Plumb Perfection – Living Loving: the Lord, the Lost, the Lame, the Lonely

There are no words….WOW!

Savor God, Share Jesus

Plumb Perfection

Living Loving: The Lord, The Lost, The Lame, The Lonely

Part I

In early-mid March, 2017 my husband, David and I came down with flu-like symptoms that had become what seemed an epidemic in our neck of the Mississippi woods. It infected the upper respiratory system and sinus hitting us both hard. I ended up with pneumonia and a partial collapsed spot in my lower left lung.  I was home pretty much quarantined for 2 ½ weeks except to go out to the Doctor and hospital for treatment, a couple of X-rays and checkups. With the constant coughing, congestion and running fever, I had zero energy. I felt really weak and out of breath, not to mention pain in my lower left lung.  All of this  was very uncommon for my usual press-through-it, I-can –take- it, nothing-gets-me-down self. Well, this little bugger was different, not necessarily the infection…

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Let’s Get REAL

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I have written in the past about the “Fake It Til You Make It” lie and I wrote about it from my experience in just trying to survive the life I was leading before Christ, before the church, and before I experienced true love and freedom. Everything I did was for show. I would put on my mask everywhere I went and do whatever necessary just to get by. I had a plan of action for every single establishment I ever stepped into, never recognizing my true weaknesses which were: trying to get ahead of others, being jealous of what others had, putting too much stock in temporary benefits, and seeking the approval of others. In turn, I looked down on everyone around me from my perch of control and became narcissistic and uncaring. We see this in the church everyday and I get it, but it’s exactly what satan wants. If I fake it until I make it in pews next to people who are doing the same, then where is the healing taking place? When I walk out of the doors to reach others on the outside, how will I be able to reach them if all I am doing is wearing a mask that people can actually see right through? It then becomes an open door back into the pit of guilt, shame, remorse, and feeling less than and I have to start all over again where I left off before I spent all my energy proving myself to others instead of falling on my face before the One who can change me. A shooting star only lasts for a brief moment before it falls again. How many of us (if we are truly being honest) listen to that nagging voice daily telling us that we are full of it? I know for me, I am tired of putting up false pretenses. I want to be real in ministry. I want to show others that it is ok to have a bad day because I’m human but it’s just not ok to stay there long because we have a Jehovah-Rapha, a God who heals. We have a Jehovah-Nissi, a Lord who is our banner lifted high. We don’t have to perform in order for HIM to perform!

Imagine this…I am standing outside the beautiful gates of heaven, the pearls that adorn it are bigger than the trunks of hundred year old oak tress and they shimmer in the Light that seems to come from nowhere, yet everywhere. As the gates swing open in a wide arc, I take my first step onto a street made of gold that is so brilliant in all it’s luster that I am paralyzed by the sight. The colors that surround me are not of earth, beautiful hues never before seen by human eyes. In my ear, I can clearly hear the prayers of the saints in every single earthly language…and the SINGING!!! It’s as if I am standing center stage at the largest opera house in the universe and there stand millions of singers, their voices lifted in harmonious perfection and praise to their Savior who sits high on the throne ahead of me. The angels are soaring overhead and around the throne of Light and their wings beat in unison to the music and create a breeze that blows against my face…the Mighty Wind of God…and touches me like a sweet kiss. I then hear my name that sounds like thunderous waves crashing into my heart.

The next thing I hear in my spirit that tears me from the perfection I have always sought is this:

Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV) –  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

What a miserable legacy to leave. What a terrible way to end my life. I may be a sinner, but I am forgiven because of the sacrifice Jesus made for me at Calvary. I am a blood bought precious daughter of a King, but I don’t need to walk around acting like my life is perfect and judging others for their imperfections, donning my crown and acting better than the rest. Food for thought…you may not understand a person, but to sit in judgment over them is now your demise, regardless of your deeds for the kingdom. That hurts me to know that I have some things I need to work on in my own life in this very area. I am so unworthy of the beautiful, constant, unchanging love that I receive, so why I am so hesitant to give it? God offers grace in the middle of bad circumstances and we ALL find ourselves broken in this fallen world. So who am I to put unrealistic expectations on my brothers and sisters who are just trying to walk this thing out the best way they know how?

God is not impartial to anyone. In fact, He says that ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and that NONE are righteous, not one (Romans 3:10). The Lord also says in John:

John 6:40 (NIV) – For this is the will of my Father, that EVERYONE who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

The Lord doesn’t want ANY to perish but for ALL to come to repentance, even the people of religion and not relationship, even the people stuck in addiction and adultery, even the homeless people on the street, even the throw-aways of society, even the leaders of the church wearing masks afraid to show weakness. If we carry Christ in us as proclaimed Christians, then how are we truly showing Him to others if we are just faking it? We are ALL broken in some way so let it become a part of your testimony! Being sincere in your feelings and your brokenness are actually the things that will set another person free because you KNOW where your help comes from and you can share that with someone else who doesn’t.

I had a verse come to me in my spirit once when I was praying where I heard clearly the address of a specific book, chapter, and verse that I had never read before. I doubted what I had heard until I opened my Bible and found this:

Zechariah 3:2 (NIV) – The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

When I went on to read the rest of that story, I was astonished to know that the Lord was speaking of Joshua, the humble man turned leader after the death of Moses. Even Joshua was viewed by God as a sinner saved by grace.

Zechariah 3:1-5 (NIV) – Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan[a] standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.”

Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

5 Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by.

Did you ever think that sometimes the only people who can snatch wounded others from the fire are ones who have already walked through that same fire and come out clean on the other side?

Jesus has one question for us that will ring in our ears for eternity. “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15-22)

What do we do everyday that proves our love? What words are spoken out of our mouths that show our love for Him and for His people? What about our actions? Do we spout off at people, gossip about them behind their back? Do we plot against them because we don’t like change? Are we jealous? Are we looking at ourselves when we feel dissension or are we always pointing the finger and following the crowd? Are we being uplifting and edifying others or are we speaking negatively over everything?

Peter, the Rock on which Jesus would build His church, denied Jesus THREE times before the crucifixion. In greek, Jesus asked Peter the first time if he loved Him in a self-sacrificing way (Agape). “So, Peter, what are you willing to give up to love and follow Me?”

The second time was the same.

The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, he used the greek word, phileo, which means affection or brotherly love. “Peter, are you really my friend? Are you who you say you are? Are you really loyal? Are you really going to have my back when times get tough? Are you really going to stand by me and love me even when you don’t want to? Do you LOVE me??”

Jesus was getting to the heart of the matter and giving Peter an opportunity to repent and by showing true forgiveness. After all was said and done, Jesus said, “Follow me.” Two simple words. Peter did NOT say, “Follow where? When? How? What about MY way? What about what I WANT? What about ME?” No, Peter realized that if he truly LOVED CHRIST, he would be willing to go, no questions asked. Peter knew that he would find himself in difficult situations; but he would go, without a fight. But where was Jesus going? Where was Peter to follow Him to? Jesus came for the outcasts, the broken, the hurting, the fearful, the ones who don’t trust, who feel less than, the ones outside the four walls faking it as well as the ones inside who are faking it. He came for ALL of us.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (MSG) – Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Matthew 19:30 – But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Worship to Victory – In the Midst of the Attack

Please read this powerful, heartfelt message from a woman who knew exactly what to do in her seemingly impossible situation. But GOD…

Savor God, Share Jesus

We have the great power to overcome anything in life by worshipping The One True Living God, Yahweh, I AM, Jehovah, in the midst of the attacks on our lives. Sometimes as in my case in 2011, it’s the only thing that keeps us sane.  It was at that time, nearly six years ago now, when my beautiful 22 year old son, a Christian college kid who loved the Lord and everyone he met, died in his sleep of a methadone drug overdose on the living room couch one night. It was on the following morning of May 14, 2011 when I got the call while I was having my hair cut at a local beauty salon, saying I should come right away, that his friend had been unable to wake him up and the ambulance was on its way. I’ll never forget it was a  beautiful, bright sunny Saturday, May in Mississippi morning, the flowers were blooming all…

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Blessings Come Through Raindrops

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We live in a microwave world where everything we want is just out of reach and was needed yesterday. We then turn to the unrelenting circumstances that surround us and choose to focus on the bad instead of realizing that God didn’t say “No”. He didn’t say “Yes”. He said “WAIT”.


1 Kings 17:2-6 – Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” 5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Week after week, Elijah watched that brook dry up, but he still refused to allow his circumstances to come between him and God. How many of us would have given up, become anxious, tired, and worrisome? I know me. I would have seen that the animals had long ago stopped coming to the brook to drink and the birds had flown away. I would have allowed doubt in, devised my own plan, asked God to bless it, and been on my merry way.

We can’t always see the end result and we ponder if the still, small voice we heard was even real. Even though we know the promise, we forget that there is a process and we still question and wonder how it will even come to pass. Sometimes we move out ahead of God because our flesh is weakened by the human counsel we continue to seek in a valiant effort to justify getting quickly to the place we think we should be. Have you ever considered that the reason you are waiting isn’t about you at all?


1 Kings 17:7-14 –  Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widowthere to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.” 12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” 13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

What if Elijah had left that brook too soon, before it completely dried up? What if he had stopped singing, hung his harp on a tree and instead done what he wanted to do? What if he had thrown a rock into that brook and no ripples cascaded from it so he just gave up? What about this woman who he crossed paths with at the EXACT right time that was ready to DIE? In our selfishness and our quest for answers, we forget that we are harboring blessings for others in pain.

WAIT…

It seems everyone has the right answer, Lord, and the right approach to my circumstance. If I don’t listen to them, they will think I am crazy and they won’t even speak to me anymore!”

WAIT…

It sounds like a solid plan though, God. What about the funds. How are the bills going to get paid? How do you expect me to do this thing you are asking me to do?”

WAIT…

But the brook is dry and the bank account is EMPTY and my loved one is sick!”

WAIT…

How is this increasing my faith? I am a wreck and no good to anyone, not even myself and my family!”

WAIT…

If only we would just wait, have faith, and trust in the unfolding of God’s perfect plan, we would see that we no longer have to retrace our way with wasted steps and the rain will eventually come. Sometimes blessings come through raindrops…

Psalm 27:14 – I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

Do You Need a King?

I had to repost this. It was heavy on my heart today and I feel like someone needs it. I NEED THIS reminder. Who are my man-made idols? What do I put before God and His faithfulness? What is controlling me? Am I being controlled by the Spirit of God or am I allowing everything else in my life to rise above His voice and clamor for my attention? Am I loving the people in front of me? Beth Moore says it best, “Because only Christ can set us free, all other gods or idols – anything we use as a replacement for God – can only enslave.”

Coming Full Circle

kingdomMy life has consisted of a whole lot of wandering. I was blessed in my wandering because God saw fit that I saw another day, then another, then another. I attested miracles in my life to good ole luck and I never considered the actual Source of all things good. I was an Israelite, bound by the mistakes of my ancestors and destined to live a life not worth living. The manna that fell from the sky to nourish me wasn’t enough; the water in the wilderness to quench my thirst became a passing thought. The Red Sea that parted for me (more than once, I might add) became a long distant memory. The falling of the walls in my Jericho were almost expected, so that move in my life wasn’t appreciated. The years that the Lord sustained me, even though I was unsustainable, were taken for granted. My enemy would…

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My Name Is Victory

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‘My Name is Victory’ is a thorough, comprehensive look at the effects of unresolved grief through the eyes of authors Julie Keene and Lisa Daughdrill, who share from their own experiences following multiple losses in their lives. Here, these two powerful women of God tell how they each faced the heartache of pain, disappointments, and personal loss only to gain VICTORY in their lives by shattering the lies of the enemy with the Truth of God’s Word. ‘My Name is Victory’ teaches others how to recognize the lies inserted through the open wounds of a grieving heart and replace them with the Truth in order to achieve their own VICTORY!”

This book is for anyone who dares to live!

My Name is VictoryThank you to all who have endorsed, encouraged, and already purchased our book, “My Name is Victory”. It is not our intention to use this book to promote Lisa Daughdrill or Julie Keene or any Ministry in any way. This book was written to glorify One Person ONLY and that is JESUS CHRIST. HE is the only One who can heal you or save you! Anything else apart from Him, no matter how good, are merely one of many tools that He may use in the healing process.

This book is intended to shed Light on Darkness and share Truth and Hope with others in need. It discusses many dark topics that people often question alone but are afraid to ask about such as suicide, abortion, addiction & overdose, the demonic & spiritual attacks & just why the devil hates us in the first place, generational curses and even what the unpardonable sin really is.

It was written from one healed soul to another seeking, as a help tool for those who are grieving any loss or major life disappointment, but may not understand what grief really is, the stages and process of getting through it or why they feel the way they do.

This book is the result of our own losses and the destructively painful recovery that we pray others can avoid if they know the Truth, because the Truth, Jesus, is the Only One Who can set any of us FREE.

God loves you and we love you!! Keep walking!

Once you read it, we would appreciate any feedback and we welcome any questions.

We would love the opportunity to come speak at your church and/or grief group. Please contact us via email at lisa5058@gmail.com or juliekeene77@gmail.com.

This book is available on the following channels:

www.amazon.com

www.amazon.co.uk

www.amazon.de

www.amazon.fr

www.amazon.es

www.amazon.it

Now for a Sneak Peak….

CHAPTER FOUR

I lost my cat once.  My mom ran over Callie while backing out of the driveway on the way to a bridal shower.  We never made it to the bridal shower (maybe we did and I just can’t remember).  I was so overcome with that tragic loss of my little pet.  We called Daddy off the golf course that bright, sunny day, away from his beloved pastime.  I stood there in the doorway of our big home, in my frilly dress with my patent leather shoes and lace socks, with crocodile tears streaming down my face and staining the front of my smock as he packed up my friend in a small box and put her in the back of his truck to head back to the game he left behind that consumed him most weekends.  I immediately objected, “But Daddy, what about the cow birds?”  He quickly moved the box into a shed and he was off in a rush.

Late that afternoon as we stood under the clear sky, the sun barely peeking over the horizon, we buried my little friend.  The three of us, Daddy, Jessie, and myself, were huddled in the back corner of our property near the fence.  Jess and I fought back tears and prayed, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”  Daddy rolled his eyes and headed back inside to where dinner was waiting.  As I watched his back as he walked away, I realized he was only doing his fatherly duty since mom had to deal with our sadness all day. 

Fast forward some 8+ years.  As you pass through time quickly with me, imagine a life torn; confusion, anger, and frustration all attaching themselves to us as we move through time and space.  Fear, rejection, and abandonment join in.  Doubt, worry, and self-loathing catch a ride on this crazy train.  One quick turn around a bend creates one mess after another, and BOOM…we come to a complete halt and wreck on this journey.  Beware of the whiplash as our train derails. 

It’s now August 25th, 1992, the third day of my sophomore year of high school.  Dad has come from prison only a few years before and has become a ghost of a person.  He isn’t even the same and unfortunately never will be.  We have moved from our small town and its big gossip to another town close by where a sense of freedom exists for all of us.  I’m standing outside of a new school in the pouring down rain, standing before my mom who is completely broken, the light extinguished from her once shining green eyes.  The questions immediately start inside my head as I ponder the look upon her sad face.  I seem to tower over her, being 8 inches taller than her small frame anyway, but today she looks much smaller.  She looks upon me and hesitates for a moment before speaking the words that will send a shockwave through our entire family, “There has been an accident.”  My reply, “It’s Daddy.”  She nods her head in agreement, her tears mixed with the raindrops.  I boldly say, “It wasn’t an accident, was it?  He did it himself.”  She barely nods her head as it hangs limply from her body.  My dad has just committed suicide.  Now I lay me down to sleep…

Lie #4Nothing you do can keep those you love in your life; the best grades in school, the willingness to move to a new town without complaint, good behavior, none of it matters anymore.  You are alone, left again to your own devices.

TRUTH #4 – IT IS WRITTEN: “The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed. A stronghold in times of trouble; and those who know Your name will put their trust in You. For You O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:9-10

Many times, especially when occurring during childhood, people will internalize traumatic events, whether the trauma came from words, deeds or situations, believing the lie implanted by the enemy through the event that it is all their fault.  They begin to think if they had only been different, better in some way, smarter, prettier, more lovable, more helpful, quieter, etc., then the event or the after-effects of it would have turned out differently and better too.  This is how many people end up obsessive/compulsive about perfectionism.

Here’s an example from a woman I met whose father and mother divorced when she was a very young child.  Not understanding, as any child doesn’t, the true scope of her parent’s personal lives or the internal workings of their relationship, she bought into the lie of the enemy that somehow in their divorce she was at fault.  The enemy set up the scene for her very well.  She loved her Daddy and craved his affection and attention. Her father, a young man at the time, perhaps struggling with his own identity, and as she described the fruit of his Spirit to me, seemed to lack a relationship with the Lord.  He was, by all accounts, preoccupied with his situation in life, his job, his unhappy marriage, and for whatever reasons the child did not know, she noticed that he stayed away from home more from where his wife and daughter were.  Then once the parents had made the decision to live separately and divorce, the father packs up, family life as she knows it is all suddenly over and he leaves the home, leaving the 5 year old child behind with her mother.  Immediately, abandonment and rejection and loneliness set up a new home in the child’s heart and mind.  The child only sees Daddy on scheduled weekend swap visits in HIS home now and then she is sent back at the appropriated time to her mom in THEIR home.  This goes on, mom has issues of her own that the child has to live in until the opportune time comes for enemy take out, when the little girl is 13 years old, an impressionable age for sure.  That enemy is a sly one – you have to watch him.  

So here she is, barely a teen, Dad is driving her to school one day and she is happy to be getting this father/daughter time together.  He looks over at her in what he perceives as a helpful way, but to her has been a mile marker event that cut and scarred her deeply, setting the wheels of destruction in full motion.  Her Dad, being physically fit himself, and having another child with a physical condition that caused excess weight gain, believes he is simply suggesting to her that she may want to increase her exercise more and watch the amount of food she is eating because she seems to be putting on a few pounds.  BAM! The enemy began to use every painful feeling of rejection, abandonment, loneliness, fear, self-worth lies to yell to her how she wasn’t in the past but could be now Daddy’s perfect little girl that he would love but only by starving, exercising, throwing up, taking diet drugs, laxatives, and diuretics right on into her adulthood.  From that day on the woman battled with eating disorder and her obsession with perfectionism. She not only demanded it in herself but also began holding others to her unreal expectations to the point of absolute misery and destruction, leading her to other addictions too as she tried to numb out the pain.  The shame, guilt, feelings of rejection and abandonment, as well as self-loathing continued. The harder we try to be perfect or to fabricate love where there is no love, and try to live up to the unrealistic expectations of perfectionism in ourselves or seek it in other humans, the worse the feelings of disgust and failure become.

Approval addiction is just as destructive and deadly as chemical addiction, it leads to a progressive agonizing death of the person that God created you to be.  Many times people trade one addiction for another in their quest for freedom from a certain dependency they perceive as their problem.  Many with approval addiction will begin to use other things, drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, and food to try to feel better about their insecurities.  The problem is not the specific addiction. The addiction is what they are trying to use as the solution to their problem. The real root problem is always a heart issue, not a behavior.  The behavior is a result of the heart issue.  Once you identify, remove and replace the heart issue with the Truth of God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit in you, then the behavior will not be an issue for you any longer.  That’s what deliverance is.  Jesus Christ is the Only Way, Truth, & Life. He is the One who can give you a heart transplant to deliver you and heal you of all unrighteousness and emotional damage.

On the opposite side from Perfectionist is the “Can’t Do Anything Right So Why Try” person.  The enemy will use the same tactics to plant a lie but they feel helpless and hopeless to the point of just giving up on themselves, others, life.  They give up on even trying – “What’s the use, I can never be good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, rich enough, popular enough so why even try?”  Fears set in and some people, many beginning at the earliest ages in childhood, won’t even try to do the simplest of things for fear of failure.  They are so afraid of being embarrassed or shamed or being exposed as the failure they feel inside themselves, that they won’t try to do or learn anything new.  They get stuck in that fear and it becomes more controlling and confining until many never find success in any area of their life, especially jobs or relationships because of it.  That just confirms the lie to them even more that they are a failure and will never amount to anything. They begin to believe that no one will ever like or love them, so it’s better not to even try because if they try and fail they will be laughed at or rejected even more.  They go through life shrinking back, hiding, peeping out from behind their wall of disappointment and fear with envy at others who have the courage to step out in faith, try something different, take the risk, grow and change their lives for the better. They truly believe that the blessings in life are for others but not for them so they stay stuck in their condition, their self-imposed bondage watching their life go by.  Folks, if you want different in your life, you have to do different.  Trust God and step out from behind the wall your hiding behind. Engage in life.

Proverbs 23:7 – For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

Scripture to counter the feelings of rejection by loved ones:

Psalms 94:14

Psalm 27:10

Matthew 28:20

Isaiah 62:4

2 Corinthians 4:9

1 Peter 5:7

Psalms 37:25

Deuteronomy 4:31

Isaiah 41:17

Psalms 91:14-15

Isaiah 49:15-16

Psalms 43:5

Deuteronomy 31:6

The Lonely Pelican

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Chaos, something not created by God but something that still very much exists, sometimes at the very center of our being, mostly created out of own impatience as we hopefully anticipate long awaited desires and trudge through the days lined out for us with complaining attitudes and broken hearts, thus creating confusion, doubt, and worry in the wake of the unlimited space in our minds.

pelican1As I escaped the craziness of my own thoughts last night and chose instead to seek solitude at the waters edge, I expected to find what I always do…wave after wave pounding the beach which would have given relief to my weariness in a way that would almost justify my own pounding, relentless feelings. Instead, I was met with a water so calm and peaceful that it almost gave the illusion of a stagnant pond, the water barely lapping against the shoreline…just barely. The only real clue that I was situated by a massive gulf teaming with life was a lonely pelican, sitting with me in the darkness under the expanse of the starry host in the magnificent sky. I watched his silent form only feet from me and I prayed that God would show my why He chose to bring that solitary bird into my view. Then it hit me.

For so long, I have been running on empty, completely depleting myself, unable to say “No”, always afraid of what others would do or say if I did. For so long, I “fished” alongside people whose approval I was seeking above God’s instead of casting my own net at His command.

With every step I took toward that lonely, beautiful creation that God put before me, with only the best of intentions, the pelican moved further away until eventually he flew into the darkness. Upon further research a bit later of the pelican, I stumbled across a statement that took my breath away.

The pelican has been persecuted because of their PERCEIVED competition with commercial fishermen.”

pelican2It’s all in the MIND…perception is key.  Who am I working for? Who am I truly seeking? God wants nothing more than for me to take a step back into the solitude that He created for me. I am to give myself completely to Him and to walk side by side with Him in this season is to be in His perfect will. I have an audience of ONE and He is my Master. The pelican flew away from me because of his ingrained lack of trust in failing humans, but He flew directly into the arms of our God, going only where he was told to go. Fear breeds chaos.

Lord, guide my every step as I step out in faith and cast my net where you tell me to. Direct me, Lord, and balance my steps. Show me the way to go as I fear not the path you have chosen…for me.

Matthew 4:18-20 (NIV) – As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

1 Corinthians 3- 16 (MSG) –  I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.

pelican36-10 We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest—what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. That’s why we have this Scripture text:

No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this,
Never so much as imagined anything quite like it—
What God has arranged for those who love him.

But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you.

10-13 The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. Who ever knows what you’re thinking and planning except you yourself? The same with God—except that he not only knows what he’s thinking, but he lets us in on it. God offers a full report on the gifts of life and salvation that he is giving us. We don’t have to rely on the world’s guesses and opinions. We didn’t learn this by reading books or going to school; we learned it from God, who taught us person-to-person through Jesus, and we’re passing it on to you in the same firsthand, personal way.

14-16 The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.

Beautiful Majesty

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narrowgate7 There is but one way. And it isn’t always easy. People always talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Every time I hear that, I envision myself on a familiar piece of property, the homestead of generations. The big house sits on a piece of property, flat, and grassy. Right across the field and into the woods is the pond that is surrounded by dense forest and canopy trees. Beyond that, tucked away in the tall pines, is the home of my parents. The fog that sometimes comes up over the tree line makes the forest look like it is on fire, especially in the early morning or late afternoon as the sun sets. It’s so beautiful, but also awesome and mysterious. As I see myself standing there in the openness of the field, completely vulnerable and naked to the firmament above me, I ponder the beautiful memories of that land, I thank God for the time spent there with my family, and I think of the generations that have stood in that very spot before me and wonder if they stood in the same awe of God.

Psalm 104:1-4

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

narrowgate52 The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
he stretches out the heavens like a tent
3     and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
and rides on the wings of the wind.
4 He makes winds his messengers,
flames of fire his servants.

narrowgate8This morning, I had a rare opportunity to be on the road before the sun rose in the eastern sky and as it peaked over the horizon and the things I saw emerge from out of the darkness took my breath away. The fog near the ground turned the color of the earth black and white, manipulating the colors that are obviously there and turning them into a hue that seems dark and uninviting. However, to look up over the clouds that touched the ground and the sky, the beauty to behold took my breath away. As drums pounded in my ears and worship songs filled the atmosphere around me, the clouds seemed to march across in the sky, fleeing the rising sun at God’s command to the beat of the music. There were pastel colors of blue, pink, purple, and almost white ahead of me and behind me the sky was ablaze with orange, red, hot pink, and crimson. It’s all in our perception. What does the mind CHOOSE to look at? Are we seeking God in the quiet stillness of the day and reflecting on His goodness or are we focusing more on the fog that is so near we could reach out and touch it.

narrowgate6Let’s take a trip back to the field, to the pond, to the dense forest line. What is on the other side? What does it really look like if only I were able to look past the trees? There is narrow gate. It is the only way to Christ and out of the billions of people who live on the planet, a very small remnant actually decide to take that small path into the woods to follow their Savior in to uncharted territory, following the Light of Salvation into realms unseen, into the darkness, into the fog. The path can become overgrown, weeds can overtake the humbleness of it all. It can be choked off by the very life that sustains the rest of the earth. It’s up to ME to continue forward, allowing Christ to shine His Light on one step, then another. Before long, after the loss of everything, after walking alone, after countless vain attempts at taking the highway to destinations never intended for me, I chose the small path into the woods. All perspective changed in an instant and I stood before the Son of God in a beautiful meadow. Eternal life and love! Seek God above all. All you have to do, is look UP.

Psalm 121:1-8 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Common Application

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apply1Are your eyes open to the Truth? Are you keenly aware of the “God Winks” that happen on a daily basis if only you could stop for one second and see? I realized the other day that God alone knows what is best for me, even when I don’t have a clue. All the planning and dreaming and hoping are futile unless I cover everything under His Word and in prayer. A few things have really spoken to my spirit recently and I took to Proverbs to find answers this morning. As we seek the Lord, we need to know how to APPLY His Word to our lives. A bit of wisdom written down thousands of years ago just leap right from the pages into my heart and spirit this morning.

Proverbs 2:1-5 – My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding—
3 indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

apply2We “apply” for jobs, colleges, insurance. We “apply” makeup, salve for our wounds, coats of paint. We have “apps” on our phones, we have “applications” to make things easier in dealing with software, we fill out applications daily. But what does the word “APPLY” actually mean?

Apply – make a formal application (request to an AUTHORITY for something); putting something into operation.

Every single time we “apply” for something, we are seeking the answer from an authority…and we do it EVERY SINGLE DAY. So, WHY is it so hard to APPLY the Word of God to our lives? Is it because we don’t want to see the Truth of our sin, of our behavior, of our judgment? Is it because we are lazy in our thinking that there is always a tomorrow when there isn’t? What makes it so easy for us to wish and hope for things to happen when we won’t follow the simple commands to take the Word of God and do what it says?? When we read the Word and SEEK to gain understanding, we must request our authority (CHRIST) to fill us up so we can put it into operation in our lives so that HE CAN pour out the blessings we so seek in our earthly lives.

apply4God wants to give everyone all they ever ask for, but how are we handling what we already have? Am I wise in the decisions I make today, or am I just being selfish? That is the question of the ages. To much is given, MUCH is required. Pastor Charlie has a few golden nuggets that he shares that really rock me to my core and as I ponder these verses today, I am reminded of the things he says: “I am not the center of the universe…We can’t run from our problems if we are the problem…If someone else is playing God, then God is not playing God…I can’t clean up the mess I left behind until I clean up the mess I am in…God is not bound by my circumstances…If I want to be an anchor for others, I have to get out of the boat I am in…The consequences of my life are left to choice, not chance.”

Proverbs 4:7 – The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

apply3What are we seeking today as we try to understand and comprehend the world around us? Are we listening to the wrong reports coming from the world, or are we learning wisdom through the Word of God?

Proverbs 22:17 – Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach.

SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM