The Feeling That Follows

At the Last Supper, both Jesus and Judas make up their minds to obey. Jesus decided to obey His Father, and Judas decided to go with his gut. Jesus knew about Judas’ heart, and I know it broke His own to see His disciple and close friend go in a direction He knew would bring separation and intense pain. Jesus would taste such pain on the cross as He bore the sins of the world. Christ’s pain turned to joy as He obeyed His Father. Judas’ momentary victory turned to unimaginable pain as he decided to go his own way. Satan satisfies self beautifully, but the pleasure is temporary. God satisfies the spirit beautifully for an eternity.

Each moment of every day, I make decisions in regard to my heart, soul, mind, body, and spirit. When I decide to follow God, I often find pain; but it gives way to indescribable joy. I get a taste of heaven when that happens and feel very close to God. When I decide to follow self, I find great pleasure; but it gives way to terrible misery. I get a taste of hell when that happens and find myself far away from Him. Decisions are, and always will be, up to me. It is so tempting to go with the immediate pleasure. I’m human and too often make my decisions based upon feeling good.

The beautiful news is that Christ made it clear at the last meal He shared with His disciples that He wasn’t leaving them, or us, alone. In John 14:16-20, He says to them:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” NASB

He says the very same thing to me today and every day. The problems I have with decisions come from forgetting that I am not alone or on my own. I am one with God and Christ through the Holy Spirit. If I follow God, as did Christ, those decisions are clear. If I follow myself, as did Judas, those decisions are also clear. The difference is in the feeling that follows those decisions. With self, I get a great feeling followed by a terrible let down. With God, I get confusion and pain followed by understanding and joy. Life is all about the ending. Life with God is guaranteed to end well, and that is well worth any temporary pain that may come as a result of obeying Him.

Christ kept His eyes upon what was to come, and I have to do the same if I am to live a life, as a dear friend reminds me, worth living forever!

Crusade or Revival?

The Crusades were the darkest days of Christianity. There is nothing noble about forcing people to believe as you believe. There is nothing gallant about galloping around the globe in concerted effort to promote your agenda or eliminate everyone else’s. I am guilty of being mesmerized by knights in shining armor and tales of princesses being recused by them. I’ve had my share of knights and knaves on this journey, but I repent my fascination with that time period. There is nothing romantic or wonderful about it. There is no body count for how many died in those senseless holy wars, and there is no count of the tears that fell from heaven as countless men, women, and children were slaughtered in God’s name.

The difference between a crusade and a revival is that one comes from the efforts of groups on the outside and one comes from a renewal within an individual. Spring is a beautiful example of such a renewal. I can go out armed with shovels and fertilizer and force plants to either bloom or die, but that stops the process of breaking through the cold earth on their own and results in a short-lived, painful imitation of true renewal. 

Crusades  thrived on an “us/they” mentality. Revival involves a “me/God” realization. There is a world of difference between the two. God can have a crusade if He so desires, and Jesus could have performed the most amazing trick ever by pulling His hands away from those hate-filled nails on the far left and far right, bringing havoc down upon this world in a way that would have left us believing in a different sort of Savior. Maybe He would even have a shining knight’s suit of armor. We would still be quaking and doing whatever He said for us to do. He chose to die. He chose to love. He chose to forgive. He chose to extend mercy and grace. It’s what we must also choose to do. It’s much easier to wield a sword in a safe suit of armor, but God knows better than anyone that force doesn’t work when it comes to love.

Revival comes from God, and it comes one person at a time. It’s the feeling of seeing how the love of God is working in the life of another and wanting the same thing. It’s coming to the realization that it is God in that person that makes a difference and letting God come to me in the same way. I have a dear friend who loves God more than anyone I know. When I first heard him speak of God, I knew I wanted what he had. I have it now, but I learned that the process of getting it involves more than simple imitation. More people die in a revival than in a crusade because everyone who experiences revival dies. You cannot be revived if you are alive and kicking on your own terms. Surrender is necessary for revival, and that means going in a new direction. There is nothing more difficult than leaving the known and stepping into the unknown. It takes great faith and personal sacrifice, but the resulting peace truly is beyond our understanding.

Not everyone involved in those hate-filled Crusades died, but Christ’s love was trampled into the ground where the blood of those who did die flowed. Holy wars trample upon God’s heart and bring the very thing He hates the most, division. I pray we learned our lessons from those first disastrous attempts at forcing religion down the hearts of others. I look around today and see the anger and contempt that comes from mixing politics and religion, and it breaks my heart. I know it breaks God’s too. In a true revival, there is no agenda. There is only love. In a crusade, there is no love. There is only an agenda. 

Insurance or Assurance?

There are some crazy insurance polices out there!! The eleven weirdest policies are listed on this website Strange Insurance Policies I personally think Tom Jones’ chest hair should be number one, but that’s just my opinion:) When it comes to love, I can’t buy an insurance policy. The closest thing to a love insurance policy would be a prenuptial agreement if I’m concerned that my love may go south with my money, but that isn’t really insurance.

Because I don’t like to gamble, I have my fair share of policies on life, house, cars, health, etc… The insurance business thrives on my fear of losing what I have. Like Tom’s Jones and his chest hair, I am closely connected to my stuff and my body and do not want to part with any of it. Sadly, some folks see Jesus as an insurance policy and miss the joy, hope, and peace His love brings to a world filled with fear.

Jesus offers assurance, which is much better than insurance. Insurance will pay me if I lose whatever it is I’m worried about losing, but it cannot insure that I will keep it. God’s love is a different matter; it’s forever, and Christ offers a wonderful assurance policy if I am willing to trust Him and accept His love. Sounds simple enough, and it truly is simple enough for everyone to afford when they come to the place of believing He is who He says He is. The fact that it’s too good to be true keeps some from acquiring a policy that allows me to not only to spend eternity in heaven, but also walk in His kingdom right now.

Christ assures me that I can walk in God’s kingdom with the help of His Holy Spirit. He is Christ’s assurance agent, and He is much better than the very best insurance agent. The only problem with this wonderful policy is that I can refuse the offer. Sometimes I wonder why God lets me walk away, but then I remember that love isn’t something to be forced upon me. That goes against love’s very nature. God is love, so it goes against His nature to make us take Him up on His beautiful offer.

I’m so very thankful that I accepted His assurance policy back in 1964. It is a policy that gets better and better with time. His policy is good for eternity, and I just keep discovering new benefits. The most beautiful one is the blessed assurance that He is mine, and I am His. I’m learning that kingdom love doesn’t have to wait until I am in heaven. It begins as soon as I let Him show me how to love as He loves. I’ve had my love assurance policy with him for almost 50 years, but I’ve only just figured out that I can walk and love in His kingdom now. The healing that came this week was better than winning a big jackpot or a mega million dollar lottery. Check out the policy on the list when it comes to lotteries:) God’s assurance is better than the best insurance policy in this world, and I plan to hang on to my policy and help others accept His sweet offer of everlasting love:)

The Beginning and The End

As I showed Lillyann and Mylah the book I was writing for them, I told Lilly that she could read it when she was older. She said, “Yep, when I’m your age, I can read it.” I had to smile and pray that she isn’t as slow as her Gigi when it comes to love. It’s taken me sixty years to finally “get it,” but I get it now. When it comes to love, Jesus is the beginning and the end:)

Anytime I have the Children’s Story, I know that God has a very important lesson for me. I’ve had it for two weeks and have it again on Sunday. It’s from 1 Corinthians 13, a beautiful way to end God’s “Lessons in Love.” I’ve struggled and searched for days for an object that represents love. Hearts, valentines, candy boxes, special cards and gifts from the past, little things Tyler made me when he was young just didn’t seem right. Love is in all of them, but gifts aren’t love.

I pray more intensely when I have the story because I know it’s important to get to the heart of the message and have a simple object that helps the little ones and me get God’s point. As I’ve gone in and out of my room this week, I’ve seen the object from last week’s lesson on my dresser. I threw away the picture of Jesus that was in pieces because I didn’t like to look at it, but I kept the one that showed my sweet, smiling Savior all in one piece.

Each time I passed the picture, I’ve touched it and said, “I love you!!” Last night, as I prayed once again, for God’s help with the story, I saw the smiling face of Jesus. God didn’t slap me in the back of my head, but I did smack myself on my forehead. Jesus is what love looks like because Jesus is love!! I’m glad God didn’t say, “Duh!” but I certainly did.

Since mama died three years ago, my search for love has intensified and become more of a quest than a journey. Mama was my anchor when it came to love, and when she left, my heart was disconnected. The journey has been like the ride the disciples took on the stormy sea, and my faith has been like theirs. Last night, He calmed my heart just as He calmed the turbulent waters in Galilee. Mark 4:35-40 describes that scene then and my troubled heart.

On that day, when evening came, He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” NASB

Last night, Jesus looked at me with love and asked me the same question He asked His disciples. I have to admit that I felt pretty silly and was thankful for the beautiful smile that made my fears fade and my faith full:) So, Lillyann and Mylah, if you want to know what love looks like, here it is.

 Jesus Smiling

I love you both with all my heart, and I pray that your journey to find love is a beautiful one. However long it takes or wherever it leads you, may you find sweet comfort in Christ’s precious and perfect love. My love always is His promise and mine, Gigi:)

Asking Without Worry:)

Matthew 7:7-8 says:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” NASB

I have the Children’s Story at church this morning, and when that happens, I know that God wants me to pay particular attention to the scripture at hand. I wasn’t expecting it this week, so I didn’t have as much time to ponder and pray about it. Pastor John helped yesterday as he offered a simple message with simple object.

The story for the children is the heart of the message and must be simple and have a concrete object to which they can relate. I love the story because it is an appetizer that gets my heart ready for the main course. The hymn of invitation is the dessert that rounds out the morning of worship. I am full to the brim when I leave the sanctuary and ready to share my fullness.

Asking is all that is required of me when it comes to receiving what God has in mind. If I approach Him as a spoiled child demanding what I want, He either ignores or lets me have it along with the consequences. If I sulk and wait for Him to give me what I want without asking, He waits patiently for me to voice my desires.

Matthew goes on to say that even terrible parents know how to give their children good gifts and want the best for them. If that is so, why do I worry and fret when I pray. I believe it is because I ask amiss. If Lillyann asked for a gun, knife, motorcycle, or pet python, she wouldn’t get them no matter how hard she cried. God knows what is best for me, and I’ve learned to simply ask for mercy and for the desires of His heart to be the desires of mine. That gets rid of those pesky worries in a powerful way.

Asking a parent for a healthy snack gets a much better response than a demand for chocolate. I am guilty of demanding chocolate and giving Him a grocery list of needs. No wonder there’s worry in my heart.

Intercession is the best prayer and puts me even closer to Jesus. He is the model for praying and lives a praying life. He is in constant intercession for me, and His Holy Spirit prays the prayers I cannot utter for me and others. Allowing Jesus to talk to God on my behalf and the Holy Spirit to pray for and through me, I find that my praying is becoming as natural as breathing. That changes the way I ask in a beautiful way and helps me live a praying life.