Pearls and Perspectives

Reviving and Rejoicing!

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Reviving and rejoicing! What an exciting pair of words full of energy, joy, and great expectations. What about the word “law.” Not as enticing. Not at first glance anyway…

I sat sulking in church several years ago. My attention had been focused on several recent major disappointments. There was a definite gap between how I wanted to live my life and how I knew God wanted me to live it. I had made painful decisions that I knew honored God in action but my heart was far from it. I felt that everything I wanted was outside His will and that the path before me would be bleak. I felt like I was in a box, hemmed in by biblical principles and looking out at others enjoying their freedom as they lived lives directed by decisions to satiate their own desires.

It had been one of those mornings where I almost didn’t go to church but pushed myself to make the quick 2 minute drive there. I was focused on my own feelings as the sermon started. Then the Lord spoke directly to me as a guest pastor read from Psalm 19:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

I was electrified by God’s word. It was the exact opposite of what I was feeling at the time, but I knew it to be true. I knew the Lord was telling me to look to him expecting to be revived, made joyful, enlightened-to look to Him expecting strength to endure, sweetness, and delightful treasures and rewards. There was everything I wanted to have and feel in a few simple verses and what ushers it all in but the one thing I resented- the laws and precepts of the Lord!

It was in fact fear of the Lord that was the deciding force in the difficult decisions I had made at the time. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), but what reviving and rejoicing, what feasting comes will fuller wisdom! My circumstances remained the same but a blessed shift in perspective made all the difference in how I experienced them and what I expected the outcomes to be.

Now I am grateful to be in a season of “bringing in the sheaves.” (Psalms 126:6) I believe many of the blessings I experience now are a direct result of making difficult decisions based on biblical principles. I expect there will be more seasons of going out weeping and sowing, of making difficult decisions based on God’s law and precepts, and always reviving and rejoicing in the midst.

Perspective Shifters

Unmovable

not be movedTrees can be so encouraging. They are steadfast, tough, yet still flexible, bending with the ever-changing winds. They endure through the seasons, adapting. Dropping their pretty leaves when the sun no longer shines enough to sustain them; growing them again in the spring, full and lush as ever in the summer sun and warm rains. Dropping them again as the sunlight fades and the chill sets in. They bear fruit in season yet cannot partake in any of it. They give it all away for free. Of course the evergreens stay lush and green year-round, as resolute in freezing rain and heavy snow as they are in a heat wave.

Trees don’t complain. They are content in every season.  Always looking and reaching up toward the heavens.

I think looking up is the key. When we look to the hills, remembering our help is in the Lord who created the heavens and earth He will not suffer our feet to be moved! (Psalm 121) When we look to Him He keeps us in perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3) When our eyes are on the Lord we, like the trees, will not be moved. (Psalm 16:8)

Poems

*how You make me feel*

roses nach drizzleb

log to flame.

rain whispering to

a crackling field.

gathering what the earth did yield.

that’s

how You make me feel

light at the end of the tunnel.

smile in the eye of a friend.

sigh of relief

joy to those who grieve

that’s

how You make me feel.

oil to my wounds.

music to my dance.

the source and substance of

my soul’s steamy romance.

this is

how You make me feel

written 12/27/2001

At the time of writing this poem I had recently come to the end of a long dark period. I started in bondage and feelings of hopelessness and ended in glorious victory. I had learned spiritual warfare. It was an  arduous lesson. I had just learned how to battle lies with truth. How to worship no matter the circumstances. How to call on the name of the Lord in great expectation.  I was experiencing new freedom and freshness in life in general and particularly in relationship with God.

It was a time of feeling a bit shaky and shell-shocked. The battle was still fresh in my mind, yet, I could see for the first time, the table set before me in the presence of my enemies (Psalm 23).  A feast laid out in luxuriant abundance! I was ready to partake.

Pain lingers here. In the dryness of the field, the darkness of the tunnel, the seeping wounds.  But these needs are being addressed! There is also joy, music, warmth, quenching rain, medicine, music, and love!

“O taste and see that the Lord is good!”  Psalm 34:8 a

 

Pearls and Perspectives

Experiencing the Impossible

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Since the Black Panther Marvel movie isn’t coming out fast enough for my interest, I recently watched Shaka Zulu on Netflix. At one point in the movie Shaka, a powerful tribal king in 1800’s Africa, found a Holy Bible in a European doctor’s bag. Flipping through the pages he saw an image of Jesus Christ on the cross and through the rest of the series he had several questions about who Jesus was and if He was truly the powerful King of Kings why did He die on a cross? Trying to convey the power of Christ to Shaka, who considered himself to be the king of kings, Dr. Flynn said that Christ is more powerful than a military regiment, in fact, more powerful than all regiments on earth.

He later regretted that statement when Shaka and his Zulu warriors were facing against another large tribe in warfare and Shaka instructed the small band of Europeans to march against the multitudes of the opposing army alone while Shaka and his warriors stood back watching from a hill. Shaka reasoned that if Christ is in his heart and He is more powerful than all military regiments why not? Shaka wanted to see if Christ truly had any power and was the King of Kings. Falteringly, Dr. Flynn stuttered something about not meaning real regiments. He was unable to explain exactly what kind of regiments he had meant. Shaka didn’t give the group of European men a choice, he insisted they go forward into battle. So they did.

I think when first explaining to Shaka the power of Christ that Dr. Flynn was indeed referring to real military regiments. It was easy to believe in God’s power while sitting in relative safety, having an abstract conversation. It is so much harder to walk in the reality of those truths, or to even cling to them in the physical realities of life.

Of course Dr. Flynn isn’t alone in this. It’s easy to believe God is all-powerful when things are going well. When life is full of love and joy and comfort we confidently trust our head knowledge of God’s power. When we are pleased with the directions of our lives we can enjoy descriptions of God’s power as declared to Job. “God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps the rain in his thick clouds, and the clouds don’t burst with the weight. He covers the face of the moon, shrouding it with his clouds. He created the horizon when he separated the waters: he set the boundary between day and night. The foundations of heaven tremble; they shudder at his rebuke. By his power the sea grew calm. By his skill he crushed the great sea monster. His Spirit made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent. These are just the beginning of all that he does, merely a whisper of his power. Who, then, can comprehend the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:7-14)

When faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and asked by God to move forward in faith, trusting Him, it’s much harder to know.  Harder to believe. It is difficult to turn abstract beliefs into action and obedience to all we are called to. But the facts that He is, and is present, and is all-powerful remain.  The only way to see God’s power in action is to move forward into and through all that He has prepared for the stories of our lives.

I’m not sure how much of the Shaka Zulu series was fact or fiction. But in the film Dr. Flynn and the small group of European men did go into battle with a cannon, rifles, and Christ in at least Dr. Flynn’s heart. It was a difficult battle and they lost a man or two, but were victorious in the end.

God calls us to things that are impossible in human terms. Then when He provides, delivers, comes through, it is evident that He is on the move! Our head knowledge of God’s greatness turns into an experience of His greatness and a testimony to His power.

Poems

Bubble Burst

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We stand in the sunshine

Around the sandbox

and discuss married life

Woes

Children blow bubbles

Laugh

And pop them

(Written 5/7/2005)

I wrote this poem 13 years ago as a young single woman full of heady hopes for a dreamy marriage. I fervently yearned for marriage and lived in eager anticipation of it happening ANY.DAY.NOW…. for a long time. I had no clue it would still be a full 10 years before I’d finally meet the man I’d marry!

It is interesting to reflect on the poem now as I near my first wedding anniversary.  I remember the day I wrote it, at the time I was working in child care center out in the country. The children would play outside in a fenced in play area in a large field.  Down the hill was an expansive cornfield.  I loved working there. The days were rhythmic yet varied, full of colorful crafts, dancing, singing, and chats with coworkers. It was a gorgeously sunny evening with the wide expanse of sky all around us and children playing and blowing bubbles. As we watched the children play, a few coworkers began talking about married life.  Someone had been recently divorced and that particular conversation covered the more negative aspects of marriage. Being single at the time and never having had a dating relationship I had nothing to add to the conversation but I remember some of my naive expectations of marriage dissolving away in the quiet sunset as my perspective shifted closer to reality.

As I near my 1-year anniversary wedding anniversary I am grateful for all the times my naive expectations were challenged and changed. Like the time a few years ago when I confessed to the dear ladies in my church small group that I had prayed for God to give me a husband or to kill me!  I was very serious, but by God’s grace, they all, being married or divorced, simultaneously burst out laughing. And somehow, that was just what I needed for a gentle shift in perspective.

Every burst bubble of my pre-marriage expectations are a blessing to me now. I wonder if I wasn’t married until my late 30’s because God has so many bubbles in my mind to pop?! Going into marriage – or anything, with realistic expectations is key to enjoying the experience. It’s due to moments like the one this poem captured that my first 11 months as a wife have been so wondrously sweet!

Pearls and Perspectives, Perspective Shifters

KALEIDOSCOPE

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Sometimes it’s the littlest things that knock us off track.  Several years ago I had written with pen on paper, a blog article about the beauty of Kaleidoscopes and God.  When I went to type it onto the computer I couldn’t find it anywhere. I spent a long time looking for it to no avail.  Every time I thought about writing a new post I thought, well, maybe I can find it-and there I went…. looking for it again!  I don’t remember what I had written but I do know I thought it was so good, thinking “If only I could post the one about kaleidoscopes- so brilliant, so colorful!  The post that got away!

And so several years passed…. Even today I want to go look for that post instead of writing this one. Despite the fact that I have since moved to a new home, in a new city, with my new hubby, and the chances of finding it are worse than ever.

I shared my dilemma with my husband who suggested writing about losing the kaleidoscope as a way to let go and move on.  To which I replied, “I think I can do that.”  Such a ridiculously simply suggestion and it was just the pearl of wisdom and shift in perspective that I needed. And so, here it is. Dusting off the blog and here we go!

kalaidescope2b

 

Pearls and Perspectives

Worth It?

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What the most you’ve ever paid for something whether it was with time, energy, money….. Was it worth it? I’ve been enjoying a beautiful song about counting the cost of submitting our lives to God and praising Him for being worth “everything” by The Rend Collective when it struck me that Christ also had a cost to consider.  He considered the cost of giving himself over to be beat, mocked, spit on, nailed to a cross and killed despite having lived every single day in absolute purity and righteousness.  He looked at the cross face on, yes, he prayed for the cup to be removed, but when it wasn’t, he accepted it.  Why?  Because He considered us worth it.

Jesus considered being in relationship with us and saving us from ourselves worth His suffering, and not only the suffering of the cross.  A sermon I heard recently helped me to see that every day as a man on earth was suffering for Him.  To be constantly faced with temptation, to fully experience that temptation and to NEVER give in, not even once, is something no other human will ever know.  Jesus was even subject to more numerous temptations then we are.  To have access to ultimate power, to have the ability to do anything imaginable and to choose to submit moment by moment to the will of the Lord must have been challenging to say the least. But Jesus chose to do it every day of His life because He loves us enough to consider it worth it!

Hebrews 12:1,2  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross….”

How often is our own behavior in stark contrast to His example for us?  I struggle at times with considering even trivial sacrifices too much.  I’ve prayed the pitiful prayer for the Lord to give me something I desperately wanted or give me death, not feeling that life on His terms was worth it.  He so generously and mercifully chose instead to give me a greater portion of Himself, making known to me the path of life and leading me to experience fullness of joy in His presence and to experience His pleasures(Psalm 16:11).  He suffered greatly for our behalf. Shouldn’t I be willing to suffer gratefully for my own good? So far everything I have considered to be suffering has proven to be worth it. How much more so when we get to heaven?! Alleluia! Help me Lord! Alleluia!

II Corinthians 4:17 “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison”

Pearls and Perspectives

November Perspective

November Perspective

November has been intensely busy with the 9-5 turning more into a 24/7 and even this is a quick interlude before getting back to work though its close to midnight. I am grateful that I had two cool, clear, crisp Saturday mornings this month to take pictures and regroup.
Even though a huge chunk of the woods behind the house has been removed over the past two months for a housing development that is going in, there is still enough there to enjoy. On the bright side, literally, with less trees, more sunlight filters through! Making all we have left more beautiful.
Kind of like this month. With so much time poured into work, the moments I’ve stepped away from it have seemed more precious for it.

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Pearls and Perspectives

Wholly Holy

Wholly Holy

As a child I didn’t understand the excitement or the cause for celebration when it came to the holiness of God. I dreaded when we would sing the old hymn “Holy Holy Holy.” I felt like we slowly trudged through it and it dragged on and on for verses. I didn’t understand why every Wednesday night service someone would request it and it would be followed by many confirming “Amens!” I would think here we go again…. I appreciated Christ’s righteousness and His redemption and songs celebrating other aspects of God I knew I could delight in the immediate, like His blood and blessings. But the joys of His holiness remained a mystery. I was bored with the concept of God’s holiness.

As an adult I became more curious as it became evident to me how important God’s holiness is to Him. How central to His scripture. I respected it but still did not feel a thrill in singing of the holiness of God. I felt holiness was something I wouldn’t fully experience until transitioning to my eternal state other than being redeemed by Christ’s righteousness/holiness. I could feel others around me being enthralled during songs praising God’s holiness and I felt a little left behind.

Finally, I asked Him. “Lord, why is your holiness so important? Why not just sing about your love, mercy, faithfulness…..He revealed to me a beautiful thing—How His holiness is the foundation of all my previous favorites of His character. With the foundation of Holiness He is able to be all of who He is. Without holiness there is no pure and endless love, there is no justice, no mercy, no faithfulness. At least not consistently. An unholy God with absolute power? A terrifying thought. How would his delightful traits be twisted and warped in unholiness? Would a god like that taunt and and tease us? Abandon us? The depravity of mankind is chilling. The depravity of an eternal, all-powerful, unholy god is unimaginable…. What would life would look like? What would death look like?

In an instant it clicked and took my breath away. HOLINESS! I can’t delight in any other aspects of Him and my relationship with Him without delighting in His holiness! They could not exist without it. His holiness is foundational to all of who He is. I now treasure that old hymn and other songs that put my attention on the Holiness of God. Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty! Blessed Trinity!

I hope you too will feel enthralled with God’s holiness and enjoy this song.

Pearls and Perspectives

Can’t Stop

This is a powerful song of praise. It is one of those songs where you can’t help but dance, clap and sing. We sang it at my Dad’s funeral after he had died suddenly in 2008. Why? Partly because it was one of his favorite songs. But mostly because God is good, even through disaster and worse case scenarios. With God I find that we tend to have ‘best-case-worst-case-scenarios.’ We had a sudden and horrific loss, but God’s timing, provision and presence was so powerful, we saw his mercy in the many ways He orchestrated things. We saw his gentleness and how He brought us to and through one of those worse case scenarios the best way possible. That is consistently my experience with God. All my flat tires have happened in driveways either at home or work. That doesn’t mean that someday I won’t have a blow-out on the highway. But if that happens, even then I’ll be in His hands and he will be paying attention to the minute details of my predicament. He will work things out for my good and His glory.
This song is really called “Call Him Up”. But we refer to it as “Can’t Stop.” Can’t stop praising His name! Even when its tough. Even when I almost don’t feel like it. Can’t stop praising His name-Jesus! This song is a powerful perspective shifter- it will remind you to call on the name of the Lord with your needs, delight in Him and no matter what- don’t stop praising His name! Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! Alleulia! Jesus!……….