VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

READING MY OWN WRITING

4/13/2016

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 5.01.25 AMI was succeeding in keeping myself from thinking about an upcoming event because it required a great deal of unfamiliar organizing that might as well not be done until closer to the time of it. I had volunteered for something I know I’m not good at but was feeling pretty proud of myself for refusing to maul the “what ifs” over and over in my mind.

Less than a week ago I found out a few things that will make the situation harder for me. No, actually impossible for me. So I’ve spent most of the last few days hollering “help” to my FATHER.

And, GOD has answered. My FATHER has brought to my mind helpful ideas and I’m making a point to remember them. Yes, I was keeping away the cloud that so wanted to settle over my head. Until I lost something that I deemed essential for success.

Seems the still yet shaky foundation I, with GOD, was building collapsed.   It was enough to make me cry whenever I thought about the fast approaching situation. And I thought and cried back and forth all afternoon. I knew GOD would not leave me alone in the venue but the erosion had started.

I began to turn away from clinging to my FATHER to become more concerned about myself. This took the form of accepting thoughts about how miserable I was feeling. So I began to cling to ideas that would comfort me in the situation. I was engaging in the “poor me” thing and not even realizing it. Until…

I was interrupted by an email alert on my phone. It was a reminder that someone had commented on my today’s post. I would have to moderate it (accept it) before it would show up on my blog site.

Since I wrote the post years ago and scheduled it on my blog site months ago, I had no idea what was posted for today. I would have to read my own post to understand the comment.

The post was titled, Discipline, but it might as well have been called, Bonnie, Your Drifting, Let Me Call You Back to the Truth. Below is a portion of the post:

FATHER, I will praise You because You discipline me in just measure (Jer 30:11). You promise I can always endure whatever circumstances You put me in (1 Cor 10:13). You are with me to save me (Jer 30:11). You give me power to keep myself calm in the days of adversity (Ps 94:13). Enduring the disciplinary trial proves my faith and produces perseverance and steadfastness and patience (James 1:3).

FATHER, commit to my understanding the fact that You issue discipline because You love me (Heb 12:6). When I go astray You call me back to You with discipline. Your steadfast love will not depart from me (2 Sam 7:14-15). You will not be false to Your faithfulness, nor violate Your covenant or alter the word that goes forth from Your lips (Ps 89:33-34). You chasten and scourge me because You cherish me (Heb 12:6).

Needless to say, I have stopped crying.

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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

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.