Monthly Archives: March 2011

Heartburn


My husband loves spicy food. Before we started on a basically vegetarian diet, David would often have need of an anti-acid after a really spicy meal. His digestive system seems to have improved since we are eating more healthily.

But, both of us have times of “heartburn”.  And the cause of our heartburn has to do with times of encounter with the Lord, not spicy food.

After the death and burial of Jesus, two of his followers were walking on the road to Emmaus when suddenly a “stranger” joined them.  At the time they did not recognize who it was. They did not know it was the risen Lord.

According to Luke 24:16 “They were kept from recognizing Him.”  By what?  By Divine intervention?  By grief?  By disappointment?

Sometimes we all are also kept from recognizing God in our circumstances,  through grief, or disappointment, or some other reason.  Maybe you had great plans for your life or your ministry, but they don’t seem to be working out the way you thought they would.  We’ve been there.

Sometimes we can’t see the next thing that God is moving us toward because we have gotten stuck on the last thing that may not have worked out in the way we had imagined.

We don’t see the hand of God in our failure or disappointment.  We forget that He is “the One”.  He is still in control.  He does have a plan.

Though the disciples on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus, there was something about being with him that they later recalled.  In Luke 24:32  “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” They went on to be witnesses of his resurrection to the disciples who, at first, didn’t believe them.

Jesus said the “pure in heart” shall see God.  Those with a single eye, single minded, keeping their focus on Him, will see Him and will recognize Him in all circumstances.

The reason some of our hearts have ceased burning within us is that we have stopped spending time with Him, listening to Him, looking for Him.  We run into prayer time with our requests and burdens, but we don’t take time to listen.

Sometimes we don’t even go into that quiet space, because we get too busy.

Maybe, like the disciples, we are “slow of heart to believe what the Scriptures say” because we are looking at circumstances through the eyes of the world and not the eyes of Christ.

If our hearts are going to continue to “burn within us” for the things of God, we have to keep our single-minded focus on our relationship with the Father, no matter the way things appear at any given moment.

That’s where I am right now.  How about you?

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Spiritual Beings


There is a brand of organic tea that we frequently buy that has pithy philosophical statements on the tea bag tags. I read one recently that said:  “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

I immediately thought “new age rhetoric”, when the Holy Spirit stopped me. It struck me that as a Christian believer who has come to Christ through the re-birth process, that’s exactly what I am: a “spiritual being” in a physical body.

The Bible says in Rom. 8:11 “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

John 3:6  “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

The implication here is that we were once only mortal beings (humans), living in a physical body. But when we met Jesus, confessed our sin and received His forgiveness, the Holy Spirit breathed spiritual life into us, so now we are “spirit beings” living in a physical body.

As I thought of this, I suddenly got an insight: what we believe about “spirit life” makes a difference in the way we live. Are we “human beings having a spiritual experience” or are we “spirit beings having a human experience”?

We are “spirit beings” in the truest sense of the word – not just a soul and a body, but live spirit beings because the Holy Spirit of God has breathed life into us:

1 John 5:11-12  “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

So, it certainly seems from Scripture that we are “spirit beings having a human experience”. We really need to get hold of that. As “spirit beings”, in relationship to Jesus, the Son of God, we have access to the resources of heaven, the realm of the spirit.

We are able through His imparted “spirit life” to live the kind of lifestyle He lays out for us in the Scriptures; the kind of life Jesus walked out as our model. We truly have “free will” now that Christ has set us free to be what we were re-born to be; the will to make right choices and do right things.

So why do so many disciples of Christ have such a hard time living out their discipleship? I think it’s due in great part to still seeing themselves as “human beings having (or trying to have) a spiritual experience”, instead of “spirit beings having a human experience”. What will it take to get believers on the right track? A change of perspective – believing what God says we are in Christ.

I am a “spiritual being having a human experience”. How about you?

God’s Rest: Pause that Refreshes


Do you ever get to the end of a busy week and wonder what has been accomplished of any lasting value?

Someone once said that modern life in the United States can be captured in three words:  “hurry, worry and bury”.  Do, do, do, work, work, work.  To demonstrate our high value on the work ethic, we celebrate a long holiday week-end which we call “Labor Day” weekend.

Many of us are perpetually busy, but unfulfilled from all that “busyness”. Often we find ourselves frantically bustling about – almost driven – filling every minute of the day. We collapse into bed at night and wonder what we’ve accomplished that’s of any real value or importance. We are chronically tired, with little to show for it.

What we need is a national holiday called “Rest Day”,  to let people know that it’s OK to relax once in a while.  Not just OK, but crucial to health and well being.

We are so caught up in the work and busyness “spirits” of this age that we often carry it over into our spiritual lives.  As if our walk with God counts on the number of hours we put in “doing spiritual things”.

The Scripture cautions us in Hebrews 4:  “Therefore, since the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.”

And, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest . . .”

It almost sounds contradictory to say “make every effort” to rest”.  But that directive captures human nature.  We have a hard time truly “resting”.  Because “resting” really means “trusting”.

It’s like the elderly man on his 75th birthday.  A pilot offered to take him for a plane ride over the little town in West Virginia where he spent all his life.  Back on the ground, after circling over the town twenty minutes, the pilot asked “Were you scared, Uncle Dudley?:  “No-o-o, ” was the hesitant answer.  “But I never did put my full weight down.”

We smile at the remark, but there are many Christians who have not yet put their full weight down on the provision of God.  They think that their own effort is keeping them from spiritually “falling from the air”.

The Scripture says that “it is God who works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.”  It’s not our effort to hold ourselves up that saves us.  It’s relying on what God has done for us.  God tells us to enter His rest;  the rest His Son provided by His death on the cross.

But some find resting hard to do. So God engineers a rest for us. My heavenly Father has had me in one of those schooling places for the past three years, constantly calling me back to a place of “rest” & “wait” when my mind and body want to get moving. When my spirit cries out for the answers to prayers “right now”.

Mrs. Charles Cowman expresses it this way:  “God sends a time of forced leisure – sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts – and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent and our part missing in the music. . . Not without design does God write the music of our lives.  Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the “rests.”

I find in my own life that I benefit greatly from the pauses that God engineers, when I use them to find a quiet spot and fellowship with Him  There is nothing like those precious encounters where God’s Spirit touches mine and calms my restlessness, as He restores peace and trust and contentment to my soul.   In those sweet, almost suffocating times when I can barely breathe in His presence, I find rejuvenation for my body, mind and spirit. His rest is truly a pause that refreshes.

Help Me to Love


Vs.1

Lonely people all around,

Hurtin’ hearts and troubled frowns,

Heavy thoughts to drag them down

Can’t you feel their pain.

A mother lost her only child,

A cast-off lover tries to smile

The pay check’s small, the bills are high,

A tear drops in the rain.

Chorus

Lord, help me in some small way

To make this a better day

For those I pass along the way

Help me to love (repeat)

Vs. 2

A suicide picks up a gun.

A battered woman tries to run.

As hate is hurtin’ everyone,

A preacher finds his sin.

As life hands out its passion fruit

It seems to have a bitter root and

Love . . . ‘s a whisper in the wind.

Chorus

Lord, help me in some small way

To make this a better day

For those I pass along the way

Help me to love (repeat)

–from  my album “Overture” soon to be an MP3 CD

To the Prodigal


Vs. 1

Here I am, just like the first time,

Waitin’ round to help you find your way.

Here I am, just like the last time,

Holdin’ out my hand to walk you thru the day.

 

Did you think that I could forget you?

Did you think that I would turn away?

Did you think my love wasn’t big enough

To pick you up, to take you back,

To make it like you never went away?

 

Vs.2

Here I am waiting to forgive you;

Don’t I know you can’t make it on your own.

Here I am trying to get to you;

It hurts to see you struggling all alone.

 

Can’t you see I’m standing behind you

All you gotta do is turn around.

Can’ you hear my love calling “Come back home!

“Those wasted years, the wasted life,

“If you just turn back, I’ll make you new again.”

 

Come on back ‘cause I forgive you.

Come on back now, ‘cause I forgive you.

Come on home, child, ‘cause I forgive you;

Bread and butter waitin’ on the kitchen shelf.

 

Gentle King


What do you picture when you read the word “king” – regal, royal, majestic, stately? King Jesus is pictured a bit differently in the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 21:5):

“See, your King comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey . . .”

King Jesus comes to you as a gentleman – He’s gentle. He knows your unrelenting hurts, the bitter disappointments, unexplained rejections and failed hopes.  He knows the misunderstandings and false accusations that have come against you..  He knows your unfulfilled dreams, misplaced expectations and frustrated plans.  He knows your fears, your loneliness, your losses.

He knows your failures:  failed marriage, failed careers, failed parenting.  He sees. He knows.

And he comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey.  Not on a jet, or in a BMW.

He also knows about your disobedience, your rebellion against Him, your sins and failures to live up to what you know is right.  He knows your lostness – that sense of where am I going?  What’s to become of me?  Does my life have a purpose anymore?

He comes gently and patiently – reaching out His hand to take hold of yours, to lead you the rest of the way home.

The ruler of the universe, the King of heaven – coming to you wherever you are today,  offering to meet you in the place where your spirit dwells.  Offering you the gift of His love; the gift of His Holy Spirit; the One who will never leave you or forsake you.  And in Him are all the things you truly need: forgiveness, cleansing of the soul, freedom from fear and punishment.  And the other grace gifts:  love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, and self-control.

Today He comes to you as Savior.  If you refuse Him today He will come again.  But His final coming, as described in the book of The Revelation, will be as a mighty warrior-king, leading his army of heavenly hosts, He will come as your judge and jury.  And if you refused Him as gentle king, there is no advocate available for you when he comes as judge.

He’s here today, offering you the gift of life, the gift of Himself.  All you have to do is reach out with your spirit to His Spirit and say, “Yes, Lord, Jesus.  I need you.  I need your forgiveness for my sins, your healing for my wounds, your presence to bring peace to my troubled soul.”

QUESTION: Perhaps your experience is different than mine. How does Jesus come to you?

Disease Does Not Define Me


For the past 3 years I have been dealing with cancer – in a non-traditional way, building up my body’s immune system – I am not cancer-free yet in my body, but my mind is almost cancer-free.

In this regard, I have made several commitments to God and myself – among them is to trust my loving Heavenly Father as He leads me along the journey, and to not allow my life to be about cancer. It’s not the most important issue in my life, nor does it define me as a person.  Life’s challenges should never define who we are.

My roles define me somewhat – wife, mom, home-keeper, speaker, writer, on-going hostess to those who come and go in our home . But my most important defining element is being a daughter of the Most High God. And the most important work I do is to try to accurately reflect His character as I allow Him to shape me into the image of Jesus.

Reflecting His glory is not the work part, the work is being clay-like in His hands – there are still pieces of grit in the clay and dry parts that need the water of the Spirit to soften them so that I am pliable in the shaping process.

He has me in a still place right now. Sometimes I get restless and want to rush the process along – like my desire to see all this New England snow finally melt away after a long, tedious winter.

I thought I was a person of prayer before now, a person of faith. But in this still place both prayer and faith take on a different meaning. There is something I feel I am on the verge of grasping with the fingers of my spirit – something deeper in or further up – perhaps an experience of what faith really is, how it becomes a part of us, and what a tremendous gift it is from our Father-Creator.

One thing I know: “ . . . all things work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” My eyes are being trained to always look for that “good” both now and out ahead.

How are you handling your own challenges? What are you learning through them about faith, or purpose, or the mind and heart of our Heavenly Father?

Peace, love, and grace be with you today.

c. Marcy Aves 2011

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