VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

THE MEASURE OF MY LOVE TO GOD

1/31/2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 12.56.23 PMI sighed to my husband on the way home from church, “If I could just go through the day like I feel right now.” The adrenalin-filled morning was over but the adrenalin had not completely dissipated. I wasn’t tired, I didn’t hurt and I felt like I could accomplish what I wanted to without struggling. But the reality is that I’m here at the computer just three hours later feeling physically miserable and mentally and spiritually empty.

I fell asleep reading, I developed a headache napping, forced myself out of bed but then fell back asleep in the chair trying to pray. Some Sabbath. Suddenly my Sunday private time with GOD loomed more difficult than speaking spiritually to my brothers and sisters at morning church.

There doesn’t seem to be anymore to record in this journal entry. I sit here wondering what I can do with myself in the nine more hours of this Sunday?

***

Well, the bit of reading I did accomplish, “I sensed God was saying to me through a thought planted in my mind” (ref#192, p134), from Jerry Bridges that: “…the extent to which we realize and acknowledge our own sinfulness, and the extent to which we realize the total forgiveness and cleansing from those sins, will determine the measure of our love to God” (ref#192, p126).

It seems prudent as I sit here flat-lining as a result of the morning adrenalin rush to compile two lists, (1) of besetting sins I struggle with and (2) ways GOD works to forgive my sins.

As I begin this list I am thoroughly convinced that I sin lots and lots and, through CHIRST, GOD deems me forgiven for them. This is simply a fact in my head. However it seems quite possible that if I don’t review how I came to believe that statement I will eventually wonder how I ever believed it. Yes, indeed, if not reviewed that truth will fade over time. So, let me contemplate and make my two lists:

After spending a half hour or so making the lists, I am no longer tired. I listed 14 sins. I would call them folders of sins because each word represents an explosion of specific sins in specific circumstances.

I listed 34 facts about JESUS the CHRIST—facts that remind me of His character on earth and now in heaven. The list makes me realize how intent He was to His FATHER’s calling on Him—how perfectly He accomplished it—and how much now He lives for me, one of His very own. I see how easily and freely and with so much compassion He forgives my sins. The audacity of me to entertain the thought of carrying any guilt because of my sins. He so convincingly has made an end of them. I have complete freedom to love Him and love Him more than ever because I have spent a pleasurable time in my mind and in Scripture reviewing His attributes.

Advertisements

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

A SUNDAY EXPERIENCE

2/24/2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 2.21.13 PMTwo days ago I sat in Sunday school about this time of day and tried my best to let go and let GOD. I had just finished practicing with the worship team. Too much of the time I had to scramble to get the right chord played. The sounds in my ears at church are always so different than at home practicing. It frazzled me just enough that I hesitated, looked at my hands, lost track of where I was in the music, and didn’t get the chord played right much of the time. Figured I could muddle through the service without disturbing anyone’s worship but I was hoping for more.

Sunday school sandwiched practice and church so I sat listening and praying—listening to the teacher talk about depending on the HOLY SPIRIT and praying I’d depend on Him next hour. The request to my FATHER was to relax and to let the SPIRIT lift me into irrepressible joy.

It didn’t happen.

Today I realize my prayer reflected my sinful nature. I so wanted an enjoyable experience—the experience of playing well and feeling the touch of the SPIRIT. But, GOD did not answer that prayer request. (I now see His wisdom and praise Him.)

If He would have answered the way I wanted I would have had only a temporary joy that would have faded quickly. Instead, He gave me failure and has prompted me to sit here today and write this journal entry.

He first addressed my yet unanswered prayer request with a quote from my morning devotional:

“…A man worships God in spirit, when, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he brings all his affections, appetites, and desires to the throne of God; and he worships him in truth, when every purpose and passion of his heart, and when every act of his religious worship, is guided and regulated by the word of God” Adam Clarke’s Commentary (ref#15, [John 4:24]).

Spiritually I’m okay. I worship in SPIRIT and truth. Did not GOD confirm it when someone in Sunday school quoted the two greatest commandments? I do love GOD with all my heart and there is nothing more important to me than the spiritual welfare of others. Just because I could not recognize or feel the HOLY SPIRIT when I played with the worship team doesn’t mean I’ve failed to worship in the SPIRIT.

What I need to do is get better at piano and not judge myself spiritually. How clearly I see now that my idea of worshipping in the SPIRIT was just desiring a good feeling and not desiring the GOD of the HOLY SPIRIT at all.

And, as far as relaxing and enjoying playing with the worship team…maybe it will come as I experience more piano practice and more worship team participation but it is enough that I find joy today in the revelation of my GOD through this entry.

So two things to remember: GOD has made me a new creature. I will bring forth new creature spiritual fruit. I don’t have to worry about doing the right things spiritually as long as I continually humble myself before GOD. The second thing to remember is to continue practicing piano and to be a part of the worship team any chance I get. Oh thank You, FATHER, for Your delayed answered prayer.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

LIFE IN THE PRAYER CLOSET

11/15/08

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 11.40.07 AMMy mind always defaults into looking for something to accomplish—to work toward a future goal. “Let’s see—I’ll sing over some hymns to exercise my voice in case I end up tomorrow playing and singing for company.”

I’m in the prayer closet, dummy. Why don’t I sing something to the LORD? Now, there’s a scoop.

My mind would focus on the sound of the music if I sang hymns. Would GOD be happy with that? No.

But, thinking about not having words in front of me to prompt a song…well, I just conclude it’ll quickly become very boring—repetitive and boring. Natural Bonnie has not enough experience to make words and music interesting. But, boy, is this all natural thinking.

I’ll storm heaven—beat on the door. Natural Bonnie may hate the LORD, but inner Bonnie wants to worship.

***

The minute I decided to storm heaven, the strength of natural Bonnie faded and left—there’s no longer a battle making me decide between my old or new nature.

Before I knock, the LORD answers. He leaves His throne, comes down to me outside the pearly gate. I perceive His desire is like the prodigal son’s father. Even though I don’t see Him run, I perceive His heart running—running to me as if He’d been waiting forever for my coming.

He restrains His love lest it consume me. Yet, it still consumes me. I can only collapse in sobs realizing how I’ve hurt Him by staying away—by thinking about just playing hymns. I’m aware of a portion of His glory and greatness and I cower in the dust at His feet.

Afraid to be repetitive?—who even thinks about that singing before Him.

I have to turn away; I can’t allow myself to be open completely to all the thoughts of His greatness—they would incinerate me. It takes a nanosecond for Him to refocus my mind and fill it with His greatness. He brands it on my mind so that I’m unable to think of anything else.

We’ve said nothing to each other but I’m full to capacity of His Person and content to return to this world. How is it just a nanosecond sense of Him can over power me?

I took one tiny step in His direction intending to knock at His door. Suddenly He’s present—with me—upon me as if He planned to answer my intended knock since the foundations of the world.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

CRYING AND SQUAWKING

6/2/10

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 3.35.10 PMI sit in the closet wanting the SPIRIT—to be led by Him, but don’t feel I have time to wait for Him. I have my day planned and I need to get to it, yet, I will wait for a bit even if it takes forfeiting breakfast and doing laundry.

I hope to sing praise to my LORD, but I do not want my flesh to have any part of it. SPIRIT, turn my heart to sing.

As I wait here my flesh suggests ways the SPIRIT may come. Thoughts flesh put through my mind are the way I “put GOD in a box.” Also the SPIRIT will not come while flesh is thinking thoughts like, “Come quickly SPIRIT, so I’ll have time for breakfast.” I have doubts; “Maybe this desire to wait is from satan trying to keep me from my day’s plans.”

I reject the thoughts and continue my vigil. How flesh wants to entertain itself; it tries everything to divert my attention. Can the SPIRIT work within me the same time flesh is bombarding my mind with such ramblings? No, I can’t experience both. The SPIRIT does not dwell with flesh. He conquers flesh. When He comes flesh shrivels like a piece of paper in a fire and is no more heard from.

Suddenly my heart comes alive as I sit doing nothing for it perceives it has time to go around Your altar, O LORD, and proclaim thanksgiving aloud and tell of all Your wonderful deeds (Ps 26:7).

When I give my heart opportunity to express itself the SPIRIT gives it utterance! So, it has worked—this waiting. The Ps 26:7 Scripture was the bridge the SPIRIT and my heart walked over in order to express themselves in my actions. The desire of my heart was to sing praise to GOD. And, my heart sang!

(I surprised myself for all my voice could do was squeak. It was a confirmation that flesh had no part in this.) Flesh was burning like paper in the fire.

My thoughts overwhelmed me when I came to thinking about the FATHER giving me CHRIST. What I heard in the world was a guitar playing and me squawking and crying. Then I had the sense that CHRIST was near. I judged my feelings as like Isaiah in his Isaiah chapter six writings.

I have to laugh. When I first thought of praising GOD in song, I decided on a certain portion of Scripture to sing. That was my flesh deciding. When the SPIRIT took over I forgot completely about that portion of Scripture.

That portion of Scripture is beautiful—an excellent piece to offer in praise, but it would have offended GOD if I had sung it to Him. Lingering in the closet this morning has given me one situation where I KNOW I have walked step by step with GOD’s SPIRIT and not let my enemy direct me. Thank You, FATHER, for answering my prayer as I waited.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

NIGHTMARE OF DISCOURAGEMENT

6/23/09

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 2.42.57 PMI asked the LORD to watch over me as I slept. I’ve been doing that a lot lately—especially after having nightmares the night before last.

These scary dreams wake me up at the height of fright. But, last night the nightmare woke me up at the height of discouragement.

I had not defended something about my lunch. Someone accused me of something and I had chosen not to muster the strength to exonerate myself.

It’s funny how the specifics of dreams, at least mine, are forgotten but the point of them remains clear long after I awake. Usually my entertainment of discouraging thoughts is the vehicle that I ride on down to the pit. Today, this dream has put me in the pit.

The reason being that in my failure to exonerate myself, I failed to exonerate GOD. And the last scene before I awoke was a friend catching up with me and pointing out the importance of exonerating GOD. All my Christian friends stood around me and everyone knew I had failed GOD.

There’s something helpful about being able to sin, accepting GOD’s conviction and pardon and going on—in the privacy of your own heart without the world knowing. Now that I think about the last sentence, I surmise the “something helpful” is pride glad to not get shot down utterly in front of all my friends.

In my nightmare I was shot down utterly. And it has started my day with a great heavy cloud over my head. This failure to be strong in the LORD makes me want to think about giving this eternal-life, heaven-thing, up.

I lay in bed and considered just floating along with the current and giving up the fight. I thought about making mosaics—sitting in my basement gluing little pieces of glass to a board and renouncing the world around me.

I don’t care if GOD points me today in the direction of perdition. I deserve it.

But, but, but, but—even thought I deserve death, JESUS is not willing I be crushed. I can’t stop the tears now because He has come close. It matters not to Him that I can’t do what I’m suppose to. He knows my frame—my inadequacies, my weaknesses, my sin. What matters is that I stay in communion with Him. And, how can I not stay close to Him? He has loved me first. I’m just crying at His feet. I cannot rebel and leave Him in anger. It is impossible. It’s His strength alone that holds me to Himself.

He doesn’t tell me it’s okay that I didn’t defend Him in my dream. He says nothing about my actions. In fact, He says nothing, but He just shows me His presence and willingness to continue to be longsuffering in relationship.

So, what have I learned this morning? I’ve learned I’m a total failure and He’s a total success. And…I’m not angry that He didn’t answer my prayer of staying my nightmares because what He has given me after I awoke is precious.

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

THE SABBATH

1/3/2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 2.52.07 PM“There is never a moment, even the holiest, when we are not exposed to the fiery darts of the adversary. The onset is often at a moment when we least suspect its approach; seasons of peculiar nearness to God…” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 7th).

I started tearing up—surprising myself. “What’s that about?” I’m walking through this day with GOD beside me. I have made a mental note of that since I sat down at the computer to operate the slides to the worship songs.

True, the slides are not correct and I’m trying to make them right with no success, but that’s not disturbing me. What’s disturbing me is how I can sit beside GOD and feel awful. It appears no one else is struggling as I look out over the room—the dark cloud hangs over my head. Yet, GOD sits beside me and gives me the day He has ordained for me—a day I should be rejoicing in because He has given it to me in love. What’s happening seems like an oxymoron.

***

After the drive home and lunch consumed, I settled into reading. Again, like a previous Sabbath, I re-read a portion where I left off in a devotional:

“…just as the night of woe sets in, filling you with trembling, anxiety, and fear, a scene of overpowering glory suddenly burst before the astonished eye of faith. The glory of God as your Father has appeared; the character of Jesus as a loving, tender Brother has unfolded; the Spirit as a Comforter has whispered; your interest in the great redemption has been revealed; and a new earth scented with a thousand sweet smells, and a new heaven resplendent with countless suns, has floated before your view” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 4th).

NOT! Excuse me but I’m still in the “night of woe.” But wait…

I’m smiling now. Bonnie, stop trying to find a way to feel better. GOD is GOD; He does as He pleases. Today and always He walks beside me even though He chooses to move me into frustrating circumstances where the enemy has his way with me. What He did this morning and what He is doing now is providing me the strong faith to not be shaken by circumstances. So, I’m having a bad day, so what? I am standing on a foundation that does not move. Nothing is able to separate me from the love of GOD (Rom 8:39).

NOTE: I have reread this entry and looking over the Octavius Winslow quote again makes me inclined now to say, YES!

“Let us trust this love. Trust it when veiled, trust it when it threatens to slay, trust it when it seems to frown, trust it even when we cannot trace it” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Sept 6th).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

I HAVE FALLEN TO INDEPENDENCY

10/26/12

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 1.49.25 PMFATHER, I woke up frightened about what I was thinking. “I can’t wait for You, FATHER. It’s foreign to me, I don’t know how.” I was in panic mode facing another week of care-giving.

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 did not help my panic, however, at breakfast I read, “…By ourselves we will not be able…” (Neh 4:10 ESV) and considered my condition.

As changeable as I am I do not change. Some days I’m for You, some days I’m against You and You, the Unchangable GOD, will continue to fulfill Your promise—to draw me back. So it is that You have created me to fall away from You and I do it well. It is not so much sinning that causes me to fall away; I just fall away. You have created me with such a nature to be dependent on You (ref#5, p40).

I am as Joshua in filthy garments standing before You with satan beside me accusing me. But You say, “Remove the filthy garments from him, I will clothe him with pure vestments” (Zech 3:1-4). And this unchangeable act You do for me as many times as I fall away from You. I do not change by being changeable. You do not change by being unchangeable.

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

PROMISE-KEEPING, UNCHANGEABLE GOD, as changeable as I am You will always draw me back; You will never stop fighting for me. This is why You made me changeable so You can showcase Your unchangeableness.

 

You have brought me, GREAT FATHER again,

To stand before You in filthy garments.

Created to be dependant, LORD,

I have fallen into independency…independent.

 

By myself I am unable.

Unable… unable…

By myself I am unable.

Fallen in my independency…

 

But, You…

But, You…

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

EVERY STEP OF MY LIFE HE’S PLANNED

1/2/2016

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 11.26.04 AMIn the prayer closet this morning I was singing and the SPIRIT illuminated for me the following phrase: “Ev’ry step of your life He planned” (A. H. Ackley, A Heart That Can Understand, © 1933 by Robert H. Coleman). It precipitated the thought that my FATHER not only knows my future but also plans it!

Only the SPIRIT can reveal so much in a seven-word phrase. It takes away my anxiousness about doing well in the upcoming days. Concerning my fear of not knowing what to write in my journal posts about the Sabbath, He will provide or He won’t provide. It’s His to plan.

And so what if things do not go as I expect. I don’t have to strive to change them and I don’t have to accept any shame for the way the situation plays out. What I deem “unsuccessful” can be and is many times very much part of GOD’s plans.

Reading about Abram waiting for GOD (Gen 15:9-21), I could think how unsuccessful he was in waiting. He did well by following GOD’s command to assemble an offering and he did well as he waited by shooing away the birds of prey when they attempted to eat the animals he placed on the altar. But then, “…a deep sleep fell upon Abram…” and, “…terror and great darkness fell upon him…” (Gen 15:12 NASB).

My thought about this passage is, “shame on Abram for allowing himself to fall asleep; he deserves to have nightmares.” Abram could have brow-beat himself for falling asleep. I’m sure since he shooed away the birds once, he intended to continue doing it until his waiting for the LORD was over. He was doing what he knew he should; but it was GOD’s plan that he falls asleep.

For this is the exact condition Abram happens to be in when GOD chooses to end his wait and speak to him. “Unsuccessful” to Abram or me is not necessarily “unsuccessful” to GOD.

Of course, the disclaimer is that the plans of GOD do not cancel out my responsibility to keep on doing what I know I should—I can’t be lax in my responsibility. I’m not to sin because I’m under grace (Rom 6:1-2).

Obviously GOD had planned out Abram’s falling asleep as well as his nightmares. And GOD has my days planned out as well. Hallelujah I get to walk through all that He puts in place for me knowing He has planned my future in love. And LORD, help me not judge any of it; I want to simply walk in faith hand in hand with You not letting any of my after-thoughts of the situation drag me down.