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Morning Reminders

As I was reading JESUS CALLING this morning, this scripture from Ps 139: 1-4 was attached:

You have searched me, Lord, and know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:1–4

That’s become (1of) my favorites! It dawns on me (again) – The Lord looks at us with eyes of Love, Mercy and Grace. NOT judgement and condemnation.

One phrase I remember hearing countless times growing up (in a Pastor’s home) was: “Be careful, Jimmy, God’s watching you!” Unfortunately I usually thought of it as a warning that if I did something wrong, I’d “get zapped.” I didn’t always recognize it as a promise about His Love for me. I’ve since learned the difference, but I don’t always walk in the difference. I now understand; He keeps His eyes on me, but it’s because He desires to protect, guide and comfort me.

Now that Im old,(er) I remember the difference. He reminds me – it usually happens best in these early moments when it’s just Him and I, when we’re the only ones in the house up and awake.

“LORD, You Know what this day holds (for us)! You Know the temptation to fear as we approach the coming hours. ThkQ for this assurance – You Knew the days assigned to us before we lived our first one. (v.16) ThkQ for your Promise to ‘Never leave us, Never forsake us!’”

Keep us aware of Your Presence as we step into this day. Amen!

Today’s Jesus Calling:

“COME TO ME FOR UNDERSTANDING since I know you far better than you know yourself. I comprehend you in all your complexity; no detail of your life is hidden from Me. I view you through eyes of grace, so don’t be afraid of My intimate awareness. Allow the Light of My healing Presence to shine into the deepest recesses of your being—cleansing, healing, refreshing, and renewing you. Trust Me enough to accept the full forgiveness that I offer you continually. This great gift, which cost Me My Life, is yours for all eternity. Forgiveness is at the very core of My abiding Presence. I will never leave you or forsake you.

When no one else seems to understand you, simply draw closer to Me. Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly. As I fill you with My Love, you become a reservoir of love, overflowing into the lives of other people.”

O Lord, you have searched me and know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.
—Psalm 139:1–4

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
—2 Corinthians 1:21–22

“No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
—Joshua 1:5

Images of God

What’s more important, the way I see God or the way He sees me? 

For several weeks, I’ve had this thought running through my mind, “Images of God”. I’ve even done an internet search for “images of God.” GOOGLE had 212,000 images. 

Angry God. Laughing God. A punishing God.  Far away God. Vengeful God. A Loving God. Non-existent God. A God “who keeps attendance/score”. A “vice principal” God. Allah. Buddha. A socially-conscience God. A political God. 

I was born knowing God loved me. Thx, Mom! ThkQ, Dad! But I thought He kept score. I thought He loved me more when I behaved myself. AND – was ready to punish me when I didn’t. 

About 9 years ago, I prayed: “God, teach me to trust you more.” That began an almost decade-long journey that has changed how I view God. It began with a change in my understanding of how God sees me. He taught (is teaching) me – He Loves Me!! He’s my “ABBA – Daddy,” NOT my Judge! 

More to come…

I WALK DOWN THE STREET

I remember the place, I could show you the seat in which I sat. I remember the man who quoted it. I remember the recognition of how it perfectly describes my journey. It’s helped me to remember – Take a Different Path!

THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK

I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in
I am lost… I am helpless
It isn’t my fault
It takes forever to get out

I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I pretend I don’t see it
I fall in again
I can’t believe I am in this same place
But it isn’t my fault
It still takes a long time to get out

I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I see it is there
I still fall in… It’s a habit…
But my eyes are open. I know where I am
It is my fault
I get out immediately

I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it

I walk down another street

By Portia Nelson
1920 – 2001

AA Promises

Are these extravagant promises?

I remember the day. Sitting in an AA chair, listening  as this passage was read from The Big Book.(pg 84) I’d heard it dozens, perhaps a couple of hundred times or more, but this time was different. 

THIS TIME it hit HOME!!

Always before, I had seen the 12 promises of AA as just that – 

              PROMISES! – for the far distant future. 

 “If I work hard enough, long enough, these too may someday begin to become mine.”  But I doubt it!!

Then one day, without even knowing how it happened, the reading of the PROMISES changed for me. I realized they were becoming mine!! They describe a new reality for which I have long sought. 

I realized how much it accurately reflected the changes that had – and are continuing to take place in my life.

1.     If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. 

2.     We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. 

3.     We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. 

4.     We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. 

5.      No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.

6.     That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. 

7.      We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. 

8.      Self-seeking will slip away.

9.      Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.  

10.     Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.

11.      We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  

12.     We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

   Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.

I’m reminded of what “Nice Guy Bob” told me after my first meeting more than 4 years ago: 

           “It keeps getting better!”

I had no idea how right he would prove to be. 

GRACE    #48,49,50

From “50 Shades of GRACE     …opening tomorrow in a BLOG near U!

•  GRACE is, at times a set of guardrails. At other times it’s a roadblock. It is at times the red light in your rearview mirror. It is at times an arresting officer. MOST of all, though, it is The Gift from the hands of a Loving Father

•  GRACE can be gentle. GRACE can be tough. GRACE can be a nudge. GRACE can be a 2×4. 

(50)•  GRACE and Ur EGO will never be friends. They are, in fact, incompatible.  That may seem strange, because they’re roommates. They both live in U! (‘nMe)

To The Cross

The ONLY (best) place to carry the burden of another is to the cross

 This picture was taken at the New Life Church Kids Kamp last summer as the boys and girls were leaving the afternoon service. 

… 5 hrs after posting – I just added the word (best). The worst place to put another’s burden is on Ur back. BTW – That’s the voice of experience. Been there. Done that.


WHY SO MUCH PAIN?

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1791. Among other things, it restricts the severity of punishments that state and federal governments may impose upon persons who have been convicted of a criminal offense. 

Part of the reasoning behind the 8th amendment is the idea of proportionality. This says that the punishment must fit the crime. Proportionality also puts forth the idea that the value of something is based upon the price paid for said object. 

Some states have decided that the death penalty itself is a cruel and unusual penalty no matter how heinous the crime that calls for it. Many states and countries have done away with it completely. When it is used, the goal is to bring death in the least painful, most humane way possible.

As Easter approaches we often see the image of Jesus hanging on the cross. But in today’s world, most have little idea of the cruelty involved in the imposition of that type of death. 

My thought this morning is that Jesus not only chose to die in my place. (and yours) He also chose to come at a time when the death penalty was purposely cruel. 

At the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the Romans had perfected the “art” of death. It was a crucial part of the culture of the day. The colosseum was erected to be an arena for bloody battles to the death. The last man standing was hailed a hero, only to face another battle “next week.” 

The Roman guards were masters at extending the most excruciating death possible.

The primary goal of the crucifixion was not to just cause death, but to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible – for as long as possible.  

In the darkest moments of my life, I  have never considered suicide. But I have a compassion and an understanding of why a person would make that choice. I also know that if I did take that option, I would choose the easiest, most pain free way possible. 

When God sent His Son to die in my place, and Jesus chose to carry out that plan, why did He do it THEN, in THAT way? Why not NOW, when it would be far easier, much less painful? 

At this point, I don’t have all the answer, but I also have learned this; as I delve into tough Qs like this, I always come to a greater understanding of how God Loves us. So, it begs the Q! Why did God send His Son to suffer so greatly?

What part does the suffering of Jesus have to do with my life today? If all Jesus had to do was die, wasn’t there a softer, more gentle way for that to happen? Perhaps, even, in His sleep? Of old age? Think of all He could have accomplished, the miracles He could have performed if He’d lived to the ripe old age of 90! Like my Daddy!!

Why the intense suffering? Why the hours of excruciating pain and humiliation? Why then, at that particular point in history? Why in that way?

Perhaps it has something to do with the way God views sin. If the penalty for sin was small, then it would not have taken God to pay it. It would not have taken His Son. The enormity of the price paid is indicative of the enormity of the sin. 

Most individuals classify sin. The Catholic Church names 7 “Mortal” sins. We think a little white lie told to protect is not as consequential as the lie to cover adultery. So we excuse our sin by comparing it to the worse among us.

It’s a lie from the pit of hell to think: “I only commit small sins, so I don’t need as much GRACE as….” It’s also a lie from the pit – to think: “My sin is so much worse than…. There is no hope of GRACE for me.” 

If it was Love for me (and U) that kept the Son of God on the cross suffering to the point of such an excruciatingly painful death, that tells me HIS LOVE is far beyond anything I will EVER understand. 

The beauty of it is that I don’t have to understand it. All I have to do is accept it. The price has already been paid. In Blood. HIS!

Contemplative Monday Mrng

Up since 5:35. Why, Oh – Why is it easier to get up early now than when I was working and HAD to? #BeenRetired5years

But that’s not the REAL Q I’m contemplating this morning.

I was scheduled to have two guys from Teen Challenge here this morning to help work on the addition to our house. I called and postponed till Wed or Thur. I just need to be quiet today.

TC@house2

In the past , I’ve been wary of days like this. Because my thoughts would veer off into undesirable paths. Not necessarily evil paths. (well, sometimes) but unhealthy avenues. At times like this I’d pull a tool out of my “backpack”. And use it to be hard on myself.

So I called and postponed until Wednesday. I need a quiet day. Yeah, that may be a bit difficult with the TWINZ on holiday. lol. Maybe we’ll all go on a picnic. But I digress…

If you read my post from Tuesday, U’ll remember the Q – “What’s Next“?

Yesterday at New Life Church, Celebrate Recovery was the featured ministry of the weekend. Pastor Doug shared a special recovery-centered message. CR had the center tent on the patio.

I made a point of standing behind the table for all 5 services. What a privilege to speak with some as they came up. Conversations with others behind the table in the lull moments was humbling. But it was where I was s’pose to be, doing what I was doing.

So – again, I ask – What’s next? For some time now, I’ve sensed that the audience of my blog is to be the Brokens. Those who have, as CR calls them, Hurts, Habits ‘n Hangups.

But how do I get from Here to There?

So it’s now 6:33 PM. I’m on my way to CR and have been contemplating this all day. D’ya know what I’ve figured out? NOTHIN’! Not one bloomin’ thing!

Except – I remembered the post from yesterday. The one called From There to Here. He reminded me. Him. The One who heals me. He asked me what I did to get from There to Here. From that brokenness to this place of healing. Do you know what I came up with? NOTHIN’! In fact, I STOPPED doing a whole lotta stuff I thought was keeping Him happy with me.

Then He had a suggestion for me. He suggested why don’t I do the same thing now. He said that I usually just get in His way. He said things would go a lot better if I would just relax and let HIM do it. He also suggested that I pay attention to see what happens. I might be surprised. He promised to let me know if He needs me. I can hardly wait!

Take a guess at what Sir James thinks about that. If you’re new and you don’t know who Sir James is you can read about him here. Sir James doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his way!!

It’s now 6:45. I think I’ll go in to Celebrate Recovery and worship for a while and leave all this other stuff up to HIM

Oh, BTW – we did go on the picnic with the TWINZ.

 

#20/21 day challenge

AMMESTY / GRACE

I WAS DOING IT!!!
It was going so well.
Until yesterday
Then I blew it
[:<{
#NowWhat?

Let’s see – What are my choices?

1) “Oh Well, I didn’t really think I’d make it to the end, anyway”
2) “OhNo! I blew it. I feel so stupid!! Why did I even try!”
3) “Boy, I’m glad I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. Now I can just go on like nothing happened. I hope nobody finds out. Oh, wait – my wife knows, so I can’t just cover it up – but she loves me, so it doesn’t really matter”
4) “Well, I guess I learned something, I’ll just have to try harder next time”
5) “My brother’n his wife came to town and we had lunch with them so I ran out of time. No wonder I didn’t get a chance to make a post!!
6) “Awh, it’s not that big-a-deal, who cares”
7) “I should have committed myself to just 7 days. Or 14. Hey, I did make it to 14, I’ll just tell everybody that was the plan all along”

OKI!! OK!! I HEAR YOU… WHAT DID I DO THAT WAS SO BAD???!?

If U’ve been reading my last few posts, U might have noticed the “#15/21 day challenge” at the bottom of the page. Some 3 weeks ago, pastor Doug of New Life Church in Alamo, Ca challenged us to a fast. It was our choice to do a 7 day, 14 day, or 21 day challenge. We could also choose what to fast – either a meal per day, a certain type of food, or a digital fast of some sort. iPhone, iPad, Facebook, Twitter. After about a week of thought I decided to challenge myself to post on my blog for 21 days in a row.

I was doing great! UNTIL YESTERDAY!! I MISSED THE DAY!! yeah, yeah –  I hear you – you’re saying:

Oh is that all?”

 SONOW WHAT??? Excuses?? Blaming?? Lower the expectations?? Try again? Harder?? Just give up?? Start over again – from the beginning?? I think there’s something deeper, more important, crucial even, that I need to see in this.

It was discovered recently that some of the students in a classroom were doing things that they shouldn’t be. It was discovered when one of them was caught.

His response was “But what about the others?” And he began to name names.

So the announcement was made to the class. “If you confess you will be offered AMNESTY.” Some came forward – some did not. Those who did received GRACE. Those who did not were or will be disciplined.

So Now – the important Q! The main point of this post –

WHAT DOES MY CONFESSION HAVE TO DO WITH GOD’S GRACE??

 
1) GRACE is a gift. It cannot be earned, but it must be accepted, each time
2) CONFESSION of my faults is primarily for MY benefit, not God’s
3) CONSEQUENCES for my actions are intended to discipline me, not to punish me
4) CONFESSION changes the consequences into a lesson
5) CONFESSION clears the record and allows the training to move forward to the next step
6) (RIGOROUS) HONESTY really IS the best policy!!
7) If I had not missed a day, I would not know this part of GRACE

OK, I missed a day. I confess. No excuses, no explanations, no blaming. I’ll just start again – from where I failed, not from the beginning. I won’t try harder, I’ll just take the next step.

When I post this, I will place “#16/21 day challenge” at the bottom of the page
AND BE THANKFUL FOR HIS GRACE.
IT REALLY IS AMAZING

#16/21 day challenge