Weak

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Once upon a time, I used to ride and train horses. End story. 

Why would I end it there? Because that was years and years ago. Lately, God has had me on a different assignment. But, God has known my heart all along. He put a love for horses in me when he built me. But, I also needed to let them go for a season. 

Well, it appears I am entering a new season in life. One with less diapers and more bridles. This spring, we bought a horse for me. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve had a horse to call my own. And this is not just any horse, by-in-large this is my dream horse: A four-year-old off track Thoroughbred.

I have always loved Thoroughbreds. They just have a nobility and strength about them that I am just drawn to. So, when this guy popped up on craigslist a few months ago, I felt that indescribable tug at my heart. But, I wasn’t sure he was really for me. After all, I had been in the midst of a completely different season of life. But, I prayed the simple prayer, “Lord, if it is within your will. Please?”
Well, apparently it was within His will. I was able to bring this big boy home and it has been both wonderful and deeply hard at the same time. Because, my skills as a rider are, “Once upon a time…” and I feel I haven’t fully caught up with where I need to be today to really help this horse.

God is so good though, because He is doing something by which I am astounded every day. You see, when I first got this horse (by-the-way, his name is RockIt,) I was kind of thinking of him as a little drop of blessing just for me. You know, that little window of sunshine that you just know God let you see on an otherwise stormy day. And so he has been. But God’s ways are always so much more succinct than mans, aren’t they?

Through this experience I am learning something so deep that even I had no idea the need existed. I’m learning about “Thorn’s in the flesh.” Which might sound a bit weird to you.
Please let me explain:
I would guess w
e’ve all probably read Paul’s exhortation to the church in Corinth, reminding them that if they are going to boast, they should boast not in what they can do, but in what they can’t. Because God is glorified more when we are weak, than when we are strong, right?
I’ll just let you read it for yourself:

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
~2 Corinthians 12:1-10 [emphasis mine]

You see, I’ve lived a lot of years on the memory of when I was strong. When I used to be able to ride and train horses with such confidence. But, today? Today, I lack confidence in my ability and I realize that due to lack of time to exercise it, my timing is quite rusty. Therefore, I often have this overwhelming sense of frustration and just feel really weak. 
This might not be your typical “thorn in the flesh” but it is teaching me something. That even though I am not as strong as I was, perhaps, in my weakness I can learn to rest more in God’s grace, in this area, and in so many other areas of my life. Because, in my weakness, what I do accomplish can be used to glorify the One by whose power I was able to accomplish anything at all. Sure, I can ask that God take away the hard stuff, or give me supernatural power to overcome a situation. He certainly could choose to do that. But, if He doesn’t? I can at least rest in the fact that I am still under His all sufficient grace. And whether it takes me a month or 10 years to accomplish something with this horse, I hope that all you will see is how God has worked in me, though I am so very weak.

 

~Rita

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Am I a Missionary?

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Do you believe that you are a missionary? Do you believe you can make an impact for the Lord where you are right now?
I have been pondering lately just what my mission field is. Of course I can say it is my home. I’m a mom and I am honored (and often humbled) that I get to be on the front lines of ministering to all these little people.
But, I wonder, do I have another mission field?

I just got done reading the books of Acts and Romans. Talk about relevant! I am always awed by the boldness that these men had for sharing the gospel. For the lengths they went to make HIM known to people and of course I am amazed at how cheerfully they endured persecution.

Here’s the thing. We live in a world where we make hundreds of connections with people every day. Whether it be online or in person, and we need to believe that every encounter we have with another person matters.

What if the only version of Christ that people saw was your Face Book Page?
I think most of us treat Facebook like our living rooms. It is a comfortable place for us to get real with our guest but not too real. I mean, let’s say we keep our living rooms relatively picked up and ready for company most of the time (unless it’s 11am on a Tuesday and you have 4 kids, well then…)
I digress, the point is we feel fairly comfortable sharing our life with friends and acquaintances in our living rooms.
And that is good. I believe God wants us to be authentic with people. But he also wants us to be ready to share the gospel too.

Wait. That’s all good if your a “mature” Christian and all. But, I just got saved, or I am really struggling with God right now. I can’t be a missionary. 

I hear you. But what about this:
About 13 years ago, I was just finding my way back into my Saviors arms. Sure, I had grown up in the church and actually knew my Bible pretty good. But, I had not been living like it. I knew things were not right and something had to change. I was trying. (God is so good that way, he never gives up on us, does he?) Anyway, at that point I was partying on Friday night and getting up to read my Bible Saturday morning. And I’m going to rest in the fact that God was at work in my heart. Well, on this particular morning I had been reading my Bible and one of my friends showed up at my door. So, I did what friends do, I set the Bible aside and invited him into my living room. Well, it didn’t take him more than a few minutes to notice the open bible, and make a comment to the effect of, you really believe that stuff? Of course the fact was I did and still do. We started talking about things. Just talking. Did I have all the answers? No I didn’t and I told him so. In the end he did the most surprising thing, he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Okay, how do I do this? I want to be a Christian, but I’m probably not going to be as good at it as you.” ….

And this is where I confess I failed.

I’m sure you would like to read this story of how I aided in the salvation of this friend. But the fact is I retreated. In that one sentence I was so convicted and convinced that I was under qualified to be a missionary in that moment, I think I said something like, “I’m not good at it.” and then changed the subject. Unfortunately, we lost touch over time. To this day I don’t know if this friend ever received Christ. I hope, but I don’t know.

Here is the take away though, the truth. No matter where we are in our walk with Christ, be it only for one day or if we have walked with him for 100 years, we are qualified and even more so we are called to be ambassadors for Christ.
Some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples were:

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Mark 16:15

I believe those words were for us too.

I also believe these words are for us:

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:1

By His grace you are qualified.

~Rita

 

The Pit (Part 4)

(Based on the book Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore)

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I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to God. Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.
Psalm 40: 1-3

Okay, let’s wrap this series up and get out of that pit!
I sincerely hope that after considering the options presented in the last post, you have decided to choose God as your deliverer. You won’t regret it! Even though it will cost you everything, the end results will far exceed your expectations!
Ready? Here we go. Three steps. They all include the mouth.

Step 1: Cry Out.
Crying out is a good deal more than just shedding some tears and it can be seen throughout the bible, especially in the book of Psalms. A wise person once said, “Sentimentality is no indication of a warm heart. Nothing weeps more copiously than a chunk of ice.” When we find ourselves in a pit, the tears we shed are often out of frustration and hurt because we cannot get our way. Surely God would bend the rules for us, right? Surely He will disregard our disobedience and provide us with a shortcut out of the mess we’ve gotten into, right? Not likely. He desires the very best for each of us, and He is unable to provide that until we reach the point that we want Him more than anything else. He is interested in relationship; He’s more interested in you knowing your healer than in you being healed, knowing your deliverer than being delivered.
So how do you “cry out”? What are the qualifiers? A true cry is heat-felt, persistent and relentless. It comes from the very depth of our being, makes use of the steep walls of the pit and takes aim directly for the ear of God. It comes from the desperate that cry, “I need God and God alone”; and it comes from the deliberate that cry, “I want God and God alone.” Step 1: Cry Out.

Step 2: Confess.
Yep, its time to own your mess and your mistakes. Confess the mess you’re in, how you got there, who’s in the mess with you. Include it all: the shameful, the prideful, and the stupid. Confess how much you really need God in order to get free of the pit. Hold nothing back! Lay it all out in front of God so the two of you can look at it together. When you’ve done all of that, finish by confessing who God is. The bible is full of descriptors. You could even Google it: Attributes of God. Remember that God is interested in a relationship with you. He begins the conversation by convicting us of sin – that yucky feeling inside when we know we are in the wrong.
Conviction from God
leads to
Confession from us
which leads to
Forgiveness from God
which results in
A restored relationship!
Step 2: Confess.

Finally, the last step. Step 3: Consent.

A little vocabulary review is in order. Consent means to agree to the desire of another, to give approval of what is proposed, voluntary agreement.
Confess is the easiest step! All we have to do is agree to what God already wants, and make no mistake; He wants you out of that pit for good!

1 John 5:14-15 says it like this: We can come to God with no doubts. This means when we ask God for things, and those things agree with what he wants for us, God cares about what we say. He listens to us every time we ask him. So we know that he gives us whatever we ask from him. (ERV)

There you have it. All three steps. Combine them in prayer that uses His word and pray out loud. You don’t need to scream, but you do need to hear yourself speaking in agreement with His word. It could look like the following excerpt taken from Beth Moore’s book:
Cry Out
Restore me, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon me, that I may be delivered [Psalm 80:7]. Answer me with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God my Savior [Psalm 65:5]… Add any of your own words
Confess
I come to you Jesus weary and burdened. Please give me rest. I want o take your yoke upon me and learn from you, for you are gentle and humble in heart. Let me find rest for my soul, for your yoke is easy and your burden is light [Matthew 11:28-30]…Add any of your own words.
Consent
Father, when I was dead in my sins, you made me alive in Christ. You forgave me all my sins. You disarmed the powers and authorities and you made a public spectacle of them [Colossians 2:13-16]. Help me desire to do your will, and write your law on my heart [Psalm 40:8]…Add any of your own words.

And how will you know when you’re out of the pit? You will find your feet on solid ground and a new song in your mouth praising God. People will look at you and see a difference and they will know that God has done a wonderful thing!

~Patricia

On 9/11

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I have to believe every generation has that moment. The moment when something happens that you will remember for the rest of your life. That one day that happens in slow motion and challenges every fiber of faith in your being. 15 years ago today, was that moment for me. The terror attacks that happened on September 11, 2001 are forever etched in my memory. I was a mere 19 years old. Up to that point I was pretty sure I had life figured out. I was living and doing my own thing.
However, on that day, I will never forget hearing the first report on the radio while at work. I remember I just shook my head certain this must be some kind of joke. I remember the moment the radio DJ’s voice changed, and how we all dropped what we were doing to go watch the news in the break-room. I remember trying to call my best friend who lived in Washington DC and who’s father worked in the Pentagon, and how cell phone lines where down and calls, even local ones could not get through for days.
It was a time of such uncertainty, and yet such brilliance. As the day slowly wore on, we could see the workers, and the first-responders, heroically doing what only God could put in their hearts to do. Our Country united in a way I had never seen, and have yet to see again.
I remember that on that day we all looked to or for God. We tried to grasp the enormity of this event. How it would affect our lives and the lives of those around us. I remember that first nudging to care about my neighbor and the stranger as the same blessings from God. I remember the heartbreak as each story unfolded, the pleas from mothers and fathers, those looking for children. The children. The stories of the children lost, and the last phone calls made. My heart still aches for these who were most affected by the horrific details of that day.
As the evil railed and warred against the good, I remember the stirring in my heart, that searching for where God was, and that strange calm and courage that I felt beneath all the fear. Knowing, I once knew a God bigger than all of this. I looked for Him and found strength and peace to keep going, one step in front of the other. I remember that as each day passed following September 11th, that still calm heart voice getting stronger, that feeling that life could never be the same, though I really had no idea of how or what changes were to come. 
 Yes, at 19 I had that first moment when the world seemed to stand still and the thing to do was to try and find God in it all. 
September 11th marked the first time I saw the war between good and evil played out before my very eyes. And I have ONE to praise for the battle victory over that darkness. Sure the war is not over, it can’t be, not yet. But, I know now where my help comes from. I know who is bigger and brighter than any shadow that is cast over our lives. I would rather this not have happened, and I pray my children would be spared from their moment in future history. But, regardless, I rest in the knowledge that God is over all of it. 
Peace to you as you remember your moment on this day. 
And to God…

Aba, Father! I cry out and praise you in the same breath. God, you are good. So, good. And yet we are lost and do not remember the great things You have done. Let us not forget that in the midst of the evil in this fallen world, YOU are with us, You do not forget us. let us remember that you triumph always.
Father, I have lived to see a time when our nation united under you. And now I live in a time where we are so very divided. Let this not continue to be so. May we remember how good and how pleasant it is for us to dwell together in unity.
As we remember how our nations history was changed on September 11th, let us also remember how we rallied to live as one nation under God. Thank you God, that nothing in this world has ever happened, that there is nothing that you do not know about, or that will happen that your hand is not in. Help us to see YOU in it all. Thank you for your continued blessing upon us. I pray you will see fit to continue watch over bless our nation.
In Jesus mighty name, Amen. 

~Rita

The Pit (Part 3)

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(Based on the book Get Out of That Pit by Beth Moore)

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to God. Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40: 1-3

Okay, if you’ve been following along with the posts, you will remember that we are doing a series of sorts as I share some information from the book mentioned in the title. If you haven’t been following along, no worries just go back and read the previous two posts so you’ll be up to speed. You can find Part 1 HERE, and Part 2 HERE.
We now know that a pit may be identified as a place where you feel stuck, where you are unable to stand up against the enemy, and where you have lost your vision. We also covered the idea that there are three ways one is likely to end up in a pit to begin with: you may get thrown in, you may slip in, or you may make a calculated and rather foolish choice and jump in. Let’s continue by discussing how exactly one might get out. You are interested in getting out, right? Yeah, I thought so.
So getting out will take a bit more work than getting in and you will not be able to get out by yourself. One of the truest indicators that you are indeed in a pit is your inability to get back out without some help, usually a lot of help. As you make the decision to get out of the pit, your first step will be to choose a deliverer. There are two possible choices.
First, you could choose another person to help you out. Many go this route. The benefit to this choice is that you will have a face to put with the aid; someone to talk to that you can actually see is an appealing thing. The downside is this: when you put another person in the position of deliverer, you inevitably place that person on a pedestal. A wise person once told me that pedestals are both slippery and tippy, and anyone standing atop of one is likely to fall. Correct! When you place a person on a pedestal as your deliverer, that person will fall – most likely on top of you! As much as either of us dislikes admitting it, you and I are just too much for another person to take on. We would suck the very life out of another. The end result would probably be a quick return to the pit for us complete with added bumps, bruises and breaks, and our unfortunate deliverer would have sustained substantial injury as well. You see another person may be able to help pull you out of a pit, but that person will never be able to keep you out. Our human limitations predetermine it. But there is another choice, another way out; you could choose God.
If you are wise enough to forgo a human deliver and opt instead for God, you are in for an adventure! When you choose God, you get all of God: God the Father who created all life, God the son – Jesus – who paid your debt in full before you ever even knew the bill was coming and continues to intercede for you in heaven, God the Spirit who will teach and comfort and provide consul. And the coolest thing is you will never exhaust the supply of God. Big as your mess may be, it is not too much for Him. But there is a catch, sort of.
If you choose God, He will require everything. He is not interested in being a part-time deliverer or sharing the stage with another person. If you choose God to get you out of the pit, He will want all of you. Everything. Nothing held back! Are you willing to give everything? Think on it for a bit; it’s a rather serious question. Are you in? Okay! Stay tuned for the next steps, three of them, and they all involve your mouth!

~Patricia