Thursday, October 29, 2015

When We Hear, But Don't Listen~

Lately, I have had no trouble hearing God speak.

He has
spoken through His Word,
spoken through a dear friend,
spoken through a church member,
spoken through a stirring in my heart that cannot be stilled.

I have heard God, no doubt.

And yet here I am,
still.

Still in discerning mode,
still in seeking mode,
still in "Lord, please show me mode",
still in hearing mode.

I have yet to take the step from hearing to listening.

There is a difference, you know.
We can hear and yet choose not to listen.
And when we do,
hear, but not listen,
I wonder what our Father must think.

Why, when He is faithful to speak,
and we have been blessed to hear,
do we choose to not listen -
to not walk away from the temptation,
to not end the destructive cycle,
to not stand up for what is right,
to not refrain from speaking our mind,
to not offer another forgiveness,
to not give of our time, talents, and resources,
to not put others first,
to not step out in faith,
to not let go of our shame and regrets,
to not tell another of His love,
to not turn the other cheek,
to not listen?

And I think of the little boy, Samuel. How when he was awakened in the night by someone calling his name, he immediately ran to the bedside of Eli. And how, after three times of Samuel hearing his name, jumping out of his warm, comfy bed, and running to Eli's room, Eli finally realized it was the voice of God little Samuel was hearing.

And, I know from this story,
and from the place where I now sit in my own story,
that when God speaks,
and we His children hear,
the only response it to listen.

It's what Eli counseled Samuel to do.
It's what Samuel chose to do.

"And the LORD came and called as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" 

And Samuel replied, "Speak, your servant is listening."
~ 1 Samuel 3:10



And, I also know that listening,
true listening,
will indeed get us up
out of our sleep,
out of our comfort zone,
out of our self
and into God's will.

And, in the end,
isn't that where we all want to be?

Yes, I have been hearing God speak.
Now, I simply need to listen.~♥












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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

After the Storm~











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Monday, October 19, 2015

To Know and Be Known~

She sits on the couch across from me and before she evens speak, I can tell she knows the words she has yet to say have the potential to hurt my heart.

I know this because I know her.

Her heart is all love.  Her wisdom, God-sought and God-desired.  Her intentions, God-honoring.
I see the look in her eye and hear the hesitation in her voice.

"This might sound like it's coming from a place of gossip, since I'm not the one who actually heard it, but it's really not.  I think it's important for you to know what this appears like to others.  I know it's not true because I know you.  Your heart is always loving. You hate to hurt anyone.  I know what they are saying is not true, because I know you."

I know her and she knows me and because we do, despite the words and the opinions and the bitter feelings of those around us, we can talk heart to heart without being touched by anything other than the truth of the issue at hand.

She doesn't have to walk on egg shells.
I don't have to formulate a rebuttal or feel the need to defend myself.

It's a beautiful place to be - this space shared by two hearts who know each other.

"When I heard what was being said, I knew things didn't add up because what they were saying didn't sound like you.  I know you."

It is this knowing, - this truly knowing a person - that keeps the lies at bay.
It is this knowing, - this truly knowing a person - that doesn't waver when words are spoken and rumours fly, and accusations are spoken, and judgments are made.

It is this knowing, - this truly knowing a person - that breathes life and not death in a relationship.

We talk, heart to heart, and we promise to join our prayers together as we seek a solution for the situation we have discussed.  We hug, we thank each other for each other, and  then, she heads out the door back into her day.

Standing there alone in the silence, I can't help but ponder anew this precious gift of being known.  How, if we truly took the time to know others, if we truly took the time to understand another's perspective, if we truly took the time to lean in past our preconceived ideas and beyond a casual hello to know those in our midst, truth could be told, truth could be heard, and truth could prevail.

To know and be known.



And, I think about my God and the way He knows me.

How I am learning more and more, day by day, to know Him, too.  So much so, in fact, that when the enemy approaches me with words that don't sound like The Word, I turn a deaf ear.  When Satan tries to manipulate my thoughts, strangle my faith, sabotage my relationship, commandeer the abundant life Christ died to give me, I don't give any weight to what he is saying, to what he would have me believe.

When things don't add up  because what He is saying doesn't add up to what I know to be true, to what I know to be the God I know, I stop listening.

Instead, I hear the invitation to come, to be still, to know that I am God.

And, I realize more than ever.

This is not just some casual suggestion or rainy day, if and when you feel like it idea.  This is where I am held safe in the bond of truth.  This is where life is breathed into my relationship with my Heavenly Father and victory declared triumphant over the enemy of my soul.

Yes, it is a beautiful space - this space shared by two hearts who know each other.










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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In An Instant~

The sudden, unexpected death of a friend, who was also a former co-worker in our church family, has me remembering another day that started just like today and re-posting this 2012 post contemplating the brevity of life. . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This morning started like any other morning. My alarm jolted me out of my dreams and then out of my cozy bed as out into the world I stepped.

At work, this day started like any other morning, too. Emails to answers, projects to complete and phones to answer.

In fact, it was answering a phone call that turned this ordinary day, upside down.

"Stacy," the voice on the other end of the line sounded urgent," is the Pastor in?"

"Yes, just a moment please."

I put the phone on hold and walked the short distance down the hall to the front offices, then informed the pastor about the caller waiting on line 1.

I returned to my desk, opened a another email, then looked up as the pastor entered my office.

"It was a massive heart attack. I'm headed to the hospital."

Minutes later, another phone call. This one from the Pastor.

"He didn't survive. He's gone."

In a matter of moments, a member of our church was gone. One moment, he was on the golf course, taking in this beautiful fall day and breathing in life. The next, fallen onto the grass to breathe of this life no more.


In an instant.

A moment.

Suddenly, nothing about my own life felt ordinary anymore.

As I hung up the phone, I distinctly remembering feeling my lungs inhale and then exhale as I took my next breath. I felt the pounding of my heart, as each beat pumped blood through my veins. I felt the blinking of my eyes as tears welled up and overflowed. I felt my stomach, a sea of emotion.

As I unconsciously pulled the collar of my shirt up close around my neck, I smelled the "scent of my husband" still lingering on my shirt, a precious reminder of our morning embrace.

Looking straight ahead at nothing in particular, I spotted a photo of my sister, her precious little boy and me. Walking through a mall one day while we were both vacationing at my mother's home, we had spotted one of those fun little photo booths, looked at each other with that twinkle in our eyes and dove in. The photo brought new tears.

As I sat in my office, my little cubicle of the world, I was suddenly aware of life,

of being alive.



Emails, projects, to-dos, bills, the argument I had with my husband the day before, my dirty house...

none of it mattered anymore.

NONE. OF. IT.

I was alive. I had been blessed with one more minute of life. Possibly one more hour or one more day or one more week or one more year.

What a gift.

What a privilege.


And shamefully, regretfully, what a waste...all the days before when I was simply going through the motions, existing, and doing, and completing my list, but not really living.

As I sat in my office, I thought about my life.
I thought about how many minutes had been wasted on

piddly bickering,

thankless complaining,

endless worrying,

mindless living.



What if today was my last day?

What if that would have been me?

Not another opportunity to feel the warmth of the sun,

to hear the wind whistling through the trees,

to taste the sweetness of honey,

to laugh until it hurt,

to dance when no one was watching or maybe even if they were,

to experience life,

ALL OF IT~

What if that phone call would have been about me?

Am I satisfied with how I have lived my life?

Am I ok with the way I have chosen to spend the minutes I have been so graciously given?

AND.............

Am I content to keep living this way?


NO.


I.


AM.


NOT.

I don't want this day to end like any other ordinary day.

I don't want my life to end like just another ordinary life.

When my end comes,
when I breathe my last breath,
I want my life to have been lived to the full,


  


          abundant,
                      overflowing with LIFE~


Teach us how short our lives really are

so that we may be wise.

~ Psalm 90:12, NCV








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Sunday, October 11, 2015

An All Kind of Love~












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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Turn the Page~

Maybe where you are is a Romans 7 kind of place.

You know, a place of struggle between knowing what is right and actually doing it and knowing what is not and walking away.  Chances are, if you do find yourself in this place, you are probably feeling very alone in your struggle.  And yet, nothing could be further from the truth.

Romans 7, particularly verses 14-24, is a very crowded chapter of the Bible.  There is not one person alive (or dead for that matter) who has not found his or her self smack dab in the middle of these verses, front and center in this spiritual battle, overwhelmed and overwrought with the fight between the flesh and the Spirit. Not once, not twice, but over and over and over again.

The struggle is real.

We know that the Law is right and good, but I am a person who does what is wrong and bad. 
I am not my own boss. Sin is my boss. 
I do not understand myself. 
I want to do what is right but I do not do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. 
When I do the thing I do not want to do, it shows me that the Law is right and good. 
So I am not doing it. Sin living in me is doing it. 
I know there is nothing good in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do good but I do not. 
I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I am always doing the sinful things I do not want to do. 
If I am always doing the very thing I do not want to do, it means I am no longer the one who does it.
It is sin that lives in me. 
This has become my way of life: When I want to do what is right, I always do what is wrong. 
My mind and heart agree with the Law of God. 
But there is a different law at work deep inside of me that fights with my mind. 
This law of sin holds me in its power because sin is still in me. 
There is no happiness in me!
Who can set me free from my sinful old self? 
God’s Law has power over my mind, but sin still has power over my sinful old self.
~ Romans 7:14-25a

I thank the Lord for these words of Paul - words that remind me I am not alone.

And, neither are you.

Oh, Satan will do his best to make you think you are.
He will spread on a layer of guilt and shame so thick you won't be able to see through it to those of us sharing this place with you.

And worst of all, He will try to keep you
stuck in these verses,
stuck in the hopelessness you feel,
stuck in a place that seems to have defeat written blatantly on every wall holding your prisoner.

(Dictionary.com defines blatant as tastelessly conspicuous. Sounds like the work of Satan to me!)

But, here's the thing.

The way to break free from the Roman 7 places in our life is to keep moving forward, -
to not sit down,
to not break down,
to not give up,
to not give in.

Victory is waiting for us in the next few verses.
Victory is waiting for us if we are willing to get back up and run to The Truth who can save us.
Victory is waiting for us in and through Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God I can be free through Jesus Christ our Lord!
~ Romans 7:25b

And, our victory doesn't end there even though Chapter 7 of Romans does.
When we keep moving forward,
when we keep on keeping on,
when we keep getting back up and moving ahead in and through Jesus Christ our Lord,
when we press on past Romans 7 and into Romans 8,
we discover this:

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. 
And because you belong to him, 
the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
~Romans 8:1-2
{Photo Source}

Yes, the struggle may be real.
But, thank God, so is the power of our God.

No matter how difficult the struggle,

no matter how alone you  may feel,

no matter how great
the load of guilt and shame,

no matter what,

no matter how,

don't stay stuck in the Romans 7 places of your life.

Head straight to Jesus who is waiting with open arms.
Head straight to His Spirit
who is armed and dangerous and ready to do battle with the enemy of your soul.
Head straight to the next chapter where you are reminded of this unbelievable, undeniable truth:

The flesh is no match for His Spirit
And, guilt is no match for His grace.









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Friday, October 2, 2015

The POWER of His Name~











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