A Never-was

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by: Carole L. Haines

Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4 NASB)

Dreams have a way of bringing forth our secret fears and insecurities. I had a dream recently that some former acquaintances were gossiping about me and did not know I was overhearing everything they said. They were saying that I was a pathetic wanna-be, a has-been of sorts. At that point, I stepped out of my hiding place and declared to them, “You can’t be a has-been, if you are a Never-was.”
I’m not a success, as the world defines success. I don’t make my living at what I love, writing and singing. I think secretly, I have felt like such a failure. But there are no failures in God’s Kingdom, not with our lives surrendered to the King of Kings. We may not be who we thought we were going to be. We may not have the life that we thought we were going to have, but we now have His life in us. One of the greatest things God calls us to do is die to is, self. Dying to self is no easy task. It means dying to our own dreams, hope and desires; to carry out God’s desires in ourselves. DO you think Paul envisioned being one of the greatest writers of the Word of God, or suffering as he did? I think Paul thought he would be a great Pharisee and teacher of the Law one day, but God had other plans.
God has other plans for our lives as well, greater plans, ones with eternal fruit.
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 NASB)
When I woke up from that dream, I sensed that God was letting me see how I really felt about myself, and He wanted to free me from feeling like a Never-was. God encouraged me that morning, and let me know that His plans are far greater than what I had envisioned for myself, more fruitful and far-reaching. I want to be an encourager to all who are feeling disappointed with how their lives have turned out.  There is no such thing as a Never-Was in the Kingdom of God. God is always working His precious plan, using us in ways we cannot see or understand now. But God is good, and His will is perfect. Romans 12 tells us:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (vs 2)

You and I, as believers in Jesus Christ, have a wonderful promise right there in Scripture. A promise that God’s will for us is good, acceptable and perfect. We have a wrong view of the word, “acceptable.” In the Greek it means-well-pleasing, fully agreeable. So, in closing, I don’t want to be what I thought I wanted to be. It is impossible for me to be a “has-been” and “never-was,” in the Kingdom of God. I am becoming who He envisioned me to be from the foundations of the world, as I surrender my life to Him. Trust Him with your life today. If life has been disappointing, give it to the one who “raises the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.” (Romans 4:17)

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Disillusioned self-love

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by: Carole L. Haines

Discouragement is disillusioned self-love, and self-love may be love for my devotion to Jesus— not love for Jesus Himself.
From: Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

In my Devotional reading this morning, by Oswald Chambers, I was nearly uprooted by the above statement. I have often had the feeling of complete blindness before, but this one really did it for me. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was dumbfounded and mesmerized at the same time. I had been feeling kind of discouraged over some things recently, and just figured it was self-pity, and so I just needed to get over it and move on. But “Wow,” disillusioned self-love, that just puts a definition to the matter that I had not been able to express, or even figure out how to explain to anyone else.  Jesus says, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” We all want freedom, but let’s look deeper at the context of this most beloved verse.

John 8:30-32 (NASB)

30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him,
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;

32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

It’s a five-step process here:

1) Believe in Him
2) Continue in His Word
3) Truly Disciples of His
4) Know the truth
5) and the truth will make you free

We can stop the progression at any point through a failure to embrace the truth and believe it above our own perception of things. I have come to find that the last thing we need to let go of, to truly become disciples of Jesus, is our own opinions, perceptions and demands.

Most of us really want what we want, and sometimes we try to stick a label on it that says,  “God’s Will.” But there is a death-to-self process that needs to occur in each of our lives and it is very difficult and painful; but the reward, in the end is a truly abundant life, the one we were created to live, His life in us.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.  (Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB)

So, to get back to what Oswald Chambers related to us, “Discouragement is disillusioned self-love.” Self-love demands its own way. Self-love settles for a mediocre life, one far less fruitful than the one Jesus envisions for us.
So please, Dear Jesus, show me where I am loving self above you, demanding my own way, and let me get completely disillusioned with it. Because Jesus, I want You, above all else, I want You to make my life what You envisioned, which is far greater than what I have tried to make it.  So Thank you for letting me fail at so many attempts of my own, because I only want Your will, not my own. Amen

 

 

 

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No instrument is as important as you

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By: Carole L. Haines

15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.
(Acts 9:15)

Our son invited the Young Adult group from our church over for a bonfire last night.  It was a wonderfully noisy house for about 4 hours. I loved it, like having all three of our children back home with all their friends, like it once was. My husband has a recording studio upstairs, and one of the girls asked if she could play some of his instruments. He said, “Sure!” She asked, “Are there any you don’t want me to touch?’ He said, “Nope! Have at it!” She picked up the twelve-string guitar, and being old, with old strings; as she played, one of the strings broke. She came downstairs so apologetic. It took some convincing from us that it was not a problem at all, it happens all the time. She insisted on taking the string off for us, and offered to replace it. We said it was not necessary, we had a lot of extra strings. We just kept telling her how much the instrument didn’t matter. We wanted her to know it was her that we valued, way more than the instrument.

No instrument can make music on its own. No guitar or piano can play itself. It needs to be placed in the hands of a person, in order to bring forth sound. Whenever we first start off learning something new, it takes practice and time to develop the skill and expertise to do it well. Whether it’s a sport, music, art, writing, math; whatever it is, it takes time.  What I really wanted this precious girl to know was that no instrument was as important as her. She is the valuable one, an eternal child of God, an image bearer of The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  The guitar, though loved by us, was just a piece of wood with strings that could do nothing on its own. 

God values us like that. We’ve really messed up His Beautiful Creation, in so many ways. We have corrupted the Crowning Jewel of His Heart, ourselves. Jesus created us, He spoke us into existence. (Colossians 3:13-20, John 1) He knew we would fail Him, sin, and ultimately cost Him the horrific trial of Gethsemane and the Cross. But He created us because He loves us. We are the instruments that He chooses to work through to reach the world. No instrument, no program, outreach, or ministry is as important as the people God has placed there. No instrument is as important as you, to God. Surrender fully to His skillful hands and let Him play His Song in and through your life.

15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel.  (Acts 9:15 NASB)

 

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Everything is going to be okay

 

By: Carole L. Haines

Certain times I wake up with an elevated sense of dread. Some would call it depression, others PMS. Whatever it is, there seems to be times when my inner worries, fears and doubts rise to the surface and I am very weighed down by them.  King David described it this way:

The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses.
(Psalm 25:17 NASB)

Enlarged means to broaden, to grow large, widen.  Aren’t there times when we just can’t seem to keep our worries at bay. Like a Lion tamer, we stand over them and crack the whip; but to no avail, they won’t be tamed. There are times they seem to take over our minds, our hearts, our emotions.  I woke up that way this morning, turned to my husband and said, “Can you tell me everything is going to be alright? It’s just nice to hear it from somebody else, besides myself.”

In the midst of him telling me how wonderful God is, I realized that it was unfair for me to ask him to make it all better. He can’t, I can’t. My husband, in his God-given wisdom, directed my thoughts to the only One who can actually tell me that it’s all going to work out alright. There’s a lot of changes swirling around our lives right now, impending change, and change that has already happened.  There’s not a sense of the “everyday routine I had gotten so used to.  But change is good, like the oceans stir up the sand and shells as they crash against the shore; change stirs things up. Quite frankly, we all need to be stirred up by change, so that we don’t become stagnant. Ponds that have no inlet or outlet, grow green with algae. One of the things so amazing about Rivers, is that the waters are never the same. You can dip your foot into River and have Last Winter’s snow flow over your toes.

Sometimes we need to hear somebody tell us that everything is going to be alright. Bob Marley sings about it in his songs. Our loved ones hug us, pat us on the back and speak these comforting words into our ears. But the only One who can truly speak this into our souls, is God Himself; because He’s the only one who can actually make it true. When the troubles of your heart are enlarged, sink deep into Him.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You support my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.
I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

I have set the Lord continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.

(Psalm 16 NASB)

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God’s Waiting Room

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By: Peg Councill

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NASB) 

Recently I had the experience, due to medical tests, of having to wait in a doctor’s office for three hours as the various steps for the tests were completed. While there the thought came to me of the expression – I am in God’s Waiting Room. Have you ever been there? Are you there now? When we think about it, we usually are in a waiting mode. Different circumstances at different seasons of our lives-we are waiting. It could be waiting for a relationship to resolve or heal; waiting to hear back from a company after a job interview; or waiting for your home to sell so you can move.
Perhaps you are younger and waiting for a new school year to begin at a different school from last year, where all your classmates will be new to you. Or like me, waiting for results of medical tests that will determine what comes next.
As I sat there I realized that while seemingly sitting there alone – I really was not alone. The Lord was right there with me! As His child He has assured me that “He will never leave me nor forsake me.”
He is not only with us every step of the way, He knows what is ahead for each of us. Our Shepherd has gone before us into whatever our present situation may be. What are you waiting for? Realize, as I did, that you are never alone. Rest in His Presence, Dear One. He is right there with you every step of the way.

 

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Stop, Drop and Roll

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By: Carole L. Haines

14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15 The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” 16 So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17 If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. 18 He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
(John 7:14-18)

The words of this passage just grabbed me as I read them, in particular the part about speaking from ourselves.  I have struggled with insecurity most of my life, almost to toxic levels at times. Insecurity breeds the habit of trying to prove ourselves all the time. Prove it to ourselves, to others, even to God. I sensed years ago that I must be quiet and let God vindicate me. This has been a difficult journey, and I have had to place my hands over my own mouth many times (Perhaps not physically, but inwardly). I would catch myself talking about myself again, trying to prove I was valuable, that I mattered and had worth; and God would nudge me to trust Him and stop talking. Jesus says in the passage above, “He who speaks from himself, seeks his own glory.”

Trying to prove ourselves is a form of seeking our own glory. Only God can give our lives value and purpose, but we often seek that from other people.  Other people cannot ever give us lasting worth because people are changeable and flighty. I love the verse in James that tells us that with God there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:17)

God doesn’t change, His love in unalterable. When we come to the place in our lives where we realize people can’t give us our worth and they can’t diminish it either; there is such freedom in that.  God, our Creator, is the only one who can give us our worth, and He never changes His mind about us.

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

Therefore, let us trust ourselves to the God who gives us our worth. Rest in His love and His declaration of your value. Next time you catch yourself talking too much about YOU, just remember: STOP, DROP AND ROLL. stop talking, drop to your knees (in  your heart) and roll your need for significance and value unto God, the one who gives us our value and purpose. His love puts out the fire of self in our hearts.

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Judge not; Instead

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By: Carole L. Haines

Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally. But when the Holy Spirit comes into me, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was exhibited in the life of Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit, which is absolute unblemished purity.

From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition, by: Oswald Chambers

There is a wonderful verse tucked into the Sermon on the Mount. Of course there are many such verses in that monologue of Jesus’, but one in particular has struck me several times, as God seeks to purify and transform my inner and outer life.

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
(Matthew 7:1-2 NASB)

What a beauty, right? I’m sure you are not thinking that right now.  It’s a hard Passage. Following on the heels of this statement is Jesus’ famous declaration about not trying to take the speck out of your brother’s eye when you still have a log in your own. What fascinates me about these verses is just how practical they are, if we are to examine ourselves.  Every time we feel a judgment against someone else rising up within us, we should take the opportunity to examine ourselves, or better yet, ask the Holy Spirit to do the examining, and find out what things of the same sort lurk within us.

Jesus says right here, in good old black and white, paper and ink; “The very things you judge others for, you do them yourself.”  Now we all know the word that is hurled at Christians time and again because of this sin, it is “Hypocrite!”  Now the word actually means, “actor, stage player, pretender.” None of us wants to think of ourselves that way, right?  But Jesus says that every time you judge another person, you are a hypocrite, because the very things you are judging them for you do yourself.

Precious ones, I must get caught up in judging half a dozen times a day, at least.  Maybe not consciously, but I feel it rise in my heart. Most times I won’t say it, but I think it.  Perhaps you experience the same thing, if you take an honest look at your own thought life and within your heart.  God is showing me that instead of getting down on myself because this still happens to me, after all these years of walking with Him; why not turn it on its head and use it as a chance to ask the Lord to examine me and show me the root of this judgment within myself.  I did this yesterday and prayed on the phone about it with another believer, and the release I sensed from, not only the judgment, but the sin that led to the judgment, was so thick, I could almost touch it.  Consider this an opportunity for growth, instead of voicing your judgments and bringing harm to another person, as well as bringing yourself down in the process.

 

 

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