Running With Rocks

My husband is a runner, he says it blows the cobwebs out of his brain and he explains to me that this is a statement only a runner would understand.

Lately he has been slightly whining (sorry hon, but it’s true…smile), about how old he feels after a run, particularly if a few days pass by with no exercise. He tells me that his body feels like it’s full of rocks. My ears take this in and my artist brain goes to work on visuals.

Lumpy….

I think…..

But my husband is far from “lumpy”! He’s in great shape, but his verbal descriptive gives  me an illustrative lesson from the book of 1 Corinthians 9 and Hebrews 12. 

Listen to this, ” Do you not know that in a race all the runners RUN, but only one receives the prize? SO run THAT you may obtain it. EVERY ATHLETE exercises self-control in ALL things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we are imperishable. SO I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my BODY and KEEP IT UNDER CONTROL, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified ” (1 Cor 9:24-27).

And in Hebrews 12:1-3: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, (the writer here is speaking of the many lives of those who have since passed away, but lived lives of great faith in God, leaving us an example to follow, see Heb. 11), let us ALSO lay aside EVERY WEIGHT, and sin which CLINGS SO CLOSELY, and let us RUN WITH ENDURANCE the race that IS before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and PERFECTER of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

What it would be like for my husband to run with a bag of rocks?

If the beauty of a run is to BECOME unencumbered, then why would a runner choose to run burdened with excess cargo?

If the word of God teaches us to “lay aside EVERY WEIGHT” SO THAT we can run with endurance, why would we choose to carry burdens?

A runner is a word picture used in the Word of God to speak of  life as it was created and intended to live… without burden; a life focused and disciplined with self-control. A Life designed to “go the distance” (endurance). We are instructed  to live like we know and understand that a race has already been marked out for us and that ONLY Jesus holds the finish line.

What would it look like for you to live a life trained FOR endurance? A life not sprinted, but a life  strategic with intention on a long road in one direction?  A life intent on ONE path, instead of two or three or..or..or (did you know that you can’t chase two rabbits?), a life FIXED on Jesus?

What is PRODUCING weight in your run?

How many scattered thoughts do you have in a day? How many “rabbits” are you chasing?

Does your life have a  “motto” or theme ?

Can you identify any sin that is “clinging” to you, slowing you down, pooping you out? Is there any sin in your life that you need to admit to YOURSELF  it exists? (we cannot confess and repent what we will not acknowledge as sin).

What if instead of fixing our eyes on death we fixed our eyes on Jesus? Would you run differently?

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought the GOOD fight, I have  FINISHED the race, I HAVE KEPT THE FAITH. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”

“O God enable us to run this race without rocks! Enable us, equip us, strengthen us SO THAT  we WILL lay aside EVERY WEIGHT and run with endurance the race marked out for us!!”

What ever the number of our days that remain whether many or few, the Word of God speaks to us all today.

How then shall we run?

“Growing Up Never Ends…”

“Growing up never ends.”  Madeleine L’Engle suggests in her book “Walking on Water”.

I agree!

What a poopy deal to awaken one day to discover that suddenly you had arrived at being “all done”,  like some pot-roast in the oven.

Now there’s a strange thought…

My skin may resemble that of a pot roast, but inwardly I am far from “cooked”.

L’Engle writes, “I am sixty-one years old in chronology. But I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one, and forty-five, and…and..and…if we lose any part of ourselves, we are thereby diminished. If I cannot be thirteen and sixty-one simultaneously, part of me has been taken away.”

I love her depth of insight! It sits well with me as I have been reckoning with my age and wondering how I arrived at the age of  forty-seven.

If I view my life as a whole then every previous year of my life  is part of my current age of forty-seven. All the years behind me have not disappeared, they have become part of me and give definition to who I am TODAY.

I was introduced to a store yesterday that I had not known existed, (one of THOSE store where everything “needed” to come home with me). I purchased a wooden wall plaque with the words, “Enjoy Life, This is Not a Rehearsal”.

These words stimulate desire within me to LIVE fully and they also appeal to the child within me, beckoning her to come out and play.

The apostle Paul teaching in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “So we do not lose heart. Though the outer self looks like a cooked pot roast”…oops, nope, that’s not what is written…try again…”Though the outer self is wasting away, our INNER SELF is being RENEWED DAY BY DAY.” What a message of hope to all of us as the number of our chronological years increase!

The word ‘RENEWED’ is further explained in Matthew Henry’s commentary: “the best of men (and women I add) have need of further renewing of the inward man, even day by day.”

As my numerical age increases I need to be reminded that inwardly I am “newer” than the year before. It should remind me of years that I have LIVED.

Yes, I said LIVED.

Jesus’ own words to us in John 10:10 teach us that He came so that we would have LIFE, and HAVE it ABUNDANTLY.

Are you LIVING?

Jesus also taught in Matthew 18:3, “Truly I say to you, unless you turn (change) and BECOME LIKE CHILDREN, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus is not teaching about childishness or immaturity, His teaching is about having the mindset of a child; The simple wonder and faith and humility of  a child.

If I may quote L’Engle again: “to retain our childlike openness does not mean to be childish… to be able to be childlike involves memory; we must never forget any part of ourselves.”

Allow me to take you down a small fork from my main road of thought: I think that small children are kind of like puppies. Does a puppy hold a grudge? Does a puppy forget his rebuke with the first stroke of his master’s hand? I think small children have a similar redemptive memory. The first sign of love and the discipline is history! So if we are to become like little children, does that not then suggest that our minds should  live FREE from mental chains of the past? What if our minds became a playground of and for the Holy Spirit? Lives filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, fruit that includes JOY AND PEACE?  (Gal.5:22).

Life is short, like a passing breeze.

It just may be a good idea to gather up your sum number of years, thank God for each year LIVED and then refuse to grow up!

Yay for adult childhood!

God grant to me a perpetual playful spirit of wonder and laughter!!

Are You Breathing??

“Let everything that has BREATH praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6)

When was the last time you PRAISED God?

When was the last time your heart carried more praise than burden?

When is the last time you “stilled and quieted” your soul from asking of God and instead gave of yourself to Him, offering all that you are as an instrument of thanksgiving and praise?

…..hmmm

“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of man, but the Lord takes DELIGHT in those who fear Him, in those who hope in HIS steadfast love.” (Psalm 147:10-11)

GOD delights in US…THAT is crazy truth!

The word “delight” speaks of great attention and love the Father gives to me each and every day. Attention and love that I can so quickly miss because of narrow focused prayers; prayers of constant asking; Prayers that contain little or no thanksgiving; Prayers that hold little acknowledgement of WHO we seek audience.

Sometimes my heart is full of adoration and praise as I stand before Him…sometimes I am overwhelmed with deep awe; sometimes I enter into a place of such sweet wonder it leaves me without words and breath. It is as though everything falls under a blanket of silence and all I can see are ribbons of white caught up with the breath of heaven; they move around my body as though to lift my feet away from cemented burden and carry me to a place of deep peace; I become fully aware of Whose presence I am in.

How can I stop from praising Him?

O what will heaven be like?

“The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants WILL WORSHIP HIM. They will SEE HIS FACE, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1-5) 

The last few months of my life I have been asking God to lead me into a deeper understanding of WHO He is. The answers that have come have led me to a “far country”. A place of knowing that this God that I have surrendered my life to is beyond comprehension; He a “CONSUMING fire” (Heb.12:29); He is HOLY (Is. 6:2), and He desires my worship.

Every encounter of praising the Lord, leaves me with greater desire to know Him more fully.

Perhaps that is WHY we are instructed to praise HIM.

One day… one day… those of us who have handed the keys of their lives over to Jesus, will stand beside (or maybe stand IN?) the “crystal clear” river of  life FULL of instinctual praise.

So many, many times I have imagined the first time my eyes will see my heavenly Father. All the “knowing” that I imagine that will pass between our eyes. The “knowing” of EVERY moment of my life having taken place under His watchful, loving eye; the “knowing” of everything I gave voice to before Him during my earthly life, and the love I know that I will taste, and see and touch, O my heart!

Are you breathing? 

“EVERYTHING that has breath, PRAISE THE LORD!”

Life and Unbelief…

The evening news held graphic pictures of Civil War in Syria.

Children being slaughtered, sexually tormented, held up as living shields against the weapons of man.

I had to turn away from the T.V. screen and leave the room.

My mother’s heart was in agony with what my eyes took in.

What is this world coming to?

History continues to repeat itself.

It haunts me.

And even threatens to discourages me.

It creates a will that would both fight for and demand justice.

But my feet land in my present day and living reality and I am reminded that this horror has been taking place since the creation of mankind.

Man is capable of having a heart of hell itself.

What other explanation could there be for mutilation and abuse of little children? Even of babies, ( I saw them…the babies…laying on hospital stretchers, crying in pain with their open, bleeding wounds…and this was yesterday’s news, not 50 years ago.) WHO could possibly do such a thing? What thoughts controlled those inflicting the wounds? What is the meaning or value of human life in culture? What???!! 

My thoughts circle around to the life events of people close to me; death, physical and mental illnesses, great monetary needs like work and money, and battles with discouragement over long roads of unanswered prayer.

My personal study in the book of Hebrews falls in the midst of all these present realities. 

This morning I was studying in chapters two and three.

In chapter 3:12-13 it is written: “TAKE CARE, brothers, lest there be IN any of you an evil, UNBELIEVING heart, LEADING YOU to FALL AWAY from the living God. But exhort one another EVERY DAY as long as it is called “TODAY”,  that NONE of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Also in chapter three I read again of the children of Israel, who wandered for forty years in disbelief and discouragement ( see Ch.3:7-19)…..”So we see that they were unable to enter BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF.”

Does discouragement lead to unbelief or does unbelief lead to discouragement?

In chapter 3:12 we are warned that an unbelieving heart leads us AWAY from the living God.

The children of Israel encountered human suffering.  They were held captive by the people of Egypt and were useful only as work slaves. These people were well acquainted with what it meant to live in bondage.

But God had a plan to free them!  God appointed a leader named Moses to lead them out and away from their evil dictator, King Pharoah. Their journey TO freedom did not mean their suffering was over;  part of God’s plan for freedom included their walking(literally) through great wilderness of testing.

Their testing unearthed the condition of their HEARTS. Truth came out under pressure, and as we read in Hebrews their hearts were full of UNBELIEF.

“Today if you hear His voice (the voice of Jesus), DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS as in the rebellion.” For who were those who HEARD and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And WITH WHOM was He provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we SEE that they were unable to enter BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF.”

God had given a calling of leadership TO Moses FOR these very people in the book of Exodus chapter three and verses 7-12; “Then the Lord said, “I have SEEN the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and HAVE HEARD their cry because of their taskmasters. I KNOW their sufferings, and I have come down TO DELIVER them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up OUT OF THAT LAND to a GOOD and BROAD land, a land FLOWING with milk and honey….” (read the remaining verses).

God had not forgotten them in their sufferings; He had a plan, and the plan had not changed;  it was their unbelief that led them away from trust, expectation and remembrance of WHO God said He was and of what He WOULD DO for them.

An unbelieving heart leads AWAY from God not TO Him.

Are you discouraged today?

Is your heart growing cold? is it pulsing with unbelief? Doubt?

“Therefore we MUST pay CLOSER attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1)

In all suffering, we can and must place our hope, our belief and our trust in God. HE HAS NOT CHANGED, nor will He ever change, (see James 1:17) He has a plan; not a back-up plan, but a present plan that is alive and in place at this very moment.

If our unbelief leads us away from God, than it also leads us away from His plan. How can God lead a people whose hearts are full of mistrust and calculation of self-reliance? 

Discouragement has become the “acceptable” sin. It is sin because it is stinks profusely of a heart that contains unbelief.

Perhaps that is why in Hebrews 3:13 it is written that we are to “exhort one another EVERY day”…

Perhaps we need to learn what it means to be a culture of people who understand what it means to love.

The bible says that God IS love, ( 1 John 4:16); if unbelief leads us away from God, than we are lead away from love; genuine love does not think of self whereas unbelief feeds on self. Love will lead us to the Father and to one another.

Unbelief isolates the suffering, love encompasses the suffering.

Did we swallow the red or the blue pill?

Have we become victims of a cosmic game of hell that is leading us away from the very truth that was sent to save and free us?

I wonder..

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“Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast!”

One of my favorite scenes from the newer version of the movie “Alice in Wonderland” is when actor Johnny Depp is explaining to Alice that she has “lost her muchness”, he reminds her that she used to think of “six impossible things before breakfast.”

I took in this great fantasy movie from a tiny airplane screen two or three years ago.

I remember losing myself in the make-believe world of Alice and wondering if I had lost my “muchness” as well! It led me to wondering about the last time I had dreamed or thought or even prayed for something “impossible”.

I LOVE the word “impossible”!!

Webster’s Dictionary defines this word: “INCAPABLE of being or occurring”; “hopeless”.

What a great word!!

It is FULL of marvelous possibilities of what cannot happen naturally.

Enter God…

Amazing, Almighty, powerful, majestic, perfect, delighter of impossible scenarios, and holy God.

He is my God.

And He woke me up at four a.m. this morning to pray.

I crawled out of bed at FIVE a.m., put on my house coat and moved like a snail downstairs to my coffee pot.

 NO ONE should be out of bed at five a.m! Apparently I was, apparently impossible things happen!

AND before breakfast.

As I entered my living room I caught a reflection of snow-covered mountains in the glass of the large picture hanging above my sofa, I turned to look out the window to make sure I was making an accurate observation.

My heart literally leaped within me! Descriptive words of God moved through my soul and mind like a river in springtime! 

 The mountains stood looming with a voice of quiet power.

The sight was nothing short of GLORIOUS! Even as I type these words my flesh is choking back emotion from what felt like a kiss from heaven; so intimate, so far-reaching, deep reaching and satisfying in the most peculiar way.

Impossible?

I don’t think so.

I opened my bible and began to read the many verses  using the word “impossible”.

In Genesis chapter 18 God is promising Abraham that his wife Sarah will conceive a child though she is old, (old, old, old). Sarah laughs at the craziness of the God-scenario; God hears her and responds with these words in verse 14: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

In Job chapter 42,  Job is having a confession and repentance time before God and he says to God in verse two: ” I know that You can do ALL things, and that NO purpose of YOURS can be thwarted’.

In the book of Matthew one of the many miracles Jesus performed is recorded. In Chapter 17, verses 14-20… Jesus rebuked a demon out of a young boy’s life after his disciples failed to do so themselves. The disciples privately ask Jesus why they could not do what he had done. Jesus’ response?..”BECAUSE OF your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and IT WILL MOVE, and NOTHING will be impossible for you.”

In the book of Luke, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom of heaven. The disciples are “astonished” over this truth, but Jesus’ response is (18:27) :”What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

In the book of Luke 1:37 we read of the most beautiful impossibilities of our faith; the angel of the Lord is proclaiming to Mary (a young virgin) that she will be the mother of the Son of the Most high, and that her OLD relative Elizabeth is also expecting a child, he encourages her with these words: “For NOTHING will be impossible with God.”

And what about these words of Jesus:”Truly, truly I say to you, WHOEVER believes in me will also do the works that I do; and GREATER works than these will he do, BECAUSE I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this will I do, THAT THE FATHER MAY BE GLORIFIED IN THE SON. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14).

What if the “greater things” were the “impossible” things?

Have  we lost our “muchness” (our grain of faith)?

Something is stirring within my heart! I want to believe that impossible things can be made possible through the life of Jesus living within me.

I want to stand before a mighty mountain and believe that if I asked the Father for it to move, that it would indeed be picked up and moved. 

I know that God is not my magical play thing. He is almighty God who desires for me to know Him and to make Him known. He is El KANNA: “I am Jealous”; therefore the impossible things serve only one purpose: To make HIM known, to exalt Him as God of the entire universe.

May He be my “muchness”.

May I dream again of IMPOSSIBLE things so that He would shine as a “city on a hill” through my life.

May I have the faith, wonder and humility of a small child to ASK.

……..

What about you “Alice”?

The Black Beetle…

It sounded like someone dropped a thickened-by-fungus toe-nail on the surface of the deck beside me.

Okaaay…WHAT was that?!

Oh.

Oh dear..

There beside me lay a big black beetle.

Hokey Dinah where did this creepy insect fall from?

I looked up.

No obvious answer.

Hmmm..

Now my curiosity was heightened.

I started scanning the exterior wall of the house.

Nothing.

Hmmm..

So, I looked at the beetle.

It had landed on its back, it’s wings trapped beneath a squirming body of black.

I zoomed in.

O dear.

Poor little creepy insect.

Its feet were bound by what looked like a minuscule cotton ball.

Something had hog-tied the beetle!!

What a crazy sight of genius!

That poor ugly beetle couldn’t free itself even after I turned it over on it’s belly!

My wheels were spinning.

Do I “flick” it off the deck or do I try to save it?

I decided to try to save it, (okay whatever, so I had nothing better to do!).

I took the end of my pen and tried to slide the cotton ball off its feet.

O my!  “No can do magoo”!

That “cotton” was NOT coming off!

I had an instant recollection of Frodo Baggins (Lord of the Rings) wound up in a spider web.

The beetle continued to struggle to get free.

I finally managed to remove some of what I now knew to be a spider web, not a cotton ball.

But with its removal the beetle stopped moving.

I poked it.

Turned it over.

“Lassie went home.”

The Black Beetle was dead.

So I flicked him off the deck.

I later found a spider web containing three huge egg sacs.

Lovely.

Mr. Black Beetle was intended to be breakfast, lunch and dinner for a few days I think.

So much for the spider’s feast.

In stepped “The human”.

Oops!

I messed up the food chain, by attempting to be Dr. Dolittle.

Leaves me with some wondering …what does the spider think of me?

Perhaps tonight I should close my bedroom window….?

Me

I wonder why so many of us in our mid to late 40’s, maybe even early 50’s finally “get” who we really are? It’s like we’ve journeyed a big circle. 

I just finished updating my personal information for this blog and in so doing I found myself deleting  a few things that I said that “I LOVE”.

“I LOVE…”  Um, nope not any more…

“I LOVE…”  Uhh, noooo, so NOT me now…

“I LOVE…” OH woah, no way, that is NOT me, not any more, or possibly was it ever really me? Or was it a “seasonal” me, like fall or spring?

After I clicked on “UPDATE” for my final edit, I had this strange feeling in my heart like I had come home or something.

How freeing it is to walk into oneself.

To finally know THIS IS WHO I have been CREATED to be.

How and why did it take me so long?

It is easy to live a life defined by what others say of you and to coast along in that image until one day you wake up and discover the mirror in front of you is telling you a different story.

The face staring back looks different from the one you’ve known through others, but its the face YOU know.

It’s ME.

Hi me..

Welcome home.

“O Lord You’ve searched me and KNOWN me!…..I PRAISE YOU for I AM fearfully and wonderfully made…YOUR eyes saw my unformed substance; in YOUR book were written EVERY ONE of them, the days that were formed FOR ME, when as yet there were none of them.” (from Psalm 139)