"Like a shepherd He will tend His flock. In His arm He will gather the lambs; And carry them in His bosom" Isaiah 40:11 I find it completely awesome that in this world, I am totally someones. Someone to love me, cherish me, discipline me (in love), someone who will never, ever, ever, leave me. Someone who calls me His very own.
"How do I know whether this is of God and not just the fig plaster? What confirming sign is there that God is healing me and that in three days I'll walk into The Temple of God on my own legs?" (20:8)
While working in the bottoms yesterday, the sky kept taking my breath away during the times I would stop and watch the mountainous clouds role in. There are moments the beauty of His nature causes me to stop in my tracks.
It set me to thinking about how often do I doubt God and insist on proof? How often do I think even the every day things came about from "the fig plaster" and not Him?
All about me is the constants of ABBA. Constants which consistently prove He is "I AM". And yet, there are times I either take for granted, don't acknowledge, question, doubt, and at times, even take credit.
I am praying and striving that I may see and know Him in all of the moments - no all of the seconds -of life. I have found the more of Him I see, I do not want to miss out on Him.
How I so love, loving my ABBA. And being unconditionally Loved by Him.
"So will your children and your reputation stand firm." (Isaiah 66:23)
Do you ever think about your reputation? Not in a way that consumes you - causes you to live your life as someone else "thinks" you should, but what you leave behind? Do you ever wonder what words are attached to the mention of your name?
When I was younger, I wasn't a Christian and I lived the way of the world. Coming from a small town - everyone pretty much knew your business. If they didn't, they made it up and said they knew....one of the reasons I enjoy Quincy. It is big enough you don't know everyone - small enough to feel homey.
My past has sometimes caused me to squirm in discomfort, embarrassment, etc. when running across someone from my yesterdays. I imagine there may be a few eyebrows raised when persons find out I walk with our ABBA. My past used to cause me to avoid certain places, afraid I'd see someone who knew the "old" me.
Because of Him - today - I really don't care. I care more about Him shinning through me and touching those He puts into my path. My "Divine Appointments".
I found a number of years ago that He has a marvelous way of using my "stumbling blocks" as His "stepping stones". Because of my past life, He has used me to work with others who have made the same bad decisions. I am able to have empathy toward situations they find themselves in and not be judgmental.
I also am able to know first hand about "second chances", which have become too numerous to count.
I am so thankful for His grace and mercy. I don't take it for granted. As He has done for me, I am continually trying to extend it to others as well.
He has also taken my life and turned it around to produce "good fruits". Our sons, Adam and Nichalas, both walk "in" and "with" Him as well as our daughter-in-loves, Ashley and Amber. Adam and Ashley are raising up our grandchildren, Charlie and Ella, to "know" our ABBA. I know our future grandchildren will be raised "in" Him as well.
There is nothing more important to me - to know - really know - their souls are in the palm of His hand. To know - really know - if they were to die right now, they are with Him....eternally. I love the promise of this Scripture - that not only my reputation will stand firm - so shall our children.
The world is such an evil place. Tolerance is making so many sins "normal" and we tend to accept the worlds standards instead of standing firm In His Word. I am thankful the measuring stick we use, more often than not, is His Word. I am thankful my ABBA has urged me, from the first moments of being their mom, to feed them with His Word. They may not read it everyday - but it is an essential part of their life, their hearts, their makeup - their foundation. Just as it is mine.
My heart sings knowing "we" are built on a foundation to stand firm in. Eternally.
"You’ll get a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God. You’ll be a stunning crown in the palm of God’s hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God. No more will anyone call you Rejected, and your country will no more be called Ruined. You’ll be called Hephzibah (My Delight), and your land Beulah (Married), Because God delights in you and your land will be like a wedding celebration. For as a young man marries his virgin bride, so your builder marries you, And as a bridegroom is happy in his bride, so your God is happy with you." (62:2-5)
Sometimes, I wonder what my new name will be. Will it be a name I have never heard, can't even begin to pronounce? It marvels me knowing our ABBA is taking the time to name each of us with a name which perfectly suits us. A name given to us by He who knows us through and through. How we struggle in believing the worlds words and treatment as truth or believing His Word as The Truth. In this life, the world has named us "a burden". How very thankful to find I am actually His "Blessing". His "Beloved". The world's view is ever changing because of its double standards. It is when we live by the world, we will view and name ourselves and those about us as "a burden". There isn't anyone who knows us better than He does, nor is there anyone who loves us more than He does. How much our ABBA desires when coming up against the world and the words of lies it is continually shouting at each of us, to choose to stand in and on His Truth. For each of us to have His Word tucked within our hearts. To know and believe. "Because God delights in me and my land will be like a wedding celebration. For as a young man marries his virgin bride, so my builder married me, And as a bridegroom is happy in his bride, so my God is happy with me."
Our Abba calls us Hephzibah (His Delight), and our land Beulah (Married).
"Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to My life-giving, life-nourishing words. I'm making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring Love." (55:3)
"Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don't go back until they've watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry. So will the words that come out of My mouth not come back empty-handed. They'll do the work I sent them to do, they'll complete the assignment I gave them. "So you'll go out in joy, you'll be led into a whole and complete life. The mountains and hills will lead the parade, bursting with song. All the trees of the forest will join the procession, exuberant with applause. No more thistles, but giant sequoias, no more thorn bushes, but stately pines - Monuments to Me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God." (55:10-13)
It has caused my heart to smile at our ABBA's timing. Each time I see our gardens need watered, He has provided a bit of rain. Enough so that I haven't had to do much watering this year. Which is a miracle considering how hot and dry it has been. There is something so neat about His timing. His way. His taking care of all.
During the past few years, I have started to plant more perennials than annuals. Once they are established, I don't have to water them as frequently, unlike the annuals, some of which need water every day depending on where they are planted and how hot it is.
I have discovered I am a mix of perennial and annual.
As an annual, I need His Water - aka His Word - each and every day. I need His Word for strength to endure the heat of the battle which makes me weak. I need His Word to grow the perennial roots within me to stand strong "in" Him. I need His Word as fertilizer, root stimulator, weed preventative in this garden of life. I need His Word so I may come back stronger after the season of winter able to grow in the season of spring. I need His Word to bloom where I am planted. I need His Word to reproduce Him in my seeds.
I love how The Holy Spirit is the wind carrying the seeds of Him when I am in the season of harvest, so others may grow in Him.
I love being one of His in His Family Garden of many flowers.
"He took on His own shoulders the sin of the many, He took up the cause of all the black sheep." (53:12)
I pray as you read this, you won't just skim over the words. I pray they will hit your heart in what our Abba did/does because of how much He loves you.
What are you putting before your Abba? Your Savior? The Holy Ghost? His Word? Being "in" an intimate relationship with Him? Are you His fan or His follower?
A Story of True Love..........
THE (SCIENTIFIC) DEATH OF JESUS
At the age of 33, Jesus was condemned to the death penalty.
At the time crucifixion was the "worst" death. Only the worst criminals condemned to be crucified. Yet it was even more dreadful for Jesus unlike other criminals condemned to death by crucifixion, Jesus was to be nailed to the cross by His hands and feet.
Each nail was 6 to 8 inches long.
The nails were driven into His wrist. Not into His palms as is commonly portrayed. There's a tendon in the wrist that extends to the shoulder. The Roman guards knew that when the nails were being hammered into the wrist, that tendon would tear and break, forcing Jesus to use His back muscles to support himself so that He could breathe.
Both of His feet were nailed together.
Thus He was forced to support Himself on the single nail
that impaled His feet to the cross.
Jesus could not support himself with His legs
because of the pain, so He was forced to alternate
between arching His back then using his legs just to continue to breathe. Slowly dying of asphyxiation because He could not exhale.
Imagine the struggle, the pain, the suffering, the courage.
Jesus endured this reality for over 3 hours.
Yes, over 3 hours. Can you imagine this kind of suffering?
To yourself. To someone whom you love with all your heart?
A few minutes before He died, Jesus stopped bleeding. He was simply pouring water from his wounds.
From common images, we see wounds to His hands and feet and even the spear wound to His side...
But do we realize His wounds were actually made to His body. A hammer driving large nails through the wrist, the feet overlapped and an even larger nail hammered through the arches, then a Roman guard piercing His side with a spear. But before the nails and the spear, Jesus was whipped and beaten. The whipping was so severe that it tore the flesh from His body. The beating so horrific that His face was torn and his beard ripped from His face. The crown of thorns cut deeply into His scalp. Most men would not have survived this torture.
He had no more blood to bleed out, only water poured from His wounds. The human adult body contains about 186 ounces of blood. (just less than a gallon) of blood.
Jesus poured all of his blood; He had three nails hammered into His members; a crown of thorns on His head and, beyond that, a Roman soldier who stabbed a spear into His side.
All these without mentioning the humiliation He passed after carrying His own cross for almost 1.2 miles, while the crowd spat in his face and threw stones (the cross was almost 66.13 pounds of weight, and only for its higher part, where His hands were nailed).
Jesus had to endure this experience, so that we can have free access to God.
So that our sins could be "washed" away. All of them, with no exception!
JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR EACH ONE OF US.
Take a moment to appreciate the power of God in your life, for doing what pleases Him.
"Yes, I love God. He is my source of life and my Savior. He keeps me alive day and night. Without Him, I am nothing, but with Him "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13).
"It’s with lasting love that I’m tenderly caring for you. (Isaiah 54:8) Any accuser who takes you to court will be dismissed as a liar. This is what God’s servants can expect. I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.” God’s Decree. (Isaiah 54:17)
"Who do you think it is you've insulted? Who do you think you've been bad-mouthing? Before whom do you suppose you've been strutting? The Holy One of Israel, that's who!(2 Kings 19:22)
Many years ago, I figured out "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me", was a lie. Words can either build up or break down a person. Sometimes they cut so deep it causes a physical pain.
ABBA has held me accountable for things I have said of others in the past, and through Him I am striving to become more Christlike. Not only in my words, but also in my actions.
Words. Have you ever considered the power you hold in the muscle of your tongue?
It is so easy to get caught up in the gossip, slander, malice. It is so easy to get caught up in the headiness of praise. It is also so easy to forget, it isn't the person or persons you are attacking - it is ABBA. He created all of us. In His image.
All of us.
Even those you find offensive, distasteful, those you deem not quite as good as you, different, lost or found.
All of us.
So, the words we throw out regarding someone, are actually words thrown out towards ABBA. He is so protective of His children. Doesn't that scare you just a bit? To think when we attack another, behind them is their Father who will react like a wet mother hen. A bear whose cubs are threatened.
All of us.
Including the one we usually speak the ugliest to - ourselves.
How often we look into the mirror and view ugly or not "enough" and in some cases too much "enough". How often we knock down praise from someone in false humility or actually not thinking we are worthy of the blessing of encouragement. Or how we become so full of self and choose to live life our own way, "strutting our stuff" before our ABBA.
The solution is to keep totally focused on ABBA, but we don't. More often than not, we focus on self. We take words directed towards us as personal instead of looking at the speaker through Christ eyes. We compare our selves and come up either too good or too bad. I pray that we instead see, speak, treat, love on, each and everyone of us as ABBA does.
He has opened my eyes to the spiritual warfare about me. I am so thankful for that. I am so blessed in knowing as I grow closer to ABBA, satan will be using all the tricks up his sleeve trying to cause me to doubt.
Doubt - you know, that one "sin" I committed all those years ago. Or that other "sin" I fell down in and wallowed for awhile - just the other day.
Doubt - that my sins are bigger than ABBA and I allow "shame" to be my focus. Not the grace and mercy ABBA poured over me from The Cross.
Doubt - that causes me to listen to the lies satan, self, or others whisper into my soul. Lies that I am not who ABBA says I am, which is "fearfully and wonderfully made".
I am so thankful for His Word - my own personal Love Letter from Him - to reassure, affirm, confirm, and validate - I am His.
Through Christ, I am made Holy. I am made Pure. I am cleansed so I may be with my ABBA. Through Christ, He only sees me as His image.
I am so thankful to know, without a doubt, I am redeemed.
What great words to hear from our ABBA, our Daddy.
"I Have Redeemed You".
"O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place Your Hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your Presence!
If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your Hand will guide me, and Your Strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from You. To You the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to You.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are Your Thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!
O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers. They blaspheme You; Your enemies misuse your name.
O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate You? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose You? Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for Your enemies are my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."(Psalm 139)
"Whatever time I have left is spent in death's waiting room.
No more glimpses of God in the land of the living,
No more meetings with my neighbors,
no more rubbing shoulders with friends.
This body I inhabit is taken down and packed away like a camper's tent.
Like a weaver, I've rolled up the carpet of my life as God cuts me free of the loom
And at day's end sweeps up the scraps and pieces." (Isaiah 38:10-12)
I smile when I think about how over the years as I age, I keep moving up the number which is considered "old".
Ironic when you think about what a big part of living it is.
From the moment we are conceived, we begin the process of dying.
While in our youth, we don't look at death as one of the things we will experience.
When in high school a close family friend died from leukemia when he was much younger than me, Even then I didn't think about death actually happening to me. I still don't understand everything about death, but did immediately recognize it means separation. I found there were those I wanted to be with, yet couldn't because of death.
Throughout the years, death has been a visitor in the path I have walked. We have two children whom I never held in my arms, only in my womb and heart, but know ABBA has them in His care. There are many I still yearn to be with. I am able to look back and see many instances where death was near, for self and others, but ABBA held him back.
Death. Not a guest I particularly care to entertain in this journey of living. For myself nor for others.
At times throughout my years have come the moments of wishful thinking.
My body is a constant reminder of making its way to death and I yearn for the youthfulness in movement, lack of aches and pains, wrinkles and sags. My mind isn't as sharp as it used to be. The hearing is missing out and the mind is substituting in parts of conversations. And each day the eyes grow dimmer with each blink.
And during all this, He has given me "glimpse of Him in the land of the living".
How much I love being "young" in Him and experiencing the excitement of life.
Of Divine Appointments He has lined up for me each moment.
Of the joy in sharing life with His family.
Of just the delight in all He has surrounded me with.
I can choose to go on this limited time journey either focused on Him or on "self".
I can wallow in the puddles of self pity or skip through them laughing in the rains of life.
I can turn my face upward under His Sonshine or sit in the caves of shadows.
I can dig in my heels and sit right down in the comfort zone or run free in the meadows with Him. Playing tag with my Bestest Friend
He will let me catch Him.
It is my free choice to drink in each moment He blesses me with or live in unquenched thirst.
Most important of all though, because of the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ,
He has removed any fear or regret in my coming death.
ABBA has opened my eyes to see, When in Him - death is actually a good thing.
Because I am in Christ. Because He is my Savior.
Death is the last step in this journey before I am with Him face to face - for eternity.
"With gifts of joy and gladness as all - ALL - sorrows and sighs scurry into the night".(35:10)
While reading this morning, ABBA told me:
"Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower - bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color. Mountain glories of Lebanon - a gift. Awesome Carmel, stunning Sharon - gifts.
God's resplendent glory, fully on display.
God awesome, God majestic.
Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees.
Tell fearful souls, "Courage! Take heart!
God is here, right here, on His way to put things right And redress all wrongs.
He's on His way! He'll save you!"
Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped,
Lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.
Springs of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert.
Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain.
Even lowly jackals will have water to drink, and barren grasslands flourish richly.
There will be a highway called the Holy Road.
No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.
It's for God's people exclusively -
impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it.
No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals -
nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
The people God has ransomed will come back on this road.
They'll sing as they make their way home to Zion,
unfading halos of joy encircling their heads,
Welcomed home with gifts of joy and gladness
as all - ALL - sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.(35:1-10)
"My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood - in safe houses, in quiet gardens." (32:18)
I slipped outside and sat down in one of the chairs on our front porch. I love to watch storms. The clouds were dark as they rolled in from the north. Thunder kept beat to the lightening as it streaked across the sky. Drops of rain began to gently fall, decorating the sidewalk in a haphazard pattern of polka dots.
It had been such a hot day I could actually feel the heat pulling the moisture out of my body as I mowed in the bottoms. I eagerly looked forward to His breeze coming in to kiss my face periodically. While mowing in front of the caves, I fought the urge to stop and enjoy the coolness coming from beneath the hot surface of earth.
Looking out across our lawn, I was thankful He had given me the motivation to mow our own lawn. It had already been in need of a "haircut" and the rains would have really made it grow. I sat and looked at the garden areas He has helped me create and thanked Him for watering the thirsty plants. After mowing, I was too physically spent to water. How He takes care of us.
Even when the winds picked up, driving the rains beneath the porch roof and I went inside, I still felt safe. In our home. Watching the storm from the inside out.
He has given us such a sanctuary here in this place.
There isn't any place on our small acreage where I don't feel His presence. Where I am not able to have communion with Him.
Much like my walk "in" Him.
No matter the storms I am facing. No matter the quiet days. No matter the sun kissed moments.
What peace there is in feeling Him no matter where my steps take me.
No matter what walls we are within.
He is my "safe home" amongst the quiet garden of my heart.
"But you will sing, sing through an all-night holy feast!
Your hearts will burst with song,
make music like the sound of flutes on parade,
En route to the mountain of God, on the way to the Rock of Israel." (30:29)
There are times when certain memories feel like a giant wave coming down over me. There are times when the shame overwhelms me and I feel such a heavy heart within. There are times when I do not see myself as "His Beloved".
These are the times when I lose focus of The Truth. When satan is jumping up and down in glee. When "self" is destroying me from within.
These are the times when I am reminded of the need of my Savior.
My blessed, wonderful, life giving Savior.
I. LOVE. THE. WORDS. OF. HIS. MESSAGE.
PROMISES OF HIS TRUTH.
How much I love my ABBA.
Head over heels.
In. love. with. my. Lord.
The chorus of this song winds it way throughout my heart and mind all the day and night.
Because of my Savior.
I. AM. REDEEMED.
"Seems like all I could see was the struggle Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past Bound up in shackles of all my failures Wondering how long is this gonna last Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son Stop fighting a fight it's already been won"
I am redeemed, You set me free So I'll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be I am redeemed, I'm redeemed
All my life I have been called unworthy Named by the voice of my shame and regret But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head" I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet
I am redeemed, You set me free So I'll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be
Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me 'Cause his day is long dead and gone Because I've got a new name, a new life, I'm not the same And a hope that will carry me home
I am redeemed, You set me free So I'll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, 'cause I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed, You set me free So I'll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, yeah, I'm not who I used to be Oh, God, I'm not who I used to be Jesus, I'm not who I used to be 'Cause I am redeemed Thank God, redeemed" (Redeemed - Big Daddy Weave)
It's time to till the ready earth, it's time to dig in with God,
Until He arrives with righteousness ripe for harvest. (10:12)
satan loves to bring up the times I fail. The moments when I don't allow Christ to shine brighter than my "self". How he loves to tear me down.
But ABBA. He wants me to focus on the moments when He prevails over my "self". To focus on the times I do as He desires. To learn from the moments I fail. To grow from them. To drink in the gifts of His forgiveness. His grace. His mercy. His LOVE.
Yesterday during worship and praise time, the words to the songs were hitting my heart.
It hit me again, how I desire to be Christ like with all that I am.
Not for my glory, but for His. Not for His approval, but because I am so crazy in love with Him.
I continually pray.
each step I take, each breath I take in and release, each movement and moment, all of me will be for Him.
I continually pray.
He will use me as His vessel in all and every way.
"When they cry out in prayer to God because of oppressors, He'll send them help, A Savior who will keep them safe and take care of them." (19:20)
Our Savior. My Savior.
It wasn't until the birth of our Adam that I realized I had the responsibility to raise up the gift of our child "in" ABBA and needed to change my life. In the previous years, I had been living life trying to fill the God void within me through the world of drugs, alcohol, men.
No matter what I did, I was still left empty. Still searching.
Through years of studying His Word, I came to recognize where that realization came from. It was through the many prayers lifted up for me from elderly women in the church I attended growing up. It was through the seeds planted while attending church camp when young. He has opened my eyes while looking back and recognizing those in His family who stepped into my life, some for a short time, some for the long haul. It was through all of these tools He used to introduce me to my Savior.
For the past 31 years no longer am I searching. Now I am digging. Digging into the heart of my ABBA. Digging to the very center of Him to fill the whole of me.
There are often times I am unable to contain myself and will lift up praises to Him. There aren't enough words to express the feelings of falling deeper in love with Him with each breath that I take.
I cried out.
He sent me help.
I have A Savior who will keep me safe and takes care of me.
"What does one say to outsiders who ask questions?
Tell them, "God has established Zion. Those in need and in trouble find refuge in her." (14:32)
My prayer is to never lose the breathlessness at our ABBA's beauty when we entered into Zion National Park in Utah this past February. I pray I never take for granted His Awesomeness. How He created the all of nature for our enjoyment. I pray my eyes will always marvel at what a creation He has given us in nature and each other.
But no matter how vast and beautiful the mountains here on earth are,
He has prepared an even greater one for those who are His.
Zion - our mountain of ABBA - our place of refuge while living in this world.
Nothing, no one, anything, is bigger or able to destroy our Zion.
He is always there, our refuge.
Steadfast and True.
There are numerous accounts of how a person who walks in ABBA, versus a person who walks in the world, handles life. My mind is instantly filled with persons I know who have been granted with much and are a model of humbleness, versus those who are filled with pride. Those who have went through death, illness, sorrows, poverty and other horrors and allowed ABBA to shine through the darkness in their response. Mother Teresa. What an example of our Christ living in a dark world. Within the world of castoffs, she lived in her Zion mountain.
How blessed I too have been while living in my Zion mountain. How protected and cared for, even when having to deal with the harshness of the world and its people.
But, there have been times I left my Zion mountain, thinking "the grass is greener" over there.
I so desire to lead others to live in the Zion mountain. The mountain of ABBA. For them to have an intimacy, which only can come from living with and within Him.
As I read through the scriptures today of the consequences for those who live outside of Him and again am hit with the realization, the urgency, in His Words to us.
"Go and make Disciples".
As I go.
While living on my Zion, am I using all the time, gifts, talents for Him or am I using them for me? There are so many "in need and in trouble".
Do I go outside my comfort zone to reach them?
Reaching the many living outside or not even knowing of Him. As His, are we helping the lost to find refuge in The Mountain of ABBA?
"indulged in the outrageous practice of "passing his sons through the fire," a truly abominable thing he picked up from the pagans God had earlier thrown out of the country. (2 Chronicles 28:3)
It causes my heart to smile when watching Adam being a daddy to Charles and Ella. Watching as his heart (as well as ours), has fallen totally head over heels in love with not only their mommy, but the two of them as well. Watching as he counts them as part of his own flesh and blood. Watching as he is experiencing what it is like to have parts of your heart living outside of your body.
It causes my heart to smile when I hear their voices ring throughout our home, causing it to come alive with the energy of their youth. To listen as they call out "Grandpa Curt", "Grandma Deby", mommy", "Adam", "Uncle Nichalas" or "Aunt Amber". When Ella calls Adam, "her Adam". I delight in seeing life through their eyes, the constant reminders of my yesterdays when Adam and Nichalas were that little. I love the new roles He has given each of us through the gift of these two precious children.
We met him two years ago. His name is Junior. One of many students our ABBA has placed in Nichalas' life to mentor.
He was 10 years old when his mother and father abandoned he and his little brother to the streets of Mexico. They survived there for almost two years before his aunt and uncle found, rescued, and brought them back to Phoenix to live with them. His parents had also abandoned his two older brothers in California when they were 13 and 15.
Junior will be entering into his Junior year of High School soon at the age of 19. Although he is very intelligent, a quick learner, his time spent on the streets put him behind in our school system. He has a quick smile from the heart, a kind and gentle spirit who is constantly on the lookout for the underdogs. I often think about he and other children's lives who are hindered in being "who" our ABBA created them to be due to bad parenting.
Nichalas started a wrestling program two years ago and was excited to see Junior is a natural born wrestler. Junior is the main reason Nichalas and Amber will be staying in Phoenix for another two years, keeping the program on until Junior graduates. Last year Nichalas began calling different colleges to come watch their matches, knowing Junior has a good chance for a scholarship.
Junior's story, unfortunately, doesn't stand out as unusual in the group of children Nichalas calls his team. They all have tremendous gifts and talents that have bloomed under the mentorship of Nichalas. Some have been offered full academic scholarships because of the guidelines set up to be a part of the wrestling team. They all have made choices to better their situation in life and will be carrying them into adulthood.
My heart is sickened when thinking about how so many parents toss their gift of children to the world. When picturing the practice of "passing his sons through the fire," as recorded in the verses ABBA gave me today. There are many recordings in Scripture of how far away from ABBA people became and the things they did to their children. Some practices would place the live babies into the walls they were building as sacrifices. There were times when children were eaten. beaten. sold. put into sex trafficking. aborted.
Acts done then. Acts done today.
And I wonder, how do you come to such a place.
It happens when we walk away and are totally focused on "self" and not our ABBA.
So many children throughout time have not been treated as the beautiful blessing they are from our ABBA. They have not been trained up "in" ABBA, nurtured, protected, cherished, treasured, loved in the family He designed. In many streets, of any country, you will walk and see children on their own. Resorting to any means to survive. Being taken advantage by those who are stronger, many without any way to escape. Children who are "being passed through the fires of worldly desires".
Being a parent isn't about being a buddy or living life for self. It is about sacrifice. It is about putting another's needs above your own - even when there aren't instant "rewards" or "gratitude". There are so many moments when you feel you aren't measuring up, want to throw in the towel, crying out for "Calgon to take me away", but you don't. The fruits of good parenting are so worth the tough love you put into raising your children.
It can leave your mind spinning with all the instructions on raising kids today.
His Word - it is tried and True. Time after time He gives us accounts on how He parents us. How He loves us unconditionally, even when we are unlovely. Even unlovable.
I know I have fallen short of His example many times over, but thankfully our children, when I have said I am sorry and asked for forgiveness, granted it to me. I know there are times when I have looked upon our children and felt anger, dislike at their actions, hurt, and rejected, but never have I stopped loving them unconditionally. From ABBA I know first hand His unconditional Love, extended grace and mercy to me and desire to pass it on to our children. As well as to others. I also know He is bigger than all my numerous mistakes - past, present, future, which helps as I pick up and begin again, after yet another "fail" moment.
His Word has taught me there is a difference between being a mother and a mommy.
It is only because of His Word, I experience the blessings and joys of knowing the role of "mommy", along with the fruits of this privileged and honored role He has given me. Not only for our own biological children, but also of others He has put into our lives.
I pray I am causing a ripple of His Love which will continue to be passed down throughout the generations of His children.
"But we live honoring God, and we're loyal to our God forever and ever.
"On that great day," God says,
"I will round up all the hurt and homeless, everyone I have bruised or banished.
I will transform the battered into a company of the elite.
I will make a strong nation out of the long lost,
A showcase exhibit of God's rule in action, as I rule from Mount Zion, from here to eternity." (4:5-7)
How often we take out our sins from yesterday's and rehash them, carry the guilt and shame in our daily living. Nothing satan loves better, for it tears us down. How it saddens our ABBA. In doing this, we are saying The Sacrifice of our Savior wasn't enough. We are instead choosing to live in condemnation, rather than in His Grace and Mercy.
He has transformed my heart into being thankful for all of my past "Job moments". If it wasn't for the hurt and homeless moments, I wouldn't be as aware of the blessings of His family He rains down and saturates me with today. If I weren't battered from the yesterday's, I wouldn't bask in the healing balm of Love from His family He surrounds me with. If I hadn't of been lost, I wouldn't know the joy of being found by Him. I wouldn't desire Him with my all. If it wasn't for the longing in my soul when it was empty, I wouldn't know the overwhelming feelings of my thirst being quenched by His Word. If I hadn't of been weak, I wouldn't know what it is like to live in His Strength.
Transformation. My heart. My life. My all.
In worship yesterday, I was greeted with bright eyes, hugs from the heart, from numerous siblings I see week to week. How I have loved sharing so many "kids" throughout the years with extended family. Seeing these "kids", all grown up with little ones of their own, raising them up "in" Him. Studying His Word throughout the week with siblings, sharing life and growing in Him together. Affirmation from each one in how He loves us through each other.
Living by ABBA's standards, unconditional love and acceptance from my "family". Time spent in the company of the elite.
Standing on His Promises when living "in" our Savior.
"Who is a God like You,
who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
HE does not retain HIS anger forever,
Because HE delights in unchanging love.
HE will again have compassion on us;
HE will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, YOU will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea."
What an Awesome God we serve - "from here to eternity".