Still I will Trust Him

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“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands” Proverbs 14:1 (NKJV). Everyone builds a house, builds a legacy. “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” 1 Cor. 3:11 (NKJV).  We build a house by the choices we make and the attitudes  that we chose to have. There are many things that happen that we have no control over, but we can control weather or not we will choose to trust God. He must be the foundation when life is calm and when life is tough. “Therefore, whoever, hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” Matthew 7:24-26 (NKJV).

This woman in the Bible doesn’t even have a name, but the lessons we can learn from her are great. I’m thinking about Mrs. Job. Very little is said about her in the Bible and even less is spoken by her. The only dialogue that is given is Mrs. Job asking her hubby to curse God and die (Job 2:9-10). “Do you still retain your integrity? Curse God and die!” You speak as a foolish woman speaks”, he told her. “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity? Throughout all this Job did not sin in what he said” Job 2:9-10 (HCSB).  I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like to lose all ten of her children. I have experienced loss but not to that extreme. Was Mrs. Job having a bad moment and that was all that was captured of her?  I know this was a very difficult season. But I wonder if she didn’t allow God to be her solid rock before tragedy struck and therefore was sinking when her hopes were falling beneath her.  Mrs. Job wasn’t for lack before tragedy struck. Before tragedy struck she was living a wealthy lifestyle. “He (Job) had seven sons and three daughters. His estate included 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and a very large number of servants. Job was the greatest man among all the people of the east” Job:1-2-3 (HCSB). So, this man was not exactly struggling financially. But before the Bible even mentions Job’s wealth it first mentions Job’s attitude towards God. “He was a man of perfect integrity who feared God and turned away from evil” Job 1:1b (HCSB). Regularly, Job would offer sacrifices on the behalf of his children in case they sinned inside their hearts and forgot to ask God’s forgiveness (Job 1:5).  Back in the day one was perceived as  blessed by how many children they had. God had obviously blessed Job and his family. But what I find interesting is that nothing is said about Mrs. Job’s walk with God. Did she start each morning thanking God for blessings? Did she join hands with her hubby and pray before drinking their first cup of expresso? Or perhaps did Mrs. Job covet her husband’s walk with God? Did his faith confuse her and frustrate her? Did she wish she was first place in her husband’s life rather than his God?

I think she might have been trusting her riches, her godly husband, and her enormous wealth to be her enough. When life was good she didn’t build her house on the rock. So, when the floods came (And sister they are coming) Mrs. Job fell because she wasn’t founded on the rock. I wonder if her grief made her isolate herself from her husband. Rather than becoming more of his help-meet she fell deeper into the shadows as she suffered through the loss. Later in the book Job mentions his wife again. “My breath is offensive to my wife, and my own family finds me repulsive” Job 19:16 (HCSB). While It’s possible that she repented and went on to live for the Lord, but it is not recorded. After the terrible suffering and devastation, God brings restoration. Throughout his suffering Job questions God, but Job is still faithful. God gives Job back his wealth because God saw that Job was faithful. Job’s house was founded on the rock of ages even during suffering. God tested not only Job but also Job’s wife and in the end God blessed both Job and his wife. Our attitudes and how we choose to build our legacy will affect our family regardless of we want it to or not. Job and his wife go on to have ten more children. Mrs. Job must have been restored a little to have birthed ten more beautiful children (Job 42:10-16). But there is no account of her at the end.

Dear friend, I don’t know what terrible storms you are experiencing or maybe what storm God is preparing you to enter. But regardless, let Jesus Christ the Rock of Ages be your solid Rock. It is easy when we face great trials to question God but at the same time we must honor Him as Lord. He sees what I cannot see and knows what I cannot know. “For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as also I am known” 1 Cor. 13:12 (NKJV).

“All other ground is sinking sand”. Even when the trial is great God is greater and He will not leave Your side.

Let me be Beautiful in Your Eyes

SAM_4291Beauty. Who do you allow to define your beauty? It’s easy to allow my perceptions of what others think to determine if I’ve had a good or bad day. But I cannot allow my self-image (good or bad) to be defined by others but defined by the JESUS. He bore all our sins on the cross declaring “It is Finished”.  After all, as a child of God I am to reflect HIM not me. On my own I am worthless but because of Jesus I have life, breath, and beauty.   The other day I saw flowers that were about to be thrown away. I love flowers and wanted to save them from being thrown into the dumpster. The flowers were moved off the sales floor because they were out of date and according to store policy they were no longer suitable for selling. The flowers had some dark spots and wrinkles. They had seen better days. It was as if the flowers value was based on how much money they would make. In a weird way, I saw myself in the flowers. How many times do I allow the world to define my beauty? How many times do I feel as though God is throwing away my dreams and allowing the world to triumph when in fact God is drawing me nearer, nearer.

Jesus is the one who breathes life and vitality. He is the one who brings beauty. “So, the King will greatly desire your beauty; because He is your Lord, worship Him” Psalm 45:11. If you are a child of God than your worth is in Him. And here’s the crazy thing. Maybe you are seeking Jesus and yet you still feel like the forgotten flower. But when we are seeking Jesus we will shine but others may not appreciate the heavenly fragrance. So maybe you are letting your light shine for Jesus. I know it is not easy. Keep looking to JESUS! Heb. 12:1-2. Sometimes it’s all I can do to get out of bed. But you know He is so faithful. God carries me one step at a time.  Jesus warned us that the world would hate us if we choose to passionately follow Jesus (John 15:18-19). So maybe you feel like the friends you used to have want to “throw away” your words every time you talk about God. Or every time the aroma of God’s word surrounds your countenance people want to walk away as if you stink.  “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” 2 Tim. 3:12. If people are bothered by how you are shining for Jesus, don’t take offense but rather be encouraged that God is using you!! God uses our actions, our words, and even our silent prayers for His glory but sometimes we never see the fruit because it happens underground. Sometimes God will show us a glimpse but we won’t see the whole picture till eternity. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I now in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” 1 Cor. 13:12. For now, we must simply walk by faith. So maybe we will never see the full impact of our short lives until eternity. Life is so brief. Dare to be a gorgeous flower that blooms for God’s glory. Let the fragrance of your attitude carry forth the sweet scent of the gospel…..even if others want to throw you away…..you never know how God is at work.

 

 

Beautiful, Matchless, Grace

SAM_4210The poem below is the story from the perspective of the adulterous woman from John 8. I wanted to point out something from the perspective of the Pharisees (the religious leaders during Bible times). They wanted to accuse the adulterous woman. But in the presence of JESUS, their accusations meant nothing. In the presence of the Holy, righteous, perfect God, our goodness means nothing. We all need God’s grace, His beautiful, matchless, grace.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ JESUS for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” Eph. 2:8-10.

~Beautiful, Matchless, Grace ~

By Sarah Anna McConnelee

Inspired by John 8:1-12

 

Broken, destitute, brazen, penniless

Shunned by all

No one wanted me

Because I was Battered Disgusting

The women saw me as dirty, garbage

Stained linen

Desperate I sold what was dearest to me

My body

My flesh

My soul

Most importantly

My dignity

I had to provide for my son though shame marked my actions.

One night a man enticed me

One with a ring on his finger

Nausea spread like the plague; I almost refused

I didn’t.

It became an overnight and when I woke up in his bed

I captured the scream in my throat before it tore the house to shreds

But he asked for one more time

Before the word No was off my lips

He promised me an extra-large sum of money

I thought of my darling son,

Would my son cringe if he knew what his mother was doing for a living?

To survive?

Was there any hope of life being beyond survival?

Any hope of an abundant life?

So out of extreme love for my son

So out of extreme fear

Extreme inadequacy

I complied with the man

Hoping to get it over with

As soon as possible.

I heard a knock on the door and began to pull away

The man I was with thought I was avoiding him and pulled me closer

The law givers, wearing white, hypocrisy, fake purity, waltzed in the bedchamber

What right had they to be here?

It was if they were bored and looking

Seeking someone

Anyone to accuse.

Quickly they yanked me away

Calling me all the blasphemous names I had heard a thousand times before

Their phylacteries righteously stood on their heads accusing me.

I cringed to think of where the law givers would take me

As they pulled my beaten, broken vessel along

I noticed they were taking me to the open square in the temple

No, not the temple,

Embarrassment overwhelmed me

I was a sunken ship

Waiting to crash upon the shore

But I knew I deserved it

The lawgivers didn’t seem to care about the man I was with, even though he was married

No, as the woman I was the one who was the criminal.

They brought me to the stone plateau outside the temple doors

I closed my eyes

Trying to block out what I knew was happening

I was going to die

To be stoned

Standing in the temple court yard was a man

He didn’t dress like the pious law givers

There was something gentle, understanding about him

I thought I had seen him around town before

He stood in such a way that held power

His posture demanded attention

The law givers pushed me into the stone court yard

I sat crumpled as a heap

As a shattered oil lamp

Broken glass, Injured, Completely vulnerable

Did the men about to stone me, personally know of heartache

Did these men know of separation?

Of despair

Or were they only hiding who they really were behind their “whiteness”?

Listening I heard the lawgivers tell the man I’d saw that they had caught me in the act of adultery

I should’ve been used to being called a prostitute but crimson stained my cheeks

Scarlet flooded my heart

I hated the life I was living

I realized that the man the lawgivers were talking to was the new radical in town,

Oh no, know the law givers were discussing how I should be stoned

The man seemed to ignore the law givers ramblings

He bent over and began writing with his finger on the stone ground

I was surprised to see a man of dignity willing to humble himself and stoop so low

Something about this man was real, the humbleness of stooping down was so deep

He spoke not a word, but the law givers faces almost looked guilty

As if perhaps they too had committed something treacherous

Then the man said “he who is without sin let him throw the first stone.”

I buried my head deeper into the folds of my dress awaiting the first boulder to fall upon my chest

I preferred to die quickly.

Waiting

Silence

Nothing happened.

Peeking my head up from my knees I saw the man writing with his finger on the stone again

My heart almost stopped as each law giver dropped their rock on the ground and left.

Their faces bent in

Was it shame I saw disguised in their perfect figures?

Had they too done wrong?

Did the kind man know their sins?

Then the man stood up from his writing

I marveled that someone could simply write on stone with his finger

Was he writing down the name of all my accusers or all the men had known in such false intimacy?

Perhaps it was the same finger that created the rock itself

Holding the earth in balance but the breath of His mouth.

Tears crept into my face

I knew I was finished

If anyone could accuse me, then this man could

“Where are those that were going to stone you”?

Why was the powerful man speaking to an outcast?

A woman?

I barely squeaked out the necessary words

“They left”

Five seconds passed

The sun swept over the man’s face

Revealing

There was something in his eyes

Something deeper

Something all knowing

Something different

He knew all about my horrid life style

Knew about where I slept each night

Knew what I did to survive

Surely this man would stone me

It almost seemed as though it would be right if He did

“I’m not going to stone you either, go and forsake your life of sin and follow me”

That was the most anyone had spoken to me since I had become a prostitute

I couldn’t speak

Tears erupted through the dams of eyes and flowed onto my cheeks

This man knew about my past

Knew about my lifestyle

And yet he choose to set me free?

Overwhelmed by my gratitude and still in my heaped position

I leaned over and kissed his feet out of reverence

Waterfalls of thankfulness and hope continually gushed forth in endless tears

He lifted my weary arms

With the palm of his thumb he wiped away my tears

Looked me in the eye

No one ever looked a prostitute in the eye

But He looked me in the eye

I looked into His eyes and saw the universe displayed

I saw freedom

I saw a new life

I saw hope

I saw love

I saw all my past erased in the sea of His forever eyes that saw all of my heart and still loved me.

Most importantly I saw grace

Beautiful, matchless grace.

 

 

 

 

 

The Son Shines through the Barren Winter

SAM_2272Uncertainty about the future makes me feel helpless and very tired. But I think it’s a way that Jesus beckons me closer.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths” Prov. 3:5-6.

I think God is teaching me contentment but at the same time giving me a longing for more.  During this season of in between it is easy to not really pay attention to the present and want to race ahead, but though it is uncomfortable is still there for a reason. Winter is a time when the world is dormant but underneath the surface the world is preparing for her awakening.

I’m so used to a microwaved world. I boast about my high ambitions to eat healthier this year, avoid excessive sugar, and give more for God’s glory. However……I have a loooong ways to go. Each dream and each resolution that I put in place requires determination, time, and prayer. However lessons of faith,  contentment, and trust are life long lessons that cannot be microwaved. Maybe you long for answers about your job, a family member, or that pressing matter on your heart. Take heart dear friend, God knows the burden you carry, He knows the hairs of your head by name. “Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you” 1 Peter 5:7. We cannot always see why God does things the way He does or in the timing that He does ,but He is faithful.  I think most the time we cannot see beneath the surface. You may have no idea how your words or actions could point others to Christ or unconsciously cause them to turn away. Keep seeking Jesus. Keep taking your hurts back to the cross. Maybe you too are in the land of in between but continue being faithful to Him. Though life on earth is painful and at time confusing, there are no eternal regrets to a life completely surrendered to Him.

“ For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,”says the LORD, For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” Is. 55:8-9.

 

Unexpected Love

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Have you ever had one of those days? Where nothing seems to go right?

Well, once upon a time, this Christmas season I was feeling stressed, and lonely due to unmet expectations and graveyard dreams. I left work wrapped up in my big coat, where I could hide so no one would know that I was fighting back tears. But you know what? God sees. I cannot hide from Him. I can put on a façade for everyone else but God sees inside of me, the beautiful and the ugly. “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” Psalm 139:1-2. (NIV).  I shuffled outside into the cold. There were some children standing with the Salvation Army bell ringer. One of them offered me a little felt tree. “Do you want a tree”? His little voice piqued with eagerness. “I don’t have any money”, I told the little boy as I shifted through my pockets. “You don’t need any money. It’s a gift”. His childish voice bore through my heart as I received not only the gift of the tree but also the gift of love.  I took the little felt ornament, thanked the boy and almost ran to the car where my aching heart cried. “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” Psalm 34:18 (NIV). God’s love is free. None of us deserve it. But God gave of Himself willingly and fully. Won’t you accept the gift of Jesus today?

 

JESUS, the Music of Christmas

 

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Cramped in the back corner of the basement Joseph struggled to remain composed.

Joseph kept folding and refolding his hands. He was stressed.

“Joooooee”!!!!!!

“Uh, yes…What can I do”?

Joseph wanted to go somewhere, do something. He longed to be anywhere but here…..He loved Mary but ……he was scared….he began bolting for the doorway.

“Joooe Dooon’t leave me”.

Oh great. As much as he loved his wife, he cringed at being present at the birth, let alone Mary’s rock. He was about to pass out himself. Timidly Joseph sat next to Mary and held her hand. He smiled and pretended to look strong. He had to be strong for Mary.

Just then Aunt Noelle breezed in as if birthing babies was an everyday task.

“Hello sweet pea. Let’s get you comfortable”.

Uh comfortable, Joe thought…..that was not happening for anybody. Mary was certainly moaning rather loudly.  But thank goodness for an experienced woman who could help Mary.

Joseph watched as Aunt Noelle gracefully took over.

Careful. Don’t do that. Joseph inwardly cautioned.

Didn’t Aunt Noelle know that this was his wife? His baby?

Okay not really his baby

This was JESUS!!!!!!

But Aunt Noelle was singing or praying and asking Mary to push. Wasn’t there an easier way???

Mary hollered the most earth piercing scream and Joseph wanted to flee. But he bravely clung to Mary’s sticky, sweaty palms. He peeped at Mary’s big brown eyes that were squinted so she wouldn’t pass out. She was too young for this. His quiet, sweet Mary groaned again. Joey closed his eyes praying fiercely. This was the Son of God and Joe knew that JESUS would be born to save the world from their sins. Evil fought harder at that moment than ever before, but he could not win. He never could. The words “It is finished” had already been written before time and could not be changed though the force of hell barred the door.  It was if the devil himself was insisted that this baby not be born. But the power of God cannot be so easily thwarted.

And then Auntie Noelle showed us a baby.

He was so perfect.

I touched His round, little mouth. One day He would learn to speak and yet He had already spoken my world into exsistence and knew language because He had created each one.     How could the Son of God be so tiny and yet still hold the world in His hands?

Such a juxtaposition I could not fathom.

Shaking, Mary handed me JESUS.

I trembled and then I began to weep. I didn’t think I would be able to love a baby that wasn’t of my flesh. But as I gazed into the eyes of this baby, I couldn’t help but weep. I felt so unqualified and filled to the brim with love.

I looked at Mary. She smiled. And though she looked exhausted, and her hair was a mess, I never loved her more than at that moment.

Do You Know How Much He Loves You?

 

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Silent Night

Holy Night

The Savior

Most Holy One

is born tonight.

 

The earth continues

as if unaware

that the LORD of all

has just entered there.

 

But not with fortes

or kingly hallelujahs

but with

humlity

and  undeserved grace.

 

Think of it

the Lord of all

decrescendoed as one so small

nine months

hidden inside

of a woman of simplicity.

He became an embryo

inside a placenta

so the world

could

know their Creator.

 

Jesus waited

ready to awake the world with His presence.

 

He could’ve descended any way He chose

He could’ve come in royalty

be instead He chose

the lowest form of humility.

 

Silent Night

Holy Night

Your Saviour

Wants to be born

in you

Tonight.