His Greatness in My Heart

Psalm 99:2  The Eternal is great in the hearts of His people; He has made Zion His sacred mountain, and He reigns majestic over all people.

God is great in my heart. Spring reminds me of that because to me it represents hope. Life is full of cycles and patterns. The more I learn about the intricacies of creation, the more I’m in awe of God. From the outer reaches of the universe to the smallest particle of matter to the remarkable workings of the human body – God’s plan is perfect.

Everything about God is perfect. His faithfulness is perfect. His power is perfect. His grace and mercy are perfect. His justice is perfect as is His righteousness. Most of all, His love is perfect.

God isn’t present just in a human-built tabernacle anymore. His home is in the heart of those who ask Jesus to forgive them and live with them.

There are a billion reasons why His greatness should be in my heart, even though sometimes it seems that in living with a mentally ill stepson it would be easy to live in anger and resentment. At times I have given in to those feelings, but then I have to remind myself that God is greater than mental illness.

Read that again:  God is greater than mental illness.

So regardless of how you are feeling, keep God’s greatness in your heart.

If for no other reason than this, that He loves you.

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My Jesus Makeover

1 Corinthians 1:30  Instead, credit God with your new situation: you are united with Jesus the Anointed. He is God’s wisdom for us and more. He is our righteousness and holiness and redemption.

God is so faithful about speaking Truth into my life. Sometimes it’s in His Word, sometimes it’s through the advice of a friend, sometimes it’s through the Sunday sermon – which is what happened to me this week.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, and our pastor’s wife spoke. She used the passage in Luke 6:6-11 in which Jesus healed the man with the withered hand. She said something really profound: Unless Jesus touches us in our withered areas we will never change.

Notas de prensa

All of my own efforts to change my attitudes and actions when dealing with a mentally ill family member have not always proved effective. In fact, they usually are not effective. It’s only when I allow Jesus access to my life that things change.

I needed to hear what she had to say in the worst way.

She also said that God can use us even in our brokenness, sometimes because of our brokenness. He uses us right where we are and not where we would like to be. But His grace helps us to move toward a place of greater fulfillment and usefulness as we rely on His working in our lives and not our own efforts.

What a relief!

So let God speak into those withered areas of your life. He’s more able to touch and heal than you could ever imagine. He is the source, as the verse above says, of any wisdom and righteousness and holiness we need. And especially the source of our redemption.

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Designed by God

Philippians 1:6  I am confident that the Creator, who has begun such a great work among you, will not stop in mid-design but will keep perfecting you until the day Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, returns to redeem the world. (VOICE)

Well, how did you do with the challenge I gave you last week, to begin to develop praise as a habit?

It was difficult, wasn’t it? I know it was for me. Habits in my thought life are so ingrained that it takes a long time to change them. Then, of course, there was a test. The first day. I was just about to get angry about something my bipolar stepson did when I remembered my praise experiment.

I turned my thoughts to God and began to thank Him and praise Him. Before you could blink an eye, my attitude changed and my anger was diffused. So all week I was perfectly turned in to God and my mouth and mind were filled with praise.

NOT!!!!

By Saturday I was discouraged. Lord, I prayed, how long is this going to take? When will I ever learn?

I have a coffee mug on my desk that I painted myself that says this:  His Masterpiece Created for His Glory. Here’s the deal. I was trying all week in my own strength to change myself instead of yielding my heart and mind to the working of my Creator.

photo by Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)

God is in charge of perfecting me. He has promised to keep on perfecting me until He calls me home. It’s kind of like a caterpillar. While in the cocoon it doesn’t look like anything is happening, but all the while inside is a miracle of change called a metamorphosis.

While I’m on earth, I’m in a spiritual cocoon. Unimaginable beauty is being formed in me. God doesn’t stop working on me, as I was reminded this Sunday in one of the songs we sang. Someday I will be finished, a butterfly with wings to fly to my heavenly Father.

In the meantime, I need to be patient because even though it seems like not much progress is being made, God will never set me aside. He promised to complete what He has started.

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Traveling by the Light of God’s Face

Psalm 89:15  How happy are those who have learned how to praise You; those who journey through life by the light of Your face.  (VOICE)

Do you ever feel like you aren’t making any progress in your life? I’ve been feeling that lately, especially concerning my stepson who’s bipolar. Discouragement has been my companion lately. I’m even having difficulty writing this week because it seems as though I’m going around the same mountain again and again.

The problem, you see, is that I’ve failed to recognize God in my life. My eyes are looking down at my feet and at the rocky trail instead of following the light of God’s face.

According to this verse from Psalm 89, praise isn’t something that comes naturally. It’s something I have to learn. I guess I’ve been playing hooky from class.

photo by reebs

So this week I’m going to experiment. I’m going to start my day with praise and keep practicing it all day every day until I’ve begun to develop a habit of praise.

When I keep my eyes on His light, the path isn’t so dark after all.

Are you trying to walk through your journey with your eyes down or even with your eyes closed? Praise ignites the light we need.

I’ll let you know next week how this week has been. Will you join me in this experiment of praise?

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Seeing What We Can’t See

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here. So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes. All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away. Instead, we focus on the things we cannot see, which live on and on.

Living with a family member who has a brain disorder, I find myself focusing on the problems too much. Sometimes it’s his refusal to take his medications when he should or to deal with his alcoholism. Sometimes it’s just his attitude toward those at the behavioral facility who are trying to help him.

Some days feel like they last forever. But Paul reassures me that in the grand scheme of things, these “pains” in my life are very short.

photo by Zereshk

I tend to have it backwards in viewing my situation. I see the actions and hear the words of those around me, but fail to see God’s hand in my life and the things in my spirit that He is accomplishing. Life and its problems are temporary. Spiritual aspects of my life are far more permanent, for God is in the business of creating good out of those problems, things that build me up and glorify Him in the process.

Let’s put on our spiritual glasses so we can see beyond the difficulties and distractions of this life into the future beyond life here on earth.

Nothing on earth can compare with what He has waiting for us in eternity.

See what you can’t see.

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My Forever Life

John 11:25-26  I am the resurrection and the source of all life; those who believe in Me will live even in death. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never truly die. Do you believe this?

My mother died one year and my father the next. They were both 93. When your parents reach their nineties, it seems like since they’ve always been there they always will be there. And then they’re gone.

Their deaths left gaping holes in my heart. Did I grieve? Of course. But underneath my grief – or maybe hovering over my grief – was the knowledge that it wasn’t the end.

They were Christ-followers, and I believe what Jesus said to Martha in the above verse, that if you believe in Him, you never really die. So I’ll see my parents again, along with aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and friends who have gone on to be with Jesus.

photo by Jozef Kazimierz “Meaglin” Sokolowski

That’s what Easter is all about. It’s an empty cross and an empty tomb. He took care of our sin on the cross, then He took care of death itself by His resurrection.

Living with a mentally ill family member can be frustrating and discouraging when dealing with a seemingly unending list of problems. On those days I rather envy those who are already enjoying life with Jesus. Someday I will, too.

In the meantime I live with hope. Hope for my stepson’s healing, but also hope because of the preparation this life is providing to prepare me for my forever life.

My forever life with Jesus.

So just as Jesus asked Martha, he asks you, “Do you believe this?”

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Weak But Usable

2 Corinthians 4:7 But this beautiful treasure is contained in us – cracked pots made of earth and clay – so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us.

photo by Einsamer Schutze

Do you see yourself as a beautiful treasure? I have to admit that sometimes I see myself as something less than a treasure. Especially when I haven’t handled things well with my stepson, who has a mental illness – bipolar disorder.

This verse comforts me because it reassures me that God can use me even though I have flaws. Mental illness is a bumpy road, as is life in general. The Apostle Paul goes on to say that we get chips and cracks but aren’t destroyed, and we’re never abandoned by God.

I like to be in control of my life, to make plans, to keep to a schedule, to complete my to-do lists. The problem with that is that God doesn’t always go along with my plans, which seem so well-thought-out but don’t allow for those God-interruptions or, even more important, those corrections He speaks into my spirit. His way is always better. Why is that so hard for me to learn?

My power is weak and flawed. His power shines through when I let Him have control. If I try to do everything on my own, how does that reflect His character?

It all boils down to trust. Do I trust God with my life and with my stepson’s life? Can I quit trying to “fix” circumstances and people and just let God handle it? Is my faith in my own ability or in God’s love and grace?

Embrace your flaws because it’s the only way that God can use you and let others see that it’s Him at work in you.

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