Today…Never Again

“Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today…”  (Hebrews 3:13)

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This morning my daily devotions took me to chapter 3 of Hebrews.  In verse 7 the Holy Spirit admonishes me to “listen to his voice.”  Not only am I compelled to listen but I am urged to do it now…right away…in this very moment.

Listen to the urgency… “Today you must listen to his voice.” 

As I read, I wondered…. “Why the urgency?” … and I came to a few conclusions.

First, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  We live in the moment, and even that may be snatched away without warning.

Second, as human creatures we are prone procrastinate.  James, the brother of Jesus, writes, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  When we are young we tend to believe we have all the time in the world, and then one day, as a fifty-plus year old we scratch our heads and say, “Where the hell did it go…”

Third, I wonder, if… perhaps…His message for me today will be somehow different from his message of tomorrow.   If so…and I fail to hear it…then it is lost to me, forever.

I believe God tries to say “I love you,” MANY times a day.  I don’t know about you, but I love hearing the different ways he expresses his love.  Maybe it’s in a kitten’s purr, a gentle breeze, the flutter of a dragonfly, a bluebird’s serenade, or even co-mingled within a good cup of coffee.

Jesus and I have this thing between us…and it goes something like this:

“Whenever the dragonfly’s path crosses my way… Tis but Jesus saying… “I love you, today.” 

You’d be surprised how many times I see them ….even during the winter months!  When I do, I can’t help but smile and say, “I love you, too.”

The idea for today’s post came from, Seize The Day,  found in Our Daily Bread Devotional Journal, and also from today’s daily prompt, infect.  When I saw the word infect, immediately my mind thought, cancer.

Vernon C. Grounds opens Seize The Day with a paragraph about Jim Valvano, and it is that paragraph I leave for you in closing…

“Before entering the broadcasting field, Jim Valvano led the North Carolina State University basketball team to a national championship.  Then cancer developed in his lower back.  Invited to address the Duke University squad, Jim had this to say: 

“Life changes when you least expect it to.  The future is uncertain.  So, seize this day, seize this moment, and make the most of it.” 

***

Daily Prompt:  Infect

Do you like ghost stories?  Visit my other blog, Creepy Reflections, to read a different take on today’s daily prompt called Deadly Infection.

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God’s Abstract Love

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There are some things we will never understand, and God’s love is one of them.  Maybe there are times, we think, we comprehend its depth, only to have the knowledge drift away, like a cloud in the sky.

If it were possible to put God’s love to canvas, you can be sure, it would be abstract art.  I truly enjoy abstract paintings, because every time I view it, I learn something new; and for me, that is exciting!

Such is God’s love, dear friends.  It is multifaceted with many doors, but, behind each door stands Jesus.  He tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in.”

Jesus knocks at our door, but sometimes it is required of us to knock. In the book of  Matthew, Jesus speaks, “Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Sometimes we hear, see and feel his love, but often we do not.  When we walk the latter, we walk in God’s abstract love; but don’t despair; for it’s during these times, our faith is strengthened, and our eyes are opened to something new.

Jesus is whispering, “Seek, and you shall find.”

***

Daily Prompt: Abstract

 

You Are a Masterpiece

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Little Lisa

My morning devotional, that I try to consume every day with a cup of coffee, told me,  “We can live by the truth of God’s word and not by the way we feel.”

I grew up with low self esteem.  I never felt good enough.  As a child, I didn’t understand this to be a lack of self worth, rather it was just “my normal.”

One of my earliest memories of this was when I  was in kindergarten.  A symphony came to visit our school.  It was a beautiful day outside, so the group set up their instruments and played under the pine trees of our school yard.  As a poor kid, living in a cotton mill town, I had never heard such beauty.  Spellbound, I sat crossed legged in the pine straw, trembled, and thought, “This is too beautiful, and I’m not good enough…” 

At five years old, this was my realty.

Forty some years later, my knee-jerk reaction is to fall back into that same crippling mentality.

  I want to be a writer and I think…“I’m not good enough…”

I want to be an artist and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

I want to be a friend and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

I want to be accepted and I think… “I’m not good enough…”

and the list goes on and on…

Now, that I’m older, I realize I can rise above these feelings, …but sometimes…sometimes…I…. well, sometimes I just don’t…

So, it’s always refreshing when I read or hear words of encouragement.  They become a balm, soothing and healing my soul as they are applied.

Eagerly, I hold fast to what God says about me.  I eat it all the day long.  I breathe into my being.  I long for it to become my reality.

What does God say about me?

You are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Guess what?

Whatever God says about me, He also says about you.

You are a masterpiece!

***

Check out what Joyce Meyer has to say about this subject:  :   Finding My Identity in Christ

It was a blessing to me and I think it will bless you as well

Daily Prompt: Tremble

You Are A Gift

We are uniquely created for reckless abandonment to our Creator. 

We crave Him,  and long for His sound and scent.

We yearn to share His story:  For God so loved the world.

 And no one else can tell the story quite like you. 

You are a gift to the world.

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How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You. (Psalms 139:17-18)

(Daily Prompt: Scent)

Grace is Found in Hues of Gray

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Recently, I had a family member express concern for my soul.  Their reason?  I’m a lesbian.

Now, first of all, I realize their concern is an expression of love, but I also know, they fear if they fail to warn me, then my blood will stain their hands, at the great white throne of God’s judgement.  I know this because, I too, once held to such belief.  I am aware of the almost unbearable pain this causes, and it makes me sad.

After a lifetime of being taught this, it ceases to be an opinion, and becomes a way of life, which is extremely hard to escape.  Everything in life, is governed by the philosophy of black and white, cut and dry, leaving no room for debate. There are no hues of grays, it’s either wrong or right, irregardless of what modern technology or science proves different.

For example, I Corinthians 6:9-10 names a long list of characters who have no hope of heaven.  Listed among these, of course, are homosexuals, but also listed are people who covet, adulterers, thieves and drunkards.  There’s a significantly longer list, found in Romans chapter 1, and it contains, people who envy, people who gossip, people who are proud, and even people who are disobedient to their parents.

May I be so bold as to say, everyone in the world, falls somewhere within these categories.  So, if taken literally, no one, it seems, should ever make it to the pearly gates, but that, my friends, is the point; and this point, is often missed because the reader becomes side tracked by the mention of the “sin” of homosexuality.

The point is, no one, absolutely no one, is worthy of Gods Kingdom.  To stress this, Paul in the same book writes, “There is no one righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned…”

Thankfully, the book of Romans doesn’t end upon this dire note, but instead it points the reader to one person:  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, and what he means to all of mankind, is the sole emphasis of the whole book of Romans.  If you read the whole book, instead of picking scripture here and there, the conclusion is made that we are all “… justified freely by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deed of the law.”

Now, having written all of the above, I am aware there are arguments to be made.  My fundamental and evangelical friends pose some valid questions about homosexuality and sin in general.  I truly want to address these; however, that is another blog for another time.  To be honest, more than a blog post…a series.

In closing, I just want to say, as a gay-christian, (no oxymoron) I choose to live by grace.  Grace is a world of unanswered questions; a world full of wonder that drives us to seek answers. We become scrappy Christians, who wrestle and grapple to find answers, but at the end of the day, we still have to say, “I don’t know” and because of grace, that is okay.  Grace is, not knowing the answers while resting in peace.

In the past, the accusations, from well-meaning Christians-family and friends-would anger me and set me on the defensive.  I would think, “How dare they judge my relationship with God?”  That’s not, so much, my reaction anymore, instead, I am saddened by the fear, I know they feel.  I wish, there were a way, to draw back the curtains of my soul, so all concerned, could witness my relationship with God.  This, I know, is the only thing that would lay such fears to rest.

 

Melody of the Soul

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Photo borrowed from Along the Banks by Camille Eide

 

Sometimes I shiver with the thought of getting old.  This shiver, like a wave of panic, reminds me:  Time marches on and stops for no one.  Logically, I knew this all along; however, now that I’m over fifty, it’s beginning to really sink in. It’s quite the paradox, for as I gaze into the mirror, I see a body consistently aging, but my soul seems to remain young.  I ask myself, how can this be?  When did my body catch up and pass my soul?  My body descends into frailty, but my soul remains a kid of yesteryear.

I have come to the conclusion, that the soul never ages.  Bear in mind, I have no scientific proof to backup this theory; it is just that…a theory…or simply put, reflections from my redhead.  I hold to this logic because, as I said before, my body is beginning to feel its age-parts of me hurt that I never knew I had; and, all the while, as this daily decline marches on, my soul, on the other hand, desires to frolic like a freckle-faced kid running barefoot, and climbing trees.  Could this mean, I’m still a kid at heart?  I’m not sure, but this I know: The melody of my soul, still plays an energetic tune.

I further, believe it possible, that at the moment our soul entered our body, whether in the womb or upon birth, it came to us fully whole and fully competent.    The soul, the essence of us, came to us “ready to roll,” and was only limited by our lack of cognitive development.

In theory (mine of course), as our mind matured, we became aware of our soul, and this awareness, was the key,  that unlocked the knowledge and power held within.  Our “soul power” has always been inside, waiting patiently to be released.  The more we tap into its power, through thought, prayers or meditation, the more spiritual we become. And so, this continues, until we reach a point in our life, where our soul grows stronger, as our bodies grow weaker.  I think this true, regardless of one’s religion or lack thereof.  It’s a matter of tapping into the soul and everyone has a soul.

Often, when I think about getting old, I liken it to a bird, captured within her cage.  My soul, of course, is the bird, and my aging body, the cage.  Like the bird, I presume, the soul will be agile, still yearning to play; but my body will be too tired-too old-to satisfy her cravings.

I am reminded of Maya Angelou’s words, from her poem Caged Bird:

“But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   
so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings   
with a fearful trill   
of things unknown   
but longed for still   
and his tune is heard   
on the distant hill   
for the caged bird   
sings of freedom.”
          ***
And so, when I’ve come to the end, as stand upon my own “grave of dreams,” will my soul, like Maya’s caged bird, still sing and fly free upon the melodies of her song?    I hope so.
 As a Christian, I believe God lives in my soul.  Many years ago, by faith, I invited Him into my soul, and I believe He put His Spirit inside.  He promised He would, if only I’d ask, and I take Him at his word:  “For His Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am the child of God.”  (Romans 8:16)
And so, my hope is in God, and I know when I reach the valley of the shadow of death, God will be there, in my soul, so I will not have to face death, alone.  And when, death has come, and my last breath expired, the cage door will open, and this soul of mine will fly away and into a beautiful place, that my God has prepared for me.
***
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me…”  Psalms 23:4

“In my Father’s house are many mansions:  if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.”  John 14:2

***

Obvious Mercy

A Conversation with God 8/25/16

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Gracie, hoping more spaghetti squash seeds fall to the floor.

Me:  Well God, I woke up this morning to three big piles and a puddle.  Had to steam mop the floors-of which- I finished the living room, kitchen, dining room, and hallway-ALL- before 7:30 this morning!

God:  Some days are definitely better than others, but…

Me:  Yeah, and some nights are better than others too!  Gracie barked most of the night.  I had to get up and take her outside at least 3 times…  pfhh…probably more than that…I don’t know, Lord…I kinda lost count.  Corinne and have nick-named her Monster.

God:  During those times, whisper my name and…

Me:  Well, I kind’a recollect s…s..saying your name, but… it may n..not have come out as reverently as I would have liked…I’m sorry, Lord.

God:  Lisa, because of my Son, you are forgiven and I will think of it no more.  Remember when I said, “As far as the east is from the west, that far have I removed your transgressions…?”

Me:  Yes Lord, I remember King David writing that.  He sure had a load of sins…huh, Lord…?

God:  None less than yours…

Me:  Yes Lord…I’m sorry.

God:  You see, Lisa, it’s not about the sins you commit-sin is sin-and all have sinned.  The most important “take away” here is that Jesus died and rose again, and because of that your sins are forgiven.  I would much rather you dwell upon Christ and what he’s done, than upon all the mistakes and “bad things” you’ve done.  My mercy is gracious and plentiful, and I want this to be obvious and personal for everyone.

Me:  Lord, thank you for your mercy.

God:  It makes me happy to forgive my children and my arms are always open….regardless of what they’ve done.

Me:  (bows head)  Dear Lord, what a wonderful thing Jesus did for me.  Thank you, my Jesus and please help my mind to rest upon You all day today.

God:  I will help you, Lisa…remember my Spirit goes everywhere you go.  That means I am an ever-present help…ask you shall receive.

Me:  Thank you, God.   Um…God….

God:  Yes Lisa?

Me:  It sure is a lot of work taking care of a puppy.  Do you think I could, maybe…um…lose some weight?

God:  Hmmm…not if you keep eating the muffins that are meant for the  JMU students.

Me:  Oops…guess you saw that the other night…

God:  Remember, I –am- with you always.  (God smiles)

***

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.

 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.

 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting

Psalms 103:8-17

***

Written for participation of today’s daily prompt:  Obvious

 

A Seed of Faith

A Conversation with God 8/24/16

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Me:  Hello God.  Are you there?  Are you really there?

God:          (silence)

Me:  Do you, really, hear me, or are my words like dandelion seeds, dangling in the air?

God:  (silence)

Me:  God?

God: (silence)

Me:  Do you hear when I pray?

God:  (silence)

Me:  You see, Lord, there are those who think my words never break the barrier of the ceiling.  They smirk at my offer of prayer.  They point to “things” in my life and knowingly claim, “Because of these “things” a righteous God will never hear you pray.”

(silent pause)

Me: So God-You tell me-do you hear me when I pray?

(silent pause and then…)

God:  Lisa…Do you have faith?

Me:  Yes Lord, I have put my trust in you.

God:  Then-your faith- and -our relationship- is none of their business.

Me:  Yes, Lord…but sometimes I can’t help wondering if they are right…

God:  Lisa…Do you have faith?

Me:  Yes Lord, I’ve given you my heart….but they…

God:  Lisa, do-you-have faith?

Me:  (closing my eyes in despair I utter) …but…

God:  Lisa, do -YOU- have faith?

Me:  …yes Lord…I do…

God: Then don’t fret what others say.

Me:  (silent)

God:  Lisa, your faith in me, is between us and no one else.  Your faith will grow stronger the more you come to me…and the more you come…the more we talk… the less other opinions will matter.  Listen to my voice by faith-even if that faith is small as a mustard seed-then everyone else’s voice will fade into nothingness.

Me:  Thank you, Lord.  I sure needed this talk today.

God:  Lisa

Me:  Yes Lord?

God:  You are mine and I am yours-there’s no one in-between.

***

 Do you have faith?  Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.  Romans 14:22

A Quiet Place

A Conversation with God 8/18/16

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Beth, my daughter, looking out over the Shenandoah Valley.

Me:  God, my world is too noisy…sometimes I just want to go to the moon!

God:  You don’t have to go all the way to the moon…just rest in your quiet place, it’s always waiting for you.

Me:  I would but I don’t know the way.

God:  Well, that’s the beauty of it, you don’t have to go anywhere because it goes everywhere with you.  You’re always standing by the door.  Just open the door and walk inside.

Me:  Huh…?

God:  My presence is the resting place and your awareness is the door.  When you become aware of My presence, in any given moment, there is peace and an extra boost of energy to carry you through.

Me:  God, it’s so incredible that YOU, the God who created all, lives inside me.

God:  I know it’s hard for your human mind to understand, so don’t even try…just rest in knowing, with me, all things are possible.

Me:  Thank you Lord.

God:  Faith is the key that opens your door of awareness.  Believe me and I will meet you there.  In our secret place you’ll rest in the coolness of my shadow.  I will gather you as a mother hen gathers her chicks and you will rest under my wings.

Me:  What if there’s no time?

God:  Even in the briefest of moments I will give you strength…just say my name and know I’m there.  Quote my word in your mind, that always helps too.

Me:  Thank you, Lord.

God:  Remember, you’ll need many rests through out your day.  So, open the door and come inside, often.

***

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty…
 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge.  (Psalms 91:1,4)

Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  (Mark 10:27)

Outside Looking In

A Conversation with God 8/16/16

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Me:  God, I’ve been thinking about those who’ve shunned me.  Sometimes I feel all alone.  I feel their world is going on without me, and I’m on the outside looking in.  I have this visual of a dirtied hungry child, hands and nose pressed to a store’s window, watching shoppers buying goods to carry home to their families.  The dirty child always has my face.

God:  Unfortunately, my child, sometimes family and those we think love us will treat us that way. Some do it for spite, anger,jealously and numerous other reasons and then there are those who do it in my name.

Me:  In  your name, Lord?  How?

God:  My word is misunderstood and often it is used to hurt people.  I have many do’s and don’ts in my word and those do’s and don’ts were written for a specific people at a specific time in history.  The problem is, some take a scripture passage from the middle of my story and use it to justify their judgments of others.

(God slowly shakes his head)

God:  How often I’ve asked my children not to judge…  They can’t see the heart of the person they judge, but I can.  Also, judging others can be very dangerous because the way you judge will be the same way you will be judged.

(God pauses)

God:  Lisa,this makes me sad.  I would much rather my children err on the side of compassion.

Me:  Lord, I have been guilty of judging others.  Please forgive me.

God:  Your sins are forgiven, Lisa.  Jesus has already taken care of every one when He died on the cross.

Me:  Thank you, Lord.

God:  And Lisa…

Me:  Yes, Lord?

God:  Remember this…Jesus first came to his own and his own received him not.  You have a savior who understands the hurt you feel.  And Lisa…it doesn’t matter who forsakes you-even mother or father-I will never forsake you and will always take you in.

Me:  I love you, God.

God:  I love you too, Lisa.

***

When my father and mother forsake me then the Lord will gather me up.  Psalms 27:10

He (Jesus) came to his own, and his own received him not.  John 1:11

“Don’t judge others, and God will not judge you.  If you judge others, you will be judged the same way you judge them. God will treat you the same way you treat others…Why do you notice the small piece of dust that is in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood that is in your own?”  Matthew 7:1-4