Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is There A Stairway To Heaven?

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I was thinking about the song Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin yesterday. So I pulled up the words on Google and read back over them, they really didn’t make much sense to me except when he said, “and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.” It makes me think of the times in my life that I thought I could buy my way on up that stairway.

For years into my Christian life I followed the Savior pretty steady by my standards. I made my way up the stairway just fine without much looking back. I put one foot in front of the other and marched up each step by living according to the rules, having my children in church every Sunday, living as the submissive wife (well outwardly), and serving in the capacity anyone asked me to at the church. Personal time with the Lord was hard to come by but I was “doing” everything I was supposed to be doing. I just kept dragging myself up that stairway so I could hear the words “Well done good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:23

Eventually there came that time when I could no longer climb those stairs and I stumbled and fell to the bottom. As I lay there crumpled up in a heap, I felt completely defeated. Now I would not hear those words I had so longed to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Where were all those “rules”, “obligations”, and “works” now that I needed them most? The truth is they were dead….they had always been dead, I just didn’t know it.

For some reason salvation for me included working to make God proud of me, working to keep up appearances for other Christians, and striving to serve and prove my love for God. But after lying in a pit of deep despair and sin for a while, I finally gave up and came to the end of myself.

Flash forward to a new day, today! What have I learned about that Stairway to Heaven? There’s not a stairway to heaven, there’s no drudgery, working, striving, pleasing to get to the top to hear those words I so wanted to hear. Amazingly enough the Father is pleased with me as I am because when I became His child He created me new, complete, whole, beautiful, and precious in His sight. God’s Holy Spirit lives in me giving me a “want to” to want to be like Jesus. I don’t have to work at it to make it happen. However, I do have to rest in Him and let it happen. Surrendering to be a Spirit-controlled woman is the best thing that I’ve ever done. It has freed me to be the woman of God I was created to be. I can take off the masks that I’ve been hiding behind for so many years and when I listen to the Spirit I naturally or should I say supernaturally do what He’s calling me to do. My love for Him is the motivation for serving Him now, and oh how I love Him because He first loved me. 1 John 4:9

Monday, April 11, 2011

When Your Friend Hurts....

I have a friend in great emotional pain because someone is purposely hurting her. She is experiencing such loss at this moment. The tears she cries could fill a lake, no, an ocean because they are constant.

What can I do? I am helpless to do anything but listen. That's what I do when she calls, I listen. Somehow it seems to ease her pain for just a moment to talk about something other than the situation. But eventually conversation comes back around to the problem. So I listen, and cry with her and try to be a shoulder for her to lean on.

And I pray. I lift her and her family up to the Father knowing He has the answer. And though the answer may not come as quickly as we would like He is working it out because I know it just can't stay like it is now.

Sometimes in the middle of a bad situation it's hard to step back and see the big picture, it's hard to pray, it's even harder to believe there's something good coming. But thank the Lord for family and friends that believe for us, that pray when we can't and stand with us during this time of despair.

I've been on both sides and God has always been faithful to me. Let me encourage you to be the friend someone needs but also be sure to take the hand of friendship when you need it too.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Is It Okay To Question God?

If God were sitting right beside you now, on the couch, the bed, in a chair or in the kitchen on a bar stool watching you cook, what would you talk to Him about?

Would you ask Him questions about world peace and if or when it will come? How about the Japan earthquake and tsunami?

Maybe you'd ask Him why questions. Why did she die? Why did my marriage end? Why can't I find a job? Why do I feel so lonely? Why are my kids so far from you when I raised them in church? Why can't I have children?

Maybe you'd ask how questions. How did you make this body that works so perfectly in tune? How is it the ocean waves come to shore then carry me back out into the water? How can I go on when my world is falling apart? How can You stand by and watch innocent children go hungry?

Who questions. Who will I marry? Who will save me from myself? Who am I? Who are You?

Conversation with the Father can be full of difficult questions or it can be easy talking about everyday life. It's whatever you need it to be. He is there to listen and build a relationship with you.

Is it ok to ask the hard questions? Sure, He knows our questions before we ask them. Is it alright to be angry at life and at God when things don't turn out the way we want them to? He knows that too. Just tell Him how you feel, get it out in the open. It's not like we can hide it from Him.

When my father died in 1999 I had never lost anyone that close to me before. My heart was broke in half and it literally hurt. I did not know how to express the hurt, pain and anger I felt. One night before the funeral I went to daddy's house alone and sat down with a pad of paper and a pen. My thoughts and feelings flowed as I wrote everything I felt. Everything! I told God how I felt He betrayed me by taking my father, how angry I was, how I wasn't sure how I would go on, that I didn't know how to do this thing called "living" without my precious hero. When I was done, I was done. It was over, the anger subsided and I had resolved many of the issues that troubled me. As I read the words I wrote I saw that I began to accept his death a little more as I expressed myself on paper. I needed to tell my heavenly Father what was going on in my heart and mind to be able to move to the next step. He listened, He comforted and He loved me that night. Don't misunderstand me, grief is a long process for some of us and it was for me but that night was the first step for me.

Tell God whatever you need to tell Him, ask all the questions you want, He will never turn His back on you. He is faithful, He is love and He understands.

2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Identity Thief: Will You Let Him Keep Stealing From You?

Do you get your identity from others? It's a thoughtful question isn't it? Think about it. When someone says something about you that is negative, such as, you're stupid, you can't succeed at that, you are such a loser, you'll never make anything of yourself, when a lie comes out of another's mouth about you what do you do? If you believe it you can begin to take on a false identity. You are not stupid, you can succeed, you are not a loser and you are already someone special and precious.

Your identity is found in a loving God who gave His Son for you. You are as valuable to Him as His own son Jesus. So valuable that He allowed Him to die in your place on a cross over 2000 years ago. Is this just for the believer? No, He gave His son because He loved the world. Each one in the WORLD is valuable to God. John 3:16 It's when you believe and receive the gift He gives that your identity becomes one with Christ.

Your identity is wrapped up in the goodness of Christ not the bad of the world. You are whole, complete and full in your spirit. It may not feel like it, or look like it on the outside but it is the TRUTH. As believers we are to live out of the truth.
Do not let someone else define who you are. Combat their lies with the truth. You are loved, special, precious, worthy. You are allowed feel your feelings, even if someone else thinks you shouldn't be feeling this way or that way. Go ahead feel it, deal with it, know who you are in Christ, and move on to the next thing.

I read that in WWII while in the German concentration camps the Jewish people were forced to feel inferior to the Nazis. This was done by shaving every prisoner's head, man, woman and child, dressing them all in the same prison uniforms and by branding each one with a number. The purpose of this was to make them all feel the same, to take away their individuality, and uniqueness. They were called by numbers not their names in order to give them even less value. This is the way our enemy works to give us a false identity. He wants us to feel inferior to others, nameless, never unique or special. What does this do to us? It keeps us ineffective in life, especially when it comes to following Jesus Christ.

So the next time you are tempted, and it is the enemy tempting you to feel unworthy, ask these questions:

Is this truth?
What is the truth?
What will I do with this truth?

If you believe truth then walk in it and live out of your real identity not the identity someone else tries to give you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Does God Punish Sin?

Steve McVey is a favorite of mine. Tell me what you think of his teaching on God's punishment of sin. Is it much different than what you believe?

Check out Steve McVey's website at