You Changed My Name

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As the New Year approaches I am reminded of who I am going forward. There is song by Travis Cottrell that says it so eloquently that I want to remember it’s the banner over my life.

 

You Changed My Name– CCLI Song No. 4577373

Verse 1

Who I am is a mystery I can’t explain

‘Cause Your mercy fell like healing rain

And washed away my past

Who I was all my secrets

All my hidden pain

Now Your grace has broken every chain

And set me free at last

And who I was before

Doesn’t matter anymore

 

Chorus 1

You changed my name when

You called me forgiven

You changed my name when

You called me redeemed

You took my shame and

Wrote a new beginning

To the story I was living

And I’ll never be the same

You saw what I could be

And reaching out for me

You changed my name

You changed my name

 

Verse 2

Now I live in the light of Your redeeming love

And I bear the marks Your healing touch

Has written on my heart

With each step I take

I’m reminded of the price You paid

And the living sacrifice You made

To set my soul apart

My life is Yours alone

You have marked me as Your own

(BRIDGE)

I’m not the man I once was

Behold all things are new

‘Cause You changed my name

 

Merry Christmas

christmas.sylvox.com

My grandfather was born in February 1900. They didn’t register him right away and then his parents couldn’t remember the exact day he was born but they knew it was in February. Somehow they picked a date to put on his birth certificate and they celebrated his birth on that day. The actual day he was born wasn’t really important, the fact that he was born was the important thing.  Frankly, he died in 1981 and I don’t remember his birthday at this moment but I think it was like February 13 or maybe it was the 18th. Whatever day it was, we always made a big deal about his birthday. There was cake, presents, singing, laughter, presents, family, ice cream, love, presents, family, singing, did I mention he had 12 kids and a bunch of grandkids? Yes, it was a big party. Maybe we had the date wrong for his 81 years on earth. Maybe not, who cares? We were celebrating his birth and our blessing.

So we can argue all we want to about how Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th but a whole bunch of  us are getting together and we’re going to celebrate. They’ll be food, love, singing, presents, family, love, presents, family, singing, smiles, love and food!

You can call it a Holiday, you can say it has no significance. You can say it’s all commercial. You can decorate your house with holiday lights and have a holiday tree and exchange holiday presents. For us, we have Christmas lights and a Christmas tree and exchange Christmas presents and we’ll all gather together in houses of worship as we celebrate together a Mass for Christ, a Christmas. It’s a joyful day, a day we’ve chosen corporately to say thanks to the one true living God who came for us, the one who determined life wasn’t worth living apart from us. Today we celebrate Christmas and we say Happy Birthday Jesus. We’re so blessed you came! So sing all you nations. Sing of the wonders of his love and the joy that he brings us! Sing and rejoice because your long awaited King made his way on the scene and he rocked the world, turned it upside down and it’s been a party ever since!

Merry Christmas

The Real Gift

sam's club.com

Helping in the RMA store this week an eldery woman came in. She was grumpy. Have you ever noticed that people either grow old gracefully or grouchy? She talked about how the government was to blame for her financial situation. She complained about how they were trying take her social security and how she lived on so little as it was. She complained about not having gifts to give her grandchildren for Christmas. I stayed quiet for as long as I could.

“You know, I was very close to my grandmother. As a child she was everything to me. She passed away in 1999 and I miss her so terribly much most days. Can I tell you that I don’t remember a single Christmas or birthday gift she gave me? Oh, don’t misunderstand, I was grateful and everything she gave me she gave with love, like you, she had modest means and did the best she could.”

“Can I tell you what I do remember? I remember her stopping her housework to sweep me up in her arms and dance with me in her living room. I remember standing on a chair in her kitchen helping make dinner. I remember baking cookies with her. I remember learning to crochet and sew with her. I remember snuggling up in bed with her when I spent the night and how we would talk and giggle long into the night. I remember running errands with her or advice she gave me. I remember working in the garden with her and learning about herbs and their remedies. I remember sitting at her dining room table playing game after game of Crazy Eights. I remember her massaging my back when I couldn’t sleep. I remember her singing to me and her hugs and her love and the fact that she thought everything I did was special.”

The real meaning of Christmas is relationship with one another. I don’t need a day on the calendar to give a gift or to get one. What I treasure, what stays with me in my heart is the time she spent developing her relationship with me. The memories remain long after any gift did. The gift she gave was more precious than any Christmas memory because it was heartfelt. It was born in love and nurture.

Just as Jesus was born to restore us back to our heavenly Father, no earthly gift is more memorable. What better gift could be given than the gift of our love towards one another? This Christmas I pray you get the real gift of Christmas. The gift of some time with loved ones and the gift of serving one another in love. The same gift the Son of the Most High God came to give us!

Merry Christmas!

Poor In Spirit

whispers for the heart's blog

I read this quote and it deeply impacted me with its truth. As we near the end of another year and get ready to begin a new one, let’s not make it the same as before, rather let’s be radically transformed and resolve to live it out better and better each year as it passes. Most of us go through our day as if we’ll get another, that’s a big presumption that no one has promised!

If either the rich or poor are not poor in spirit, they become crippled with the spirit of entitlement. The poor feel that the government owes them a life of success without working for it, while the rich believe their wealth entitles them to special treatment by laws, courts, and government officials. When we reject the command to become poor in spirit we actually give place to spiritual poverty. -Bill Johnson

When Is It Adultery?

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A woman emailed me, who is shacking up with her boyfriend. She just found out he was dating someone else. She was telling me what a jerk he was and asking what should she do?

It’s complicated isn’t it? Even though she lives with him she isn’t his wife, so he isn’t officially breaking any sacred vows, although his word should be one. He hasn’t promised forever, he has just said for now. His word is his bond but these are their days of trying things out this is dating with benefits. There are no legal or spiritual vows here. In fact, there are explicit non-vows. We promise to be together while it feels good. Apparently this doesn’t feel good to him anymore.

The answer didn’t sit well with me or my email friend. I don’t like it, but dating is a time to see if you are compatible with that person or not. I hate that humans are used in this way. This idea that relationships work this way is wrong thinking. She is dating a man, while trying to play house, and it isn’t working. In fact, she will have more of a chance of divorce because she lived with him first by sheer statistics. Marriage and living together although they look the same, aren’t.

Case in point. When I married Doug we lived hell on earth for the first years of our marriage. We loved each other but we were so opposite, losing my identity in the marketplace was excruciating, his illness played a part, step-parenting was awful, the demands going on in our lives at the time was tearing me up, and him as well. Trust and believe me when I tell you, that had it not been for my vows, I would have left and I believe that he would have too. Thank God for wisdom, counseling, fasting and prayer, and the ability to be two sane people who had a lot of talking out to do, and we did it, and we still do it. We honored our vows to each other and meant it when we said for better or worse. I am thankful every single day that our character was one of sticking it out for it truly is a blessed marriage with a lot of love these days. Not perfect, but wonderful if that makes sense.

Love is never careless with another human being, nor is it enough to sustain a relationship on its own. Character, strong communication skills, the ability to commit fully, and the common ground on which one stands plays a part in a marriage making it. It is hard enough to tough it out when problems come into a marriage, and they always do, without those critical things in place. Without true commitment, it is precarious and leaves wounded souls who will never be the same again. God doesn’t make rules and set up boundaries because he’s judgmental and mean. He sets up boundaries because he wants to guard our heart.

God Of The Probable

The Holy Spirit was ministering in my worship today. As I was praying, I received a word from the Lord. He began to speak to me about how we often profess that nothing is impossible with God but that word spoken by our own lips, never reaches our heart. In our heart we doubt. We think that there are some things in life that are impossible and so we begin to consider our Lord as the God of the probable.

We place him a box, in our mind, of what we as humans deem possible and impossible, just due to our life experiences. We wonder if the things we hear and see are truly miracles or just good luck? In our most spiritual time we see the wonders of God’s creation yet in our daily life we take it all for granted. We vacillate between one opinion and another never knowing what quite to do with our God. Yet, when we take God out of the box, and we let him do his thing, we experience adventure in huge measure. Not comfort necessarily but adventure!

I am seeing intently the 100 years that Abraham walked with the Lord and the things he saw in those 100 years. While he never saw the completed promise on this earth, still he never wavered in his faith of impossibilities being possible.

Hebrews11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith Abraham, even though he was past age–and Sarah herself was barren–was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. 13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.

Wow! To walk with the Lord 100 years is a feat in and of itself. The fact that he never turned his back on the Lord, though he wasn’t perfect, he was obedient. To never have said the words that so carelessly have fallen from my lips in my lapses of faith, “Lord where are you and did you really mean this?” To live in tents for the remainder of my days on earth as Abraham did, never knowing if this stop would be my last or one of many seems hard for me. My husband is fond of saying, “The King can do no wrong”. Meaning that whatever God chooses is the right thing whether we like it or not.

Only wait a second, this is the life we lead when led by Christ is it not? Our flesh is a mere tent, lest you think you are really getting a mansion in heaven, another blog for another day. We are aliens and sojourners aren’t we? We don’t really LIVE in our house and our life here on earth.

Oh, if that were true. Most days I do find the life I lead is probably more like Lot, setting my tent near the city, liking a little too much the way luxury feels on my skin. Trying to be righteous and failing miserably and trying again the next day. Maybe it’s not that God can really do all things, maybe it’s that I stand in the way, therefore making things probable. Maybe when I set out to try to fix things in my own power I cancel out the possibilities of God.

This is why being child-like is so important. Jesus said:

Matthew 18:3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

When I was a child, I thought I could fly by merely tying a towel to my back. I wanted so desperately to be Wonder Woman. You can probably see the remnants of that little girl in me today as well. It was that faith in the impossible that made things possible. It’s not that God will probably do it, maybe. It’s that I have to believe that the impossible is possible. I have to know that I can soar. I can’t be worried about what people will say. When I see Noah building an arc when it hadn’t rained I get encouraged. When I see Abraham taking his son to be sacrificed, never having seen a resurrection I get encouraged. I begin to believe that all things are possible. When I see a man at the altar weeping because the doctor has told him that cancer has eaten his body and that he needs to go home and prepare to die, and two months later he has no cancer whatsoever, true story, I get beyond encouraged.

So if you see me with a towel wrapped around my neck, don’t think I’ve gone crazy. Maybe I am just believing that I don’t serve a probable God but I serve a possible God and maybe I’m feeling like Wonder Woman.