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… For Thou Art With Me

fear no evil

An old, school friend of mine and his wife needed prayer and encouragement, this morning, as they are in an ugly custody battle with her deceptive and abusive ex-husband regarding her kids ..

The word the Lord gave me is a word worth sharing, cuz I needed to “hear” it, too!

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Before the court appointment:

… I’ll be praying that the spiritual enemies at work will be thwarted, that the judge .. be bound by law and discern the truth as well as SEE what is best for the kids ..

And I’ll pray that you and your wife are able to rest in the knowledge that regardless of what YOU cannot control, nevertheless we have a God who can “turn the heart of the king wherever He wills.” [Proverbs 21:1] I am so sorry you guys are going through this struggle! I’ll be praying for good fruit for YOU two, for your like-mindedness and unity in your marriage as you wrestle “not with flesh and blood” and for all the kiddos as no doubt they are feeling the stress of everything, as well as being pawned and yanked and manipulated .. God WILL bring healing and good from all this [Romans 8:28] …. ❤

Even the unjust judge in Jesus’ parable about praying without ceasing [Luke 18:1-8] ultimately relented because the woman persisted in her requests for justice. I will pray that THIS judge will administer GOD’S wisdom, even if not his/her own. ❤

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After the court appointment, and SOME small victories in the situation as a result, she expressed weariness over the journey which caused the Spirit to prompt me to say:

I can tend to be an “all or nothing” person .. I have been really struggling lately with depression over my weight-loss journey cuz I’ve backtracked a little (lost 156 lbs, but have gained back 7 in the last couple months) .. I have had to remind myself A LOT lately that EVERY little thing is what adds up to a big difference when all is said and done. I can’t make myself go to the gym, lately .. I just don’t have the mental or physical fortitude, struggling with pain issues, etc. BUT I can walk 5 minutes every couple hours, I can cut back my intake to make up for less physical activity (and thus fewer calories to spend), etc.

I know my journey is NOTHING compared to winning a victory on behalf of your CHILDREN’S welfare .. My only word of encouragement intended is ..

EVERY little decision, EVERY little fight, EVERY little victory, EVERY little reprieve – a minute to catch your breath till the next battle .. EVERY one is worth giving thanks for. Every little thing will eventually add up .. and I’m afraid we little people don’t learn “patience” any other way than going THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death .. [Psalm 23, James 1:2-8]

It can be so tempting to just sit down and put our heads in our hands and give up, but if we don’t go through it, where do we find ourselves? In a crumpled heap, motionless IN the valley of the shadow of death? Why would we want to stay there!

We MUST get up, we MUST keep going, and thank GOD for his promise that he goes through it WITH us .. HE sees us through to the other side.

TAKE HEART, sister. You ARE fighting a good fight.

You’re imaging our Good Father by sacrificing for the sake of your beloved children. He gave all to rescue you [John 3:16, Romans 8:32], now you get to do the same for your little ones. Let this speak to your heart about how GREAT the love of OUR Good Father is for us. He will most definitely strengthen you through this! And in the end, bring both good for you, and glory for himself.

Cuz what’s on the other side of the valley?

LIFE. Real, vibrant, exhilarating LIFE in the fullness of God’s grace.

So trust our Good Shepherd to lead us beside the still waters, to restore our souls, and take us through to the other side. HE is with you, HE is FOR you, whom shall you fear?? ❤  [Romans 8:31-39]

~Leah

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The Lord Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Want

the lord is my shepherd

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Romans 8:31-39 (Phillips)

31-32 In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?

33-34 Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!

35-36 Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms? Indeed some of us know the truth of the ancient text: ‘For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’.

37 No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us.

38-39 I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!

We are so blessed. ❤

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Unintended Consequences

I have made a TERRIBLE mistake. 

The other night, I was up late, browsing online, and I stumbled onto a little tip from an otherwise reputable journalist concerning signing up for one of these “online survey” sites where you can get PAID to offer your OPINION.  Which for someone like me – with approximately as many opinions as I take breaths in a day – this sounds like a dream come true, right?

At last, over an hour into clicking here and clicking there, I am tired and it’s well past midnight, and I realize I’ve submitted my email address to half a dozen or so sites, completely awash with the foggy delight of possibly making a few dollars out of those extra minutes I “waste” by wandering around online any given day.

And then I woke up the next morning. 

In less than 24 hours I was ‘bot-blasted with hundreds of spam-like emails and over 20 phone calls to my cell phone for weight loss and educational offers – Oy! and to make matters worse, I had GUARDED against giving out my number for precisely the fear of landing in various telemarketing schemes that I would never be able to un-domino once the first piece was knocked over.  And with every escalating argument with a caller, and every half dozen new email “opportunities” from which I had to “unsubsubscribe” – the cumulative effect being the loss of HOURS of my time pooper scooping – HOURS for which I received precisely ZERO redemptive dollars, by the way – I could only keep hearing in my head the mantra of “Stupid Stupid Stupid Girl!”

I had brought this mess on myself in a moment of weakness.  And I couldn’t even really be justified in getting mad at these people – or the “system” I am so prone to rail against – because I had VIRTUALLY (literally) INVITED them into my world.

I allowed a tiny promise to deceive me into thinking I could “redeem” my wasted TIME, and it cost me far MORE in wasted time than I could have spent in all my online traffic in ten times as many days.

EVERY decision, whether it concerns the spending of a MINUTE or the spending of a DOLLAR, has consequences.

I am reaping what I sowed.

I must remember to view each of these things – my minutes, my dollars, my words, too – as SEEDS.  If I am more intentional about what I SOW, and if I am more attentive to the GUARDING of the field in which I am planting, I can have realistic CONFIDENCE about precisely what I will harvest and that my Produce will be healthy and nourishing in due season.

What a painful little reminder.  I am going to be cleaning up this mess for many days to come.  Here’s hoping that is the worst of my consequences.  😉

~Leah

PS – Related, here is a sermon by Pastor Chuck Stanley on Reaping and Sowing you might appreciate.  ❤

http://www.intouch.org/broadcast/video-archives/content/topic/the_principle_of_sowing_and_reaping_video

 

Sunrises and Rainbows

I was out early this morning and got to see not only the sunrise (which I never view) but also a HUGE (big, fat, juicy!) rainbow over the city.  Absolutely gorgeous!

I was struck by how I normally only get to see the “EFFECTS” of the sunrise ~ I am usually getting ready for work or church in the mornings, and I watch the outside get lighter and lighter from the window of the upstairs bathroom.  But today?  I got to the see the sunrise, ITSELF!  Gloriously bright and multi-hued (bright oranges, pinks, purples, and eventually yellow and light blue) as it climbed up over a somewhat overcast and rainy sky, just enough clearing in the clouds to see the violent fireball blazing at the center….

I could not help but see there was a parable, here ~

How much more glorious! to see and know the REAL THING (God), than only be satisfied with just the “effects” (his good works, the “salt and light” effect in the world).

To follow that up with the rainbow was yet another reminder that God keeps his promises!  What a great way to start the week!

Happy Monday to all!

~Leah

Like Ruth

I LOVE HOW SCRIPTURE tells Ruth’s story ~ an “outsider” to the people of God, exiled from her own “unclean” land & people by HER decision to live among the people of God & remain devoted to her widowed mother-in-law. Ruth showed FAITHFULNESS in the face of isolation & poverty because she believed the God of Israel was the one true God, & she was willing to work hard, w/o any recognition, w/o any reward, to serve where HE had placed her. God directed her every step! She ended up working for (“gleaning” in the field of) the very man (Boaz) God had chosen for her “kinsman redeemer,” & God made her beautiful to him & gave him the desire to “fight” for her, protect her, advocate for her, & “raise her up” as a jewel of God’s favor.
Not only is Boaz a picture of Christ, but Ruth in marrying him ultimately becomes part of the lineage of Jesus, the very Messiah to the people of God for whom Ruth was at first an outsider! And she is a forerunner to the Gospel being made available to ALL the nations of the world through Jesus! I *aspire* to be more like Ruth ~ a woman of character, doing whatever she could & whatever she MUST for the sake of loving God & serving those whom he had given her, ultimately trusting HIM with the outcomes of her life, w/o nursing her own “expectations” for how she might think her life should go, but fully yielding to the Lord’s hand, one step at a time. ♥ ♥ ♥
(see the book of Ruth, Leviticus 23:22, and ch. 25, Deuteronomy 25:5-10, and Matthew 1 geneology of Jesus)

Zeal Under Control

“It’s not about the ‘jump,’ it’s about the LANDING. It’s about

controlling the [muscle] contraction.”

~Jillian Michaels (personal trainer / fitness mogul)

^^^ This is something Jillian’s said in this “week 1” exercise vid which I’ve now worked out to about 2 dozen times; and until this morning, I didn’t realize the potential for “PARABLE” in the above statement….Perhaps because today was the first time I was able to DO the “jump” without hurting my knee (I’ve been doing a modifier which is more of a step-touch), so there was a whole different correlation to the muscles I was using as I realized I have been building “balance” over these past few weeks.

I’ve always been much more of a “explode out of the gates!” like a race horse kinda gal, especially emotionally.  Today, I see the above line from Ms. Michaels has a great bit of wisdom in it, too, with respect to emotional maturity ~ that sometimes the “unseen” work (sticking the landing – ie, the stablizing, isometric “squeeze” of the various muscle groups to establish “control” vs. the more visually impressing, dynamic “explosion” of the jump with the arms and legs extended) is of essential importance to the desired outcome.

Zeal has its place, but “self-control” reins it in and points it in the right direction, and tells it how far it can go before it risks compromising the very results it’s aimed at achieving.  Thank you, Jillian, for such deep spiritual wisdom.  😉

Of Hurricanes and Lifeboats

An unpopular message from Hurricane Sandy: Government is not your Savior, and you may not be able to rely on your neighbors in a crisis because they’re too busy having to take care of themselves for survival or recovery. The reality? We are all too dependent, myself included, on electricity, prepackaged foods, cell phone towers, ATM’s and gas stations. How full is your pantry? How well established is your communication network with your family? Would you know how to get in contact with the people you need to reach if your cell phone was gone or couldn’t be powered up?

Here’s the deal ~ Worse days are coming. Be there another hurricane Sandy or Katrina or surprising inland earthquake, or ravaging tornadoes or oil rigs exploding in the gulf, or a simple rain that gets out of control and floods your basement or a fire that takes your home: You will experience hardship! How will you handle it?

I’m not advocating doomsday preparation in the sense of stockpiles and ammunition etc. (necessarily. ;)) You prepare for catastrophe by thinking ahead, doing what you can, seeking to be wise, and not yielding to fear!

…BUT! in truth, there is a Storm coming that NO one can escape. Death comes for ALL of us. You can be the most prepared among us for another hurricane, but what lifeboat will you cling to when God seeks to bring you home, to spend eternity with Him in joy and love, only to find your sin nature has stolen heaven from you…

Unless your sin nature is crushed, you cannot survive the holy presence of God, no matter how much he loves you, no matter how much “good” you think you’ve done. The only power that can crush your sin and yet purify and save you is the Holy Spirit of God, applying to your heart the shed blood of Jesus who, though crucified, raised from the dead, once and for all conquering (!) death because he did not have a sin nature! And he did this to give us access to the miraculous…so you and I could stand and survive the presence of God and enjoy Him forever!

Jesus is our only true Ark of safety. Are you prepared to LIVE (!) through the storm that no one can, apart from Jesus, survive?

some recent Facebook updates

Amazing how a 30 second glimpse of sunrise over the city skyline can inspire such WORSHIP of God, in a way that 23:59:30 hours a day immersed in man’s ingenuity never could….
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Thought for the day:  Expedience is not always Excellence. And Excellence is always worth waiting for!
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Perhaps the finest thing about a cool October evening? Sitting quietly with a warm mug of mulled wine, listening to the sound of the rain. ♥
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“Go back to the letter that the Lord wrote to the church of the Laodiceans.  Before he says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock,” he tells them exactly what they must give up and what they must take on (Revelation 3: 14-20).  There are certain rooms into which he will not come; there are certain things that must be put out before he will enter.  He will point this out to us, and he will chide us and rebuke us.  He speaks within us in the Spirit, and this often happens when we are not even thinking about these things.  Something will be put before us, and we will try to explain it away.  But if we go on trying to explain it away, we need not expect to have any knowledge of these spiritual manifestations of the Son of God.  He will rebuke, he will chastise, and he will make it quite clear to us that they must be got rid of, and then – and only then – will he manifest himself to us.  So we must be entirely obedient to him.  I add to that, we must resign ourselves to him completely and entirely.  The lesson here is just this – he is not at our command; we are to be entirely at his command.”
~D. M. Lloyd-Jones
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The grace of Christ doesn’t just cover all our sin, his grace covers all our shame.
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Fret, worry, anxiety, fear – often manifest as anger, sometimes manifest as indignant self-righteousness ~ all evidences of a lack of FAITH. how to get more faith? hear more Word from God.  (“faith comes by hearing and hearing by the WORD of God….” Rom. 10:17)
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“Why is legalism dangerous? It makes you think you’re more righteous than you are and that you don’t need grace as much as you do.”
~Paul D. Tripp
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“Let peace be your umpire today. Know that your decision is “in” when you have peace and “out” when you don’t.”
~Joyce Meyer
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“There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock,
God, Priest-of-My-Altar.”
~Psalm 19:11-14 (The Message)
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Sat watch this weekend w/a dear friend who got a severe concussion after a head-first 15 foot free fall into a cement basement floor via an unmarked trap door. Thankful he is recovering so quickly! Had to wake him up every couple hours to ck in, make sure not more severe. So glad a hospital visit hasn’t been necessary yet as no insurance! Please pray slurred speech & confusion & dizziness continue to subside. Pain is more manageable but a return or worsening of the other symptoms could indicate bleeding on the brain. Praying for full & swift recovery!!
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Christian traditions are one thing, and often valuable/meaningful in their own ways, mainly such as being helpful for connecting with past generations of brothers and sister of the Faith. But when those traditions become legalisms – and that is, when they take on the tone of being more spiritual (!) solely by virture of their past-ness – they ensnare, and in fact separate us from our brothers and sisters of the Faith. The challenge? To recognize our traditions and forms and methods AS merely traditions and forms and methods, rather than practices yielding to the instruction/example of the Word of God.
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read today:  “The primary way the Lord speaks to us is through His Word. He will never tell us anything contrary to His already written Word. He’s not confused—so you can have confidence that He will never tell you to do something that His Word clearly forbids and He will never forbid you to do something His Word clearly favors. That’s why it’s so important that we dig into the Bible as a workman who studies and rightly divides His written Word. …Listen. God will often speak a theme to your heart. ‘My heart is overflowing with a good theme….’ (Psalm 45:1, NKJV) …All the issues of life flow from our hearts and I have found the Lord helps us to hear and follow His will in a given season, by speaking a theme to our hearts. In other words, when we are seeking the Lord and asking Him to speak to us, He often does so in ‘themes.’…We may find ourselves consistently thinking along a certain line—a specific theme or flavor. Perhaps the word ‘faithfulness’ or ‘rest’ or ‘joy’ or ‘forgive’ or another word will seem to fill your heart. Maybe, it’s a phrase—’be filled with the Spirit’ or ‘follow your heart’ or ‘trust in the Lord’ or ‘new things’ or any combination of words will begin to fill your heart. If you will learn to recognize the theme the Lord has overflowing in your heart—you will hear His voice and discover He wants to speak a timely, customized Word to you. …So, what is He saying to you? You are His sheep—you do hear His voice. His word to you will always agree with His written Word. What theme is filling your heart these days? Identify it. Study the Word on this theme and listen—the Lord is speaking a timely, customized word to you!”
~Beth Jones
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thinking about the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  hm.
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…gotta get back in the posting groove.  😉  More to come!

“The Good, The Bad, and the Heavenly Dad!”

My newest Devo post at the WONDERSWORD blog:

http://wondersword.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/the-good-the-bad-and-the-heavenly-dad/

Blessings!

~Leah

—INSERTED—

The Good, the Bad, and the Heavenly Dad!

“Some of you are fathers, and if your son asks you for some fish, would you give him a snake instead, or if he asks you for an egg, would you make him a present of a scorpion?

So, if you, for all your evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more likely is it that your Heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”  (Luke 11:11-13)

It does seem to be “in vogue,” when God is brought up in everyday conversation, to make the assertion that:  Well, if so-and-so had a Bad Dad, it stands to reason their view of God will be skewed.

I’m not suggesting that this is altogether untrue – but I do think it’s been overstated and become a convenient excuse.  Because there are many who have “good” dads by the world’s standards whose views of God are still, nevertheless, all messed up. Why? Because even the BEST of dads in this life is still a SINFUL man.

This isn’t bad news, really – because there is a Savior!  In fact, this could be very GOOD news!  Because if sinful, earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, how much MORE will our Heavenly Father who is PERFECT give good gifts, and give the Holy Spirit to those who ask of him?

In the Bible, God does identify himself as a FATHER – and through Jesus, he tells US to call him Father (Matthew 6:9, Romans 8:14-16); and it is through our identification with Jesus – the only begotten son of God – that we are also given the right to become the sons of God (John 1:12-14, 1 John 3:1-3)!

He ADOPTS us (Galatians 4:1-7), makes us his very own, with all the “rights and privileges” of sonship! (And I mean, here, both male and female “sons” in the spiritual sense – In this case, this isn’t a matter of gender, but of spiritual inheritance! Just look at what riches of God are ours if we are in Christ, such as in Ephesians 1, or 1 Peter 1, or Romans 8!)

Two Sons, Two Testimonies:

I heard the testimony of one man, recently, whose father had abandoned him and his mother when he was still very young. He recounted a life that was always fighting for that “father-acceptance,” and how he unknowingly made decision after decision in search of that relationship, only to end up a bully, a drug pusher, and eventually in prison. In the interview, he read from a poem he’d written about his dad whom he never knew, and got teary-eyed and his voice choked as he described wishing he’d known the man, even though he was flawed and imperfect, because to have known an imperfect dad would be better than to not know him at all.

In another case, a man gave a testimony of his dad who had given lovingly of himself to care for their family, who worked hard to provide both for their needs and also to be there for them as their support and discipline. He was thankful for how his dad was a good example to him of God’s goodness, but he then built for himself a set of expectations, to feel like he’d really gotten his dad’s approval. As a result, he grew into a kind of perfectionist, and fell into a depression because he felt he could never live up to his father’s legacy, and it almost destroyed his marriage and relationships with his own children.

It was as if God had written out, in the lives of these two men, the same kind of story as we see in the parable of the so-called prodigal son – One son runs away and lives as if he has no father, and the other is left behind to work hard in the family business, “slaving” to try to please his father – both of these sons lose, in the process, what it means to simply have a relationship with their dad, which is all their dad wanted in the first place!  If only they’d have looked to HIM instead of themselves and their own desires.  (You can read this whole story in Luke 15:11-32.)

This story is also a revelation of the Father heart of God – who earnestly seeks for his children, who runs after them when they have gone astray, who embraces them and celebrates with the best of all he has when they return to him, and who says of them – that is, this is what our Heavenly Dad says of US if we have been united to Christ by his Spirit!:  “THIS is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased! You are always with me, and all I have is yours!”

According to Jesus, because of sin, ALL of us had “bad dads.” Even the BEST of earthly fathers can only give us a mere taste of the grace that God wants to lavish on us so we can truly know him as he is.  But this is good news!  “Good” dads are only “good” by the grace of God, and “Bad” dads can be MADE “good” by the grace of God! Because HE is ultimately the only Good Father.

Is God Your Father?

If you haven’t yet run to God as your Father, if you don’t know what it’s like to have him embrace you and “rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17), if you haven’t yet had your whole “evil” life made new and cleansed because of the price Jesus paid by his own blood so you could call God your Father? Would you ask him, right now, to reveal himself to you? Would you ask him, right now, to shine the light of his presence into your heart, to show you his loving, Father’s heart towards you in Jesus?

Scripture says we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths (that means to “speak in agreement with God”) that Jesus is Lord, and we will receive the full embrace of our Heavenly Father in salvation by the power of his Holy Spirit!  The miracle of new life – and a forever relationship! –  in just a moment!

Thank you, Father, that you hear and answer from heaven when we call on you!

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)