VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

HOW DO I SMELL?

10/26/2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 12.17.48 PMHave the computer in my prayer closet today because I need to confess a sin and learn from my failing. I am at the SPIRIT’s sway—knowing I need forgiveness—seeking His correction.

The incident took place yesterday after church. I was at the door as a family of visitors exited. Not having opportunity to speak with them yet I wanted to say something even as I knew they were already thinking of their next activity. So I simply said, “Enjoy this nice weather.”

Wrong thing to say; I had time to run after them and correct myself, but I didn’t. It would be strange; they wouldn’t understand. And so I watched them walk to their car.

This was a moment the SPIRIT communicated a boatload of understanding to me in a nanosecond.

Putting His wisdom in words, it went something like this: “This is not what you should be saying. Today on your blog site sits your entry about the Sabbath and how it should be observed. You didn’t blog ‘Enjoy this nice weather.’…”

I could have run after them and said something like, “Enjoy this nice weather as you renew your fellowship with CHRIST on this Sabbath Day.” I had time.

I know the SPIRIT would have chosen the perfect words to say. But I hesitated. I rationalized—too late. That would seem weird.

Indeed, that would seem weird and I would embarrass myself. But wait, who cares if I embarrass myself. I would probably never see them again since they were just visiting to support a family member who had a one-time part in the service.

I sit here now in this prayer closet with hindsight-thinking. The comment I made was typical—what they would expect to hear—so common that they would immediately forget it.

But, the comment the SPIRIT had for me to say would, quite possibly, have been strange to their ears. Thus it would have carried the opportunity to be remembered.

Standing in front of the backdrop of the world I am to be noticed, not blend into the backdrop. I can’t just smell like the backdrop, but must have a unique scent.

“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life….” (2 Cor 2:15-16 NKJV).

FATHER, today I am very saddened by my response to the church situation yesterday. I smelled like the world. But here with the SPIRIT today in my closet I am encouraged for not only do I know you have forgiven me but You promise to give me other chances and other activities to express the heart You gave me.

Set me apart for Your service by leading me in consecration so that I do not blend into the backdrop of the world.  See this Wednesday’s CONFESSION post (12/16). The subject will be “Consecration.”

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VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTIOPS

ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED????

2/6/11

Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 11.48.39 AMLast night I read a devotional by Otavious Winslow pointing out all the ways we can know for sure we are saved (ref#61, Sept 13th). In the present moment I know I am saved, but how can I know I will make it to the end?

I revisited the time I felt I needed to plead with GOD daily lest He would let go of my hand and I would not make it to the end. I remember the fear…

This revisit hurt. It rushed upon me and I was quickly captured by it.

But, after I turned out the light and got comfortable in bed the answer I desperately needed came. Because He has set His affection on me, I will endure to the end! He has chosen to love me! This has nothing to do with me loving Him. He takes the initiative (John 10:28).

Up until last night my thinking was along the line of me, myself, and I enduring until the end—as if I had the power to keep myself out of hell! Now that He has provided an understanding to me, I wonder why I didn’t get the concept long ago? He has His reasons. Indeed, how the enemy deceives and I am soundly deceived until GOD chooses the time to turn on His light and I see clearly.

Winslow talked about spiritual fruit as an indication of GOD’s regeneration. As I lay in bed how pointedly my FATHER revealed the growth He has given me. Can I count on once saved, always saved? Absolutely!—because it’s not up to me!

“There is nothing for which we can take credit.  All praise, honor, worship, and service go to God and God alone,  He sought us.  He birthed us.  He sustains us.  He matures us.  He protects us.  And he will finally deliver us.  To him be the glory. Amen.”  Paul David Tripp

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

DUPED AGAIN

8/2/09

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 9.23.12 AMI did it again, after vowing not to, after being informed—after knowing I shouldn’t, I still did.

I went to church and let what people said discourage me. I wasn’t going to do that because one of satan’s tactics is to point out my failings. I wasn’t going to let him ruffle me today, but I did.

There was something said about a subject I addressed in my book. I concluded I had arrived at the wrong conclusion. It was at that point I began to listen to satan. And then it took only minutes before he had me thoroughly convinced that all I would do is lead people astray if I published the book.

One may say that depressed people—people who can easily be swayed by the enemy, are deprived, but, not so. I came to lunch feeling very inadequate about my ability to glorify GOD. But, this is a good position to be in for I unconsciously give JESUS the invitation to come and encourage me.

It amazes me that JESUS is closer to me than satan but rarely do I recognize His presence unless I get into discouragement. Sure enough over lunch JESUS encouraged me as I read in Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to…grant to those who mourn…the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit:…that he (GOD) may be glorified. Isa 61:1,3

JESUS, You grant me gladness and the ability to praise along with everything else! Why am I wallowing in my inadequacies? I need to stop boohooing and let You do Your work. GOD needs to be proclaimed.

FATHER, Your Word has lifted me from the pit and I thank You for it. Yet, I can’t just skip away thinking only how blessed I am that You lift me from the valley and set me once again on a rock (Ps 40:1-2).

No—Let me say, “Praise be to You, GOD, who vindicates Your holy name (Ezek 36:22).” Then, let me remember my evil ways and deeds in the valley and loath myself (Ezek 36:31) for it is not for my sake You act but for Your holy name (Ezek 36:32)!

I will correct my mistake in the book and go on.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

THE BENEFITS OF SINNING

3/24/15

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 2.37.38 PMWell, I need to write this. Maybe I can get it out of my system so I can go back to bed and sleep.

The situation was something difficult for me; I knew I didn’t have the talent to preform it well. So, I practiced—and practiced, setting everything up in a way that I could get through the morning.

But, I wasn’t directing the morning. Immediately there were events that I didn’t anticipate. By the time the second change happened, I lost all confidence in getting through the situation successfully.

How I had prayed that GOD would be glorified. How I wanted to lose myself in the task and enjoy His presence. But all thought of GOD crumbled when I knew I was going to fail at what I committed myself to.

Because I knew I was going to showcase my failure in front of 50 or so people I was panicked—numb, unable to think straight. I wanted to concentrate and memorize the changes in the situation so I would not fail so badly, but my panic would not let me. The little bit of thought panic allowed, was my realization I was crashing into the self-pity pit.

You know sometimes you think you can hide your feelings. Well, I knew I wasn’t hiding my feelings. Everyone around me knew I was out of sorts. My lousy attitude even incited a friend to speak cross words to me. All I wanted to do was run out the door but pride caused me to set my jaw and go through the situation.

But, wonders of wonders. Me, totally sucked into deep sin, experienced GOD blessing people through my wickedness. Thank You, FATHER!

Thirty some hours later now, the SPIRIT has pointed out many sins. And, He probably still isn’t done. I am so anxious to get to tomorrow so I can see my friend and ask her to forgive my bad attitude.

And, what have I learned from all this?—that I fall into sin and will always fall into sin. The prince of this world can dupe me. But, thank You, FATHER, You use my ugliness to move me toward holiness.

If I had not sinned, and the SPIRIT had not convicted me, I would not be now begging to come into Your presence to be healed. All these little incidents of failure, I pray, teach me to come into Your presence sooner and sooner.

 

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

DISHWASHER FAILURE

2/9/10

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 4.47.20 PMThere was nothing left to do but throw a tantrum. I had done my out-loud yelling at myself to no avail. In my exhausted state, heart beating in my ears and eyes crossing, I had only one more task to complete before I could fall into bed. Starting the dishwasher would finish my care-giving obligations and I’d be going home tomorrow. But the dishwasher didn’t start.

“Just let me finish this one thing. The least I can do is work. Seems I’ve failed at everything else. But, no. So I threw myself into bed and slapped the covers over my head.

I had come to Ohio praying desperately to keep my mind on CHRIST. I had never succeeded keeping my mind on CHRIST while care giving. So, through the years, that had become my Ohio-bound goal.

But, there breathing the stale air under the covers, I admitted to myself this time that I had been more of a failure than ever before.

So, instead of enjoying a step toward Christlikeness, I fell on my face with failure—again. But, it was not just another failure. There was finality about it. In my honesty, I conceded I would never be able to move forward in CHRIST—certainly not in a care-giving situation.

I grew up in the church; therefore I don’t have a memory of a precise time of my salvation. Did I ever really accept CHRIST or have I been all these years just pretending I’m a Christian?

2/10/10

Well, I did get my face out of the covers and am home now. So, let me type in some notes I took during the weeks of care-giving:

“Does not GOD keep the drowning waters just below our noses? Is there anyone who can cling to victory more than fleeting moments? How often did King David break out in praise to His GOD? Yes, the Psalms are full of His praises, but what was his life like between the times he took up his pen to write?”

At my desk now, a little more under control, I recall King David’s life history recorded in I Chronicles and I and II Samuel. He went through similar circumstances as my care giving. He failed in many situations but this is what You, LORD say of David:

“…I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart,…” (Acts 13:22 ESV).

Oh…!

This is me, too! You love me, FATHER, and my heart loves You!!

Don’t I wish I had read that yesterday? I would have identified with King David—in his failures—in his praises.

FATHER, please, I don’t want to ever be so dejected as yesterday. Thank You for placing in Your Word a few of David’s Psalms that starts with his struggles and end in his praise to You. You do keep the drowning-water just below our noses so we can cast off our efforts and cling to You.

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

 “Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

 “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:1-6, ESV).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

EATING AND BLOWING MY NOSE

…9/2/2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 12.51.16 PM…Another lunch where I cry between my bites of food. Oh, this struggle hurts; it has gone on so long. Today it is more a cry of sadness than anger.

What brought me to tears was pinching my finger in the desk drawer, but the real cause was the computer again. Hum, it’s just like life—three steps forward, two back.

But my mind is on the steps back. I accomplish something on the computer and then turn around and can’t do it again.

I cry even though I know these circumstances are GOD’s choice for me. But, that doesn’t stop the hurt. I read Scripture over lunch and the words, although true, are so pious, so all-together sounding reminding me that I am not.

I was so discouraged I stopped reading and just ate and blew my nose. Then my mind caught on a thought: “Read prayers about GOD you have written.”

The thought came from my blog prep. I had just written a page about “Moods.” When discouraged, I suggested reading only the prayers that tell of GOD’s greatness.

Just that thought itself stopped my crying for I remember how well throwing my thoughts on GOD keeps me from drowning in my thoughts about being miserable.

Now I’m back at this computer—humble and possessing much more patience. How amazing it is that just thoughts of GOD puts things back in the right perspective.

 

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

DOWNFALL: REVIEWING SINS

…2/16/12

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 8.19.43 PM…Am being reminded lately of some failures in my person that I really would like to become successes. I am missing opportunities to tote CHRIST. I watch my friends take advantage of every opportunity. I’m a little dunce-y—unable to think of anything to say or do. Some friends are really good making me look really bad. What do they think of me?

The old pride is rearing its ugly head—I want to keep up with my friends—at least not be so far behind I’m out of their league. I don’t want to lose them as a friend. I certainly don’t want them to view me as a “project.” This pride pushes me into picking events to share that make me look good. That’s not good.

I need to be more purposeful. But, how can I be when my mind is empty. I see opportunities—lulls in conversation where I could open my mouth—but, searching my mind yields nothing. My corporate prayers are halting and simple—only presentable because I premeditate them.

And, darn, I can’t get down those piano songs. The more I practice the more I make a habit of the mistakes. I feel so far away from my FATHER playing the piano because I can’t hit the right notes. The harder I try the further I am from Him. How can I teach the kids about worship when I’m still stuck in my life-long problem of having to think about the song so I cannot think of the LORD?

Okay, I see what I’m doing—reviewing my flaws—and the enemy is helping me find more than I realize I have. This is the wrong road to go down.

So, forgive me, FATHER, I’m letting my old nature revive and get into my head. CHRIST has rendered my flesh inoperative by His death on the cross. I believe that and will turn my thoughts elsewhere.

I am not who my friends are. Their gifting is different than mine. Dare I say, I’m a writer—self motivated, willing to spend long hours researching, loving every minute of collaborating with You, FATHER. And, for who’s benefit? It doesn’t matter. Behind my desk is my home—my second prayer closet. You are there and this is where You draw me to. Is this not enough to shove flesh back in the grave and laugh when pride tries to talk?

I worship You continually because that is always my desire. Feeling close to You while playing the piano is only something flesh wishes it could accomplish. And, I worship You even when I must put all my concentration on trying to hit the right notes and feel a thousand miles away from You.

VALLEYS TO MOUTAINTOPS

CHANGED AS I WRITE

…9/19/15

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 11.28.13 AM…I expect hard circumstances, but when they turn out to not be what I was expecting, or last longer than I expected, my faith erodes giving the enemy a chance to shoot accusations at me. Satan’s shooting now and I’m not moving out of the way.

When playing competitive basketball, we were instructed to gang up on an injured opponent. So swiftly the enemy has taken advantage of me. It doesn’t take long to get to the valley as I begin to believe what the enemy is saying is true.

I hate the valley. I’m in it so often. Defeat hurts. I maintain myself by entertaining thoughts of abandoning the situation that is discouraging me.

He’s on the subject of me failing again. Why can’t I accept that I fail? Why can’t I accept I will never be looked upon admirably?

As I type I see a lot of I’s on this computer screen. Ok, okay, I admit I’ve taken a tangent to feel sorry for myself. But, I’m just tired of struggling—tired of always having more work in front of me than I can do—just tired. I’m tired of listening to the enemy, tired of hurrying to get everything done, tired of struggling and getting no where—just tired.

Spent the entire day listening to sermons on the Sabbath. Last week somehow I fell into GOD’s will by deciding to write a blog for Sunday and so now I have to research and be responsible to get facts about the LORD’s Day correct. And then I have to be responsible to follow my own advice!

If you are thinking that this is my “hard circumstances” I’m complaining about, you are wrong. Actually, what has happened, as I’m writing, I have identified my problem and keeping the Sabbath is the answer. In the writing of this paragraph GOD usurped the enemy and challenged me to believe the Sabbath is to be my mountaintop.

And what is tomorrow? It’s the Sabbath! It’s the day GOD desires I set aside to commune with Him. Can He take away my tiredness? You betcha. He has done it before—by an act of supernatural power His SPIRIT has refreshed my spirit and I’ve had enough strength to work for six more days!

How many ways does GOD have to get me to the mountaintop?—as many as the sand on the seashore. How I will look forward to tomorrow!  And, as I wait for Him to refresh me I find even now I have the strength to dodge the enemy’s accusations. GOD has not even waited until Sunday to move me toward the mountaintop!

 

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

STOOL KICKING

2/22/14

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 12.39.24 PMGOD has made a point to show me Him and myself in a very pointed way. I don’t want to write about it because it reveals my black heart but, because it glorifies Him I will do it.

Yesterday was Friday—just one day before I had to have music down for Saturday worship team practice. My back was hurting so I determined to practice piano before doing anything else. I figured I could do devotions afterward with a sore back. (Actually I was planning to incorporate my book-writing work with devotions and final proofread the 30th week of my draft, which tells you a little about where my heart was in regards to getting into my FATHER’s presence.)

First thing that happened was I leaned wrong and my stool moved away from the piano. I stopped playing and kicked it. I should have realized my anger right them and dealt with it for that stupid stool moves a lot but this was the first time I purposely got up and kicked it.

I had practiced all week and still needed more practice possibly more practice than there was time to practice. Hence, my solution—go at practice with more determination.

But, the chair thing set the tone for the day. Nothing went right. I cemented bad piano playing into bad piano-playing habits.

Last night my husband even prayed that I have a better day today; that clued me I was disrupting him with my attitude. (Imagine that.)

Unfortunately this morning was a repeat of yesterday. I left the piano in a huff and stomped to my office. I would quit the worship team. It seemed the smart thing to do.

As I sat, a thought surfaced suggesting I go to my prayer closet. My answer to it was, “Why?” But, I went. I certainly knew enough not to go back and try to practice piano.

On the shelf was week 30 of my book ready to be proofed. So figured I might as well read through it.

The first three pages contained worthwhile information but they did nothing to influence my hostile heart. Then I picked up the “Confession” page. The title of the entry was “Anger.”

Funny how you never think of your heavenly FATHER being right beside you when you are making a fool of yourself being angry. Not only do I understand once more how my FATHER is involved in every detail of my life but how unholy I am. Suddenly making a favorable impression at worship practice is not top priority.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

IT’S NOT SIN THAT CAUSES ME TO FALL AWAY

10/26/12

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 12.27.00 PMFATHER, I woke up frightened about what I was thinking. “I can’t wait for You, FATHER. I don’t know how. I have no patience for it.” I deduced failure in every situation I thought of; another week of care-giving put me in panic mode.

I am so vulnerable now—trying to get my footing on the Rock but knowing I don’t have the wherewithal. Re-reading a couple entries of my years-ago journal I find I’m in the same place I was many times before. This does not help my panic.

Sigh. It’s true, as changeable as I am I often do not change. Some days I do all right, some days, not. And none of the days next week promise success.

Indeed, FATHER, it’s true; I’m unable to control my panic. So it is that You create me to fall away from You and I do it well. It’s clear that it’s not a particular sin that causes me to fall away; but it’s simply who I am.

However, at breakfast I read in Nehemiah about the people admitting they are unable to rebuild the wall (Neh 4:10) and I think about my condition.

Under the direction of Nehemiah, the people rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem knew they would not be able. Nehemiah reminded them not to be afraid, but to remember the LORD who was great and awesome and who would fight for them (Neh 4:14,20).

PROMISE-KEEPING, UNCHANGEABLE GOD, as changeable, yet unchangeable, as I am You never change. Now I get it.

This is why You made me changeable so You can showcase Your unchangeableness! I’ll walk into this week of care-giving depending on You—knowing You will accomplish Your desire. I may panic all through it but in it You will showcase Yourself. Who am I to beg You to eliminate my panic? Ah, let me now just bow in submission to You.