Living Faith

It has been a long while since I posted anything.  Partly from disobedience.  Mainly because that wonderful thing called life came crashing down around me and I have felt totally unworthy to post . So here I am, with a little less fur, a little more loose in the joints and a little more real.

I have this idyllic way of looking at things and when real life doesn’t measure up, well politely put, I hate it!  It upsets me to the core.  After all I am a Christian.  I love my Jesus.  My heart’s desire is to please Him. In the midst of my situation, I find myself asking where is this abundant life He promises?  However, when my whole world is rocked upside down,  that’s when I have to hold on tight to the promises of God.

Lately, it  hasn’t been easy to keep holding on.  I could go into great detail of my situation but my battle isn’t yours. Everyone’s has their own story.  Just know I have felt the sting of rejection, known heartache, lived in chaos,  dealt with illness, known temptations, and fought battles in my mind.    Trust me, I have questioned God.   It hasn’t felt like He has been faithful to me.  I have been to the place where I didn’t want one more person telling me that God could….God would…. I should….

The only thing that has kept me going was a sliver of faith, a glimpse of hope in my Redeemer that I could not turn lose (no matter how much I wanted too).  It has been my life line.  How my life is playing out seems in direct contradiction to His Word.  I have felt very much like Job.  He lost his servants,  his livestock/livelihood, then his children, and finally his health (thank the Lord my situation has not been so dire).  However, I can relate.  Job didn’t get a chance to grasp one loss before another came his way.    I understand when he says in Job 3:26, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”   Job went through all this and He was blameless.  It wasn’t his fault but Job finally came to a place where he could look his  “friends” in the face and say, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him; but I will defend my own ways before Him.” Job 13:15.

In other words Job was saying, “even if I can find no peace in God right this moment, I will keep placing my hope and trust in Him.  I may die soon but I will stand before Him knowing I have been a just and upright man. “  That is my remnant of faith.  That is what I am holding on to.  Even when it seems like God is not faithful, He is.  Even when peace eludes me, He is my peace.  Even when sickness keeps me flat on my back, I’m healed.  Even when my prayers have gone unanswered for years, He hears. Etc. Etc.

We can hear sermons on faith but learning about faith and living faith is very different.  Living a life of faith isn’t easy.  Sometimes it isn’t pretty.  I would like to tell you that I have walked through my valleys, with dignity and grace, holding firm to His Word and never wavering.  I haven’t.  Some days, I have done nothing but cry my way through the day with a “woe is me” attitude.  Some days I have been quite upset with the very God who is my everything.  Some days I have wanted to run away and others have found my soul in a dark pit of hopelessness.  Nevertheless, I have held firm to what God’s word says.  I have had to go back and reread His promises and put my trust in Him.  The very definition of faith is believing in what we hope for even when we can’t see it (Hebrews 11:1).  As my grandmother says, “I know that I know, that I know…” my redeemer lives.  If  He lives, then His Word is true and I will believe it in it’s entirety.

As I write this post, my circumstances haven’t changed, I am still facing rejection, heartache, stresses of life, and my physical body feels like crud.  However, today I have won the battle in my mind and can stand firm in a faith that my God is in control.  He is faithful to have people praying for me when I can’t pray for myself, and He answers prayer.  The Lord says, that He will not place more on us than we can bare, and He has taken a spirit of heaviness from me so that I can lift up my head and see His Glory.

To all of you out there whose life seems in direct contradiction to the Bible, don’t give up.  He is faithful even when peace eludes us.  Don’t quit.  Don’t give up.  Hold on. God has got you.

Spiritual Prepper

 

Most of us  have seen or at least heard of the National Geographic television show, Doomsday Preppers.  It is a reality show where an individual is rated on how well equipped he or she is to survive the end of the world as we know it.  Each individual is prepping to survive some sort of calamity (a natural disaster, economic collapse, government takeover, nuclear attack etc.)  The show features some strange individuals and it is definitely made for entertainment.  However, it does give rise to the question, “What would you do in a crisis situation?

As a nation, we are facing situations that are disconcerting.  As Christians, we can study the scriptures and see warning signs that if a call to repentance isn’t headed, we will face more troubling times in the near future.  Throughout the bible God has called his servants to do things that seemed crazy to those around them in order to be prepared.  He had Noah build and ark on dry land.  He gave Joseph the interpretation of a Pharaoh’s dream, and the wisdom to set aside stores of grain during seven years of abundance to provide Egypt with the means to survive seven years of famine.

I have come to realize that in my own way, I have been a “prepper”,  without realizing it, for more than a decade.  A search of my home will not reveal gas masks or a military arsenal of weapons. I do not spend all my efforts and energy preparing for tomorrow.   I’m not fanatical, but I have strove to learn the art of survival and living a more self-sufficient lifestyle.   I’ve wanted the knowledge and skills from past generations for “just in case.”  I like knowing I could survive without the local department or grocery store to meet my every need.prepper-mart

In the name of convenience, many of us have lost basic skills that were once  a part of everyday life.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the convenience of a microwave.  Kudos for indoor plumbing.  Thank goodness I don’t have to beat my clothes on a rock by the river to get them clean.  I am most thankful for those things that make my life more, well, convenient.   However, there is a part of me that thirst for the knowledge of basic skills that have fell by the wayside.  I do things a bit off the beaten path.   I was making my own soap when it wasn’t cool.  My favorite gift is my pressure canner.  I wanted to live “off-the-grid” long before it was coined as way to “go green.” I simply enjoy doing these things.

I am not a prophet nor do I need to be one in order to be discerning.  I am inclined to listen to the Holy Spirit when he speaks to my spirit man and says,  ”Be watchful, be prepared.”  I do not prep out of fear.  I do it to be prudent.  I don’t work toward self-sufficiency in order to say look what I can do, but to have knowledge for a “just in case” situation taking place.  My faith and peace do not come from “prepping”; it comes from God alone.  I guess you can say above all, I am a spiritual prepper.  All of my best laid earthly plans can be over in an instant. I do not control the weather, the governments, nor the economy.   My life, for that matter,  is just a vapor, but my faith in Christ – that is what sustains me.  Spiritual preparedness, is first and foremost. I, like David in Psalm 119:114-117 say,

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. Away from me, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God! Sustain me according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered; I will always have regard for your decrees.” (NIV)

This morning I was thinking of David Wilkerson, a great man of God, who has been called America’s prophet.  He passed away in  April, 2011, but has left a great legacy behind.  He has written prophetic warnings to America since the 1970′s. I believe that Mr. Wilkerson’s last blog post sums up “spiritual prepardness” very nicely. “Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world.”  (read full article here)

 

 If you can find a copy of The Vision (1973) or Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth (1985), take time to read them and see how much of these books have come to pass.

You can read excerpts from  Set the Trumpet to Thy Mouth here.

photo image from of prepper academy

 

 

A Valentine From God

heart valentine kimberly

 

Since Valentine’s day is like tomorrow, I was online looking for Valentine ideas (I know I am not the only one who does this stuff last minute).   It is a know fact to those who know me well that I am crazy about vintage items.  I love something that has history, a story, a  bit of character that seems to be lacking in many of the mass produced items of recent decades. ( A gift card to Sax, no thanks. A hundred bucks to blow at an estate sale, score!)  So, it comes as no surprise that  in my search for valentine ideas that I migrated toward vintage valentines. 

In my perusing,  I ran across the above valentine.  I do not know who first received this little gem but today  it is my Valentine from God.  I love those moments when He uses the simple to teach/remind me of a simple truth.  In Proverbs 23:26 (NLT) it says,” O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways.”

Salvation, the redeeming of our soul, is just the first step in our Christian walk.  He doesn’t want to be just our Redeemer, God is looking for relationship.  It is why He created man.  He wants to have communion us. You can’t have a true relationship with someone without getting the heart involved.  If you are in a relationship with another person and never share your heart, eventually that relationship will end.  It will become stunted, wither, and die.  All great, lasting relationships, revolve around getting to know one another’s heart.  Loving someone intimately means understanding the very essence of their core being.  This is something King David understood as a young boy.  He knew how to have “relationship” with God.  He spent hours on the hillside communing with Him.  God doesn’t look at our outward appearance, he looks on our heart (I Samuel 16:7).  King David was a man of war.  He was a murderer and an adulterer.  However, he is best known as “a man after God’s own heart”.  God testifies to that account (Acts 13:22).  David continued to have a relationship with God throughout his life and despaired when his sin separated him from God.  He understood that everything that was good about himself was because of the Lord (Psalm 16:2).

Why does God want our heart?  It is because He desires to give us His.  When we are real with God and openly give Him our heart, He will share His and communion of two hearts will begin.  His desires will become ours.  Those things that break His heart will move ours with compassion.  Our hearts will meld into a oneness so intimate, we will not know where His desires stop and ours begins.  Giving God our heart is about Lordship.  It is about laying aside our desires to totally peruse the passions of Christ. God wants our heart because it is the central part of our being.  It is who we are.  It is the part of us that controls our emotions, our decisions, our will.  If we surrender this to the Lord, He can fulfill His perfect plan in our life. 

Like any relationship, the one I experience with the Lord is not static.  It is ever changing.  As a young child I prayed that I would be a “women after God’s own heart” and that is still my desire today.  Giving Him my heart is a daily commitment.   Sometimes I stumble, and many times I fail Him; but I am thankful that I have “relationship” with Christ.  I am thankful that He has my heart, and I am thankful that after all these years, He isn’t letting up His pursuit of my Heart.  The above Valentine was just the reminder I needed to know that the love affair I have with Christ is still strong. 

No False Promises

peachbo

 

It has been unseasonably warm here in the south. For much of January temperatures have reached into the sixties and seventies. These warm weather days have caused the tulips to spring up and my peach trees to bloom.  It is sad. It is not their time.

As I stood in my yard looking out at the trees full of beautiful pink blossoms, I realized that those blooms would probably never reach their full potential.  They had bought into a false promise.  The string of warm weather days has given the trees a false promise of spring, prompting them to awaken before their appointed time.  We still have several months before spring will truly arrive and the warm weather has been interspersed with twenty degree nights.  The chance of those blooms bringing forth fruit is doubtful.

Come June, I may be denied the joy of plucking fruit from my tree’s branches and miss the sweet nectar of a home-grown peach upon my lips but their January blooms has given me an “Ah-ha” moment of thankfulness.  It has made me thankful that my God is not a God of false promises.  He is not fickle like the weather.  Numbers 29:10 says, God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”  He will not break his covenant with us and he will not take back a single word He has spoken (Ps. 89:34).

Boy, that makes my heart sing.  If I can keep myself from buying into the false promises of man and keep my eyes fixed upon the promises of God, I will save myself a lot of heartache.

Here in the south we often have the false promise of spring and only experience keeps me from running out and planting my summer garden.  I walk outside and see blooms on the trees, patches of grass turning green, feel the warmth of the sun upon my face and I have to resist the urge to buy into the false promise that spring has arrived.  I wonder how often in our lives we buy into false promises?

While watching television we are inundated with commercials offering up false promises. We are given the promise that the advertised product will make our life easier, better, brighter. Very few will live up to those claims.  We are promised products that will turn back the hands of time, erasing years from our face, products that will make us feel young, and products that will simply make us MORE _______(fill in the blank with your heart’s desire).   Advertisers would have us belive that just the right shampoo or toothpaste will help us find the guy/gal of our dreams.  This sort of advertising plays on our insecurities or promises to fulfill a longing in our hearts.

Throughout our life we will meet people that will offer up false promises.  There will be those who let us down and some that will break our heart. We will run across indivduals that will hone in on our insecurities and promise to meet our needs only to let us down.  If you are like me, you will even make false promises to yourself.  How wonderful that in the mist of all these promises, there is One that we can totally depend upon. The bible is full of promises that we can fully put faith in – promises that are not false.  When life throws us a curveball, or when someone or something doesn’t live up to a promise. We have someone who will “never leave us nor forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:8). For that I am thankful.

“Lord I thank you that you are not a God of FALSE Promises, but that you are a Faithful God.  I am thankful that you are bound by your word and that every promise and precept that is found in your Word is something that I can stand upon in a world that offers false promises to me daily.  I am thankful that when, governments, circumstances and people fail me, I can lean on you and enter into a peace that world doesn’t understand.  Help me to crave more of you.  Help me understand your Word more so that I won’t simply have a head knowledge of your promises but heart knowledge as well.  Help me to rely upon you in times of prosperity and times of need. Today I chose to cast my cares upon you and trust in every promise you have spoken into my heart. I thank you for those faithful indivduals you have brought into my life; those that I can aslo count on.  Thank you for those indivuals that you have yet to bring my way that will help me grow and become more.  Thank you for your faithfulness. I love you Lord.  Thank you for loving me.”

Not A Real Fan

sports-fans

With the Super Bowl just a few days away, I thought I would share this little Ah-Ha moment.

A few weeks ago my extended family came together in celebration of my aunt’s birthday. As people gathered, good-natured ribbing began among the men concerning their favorite college teams. In our neck of the woods, those rival teams are the Georgia Bulldogs and the Carolina Gamecocks.

During the course of the evening, my cousin (a die-hard Carolina fan) began quizzing the children as to who was a Carolina fan and who was a Bulldog fan. I piped up saying most were Carolina fans.

In response, my brother-in-law (a die-hard Georgia fan) with a shake of the head simply stated, “They’re not real fans.”

You know, he was right. I looked around the room and there were numerous shirts, caps, and jackets sporting logos of the two rival teams but in essence, there were only a few true fans.

If you ask me what’s my college football team; I will tell you that I am a Carolina fan. Growing up the adults around me were Carolina fans so by default I became one. USC is my alma mater. As a family we are planning to decorate one of our rooms with Gamecock decor. My child goes to sleep with a plush Cocky by her side. However, we are not real fans.

A real fan would know the team coaches, the players, the position each played, game stats, season schedule, and polling rank. A real fan has season tickets or at least watches every game. A fan mourns the losses and celebrates the wins. A fan remains true even when the team repeatedly disappoints them and gives them nothing to cheer about.

I, on the other hand, have every outer semblance of being a fan. My loyalty never waivers; I will always say I am a Carolina fan. My family has jewelry, clothing, blankets, purses, mugs, and car flags all sporting the Carolina logo. (Let’s face it; you can pick up most of these items at your local dollar store.) However, that is as far as my investment goes. If I happen to catch a bit of the game – great.  If not, so what?  I may find out the score or I may not even know who my team is playing on a particular weekend. Most of my knowledge comes second hand. You could plant the Gamecock’s wide receiver in the chair beside me and I probably wouldn’t recognize him. I am most definitely not a serious fan.

God used this moment to ask me if I were a real fan of Him and the gospel. Did I have the outer appearance of being a fan but not the dedication it takes to be a true fan?  How many of us go to church, wear our clothing with Christian logos, have the fish emblem plastered on our vehicle but we don’t know the players of the game.  How well do we really know the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Would we recognize God if he came and sat down beside us?

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16 (NIV)

In order to be a real fan of the gospel we have to not be ashamed of it.  You would think that those who sport Christian logos would have the ”ashamed” factor covered.  However, not being ashamed means doing more than putting on outward appearances and calling ourselves a Christian.  It means truly understanding that the gospel has the power to bring salvation.  It means getting passionate about the gospel to the point that we want to talk about it and share its’ wisdom because we know that it has the power to change lives.  It means getting serious and obtaining first hand knowledge of who our Redeemer truly is and allowing Him to become real to us. 

A real fan remains true to God and the gospel even in the times when God seems to be silent or in times of trial. A fan remains steady when their reality and the gospel’s promises seem to be opposite. In essence a real fan does not base their relationship with Christ on the whims of this life but are die-hard in their belief that God is who He claims to be and will do what He says he will do.  A real fan does not waiver. A fan of the gospel says, “Bring it on life.  My God can handle whatever play you throw my way.”

What about you?  Are you a true fan of the gospel?  I am striving to become better fan because let’s face it, God doesn’t just want us to be fans, he is really calling us to be players….but we will leave that for another day. 

 

 

 

 

What Is Real?

 

Concept art for The Velveteen Rabbit by Fred Warter

Concept art for The Velveteen Rabbit by Fred Warter

What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit….

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “when you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”….”It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “you become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

…The rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this Magic of Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams 1881

Throughout life, I have learned that wisdom can be gleaned from the most unlikely of places and some of the most profound wisdom can be found between the pages of a simple children’s story. I never read The Velveteen Rabbit in childhood but when I happened across it as a teen, the words of the Skin Horse changed how I viewed myself and others.  It made me stop living my life trying to be something I’m not (I wasn’t any good at faking it anyway), and embracing the person that God created me to be.

I have  never cared for fakedy, fake people.  I don’t like to be around them.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  Patrick Star on Sponge Bob would refer to them as “putting on airs.”  Through the years I  have tried my best to be authentically me and when the authentic me really stinks,  I have to go to that throne of Grace and cry out to God “change me!”

This process of becoming REAL is tough stuff.  Getting real with God, family, and friends can sometimes make us sore and leave bald spots in our fake fur. Life itself can leave us battered, scarred and lose in the joints. We sometimes want to wrap ourselves in  ”emotional bubble wrap” to keep the pain of becoming at bay. We want to look at life through protective cases and scream,  ”don’t mess with me, you might make me less valuable if you play with me.”

Those same protective barriers also keep  us from obtaining an intimacy with God and others that can only happen when we a willing to get REAL. REAL is magical because it puts us in a place where we can receive grace and find mercy. When you are willing to get REAL, you can find peace, joy and abundant life.

This blog is just one gals journey toward becoming REAL with God, others and life itself….

Sometimes it will make you laugh, sometimes it may make you cry, other times it may make you scratch your head and go “what’s this chick takin’?” but it always will be REAL….

concept art above credit http://theartofwarter.blogspot.com/.