2018: A Year For Hope (Week 17)

I had a dream last night. It was so explicit that I felt, as I have at other times, the dream was given to me for a reason. Perhaps it is for you.

“Wearing a mask wears you out. Faking it is fatiguing. The most exhausting activity is pretending to be what you know you aren’t.” ~Rick Warren

Everyone wears masks. Some masks are as simple as answering a no-nonsense “Fine” to the question of “How are you?” instead of giving the long and drawn out honest answer of discouragement and brokenheartedness. Some masks are more complex and worn as a means of self-protection. This was the case in my dream.

She touches up her curls and puts on her mascara. She smiles in the mirror for a final inspection. It will do, she is ready. So is he.

They walk in together, smiling across the foyer to welcoming faces while also being purposeful to stay just far away enough to avoid direct conversation with much of anyone. Too much familiarity puts them at risk of questions they don’t want to answer; and answers most people don’t really want to hear.

There are only a few, a very few, people at this church who know the truth about them. They had expected complete rejection, just like they had experienced at countless churches before this one. But to their surprise, they found understanding and acceptance from people who looked beyond their “differences” and who saw them. Seeking. Hurt. Hungry. And they were welcomed just as they were, just where they were in their journey of learning more about Jesus.

“We all have sin in our lives”, they were told. “My sin might look different than yours, but it doesn’t make it any better or yours any worse. We all fall short – which is exactly why Jesus went to the Cross. To pay the sin debt for all mankind once and for all. If Jesus can be patient with me in my state, who am I to judge you about yours.”

I think it grieves the heart of God when we rank some sins as being worse than others. And let’s face it, we have a very ugly habit of doing so – especially within the walls of the Church. It should not be.

Sadly, I’m old enough to have seen many “messy Christians” (those who didn’t look like or act like they were supposed to) being made to feel so unwelcomed in church that in short order they simply stopped coming altogether. And why? Because they wore jeans or shorts on a Sunday morning? Or they had blue hair? Or they were suspected as gay? Or her belly button showed? Or he had a mouth full of rotten teeth and his breath smelled?

The sin of stealing a few manila folders from the office supply cabinet ranks way below the sin of embezzlement – but both are thievery. Gluttony vs drug addiction. Venomous words vs physical abuse. Somehow, it all too often ends up that the sins that you and I struggle with fall to the lesser end of the ranking system (downgraded with words like “issues” or “struggles”) while someone else’s sins (that are not a temptation to us and therefore with whom we can’t relate) are ranked higher and are undoubtedly more offensive to God.

“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)

As I lay in my bed processing, I felt the Lord invite me to look intently at the woman and the man in my dream. From other details of the dream, I knew the secret they worked so hard to keep concealed from general knowledge.

But I didn’t feel like that was what God wanted me to see. He was asking me to look at each person individually. To see beyond their sin-struggle, and to see the person.

“Who are they?” He asked me.

We all wear masks. I get it. I wear them too.

But God sees each of us from behind the masks we wear. He knows us individually, completely, and His blood was shed just as much for the murderer as for the occasional pencil thief.

“Look closer,” He said. “Who are they?”

A son. A daughter. A creation.
His son. His daughter. His creation.

Who Am I
Who Am I

When I started blogging in 2014, I painted a word-picture for the post “WHO AM I”. I think it is fitting for this post as well, (Besides, I ruined my work in process and so I must now start it all over again) because this is at the heart of what I felt God was pointing me to see or observe about these two people in my dream. Their IDENTITY is not based on the type of sin they struggle with. Their IDENTITY is that of a son or daughter. And if they have reached the point of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, their IDENTITY is that of His son or His daughter.

When we accept Jesus as Savior, all our issues don’t magically go away overnight. We all know that! But we have so much more tolerance for some kinds of messiness than other kinds. But if the Father can be lovingly patient with me as I continue to work through my food-issues, and temper-issues, and jealousy-issues … can He not be equally as lovingly patient with someone else as they work through their issues – no matter what those issues are?

“Where is the HOPE for them?” He asked. “If not from you, then from who?”

I realize some might read this post and think I’m being “soft on sin”. I am not. I just don’t see it as my job assignment to be the measurer (is that even a word?) of which sin is worse than another. My Bible says that ALL have fallen short of God’s standards for holiness (Romans 3:23). I believe God is well able to do the work Himself of convicting and developing and maturing us individually, so that we can focus on the work of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who are lost and in need of a Savior.

“Beloved, when you correctly understand your identity in Christ, who you are – and what is yours (the power, the authority, the dignity, the calling) as children of the Living God – it will change the way you think about yourself. And that “right standing” will change the choices you make on a daily basis, and will ultimately change the course of your life, and the lives of your children and grandchildren.”

Pretty deep thoughts for a Monday, I know. If this touched your heart in some way, please leave a comment below. And for something a little lighter, follow the link to the first of a 2-series post entitled “Who Am I”. I hope it will encourage you.

 

 


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside.  Come back next week (ish) to watch the word-picture emerge.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 16)

We have been hit by sickness this week … my special needs granddaughter came down with Strep and it’s been an all-hands-on-deck kind of weekend.   Praise God she is feeling better today, even perking up enough to eat a bit of dinner tonight.  But it’s been a busy past couple of days and … well, I didn’t have the time (or desire) to break out my laptop until just now.

So we go to Plan B.

And Plan B is to share from another’s blog post that touched my heart and complements the theme of “2018: A Year For Hope”.   So without further adieu, please allow me to introduce you to “Beauty Beyond Bones“.

I was taken aback by my own daughters eating disorder in her teens.  Through a wonderfully terrible beautiful collision of heartbreaking circumstances, I overheard her mentioning to a doctor that she had been throwing up her food after meals.  How was this happening?  How did I not know?  

“I know that God’s standards are spiritual, but I have a corrupt nature, sold as a slave to sin. I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate.”  Romans 7:14-15 (GWT)

Maybe you’re the mom, brother, sister or friend of someone with an eating disorder.

Maybe you are the one wrestling with these demons.

Or maybe the issue isn’t food, it’s something else.  Another inner suffering.

“But if there’s one thing that shows, it’s that “desert periods” will occur in life. We will go through the desert. We will feel alone. And forgotten. Maybe inadequate. Possibly despairing. But our suffering doesn’t negate the Father’s love, as hard as that is to believe. And when we find ourselves in the middle of that desert, it’s even harder to believe that one day, we will ever be whole, or useful, or thriving again.”   ~Beauty Beyond Bones

My world turned sideways that night, in more ways than one. And thus began our (hers and mine) journey back to honesty, forgiveness, acceptance and finally healing. But it was a process. And that’s just from my side of the fence … I’ll probably never really know how difficult the journey was from her side … I’m just grateful that she made it through.

So did Beauty Beyond Bones, and this is Her Unseen Recovery

 

 


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside.  Come back next week to watch the word-picture emerge.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

Thank you 600 times!

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 15)

Have you ever noticed that just about the time that the seas calm, the winds still, and the fog lifts … so that you can finally see the destination for which your eyes have been straining so hard to see … up comes another wave!  Of course you have!  We all have.  Countless times.

The scenario usually plays out something like this:

He has a good job but it does little more than pay the bills each month.  Six months ago, he had an unexpected medical bill and had to put it on a credit card.  That really bothered him because after attending Financial Peace University at his church, he made a decision to operate his finances in a way that honors God and he is trying hard to stay out of debt.  So he put in some overtime, cut back on the grocery budget, swapped lunches out for PB&J sandwiches in a brown paper bag, and just sent payment in full to the credit card company so that he’s no longer paying interest.  He’s thrilled.  He praises God.  He feels on top of the world, and is back on track.   Until he gets his tax returns back a finds out he underpaid by over $3000.

Splash!

It happens all the time!  In finances.  In relationships.  In health.  In work.  Why?  Well at the risk of sounding like a 5-year old, I think it boils down to two simple factors:

  1.  We live in a broken world (one that does not operate according to God’s original design for it).
  2.  We have an enemy (who is always… ALWAYS… seeking to steal, kill and destroy).

Over the years, I’ve become more and more convinced that the devil only has a few game plans in his play book.   Bearing in mind that the Word of God reveals the will of God, almost every situation we come across in life that contradicts the will of God for our lives can be bucketed into a few basic categories (objectives) of game play.

Objective #1:
get us to doubt the Word (the Promise and instruction) of God.

Objective #2:
get us so distracted (by enticements or troubles) that we don’t hold onto the Word of God

Objective #3:
get us to disbelieve the Word of God, in whole or in part

The Word of God says that every need you have is met in the riches of Christ Jesus.  That all the work of your hands has a blessing upon it, and that you are blessed at your job, in your bank accounts, in your family, in your health, and that you are blessed so much that you have enough extra to be generous with others.   That’s the Promise of 1 Timothy 6:17, 2 Corinthians 9:6, Psalms 25:12-13, Proverbs 11:24-25, and many others!

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.  Romans 10:17 (NIV)

But your check book says …. err … nope!  You’re as broke as the Ten Commandments!  You’re job is a dead end job, for all your efforts your savings account has less than $50 in it, and every time you make any headway at all, something comes along and completely rips the rug out from under your feet!!

And this is where things fall apart … at the intersection of FAITH and FACT.

FAITH says you’re rich, an co-heir with Christ Jesus of the cattle on a thousand hills.

The FACT is that you need to pay $3000 for income tax that you don’t have.

And when you find yourself at that intersection, it’s critical that you pause (often) to examine what you’re looking at.  What your vision is focused on.  And who’s voice your listening to!

Don’t go by what you see, but go by what you hear.  Because what you hear (from the Scriptures) is what will determine whether or not you can overcome.   ~ Jentezen Franklin

Wave, 04.09.18, puttinghopetowork.com

Are your eyes looking beyond the current situation (of lack) to the destination God has promised (abundance)?

Are your ears tuned to the Promises of God (who says He will lead and guide you through every circumstance to a victory that glorifies His Name), or are you focused on the cries of your empty bank accounts?

Are your eyes locked on the emerging manifestation of what you have been praying and believing for … or are you overwhelmed and thereby overtaken by a time-limited storm and unexpected wave?

Friend, God has good plans for your life!  The devil doesn’t like it and he’s got a game plan and strategy to get you to distract you from, get you to doubt, or convince you to disbelieve the promises of God for your life …  but God’s ways are higher and superior to the strategies of the enemy.   Who’s voice are you going to listen to?

WAKE UP YOUR FAITH by listening to the following message by Jentezen Franklin.  Give it a good shake-up, and then open your mouth and start telling your circumstances what God’s word has to say about them!

Here is a link to My daily confession written in 2014 when launching my business.   That was a HUGE leap of faith, and I needed to make sure that my ears were finely tuned to the Promises of God more than the screams of my half-starved bank account.   It’s scripture based, and I declare it over myself and my family on a regular basis.   

Faith comes from hearing God’s Word for your life, and if you are not in the practice of speaking God’s Word over your circumstances, please take this and begin speaking it over yourself and your family on a daily basis.   And tell me what happens!  Because I guarantee you, if you hold fast to the Word of God … stuff will happen!!


I’m working on a new piece … to reflect Miss Hope’s arrival landside.  Come back next week to watch the word-picture emerge.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.

 

2018: A Year For Hope (Week 14)

I just met “C” outside of the computer store picking up my laptop from weekend repairs.

Dear “C”
If you are reading this, I want you to know that everything below the dashed line was actually written by me last night on my cell phone.  In light of our meeting, I believe it is no ‘coincidence’ that I had scheduled to reblog something written by The Abuse Expose with Secret Angel.  I am sure you will find much on their website (and I hope by my own story, starting back in the 2014 blog posts) that will be of comfort to you as you are walking out your journey.    I am going to continue to pray for you, and of course you now have my name and phone number.    #GodIsBigger #TheDevilHasAlreadyLost  #ThisDoesNotDefineYou

——

Alas, I am without my computer (in for maintenance) and so instead of trying to type out my writings on my phone (I assure you, that would not end well), I am sharing this lovely poem entitled “A Pure Heart

With a shared passion for the abused and broken, I have been following The Abuse Expose’ with Secret Angel for several years. I highly encourage you to check out their blog.

https://wp.me/p3u5ZW-4fd

Blessings!