Thursday, August 29, 2013

Flying Lessons

A little tongue in cheek today.  Believe me, I've learned that my tongue is much better there than given free reign to slash about.  It can be sharp and sometimes not so kind.  That goes against who I want to be; who God created me to be to represent Him the best that I can.  I've picked the topic of kindness for this post.  It is one of my greatest assets, yet one of my greatest struggles.  God's spirit in me inclines me to  be kind to others.  I have no problem doing that - when they are facing hardships or when they are kind to me.  It is when they are prideful, annoying, or belligerent, that I have a problem exhibiting proper kindness.  Who's fault is this?  There would have been a day that I would have quickly said, "Their's", and meant it whole-heartedly.  Yet through God's ever-loving kindness, He continues to hone my kindness skills and teach me how to overcome my own pride.  He says love them anyway - be kind to them.  Actually, my reaction to rude or annoying people is my own choice.  It becomes as a big of a problem - my problem - as I make of it.

A little history here.  I am blonde, but no dummy, by far.  I do absent-minded stuff, but I can school most people in a game of Words With Friends and my wit is quicker and sharper than most snake bites. Yeah, that's about what it's like - a snake bite....venomous and poison.  If my tongue is not kept in cheek - so to speak - it can quickly take a wrong turn and go completely out of control.  Over the years, my struggle has been based on my prideful response to the actions of others.  It was much easier to put them in their place with my quick wit and sharp tongue than it was to ask God how I could shine brightly with love and patience as I deferred to allowing His Holy Spirit to direct my response.  There were countless times that I failed miserably at turning over the power.  I have to admit.  I still goof up.  But I'm much better at being genuinely kind that I once was.

Just to assure you that I'm no saint, as if you hadn't already surmised the obvious, I will give you an example of something that happened on an airplane today.  A disclaimer, albeit only a small one, is that I get many grace challenges on airplanes.  Yes, I have pretty regular flying lessons.  It's like God takes me to class when I fly.  I'm longing for First Class, but I don't think I've graduated yet.  But back to my transgression.  A guy in front of me reclined his seat - an action that has long been one of my pet peeves, but not the one I am discussing today - this put his head back by the window that was beside my chair.  He assumed all window rights at that point and proceeded to pull down the window so it would be dark and he could sleep.  How dare he?!  Yes, that is what I thought and I did not hesitate to grunt a little and raise up the window.  No one messes with my upcoming view of the Rocky Mountains....that would just be sacrilegious - possibly.  Now did I have a right to assume my window rights?  Of course!  Was it beneficial to do so?  I think not.  My proper response would have been to ask God to give me patience to deal with this person usurping my window rights.  He could have had a hard night with no sleep, albeit none of us had much sleep getting to LAX airport through traffic at 5 in the morning.  It requires lots of time and patience.  Maybe everyone was running short on both.  He could have just wanted to close his eyes and relax.  He probably thought everyone else wanted to do the same thing.  I should have, but I can't sleep on planes.  Whose problem is that?  Mine of course.  I realized mine wasn't a kind response a second after I raised up that window.  Not a stellar moment for me.  But the proverbial light had already shined on my shortcoming:-(

There have been other instances where I've learned to respond to irritations with more humility and patience.  At least I didn't utter a sharp response - thank goodness.  But I've asked God to keep me accountable and that can be a dangerous request if you don't want to know the truth.  The truth is, I need to be more humble and less prideful.  I need to remember to pray when someone bumps into my happy - or my window space.  I could have left the window down and glimpsed a little bit, now and then, to see if my beloved Rocky Mountains were in sight.  This guy doesn't know how much I love the Rockies.  Really, he probably wouldn't even care, but that's not the point.  He's not my problem.  I am my problem.  But, there is still hope.  God is ever-faithful to keep me accountable, because it is in my - and others' - best interest, and it represents Him so much better than when I act on my own.  You see, in my pride, I may think my attitude or my wit is necessary to bring someone back down to size when I think they've gotten a little too big for their britches.  In humility, God can show me that I don't do His job well - EVER.  It is not my job to size up someone else or jerk them into what I think is their rightful place.  It's my job to size up myself and make sure I'm measuring up to God's best for me so I can be the best example of Him to others.

On today's flying lesson, I definitely missed a few things, but I didn't completely miss the point.   I'm still a work in progress, but I'm thankful for these grace challenges God affords me.  I no longer want to spit on the head or kick the seat of a person who reclines into my lap - thank goodness:-)  Flying may be a luxury and convenience, but it sure can be unpleasant and uncomfortable.  Such is life.  We're not always in First Class.  We seldom are.  It's better to check my attitude before I ever hit security.  Now, THEY, can mess with my happy - if I let them.  As always, the choice is completely mine.  Flying can be as pleasant as I allow it to be.  I can come off a plane grumpy or I can stay in my happy place, no matter who tries to encroach up into it with me.  Maybe that's just where they need to be.  I should welcome them on in.  After all, it's truly the kindest thing to do.

On my next flying lesson, I hope I do much better.  I'm kind of looking forward to it:-)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

THE LORD is my song

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I wrote a blog post.  I actually did write a few, but they didn't make it to press.  They are sitting in my drafts box unpublished.  Our world has been a bit askew since moving from the Midwest to Southern California.  But it has all been good.  We are now living in the Santa Clarita area of California, which is northern Los Angeles County.  Valencia is within Santa Clarita and our little town is just northwest of there.  We are 45 minutes from Ventura, and the beach, and we got to spend a few months in that environment with friends.  For living out of a suitcase, we were pretty content with the blessings God provided.

We've also had a new grandson born within the last couple of months and I went back to KY, where they live, for a few weeks to share in that joy.  He is so amazing and I love him to the moon and back.  Those nights of sitting with him were a pure joy because I got to pray over him and commit him to the Lord.  My daughter and son-in-law don't know what to think about my assertion that he could become the next Billy Graham!  I have petitioned the Lord to set him aside for His purposes and gift him greatly for the Kingdom:-)  What a privilege it was to read scripture over him, sing to him, and ask the Lord to guard him, guide him, keep him, and bless him.  I'm reminded of how my mother prayed for me always and I prayed for my own daughter.  What a sweet gift God has given us in prayer.  The place where we can be with Him in sweet communion and communication, praising Him and bringing our needs to Him, and knowing all the while that He is in control.

Well, I've brought us up to speed on the goings-on of our personal journey.  Bill is working at Real Life Church in Valencia and we love it here!  We will be launching Celebrate Recovery at the end of September and are relying on God to bring many people to freedom through this ministry.  The support of the church is phenomenal and we are so grateful for our lead pastor, Rusty George, and a great staff. They are so helpful.  We get to see our ever-beloved, Mike Breaux, occasionally as well, as he teaches out here every so often.  We love his family and are so blessed to be able to see them out here on the West Coast.

My thoughts for today are on God's Word.  It is always personal and He will direct us to areas wherein He wants to guide us and minister to us.  I believe He also uses other God-inspired tools, such as the little Jesus Calling book, to confirm things to us and navigate us through the highs and lows of life.  A little daily devotional that never fails to encourage me and remind me that God's Holy Spirit lives within me as a believer in Jesus Christ.  With that Power and Wisdom at my disposal, I can process and filter things differently than I otherwise would be able to - much better, I would say.

Today, my Jesus Calling devotion was so spot-on.  It's not uncommon for spiritual warfare to try and distract us from accomplishing the work God has set before us.  We cannot see this spiritual world, but we experience it and God allows us to recognize it.  He teaches us to look to Him to combat such opposition and to use the tools, the armor of God - if you will, that He has given us to stand firm.  When you are on the front lines of ministering the grace, truth, and power of Jesus Christ to a world that doesn't know Him, you get used to a few proverbial pebbles, rocks, darts, even bullets, being directed your way.  It is important to remember that satan uses people to pull off these distractions, yet they are NOT the enemy; he is.  He encourages them to believe misconceptions, to gossip and to think the worst,  to become critical and cynical.  Emotions will go beyond what Lysa Terkeurst calls indicators and become dictators.  Pride will trick us into thinking our way of thinking is superior to that of others.  We can become quiet self-focused.  It's just our human sin nature and, unfortunately, we all fall prey to this tactic of the enemy.  Yet, it hurts when we fall into these traps or see others fall into them.  It really hurts when we are the target, and none of us are exempt when we want to follow Jesus and tell others of His great love.  But God!  God affirms that He is in control and we can rest in His protection and provision.

Jesus Calling reminded me of that today, August 22nd.  It read, "TRUST ME, and don't be afraid.  I want you to view trials as exercises designed to develop your trust-muscles.  You live in the midst of fierce spiritual battles, and fear is one of satan's favorite weapons.  When you start to feel afraid, affirm your trust in Me.  Speak out loud, if circumstances permit.  Resist the devil in My Name, and he will slink away from you.  Refresh yourself in My Holy Presence.  Speak or sing praises to Me, and My Face will shine upon you.  Remember that there is no condemnation for those who belong to Me.  You have been judged NOT GUILTY for all eternity.  Trust Me, and don't be afraid, for I am your Strength, Song, and Salvation."

The accompanying verses for this included Isaiah 12:2.  I love this verse: "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.  The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation."  There's a double emphasis on who my strength and song is....THE LORD!  And the letters are all Caps!  That doesn't go unnoticed by me.  I choose to allow Him to be my strength and song and salvation!

I'm singing IN CAPS right now for THE LORD is the great defender!  Spending the day with Him and flexing my spiritual trust-muscles is just what I needed.  The day has become brighter as His Face shines upon me.  It's amazing what a change in focus can bring about.  As I focus on worshiping THE LORD, my perspective changes.  He is bigger; He is greater; He is my salvation!