“The Message – 4Him

Firstly, let me thank you, dear friends, for the prayers and support after I shared my struggles here last time we met.

There are things yet to sort through and only time will tell how my situation will progress, but I am seeing breakthroughs and finding avenues to express my concerns while keeping in mind the desire to minister.

Ok. So…onto what my title refers to. Here comes yet another group that anchored me in my teens and twenties…

Safe to say, if you haven’t figured it out already, I have always listened to a LOT of music-each with its own flavor. πŸ™‚

4Him captured my attention from the first time a cassette tape of “The Basics of Life” was played for me by a high school acquaintance. I just had to have my own copy, along with everything they produced thereafter.

The authenticity and passion combined with these four beautiful voices inspired my hunger for more of Christ. Every tune seemed to point the way and I eagerly followed.

I can well recall being up to wee hours devouring one book of my Bible after another while their music played in the background.

Sometimes, I could even be caught singing along. 😏

I still remember a time my dad was home from the road one night and embarrassed me to no end knocking on my door to tell me how neat it was to hear me singing along with those guys. Maybe it was also a kind hint I might dial down on volume, but, at any rate, I think it was the compliment that threw me. πŸ™‚

Oh, it’s a nice memory, to be sure.

I think it just felt like a very private session between me and God exposed for a minute there. My relationship with my folks was beginning to mend by then, but was still often uncertain, almost awkward.

Anyway…we did wind up having a brief but good chat about where my faith was heading. And I turned back to my music further bolstered ( and turned down the volume a touch.πŸ˜‰).

And so, I continued on. Grew up. Sort of….

And, over the years, through the numerous hills I climbed and valleys I found myself in, there were my many 4Him cassettes and CDs to hold onto, usually put in and cranked over the uglier noises in my world to stir my heart on (Maybe that accounted for my fixation with the volume…😏).

Now…when it comes to choice of song to best represent my love of 4Him to you, I am once again in such a quandary.

So many of their songs speak so much to me.

In the end, I went with what convicts my heart most at present.

For, in the end, whatever I am dealing with now and whatever comes down the pike later on, my heart is to live a message.

One of faith.

One of truth.

To make my life stand as this group’s name testifies to…

For Him.

Listen, be stirred, be inspired to live such a message.

Blessings and prayers, dear friends! ❀

A Time to Refrain

Had to dig waaaay back in my archives for this one, friends. It touched on a situation that was rather painful.

Then, it actually faded away for a time. I thought it was done.

Ah, but, now, in this last year, it has come back full force.

I find myself alternately weeping to God and aching inside with bitterness as I watch the one dearest to me, my second chance at life and love, put others ahead of me.

Not helpful in my depressive state, to say the least!

Perhaps, another major contributing factor, truth be known.

For my discernment still screams caution in big red letters while his seems to say plunge ahead. Way ahead.

And either drag me along or abandon me to my unkind little self.

Oh, just that word “abandon”…πŸ˜”

My every fiber shakes at it.

Now, I fret at moments that it all does just boil down to my social anxiety and massive struggles to trust.

My dear one seems to attribute all to that, too.

Yet…there are things and situations clearly and not-so-clearly crossing boundaries that I feel I should be assertive enough to say are just not cool to me without accusations of inhospitality.

I have received advice from a dear friend or two stating as much, leading me to believe maybe it’s not just that I am crazy or antisocial.

Maybe there is something to it.

But, as the situation drags on….

And on…and my feelings feel more and more back-seated….

I find I am feeling too weary to fight and to try drawing more lines, knowing they will only be erased….

At any rate, enough jabber. Click the link and read on if you’re so inclined. And keep me in prayer as I continue to navigate this incredibly tricky season.

And my apologies if I seem really vague. I just can’t spell it all out here. It’s just…too much.

Anyway, thank you. Blessings and prayers as ever, dear friends. ❀

https://alwaysajesusgirl.wordpress.com/2019/10/17/a-time-to-refrain/

The Onus

Hello, there! I had jotted down the first few lines of this one quite some time ago but could not find a finish till now.

It is easy to despair the state of our world and allow these cares to distract us from the mission we all have as His children. I pray we do not abandon His call to share the gospel, especially in this season where hope and healing are so desperately needed. May these few simple lines stir our hearts…

Why should we be surprised

When lost people act lost?

When their blinded eyes

Don’t recognize Calvary’s cost?

It’s dismaying,

The things they’re doing and saying,

There’s no doubt.

Yet, these heartwrenching things

They are displaying?

It’s often the inclination they know

The most about.

Never to excuse, mind you.

God’s truth is in every bit of creation

Calling out to draw and to woo.

But, believers, I feel I must say,

The burden to share Jesus

Is on us;

The onus is on us to point the way.

And, then, it is for us to stay,

Not to neglect to disciple and to pray,

But, rather, with humbleness of heart

To be a willing part,

Of seeing His filling impart,

Springing new life out of the decay.

May we indeed be about His business, sharing the truth of Jesus with those in need! Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading! ❀

A Better Gratitude

Hey, there, friends! Gratitude on the brain for obvious reasons, but also in how it relates to how we spend our precious time-on what and, especially, on Who. Too much is wasted on futile pursuits and disputes, not near enough on sharing the good news of His love. Or, on the sometimes very necessary silence we ought to have before Him.

Time.

It ticks on, draws taut,

Gratitude all but forgot

As we all scramble to do what we think we ought.

Yet, minutes, precious and few,

Are too often frittered away

As comes forth from us the

Sad and endless spew.

Maybe if we all just for a while STOP THE TALKING,

The incessant talking,

The insistent, the maddening, elbow-jabbing bicker

And show even just the tiniest flicker

Of a Christ-like recognition for others,

Let His love truly be our ignition in

How we relate to one another,

Perhaps there could be less seconds

Shed like water down the proverbial drain

And instead the mindless jabber could

Bend

To become a much sweeter, more

Purposeful refrain…

Or maybe even, dare I say a blessed

Silence

When with Him we are at last in twain?😏

Ah, but is this hope of mine

None but a wistful dream?

Looking around at ever errant

Humanity’s darkening signs,

So it would seem…

Yet, I know a God who is greater than

We deserve

Who amazingly is yet extending to us

A grace we could never earn!

And patiently He seeks to guide us in

A better gratitude,

To infuse our attitude with the

Promise of life eternal,

To grow in us a beautiful garden from

A single willing kernel.

Would that we would pay heed to His

Instruction

Before we reach that final junction!

For time spins ever forward,

Well-spent or no.

May we still our wandering

Voices,

To Him look toward…

Tune our thoughts to become

Mindful of our forevers

And our choices,

And let the cross alone point which way to go…

Blessings and prayers on your Thanksgiving, friends! This year proves to be different but all the more reason to be mindful! ❀

We’re Fighting the Wrong Enemy

I feel like I might be harping on this issue, but it’s what He’s placed on my heart…

Even in my somewhat limited scope of living, I hear and read so many things from fellow believers:

“If only so-and-so group would stop doing this, we (Christians) wouldn’t have to do this.”

“If that wasn’t happening over here, we wouldn’t have to do that over there.”

“We have to mobilize ourselves.”

“Fight fire with fire.”

“Get stirred up for a cause.”

“Take down the enemy.”

Wait…what?πŸ€”

Now, which enemy is it that you refer to?

“Well, the other side, of course.”

Ah. The other side.

The nameless, faceless amalgamation that stands for everything you do not.

That enemy?

Yes, keep them in that clumped up category to make it more palatable:

The liberal.

The neo-Nazi feminist.

The tree-hugging, seal-cub-saving, vegan toothpick.

The hateful Atheist.

The snowflake millennial.

The lisping fruitcake.

I could go on tossing out cruel, pointless stereotypes, but, that’s belaboring the point.

Which is that every one of those groups, the groups we as Christians often deride and label oh-so-conveniently are not just collective groups across the divide.

They’re people.

Individual people with names and hearts and dreams and vulnerabilites.

Created by the same Creator as us.

Souls for whom Jesus died, same as us.

Souls He expects us to care about, even when they answer with vigor.

And it’s not our job to fight them, no matter how much we might disagree with them.

They are not our enemy.

That designation belongs to he who is in the world.

Remember? The one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy?

The prowling lion, seeking to devour?

All too often, we believers forget that, standing idly by, hurling our useless words at the ones being devoured instead of addressing he who devours.

And don’t you think the devil loves that?

For he knows it does nobody any good to stand there stomping our feet and shouting at these misguided souls to stop letting the lion devour them.

Especially if we get so busy on that particular bent that we lose sight of sharing the way out of the lion’s jaws-the truth found in the Word and the grace Jesus provided through the blood He shed on Calvary!

Satan delights for us to forget that key!

Now, this is not at all to give the tired, off-the-mark argument of “judge not lest you be judged.” That verse gets misused way too often to excuse all sorts of rampant, ungodly behavior!

No, we must remain firm in our stance for Christ and in the Word.

But, that stance must always, always be in love or we’ve lost our foundation.

It isn’t to say all will answer our love with gratitude.

Most assuredly not!

But, it isn’t for us to fret on that score. Do we really think God does not have it all in hand anyway?

Of course, He does!

All we can do is prayerfully, humbly tell the good news of salvation as He instructs us and then leave it in Hands.

If we could only use our desire to mobilize for that!

Another thing to pray for, I guess.πŸ˜‰

Of Trust and Forgiveness

Thanks to my dear brother-in-Christ David Ettinger for stirring my heart on the direction to head next here…

Trust.

A very difficult matter in my soul.

Has been since I can remember.

Being a four-year-old girl and already so unsure of your world you don’t really let anyone in is not the sort of thing one likes to spend a lot of time talking over- though I have written of it in blogs and book past. πŸ™‚ ( Hello, old friends. You might remember some places where I’m going to go. I’ll try to add fresh perspective here.)

I haven’t brought it up in this venture much yet for reasons I’ve alluded to before.

But, today, in participating in a great and challenging discussion about Joseph and his brothers, my heart felt a pull towards discussing a bit more about the issues of trust and forgiveness.

Particularly, how they have manifested in my forty-plus years experience on this earth.

So, for testimony’s sake…back to that little girl. I hope I can make this concise enough. So much to tell…

I can’t quite remember the first time my mother turned on the sudden switch and took out her displeasure on me verbally and physically.

That part of my past is more a patchwork quilt of living, ragged at the edges, wild, screaming colors representative of the tough days, some muted squares for the quieter ones.

All I knew was what the proverbial eggshells felt like to walk on from an early age.

I tried very, very hard to be as good and unobtrusive as I possibly could, tucking myself away with my older brother most of the time, asking for as little as possible.

Dancing lightly around the edges of the days she poured out unexpected affection, taking it as a momentary relief, but being sure to remind myself it wouldn’t last.

In the midst of all this, my dad was on the road working, home some weekends, very much aware of us and yet…not.

They’d take us to church a lot of Sundays, various non-denominational gatherings that leaned heavily on “experiential” services.

Somewhere in there I did hear about Jesus loving me. I prayed a sinner’s prayer once with a Sunday School teacher, a prayer I didn’t fully grasp then, other than that I was full of intense longing for this unconditional love thing they spoke of.

And wondering how it could possibly be real.

There wasn’t much discipleship to assist with that, honestly. Mostly, a confusing jumble of “laying on hands”, urging for the further “baptism in the spirit”, and the occasional Bible story from my dad when he could be home.

I wanted to believe this Jesus was doing a work in me, but, like most of my world, my understanding was just…unsure.

So, that is how I grew up, mostly ducking in the shadows. Not much changed for quite some time. By middle school, church was something fading from our world after a sour experience at our last go-around with attendance.

Sometimes, my dad would play a B.J. Thomas or Sandi Patti record and I’d hear God’s name. I’d remember He was supposed to love me. But, honestly, I struggled to feel it in the midst of the pain.

Thoughts of suicide crept in, though I can’t say courage to carry it out then was there. I really just wanted someone to see me. Anyone.

Then, low and behold, my parents started to go to a new church. Still very much in the charismatic vein, but, they didn’t make my brother and I go this time.

And something in those services resonated with my mom. We never sat down for a big conversation in those days, but, by the time I hit high school, the abuse began to fade away.

It was surprising, to say the least. Yet, I remained wary. The other shoe always, always dropped. If I put my guard down, she could blindside me.

However, my dad did finally persuade me to attend a few services for myself, hoping, I think, that this would help us all heal. My brother, for his part, was having none of it. Felt weird to break from my loyalest friend, but go I did.

Yet, where I so wanted this to be it for me, I couldn’t find my fit. Between the heartfelt worship still came too many unusual practices I could not figure out for the life of me.

Maybe it was doing my mom and dad good, I thought at the time, but not me ( Charismania is a whole other ball of wax for another post, by the way. I’ll delve into it further down the blogging road for any wanting a more detailed perspective.).

So, out of that came my “pinball” years, ricocheting from that bewilderment into the relationship that would become my first marriage, attending a few different types of churches with him, in some still feeling a disconnect, but one in which I can say Jesus did become real to me at last, thanks to some very loving mentors.

Forever grateful for the tender way they took a wounded girl and showed her the grace of the cross in a way no one ever had.

But, still, the man who’d be my first husband and I were prone to drifting and, honestly, dragging each other down. Egos and lack of trust kept getting in the way of growth in the Lord and in our relationship.

Eventually, after a few bounces, we began to give heart and soul into his desire for youth ministry, hoping that would give us much-needed stability.

But, three kids (one still in the womb) and nearly complete studies later, the strains of our all-too-often emotionally stunted existence had collapsed us.

He found comfort in someone else’s arms and the kids and I were left behind.

And a lance stabbed through my ability to trust in love once again.

Suicide’s dark spector revisited in earnest, but, blessedly, not for long. Because, Jesus was there, too. Only a whispered prayer away.

My desperate prayers, yes.

But not mine alone!

My mother and father were on their knees, too.

As well as by my side, scooping up the grandkids and me with more overwhelming love than I had ever known from them.

My wariness took time, but, finally, it began to melt away and forgiveness began to bloom.

Need has a way of threading together healing in broken hearts.

On this point, the story of Joseph and his brothers resonates with me.

“Though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…” Gen. 50:20

For it was need that circled all the pain of those years back around and knit that family back together, too.

All those thousands of years ago, and God is still the same.

Still about the business of reconciliation-when we give our hurt over to Him.

If you find yourself hurting and just need someone to pray with you, send me an e-mail via the info page.

God bless you!

We Are Never “Screwed”

Forgive me for the potential crudity in the title.

I began writing this just after a conversation with fellow believers who said if certain people won our next election in this country, we are “screwed”.

I could have added a bit more finesse to my phrasing, I suppose, but, as it still suits my feelings, I’ll let it sit.

Anyway…

I’ll tell you I started off this post weeks ago. I was in a flurry of furious thought, frankly, burrowing through headlong when I suddenly found myself unable to finish.

I think it was mostly for fear it would all just become a means to sputter the bitter anger I was so troubled by.

However, after a few weeks reflection, I feel like I can prayerfully explore these thoughts.

So, back to the beginning.

They said, “We’re screwed.”

And my first thought was, “No… no, we’re not. God is in control.”

I said as much.

I’m not sure if I was really heard or not, to be honest. When folks are on a roll, they don’t tend to want to be stopped in their tracks. And their track that day was to shake a fist at society.

My assertion was like an unwelcome gnat to be brushed off. 😏

It’s not that I’m in love with the deteriorating morals on display in our current cultural climate.

Nor that I don’t care what goes on in this nation.

I most emphatically do!

But-

To say we’re “screwed” is to dismiss the One who is ultimately and always in control!

And I can’t rightly reconcile myself to that, no matter how much some of my fellow believers seem to want me to fall apart with them.

It isn’t that it’s easy or going to get any easier if the trend towards anything-but-Christ continues.

But, didn’t He warn us of this very thing in His word?

I’ve been in 1st and 2nd Timothy again recently, reading of the difficult times to come.

Lovers of self, lovers of money.

Boastful. Arrogant. Disobedient.

Ungrateful, unholy, profane.

Looking to have their ears tickled.

One need only glimpse at headlines or, dare I say, glance about the neighborhood to find these things.

Difficult times? We’re there.

We’re getting deeper and *spoiler alert* going to keep getting deeper all the time.

At least until Jesus comes back to take His own. (Come quickly, Lord Jesus!)

Now, it isn’t that we should just resign ourselves and sit back with folded hands watching the evil unfurl in front of us like the late, late movie we’re repulsed with yet can’t look away from.

God does ask us to stand up, workmen that need not be ashamed. We absolutely must be about the business of standing for Christ.

But, what should that standing look like? πŸ€”

For, He also says He’s not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.

My amplified Bible actually says: “sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control.] ” 1 Tim. 1:7

I think, at times, we sacrifice the calm for the storm.

Namely, the storming of social media with our angry words, the storming of the streets with our shouting matches, the storming of government institutions in our frenzied attempts to bend policy to our will.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Jesus preached for us to go stomping about like the Hulk, smashing whatever’s in our way, so consumed with our righteous indignation we’ve swelled ourselves beyond recognition.

Now, yes, I hear someone out there bringing up the moneychangers Jesus rather firmly chased out of the temple.

He wasn’t necessarily calm then, was He?

No…but, He was always in control.

Not the anger controlling Him, as we are so prone to do.

Because, where Jesus went in there, took care of business, and moved on, we struggle much with that particular ability.

For, we as humanity have this nearly insatiable hunger to take something and gnaw on it.

Regurgitate. And gnaw some more. πŸ˜›

Forgetting often to reflect what we are chewing on and whether it was even beneficial in the first place.

We tend rather to assume if its flavor seems reminiscent of the “correct” side, it must be okay to have swishing around on our tongues, never knowing the sweetness of the Lord was never even there.

And so, we wind up choosing the bitter gall of whipping each other into a state of dark outrage instead.

We say things like, “We’re screwed.”, polluting ourselves with the claim it’s fact, dismissing all the while the purity and refreshing to be found in trusting the Lord, come what may.

I know I can’t change how others feel nor the lens they might be viewing our present circumstances from.

Only Jesus can do that.

So, the best I know to do is keep living and sharing His truth, no matter how many times it may be brushed aside.

And, of course, pray for the souls in need- both those tangled up in this self-serving world and those who don’t even realize the knots of anger they’re in.

May we be mindful of how we speak and where our trust lies, Lord.

Blessings, friends.

Loving the Unloved

This title?

It would seem to be fairly obvious.

A straightforward request from our Lord if ever there was one.

Love one another.

Yet, in our human hands, how mangled and mismanaged it becomes…

Mostly, because we all seem to have our own set of stipulations:

“Today, I’ll love this guy lining up for soup over here because he looks like he wants to work, that cute little foreign girl on the charity ad over there, and that group of “troubled” teens that comes on Wednesdays, as long as they mostly listen and do the whole pitching in bit. Oh, and, of course, my Bible study buddies. Because they look and talk in ways I am comfortable with.”

You know, the ones to love that don’t take much effort?

Ouch. Yes, that was me feeling the convicting kick in the tail end…πŸ˜‰

Uh, oh. Pick myself up, dust myself off…

More to come…

Yes, the easy ones…

Yet, what about when it comes to that politician whose policies are, well, ungodly?

The audacious reality star who shamelessly thrives on the spotlight, no matter what sins it shows up?

The rich corporate guy who seems interested in only lining his pockets that much more?

The deeply disturbed instruments of satan that unleash mayhem and murder in our cities?

Well, then, love is the last thought on most of our minds, right?

Oof. Told you there was more. πŸ˜‰

Oh, I know it’s hard. I know how hard. I don’t imagine many of us ponder such grave thoughts too often.

So, well aware I inhabit a rather small group here in even bringing it up.

And, in the interest of assuring you that I don’t consider myself in some rarified, holier-than-thou role, πŸ™„ let’s bring this out of the abstract, into the perhaps more relatable day-to-day.

Without a long spiel, I have had a lot to forgive in my day:

Childhood abuse, a first marriage abandoned, friendships gone awry.

And I’ve seen incredible restorations in some situations, still in prayer for others.

Beyond that, there are a few souls in the here and now He has placed in my vicinity I can admit a reluctance to let in.

A row of people, honestly, that I would dearly have loved to not be asked to love.

And, yet, He’s asked me.

He asks us all.

And why?

To scold? To punish? To crack the whip of suffering and shame?

Oh, no.

It has nothing to do with those things.

Rather, it is a reminder of His greatest gift to us:

His love, poured out on the cross, that we might experience salvation.

Life eternal, despite our raggedy, dirty sin, something all of us have. ( And cannot make lesser than our neighbor’s sin, try the comparison game though we might. πŸ™‚)

And, when we remember that, keeping redemption in the forefront of our minds, the resultant outflow ought to be forgiveness where needed and… love!

Love for our fellow man, desirable or not.

Seemingly pristine or not.

A palatable picture of need or not.

Of course, the kind that doesn’t excuse transgression, dismiss you to doormat status, or promote easy believerism, but also the kind that reverently covers a multitude of sins rather than rubbing their noses in it.

That cares enough to pray that these desperately lost find the same cleansing and healing we have known in Jesus’ arms.

A challenge indeed! But one when surrendered to Jesus-as all needs to be- that is well worth taking on.

Prayers and blessings to you, my friends. May we keep fighting the good fight of faith.

And, if you’ve stumbled on this place and have questions about the Jesus I write of, see my info page for how to get in contact. ☺