Refiner’s Fire preparing our hearts

Our dreams must be purified and refined.  Our hearts must be content with where we are right now (in everything). In the places our hearts are longing, our expectation (hope) comes from Him to make all things right in those areas in His perfect timing.  Our dreams will come about unexpectedly, and that is the way it is meant to me…lest it be about us and not for His glory.

Doesn’t it make sense though, even if it hurts?  If my children ask me over and over for the things they want…I usually tell them “when mommy sees you content with what mommy has given you right now, mommy will choose to bestow on you many more blessings when you least expect it.”  Lewis is just beginning to understand this.  And so am I 🙂

It’s so hard to keep our hearts in that place…that fine line of wanting to be used, but just for God’s glory…and also to know that we are really of no use to God….He doesn’t need us, He can easily do it Himself!  Brian and I have been talking about having humble hearts.  What does that look like?  We can’t try to be humble.  It is something that just has to be present in our hearts.  It is a deep awareness that we are simply of no use to Him…He simply wants to use us because He loves us!  I mentioned that it is hard to walk around knowing that we are of no use to God.  He surely doesn’t want us to walk around discouraged or depressed.  But, this is the part where God lifts our eyes to Him…where He says to us…I want to use you, but not because of you, but because of Me.  That is just simply who God is.  He longs to be in relationship with us.  It’s really all for His glory.  And we can be a part of that!  But we have to want to be a part of it for HIS glory…All it takes is hearts to seek Him and His glory; willing hearts and humble hearts.

I have a heart like Peter’s and a mind like Pauls I think 🙂  And I hope to have a countenance like Mary’s (‘thank-you Lord for calling me out of my lowly estate’).  My heart says “I love you Lord!”  But, just as the Lord said to Peter, “Do you love (Agape love) me Peter?  Do you love (agape) love me Peter?  Do you love (fileo) me Peter?  This is after the denial and they are on the beach..Christ is resurrected…and Peter’s so excited, he jumps out out of the boat and drags a ton of fish on the shore to see His Lord and best friend again.  But, He is reminded of this huge failure…this huge shame that he had in denying the Lord….He did say He would do anything for Him, right?  That he would die for Him?  But, instead he denied Him.  3 times.  Jesus asked him 3 times.  He reminded Peter that Agape love only comes from the Father…and all that Peter could ever have for Him was fileo love (brotherly love, affectionate love).  True Love only comes from the Father…we simply aren’t capable of it.  Peter’s heart was broken.  Jesus is building Peter up again telling Peter, he can have that agape kind of love for Jesus if Peter turns to the Father for it.  Peter is humbled and becomes dependent on the Lord for true love.  His broken heart is build back up and he goes on to be the Rock of the church.  His passion was put to great use…but it was redirected for God’s glory….before God could use him.

The Lord has to break hearts to make them right again.  He has come to bind up the broken hearted and use them for His glory and the glory of His Kingdom.

My heart is being broken and remolded into a heart that is pleasing to the Lord.  My desires and dreams and longings are being released unto the Lord.  He has replaced my sin with His righteousness, given me a heart of contentment and peace and joy.  My heart is unexpectedly waiting…my hope is in my Lord (not my dreams!)…my desire is for my life to be used for His glory.

And lastly, the Lord talked to me about leadership being about servanthood.  I went to a school on leadership.  It is something that keens my interest.  I long to shepherd hearts….to love people and lead people in a quiet way, towards the Lord.  What does true leadership look like?  It’s meant so many different things to me over the years.  It looks very different to me now.  I long for a heart to be a servant.  Unnoticed, insignificant…not drawing attention, but simply desiring to pour out for Jesus.  HE came to serve….and He was God.  Why should I long for anything different?

My life is not my own.

Advertisements

Prayers that make His heart Glad

The other night we were praying at a prayer group and one sweet lady’s prayer was so beautiful to me…so short…so sweet.  She said she wasn’t sure how to pray.  She felt timid.  She felt unworthy.  She felt without knowledge.  I thought her prayer was the most humble of all: short, sincere, and pleasing to our Lord.

To reinforce what the Lord was teaching me about prayer, today at lunch, Hannah was making “wrong choices” (chucking food everywhere, yelling “no, no NO!”)…and Lewis of course was pointing it out to me…I asked him if he wanted to pray for her to help encourage her to do the right thing…he used to say, “no mommy, but you can pray for me/her and I’ll listen”….or “I’ll pray later…later mommy, ok?”….and now, he prays right away…mostly when we are sick…but today he decided to pray for sissy right then.  He said, “God, help sissy make right choices, Amen.”  And Hannah chimed in with an “Amen” right on cue!  Lewis then said to me, “Mommy, I like short prayers.”  I said, “me too, Lewis, me too.”  But…I think it is a process for me to know HOW to pray short prayers.  We are meant to pray unceasing, but to also pray most earnestly.  I know Jesus’s heart is most glad with the simple, most earnest prayers.

I am learning that shorter is better.  Less is more.  Especially in prayer.  He knows our hearts.  He knows our desires.  He knows every number on our head.  What is it He wants most from us in prayer then?  I think, to humble ourselves before Him.  To know our proper place in the most amazing relationship between us and our Creator.  And to have an intimate conversation with Him.  The rest…He tells us in His word…Worship/Praise, thanks, petition, etc….but mostly, a relationship with Him.  Let our fears not come before that.  However we can pray to start praying, is most important to Him I think.

Failure…

Much of what is happening in my life right now is meeting with much failure.  I’m thankful for the perseverance God has given me to press on. My focus is on having joy in obedience.  My delight is in His law.  My thanks is in my sweet family right now who all really fill me up.  I couldn’t walk this season without my wonderful husband.  I couldn’t feel so blessed without looking into my sweet kids eyes and be satisfied to the depths of my soul with their squeals of excitement and never ending joy and love of life.

I am yearning for our calling as a family.  Everything we are doing right now is simply not the right fit.  For any of us.  Waiting is so hard when there is so much pain.  I am truly learning the meaning of a holy joy.  And to be GROUNDED in Him.  And how to wait without falling apart.  There have been so many tears.  The Lord knows the plans He has for me–to prosper me and not harm me!  I delight in doing His will.  My strength and courage come from Him, not myself and I am so proud to be an ambassador to Him.   Occasionally, I SEE fruit and purpose in where He has us right now.  But, I am going to walk by faith and not by sight during this season.  Sowing seeds is so painful right now.  Obedience isn’t coming easy.  But, with it, ALWAYS comes JOY.  I love that.  I’ve also learned the importance of SPEAKING God’s word out loud and proclaiming it against any other forces of darkness out there.  It is sharper than a double edged sword!  Nothing can defeat it!  If I have prayed…and I don’t feel a change…if I have read…and I don’t feel a change…then I shall PROCLAIM God’s Word out loud and walk forth in confidence…in faith in HIM…not me.

I am just getting over another sickness that landed me in the ER twice in one week, and yet another race cancelled because of sickness 😦 , but I am getting better and this is what I read today:

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not witherWhatever he does prospers….For the Lord watches over the ways of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” -Psalm 1

I know where my delight comes from.  I know there will be fruit in season…and that I will not wither, but He will make me prosperous.  My hope is in HIM.

Changes…

A tree in wintertime…that has lost its foilage…seems all but dead.

Just like that tree, during winter seasons, it seems that bearing fruit and being a light to anyone is impossible.  There is so much that is dying inside of me right now.  So much I hold onto so dearly…so much pride, so much sin, so much longing, so much hurt.  I can literally feel the death of everything that is not from Him in my life.  There is a lot to go.  It is so painful.  In this time, I know that if I am a light to anyone, it is by God’s grace.  I am thankful to be in this place, because I know that it is during this time that I will be most acquainted with God’s power in my weakness….and my nothingness.

At the same time, I am seeing wonderful changes in my sweet family….all of them…and I am confident that it has everything to do with Him…and nothing to do with me.  Thank-you Jesus that my strength is in YOU.  My joy is in obedience right now, and praising you, praying to you, and thanking you all day long.

Divine Humility

Mark 10:18: “Why do you call me good, Jesus answered.  No one is good – except God alone.”

Wow.  Jesus was the Son of God and perfect in every way.  Surely He was good!  As my husband told me this morning, Jesus said this for US.  To show us HIS picture of Humility.  This is what I have been seeking, desperate for lately…knowing in my heart…every crevice, every turn…pride is waiting.  I am so tired of being proud!  I want His humility to transform my heart and my life. 

This is my prayer each day right now.  I am not going to have a full, perfect understanding of Jesus’ unfathomable humility…but I will most certainly pray for it and keep asking the Lord to get rid of everything in my heart that is NOT from Him.  What is left…I can imagine…will be humility and love for Him and others….this is my greatest desire.

A beggar leading a beggar….

I heard this recently on a Christian radio station and I LOVED the picture it created in my mind.  A beggar leading a beggar for food.  That is what we are as Christians!  I think a lot of people get turned off to Christianity because of the judgmentalism and pride of Christians.  ‘They think they have to do things perfectly or at least portray perfection…’  ‘They are SO judgmental…’  These are some of the reasons I hear people are turned off…among others I am sure.  The Lord’s Spirit working in us certainly does make us special!  Who would WANT to be a Christian if there wasn’t SOMETHING special about it???!!!  There are certainly LOTS of things special about loving Jesus!!!

BUT, what doesn’t make us special is that we are still sinners.  And really, when I choose to disobey the Lord, and thwart the Spirit working in me, I am no different than a non-believer.  It is my submission and surrender to the Lord’s will in my life that makes the Spirit work and enable me be full of the Spirit and make Godly choices.  That is it!  And even when I submit and surrender, I am still a sinner, one step away from sin! 

SO, when we bring the word to unbelievers, in my mind, we bring it to them by ACTION…and very few words (unless asked, and even then, using mostly just Scripture and stories about what GOD has done in our lives).  They will see by our transformation, that it is not humanly possible to make Godly choices without the Spirit working in our lives (and by accepting Jesus into our hearts).  They will see by our LIVES…by the actions we make, based off the meditations of our hearts…that JESUS is Lord of our lives. 

They will see by our HUMILITY…that it is truly Jesus working in our lives…lest they become followers of us, instead of followers of Jesus.  This takes a humble heart.  A transparent heart.  An honest heart. 

Having Jesus in our lives SHOULD make us be more HOLY…because God CALLS us to be holy, like He is holy.  But, not because of us!!!  Because of HIM!  He is doing the work in us (even while we sleep!!!).  We are HIS children and we are called to be like HIM…just as our children are a bit like us 🙂  His children will bear His name and they will not bring Him shame!  This is why we sometimes feel His heavy hand upon us.

I am a beggar for Jesus.  Wherever He is…no matter how humbling it might be to seek Him in certain situations…I am going to go there and beg for the food that only Jesus gives….the spiritual manna that satisfies my soul.  And I want to lead other beggars–whether non-Christians or fellow believers–to the food that never leaves me-and will never leave them-empty.

Humility in Parenting

Tonight, as my son had a total meltdown over candy (he has a heart after his mama’s for sweet things!!!), and was totally OUT OF CONTROL…I was totally humbled.  I was saying goodbye to my little AWANA friends as their parents were coming to pick them up…and low and behold, my little boy came in with his heart SET on eating that V-day candy that his sweet Puggles teacher gave him RIGHT then.  He must have waited to open it all the way from his Puggles room to the sanctuary where I was at with my team…and mommy told him to wait until after dinner…..that set off the tears and flailing hands…which continued to flail all the way to the car…and home.

I was humbled as a parent and teacher!!!  In the aftermath, there are things I could have done differently…and should have done differently.  The Lord helped me keep my calm…but that was about it that was done right!  As I pulled into our garage…Lewis was still crying, “I’m ready to make right choices!”  I started crying too.  I wished I had done things a bit differently.  Tears of embarrassment and humiliation came streaming down my face….BUT, as I cried, I REMEMBERED something…. 

A wonderful thought came forth that stopped the tears….”wow, it’s really been a while since I have been so humiliated by my son like this!”  It used to happen EVERY SINGLE day.  All day some days!!!  I got so used to people thinking I was a terrible mom.  I had SO many incidents of looks, comments, even a screaming grandma at a playground who asked me if I was teaching my son to be a bully!  It really impacted my life so much that I literally spent most of the year at home working with him to relieve some of his frustration and struggle and to prevent stress and embarassment in public situations (and the other kids from being hurt).  His teacher at school even wanted him to have an evaluation to know what was troubling him and how to help him better.  Just a few months later, he is SO much better.  His time at school is filled with positive reports.  His time around other kids is fulfilling and enjoyable for him (he’s a really sociable boy!)…thank the Lord.  He really doesn’t have very many moments any more.  He’s an INCREDIBLE kid at a few months past 3 (I have to brag a little about him!!!  I said to my husband last night, that I wasn’t a 10th of the kid that he is right now!!!  I really don’t deserve him based off my track record…but that is God’s amazing grace. 

It’s so easy to think sometimes that I might be a “good” parent.  But, it is funny to me that no one would have thought I was a “good” parent the past year or so.  Now that God’s grace and discipline has had a chance to work through my little boy’s heart and mind…he’s turning into a phenomenal kid.  But, that doesn’t make me a “good” parent though!  My parenting abilities don’t depend on my kids’ behavior…otherwise, each day might be different!  My parenting abilities really depend on how faithful I am to do what God tells me to do…and God’s incredible ENABLEMENT, GRACE and His individual plan for my kids.  Some kids are destined to be a certain way….no matter what the parents do…but God’s way of parenting and desire for them can still refine them to be pleasing to HIM.  And that is my GOAL for my kids.  I want them to follow God’s plan for them, particular to their personality…and to someday hear from the Lord in some way or form…that they are PLEASING to HIM.  That would make me feel like the mother of the year!  That somehow, no matter how sinful and inadequate I am as a mommy and person, that the Lord’s plan for them would happen and in a way that would make Him proud. 

Parenting is very humbling.  But, that humility is so beautiful and necessary for us to have.  It is good for us to be humbled….even if it does make me cry every now and then when it happens!

A triumphant day :-)

All last week, the Lord filled me up.  It was so sweet to my soul.  It was a long time coming….Today, the Lord tested me.  By His grace, my thoughts were guarded, my focus on Him, and an unoffended heart emerged.  I am so thankful.  The Lord is hitting this over and over with me and I am most thankful.  So many days, I am plagued by my own selfishness and pride.  I want so much to have a servant’s heart and a humble heart.  Perhaps, to not take offense, is the first step to a humble heart 🙂  I pray my thoughts continue to be guarded.  I pray for an undivided heart, that I may focus on Him always.

A Humble Heart

Lately, I have desired the most to have a humble heart.  I have tried in my own skin….and it seemed more to me like “false humility.”  I didn’t want to have to try to be humble.  It shouldn’t be that way.  It should come naturally, from a true understanding of my complete dependence on my Father in heaven.  Why is it so hard to live this way, consistently, every day?  I decided to give up trying to have a humble heart…not knowing what to say oftentimes….but to PRAY for one instead.  I’ve been warned to not pray for patience!  But, praying for humility has to be far worse…what has happened to me over the course of a few months…really a year and a half…is many opportunities to be humbled.  God is showing me how to be humble.  It is so painful.  But, I want it so bad!  I want to be a genuine believer…I want to please God and glorify HIM.  I want my faith to be real.  I want an ever-present awareness of my weakness and HIS strength.  God has used a variety of ways to humble me….and I am most thankful.  He has also been teaching me, which go along well with humility, to have an unoffended heart…and to surrender everything to Him. 

Having an unoffended heart teaches me that I don’t have the RIGHT to retaliate.  I don’t even have the right to be angry (“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”  -James 1:19).  Our culture teaches us that we have all these rights.  The Lord is teaching me about how He came into this world—in complete humility.  If He is the God of all Mankind, Creator of this world, why should I have more rights than Him?  I have loved reading about Jesus in Matthew this past month.  I have learned so much from His example.  He came to SERVE.  Not to have rights, not to be exalted…and He was God incarnate.  May I delight in being a servant and follow His example.  I see my pride as being a huge obstacle to not being offended…and God is working most diligently on showing me each and every area of pride in my heart.  It is an ongoing work.

Having to Surrender everything has taught me much humility.  God has asked me to surrender everything to Him right now: my dreams (little and big), my hopes, my desires, my understanding (of pretty much everything!), my abilities, my control (or whatever control I thought I had over anything!).  He has literally shown me that if I am totally taken out of the picture…He will still provide and come through.  And while very humbling, it is most refreshing to know that things do not depend on me.  They depend on Him.  I can do things for Him out of the love of my heart and desire to please Him, but He can choose someone else and work through a variety of ways to make them happen anyway.  He wants me to do them because He delights in me and loves me…but He does not depend on me.  I depend on Him.  My every breath and my every ability depend on Him…and He can take them away. 

As I read in Matthew the other day about Peter, my heart went out to him.  I can relate to him in several ways.  His love and passion for the Lord is amazing.  God chose to found his church on Peter: the rock.  But, Peter had to be humiliated.  Peter exclaimed (somewhat arrogantly, I might add!) to Jesus in front of all the other disciples, that even if they all denied Him, he would never.  Jesus explained to him that he would…three times.  Peter didn’t believe it…but when it happened as the Lord said it would, Peter was at the lowest point ever…he wept bitterly it says.  He was most ashamed.  He knew his great faith came from the Lord.  This failing and knowledge of the Lord’s sustainment propelled him to love the Lord even more.  It was required to catapult him into greater faith to help build up the bride of Christ: the church.  God used his awful, shameful moment to transform his faith and life. 

May I be ever reminded that everything comes from, to, and through the Lord.  He is my everything and will make His plan come through for me in His loving, sovereign timing.  And may I be content and humble  and patient to continue to wait upon the Lord.  And may I seek to please Him in every moment of the PRESENT.  His will for me right now is wonderful…in the little things…and I treasure these moments where I can be faithful in the little things…like cleaning up poopie, throw up, and boogies for two weeks straight!  (Man, was that the worst and longest sickness my kids have yet had!)  As a sweet friend encouraged me a few days ago: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.  Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.  -1 Cor. 15:58)  And would you know that another sweet friend gave me this verse to dwell on a day or so later: Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22.  Isn’t that amazing?  God tells me to let nothing move me–I have been dwelling on this verse for several weeks now, and it keeps coming back to me…and I think I know why…I was trying in my own strength to let nothing move me…but it wasn’t working…and now I see in Psalm 55:22, the LORD will never permit me to be moved!  He will do it for me.  I cannot do it myself.  I am so thankful that all I have to have is a willing heart and the Lord shows me what to do and enables me to do it.  It makes my burden so light! 

May His will be done in my life and may I delight in His will above my own.

Christ-like attitude

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who being in very nature God

did not consider equality with God

something to be grasped,

but made himself nothing

taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness,

and being found in appearance as a man

He humbled Himself

and became obedient to death

even death on a cross

-Philippians 2:3

Praise God that He gave us His son not only to save us from our sins, but to show us the WAY—how to be obedient to the Father in each and every thing we do.  Obedience and complete submission is what I desire in every aspect of my life.  The Lord Jesus will show me the way.  May I have a humble and contrite spirit that He may exalt me if and when He so chooses.