Come and See!

I am the queen of questions.  I like having accurate and plentiful information.  Going through Lyme Disease, we discovered most of what we see and hear in our culture is nothing more than manipulative propaganda, including our medical system, media and government.  If you want to better understand what is truth, and what is manipulation for someone’s gain, you have to ask a lot of good questions and do some serious digging.

Sometimes I apply this mindset to my relationship with Jesus. I want to know what He is doing, where we are going, and what is coming down the road so I can prepare.  Today in John, I am reminded that my relationship with Jesus is built on trust and obedience, not information or knowledge.

As Jesus walked by, John looked at Him and declared, “Look!  There is the Lamb of God!”  When John’s two disciples heard this, they followed Jesus.  

Jesus looked around and saw them following.  “What do you want?”  He asked. 

They replied; “Rabbi, where are you staying?”

“Come and see.”  Jesus said.  (John 1:36-39)

So often Jesus doesn’t outline the answer to our questions, rather He invites us to come along with Him and experience what life with Jesus is like. Many times the disciples likely didn’t know where the next meal would come from, but being with Jesus, they learned to trust that He would always bring provision, and often from unexpected, illogical places.

“Come and see.”

These words give no information, but in that invitation is a world of possibility if I have the trust to accept it.  The two disciples at that moment had three choices:  they could follow Jesus on no information,  they could stop, paralyzed by a lack of knowing, or they could turn back to what they knew.

I too find myself facing these three choices so very often.  “Come and see.”  Jesus invites.  And with the invitation is the choice to trust and walk forward without knowing the outcome or details of what Jesus is calling me into.

A friend of mine badly needed a new car.  Every dealership had already turned down her loan application when we prayed.  We told Jesus that we trusted Him to provide what was needed and very shortly afterward, one of the  dealerships who had turned her down called saying they had approved her loan at an exceptional rate, not previously offered.  We took a moment to do the happy dance and thank Jesus for His provision.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Are there areas in your life that you feel God has invited you into, but you are paralyzed for lack of information ? How could trusting and following in faith change your situation?

Inexhaustible Kindness

Sometimes I find it easy to forget the kindness of God. Especially in times wrapped in pain, loss, or uncertainty. I find myself trudging forward on the tasks of the day without seeing Jesus as He is, and inevitably in these times, I don’t see others as they are either.

Imagine for a moment, the beggar. The leper, the Samaritan woman, the widow who just lost her son, the man tormented by Legion. The invisible people. The ones we avoid because to see them would require acknowledgment of their sorrow, their hopelessness, which would in turn require us to do the uncomfortable should we obey God.

Jesus not only looked on each one with love, He touched them. He ate with them and heard their stories. Then He allowed the power of God to heal through His touch of loving kindness.

I am not a beggar, I am not a leper, and I am not filled with demons, but there are days I feel invisible. Days I feel misunderstood. Days I wonder if my efforts are in vain.  Days that are difficult.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God.  – Jesus

What did these people see when Jesus looked into their eyes?  When He touched their face, and kissed their cheeks?  What did they feel when they sat with Him and listened to words that brought life and healing to the wounds in their souls?  Did their spirits come awake with understanding of value and honour?  Did they see life and the world as they really were?

Love and Faithfulness meet together; Peace and Righteousness kiss…(Psalm 85:10)

I believe they saw what you and I would see if we took time to soak up the love and kindness and soul healing light that flows into a person who gazes at Jesus with no agenda except to receive Him.

Kindness.

Love.

Healing.

Peace.

Some days it does not come easy to receive the kindness of Jesus.  We talk so much about love.  Love is amazing.  Corinthians 13 tells us love is kind, but it doesn’t always settle down into the crevices of my soul where I can experience Jesus as the kindest person I know. To feel so cared for that I can rest in Kindness, and trust in Goodness and Faithfulness as they meet and kiss the bruised places in my soul.

Jesus was no less kind when it was a Pharisee He was speaking to, but it was those knowing their spirits were poor that made room to receive His kindness in whatever form was needed.

This morning I prayed with a friend, and Jesus so gently pointed out places He wants to kiss with His kindness and heal with His light. But in the revealing was a peaceful sense of kind intention that lead to Life if I let it in.

What has Jesus done in your life that shows His kindness?  Are there places in your soul that need to receive the kiss of kindness from Jesus?

Go Down to Go Up

Has God ever given you a vision, then He “forgets,” and takes you in what seems like the full on opposite direction?

This past season has felt exactly like that.   But today I am encouraged, thinking of the great heroes of faith who have walked before us. In fact, as I think of the people who have done significant things for God, none come to mind who haven’t gone through a season of testing and preparation.

Abraham: 50+ years of waiting for the promised child.
Moses: 40 years in the desert, waiting to see the promised land.
Joseph: Years in slavery, then prison, waiting for the promise.
Israel: 400 years in slavery waiting for the promise.                            Anna: Waited most of her life for the promised Messiah.

Even Jesus waited 30 years for His ministry to start, then, after His dramatic baptism experience, was led into the wilderness for 40 days of testing.

Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River.  He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where He was tempted by the devil for 40 days.  Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. (Luke 4:1-2) 

My Beloved works in construction, and he once compared our lives to building a skyscraper.

“The higher up the blueprints go, the deeper down the foundation has to go.”  He said.  “You may feel like you are down in the pit for a loooong time before you even see sunlight.  And you are.  Because the foundation has to be strong enough to hold up the building.”

I am beginning to understand the wilderness seasons of life are not simply to be endured and “gotten through.”   They are the places we make the most crucial decisions of our time.  To stand firm in the promise, or to lose heart to despair.  To praise God in uncertainty and darkness or to grumble and complain.  To wait and listen, watching for signs of God’s promise, or to give up and chart our own path as best we can.

In horse training we talk about wet saddle blankets.  A young horse may have tons of potential and energy, but until they have travelled mile after mile, doing the mundane, the ordinary and the difficult work, you would not trust your child on their back.  They prove their character even as it is built.

If you are in the middle of taking your promised land, I am excited and rejoice for you!  If you are in the wilderness, testing your character in the absence of food and water, I resonate with you.  God  knows exactly what is needed in laying the foundation for the blueprints of our lives.

Just as the tradesmen trust the one who wrote the blueprint as they go, so we must trust the One who designed our lives to build a foundation to last the entire journey. And in the building, He is faithful to bring His promises to pass on every level.

Where are you at right now?  What is God asking you to be faithful in?

Sinner or Saint?

“I’m just a sinner, saved by grace.”

“I”ll never be perfect – only God is perfect.”

I’ve heard these phrases over and over again – sometimes from the pulpit – but I am beginning to think that although they are meant to convey humility, they are not scriptural.

The more scripture I read, the more I wonder if my view of God is shaped by a perception that He asks the impossible simply to show us how fallen we are.   That perception doesn’t line up with any translation of His Word I read.

As I dig deeper, I begin to understand there is some one (Satan) who is very committed to keeping us from understanding our new identity once we are transferred into the Kingdom of Light.

God tells us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48) and that all things are possible through Christ who loves us. (Phil 4:13)

Hebrews 10:14 says; For by one sacrifice, He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 

Romans 5:17 says: The sin of this one man, Adam caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ! 

We are called to BE the light of the world – to shine like stars in a crooked and depraved generation.  If we are merely another sinner saved by grace, but still walking in sin, what kind of witness and light do we offer.  If we miss our identity, how do we walk in the power, and holiness of Jesus’s example?

I am only too aware of my flaws – I could list off a number of thoughts and attitudes I entertained this week, and some words I said that I regret. But if my identity is “Saint; daughter of God.”  I have a standard to live up to that should be transforming my thoughts, words and actions.  In fact, 1 Peter 1 tells us God has given us everything we need to live a godly life, leaving us no excuse.

Names are important to God.  If we identify as a sinner, we will live up to our name.  If we accept and live in our new identity as a saint being made holy, that is what we will become because what we are called is what we embody.  If we focus on Jesus, we will become like Jesus!

Growing up, I was often asked “Are you a Housek?”  There was enough of a family resemblance (and perhaps the fact that none of us were exactly normal…) that people could tell we were related.  I am proud to be a Housek, but I want my resemblance to my Heavenly Father to be even more pronounced.  If we are not living the way Jesus did, we cannot say we live in Christ.

Repentance and transformation are family traits of those who belong to Jesus. So are radical love and resurrection power.  Do I have these traits in my daily life?  Do I think and live like a sinner, or a saint?

 

Thanksgiving and Peace

This past weekend was a chance to celebrate an attitude mentioned throughout the entire Bible. I guess that must make it pretty important, whether North America realizes the deeper significance or not!

It took a bit of time with Jesus for me to pull deeper meaning from the holiday this time than just a long weekend to be thankful for much needed rest, sunshine, and all the blessings we have.

And a verse in Colossians helped too.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs, from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to the Father. 

Having been sick for so long, my most common answer when asked how I am doing is: “I am thankful.”  But oftentimes, the deep sense of peace and gratitude that God is my good Father who will never let me go, and is always faithful to fulfill every promise is missing from my answer.

I wonder if peace and thankfulness go together.  Sometimes I long for more independence rather than being thankful for the ways that God provides.  Sometimes I get frustrated at my lack of ability to do simple things that “normal” people take for granted, rather than being at peace with what God has given me to do.

I am so thankful for my Beloved and  the wonderful friends God has blessed me with who are willing to help when I need it, but often feel guilty for needing help. As usual, God in His patience, helps Truth sink in.  When I am deeply grateful from the heart and allow His peace to fill my life and my soul, the frustration gives way to gratitude and a soul at rest.

When I am deeply grateful and my soul at peace, God gives me gifts that I in turn can give that lift up some one else.  It is hard to give treasure out of a place of frustration and self pity, but because of Christ, I am invited to live out of a place of peace and gratitude, and I see much to praise Jesus for when this is my foundation.

If Paul, who faced innumerable hardships, could write three times in one paragraph to be thankful and at peace in everything we do and say, I, who have blessings and comforts much of the world envy, can also live out of gratitude and peace!  I am thankful for a holiday to remind me what I should already know!

What are you thankful for today?  Is there an area in your life that you want to receive more of God’s peace?  What ways can you show Jesus your gratitude?

Great Expectations!

Part of our pre-marriage counselling was exploring expectations we held of each other.  At the time, I suspect we figured our “great maturity” and unified focus on mission held us squarely on the same page.  We really couldn’t think of any unreasonable expectations we might hold of either marriage or the other person.

Then we got married.  And the unseen expectations began to magically appear, causing tension and pain as we struggled to communicate and get in the same book.  It didn’t take us long to see that we both held subconscious expectations of marriage and one another that were vastly different.

It is by God’s grace and mercy we began to sort out what expectations were fixed in unrealistic mindsets, and which were grounded in a healthy understanding of marriage.  Now, our governing expectation is that marriage is an incredible gift, and the more love, care and kindness you invest, the more beautiful it becomes as time goes on.  And so we try to live it out as we grow.

I have found it can also be easy to have unspoken, sometimes even unknown expectations of life that don’t line up with the Word of God.  I have often heard people say with some regret; “You know, my life has not turned out the way I expected.”  Sometimes I find myself squarely in this camp as well.  Unrealized dreams and desires can weigh the heart down and create a sadness and disillusionment with where we find ourselves if we fix expectations on temporal things only. (I speak from experience on this one).

It is by [God’s]  great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.  Now we live with great expectation and we have a priceless inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled… So be truly glad.  There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trial will show that your faith is genuine.  (1 Peter 1:1-6)

As followers of Jesus, we have far greater expectations than any pleasure or dream the world can offer, but keeping our eyes on the big picture can take constant refocusing.  If faith is truly the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen, we have a great deal to hope for as we put our faith in the promises of God rather than the pursuits of the world.

As I think of many Christians around the world who face hunger, persecution, and death on a daily basis, I can only imagine how important it must be for them to hold close and with expectation, the promised inheritance we have in Christ!

Then I think, in our own world of comfort, safety, and pursuit of pleasure and self, have we not just as much need to focus on the big picture.  In what are my expectations grounded?  Where does our peace and gladness come from? Can I look forward with great anticipation to the unimaginable joy that is in store, and somehow, grasp ahold of that joy today in light of what is to come?

How does the promise of our eternal inheritance in Christ shape your perspective of today?  What does suffering with joy look like for those of us in comfort?

Like Father, Like Son

The small boy was clearly taken with his Daddy. As I watched him following his father’s every step, I could see whatever his Dad did, this child also wanted to do.  skiing, biking, working, it didn’t matter the activity as long as his Dad was doing it with him.  Seeing them brought a smile to my face!

I mused at our inherent desire to follow some one bigger and stronger than ourselves.  I thought of the hourglass of time, and wondered if in 20 years, these two might be working together in a father and son business.  Then the thought shifted; right now this boy was enamoured with his Dad but I wondered if that would change as video games, cell phones, and skate parks were introduced into his life.

As I read  this morning, my mind went to the small boy I had watched delighting to do things with Dad.

I assure you, the Son can do nothing by Himself.  He does only what He sees the Father doing.  Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.  For the Father loves the Son and tells Him everything He is doing, and the Son will do far greater things than healing this man.  You will be astonished at what He does.  (John 5:19)

Remembering the adoration in the child’s face made me ask myself – what is my relationship with my Abba Daddy?  Am I thrilled to do whatever He is doing?  Do I know what He is doing, or am I caught up with my day, skipping time to press into His Word and presence?

I thought of the patient teaching of the Dad with his son; the way he carefully explained and showed the boy how.  For the Father loves the Son and tells Him everything He is doing.

Sometimes I forget I am to come to the Father like a little child.  Eager to help, watching and listening with adoration.  Delighted to be involved, not because of the task, but the person who is teaching me. I tend to adult a little too thoroughly, thinking I can put things together and manage my own day.

I am thankful for children to teach me some of the deeper things of God.  Jesus came to the Father completely dependant on Him for instruction, confidence, and wisdom and the Father told Jesus everything and included Him in all His work! Then Jesus told His disciples if they remained in the Father, they would do greater things as they “grew up in Christ.”

We have an amazing Father who tenderly cares for His children, and wants nothing more than to do life together!  He wants to show us how to live an effective, victorious life in Him.  Thinking back on the delight and joy in the little boy’s face, I am inspired to think of my own Heavenly Father in the same light – like a child who knows his Daddy can do ANYTHING, and is growing in confidence in working together!

How do you see God?  What does the thought of spending time together bring to mind?