Leave it at the Cross

I have had three good days of peace. Three days of no anxiety. Ever since I had the sermon on God’s power and strength. Since I put the time in to study the Word of God on fear and anxiety. I downloaded two different sermon series on anxiety. I think that I may have finally surrendered to God for the first time this problem.

Honestly, I have been changing my mind on my move to California every 20 minutes, and it had created so much stress. I knew when the decision was made that it was God’s will. Since that time I began to wonder if it was or wasn’t. So I panicked, like I was drowning. When I should have had faith in God, I didn’t. I started fearing the shadows, and focusing on what could go wrong. I wasn’t trusting in the power of my God.

I always hear people say, lay it at the foot of the cross. So I do. I lay my problems at the foot of the cross. I have a picture of Jesus hanging over my bed. To the back of his picture I taped an envelope, and when things get tough I write the problem down and put it in the envelope. It’s supposed to be symbolic of relinquishing a problem to Christ. However, I know that as soon as I lay something at his feet, I wait a moment and pick it back up again.

It’s ridiculous really. What do I think that I can do that he can’t? He is the Creator of the heaven and the earth. Nothing is beyond his power. Nothing! If you can’t trust God, then who can you trust? So, today we work on letting go, and letting God. That’s another saying I hear a lot. So today this is my prayer.


Praise Jesus! Thank you, Lord, for the way that you are working in my life. I may not see the things that you have done for me, but I know that you have not abandoned me. Thank you for blessing me each and every day. I trust you to do what needs to be done for me. I may not like the way that you do it, but I trust you. You are my Lord, my savior, and everything that I need. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
 
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California

Today I am writing about fear…again. Right now the economy isn’t that great, and people are losing their jobs. For the most part, Oklahoma education hasn’t been that affected. Programs are getting cut, but the jobs are still there.

Now in California it is a different story. Their education bill was voted down, and the lay-offs are overwhelming. Now we all know that come fall all those kids are going to walk back through the doors of their schools, and teachers are going to be needed in those classrooms. They already allow 30 kids per classroom per teacher, but they still need a highly qualified individual in that room.

Now I am leaving Oklahoma and moving to California. All of my secular friends tell me I am making a mistake. I am a teacher with an out-of-state certification competing with local teachers all scrambling for the same job. One of the positions I applied for had over 300 applicants. All I’ve heard back from the many jobs I have applied to in the last four months, is one nibble.

Last week I called and talked to my veteran adviser, and even he recommended that I wait a year for the education job market to turn around. I listened to all the things he said, and then I asked him if he was a Christian. I told him that although this is a scary time to move, it is God’s will for my family. He immediately said that I would be fine, and that I was covered. The same holds true for every believer I have spoken to.

The power of God is an amazing thing. All I did was mention God and a complete stranger told me I could do it. All through the Bible, 253 different verses, we are told how to handle fear. We should fear nothing in this life. The only thing we should be afraid of is the Lord. His power is absolute in all things. If he wants me in a classroom, it doesn’t matter what the economy looks like. I just need to be patient and let him do his will in his time.

Matthew 17:20 NIV
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. ” 
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Masks


In the Bible it states that Moses had a face-to-face relationship with God that left a glow to his face. His radiance intimidated and scared those around him. So Moses would wear a veil to conceal his face from the others when he wasn’t in communication with God.

Exodus 34:33-35 NIV
When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.

Similarly we all wear masks as well. However, ours are not to hide the glory of God. We use our masks to hide the drama and pain. We use ours to hide our sin. Even with the grace of God and the promise of everlasting life, we find that we still carry around the scars of our sin. Very few of us have the radiance of God glowing in our face.

At home, with a few people, we can be ourselves. We can allow others to see ourselves as vulnerable and flawed. We allow them to see us in our pajamas with greasy hair. We allow them to see what is our true perfection. We allow them to see our brokenness.

For everyone else, we wear a mask. We put on the make-up and the suit. We quip in the elevator about a movie or a show. We laugh and smile and act like everything is okay. We have all the answers and the right moves. Some people call that our winning formula or our game face. Whatever you wish to call it, it is a mask.

We wear our masks so that others won’t see the real us. For if they were to see how flawed we are, would they still want to be our friend? If we went on a first date without a mask would we stand a chance? Even with the grace of God and the knowledge that we were born perfect and wonderful in his sight, we still hide who we are under a mask. We hide our uniqueness, so that we can conform to what everyone else thinks is right and good.

I know that I do it. I know that I can go to work and laugh and smile and act as if everything is all right. Meanwhile I am a scared little child on the inside crying out for help. I go to church and I feel like the only sinner in the room. Everyone else seems to have figured life out. They don’t seem to be broken, because all I can see is their masks. It is hard to be vulnerable and open before God when your life is crazy and everyone else seems at peace.

At Celebrate Recovery, there are few masks. The group is a collection of broken people who have confessed that they are powerless and are praying for the healing that only God can give. I go there and I see people struggling with everything from drug addiction to low self-esteem, from alcohol to depression. The people in that room have their masks all ready for the real world when they leave the church. But for one or two hours they take them off, set them aside and ask for help. Even Christ, when covered with our sins, cried out for help.

Matthew 27:46 NIV
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “”Eloi, Eloi,” “lama” “sabachthani?””–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

I think that the first step to gaining the radiance that Moses found comes of having a personal relationship with Christ. That can only happen when you first are able to remove the mask you have spent a life time creating, and confess to another believer that you are broken. If not at Celebrate Recovery, then find someone somewhere.

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As a Child

Today I get spend some quality time with my niece, and she is always a delight to be around. I am constantly in awe of children. God says that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

I watch my daughter, and her faith is beautiful to me. She has no doubt or question. God is God and he can do anything. She doesn’t try to explain or rationalize. She believes innocently and purely. She doesn’t question her God.

To my daughter, God is absolutely powerful. The stories in the bible don’t need archaeological verification for her to believe them. He is her Father and she believes anything and everything he tells her. When she prays she speaks to her savior like she is speaking to a friend. Once she asked God to bless the Justice League, and she named them all for Him to be sure He didn’t miss one.

Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we lose that innocence, and it must grieve our Father to have the separation of sin between us. We suddenly know everything and we don’t need any help. We can do it all, and we only ask for God’s help after we have made the mess. He becomes an accessory. The Creator of heaven and earth is put in a little box that we only open on Sundays or when trouble comes.

So there are a lot of things that my daughter does not know. She doesn’t know how to balance a checkbook. She doesn’t know how to drive a car. She can’t multiple four times seven to get twenty-eight. But, she does know God. When it comes to faith, she is the expert.  This little one becomes my teacher, and I want to be just like her.

Matthew 18:3 NIV 
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Mark 10:14-16 NIV
When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

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Are you Listening?

Yesterday I received a most interesting email. It contained in it a prayer that was forwarded to me and that I was to forward on to others. Now I must confess that I do not read forwards as a rule, but for some reason I read this one. Inside it I read a line that had a most profound impact on my way of thinking and my search for wisdom.

“Let me make the best of each and every day to clear my mind so that I can hear from you.”

The idea that I cannot hear God’s will, because I am not listening had occurred to me, but the idea that I couldn’t hear him for all the worry that clouds my mind was new. I have been so busy worrying about all the details of my near future that I did not allow my Father to speak to me. It’s like trying to have a conversation with someone that talks too much. My Father couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I was so busy praying and doing all the talking that I spared not a moment to listen.

So I am going to take my mind off of worry for the rest of the day and focus on doing God’s work. This morning I am going to visit my dear friend at summer school, and spend some time with the kids I have been teaching for the last two years. This evening it is off to Woman’s Bible Study with another friend.

None of these things will make me any money or put me any closer to the financial goal I have set before I move. However, all of these things are acts of service. God wants me to serve others. I am to get out of bed each day, and hear the devil say, “Darn, she’s up again.” I am to strive everyday to give of myself to others.

I am sorry to admit that for the last week I have been about the business of serving myself and my own gain. I have kept my budget open on my computer constantly inspecting it to make sure the money will be in place, and working on-line marketing ventures to fill in the gaps. This process has kept me isolated from the body of Christ, and serving only myself. So for the rest of today I will do God’s work, and trust that the bottom line will balance when the time comes.


“Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude.”

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God’s Will


This evening I feel compelled to speak about God’s will. One of the driving questions of my most recent state is how do you know if something is God’s will or my will. Just today I spoke to my daughter about God’s will. I am sure she understood it about as well as I do. He is my Most Holy Father, and I wish to be obedient to him, but how do I know if I am?

In the quest to answer this question, I have consulted several Christians whom I greatly admire and respect. One of the answers I received is that if you are doing God’s will it will never require you to sin. Any sin committed to fulfill God’s will proves that it is not His will. This truth brings a new understanding to the crusade, doesn’t it?

Another response I received is that if a decision is made in accordance with God’s will you find a great peace in it. You might question your decision later, but initially you find peace. As if while God was watching you He nodded His approval. You feel fulfilled like a student getting the right answer for your teacher.

Over the course of my life I have made many decisions, and a great deal of them were wrong. They ended in heartache and sorrow. So it has become more important than anything to do God’s will in every aspect of my life. In addition to that, it has become equally important to teach my daughter that kind of life.

One of the greatest things I have ever heard, that changed my life was this. A most respected Christian friend’s father was dying. She told me that her greatest inheritance from him was his faith. She grew up watching a man that devoted his life to the service of God. She can remember him praying for their family, acting in faith, and serving. His model of total faith was her inheritance.

That is what I want for my daughter. I want her to have an inheritance in faith. So I look to God’s will when making choices for myself and for my family. I want her to see what an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ looks like, and the peace that it brings. I want my daughter blessed with the grace and mercy of her savior Jesus Christ more than anything else I could hope to gain in this life.

So my question is this… How do you know God’s Will?

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Stand for my Lord

This post is slightly delayed so that I could share what happened at my worship service this morning. I never really know what to expect when I go to church. When you open yourself to the Lord you can get knocked off your feet, and that is what happened this morning.

I missed the beginning of the service because I was serving elsewhere in the building when it started. I walked in halfway through the service and found a seat in the middle. The pastor was talking about the sovereignty of Jesus and how he is seated on a throne in heaven. Why should we fear when our Father is in Heaven and is in control of everything. Why do we trust Him to control the orbit of the planets and the weather, but not the little everyday things.

Now I am a very shy person, almost crippling shy.  If you look up introvert in the dictionary, you will see my picture. I like to go unnoticed. In high school I used to stutter if put on the spot, and even now it will come back when I become anxious, tired or stressed. Not cool. This is relevant because when I go to worship service, I do not put my hands up. I see people singing with all their hearts, they hands stretched out in praise, and I want to be one of them, but I don’t do it.

I once saw a movie called David, with Richard Gere. In the movie, as they are bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the temple, he leads the procession into the city. The whole way there he dances like a mad man. Losing himself in praise to the Glory of God. When I attend worship, I feel like David. I want to dance like a mad woman in the aisles, but I don’t. I keep my hands clasped behind my back and sing softly.

I have reflected on this often, and my conclusions are not good. Why don’t I do what my heart is telling me to do? Why don’t I raise my hands and sing out how much I love my Father? Is it because I am worried about what others will think? Is it because the man next to me is resolutely watching in a stoic manner? That’s a silly reason to deny Christ, or withhold the worship you are feeling.

I love my daughter more than any person in the world. I will make an absolute fool of myself in a public place for her. Running through the airport to hug her. Dancing in a grocery store to make her smile. Singing where people can hear me if she is upset.  Why? It’s because I love her so much. If I can do it for my daughter, why can’t I do it for my savior?

So today, our pastor ended the prayer with a request for the people. If you feel like you are not close to your God, then come and kneel at the altar to pray while the band plays.  I yearn to be obedient to God, and to humble myself before him. So the lights dimmed and I forced myself to walk up there with the many others. I knelt before the altar, with tears streaming down my face, as my insides clenched in fear. There are over 3000 people that attend our church every week, and I was kneeling in front of them.

I wanted God to know that my love is stronger than my fear. I wanted him to know that I will be obedient against any fear. I prayed my love for him, and tried to show my devotion through humility. After I returned to my seat, I stood with my arms outstretched over my head, even though I was the only one in my row to do so. I was horrified, but my love for Christ is stronger than my fear.

I consider this a victory for Christ. I didn’t care about the fear that has plagued me for over 25 years. Today I stood for my Lord. I thought about Peter denying Christ, and his shame. I don’t want that shame. I want to stand for my Lord, and today I finally did.

Praise Jesus!

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The Business of Getting Work Done

Today found me much about the business of getting work done. The Lord spoke to me through the support of many people, and I felt strengthened by it. Even though my cat was less than supportive I managed to find my way.

Tomorrow is the Lord’s day. Which means I get up early to do preschool bible study, and then attend church. We are starting a new sermon series and I am anxious to hear it. This obedience to God has given me a desire to have eyes to see and ears to hear from Him.

1 Samuel 12:16 NIV
“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!”

Mark 8:18 NIV
“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?”

I want so much to receive God’s word. To receive his living word and have it renew my spirit. Through renewal I want to be on fire for Christ, and I yearn to be his obedient servant. I pray that God use me as his will would have it.

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Not My Will


This is the third time I have attempted to write this blog. I find that I don’t have that much to say. I feel tired, and unmotivated. Perhaps it was staying up till 1 in the morning, or the obstacles in life that tend to trip us up. Like this morning the cat, climbed into the open dryer to pee on my clean clothes, while I carried an armful of them to my room.

This morning I am praying to God for something uplifting. Something to go well. A phone call from a friend or just some unexpected smile or a laugh. Being a teacher in the summer is difficult because I just don’t have enough to do.

It’s times like this that faith is really tested. When you don’t feel like being faithful. When your tired and you don’t want to be obedient. That is why this is the most important time to turn to God’s word. I surrender my will to your will, Lord.

Joshua 1:9 NLT
“This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

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Another’s Testimony


Friday night I periodically attend Celebrate Recovery a scripture based program to deal with the hurts, hang-ups and habits of your life. It is based on the eight beatitudes found in the gospel of Matthew. However, I don’t need to go every week because I don’t have any serious problems right? Nothing I can’t handle, right? Wrong.

There I heard a woman give a stunning testimony, that had a great impact on me. It was if someone had held up a mirror in front of me and all my sin was laid about before me. This woman was giving a public testimony of the things that had kept her from Christ, and I had all of those.

I realized tonight that I had forgotten that I need to be obedient to Christ, and that I am to humble myself before him. I haven’t been humble. I believed myself to be in control. I believed that I could do this, and I would only turn to God in my need. The truth is that all people are in need of God at all times.

Tonight, privately, I will be taking an inventory of my sin, and I will repent before God. I am a sinner. I sometimes forget that part when I praise my savior. I sometimes get stuck on the promises to the righteous. I forget that it is by His grace that I am among the righteous and not that I am truly a righteous person. The promises in the Bible are for me. Christ died for me, but not because I am righteous. I am a sinner, washed clean in the blood of Christ.

So as you progress in your walk with Christ, remember that you are to be humble before God. Take an inventory of your life, find your sins. Not just the obvious ones, all of them. Lay them down before the cross and repent. Kneel before you king and ask forgiveness. That is humility. Not Bible study or fasting. That is just a show of obedience. Give your king your true humility.

Allow yourself to be taken down and rebuilt as a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. Surrender your will, your lifestyle, and become someone new in Christ. He died for us, and that is Amazing Grace.

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