Fight or Flight

Most of us understand what the meaning of fight or flight means. This is the response we have to a perceived dangerous situation. Are we fighting or fleeing? I think we can apply this to the dilemma we are now facing.

I was having a conversation with the Lord again about the current circumstances we all find ourselves in with COVID-19 and the current political climate. How do I position myself in the middle of the mess? I feel like I need to do both…fight and flight. I know, that sounds a bit schizophrenic doesn’t it?

I will fight while I take a stand against evil and I will run to Jesus when I am overwhelmed. Ephesians 6:11-13 in the Passion Translation reads like this: “Put on God’s complete set of armor provided for us, so that you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser! Your hand-to-hand combat is not with human beings, but with the highest principalities and authorities operating in rebellion under the heavenly realms. For they are a powerful class of demon-gods and evil spirits that hold this dark world in bondage. Because of this, you must wear all the armor that God provides so you’re protected as you confront the slanderer, for you are destined for all things and will rise victorious.” I will keep declaring the truth I know and I will fight until the end.

Now, I do not have all the answers to our political issues but is it not possible that God can protect me in the darkest of days? If the things change drastically for America is God still BIGGER than the Goliaths facing me? Yes, he can and yes he is! Psalm 91:1-4 says, “He is the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy, and he will protect you from false accusation and any deadly curse. His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.”

My God is either everything he declares himself to be or he is not. I choose to believe that even IF things do not turn out as I hope he is able to keep me. In Jeremiah 29 the Lord instructed Jeremiah to have a letter sent from Jerusalem to all the remaining exiled elders, priest, prophets and people Nebuchadnezzar had deported to Babylon. He told them that they would be in captivity for seventy years but that they should build houses, plant gardens, marry, have children and pray for the prosperity of the city. If they would do that he would bless them during captivity. This was not what they all wanted to hear but God proved to be faithful to them the entire time.

Got questions? We all do! So, I am going to continue to armor up and run to Jesus. I know of no other path. When I am confused I am running to the Rock. When it is time to engage in battle I will be ready. I would rather go to sleep and wake up the next day to an entirely different scenario than the one that now exists but I must cling to Jesus ever more tightly until the battle is over.

So, don’t give up, stay the course and endure to the end because there is a prize at the end of the race. One day we will see the One who fought with us, carried us through the storm and held us close when we were scared. He is more than able to all that we can imagine or think. Stay strong in the Lord, he is able.

Jesus You Are Our Hope

This morning when I came into my study to read and pray as usual Maggie refused to take no for an answer in regards to piling up in my lap to join me. Every time this happens I cannot ignore the picture of me insisting on crawling up in Jesus’s lap too. There is a certain comfort that comes when I sense that he is here with me and holding me close. I need his embrace more now than ever.

It has now been nine since our world was changed by COVID-19. Like me I am sure you are so over this! We have been looking towards 2021 since all of this starting clinging to the hope that something brand new would be birthed after these nine months. It appears our labor will be longer. I am sure you are as weary as I. But hang on, don’t throw in the towel and say you are done. Because of Jesus we always have hope.

In the Gospel of John chapter 6 Jesus had a lengthy conversation the day after they feed the five thousand with those who followed him in boats across the sea. Jesus shared that he was the bread of life and if they would eat this bread they would live forever. This did not sit well with those who heard these words. How confusing that must have sounded? Pretty much the world during this time was being turned upside down because of Jesus and his ministry. He disturbed the environment everywhere he went. He said things completely contrary to anything they had ever heard before. Too most it had to be difficult to digest a living a life different than the one they were so accustomed too. Some were ready to give up. Jesus’s words were too hard to hear. This story may not necessarily relate to our circumstances now but many of us have probably wanted to give up, throw in the towel and say “I’m done’!

Jesus even asked the disciples after they said his teaching was too difficult and who could accept it would they leave as well? He knew they were complaining about how their culture was being turned upside down by things they had never heard before or experienced. This was new territory for everyone.

Some of those that had been following could not endure and they left. Jesus asked the twelve this: “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” Peter had the perfect response. He said, “Lord, to whom will we go” You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

So, here we all are in this crazy mess we still find ourselves in and ask where else do we go? Sometimes we look up in our frustration and ask for help. Psalm 121:1-3 says, “I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help. But then I realize that our true help and protection come only from the Lord, our Creator who made the heavens and the earth. He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall. God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.” TPT

There are so many voices yelling at us everyday. Political voices, commentaries from media, friends, social media and the enemy of our soul. To survive we must turn away from the voices that speak lies and confusion and give zero hope. I agree it is very difficult to do but we must allow the truth of the Word of God and those things the Spirit of the Lord gives us personally be what we embrace. We are bombarded daily and we are tempted to check out but I encourage you to run to Jesus and pile up in his lap and allow him to speak and comfort you. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12

I don’t know what tomorrow holds but I know who holds my future! I will do my best to run to Jesus. I will do my best to trust his words, not man’s. I will make a decision to speak life, not death. When I feel this world trying to crush me, I will remember that I am an overcomer!

Lord, may we run to you for help. May we be the light in this dark world and may we be kind and loving to those around us. Amen!

A CAPTIVE OF COVID-19

It has been nearly six months since life as normal was disrupted by a virus we all know too well as COVID-19. Like most of you I expected this little virus to be over quickly and life would bounce right back into the happy rhythm it had prior to its arrival. Much to my surprise it did not. So, I settled in to the possibility I would need to hunker down a little while longer. A little while longer has now turned in to months past my tolerance level.

It all began third week of March when it was suddenly announced that the church doors would no longer be open and I would have to enjoy a church service on my digital device. I could no longer leisurely go shopping at any store of my choosing, I could not meet a friend for coffee or enjoy my Saturday lunch with my husband at a restaurant we liked. I was not sick but to keep me from getting sick I had to stay away from people.

By the time May had rolled around I found myself becoming frustrated and angry at what was stolen from me. As the days rolled by, like a slow boil, anxiety, loneliness and mild depression began to creep in. The life I was so familiar with was now a stranger. I became a captive of COVID-19!

I am an extrovert and I have a type A personality. I like being social. I enjoy the interaction and conversation with others because it fuels me. Now my sphere of people was reduced to my husband and an occasional visit with our oldest son. I was still able to tend to my two clients homes and at my every Wednesday house when I would clean my friend Cheryl’s house she would be there and we could chat. It was another human I could interact with. It was like a salve for my soul.

Now, it is the last day of August and September will arrive with no significant changes in all the virus restrictions. But there has been a change in the last four to six weeks in me. This extrovert has morphed into a place of comfort and peace that I was not experiencing before. Instead of bemoaning my captivity I began to cooperate with the isolation and spend much more time with the Lord as well as I completed the draft of my first book which a friend is editing now.

It was not as if I determined that would be my goal it just evolved. As I sat in my personal study/prayer room I enjoyed loving on the Lord and He loving on me. I listened to awesome worship music and songs, paid attention to what God was saying during my time with him and slowly I felt my soul being refreshed. My intense loneliness has subsided and I am experiencing a new rhythm of His grace.

This past Saturday I went to a simulcast women’s conference. There was one unique comment that I heard and have thought about since and it is this: Be good stewards of your adversity! I was not a good steward of my adversity until a few weeks ago. But somehow by the grace of the Holy Spirit it began to happen because I began to find light in the midst of what was dark.

In Jeremiah 29 the Lord gave a word to Jeremiah to the exiled Jews. They were going to be going into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. I am sure they were not excited about it. However, the promise to them was blessing in captivity. “For this is what the Lord says: “When seventy years for Babylon are complete, I will attend to you and will confirm my promise concerning you to restore you in this place. For I know the plans I have for you”- this is the Lord’s declaration-“plans for you well-being, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you”- this is the Lord’s declaration-“and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you” – this is the Lord’s declaration. “I will restore you in the place from which I deported you.” Jeremiah 29:10-14.

It is never easy to initially find blessing in the midst of captivity. It has surely not been so for me. I have felt so much like a prisoner in my own homeland. Slowly, as these months have passed I began to cooperate instead of struggle so much. I cannot say I knew how to steward my adversity when all this pandemic imposed itself upon us but I have now found myself feeling liberated even in this man-made captivity. I desire to take what I have learned in the last six months into the days ahead because without a doubt there will be lots of opportunities to steward adversity. It is a part of life. I along with all of you are praying this temporary confinement will begin to release its grasp upon us all and we can celebrate the freedom we all long for.

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

WAITING

Does the word wait make you bristle? Does simply thinking about having to wait make you uncomfortable? Living in a culture that has become accustomed to instant everything it many times makes us crazy to wait for anything.

I am naturally not a patient person. It is something I recognize quite often. I have two speeds, fast and faster. I like things done quickly but well. Today we can become so easily frustrated because our Keurig did not make our single cup of coffee quickly enough, our laptop’s speed is too slow or we had to wait ten extra seconds to make that left-hand turn in heavy traffic. What has happened to us?

During this four month period of isolation of this crazy COVID-19 pandemic I have noticed how my life has evolved after four months of isolation. In the beginning I was okay with two weeks of isolation until it turned into a month or more. Eventually frustration took over because my ability to get out and socialize with a friend over lunch was gone or comfortably going out for some retail therapy was no longer possible. I was beginning to feel anxious and depressed. I had some days that I would cry easily. I was lonely.

Today, after nearly four months of the Coronavirus altering my life I am settling into a new rhythm. I am becoming comfortable with the slower pace that has mandated me spending most of my time alone. I am spending more time writing on my book, casually reading the three books I am reading simultaneously and enjoying the quietness as worship music plays throughout the house from my Google Nest Hub Max.

This morning I was reading a devotion from Andrew Murray a South African pastor during the late 1800’s to early 1900’s on waiting on the Lord. He mentioned that many times the Lord waits because he is being merciful. He is never withholding because he is denying us, but waiting for the right time. We don’t want to wait! We want it all NOW! How selfish of us all. Isaiah 30:18 says: ” Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the Lord is a just God. All who wait patiently for him are happy.” CSB

This made me think about circumstances that require waiting. When conception occurs it takes nine months before we see the wonderful results of that newborn’s arrival. When we plant seeds in the garden we have to wait before we can partake of the harvest. A good steak has to marinate for it to be tender. They all require waiting. When we do not see instant results we want to throw up our hands and say, “I’m done!” If we quit too soon we will miss what God has been planning for us all along.

I have waited for many things to come to pass. Some of them I am still waiting for. The meaning of wait is to expect, to tarry. We do not use the word tarry much but it means to stay in place, abide. It basically means to be still, don’t rush. Don’t rush? Are you kidding me? This is completely contrary to our culture. You want me to wait? That is one of our problems. Waiting is foreign to many of us.

Here are some verses on waiting. Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart be courageous.” Isaiah 40:31 “But those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary; they will walk and not faint. Hebrews 6:11-12 “Now we desire each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the full of assurance of your hope until the end, so that you won’t become lazy but inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.” Anything good that God has for us is worth waiting for. I am still learning to wait. I know that God does not withhold good things from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11.

Perhaps we need not shrink back from the word wait. God has good things in store for those who wait. Let’s put back into practice waiting before the Lord. We need to position ourselves in quietness and stillness so that we can hear him while we wait. Yes, those who will wait upon the Lord WILL renew their strength.

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

A LONELY EXTROVERT

How can an extrovert be lonely? It is very easy to be lonely and extroverted especially when your fuel source is taken away. Extroverts do not thrive when isolated. On the spectrum of personality types you have introverts, ambiverts and extroverts. All of us share a little of each. But for the most part we have one that is more dominate. Those who are ambiverts are a happy blend of both.

I am an extrovert who probably is in the middle between ambivert and extrovert. Here are some characteristics that extroverts have that I found on verywellmind.com. 1.We recharge by being with other people. 2. We solve problems through discussion. 3. We are friendly. 4. We are open and willing to share. 5. We enjoy talking.

Those certainly describe me in a lot of ways, especially number three about being open and willing to share. I am an open book. I love sharing with others and I enjoy the interaction a good discussion offers in the socializing opportunities I am presented with.

Guess what? Most of those have been removed from my life for more than sixty days now. I have very little opportunity to be with other people other than my husband, which is mostly on weekends. All the things that fuel me as an extrovert have been stolen from me due to this ridiculous isolation period which resulted from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

I am starving for social interaction! I miss people, human touch and heart to heart conversations. This has left me hungry for the fuel that is necessary for my own personal emotional health. For me, as an extrovert, staying isolated for three or four days in a row is difficult. It makes me sad. It makes me feel lonely. I feel like I should be in a support group for extroverts suffering from Coronavirus Loneliness Syndrome! Hi my name is Marilyn and I am lonely.

The only natural family I have here is my husband and my oldest son. My youngest son lives in Virginia and my sister lives in Illinois. She is not a very social person so we talk very little. So now that all my socializing opportunities are gone I find myself working extra hard to keep myself encouraged so that depression does not take over.

I am a born again, spirit-filled Christian who knows truth and walks in truth but I need people! I have had many tearful days since March 21, 2020. I also regularly spend time reading my Bible, praying and listening to worship songs. I know Jesus loves me, but I need hugs, I need fellowship with others, I need friends!

I don’t know exactly how things are going to be in few weeks? I hope it won’t be hard to transition into the life I had before all this mess. I want my life back!

So, to all you introverts I am glad that this forced isolation has served you well but for people like me it has been very difficult. I am hopeful that when this is over I can wave goodbye to this lonely extrovert. Until then…….

Living by the brook,

Your lonely extrovert……Marilyn!

 

 

Spirit Filled Body Suit

In the last week I have had a couple of opportunities to really act snarky! The first opportunity was during a conversation with my youngest son while he was visiting us for Christmas. He became quite agitated during a conversation and his response took me quite by surprise. I was actually shocked at the intensity and how quickly he went from zero to sixty. However, I kept my composer. That is a true blessing right there. I did not overreact and I did not allow the difficult situation to escalate because the Holy Spirit kept me from making a big mistake by saying something I would have regretted.

The second incident happened last night while leaving my subdivision. The street that is the main entrance to the neighborhood has a stop sign, but my street does not. It is a big problem because residents and guests seem to ignore it often. We do not have tons of traffic on my street but the stop sign should be observed. One of the residents who lives on the west end of the street chose not to come to a stop while I was approaching to make a left out of the neighborhood. I had to stop suddenly and honk my horn to warn her that she would hit me. Well, she just blew right through. I was really irritated. I wanted to go talk to her so bad and show her the error of her ways. Guess what? I did not do it. I knew the Holy Spirit was reminding me that it would accomplish nothing so just let it be.

I was reminded of that this morning. I was very thankful that I was able to respond to the nudge of The Holy Spirit and be quiet. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with yielding to His voice. I could not do that if I was not willing to obey the Spirit of God that dwells within me. That is what we are suppose to be. We are to be filled up with the Holy Spirit. He wants us to be spirit filled body suits for Jesus!

As I was praying this morning that is what I kept hearing. I am to be a spirit filled body suit, if you are a Christian you are to be a spirit filled body suit too. We cannot give from an empty vessel. The fuel we run on comes from the Holy Spirit. He is the very Spirit of God that inhabits our being that has always been reserved for Him. We are the body suit and He should fill every bit of space, and allow Him to lead us, move us and conform us to be His hands, His feet, His arms, His heart!

So, each of us must empty the body suits given to us as Christians of ourselves and allow Him to direct our thoughts, our words, our choices and our actions. He doesn’t pull some unseen puppet strings and make us do anything. He simply wants us to be the available body suit that He can inhabit so others can see what the love of Jesus looks like.

It is hard to deny our own ways, our own choices, our own agendas. However, when we hit the PAUSE button and STOP long enough to allow Him to fill us up we become just what we were made for as Jesus followers. His heart, His arms, His hands, His feet. We become His love in a Spirit filled body suit!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

The Reasons for My Praise

I was listening to CeCe Winans on my phone while driving yesterday. I was so filled with thankfulness and joy as I was singing along with each song. I began to worship and praise because of ALL the Lord has done for me. There is no way you could know all the reasons for my praise!

Do you know how much the Lord has done for me? The list is probably endless. Perhaps you will indulge me if I give some of the reasons.

First, I did not know Him but He knew me. He hovered over me when I was lost and searching in all the wrong places for love and acceptance. He protected me from myself.

He gave me school teacher who wrote a prayer that she gave to me before I even knew Jesus. This prayer was read by me for over two years before I became a believer.

A high school friend asked me to a Young Life meeting while I was a sophomore in high school and in June of 1970 at a Young Life camp I was saved.

In 1976 I made a commitment to be yielded to the Holy Spirit on a day to day basis and acknowledge it is by His power that I will continue on my journey.

God blessed me with an amazing godly man to be my husband in 1980! We have been married 39 years now.

I have two amazing sons that I love with every fiber of my being.

He protected my son Morgan while he was in the Army and away from us and from his relationship with the Lord. He sent angels to keep him from being killed while stationed in Iraq. He heard  and answered my prayers to change his heart and turn it back to us and to Him.

My son Matthew graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Graphic Design with honors. The Lord provided him with a cute little house two years ago. He loves God with all his heart.

When Mike would be repeatedly laid off from jobs God was our provider. He met every need we had. When my faith would wane He would encourage me and I would stay determined that God would not fail us.

Every time we moved to our new houses God directed our steps and at times supernaturally caused me to locate the house He had for us.

When I would lose clients for various reasons I would ask God to quickly replace that client and He always did. He has never let me down.

Even when we were young and had little money our lives were full of joy and provision.

When we crashed our motorcycle in 2007 we were not critically injured. Our insurance paid for everything.

On July 4th this year Mike had a neurological event that required him to have an ER visit. He is okay. Even though we will have to pay a few thousand dollars after insurance we are able.

As of this last September when Mike was surprisingly fired from a job after 16 and one half years God provided a job that would meet our needs along with our Social Security.

I am alive today. I have a sound mind. I am in relatively good health. I am thankful for all God has done. I have a wonderful family. I have a beautiful home. I have money in the bank. I have food in my pantry. I have good friends. But most of all I have Jesus!

Psalm 109:30 says this: “With my mouth I will thank the LORD profusely; I will praise Him in the presence of many.”

My list truly is endless and so will be my praise! He is worthy of praise as long as I have breath.

 

 

 

There Will Be A Day

Most of us know that there has been three terrible mass shootings in our nation in the last five days. It is absolutely heartbreaking! I have seen some of the news coverage and press conferences by mayors, police and FBI in all of these incidents. I watch people groping for answers. They talk extensively about gun control, mental health, more security, etc. Everyone is looking for answers which is good but they are looking in the wrong direction.

We have a problem that is deeper than any of the points that people are speaking about. We have have a spiritual problem! I don’t particularly want to sound cliche but what our nation needs is Jesus. There was a song in the 70’s by Andre Crouch that was very popular called Jesus Is the Answer. He is the answer and always has been. The beginning of the song says: “Jesus is the answer for the world today, above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the way.”  America’s problem is a spiritual problem. I wish there was a list that you could just follow and it would cure what is wrong with the hearts of people but there isn’t! Laws cannot legislate morality! The only way a persons heart can be changed is by realizing their need for Jesus, repenting and accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord.

This morning as I was spending time reading my Bible and listening to some worship music I began thinking of heaven.  I know that there will be a day when the world we live in will be longer. I know that heaven is my eventual forever home. I am thankful for this. I am sure so many people do not have this confidence. People die every day not knowing Jesus. I ache when I see all these horrible killings knowing many who die, die without Jesus.

I pray that I never become a victim of a mass shooting! I want to live to be at least 90 years old with a strong body and strong mind. However, if someone points a gun at me and shoots me then my life will be over here but, I know that my soul will forever be in heaven and one day I will have a brand new body with no frailties and no limitations. Oh, what a day that will be! Can I get a shout from somebody?

As I was thinking about all of this after my quite time while the worship music was playing I began to write these words:

There will be a future where tear drops do not fall. There will be a future where the          light will never dim. There will be a day when He takes me away. There will be a                day when I will see Him face to face.

Yes, this broken world can be so hard. This hurt and hate tears me apart. But one                day Jesus will come again, the’ll be no more sorrow and no more pain. Yes, there                will be a day!

America needs revival like never before! We need a supernatural visitation from God. I believe we have forgotten and perhaps forsaken some holy practices that we need to bring back to life as we gather together. The first few would be repentance and prayer. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says: “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” This was what the Lord spoke to Solomon shortly after the dedication of the Temple. He told Solomon that if He were to shut up the heavens so that no rain would fall or command grasshoppers to devour the crops, and send plagues among them that He would relent if they fell to their faces and repented. Do you not think God would not do this again if America would repent? Oh yes, He would!

In 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky a revival broke out at then Asbury College, which is now Asbury Theological Seminary. It all began at a chapel service in early February with a testimony service that was prompted by the Dean of Students. One testimony blossomed into a sequence of numerous testimonies, then people were open and honest about their relationship with the Lord not being what they wanted, then repentance, then tears, then…….REVIVAL!! It was not short lived and it changed a community. It’s beginning was birthed by students gathering for prayer. If you are interested read the book called One Divine Moment, I guarantee it will touch you.

We need prayer now! We need revival now! We need to reignite a small flickering flame so that it would turn into a blazing fire throughout our communities. I am yearning for this so much right now. Oh Lord, please pour out upon us your Spirit that we may burn once again with holy fire. Lord that we would no longer be room temperature Christians but that we would burn hot for you! Let’s join our hearts together and forget our differences and come together as Jesus lovers to ask the Lord to pour out his Spirit upon us once again!

This is what will change the culture of violence we see everyday. This is what will change the vitriolic spirit rampant among all our governing entities in Washington, D.C. This is what will push back the darkness. Yes, there will be a day! There will be a moment in time when the darkness of this world will end when the KING OF GLORY breaks through the sky but for now can we pray? Let’s start a prayer meeting! I am willing if you are. For those of you who are my friends and acquaintances who live nearby and you are interested reach out to me and we can meet for this purpose. I can be reached at mrsclean52@gmail.com or reach out to me via Messenger on facebook.

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONGING FOR THE SACRED

I have been a Christian long enough that I have had many different experiences in the churches that I was planted. After my salvation in 1970 I was a part of a discipleship group with Young Life Ministries for a year during my senior year in high school. I was a part of a couple of churches that really grounded me in the fundamental foundations of being a Christian. Eventually I became a part of a home church with a group of believers that were rediscovering what being a part of the Body of Christ was all about. It was fresh, full of young Christians hungering for intimacy with the Lord, regular fellowship with one another and experiencing worship as we had never had before.

I still have very fond memories of those days. I can still feel the emotions I felt as I recall those days between the years of 1976 and 1980. We may have been learning as we went along but for a good while it was one of the richest experiences I have ever had while being a part of a church.

In the past thirty-nine years I have been a part of three different local churches. Each has positively impacted my life in some way. I have grown through each experience and can truly say I am thankful for them.

For a season now I have had this feeling deep inside my spirit that has simply caused me a lot of restlessness. It has been like a hollow feeling on the inside that nothing can touch. It has been gnawing at me for so long. I have queried many times “Why do I feel like this?” and “What is the answer?” I known there is a specific reason but I have not been able to resolve it until today!

So many times when things do not feel right at the church we are a part of we want to make a list of what is wrong.  We want to say it is leadership, music, whether people are friendly or unfriendly, etc. Today so many churches have chosen to cater to people so much that they have to make sure they have the right type of coffee for them every Sunday, make sure they play songs that don’t offend, keep the service short so everyone can get out in time to do lunch early. The list could probably include dozens of things churches do to keep everyone happy but you probably get the idea.

Today as I was reading the second chapter of a book by Francis Chan called Letters to the Church he addressed the topic of Sacredness. I then went on to the third chapter and as I was reading I had that moment when I knew the problem was that I am longing for the sacred. Longing for the ONE thing that can truly meet every need of my soul, and that is regular, deep worship and reverence of Him who is holy. That is the meaning of sacred…..Being worthy of religious veneration; reverence, worship, holy.

Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Isaiah 57:15 says, “For the High and Exalted One, who lives forever, whose name is holy, says this: “I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed.” We were designed by our Creator to have a deep relationship with Him but today we all tend to have more of a “drive-thru” relationship instead of being shut up in our prayer rooms in reverence and worship.

Also, we have also lost the art of what the first church experienced when they gathered together regularly. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.” Act 2:42-47. Yes, I understand this was 2,000 years ago and that our culture has changed. However, we have lost the intimacy over the last few decades because we have become victims of the culture. Instead of being counter-cultural we have blended in and thus we are less potent in a society today that is truly in need of Jesus.

The outflow of what occurred in the New Testament church was what caused the growth. Not plans, not programs, not gimmicks! it was just unadulterated, Jesus loving people coming together and genuinely worshiping the Lover of their souls and the word began to spread of what was happening. Today we have broken people in our churches and outside our churches and what will change church culture is when we once again embrace holiness.

This is why we were created: to have relationship with our Creator. Intimacy was snatched out of our hands by sin and Jesus came to get it back. If we are born again, we are His friends, because of that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and we have the privilege to worship the God who loved us before the foundation of the world.

I want to take all the steps necessary to cultivate a new lifestyle of acknowledging the sacredness of the God I serve. I want to experience intimacy as I bow before Him declaring His holiness and my continuous need for Him to change me. Will you join me on the journey? I believe we can recapture what has been loss through our repentance and humility while we acknowledge that it is all by His grace. GRACE-God’s ability in me, doing what I am not able to do.

 

Living by the brook,

Marilyn

A Square Peg In A Round Hole

I am sixty-six years old now and it certainly does not seem old at all now that I have finally arrived here. In ten more days I will celebrate my favorite birthday, the day Jesus rescued me from darkness on June 10, 1970. I remember that day like it just happened. I have had a blessed life! It has not been a perfect life but it has been a blessed life.

I am sure that not too many weeks after my birth my type A personality began to reveal itself. By the time I was in kindergarten my loquacious tendencies began to show up. My report cards would have notes from my teacher that would say, “Marilyn is a good student but she talks too much!” Imagine that! Someone has to be a talker so God chose me along with many others. I feel quite comfortable most of the time sharing my story and especially all the different situations I have walked through and gained victory over. I have a treasure trove to draw from.

I also can be outspoken about many things and usually not afraid to share them. But as the saying goes, “Opinions are like arm pits. Everyone has one but they stink.” I try to be careful around the sensitive people because it has gotten me in trouble without even trying! However, I think some of this political correctness, walking on eggshells environment has taken some of the fizz out of my carbonated drink!

I realized this morning while I was reading a book by Lisa Harper titled The Sacrament of Happy that I had allowed circumstances and people in general to make me feel that my square peg had no place. Most people don’t know how to deal with those of us who are a little loud, a bit demonstrative and who are happiest when they can be entertaining or in charge. I know we can be annoying but what would you do without all this excitement?

I have discovered that even in the church we have a propensity to speak against those who are different from us. But when our words towards our fellow believers are harsh we wound. “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed (destroyed) by one another.” Galatians 5:15. So, we need not to be so critical.

We do not need to compare ourselves to others. We are each uniquely made to be just who God created us to be. “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.” I Corinthians 12:4. Be happy with your personality and use it for God’s glory.

Remember, we all were created by God. We are all special. Psalm 139:14, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it.” No one can take our place. We each contribute something to the family.

So, if you feel like the square peg too remember that hats can hang on square pegs, they are used in framing buildings, making joints stronger, building furniture and you can play Jenga with them too! We do have a place.

I don’t say all of this to be discouraging but to remind myself and others who have always felt that they were a bit of an oddball to renew their commitment to be the best square peg in the bunch and rejoice in the Lord because He designed you just the way you are!

Living by the brook,

Marilyn