Always the Heart

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Isaiah 55:11 ‘so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’

This is a call to Christians. A call to please God, not man. ‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ A call for you to evaluate where your hearts are at. A call to draw close to the One who made you and called you according to His purposes. A call to really know Him and what He is calling you to. A call to be grounded in the Word. A call to know what is required of you. Micah 6:8 ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’

I feel like I need to write a caveat before I send this blog forth. It is possible I may offend people but before you choose to take an offense up, can I challenge you to ask your heart why? And forgive me please as my intention is not to cause offense. I write about this subject because God is burning it in my heart these days and I feel broken because of it. I write about this because I have been in the middle of these situations all the way back to when I first found Jesus. I have been a part of these situations. Because guess what, people are people. Even if we don’t purposely set out to let the enemy use us, when we don’t know God’s voice, we can become the accusers of our brothers and sisters. One word timely whispered and an offense can be set off. Revelation 12:10

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:pointing-1991215_640

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God,
    and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
    who accuses them before our God day and night,
    has been hurled down.”

My heart is burdened because we cannot do His will here on earth well as a fractured body. And we can do so much more together. I mean, He is God and His purposes will be accomplished as the Word says above but will we fall by the wayside and will He have to raise others up to accomplish the purpose He had for you?

How well do you know God? Like really know Him and His Word? Would you say that His heart is for you? Would you say you know you are loved, forgiven, saved, righteous, His child? Would you say that you are following Him and not people?  Are you sold out to His commission for us as believers? Matthew 28:18-20 ‘Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

My heart has been breaking for all of the stories I have been hearing lately about how people are hurt by Christian people and that becomes generalized to the church and then projected on who they think God is. Offence is picked up and if not dealt with this can turn to resentment. If they are Christian, their faith may suffer, reconciliation might never happen,  then they possibly fall away or in some cases plan never to attend church again. In the meantime a fracture happens within the church by the loss of these people and that particular body goes on but with a noticeable limp. I realize sometimes there is a grand purpose in God removing some people from a particular body of believers but it may not always be the case. It may be the enemy working his steal, kill and destroy program through his bait of offense.

I understand when someone is a Christian we naturally give them a higher standard to hit and that should be the case but I think it should be higher, not impossible. This also means if you are a Christian, you also are called to this higher, not impossible standard. It is not impossible with His spirit and strength, it will be in our own strength. They are not God, neither are we, we are all human and we hurt each other, often not on purpose. I also realize that church is not the only platform to display His glory but it needs to be a place where we grow together to be strengthened to go out into the world, in all the places He calls us. The local church is the hope of the world but a fractured one doesn’t always paint a beautiful picture of hope. Please don’t take this to the extreme because I know we are all broken in some way and the beauty of God doing what He does through broken vessels is often what it is about. I am just saying if we are loudly broken without Christ on display in our behaviour, hope doesn’t always shine through. What is your part in the restoration?

So what is getting in the way of your witness? Is it you? Can I gently suggest we get over ourselves? I love how Revelation 12 gives us the answer with verse 11 in the Message translation,

‘They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb
    and the bold word of their witness.
They weren’t in love with themselves;
    they were willing to die for Christ.’ 

Most of all I think God’s heart in all of this is not to equate who He is with who we are as humans. Remember the part, my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways? God said that. He sees us through the filter of what Jesus did, dying on the cross for our sins. Christ’s blood and His love cover a multitude of sins.

As I was praying through this blog, a few things came to mind that may get in the way of us not fulfilling the commission.  Pride, unforgiveness, inability to work through conflict, missing God’s heart, lack of identity, disobedience, blindness from our own wounds. This doesn’t just apply to issues within the church but  within our own hearts. Working through these things is not easy and I think we forget that we have the power of the resurrected Christ within us to help us get through these places.

Joyce Meyer said,‘ The gap between desire and doing is determined by how much pain one is willing to endure to do God’s will.’ . It is always a heart issue. How sold out is yours for our Saviour that you will do whatever it takes to live at peace with others and be obedient to His purposes?  Please read the following out Romans 12 out loud, stop on each verse and challenge your heart to see if you are living these words, if not, repent, ask His forgiveness and move forward knowing He is for you, and Holy Spirit will empower you to live this out. Be blessed brothers and sisters.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.’

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Free to Believe

A couple of weeks ago I awoke with a  prompting from God to post a blog a day in November. I am trying to discipline myself to actually sit and write so I was obedient and wrote out a plan. As I sat with all those numbers of November in front of me and one idea about living in shameless freedom, I just asked Him for ideas for each day. It seemed overwhelming as the blank spots stared at me, taunting me to give up. Then I began, one date at a time to fill in those white spaces with God inspired ideas. 10 minutes, that is all it took and I had no idea what to expect but to just be obedient one step at a time.

So today is day 8 by no coincidence I am sure that it is November 8th and the idea given to me weeks ago was Free to Believe. Also by no coincidence, it is the day of the U.S. election. flag-1294654_640Now before you quit reading, I am not informed enough to give any kind of opinion about any candidate here. If I did, it is just that, my opinion. As far as I am concerned it is only God’s truth that matters in any area of life when it comes right down to it. May we all get to the place where an Audience of One is all that is needed.

Do you feel like the freedom of speech has had a little too much license during this process? Like ahhh make it stop but we can’t stop reading or listening to it. But somehow by engaging, we are contributing to the outrageous cost of campaign rampages. Freedom of speech literally means the right to express any opinions without any censorship or restraint. Can I have an Amen that is going on?

But God…

My friend Helena pointed me to Psalm 33 today. We have been given a responsibility through God with the freedom to believe. He has kept our free will in tact knowing that His gospel of good news is the only thing that changes hearts. We can choose, just as many can choose today, a government for the people by the people. As believers we need to stand up, stand for Him, believe and preach the gospel to all nations because those nations whose God is the Lord will be blessed. God is still on the throne. He has worked through broken kings and rulers before. Read through the Old Testament.

People are dying without repentance and turning from their sin. Jesus came to reconcile our hearts to God. Period. Jesus is not an addendum. Joyce Meyer says, “Don’t just tack Jesus onto your mess and keep living the same.” We need to die to Him.

I can’t speak better than God’s word, so meditate on this Psalm, speak it out loud and make it a prayer for the nations today. The writer was anonymous but this writer knew God as Creator, Lord, Saviour and Deliverer. My prayer is for us all to live in these truths. God Bless us all and have mercy Lord!

Psalm 33

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
    it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the Lord with the harp;
    make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song;
    play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the Lord is right and true;
    he is faithful in all he does.
The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
    the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
    their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
    he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations.

12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
    and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
    all who live on earth—
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
    who considers everything they do.

16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
    no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
    despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.

 

 

 

 

Freedom Reigns

2 Corinthians 3:17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

There is no place else in this world of ours that we will receive the freedom from our guilt, shame and pain than in God and His forgiveness and healing. There was a time in my life that if I didn’t feel guilty about something I had done, I didn’t feel right. My foundation of being worthy was so skewed that I didn’t think I deserved to be good. So I started to perform for it. I was the ‘good’ girl and now as I write this I believe this may be the basis of why I never felt I belonged in my family or elsewhere. Until I knew God’s love, I didn’t feel true belonging. Because how can you belong if you are just pretending to be someone else.

Once I made a decision to accept Jesus in my life, which came after a lot of life and I was 34, the need to perform for love and acceptance did not just disappear. It has been a long, continuing process of trust and healing. I would say even up until this last year, the truth of God’s love for me had not penetrated to the core. I had no idea how to receive this gift from Him but he has been wooing me with His love. And as the verse above says, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. He has granted me freedom to not live in guilt and shame of the things I have done, or not done. I cannot explain in words the kind of freedom that comes when we come to our Father in heaven and confess our sins, for he is faithful and just and forgives our sins. Then the forgiveness is complete, it is washed away. He sees us through the veil of Jesus, which is pure and clean and holy. veil-645705_640

This reminds me of the veil that Moses placed over his face after He had been with the Lord. Moses had just come down from Mount Sinai with the 10 commandments the Lord had spoken to him and his face was radiant with the presence of God. Can you just imagine? Exodus 34:29 “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.”

I imagine his whole being was radiant from that encounter of 40 days and nights with God. How would he even notice his face? This frightened the people but Moses called them to himself and relayed what God had said. vs33,34 “When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out.”

I find it fascinating that when Moses spoke to the people, He remained unveiled as if to enhance the divinity of the message to them. He also left if off to meet with God as though to allow His power to be absorbed in him. The only time that Moses wore the veil to cover God’s glory was when he was among the people. Some commentaries suggest that this spoke of when Moses was silent with the people and signified the darkness of their hearts. Holiness is given privacy.

2 Corinthians 3:16 says, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

This is what I have experienced, when I turned to Him my understanding was made clear and His radiance shone into my heart. Once we know the freedom that comes from choosing Him, we are different. He has the space to make Himself known, to change us and bring reconciliation.

Have you turned your heart toward the Lord? Do you desire to be free from the guilt and shame that consumes you? Jesus died for these very things. Allow the veil to fall and turn to Him.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” vs 18

 

God our Source – Guest post

 My friend Carol asked me to guest blog about parenting at lifeofbrucks.com

Go check it out: A bit about my friend and fellow blogger from her profile: MAMA BRUCKS – Mother of three princes and one lovely princess…a wife and follower of Jesus, just trying to encourage, inspire and simply laugh along with others…

Excerpt from my guest spot on my friend Carol’s blog site, http://lifeofbrucks.com/

It occurred to me if there was anything I would share with parents these days is for them to teach their children that God wants to have a personal relationship with them

Adult children bring a whole new gamut of things to pray and war for, as does a teenage boy!  I am thankful that age and knowing Jesus has mellowed me a bit and taught me how to trust better. God constantly reminds me that He loves them even more than I do. Oh what a sweet relief that is, knowing I have the God of the universe and creator of these very children, to surrender and trust them to.

See more in the Heart to Heart Series lifeofbrucks.com

 

 

10 Days In

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

As my brown skin peels and washes down the drain, I feel like my allotted time to readjust to being home and ‘real life’ should be over. But it continues to play in my mind and perhaps God is still changing my heart with it all. I honestly wasn’t prepared for the impact our trip to Mexico would have on my heart and mind. People ask if it was life-changing and I don’t know if I would say that because the trajectory of my life hasn’t changed but has my heart and perspective changed – yes!

I journaled our trip daily for two reasons, one was because sometimes the memories get lost in my aging process and the other reason was we did so many things, it really was quite amazing what God accomplished in the time that we were there. The tireless workers in our sister church La Fuente said that we saved them 4-6 months of labor for all that we got done. We were able to speak love into over 600 people in different places. Only God can do that in a week!

We were able to bring groceries and diapers to a family living in a tin house with barely a roof, have a pizza party and play soccer with all the neighborhood kids. We planned with the church and the orphanage and picked up 300 tshirts for crafts and bought supplies for the projects coming in the next week.  My friend Niki and I were able to speak and bring hope and love to a Mothers day event while the rest of the team served all those beautiful women. We went to missions, feeding, teaching, crafting and sharing God’s love, sometimes on a gravel lot with a makeshift tarp and broken chairs and tables. Love covers a multitude of things. We sent a team to do wiring and plumbing, attaching ceiling fans to funky Mexican wiring. We painted the sanctuary and kitchen at La Fuente church, the play structure there, the orphanage walls and railings. We stripped beds, doing load after load of laundry and hanging to dry on the clotheslines on the roof of the orphanage. We washed down beds, and floors and cleaned bathrooms and toilets. We ripped apart and hung crates as backdrops in sanctuaries. We went into a public school and shared our skit on the Armor of God in 8 classrooms in 4 hours! We moved supplies from one church to another location. We organized kids church rooms and cleaned. Our pastors taught the interns at the church.

This paints a general picture of the activities we were able to accomplish with God’s strength. 20 people with committed hearts made light work wherever we went. We also sweated much, played together and with the orphans and our church family there and loved and witnessed many miracles. I think I would be safe to say that each of us learned new things about God’s character in our lives and the lives of others.

Miraculously, we only had one incident. Well, besides the fact that the drug cartel were retaliating against the government when we landed with the first part of the team. Even in that, I felt peace and God had us pray for people and a country in a way I likely never would have done. A couple days before we left, a team was starting to take the scaffolding down and it collapsed. Niki and Jesse and Owen, my son were in the pile. This was one of the big miracles we witnessed, even though we took Owen to the hospital cause it landed on his face as he looked up, nobody had any lasting issues. No bruising, nothing broken. A miracle as 20+ people gathered around to pray and my son learned the nature of God as his Protector that day and the power of a community of people that love God and our family.

I will continue to share with you as I process, which apparently takes a while in my heart but there was one thing that I felt God saying as I was walking here last week. One of the things that spoke to me the most in Mexico was relationships and one question I had in the back of my mind as we went to serve was God how do you want me to incorporate what my heart learned in Mexico to love people here. The word He kept giving me was bloom – which means as a verb to produce flowers or be in flower, or a flourishing healthy condition, the time or period of greatest beauty, artistry etc.

Bloom where I am planted was the impression I got. Ironically but not coincidentally, that is the name and heart of our church. So I bloomed, or flowered as I was in Mexico and able to share my love there and so to continue to do the same but I feel it is even more, a flourishing healthy condition, one where my ideas of love are overtaken by the love of God and how He wants that to look. No matter where we are, Love is needed, people need it to flourish and I have been blessed by receiving that from God and through others abundantly.  Jeremiah 31:3 says, The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'” Think of the picture if we all released the overflow of God’s love and kindness to others, it is not about us but what He wants to do through us. Let the tapestry of God’s love in your life splash on others and watch it change the world, one relationship at a time.

Community is Crucial

Defining moments. Seven years ago today I received the call that my Mom had taken her life. Although grief doesn’t shackle me as it once did, sadness rose to the surface of my heart as I remembered. One simple but striking question from a dear friend allowed me release of that sadness, How is your heart today? I received God’s comfort through my tears and reflected on how my missing Mom is different now and how that time seems both like yesterday and a lifetime ago. I miss not being able to share all the moments, like events in my children’s lives and how I am at home writing now, those things that we talked about together. I miss the community of family, she was a big tie for us communicating and seeing each other more, even if it was in crisis.  I miss not being able to have a redo in some areas of our relationship now that I know the things I do now. I see also how some things have changed from deep pain to guilt to regret to man I wish we could…All a process of healing.

I have a picture in my home that says, Cherish every moment because it will never come again. Cherish – care for something deeply, treasure it. It is easy to say to others especially when you have experienced any loss or anything difficult in life and you wish you could retrieve some moments back in time.  My thoughts this past week have been who do I have to cherish those moments with and who do I have when the defining moments come that knock me down and take my breath away, wondering how I will breathe normally again.

As always when God is showing me something, it has to come at me in several forms to get through my head and into my heart. All I have been reading and watching has a theme about community. It is crucial to have a small group of people in your life who will fight for your heart. Jesus did it with the 12 disciples and even more intimately with Peter, James and John. We can have a community of believers at church but devotion stems out of small units just like in a family. John Eldredge says it this way in Waking the Dead, “It is knowing you are at war, that God has chosen you and evil is hunting you and a fellowship protects you.”

Do I want to acknowledge that there is evil in this world? Not necessarily but it is the truth. Bad things do happen to good people as they say. Can community be hard and messy? You bet it can, it will reveal the places in me that have yet to become holy. Conversely can community be a lifeline. Absolutely, it has saved my life and heart many times in this lifetime. The devil doesn’t come just to play games with us. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Community is one thing God has given us so that we have intimate allies when life happens.

Our church has always encouraged the idea to get into a small group and do life together, in fact, the church began from a lifegroup. I become more and more sold out to this idea all the time. Wade and I have been hosting groups through the span of our time there and even though the initial step may have been partly from a feeling of obligation and wondering if that is what God was calling us to do, our obedience has led us into relationships where we breathe life, receive it and are able to blow it out wherever we are. Our pastor taught on the weekend that since the 80’s there is a 40% drop in people caring about others. He said the lack of compassion has a direct correlation to the increase in social media. (See the link to the full teaching below) Receiving likes and lack of personal interaction make it easier not to care. This is a frightening phenomenon to me, I don’t know if that speaks to anyone else but likes on my posts will not feed my heart, I may get the quick release of dopamine from the pleasure of it but that leaves just as quickly. We can’t act on compassion if we don’t interact with others.

How did I get from my Mom’s suicide to social media you ask? My mom isolated a lot during the last years of her life and I often wonder had she been in community with those who knew her heart and could breathe life into it, would we be missing her today? As Pastor Craig says compassion interrupts us and it costs us but it also changes lives. Often we don’t see our hearts as they really are for different reasons and we need people around to remind us that our hearts are good, to laugh with us, to celebrate with us,to pray for us, to cry with us and to just be silent with us. Take the first step, find a person, find a group, come to church. Let’s be messy together.

 

http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/struggles/

Waking the Dead – John Eldredge

Come to church with me, 1625 Montreal St. Regina http://www.bloomchurch.tv/

 

 

 

Heart Colors

Nature astounds me. Although I doth protest, and loudly, about the fading warmer temperatures, I must concede that fall is my favourite season. Brilliant colors bursting forth as the season changes fire off my pleasure centre and increase my desire to be in the midst of the transformations. Sunlight still presses into my skin and awakens my cells with its deposits of life and vitamin d. My thoughts are filled with God and wonder and creativity as I walk among the fallen leaves. In those moments I want to experience all that He has for me and freeze frame the astonishment.

Sometimes I am so overwhelmed that I think I am strange. My wonder is almost tangible, the desire to experience the fullness of nature consumes me. I literally could sit and watch the trees change colors, or soak in a sunrise or sunset repeatedly. For me it never gets tiring to witness these wonders. It is like I want to take a giant straw and slurp down every last bit of life that these creations offer.

Ok I also concede to the fact that I am a little strange but my heart rests in that. Strange – unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand. Some people may find my faith strange, others may find my straw gulping desires strange, still others may see my writing as strange. Photosynthesis is strange, this process of plants turning water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugar so that the plants may live and how as the season shortens and the light lessens, the chlorophyll leaves the leaf, exposing the colors that were there all along.  So  likewise, even though my faith, my desires, my process of writing may be unseen, they are all still a part of me.

God’s love is never-changing but what does change is our ability to receive His love. My prayer over the past few months has been the Ezekiel 36:26 prayer that God will remove my heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. My friend sent me the New Living Translation which I don’t often read but I love how it translates this verse, “And I will put a new spirit in you, I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

I see evidence as God heals what has been broken in my heart and removes my shame to give me freedom that it is from this more tender, responsive heart that I drink in His goodness. I think it was Joyce Meyer that recently said, Even though God has amazing things in our future, He is limited by our capacity to receive. I don’t want to be limited any longer, I want to do the things that I can and co-operate with God’s healing so my spirit can awaken to be loved and to love myself and others. A while ago I asked God for a song and although I don’t think True Colors was written as a Christian song, I choose to see God in it. Praying that your true colors will shine through, as the leaf in the fall and that your hearts will rest in Him. Strange or not.