Friday, September 30, 2016

All Things New

January 26, 2012 Jesus’ Heart

Last night, I felt nervous that after all this talking about being with Jesus. and what that is like, that tonight I wouldn't feel His presence. I guess because I feared He would let me down.

Where do these horrible doubts come from? Why are they so persistent?

Anyway, so I was only half reaching out to Him, almost not wanting to, for fear Jesus wasn't there and He spoke to me quietly.

Stage fright? He asked.

Relief poured through me, because I knew He understood exactly what I was feeling.

"Yes," I said ardently. "Just like that. And You are here!"

I'm always here, Jesus said.

"Yes," I said, humbly. "I know. And You are always telling me that."

He really does have to tell me certain things over and over again. I feel badly about this, but Jesus said that I would understand when I had a child to care for. But I think my patience will fall far short of His.

I was worshiping Jesus, at one point, and caught up in thinking about His power and glory and authority.

"Everything is under Your authority, You are above all things," I was recounting.

I am meek, and humble of heart, Jesus added, right into my stream of worship, right as I was speaking to Him.

I had to stop, in wonder. "Yes," I acknowledged. "You are. You just told me so, Yourself... Why?" I wondered out loud to Jesus. "Why did You speak that to me just now? I wonder...?"

Later, I thought about the fact that Jesus is what the Father looks like, and Jesus came to show us this.

I remembered that passage from Isaiah, that says, "I did not tell Israel "Seek My face in vain."

"For thus says the LORD,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right."
-Isaiah 45:18-19

Actually, that entire chapter is pretty mind blowing.

Jesus has been taking me right up close to His heart lately, I'm noticing. Twice now He has emphasized His longing heart, and now He emphasizes His own description of Himself- that He is meek, and lowly of heart.

It's as though Jesus wants me right up close against His heart, as though He doesn't want me worshiping at the edge of the trailing robe of His glory, which is over all the earth. No, it's as though He wants my worship bound right up near and in His tender, longing heart.

Lately, I feel His hands on my waist, and sometimes Jesus lifts me up in joy and catches me up in His arms. I felt this over and over again on my walk in the park today. I felt His joy and delight in me.

When I feel His hands on my waist, then I must physically stand up on my tip toes, as though in longing for Him to lift me up into His arms.

But I remain in this body of clay, and it is only my spirit that goes swiftly to Jesus.

I was thinking, last night, about that movie I had watched earlier and how the man had asked the woman, "Is what I did a sin?"

And the woman said, "Ooooh, I can't answer that. Only your conscience can answer that.”

I thought, nervously, "Wow! Does one's own conscience define sin? Isn't sin more absolute than that? Isn't it externally defined by God? If my conscience defined my own sin, I would never, ever satisfy it, because I will always find fault with something I am doing- either the way, or the motive, or the delivery, or the thoughts or something."

I am your conscience, Jesus assured me, His quiet voice interrupting my thoughts.

"You are," I agreed, in relief. "Thank goodness."

And I remembered how in I John, that even if our hearts trouble us, we have Someone who is greater than our hearts.

At one point, I thought about the Father, and I felt the hand of the Father. The hand of the Father feels different from Jesus. The hand of the Father is huge and full of power and authority and the warmth of life. But not scary, not in a bad way.

When I woke up, though, I felt Jesus’ presence as though there were a thicker curtain between than usual. But this is just an opportunity to trust Him completely. The less I can sense that He is there, the more important it is to trust Him, and the more precious that trust becomes to Him. So those times are always learning opportunities to grow in trust.

I flipped over my calendar, and it had this:

"The godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted into the LORD's own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age, they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green."
-Psalm 92:12-14

I just went for a walk and had such a sweet time with Jesus. We listened to the second half of the Messiah and as usual, my chest grew heavy and weighted down. Sometimes I have a hard time believing that this happens, myself, until it does, and I think to myself, oh this is what it feels like! Especially after I've blogged about something, I have found. After I have shared something, it's like I have given it away; it's not longer a precious secret between Jesus and I, and I worry and get anxious and full of doubt. But every time, I hand it all over to Him, with my apologies and my heart and my everything and it is well with me, because of Him.

I got to the song, "Lift up Your Heads, Oh Ye Gates," and I thought sadly, "Even this I gave away in the blog, and now is altered."

I will give you more, Jesus assured me, in His quiet voice.

Hearing His voice delighted me, as usual and I acceded immediately to what He promised. "You will," I agreed. "You are infinite."

When I heard, "I know that My Redeemer Liveth," tears of joy and longing and certainty filled my eyes, especially when I heard the lines, “Though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh will I see God."

He will stand upon this earth. Jesus Himself will stand upon this earth. He will be here. In the flesh, in person.

When the Halleluiah chorus came, the worship swept like a wind right through my spirit and lifted me up like a banner in the wind.

"Praise Yah!" is what they are proclaiming. Praise the Father! The omnipotent, all powerful, sovereign redeeming and only God. From Him and to Him are all things.

January 27, 2012 Unpublished

This passage in Matthew used to terrify me:

“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector."
-Matthew 18:15-17

Every time I used to read it, here's how I was understanding it:

"You are the brother who is a miserable sinner, and in shame, you are attempting to hide this and get away with it. Someone who is able and willing to be obedient is going to notice that you are a miserable, shameful sinner, and they are going to go and tell you so. This is the way he is going to show love. When you, being the sinner that you are, cannot and are not able to respond to this godly person, they will present you to a group of people who have never and will never sin as you sin, so that you can be more deeply ashamed of yourself. Then they will put your in front of the entire church and declare that you are a shameful, miserable sinner. Then you will be rejected from the group and considered an outsider and a traitor, and everyone will be able to give up on you.”

That’s how I was understanding that passage! This amazes me now. How could I understand it that way? But those are the assumptions that were so large and so blinding with fear that I couldn't take in what was really there. My incorrect understanding had me in rigid fear and shame for a long time, but my perception has suddenly altered, because I read the passage in The Message version, which reads like this:

"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend. If he won't listen, take one or two others along so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest, and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church. If he won't listen to the church, you'll have to start over from scratch, confront him with the need for repentance, and offer again God's forgiving love."

Offer again God's forgiving love?

Offer again God’s forgiving love?

Where was the Message Version getting that from?

So then I sat and thought further about it. I thought about how Jesus treated the heathens and tax collectors.

Jesus called them to repentance, healed their sick, ate and drank in their houses, and told the religious leaders that tax collectors and harlots would enter the Kingdom of Heaven ahead of them, and asked one follow Him. He forgave them, invited them, welcomed them, taught them and had compassion on them.

Here's another passage I was getting all wrong. This passage popped up once on the home page of

"His disciples said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me."
-John 16:29-32

I was hearing this terribly wrongly, as though Jesus were bitterly disappointed in them. I wanted to run away; I wanted to shut the page down and move onto other things, but Jesus told me not to. So I opened the page back up and read it again, and it was as though my mind lit up with understanding.

I saw it very differently. I saw the disciples shaking with fear and filled with horror and sorrow. They are desperately trying to keep up with everything that Jesus has been telling them.

And mostly He has been telling them that He is going suffer and to leave them. Jesus has been telling them this since way back before they began to make their way to Jerusalem, but they weren't able to understand Him, though even then it was filling them with grief.

Now it is beginning to sink in, and the grief is almost unbearable. They are eager to grasp anything that they can understand, like a life line.

So when Jesus says that He's going to stop talking to them in parables, and directly says, "Yes, I came from the Father into the world, and now I will leave the world and return to the Father,” they are so eager to grab onto this.

“Then his disciples said, “At last you are speaking plainly and not figuratively. Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”

Like, phew! Oh my goodness, we were so scared for a minute there, Jesus! But now we know, You definitely came from God. Everything's going to be okay now. We’ve got it now!”

But Jesus knows what is going to happen. So it is as though He leans forward and puts His arm around someone's shoulder, and He looks at His bewildered guys with love and compassion in His eyes.

"Do you now believe?" He asks them gently. "But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Jesus told them that they would be scattered and abandon Him, not to shame them, but to comfort them ahead of time! So that they would have peace in Him! That way, after it happens, and their guilt and shame threatens to consume them, they can remember that Jesus knew it was going to happen that way all along, and that He had never truly been alone, because His Father had been with Him. They can take heart, because Jesus has overcome the world.

January 28, 2012 Made for Jesus

Last night Jesus spoke to my heart. Twice, He spoke the same thing in His quiet voice.

I made you for Myself, He said.

Of course, Jesus made everyone for Himself, but for some reason, Jesus wanted me to know absolutely that I was His.

This is humbling, which is unexpected. I would have expected the opposite. But it’s humbling because it is perfectly, beautifully clear that I did not create myself. Therefore, I can take no credit. I can only accede to what it true, because Jesus made it true, for His own good pleasure.

"You are my God," was all I could say, "and I have no other God but You. You are the God of my salvation, and I wait on You all the day. I pray to no other God but You. I have no good thing apart from You. You are all that is good to me."

January 28, 2012

These last few days, I've felt a growing sense of peace and contentment in my life.

This passage keeps coming into my mind:

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven"
-Ecclesiastes 3:1

And then I found this passage in Ecclesiastes, and read it in many different translations. I still don't know what it means, but it lingers in my mind:

"He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.

"I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good as long as they live; and also that every man should eat and drink and see and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God. I know that whatever God does, it endures forever; nothing can be added to it nor can anything be taken from it, for God does it so that men will fear and worship Him [with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is God]. That which is has already been, and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by [so that history repeats itself]."
-Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

And yet, the Father joyfully proclaims to Israel,

"Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;

Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."
-Isaiah 43:18-21

And at the end of time, it is the Father who declares in complete triumph-

"Behold, I make all things new."

My God is full of beautiful mystery, but I am sure that all that He does is good and I trust Him, even when I do not understand.

Keith is outside, the sleeves of his flannel shirt rolled up, washing the vehicles, as he loves to do on a sunny Saturday morning. The sudsy water washes down the driveway, reflecting the winter blue of the sky.

I am inside, listening to music, drinking coffee and wondering about the mysteries and love and ways of God- which I probably always will do.

I can't help myself. It was how I was made, because it was the good pleasure of Jesus to make me this way. How I do love Him for it.