Diary of a Misfit

Who Put the “I” in ANXIETY ?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANXIETY.

NONE of us want it. A LOT of us get it. 18.1% OF THE U.S. POPULATION–DANG NEAR ONE OUT OF FIVE PEOPLE!—HAVE A DIAGNOSED ANXIETY DISORDER. The “silent epidemic” most of us keep more secret than hemorrhoids or “female trouble.”

Panic Disorder
GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
PTSD
Social Anxiety

Labels abound. Fixes? Not so much. Pills of course…but with problems of their own. Therapy of all kinds. Some of which helps, but never CURES.

Dang near every book in the Bible has a “fear not” verse in it. From Genesis to the gospels, God tells His followers not to be afraid for He is with them. So we feel guilty when we still do:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am 
your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you 
with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by 
prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to 
God. And the peace of God, which transcends all 
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ 
Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Yet a word study equates the word “fear” more with “worry.” And we CAN stop WORRYING with our free will choice. We give it up and leave it to Him.

But we CANNOT always stop ANXIETY can we? No. That ol’ nervous system goes on tappin’ whether we are worried about anything in particular or NOT. I often wish they would give it a new label…”NeuroConsternitis” or something.

And because it is invisible, the suffering is amplified. No wheelchair, crutches, cast or Band-Aids. Others can’t SEE it, no lab test SHOWS it, so most assume it is something WE are doing wrong. Sympathy for a tumor or loss helps heal those victims. For THIS we hear “get over it” and “you’re a mess.”

If negative thinking and worry are the problem, then why does it wake us up at night too? We aren’t worrying or negative-thinking THEN, are we?

Sure, we have become more sensitive to our body’s signals over time. But a lot of our illness is PHYSICAL, just like theirs. Our BRAINS and NERVOUS SYSTEMS are OFF. Science has proven it can be GENETIC, identifying three known genes related to “Mood Disorder.” Plus ample evidence it is partially toxins in our environment. Some of us have a gene that will not process those toxins.

And fMRI scans prove that childhood abuse damages the growing amygdala in the brain, home of the “Fight or Flight” reflex. So anxiety can be the skid marks the traumas of life left on our nervous system.

I myself have a very scared two-year-old inside. Bad things happened when I was too young to fight. My “Fight or Flight” is permanently STUCK on FLIGHT. That’s what that adrenaline rush is. Worked for the cavemen running from tigers. Not so great for us today.

Not to mention how media amplifies dangers from around the world. War, terrorists, plagues, “warning signs.” The biggest danger to our health nowadays IS the warning signs.

So, in a nutshell, anxiety is NOT all our fault. NOT all our cure. And definitely should NOT be our SECRET any longer! One out of five people?!?!? No rare shame there, fellow pilgrims!

Even the apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” he asked God to remove. It never happened. He accepted it and wrote three fourths of the New Testament.

“,,,to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
–I Corinthians 12:7-9

I wonder if HIS thorn was anxiety? Like he says, it does slay pride and make us wise about the devil. Helps us lay our FLESHY goals down so GOD can work THROUGH us. Fist bump, Paul !!! A very worthy goal.

So after many years of being blindsided repeatedly and doing EVERYTHING the world offers and still suffering from anxiety, I finally decided to just LAY IT DOWN. LET His grace be sufficient for me too. THANK GOD for it. Because EVERYBODY has SOMETHING.

Would I trade with the lady who lost her only son? No. Or my friend who has a brain tumor? No way. Maybe with the girl who lost her parents and best friend in a car wreck she survived? Definitely not.

So “Lord thank You for this” is my pill now. I OFFER IT UP to the Lord who knows me better than I know myself. The gratitude brings a flush of spiritual consolation. And a way to thumb my nose at the devil’s dark insinuations. It holds me closer to the Lord than I ever would have been without it.

Think about it. Who do YOU cling to most when you are scared you are dying? God.

We “participate in the fellowship of His sufferings” too. “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings” Philippians 3:10

Good company.

So that “I” in anxiety? NOPE! The “He” in our anxiety is the answer. Jesus sweated drops of blood in that Garden! He begged God not to make Him do it. He got up and did it anyway. He knows! And WE know it keeps us humble and leaning on Him.

So THANK You for these hellacious sensations in our bodies, Lord.
The ones that keep us humble, skulking out of ERs and calling in to work.
That keep us looking UP.
Keeps us close while You teach us about Your faithfulness.

Thank you.

Maybe not while we are sobbing or taking our pulse at midnight or crying with fear we are dying.

But we do know, more than most, that we are entirely lost without You.

Thank You, Lord. Turn it all to good, Lord.
So grateful for Your gifts—righteousness, sanctification, redemption—that do NOT depend on what WE can or cannot do. No “I” there either!

THANK YOU for the million mercies that come when the horror passes. It builds our trust.

Whew. Thank You.


And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

“Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22)

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Mind of Christ…Brain of Frankenstein

Babies and brains are delicate, easy to harm. Some of us had loving parents who were o so careful. Some of us did not. Many bear invisible wounds from childhood. One child, lame, struggles and falls alone. Another, sturdier, is supported by loving hands all around.

It’s not fair. Not as the world sees things. Yet faith leads us to believe God is building our souls. By adversity or by blessings.

It is hard to understand with our natural mind. Only the “mind of Christ” can accept it. And scripture tells us we can have the mind of Christ. (I Corinthians 2:16)

Still–whether we are seekers or believers, we sometimes wonder why we have the brain of Frankenstein when we mean to be all sunshine and joy. Why do we have so many problems with our “minds”? Depression, anxiety, addiction, ADD, OCD, o my. Labels abound, fixes elude. Only God has medicine powerful enough.

It helps to understand that the BRAIN is part of the BODY, but the “mind” is part of our SOUL. Big difference. Can’t always change the brain, any more than you can change blue eyes or crooked bones. But you can have the “mind of Christ” by choosing to agree with the Word, thinking like God thinks. CHOOSING with your Free Will, safely tucked away in your wounded soul.

And accepting that there will be days the brain of Frankenstein wins out. Can’t always overcome the neurochemical glitches of that brain. But learning, implanting, speaking, and thinking God’s truth enables us to serve Him anyway, live above the circumstances that almost cripple us. And, sometimes, amazingly, even gets down to the physical brain and heals it. Silent little miracles of faith.

We tend to think of violence and poverty and bad news in daily life as our “circumstances” that the Bible is always talking about overcoming. But the wounds to our souls lost in the mists of childhood can be our main circumstance. Crimps to our brains and psyches that time has set in concrete, not healed.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind… Romans 12:2

Since scripture tells us to renew our minds, it is plain that God Himself thinks it is possible. Just like invisible GERMS can cause colds and flu, our invisible THOUGHTS can cause all sorts of havoc in our souls. These “cooties” of wrong thinking that are contrary to God’s truth, make us prey to all sorts of chemical havoc in the brain as well. But God has provided healing in His Word.

He sent His word and healed them… Psalm 107:20

We sometimes fall under the influence of that damaged Frankenstein brain, but our soul still has the “mind of Christ” when it chooses to. Therein lies the rub. Whew. Hard to choose it with the five senses yammering right from the Frankenstein brain.

But not impossible.

So long as we don’t wait for a certain “feeling” or expect a specific miracle. But choose it, say it, repeat it, cry in the middle of it, try again. A harder path than other people yes. Well-loved, “normal,” not-Frankenstein brain people don’t have to. But it is our mission from God.

Long after our broken brains are dust, our souls will retain the fruit of our efforts to plant and use these bits of scripture. God’s truth becomes part of our eternal vocabulary of worship and praise.

We will be glad forever.

And we can start now.

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Is GOD a Narcissist?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why does God want all the worship and praise and glory?

Why are some PEOPLE like that?

“Narcissism.” It’s confusing.  Until recently I always thought “narcissist” was just a literary word for “self-centered.”  Like we ALL are, to some degree.   Psychologists say it is  a continuum that goes from the common vanity of those posted “selfies” that make us look better than we really are alllll the way to a psychotic extreme called “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” that is  a pathology even therapists can’t fix.  And many degrees in between.

I don’t know the ANSWER to the “whys” and “wherefores” of narcissism.  Just want to help us believers recognize it when we run into it in this ol’ fallen world.  And avoid it if we feel it creeping into our own souls.  Because it IS the OPPOSITE of God’s desire for us.  “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” the Bible says in James 4:7.  And the evil associated with narcissism is unmistakable.

An organization posted a distillation of traits on “World Narcissistic Abuse Awareness Day” (June 1).   Remind you of anyone you know?  It did us:

”… an obsession with self and sense of grandiosity are just a couple of the nicer things that can be said about true narcissists. And, sadly, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths (pathologicals) will lie and manipulate, deny reality, and control a victim any way they can. Victims of narcissistic abuse are kept in a constant state of confusion, fueled by dizzying love one day and walking on eggshells the next. They are systematically isolated from friends and family. This behavior is cunningly calculated and designed to keep the narcissist’s fragile ego intact, while keeping their victim down. Victims often have no idea what is happening to them. It’s easy to believe a pathological when they tell you it’s all your fault, and they will tell you that, over and over. A narcissist doesn’t take responsibility for their actions and will blame everyone around them. Typically, they often attribute their own thoughts, feelings and motivations to others, so they can shift the blame off themselves. When you’re blamed often enough you believe it, and victims can no longer see that the life they find themselves living is not a normal one. They lose all hope that things can ever be any different. A pathological’s behavior can be so confusing, so subtle, so undermining and so effectively controlling that it can take years for a victim to wake up and understand that it’s not their fault.”

Whew!  Yes.  That does wrap it up AND tells WHY we should be more aware and cautious.

The Lord Himself knows it is sweet to share pictures of ourselves and friends and family with others online.  But it is easy to see when the line is crossed and the poses and pride shine through instead.  That is simply part of our daily growth in the Lord.  We see it, we confess it, we fix it.  Because we know it is the OPPOSITE of what He desires.  Pride.  The sin that got the devil kicked outta heaven.

Then there’s the opposite far end of the narcissism continuum that is WAY more toxic.  WHY can’t those pathological worst-case ones be FIXED?

Basically, because they don’t think anything’s WRONG with them.  It’s allll about Me, My Selfie, and I.  SELF aggrandizement.  SELF importance.  Others matter only as they REFLECT ON THEM.  Or can GIVE to them, or DO for them.  “I’m perfect.  If there’s a problem it’s YOU” is their song.  And the way to the Lord’s salvation is plainly centered on us admitting we are sinners, and going to our knees to ask His forgiveness in Jesus’ name.

Not likely to happen for those who are convinced they are perfect already.

Some even say those types are EVIL.  Back in Hitler’s day they called this pathology “Megalomania.”  12 million people Hitler killed in those concentration camps.  On PURPOSE.  HE wanted the glory and the power.  And he was capable of doing whatever it took to make it happen.

There’s nothing about a LABEL that tells us much, though. So let’s just look to scripture to see what GOD says:

“…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.   And also YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. There is no other commandment greater than these.”   Mark 12:30-31

No matter how much Christian language they use, a hardcore narcissist does NOT love ANYONE as much as themselves.  Church can be a hunting ground for them, lots of easy pickins there…people innocent and kind, willing to accept their demands.  And more narcissists all the time.  Like God warned us a long time ago:

“…in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, …ungrateful, unholy,  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, …. Avoid such people.  II Timothy 3:1-5

A great description of the epidemic alright.  But a surprising admonition–AVOID them?!

Just in case you aren’t sure about that “special someone” you are wondering about, here’s another:

Let each of you look not only to his own interests,but also to the interests of others.  Philippian 2:4

WHOSE interests do THEY look to?  Even if they use the “Christian talk” YOU use, is it maybe just to CONTROL YOU?  Have they ever repented before the Lord?  Given to OTHERS instead of demanding for THEMSELVES?

And what does God want us to DO about one if we sniff ‘em out?  Besides avoid them?  What if we were already ensnared by one while still naïve?

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.    Matthew 10:16

That’s it.  WISE AS SERPENTS towards those who do not even know what love IS.  While we remain, in our hearts, as innocent as doves IN the LORD.   Be wise, believers, children of the living God!  Even while you remain innocent and pure in your own soul.

After knowing several people damaged in different ways, but all with the same end narcissistic PATHOLOGY I think it must be the way wounded souls are filled with evil when their owners were not careful to fill those wounds with the LORD.  Like a sponge, it WILL absorb SOMETHING.

IIs there a CURE for narcissistic pathology?

Sure.  Same cure as there is for OTHER sins:

Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.“ Galatians 2:20

You lay it all down, get on your knees before the Lord, in Jesus’ name, confess your way has been diametrically opposed to His way, ask Him to forgive you, help you walk in His Spirit instead.  To strengthen you to think of OTHERS instead of YOURSELF all the time.  To GIVE instead of TAKE.  To say THANK YOU instead of MORE.  Like that.

The same cure everyone else has before Him.  IF YOU SUBMIT TO IT.  God DID give us ALL that pesky gift of FREE WILL, darn it.

Lastly, and most importantly—to victims and psychopaths alike—is GOD like that?  He asks for our worship.  Wants us to give Him all the glory and honor and praise.  That’s what made the DEVIL jealous in the first place, isn’t it?  So is GOD a narcissist?  I’ve seen determined atheists and agnostics object to the very idea of worshipping God with this very reasoning.

The answer is…..NO!  The “worship” God wants from us, His beloved children, is NOT the one-sided control and adulation for his own self-importance a narcissist HUMAN demands.  It’s a dynamic love relationship EXACTLY like what we have with our own children.  Anyone who has watched a baby with its loving parent SEES the adoration and clinging love/need/trust.

THAT “worship” is the ANTIDOTE to the world’s woes.  It shapes US the same way an infant’s love for a loving parent does.  We grow up wanting to be more LIKE Him.  NOT something we just do in front of others to look good.  Love and Worship inextricably intertwined.  We bring what we have to Him, He gives what we need.  A healing holy exchange…and an ETERNAL one.


I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.  Romans 16:17-19

He flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.   Psalm 36:1-3

Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.  Proverbs 22:24-25

 

 

 

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“God Must Not Like Me”

Admit it.  When things get tough, that thought sneaks in.  “If He liked me, He would help me now.”   Or, more subtle:  “I thought He loved me?  Maybe He just loves ‘us’ but not ME?”  Our notion of “love” is that it is a warm fuzzy feeling that makes the person HELP us…not CHALLENGE us.  Not DISCIPLINE us.

Nope.

You have kids?  Then you KNOW that ain’t right.  We DO challenge them!  We DO discipline them!  All for their own GOOD.  Their growth, their learning, their soul-shaping.

Like God.

The ones nobody cares enough to discipline or challenge don’t do as well.  The ones disciplined and challenged in love get mad sometimes.  Even cry.  But are better for it.

Those of us who get mixed up about it too easily?  Probably didn’t get enough of that kind of shaping love.

LOVE is what we really want isn’t it?  What we think we’re missing when we suffer?  When we try to get money or fame?  Eat too much, drink too much, buy too much, try drugs or gambling to perk us up?

Love.

Some of us always had it.  Some of us did not.  It’s the fault line, the watershed, most of the difference between us.  People think it’s money or looks or fame.  Nope.

And that’s why the challenges, the discipline is harder for us.  Many of us misfits never got filled up with what children really need when we were small.  Abandoned or abused or neglected, we survived with only tattered remnants of love.  And some have suffered unspeakable horrors SINCE, leaving a hole in our hearts that will never heal.

Plus many of us were deceived by the bad advice and example of broken people along the way too.

Even if we are able to seem perfectly normal on the outside, deep inside we feel our own woundedness.  That something at our core is damaged.

But that is not the bad news you think it is.  That CAN be where the LIGHT gets in.

God IS that light.

The more we NEED Him, the more we LOVE Him.

And THAT, fellow misfits, lasts FOREVER.  Even if it hurts for now.

He couldn’t have DONE more to prove He loves us!  And His promises are many:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”  NOPE.  NOTHING!  Romans 8:35

Scripture nails it down.  No doubt!:

“I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Romans 8:38

NOTHING, fellow pilgrims and misfits!  NOTHING can!

So we don’t have to wonder on a bad day.

IF YOU EVER FORGET, HIT YOUR KNEES WITH THIS ONE, right out of the BOOK.  READ IT OUT LOUD, even if you don’t “FEEL” it.  SAY IT.  God Himself says His Word won’t return without accomplishing what it was sent out for! (Isaiah 55:11):

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family   in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.   Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  — Ephesians 3:14-21

 

 

 

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Losing Hope?

Sometimes we go so far down we LOSE hope, don’t we?  Us Misfits.

Some of us always a quart low in brain chemistry to begin with…then “things” pile up ‘til we find ourselves slippin’ backward in the Hope department.

We try and choose and pray and try harder.  And hear the admonitions and the sermons—“Think positive!” and “Stop that stinkin’ thinkin’ “ and “He is the God of all Hope”– and know we are failing.

So we add SHAME to the dark place we are in.

Most of us believers CHOOSE and WANT to live in His will entirely, praise Him perfectly, keep up the “faith, hope and love” that scripture assures us is FOREVER.  We do keep trying and trusting and praying and thanking.  But we do sometimes lose hope.

Here is something to encourage you as you lay there soaked in tears or going through the motions while dead inside.  I am NOT going to tell you to FEEL something you are not able to FEEL.  Or DO something you do not have the inner strength to DO.  Nope.  I am gonna share what the Lord just showed ME.  That we are in GOOD COMPANY and ain’t the ONLY ones.  KING DAVID, who scripture calls “a man after God’s own heart,” had times like that TOO.  And nobody told HIM to DO or FEEL anything.  His “low day” sound familiar?–

“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”  Psalm 42:3

Yeah.  We know the feeling.  Have experienced the shame as others mock us or just don’t “get” us..

David goes on:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and      my God.”  Ps 42:5

Like David, we lose hope, yet know somewhere deep within the darkness that He really is our salvation and God, even though we FEEL like a black hole of self-pity, fear, anxiety, depression or despair.

By the END of this same song David is beginning to see light:

“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”  Psalm 42:11

Yeah.  We know it, don’t we?  It doesn’t dry up the tears or ease the stomach knots or bring a dose of “happy.”  But we know He is still there, still loves us, even when we are lost in hopeless turmoil.  We know we will praise Him again.  When we CAN.

Even Job “lost it” when his sufferings enveloped him:

“I, too, have been assigned months of futility, long and weary nights of misery.  Job 7:3

To me, fallen in the pit more than once, this is good news.  If God doesn’t criticize David for the “black hole” days,  doesn’t label it or give him a pill for it, doesn’t make him go to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy…still calls him a “man after God’s own heart”…???  Gives ME faith He understands and loves us TOO.    If He restored poor ol’ Jobs fortunes again, there is hope for ALL of us.  And he DID.

This world IS fallen.  No picnic.  Times DO get impossibly hard, no light, no joy.

But God is still there.

And no matter what the world says about it, He still loves us.

If our hope is in anything BUT God it really IS hopeless.  But when He IS really all we have, the “dark night of the soul” has meaning and purpose. Psalm 62:5 “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”

Most importantly we are NEVER ALONE in our dark nights:

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

We know Father God was not disappointed in His holy Son, Jesus, who suffered through His own :  “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death…” He was in such agony and prayed God not require the suffering to come.  His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (Mt 26:38; Lk 22:44)

So just know that Jesus went through this too, in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He knows what we feel like.

So the BAD NEWS and the GOOD NEWS are forever intertwined in our wounded souls.  Takes a lot of TRUST to wait for answers.  But His promises are many.

May the God of all hope fill you with Joy and Peace, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 

Romans 15:13

Weeping may endure for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

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Holy Week / Hell Week

 

Things not as “holy” this week as you’d hoped? I hear you. Maybe the devil loves to ruin THIS week more than ANY. People on one side loving and helping. People on the other side jeering and scoffing.

Remind you of anyone?

YES! Our Lord Himself, on His last and most important journey into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey. Coming in humility and peace, not royalty and war. No rich, famous “celebrity,” our Lord.

Some answered His loving kindness with jeers, scourging. Others washed his feet with love and reverence.

So when we look up and see both in our own lives–the horrid AND the holy–what do WE do?!

We do what those people did over two thousand years ago, that “Palm Sunday”. They threw palm fronds into the street ahead of Him as He rode. And they threw their own cloaks. Softening the path? Honoring the journey? Foreseeing the destination?

Giving Him what they had.

Like we do. We throw it ALL down before Him there in the rutted road of Life. Give Him what WE have. Sacrifice our own self-centered desires for His higher, holier one.

Then, tonight, this holy Thursday and every other day? Whether we find ourselves in the middle of joy or the middle of pain?

Wash other travelers feet when we can. Join our holy family in the eternal uphill struggle by laying it ALL down. We give Him what we have. Then do what our Father God asks us to do. Like Jesus.

Then the hell of our lives becomes the holy of our lives.

We “participate in the fellowship of His sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10; I Peter 4:13) It is HIS now. To do with what He will.

And on this holiest of weeks, we see that what we suffer does not make Life worse. It makes Life holy.

So sacrifice what you have in spite of the jeers. Do what God asks you to do. Like Him. Give what you have, whether small or large.  Bow before His altar.

Lay. It. Down.


I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Philippians 3:10

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. I Peter 4:12-13

 

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We All Want A Miracle

We all want a miracle.  Healing or helping or something from God.  Because life is hard.  We all suffer.  The world is fallen and that’s a nice word for a messed up place.  We wish…even pray…things were different.  But not many miracles come.  Not like Jesus did them, raising people from the dead; and not like Moses did, getting water from a rock.  But O yes, fellow pilgrim, there are miracles.  Not big, showy surprises, but quiet little Holy Spirit chances to let God in, allow Him to work in our lives in spite of everybody’s bent Free Will.  Like:

Someone hurts you…and insead of huffing away sad or mad, you look into their eyes and see the hurt or shame or devil behind them and ask them “Is something bothering you? Is there anything I can help you with? It’s not like you to be so critical. Makes me wonder what else might be going on with you.”

Or…instead of telling a rebellious child what they are doing wrong, you pray the Spirit to put into your mind the thing you can tell them they are doing right. And how precious it is to you.

Or…me!  today!…instead of crying in my room with self pity, I turn it all over to God and trust His love to “turn it to good” just like He said He does.  Whether I see the results or not.  Just to exercise my faith instead of my disappointment.  Ask for someone to come to mind that I can help instead of whining.  In spite of my burden.

Or maybe because of it?  Hmmm….

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The Long Sad

In midlife I realized that “sad” was no longer an adjective in my life, but had become a noun. An immovable piece of furniture, right in the middle of my life. What had, in the vigor of youth, seemed like periodic blues, was now a constant state of too much grief over too small a reason. Why? What are you sad about? they asked. Nothing. And yet….

Then panic attacks became crippling.   Nothing to do but go to the hospital, get tests, counseling, medication. An EEG revealed a glitch in the brain. The type, one nurse told me, they usually see in patients who were adopted or sexually abused as a child.  How about both?

The iron door to the basement rattled, creaked a little, but held. I dabbled in revealing my “secrets,” along with other willing patients. But only a little. Better to limp as quickly as possible back to “normal,” pretend everything was alright now. Soldier on. Smile. As I had been raised to do.

I know I am not alone. Why doesn’t God fix us? Why aren’t we joyful all the time? The “fruit of the Spirit” not for us? What are we doing wrong? For Christians, there are taunts from our secular world all the time. Why praise God for not being hurt worse in a wreck? Why did He let it happen in the first place? Why praise God for His faithfulness when you are crippled by a birth defect or mental illness? The lost world loves to point and sneer: Where is your God now?

Well, He is the same place He was for Job as he suffered and lost everything, and Abraham as he led the clan from everything familiar out into the desert. The same place He was when His only son was nailed to a cross. Read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 15. The crowd insulted Him, jeered: “Where is your God now? Come down from the cross!”

But, of course, they would not have believed, even then. And He would not have come down, because it was what He came for.

And we would not be better, either, if we did not have the cross we have. Suffering, sadness, trials, circumstances are how we are being formed for eternity into a holy family. Our trials shape our souls every day. You’d almost think God wants us to learn diligence and patience ha ha.  Yeah.  Just like He says in His Word.

Now, when I feel the weight, the indignities, of my own crosses, I try to think of Him dragging His down the rough road clear out of town to His own certain agony, humiliation and death.  Put up high on a hill for all to see.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him….I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like Him…. Phillippians 3:7-10

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Our Secret Super Power

As a child, I couldn’t decide between invisibility and flying for my super power. Slipping around unseen or flying away at will seemed like the most power there could be.

Little did I know what my secret super power really is.  The super power God gave ALL of us, completely suited to our own personality, our true self:  Free Will. 

 Choose this day Who you will serve…”  Joshua 24:15

 Our FREE WILL–“Chooser,” if you like–is the ultimate secret super power.  Maybe weakened by the kryptonite in our childhoods and environments, our wounded flesh.  But still there.  Inviolable.  A gift from God.  We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can choose how we think about it.  We can!

 I still wish I had a cape of invisibility.  Sometimes dream I can fly.  But now I base my life on REALITY, not wishes and dreams.  I choose to follow God’s will, choose to memorize and soak in scripture so I can think more like Him all the time. “As a man thinks,” scripture tells us, “so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7 

 We act like free will is nothing, when it is everything.  So important to God that He didn’t even save His son from the rejection and torture they heaped on Him.  Jesus could have walked out of the Garden of Gethsemane, saved Himself from his bloody end.  But what He DID was say “Nevertheless not My will but Thine,” and go, willingly, to the cross.  We follow His example when we “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”  II Corinthians 10:5

  Renewing our  minds to this same humility and surrender is the single most powerful way we can offer ourselves to Him, make of our lives a “living sacrifice.”  Plow up our minds with scripture truth to replace the old patterns, hold our very thoughts up to our Creator:

 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:1-2

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* * * THOSE THREE LITTLE WORDS * * *

No. Not THOSE 🙂 Even BETTER. The three that explain the ENTIRE Bible. The WHOLE gospel vocabulary. Ready? —

JUSTICE = God gives us what we deserve. (uh oh)

MERCY = God DOESN’T give us what we deserve. (whew)

GRACE = God gives us what we DON’T deserve. (amen)

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