Emmanuel, God with us . . .

I recently enjoyed a trip to Oregon to play with my Grandson’s Noah and Liam.  Typically northbound trips include other agendas, but this trip was specifically to enjoy these two treasured gifts from God. If raising my children was a cupcake from God, then having influence in the lives of my grandchildren is the icing and the cherry on top. I suppose in my mind, it gives me opportunities for a do-over, in the places of my greatest deficit with my children. Though I raised them to have faith in God, my life choices often reflected a god other than the living God. Perhaps that is God’s grand design for grand parenting; the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the very things I rushed over when I was younger.

Sharing my heart for grandchildren, a dear friend gave me a wonderful book of devotional readings for children by Susan Lloyd-Jones & Jago entitled Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. It is atypical and void of the list of dos and don’ts, rather it focuses on the relationship God desires to enjoy with His children. It is profoundly simple and beautifully illustrated and will speak into the heart of any truth seeker, regardless of age.

I had prayed for opportunity with the boys that was unforced and conversation that was meaningfully and God provided. I chose a devotional that reinforced the truth that is profoundly difficult to accept in our culture and read about the three word God was us to always remember, ‘I love you’. Satan’s crafty temptation of Eve in the garden was in the form of a lie; one he continues to use today, ‘God does NOT love you’. His example was the exclusion of a desired fruit on the tree in the center of their God-given paradise. The truth that became crystal clear to me as I read to my grandsons was I often still believe that lie. ‘God does not love me if he does not . . .’ you can fill in the blank with anything from denial of something most desired to loss of what is most highly treasured.  In our consumer mentality where enough is never enough and satisfaction seems elusive, Satan’s lie reduces God to a genie in a magic bottle rather than the lover and salvation of our very souls and the purpose for our existence.  As I pondered this for the remainder of my time with the boys, God began to move me towards a deeper understanding of Emmanuel, God with us. Satan wants us to believe God is against us because God does not respond as we desire. Rather God’s truth is He is with us, not just in the sense of His presence, but in a synergistic way. The picture that comes to mind is of team rowing or sculling. There is a beauty in the synchronized motion of this sport. Imagine if you will, what it would look like if a rowing team were facing in the same direction and rowing in opposite ones.  I think you can grasp the idea. Emmanuel, God with us, is not only attendance, it is movement, originated by him in which we join and follow, like rowing.  God is with us! God is for us! God loves us!

Are there places you, as a follower of Christ, are living like God is against you, believing Satan’s lie? God wants to rewrite that for you and me.  Three simple words God wants us to believe to counteract the lie of Satan, ‘I love you.’ What we believe informs our behaviors, not what we say we believe.

Treasure these words of mine in your heart and in your soul. Deuteronomy 11:18

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21


Be Blessed

Emmanuel, God with us.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Movements . . .

Yesterday was an interesting day. What began with great enthusiasm and focus, ended with a full range of emotions. Yes I did watch the National championship football game and watch my beloved Oregon Duck, get their tail feathers handed to them, but in the midst of that event, I received a text message from my cousin informing me my Dad’s younger brother had died peacefully in his sleep. Instant perspective shift! From investing time in a child’s game (at my age, 21 something is a child,  no offense), to remembering my precious Uncle. From being frustrated, to being grateful for his contribution to my life. I was overwhelmed by loneliness and empathy for my cousin, an only child like myself. Remembering the day both my parents were gone and my feelings that day. Feeling sad for the last Morrison brother as well, who might feel abandoned and alone as I did.
As I sit and write this, I am grateful that our loss is heaven’s gain. I remember the day Uncle Bob turned his life over to Christ. I remember the conversations at the house on Ellsworth, where he lived in a small apartment in my maternal grandmother’s house. We lived there as well so I had daily interactions with Uncle Bob. I remember him sharing in family events, meals, trips and business. I remember when He married his wife, Marilyn, when Robert was born, just weeks before my oldest daughter. I remember their joy at his arrival. For so much of my life, Uncle Bob was a significant part. Then I moved away.
Movement …
It seems life stands still much of the time, but moments of great emotion, either loss or gain punctuate movement.
Yesterday in Matthew 5:1, I was struck by the transitions, the movements in that first verse.
He saw the crowd –He went up into the mountain – When he sat down – The disciple came to him – He opened his mouth – He taught them.
Not only was Jesus’ movement intentional it was observable, even his stillness, and his wait for his disciples to respond. There is no verbal instruction or signaling mentioned here but I suppose it could have happened. However, I think not. I think he waited for them to realign themselves with him. They had observed his movements because Matthew records each of them. Now it was their turn to move towards him. And when they did, when they re-positioned themselves, when they aligned themselves with him, he taught them. The teaching that follows is and was counter intuitive. It would require them to do the exact opposite of what they would do naturally. So they needed to be taught, in order to understand, how he wanted them to live their lives. What their choice to follow was going to require and how it would transform everything, particularly how they thought, behaved and measured.
Two parts, His and theirs.
What do you find yourself watching? Whose movements take up your thought processes? Who will you follow?
My precious Uncle, Robert Lee Morrison, choose to follow Christ. He followed his movement and responded accordingly. Today He’s celebrating in heaven with the object of his focus, Jesus Christ.
You will be missed. Still deeply loved.

Consistency . . .


I have been thinking a great deal about the meaning of this word and how I live it out in my life.  A couple of things my current course in Psychology has taught me is 1) Behavior is purposeful and connected  to my thoughts and 2) I often believe my own faulty story. Being an all-or-nothing thinker, consistency is defined as perfection. Whatever I try to accomplish must be perfect and for me, almost instantaneous. This makes it difficult to observe or celebrate any forward movement as positive progress. First, because it is not finished….perfected and it takes too long.  OK, It does not surprise me if about now you are thinking I’m slightly warped. Or you could be nodding your head in agreement because this sounds very familiar. There are a great deal of people who struggle with this idea of progress versus perfection thought process.
My heart’s desire  is to be consistent because I believe it to be the engine that drives behavioral change. Even small movements practiced consistently over time  will produce change. I have a coach with Precision  Nutrition that has been gently living that process out with me since April, 2014. My measuring system is flawed and I recognize that now.
I was reading in Matthew 4:18-25 today and imagining what kind of thought processes Andrew, Peter, James and John were engaged in when they meet Jesus by the sea of Galilee. He extends a simple, but we now know, profound invitation to these sets of brothers. “Come follow me and I will . . .”. When I imagine myself in this situation as one of these men, fishing, doing life as usual, and  then this mysterious newcomer extends an intriguing invitation, I would be thinking, ‘sure I’ll leave my fishing for a day. No big deal.’ But days turn into weeks, months and years. The word used in all  the gospel accounts of this event was ‘immediately’ they left what they were doing a followed Jesus. They observe him, listen to him, perhaps attend to him and this simple invitation and their consistent, in-the -moment attention changed the world.
An AH HA moment for me. Yes I realize I’m a slow learner….Consistently was measured in small movements, small steps of obedience and over time it was their life pattern; one for which they were willing to die. They had prophetic words that informed them ow what was to come, but initially they followed the man, Jesus, trusting he was who he claimed to be. First intrigued, then they believed his words  and  were transformed one small step of belief at a time, over time.
Consistency is accomplished daily, measured with teaspoons not gallons and each day provides new opportunities to  be proactive, to choose, even to fail and  then regroup and re-engage.  Consistency is bathed in grace and only fully understood in a backwards look marking the place of beginning and movement toward the defined goal. For the brothers it was learning to fish for men by first getting out of their boats, leaving the known for the unknown, being willing to trust the one who invited them.
The invitation is the same today, “Come follow me and I will…..”
Will your response be immediate?
To what is Jesus inviting you?
How will you measure consistency?
Be Blessed . . .

Encouraged . . .

Since Christmas Eve, where we shared a wonderful evening with friends focused on the ‘stars’ God has used in our lives, I have been encouraged in my spiritual journey. I am in the process of completely my degree in psychology at Grand Canyon University (GCU) and these last two classes (taken together) have been a challenge and a drain on my ability to function well. I understand why this process is discouraged at GCU, never the less, I can say, I have almost done it, but at great cost. What this has taught me is the idea of balance and how being out of balance is harmful both to myself and my relationships. I am an ‘isolater’ and when I’m overwhelmed, I reach hermit status very quickly. My house falls apart, my work is challenged and in general, I’m unhappy, angry and self-destructive. You would think I would know this about myself by now but apparently any wisdom I have in this area is over run by my need for achievement. (Perhaps that’s a topic for another time.) I often think of this place as a desert experience because my relationship with the Lord is affected in this process as well. Though I think I have been in a desert place in 2014, this ‘desert’ was my own creation. The constant in this created space was God’s faithfulness to expose areas that need his tender care (or in some cases his bulldozer) and to finish the work He has begun in me. That does not mean I have any more answers than before but the result was a paradigm shift for me on Christmas Eve.

December 26th I began reading the book of Matthew, slowly, chunk by chunk. Impressed by the lengths God took to bring his gift of redemption, his son into this world, I was in awe of the movement of God in the processes of time and the stage of characters surrounding Christ’s birth. I began to see how time was and is in God’s control and He is not rushed but strategic in it’s application. James McDonald said this at a conference I attended years ago, “God rules the world with his feet up and does not break a sweat.” I could see God’s hand both globally and personally in the circumstances and relationships involved. This gave me a sense of peace, a spiritual deep breath, as it were, for the circumstance of my own life. It helped me sit back and see that though God is deeply concerned about me personally, I am not the center of his universe. There is much more going on in God’s purview than my life circumstance. That gave me perspective and patience. For neither Mary, Joseph, the shepherds or wise men were ignored in the events surrounding Christ’s birth. All were effected personally and eternally. Finally, because of this wider perspective, I was able to reflect on the guiding ‘stars’ God has used to bring me to this point in my spiritual journey and be grateful. It gave me hope and encouragement as I anticipate more guiding stars in 2015.

So I ask you, as my friend asked me on Christmas eve, What ‘stars’ has God given you to bring you to this point in your walk with Him? Have you thanked Him for his provision? Have you thanked him for his faithfulness to keep His promises to you personally?
Maybe you are just beginning to get a glimpse of a star in your life. What might God be saying to you or where might He be leading? Wait in awe for the star to stand over the place God has for you as it did over the place of Christ’s birth.