms.  It is easy there and He knows that we have to go through training.  He knows we will mess up and get frustrated, but He loves us and is incredibly patient. 

When we finally come into His arms and rest against His shoulder, He gracefully leads us through many difficult steps, leaps, and carries.  He is masterful and we are amazed at how easy it is when we trust Him.

Finally, He leads us into doing His work.  We reach out to others and He leads us.  Then He melts into us and lets us lead others into His presence.  Christ in us!  The ease of knowing that He is always with us and will always show us the right moves and bring us to the right people.

If you are ready to dance with Him, ask Him to come in.  I did and He has had a hard time teaching me.  I still want to lead and He just steps back and shakes His head and opens His arms and waits until I know that I am going nowhere.  I step into His embrace and lean against Him and we move forward.

Join me in this wonderful unforced rhythm of grace and trust the One who loves us most.

Matthew 11:30 Message Bible

1 Chronicles 15

Psalms 30:11

Resolved? 2012

“I resolve this year to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”  (I saw this posted on a church sign and loved it!)  What else have we resolved to do this year?  Have we resolved to de-stress?  Lose weight?  Quit smoking?  Stop procrastinating?  Get a new job?  Clean the garage?  Be kind?  Eat healthy?  Not respond with anger?  Get out of debt?

Is this the first year you have made this resolution?  Do you think you will keep it?  Did you keep it last year?  What would it take to help you keep it?  Can it be done?  All good questions.

Why is it that we can’t do what we want to do?  Why do we try again and again and more importantly why do we fail again and again?  If we do overcome, we have to work  continually not to go back to where we were.  What is the solution?  How can our resolutions actually work?

Paul, the apostle understood how we feel.  He said ” I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.  . . So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”

Yikes!  Sin lives in me?  I don’t want anything living in me that I can’t control.  Do you?  If sin lives in me, then it actually controls a lot of what I do.  I can make resolution after resolution or go through rehab or diet but sin takes over and I do what I don’t want to do!  That stinks!  How can I break this cycle?

Paul continued, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. . .”

So, there it is.  Jesus is the answer.  We have heard that often, but so much that it just seems like another religious idea.  Can He really make a difference?  When you ask Him into your heart, then as hard as it may be to understand, His Spirit comes to live it you and it really is helpful.   Paul goes on, “The power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death!”

So when we have Jesus in our hearts, the only power that sin has in our lives, is what we give it.  When we let the Spirit of God lead us, we can overcome the challenges that we face.

So this year, join me in resolving to open the door of my heart to Jesus and He will help us to be free.

It is easy to do.  The Bible says that those who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved.  Read John 3:16, 17.  Find out how much He loves you and that He is just waiting for you to call out to Him.

Each of us comes to the realization of who He is in a different way.  For me, I was driving down the road, listening to the radio preacher when God took over his voice and I knew for sure that He was real.  I just began to say, “I’m sorry Jesus.  I just didn’t know.  I didn’t know.”  So it isn’t a formula, it is a heart thing.  Ask Him to make Himself real and I promise that He will.

Is that it?  Jesus comes in and then it is all easy?  For years, my favorite Scripture has been, ” It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”  I could never figure it out.  How is it when I had asked Jesus in that I was still not free.  The problem was that I was still making resolutions.  I was still trying to do them without Him.  So this year, I resolve to get out-of-the-way and rest in Him.  He knows me and when I get closer to Him and know Him better, He takes the issues and clears them up.

Happy 2012!

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