What’s your Joseph Calling?

I began reading ‘The Joseph Calling’ by Os Hillman this morning. There are a couple of words that stuck out because they are like sandpaper on the chalkboard of my life.

Humility and a broken and contrite heart.  

6356388427610595271282450916_969748_10103227871636285_1801255318_nWhen I recall the early life of Joseph, it begins with an arrogant youth flaunting his God gift in front of his older brothers. We all know that didn’t go well. The blessing of that moment is that they sold him rather than kill him. God, of course had a plan and as we recall the account we can clearly see the hand of God in his life and the salvation of his family. The man that came out of that 13 plus years of hardship was refined by fire; humbled by his God and redeemed for an eternal purpose. God’s plan took way more time than I’m sure Joseph realized, but he still trusted in his God. I wonder if the moments of double and fear, the questionings and anger are removed from the account or if Joseph never experience it. Perhaps it’s there in the written account and I have not studied it, nevertheless it is the refined man of God that is our example. He was placed in God ordained circumstances for a greater purpose and it was not until he become who God wanted him to be that he was usable for the kingdom; the greater good, redemption.

Ever feel like your circumstances are meaningless? Os Hillman say in his devotional, the modern- day Joseph’s are broken by failed finances, failed marriages, failed relationships and perhaps career failures. They come through the circumstance, perhaps God ordained, or of our making, refined by fire and usable for kingdom work, redemptive work. The focus again is the outcome, not the circumstance or even the internal spiritual struggle that takes place. The result is a broken, contrite humble heart. That’s our Joseph example.

Are your circumstances something that God has entrusted you with to fulfil a greater plan for others?

Are your circumstances refining you to be a humble, refined broken leader in some area of the kingdom for His Glory?

That certainly was Joseph’s experience years later. Thoughts to ponder.

Lord help me reframe my circumstance and see them as a gift you entrusted to me for my refinement and kingdom work. No matter how insignificant or difficult it may seem to me now. No matter how long it takes, create in me a clean heart, broken and poured out for your glory and my ultimate good.

His promises are true . . .

It’s been a while since I blogged in part because of the physical and emotional stress of moving. Let me just say that moving as you age is difficult. This was a long- awaited move, a dream-move, a God- move and we are finally settling in. Time and space has also allowed for some emotional healing and Mike is destressing from the pressure of the last twelve years.

IMG_1589 (2)

On the day before we pulled out with truck and trailer heading to Wyoming, Mike’s crew threw us a going away lunch. Having worked in horticulture for over 35 years, my husband has a coaching management style and in that process his teams always grow and relationships develop that are family. Such is the case for this group of people. We have come to love them and care deeply for them and them for us. It was an emotional lunch. It was perfectly planned and before us lay a wonderful Mexican culinary gift of love. Also attending were what we might have termed ‘enemies’ from the management team. One in particular, made the environment uncomfortable for the crew but after a while the group began to share their feelings primarily for Mike but also for me, as Mama Vicki.  It was precious and heart-felt. Some in broken English and some with the help of a translator. Years of friendship and prayer for family and life events were being returned as gifts of love and gratitude. They spoke of Mike’s leadership and gentle, humble management style; of his willingness to lead by example and how much they trusted and admired him; of how he will be missed. Certainly, the building expansion Mike and his team had accomplished over the last 12 years was a capstone professionally, but this generous expression of love and admiration, was much more a capstone to his giftedness in leadership and team-building. As we left this wonderful time, the Holy Spirit brought Psalms 23:5-6 to mind, which says

 ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with (healing) oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…’

I was dumbfounded in silence. God has graciously allowed us to experience his compassionate care demonstrated through callused hands and precious hearts. I was amazed and overwhelmed at the tender mercies of a loving God. Never I had experienced scripture in such vivid reality. Certainly, I have experienced answered pray, but never had I experienced the overwhelming love of God as a suave for our troubled hearts. All this kindness and expression of love was poured out, though uncomfortably, by co-laborers right in front of the two people that had cause us the most hurt and anger; our enemies. The speakers too were risking a great deal in their transparency but they spoke anyway.  It was amazing! It was transformative! Truly  an Ebenezer moment graciously given to us by God himself through his emissaries, Mike’s precious crew, our forever family.

Never doubt that God understand when you have been wronged or treated unjustly. Never think that the almighty does not care about your broken heart. Psalms 56:8 says You have kept count of my tossing; put my tears in your bottle… believe it.

He sees, He knows and He will anoint your head with healing oil in due time. What an amazing God who keeps His promises. He is trustworthy in both big and small issues of life. If he cares for our ‘sparrows’ of pain, He can be trusted in all areas of life and for eternity.

A New Dawn & Clear Perspective

Ilander good pic morningt’s early on Sunday morning and as usual, I’m up early. I love the quiet mornings with my coffee and Bible. Quiet and unhurried mornings with things to do but no real timeframe to complete them are such a gift. It’s nice to have Michael here, if just for a couple of days for now. What I have learned during this transition time of moving, is that home is where we are together. I have struggled calling Lander, Wyoming home but equally struggle calling California home unless Michael is there. He makes either home for me.

As I write this first blog from my Lander patio, I am struck by how good God is to allow me to always have a view that feeds my soul. What a wonderful friend who knows my heart and provides me with all I need in order to listen; in places He can still me and heal me. I am grateful.

As I was reading this morning in Romans 8, verse 18 was the focus of the devotional.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Sufferings of this present time and the process of comparing stuck out to me. In the United States and more specifically in my personal life, I have experienced little to no suffering. Certainly, things and events are not fair. It seems that people who claim to be good and righteous get by with ungodly things. I get angry at such things and resentment and bitterness builds in me. I get tunnel vision and only seem to focus on my hurt, my ‘suffering’ (and I use that term loosely in a personal suffering context).

In a devotional called Stay Fit: Strengthening your Connection to Jesus, Lauren Espy, compares the focus on suffering to the focus on brokenness.  Brokenness is a word that is hard to describe in tangible terms, for me. Am I broken because of the hurt of events or is it a state of mind/spirit that despite the events or hurt, I remain held and secure? I think the latter is truth and is the desired result of the former.  It’s a place of surrender. In her devotional, Lauren talks about how Jesus broke the bread to feed the 5000. He held the bread and was in control of it’s breaking, as well as its holding and distribution.

Broken, held and used. Certain not possible if I focus on my hurt in what seems unfair. Comparing the suffering with the glory as described in Roman 8:18, the suffering comes up deficient. I come up on the short end of the grace of God and mercy he offers me. I come up short of experiencing his glorious working out of my salvation for my good and His glory.

Lord help me be comfortable in brokenness or at least still in it. Help me lay down the resentment and trust I am held and loved.

 

Finishing Well . . .

IMG_1510 (3)

As I sit for one of the last times on my California deck and look out on my husband’s production legacy, my emotions go from anger to relief and back; with all levels experienced in a plethora of degrees. What is interesting to me is the connection between those emotional extremes to individuals and expectations. I have spent years in recovery from my own emotional garbage and its shrapnel. I have prompted and been prompted to let go of my expectations of others. My admonition has not changed, however the spiritual methodologies become much less standardized when it is my crap that needs to be extinguished. After almost 12 years here in the central valley of California, God certainly has done a transformative work in our lives. We are not the same people who moved here in February 2006 and for that I am grateful. In both the early years of recovery and those prior to it, the unkindness and disrespect that is being portioned to my husband would have been me with a full-on frontal (verbal) assault (without reserve). Now I am conflicted, which is good. Now I know what is right and honorable and I care about that. Now I know what it means to honor God in my response; which is really no response at all. Now I understand that forgiveness is a process and that when I fully surrender and am honest about my own stuff, God shows up and gently moves me through His process. Still, like Paul the good that I want to do I struggle with and the flesh and spirit battle for supremacy. O this wretched body of sin!

So, in this final blog from my California deck, I write and pray for those who have spitefully abused my gentle sweet amazing husband. Though now through gritted teeth, I know God will do His work in me and one day I will look back and see He has helped me lay it all down and fully forgive. God is on His throne. We have moved on and grown spiritually and what remains here is what He will us or work out in those who remain.

His work . . . His way . . . His timing.

Wyoming here we come . . . Thanks be to God for His great mercy and grace towards us!

They didn’t know. . .

As I was sitting on my deck this morning watching the sunrise; my private Easter sunrise service, I was struck my how normal the day seemed.  I imagined the emotion the followers of Jesus must have felt that morning… numb, afraid, exhaustion, indecision, confusion, perhpas some anger. It was two days since Jesus was killed. . . two long days. Now the women were leaving to perform the very normal process of managing the body. Filled with sadness, numb and uncertainly, imagine just how their ordinary day turned to extraordinary. Imagine the engery that surged in thier exhausted bodies. Through swollen tear streaked eyes, thier ordinary day changes and their adrenaline surges.

Funny how we place so much stock in routine. How we take for granted moments as ordinary. How shocked and undone we are when the unexpected happens, good or bad. What stuck me the Easter morning is Jesus knew. He knew their reactions. He knew their pain, confusion and fear. He also knew what they did not yet understand.

Today everything changes.

img_3418-1

That Easter morning thousands of years ago, my life changed just like theirs. Today, I know that the power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to me. Today I know the victory that was acheived that first Easter. Today I am free from the power of sin and death because that first Easter, Jesus rose from the dead. That day they were free as well. They, so close to the emotional strain of the events that proceeded that first Easter, were whirled away in exhuberance and disbelief. Today, we struggle to understand the intensity of the events. We fight to keep the world’s ideas at bay, bunnies, chocolate and the like. Thousands of years later, the day marks an extraordinary event. It reveals the power of our risen savior. It demonstrates the depths of his love. It provides the roadmap of faith for all who will follow. He is risen and the world will never be the same. His followers were never the same. I will never be the same. What I do not know about my ordinary days, Jesus knows. I can trust him fully because of Easter.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

The Wisdom of Children

Great perspective Char. I’m glad you started writing again. I think the ‘easy downhill’ has so may applications. Blessings friend. I’m gonna reblog this on Ebenezers of Grace.

There is JOY in the Journey

Joy in the JOurneY – The Wisdom of Children

Children, while innocent, curious, and fun, often have wisdom to offer if we take the time to listen. Today was a very nice day here in Susanville and I decided to sit on my deck and enjoy some fresh air. My landlord’s children were out and about playing. After a while, mom went in and the two boys were still outside. Thus a conversation was begun. I learned their favorite food (mac and cheese in case you are interested – the vestiges of which were visible on faces as well), why it is best NOT to swim with sharks, and how the trees around the house look like a T-Rex at night (I better start paying more attention). Also, there appears to be a bird living in their garage, a scary bird that turns its head and looks at you when…

View original post 508 more words

Truth Versus Perception

I had an amazingly funny, bigger-than-life, Dad. Affectionately known as Big Jim, his 6356388427610595271282450916_969748_10103227871636285_1801255318_ngiant stature was dwarfed by his big heart and gigantic dreams. He used to invent toys for me. One I can remember vividly was what he called the Ski-a-stake (this was in 1961 before the skate board). He attached roller skates, the old metal kind, to the bottom of water skis. There were two snow ski type poles to complete the set. Inventors run in the Morrison family and my Dad longed for that one great idea. I’m really not sure this toy was for me, but I was the test dummy . . .or should I say crash dummy.  I was about 6 or 7 years old and my Dad thought I could do everything and should not ever be afraid of whatever crazy adventure he had designed for me. That list of ‘adventures’ is quite long.  I remember vividly, the hill on Ellsworth in Memphis because it is the same hill is where I learned to ride a bike, (another adventure for another day). So, Dad positioned me on top of the hill with these huge water skis strapped to my feet, poles in hand and gave me a push. I need to say, I am not the adventurous type, in fact, even with my ample frame, I was a girly girl at heart. But this was glide or die. I remember being terrified, but managing to remain upright until I reached the bottom of the hill where I fell. It was probably not near the giant hill I remember, but my fear made it gigantic.  My precious father, a middle child, was highly competitive with his older brothers and sandwiched between them and his younger brother, born with some physical challenges. My point in this story is that my Dad’s view of a father was filtered through his. Strength and courage, regardless of gender, were necessary for survival and to receive attention. That was his reality. So, my Dad created environments for me to grow in strength and courage. He loved me but I always felt at risk, fearful that in his effort to build character, I might die.

I struggle with fear and trust, as you might well imagine. My father was loving, generous, strong and adventurous. His heart’s desire for me was to be strong and courageous and serve the Lord with my life, however, what I learned and internalized as my truth was that the adults in your life might want the best for you but it is going to hurt. I learned to avoid pain and shy away from ‘adventures’ for myself and my children. I loved my dad, deeply, but I did not trust that his plan for me was not going to kill me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 Says Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean in your own direction. In all your ways acknowledge him, He will direct your path.

My earthly father is the filter through which I perceive my heavenly father, even decades after the experience described here and others like it. It is my default thought and perception. By nature, or nurture, I immediately am fearful of ‘adventures’ and new things. However, I have a heavenly Father who is perfect. My Abba Father, Papa, daddy loves me and wants my complete trust.

So how do I reconcile my faulty perception with God’s truth?

Much like my earthly Dad expected my obedience to his plans, my heavenly father desires my obedience or willingness to lean in his direction, not my own. My own direction is filtered thought my past experience but leaning into His direction requires me to trust that He is who he says, recall other times he has been faithful and evaluate the good he continues to make out of my bad. The beauty he has made from my ashes.

Roman 12:2 tells us to change our behaviors by changing how we think. Satan, of course, wants to keep me trapped in my perception rather than God’s truth. He wants me to believe that God, just like my Dad is going to hurt me if I fully trust him. He is going to strap two wooden boards to my feet and push me down the hill. If, however, I stay trapped in my perception, I will miss what God has planned for me, personally and within the body of Christ. For me this means I must capture my perception and replace it by:

  • Reminding myself who God is
  • Remembering He love me with a perfect love
  • Believe that his perfect love casts out my fears.
  • Trusting that His best will not harm me.
  • PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

Where are, you believing your old truth, or holding onto your perception rather than trusting your Abba Father, Papa Daddy? I’d love to hear how your overcome them and are replacing them with truth.

Shine on!

We live in a very remote location and when it is dark himg_3418-1ere on our country hilltop, it is really dark. People who live in the city may not appreciate the genuine darkness of the country. We often have evening visitors who comment on how bright the stars look against the pitch black of the night sky. What I notice is not so much how bright the stars appear, but their abundance. The same number exists in the city but without the black of night, they are not seen.

In Matthew 5:13-14, Jesus is speaking to a large crowd of followers. He tells them they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. He shares this against the darkness of the crowd that followed them and the struggles of their time. I think this was to encourage them not only about brightness or saltiness but about significance. Do you ever see yourself as light or salt? There are days when I question those in my own walk. My light ‘feels’ dull, lacking sufficient energy or direction.  I question if there is enough to make a difference in dark places.  What this scripture reminds me is that my light, even a small dim one, dispels darkness. I am always amazed as I drive up the long gravel road to our home that the lamp, left on for the dog, appears so bright from such a distance. From the light’s perspective, it may not be observable and I think this was Jesus’s point. The light is lest affected by its own light. It is best observed by those in darkness and often at a distance who are in need of it. So how I ‘feel’ about my light is of little importance because . . . wait for it . . . it’s not about me. My light is not for me, it’s for others to see and glorify God. I am not responsible for the location or illumination. I am light by virtue of the relationship to the Son and Father, the source of the light in me.

Jesus goes on to talk about light’s efficiency in mass when he gives the example of a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. Think about the last time you traveled at night and observed the glow from the approaching city, large or small. Even a hamlet produces radiating light. It cannot be hidden. The darker the environment the more significant even the smallest light or the smallest group of lights. Finally, notice in verse 14, Jesus tells them that they can chose to put a lamp under a basket and hide the light, but he says almost rhetorically, that people just don’t have a light to hide it from sight. Notice that a choice has to be made when hiding a light and it is not God who does the hiding.

For those days when we are struggling with significance, purpose and belonging, even a tiny light alone dispels darkness. Remember our light is not FOR us. We are light by virtue of relationships with Jesus.  Our light is for those who are in darkness.  Our light not ABOUT us, but rather to bring glory to our Father in heaven.

Let your light shine before men so that they may see…and glorify your Father in heaven. Don’t trust how you feel, stand on the truth of salt and light.

Shine on!

 

Sticks and Stones . . .

imageSticks and stones may break my bones but words . . .

Have you ever thought about the effect your words have on people? I was entering an event venue at the invitation of an acquaintance. When entering, I saw this person and was greeted warmly but with the look that says ‘I know I should know you but’, you know the one, right?  It did not bother me in the slightest. Reflecting, however, on our original meeting and invitation, I expected a different response. Though some time has passed and life gets busy, what was clear is that her words had impacted me more than our original meeting had impacted her. Again, I was not hurt or disappointed, it just struck me how causally we use words. We speak and communicate but we are never certain how those words impact or influence the receiver. There is a children’s song that has as a verse,

 ‘O be careful little mouth what you say . . . for the Father up above is looking down with love, O be careful little mouth what you say.’

What we say even in a small group setting impacts and influences others, either negatively or positively. We judge something simple like appearances and comment even jokingly, and these seemingly benign words are received and have consequences. We talk about others, even in Christian circles and even if the person is not present, the hearers of those words forms opinions and thoughts. These thoughts inform behavior and attitudes toward others. Interestingly, when judging another, we typically attribute their deficiencies to character flaws, but when we judge ourselves we attribute those flaws to circumstances. We judge with incomplete information. We do not know everything, or why choices were made. We assume, but we do not know what we do not know. What would happen, especially in Christian circles, where the world is certainly listening and observing, if we guarded our words with as much care as we guard our money or our children.

 John 13:35 says that all people will know we are followers of Jesus Christ when they observe how we love one another.

 Not by how much we give, or stand in opposition to issues and not even how we love the world. The world will know that we follow Christ by how we demonstrate love within our Christian community towards one another. Jesus says in John 12:32 ‘If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.’ The process seems to be we love in community, lifting up Christ by word and deeds and Jesus will draw men to him. People will come to know him.   Words matter whether the person being talked about is present or not. Words impact and influence. I have done my share of damage in this area, but by the grace of God through this insignificant reunion with an acquaintance, I will be careful what I say.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words have lasting consequences that can destroy.

Blessed versus Happy

I am still studying Matthew, observing the movement of Jesus in relationship to community.IMG_3304 In Matthew 5, the familiar passage called the beatitudes begins. Much has been written on this section and I am certainly not qualified to discuss the theological nuances. What impresses me is the setting and the discourse that follows to his disciples, moving from a large crowd to a smaller group; moving from a needs based circumstance driven crowd to an intimate learner’s environment. Matthew 4:23-25 describes the crowd that is following Jesus and his work among them, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel, healing every disease and affliction, various diseases, pains, oppressed by demons. . . ‘and he healed them’. Now this great crowd is following him because he represents something different. He offers relief to their circumstances, pain and misery.

Chapter 5 begins with ‘Seeing the crowd, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.’  He removes himself from the emotion and tension a crowd that wants something represents. I imagine, though, it is purely speculation, that he sits where he can see them and consistent with his character, he looks on them with compassion, longing that they could see beyond their circumstance and trust him and know his father. This, much deeper than their presenting issue.  In verse 2, Jesus opens his mouth and teaches his discipline, this smaller group of intimate followers. The first word is ‘Blessed’.  That has always been a confusing word. What does it mean to be blessed? Certainly in American, we are most blessed with wealth and security compared to the rest of the world. But, that’s based on circumstances which could change and are changing every day. Determined to understand this term ‘blessed’, out comes the study tools to search for the original meaning of the word. Blessed in the Greek is makários which translates as blessed one, possessing the favor of God. It is that state of being marked by the fullness of God. It indicates the state of the believer in Christ; said of one who becomes a partaker of God’s nature through faith in Christ. So it is positional. As a believer in Jesus Christ, indwelt with the Holy Spirit because of faith in Jesus Christ this is the result. Contrasted to ‘happy’ which is based on circumstances, like the large crowd following Jesus in this account, who were looking for relief from their circumstance to be ‘happy’. Happy has to do with good fortune or based on a favorable circumstance. Blessed is equivalent to having God’s kingdom within one’s heart; in the world but not dependent on it. Satisfied because of God rather favorable circumstance[1].

Back to the scene, in Matthew 5, Jesus is observing a great crowd of followers who are seeking circumstance relief and teaching his disciples, those who follow him as believers in his work and person and stressing the difference in his first word choice. Emphasizing the difference between them and the overall makeup of the crowd. Blessed versus happy. Those of us who call the name of Christ; believers, followers, children of God, have the same dynamic or option available. We are blessed because we have Christ within. We have the fullness of God within us. Therefore, our circumstances do not determine our state of being. We are in Christ. The chaos of this world, even the chaos in each individual life of a believer does not change our blessedness. We do not have to be undermined by the world, but can stand above the circumstances and remain independent from them in our state of being, our attitudes and therefore our behaviors. We are not UNDER the circumstance unless we choose to place ourselves there. Certainly there is a place for grief and adjustment to circumstance that cause us stress but regardless of the outcome, we are blessed.

Cancer or illness . . . blessed. Loss . . .. blessed. Stressful job . . . blessed. Financial difficulties . . . blessed. Relationships gone sideways . . .blessed.

Blessed are the believers in Christ because they have the fullness of God within.

Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians 4:8

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

Blessed . . .

 

 

[1]  Taken from The Complete Word Study Dictionary, Edited by S. Zodhiates, AMG Publishers, page 937.