Go Fly a Kite! [Noval]

Man_flying_kite

I see a kite, soaring high above a beach, or maybe a field. 

What keeps the kite aloft? 

Well, there are two opposing forces.  The wind applies pressure to the kite; the string keeps the kite properly oriented with respect to the wind.  So it lifts and soars.  Without the restraint of the string, the kite goes nowhere.  It just winds up lying on the ground with the wind blowing over top of it. 

Here’s one way to think of the image.  The wind represents various forces in your life: your dreams and desires, your urges and appetites;  the influences of other people, from your most intimate relationships to the pressures and propaganda and values of your surrounding culture.  Challenges, obligations, responsibilities, priorities (those you set for yourself and those that others try to set for you!). 

The string represents My influence in your life:  My voice speaking through your conscience and through My word; wisdom, holiness, the spiritual disciplines.  Fellowship and accountability-the influence of My body.  The intimacy of the Eucharist.  Worship.  Prayer. Service. 

It’s the influence of My Presence- the string- that allows you to soar no matter which way the wind blows.  As long as the string holds, you’ll experience the true joy of being lifted up high enough to see the landscape- this is wisdom and knowledge and understanding.  They come from Me, but they can actually be and are increased by living in the wind but secured by the string.  This is what I referred to as “being in the world but not of it”. 

I want My people fully engaged with life- mixing it up with all sorts of people, transacting business, creating culture, sharing ideas, seeking to influence the political climate, making friends, meeting practical needs, serving, subduing the earth.  This is the Cultural Mandate.  So stay out there where the wind is! 

But be sure your kite string stays intact.  That’s what I meant when I invited you to abide in Me and with Me.  Then the winds of life won’t just blow you around every which way.  They’ll lift you up and cause you to soar.

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“How Do You See Me?”-Sheryl

11C

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. (John 17:20-22)

 

Lord, where are we today and what would You like to talk about?

 

“My question for you is one you have asked of Me.  ‘How do you see Me?’  I know of course, but I want you to think about it and answer.”

 

Sitting on the boat by the lake seems to be a good place to talk.  There is a little coolness to the gentle breeze and gentle movement in the water.

 

Sometimes my vision gets confused when I’m not sure whether I am or should be addressing the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.  I know You told me You are all present, but I have a different view of each part of Your Trinity.

 

Father, I see You as a Presence of glorious light, seated on Your throne, yet I know You hold Me in Your lap as a child at times.  You are all powerful, in charge of every detail of heaven and all creation yet somehow You can hear and answer every prayer and converse with all who may be addressing you at the same time.  You know no defeat and You have a plan for all that will not be thwarted, yet You don’t violate our free will.  And, of course, I don’t know how all that happens.  I just know You have one incredible mind and heart!

 

Jesus I see You most easily as You took on human form.  I feel I can walk and talk to You more fully, person to person, even to laying my head on Your shoulder or feeling Your arm around me.  I feel such gratitude and love for all You have done for Me, all You have made possible, even to communicating directly with the Father.  Though Jesus told us that, Father, I think I still talk to Him most.  Thank You that You are all present and take care of the details because the Trinity is really beyond my/our comprehension.  We just know it is as You have said.

 

Holy Spirit, I know You are always present with me.  It is through You I have access to the Father and the Son.  I guess, I see the Father as majestic, the Son as approachable, and You, Holy Spirit,  as self-effacing.  It seems You shine the light on and point to the Others, making Them real to me, making Their words alive to me.  Do You ever really speak on Your own to Me?

 

“The Father began, created, runs.  Jesus  carried out for all to see.  I remind and make real and teach.  Yet We are all One.  All together.  All a part.  Your perceptions are not wrong, just incomplete.  You see in part now.  One day you will comprehend Us more fully.”

 

Thank You, Holy Spirit.  Thank You great Three In One for allowing me to also be a part of Your plan.

 

“You are welcome, Little One.  Peace.”

Shelter from the Storm [Noval]

night in a cave

I’m meditating on an interesting image.  I see myself, or perhaps a third party, in a large cave.  The person is at the mouth of the cave, and has built a fire.  The smoke curls up and out of the  cave into the darkness, so he’s not bothered by the smoke.  There’s a thunderstorm going on.  The night is black as coal,  but when the lightning flashes a wide valley, far below him, is momentarily revealed. 

There’s a sense of shelter, security, almost coziness.  Out in the rain it would be cold and miserable, but here in the cave, all is well. 

This is a picture of one who has his soul anchored in My grace.  Life is full of storms, darkness, cold rain, but the one who trusts in Me finds security, contentment, safety, peace.  As you put it, his soul is cozy. 

Note that this doesn’t really depend on the external environment.  Thus my servant Horatio Spafford could write “It is well with my soul” even though the externals of his life were marked by wrenching grief.  Surely he mourned the loss of his children, but even then he sensed something deeper, something stronger, something truer than his pain: My Presence. 

Your man in the cave is another metaphor for the kind of security described by Jeremiah in what you call Chapter 17 of his journal-the green flourishing tree in the middle of a drought. 

I invited My disciples into  this life of grounded, stable security: “In this world you’re going to have all sorts of struggles.  Cheer up!  I’ve overcome all of that.  What you have in Me can’t be touched by any of it”. 

Lord, it’s pretty easy, here in the comfort of my home, in my recliner with my journal and a mug of hot chocolate and my classical music playing to feel “cozy”.  But if I were to swap places with some of my brothers and sisters in Syria who hold their lives in their hands every day, I’m not sure it would be the same. 

My grace is sufficient- for them and for you.  When your life is comfortable, that’s a great opportunity to invest some of your time and energy in intercession for them-that My supernatural grace would shelter their souls from the storms around them.  In the springtime seasons when the gentle rain moistens the earth, when all around you see my blessings and sense that “life is good”, sink your roots deep into Me, and turn  your heart toward those who suffer.  Intercession builds confidence, security and peace in your own heart.  Call down blessing, deliverance, shelter, comfort, peace, healing for those who suffer illness, poverty, fear, addiction, persecution.  Allow My heart of compassion to flow through your prayers.  As you do so, your roots go deeper and your capacity to endure-even thrive- in your own storms gets expanded.

The High Road [Noval]

Mountian Path

I love You, Lord.  You cause me to flourish.  You bring peace to my soul.  You have blessed me with a sweet companion, good friends, healthy prospering children and grandchildren.  Freedom from guilt and shame and bondage to the flesh.  Adequate- no, more than adequate provision.  You crown my life with blessings.  Grant me wisdom and the Fear of the Lord.  Cause me to walk in Your ways. 

I see a high mountain vista with a narrow footpath running on a ridge with steep slopes on either side.  It reminds me of scenes I saw in the Lord of the Rings movies, and in Braveheart.  Tell me about the path. 

I spoke about the path that leads to life.  It’s narrow, and to use Robert Frost’s and Scott Peck’s expression, it’s the Road Less Traveled. It has many aspects that are less than appealing to human sensibilities: self-discipline, self-denial, delayed gratification,  humility, meekness.  It’s the road of self-control. 

You shouldn’t mistake it for a “safe” road.  To be sure, following Me on the path of self-denial and servanthood is ultimately the safest of all choices, but from a purely human perspective, there are all sorts of risks.  People who live with open hearts get wounded.  Generous people get used and exploited.  Truth-tellers often get misunderstood at best and abused at worst. 

But there’s life on the other end.  That’s My promise and the call of faith: lose your life for My sake and the sake of the Kingdom and you ultimately get it back.

So the biggest barrier to true life, the life You want for us, is risk-aversion, fear of loss? 

That’s the symptom;  the root is really unbelief.  Do you really believe that if you leap, I’ll catch you?  That if you love deeply, passionately, unconditionally, I’ll bring you out whole on the other side? 

Lord, help my unbelief.  I really want to live that way, not leaning on my own understanding, but living pedal-to-the-metal, out loud, full-throated, vulnerable.  Deliver me from the self-protective sin (Larry Crabb’s term) that always wants to play it safe.

On Self-Examination [Noval]

Reflection

9/22 PM

I’m drinking from the fountain of Your goodness.  I sense Your joy, Your peace, Your shalom.  It’s well with my soul.  I’m so grateful for my beloved, for the presence of Your Spirit.  The comforts of my home.  The abundance of Your provision.  My friends and family. 

Lord, I want to be a channel, a conduit of Your blessing.   

Life in Me has to do with overflow.  The more you drink from the Fountain of life, the more you have to share.  The more you allow Me to heal your wounds, to cleanse you of iniquity, to renew your mind, the more abundance you have to share.

Self-examination is important.  Don’t rush though it.  Remember Socrates’ admonition: the unexamined life is not worth living.  Self-examination doesn’t have to be morbid introspection.  The difference is  that healthy self-examination invites Me into the process.  No-one but Me sees themselves with anything approaching objectivity.  That’s why David invited My searching and penetrating gaze (Psalm 139).  You can’t really do what Paul advocated in Romans 12:3

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

without My assistance.  But with My help, you can trust and embrace the process.  I’m gentle.  I’m not about beating people up;  I’m about liberating them. 

Lord, without Your help, I’m not sure there IS any process!  The inner chambers of my heart are so complex and convoluted.  My emotions and perceptions can swing wildly for reasons I can’t even explain to myself. 

Well, that’s why I’ve given you the scriptures, the Holy Spirit and the tool of journaling: to unlock some of the mysteries so you can know yourself better. But remember, if you’re feeling condemnation and shame, that’s not Me!  Somebody else is trying to inject himself into the conversation.  Shut him down. 

Search me, Lord.  I do want to know myself better- the good, the bad and the ugly.  You said the truth sets us free.  I choose to believe You!

Boldness-Sheryl

Harvey

They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage. (Acts 4:31)

 

I am at the beach and calmer though Hurricane Irma is still pointed at Florida.  Father, please turn it away from further destruction.  Thank You for the healings I have heard about in friends’ lives in the past couple days, other answered prayer, and our new grandchild on the way at this moment.  You still hear and answer prayer, Lord.  Please hear the intercession of Your people for protection against Irma.

 

I hear the word “boldness.”  Is this from You, Lord?

 

“Yes, declare aloud boldly when you have asked for My words.  If people are around so be it.  When you see them you think ‘What if?’–What if you don’t immediately see the answer?  Gather your faith.  Be willing to be a fool for Me.”

 

That is something I have always shied away from–being seen as a fool.  I never wanted to attempt anything I didn’t think I could do well.  I liked to think things through, be right.

 

“But you are fallible and I am not.  If you believe I am speaking trust Me, not yourself.  If it is My responsibility and I do all things well, that should take the anxiety out of it for you.  It is My monkey, My circus to use your phrase.  Would you rather have heard wrong, spoken and nothing changed or heard right, not spoken and nothing changed?  If change is urgently needed and you believe it is My will take the chance and speak it out.  Leave the results to Me.  Declarations of My ultimate will are always appropriate, but you must leave how it is carried out to Me.”

 

“All the promises of God in Him are yes and amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Cor. 1:20)

 

“The sure promises I have given through Christ bring Me glory through you, My people.”

 

How does this happen?

 

“I have made much available through the sacrifice of My Son.  I would not have any of it be for naught.  But its working out must now be done through My Spirit-filled people. You are My hands and feet and voice.  I said you would do the same things My Son did.  He was your example. Even in death He brought about much good and so I declare ‘Precious  in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones’ (Ps 116:15) for sometimes it, too, is required. But more often it is your example of godliness, faith, kindness, goodness, self-control that carries My will out.  Jesus spoke to the storm, to demons and to sinners and brought about change. He spoke to sickness and it was healed.  Speak as I give you utterance.  Live as I gave you example.  Fear not.  The results are always mine. They are not yours to cause only to speak.  Timing is also mine.  Patience may be required on your part as well as perseverance.  Jesus also suffered ridicule.  That did not deter Him from My will.  He said He always did what I told Him and what He ‘saw’ Me doing.  As you are obedient in little things I will ‘show you’ more.”

 

Wow! Grant me courage, Lord, and the ability to leave anxiety by the wayside.  I ask in Jesus’ Name.

Is God Good Amid Flames and Floods?-Sheryl

airbrushed-realistic-flames-Chuck-Bauman

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name, you are mine.  When you pass though the waters  I will be with you; and through the rivers; they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God.” (Is. 43:1b-3a)

“I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness.  I will take you by the hand and keep you.” (Is. 42:8)

 

I love these verses.  In them I see You never intended to keep us from problems and hardship.  In fact You stated in this life we would certainly face tribulation, but in both Old and New Testament You bring us comfort with the promise of Your Presence and eventual deliverance.  But, you don’t promise how or when.  You do still heal. You still work miracles.  You provide, restore, and comfort.  But You don’t always deliver us out of bad circumstances, heal, etc, in this life.  And there are times we just don’t understand why.  Would You speak to some of this, Lord?

 

You often walk down and upon the River of Life to sit with me on a boulder.  The River is beautiful to look at and to hear the rushing waters.  You’ve shown me all the rocks in and by the River are Your living stones or stones not yet in the flow of Your Spirit on the bank.  What does the boulder we sit on symbolize?

 

“You know Me as your Rock–your foundation.  You know the living stones as the church, My people.  I said, ‘On this rock I will build My church.’ To what was I referring?”

 

Peter answered in faith that you are the Christ, the Son of God.  You called Simon, Peter, a rock.  Then You said ‘on this rock I will build My church.’ Most people think You meant Peter, himself, but I think You are showing me that Peter was one of Your living stones that make up the church.  The rock on which the church is built is our statement of faith like Peter’s that You are our Christ, our Redeemer, the Son of God.

 

“Very good!  And I, the Foundation Rock will never forsake or leave My church or any of its stones.  I bring comfort, protection, peace, healing, provision, deliverance and joy, but not always when you want it or how you want it.  I bring good out of each difficulty for you but it may look differently from what you are looking for in the moment.”

 

I do feel we are missing out on so much though, Lord.  I don’t know if it is lack of faith or what, but You told us we were supposed to “lay hands on the sick and they will recover” etc.  You said the same and greater works than yours we would do, yet I don’t see any of that in most of us. What is going on?  Sometimes we pray and pray for what we perceive is Your will and nothing seems to change.

 

Your prayers make a tremendous difference, but sometimes it is not in ways you see.  Your friend’s life was lengthened through prayers though I ultimately brought her home where her rewards are many. She would tell you the waters did not overwhelm her and the flame didn’t kindle upon her faith, her soul, her purpose, or her ultimate victorious entry into heaven.  Though you cannot see it, her path was completed and she left a legacy in many hearts and lives. ‘Precious is the physical death of one of My faithful’ (Ps. 116:15 and Luke 16:22) for then they come into the rewards I have been longing to give those who have lived for Me. For them their death on earth is gain.”

 

This helps a lot, Lord.  Thank You for meeting with me.

 

“My pleasure, Little One.  I am always with you.”