Planting Comes Before Harvest

I wonder what it truly means to be blessed by God.  Is it a nice home? The ability to travel? Obedient children? Right standing in a religious organization?  A place where a group of people admire you?  Or could God’s blessings look entirely different?

What if being blessed by him doesn’t always mean comfort. What if his blessings lead you to walk over jagged rocks and down treacherous paths? What if you are lead into a dark place that forced you to deal with the idols in your heart?

I say God’s blessings can be in the form of comfortable things, but I believe there is another facet to them that will make your flesh very uncomfortable. 

Uncomfortable as your flesh may be, the dark places in which you are led Could very well teach you to leave the lusts of this world and enter into a Holy place. The place where God is. 

To obtain anything of worth it must be forged in the fire.  The fire of a trial is where the impurities are identified. The fire of a trial is where we decide if we will continue on with God, or not.

This morning I was reflecting on one of my own blessings.  This blessing has been comfortable and enjoyable…but has also been where I would surrender myself the most. 

I decided to hang in there with God when my blessing stretched me. When my blessing turned into a trial I decided not to run away. God was teaching me to trust Him.  He was allowing my roots of faith to sink deep into the soil of life.  He wanted me to meditate within his word and look deeply within.

Who was I really? What made me a “Christian”?  What made me gravitate toward physical comfort in all its forms before I allowed Christ to soothe me? Why did I need to make hasty decisions? Why couldn’t I just allow my flesh, my bank account, my love life, and my appearance before men to be on hold in order for God to accomplish His purposes and plans for me?  Why did I fight God when I was supposed to wait on him?

All of these questions were dealt with and abundantly answered as I purposed to obey Him and wait on Him in my fiery trial.  When I stopped grasping for what I could physically see and directed my whole hearts worship toward what I could NOT see is when the answers started to unfold.  Its when I started to experience true change in my inner man, and eventually more of the “comfortable” blessings started to manifest physically.

You must plant the new seeds of trust and obedience before you harvest.

I learned to go onto the jagged rocks and narrow paths that looked like they had no purpose if that’s where God was taking me in that season.  But it was there that I actually found my purpose and saw that God could really do more than I ever anticipated. 

Because I will always be in the flesh and live on this earth I will keep experiencing the trial side of blessing as long as I am alive.  But the beauty is in knowing that in Heaven, my final destination, is where all sin and trial will be no longer.

But not yet… earth is where I wait, where I press into Christ, and submit myself to Him in faith of whats to come.

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Condemnation, Calvinism, and Grandpas

This past weekend I debated the Bible with my 81 year-old grandfather.  He’s getting old and believes something created humanity but is not personally involved with us and praying to “it” would be as effective as praying to a coke can. He knew I was once on drugs and trashing my life and he also knows my life has drastically changed its course. But to him, I had some of his “blood” and/or genes therefor, I persevered and pulled myself out of it on my own.

Our debates were not heated. I love my grandfather so much.  He’s funny, strong, smart, and hard-working.  He has failed in certain areas, which devastated some people, but enjoyed much success in his corporate life as a younger man which benefited many as well.

When our conversation was over, I threw up my proverbial hands in my head and surrendered. I gave my best arguments. I even shared some intimate prophetic details of my existence, thinking fulfilled prophecy would convince him. Nope. To him it remains coincidence. During our debate it became painfully aware that my grandfather was smarter than I am and his debate skills were superior to mine, just like his intelligence quotient.

Ok God. This man has absolutely no concern for you nor does he feel he needs you, even though he will be crossing over in the not-too-distant future.

Psalm 14:3 All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.

Here’s some verses that really piss me off and God knows it. However, I surrender. I am so convinced of his existence and biblical truth that I will bow my knee to him.

Romans 9:20 Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? 22 In the same way, even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who are destined for destruction. 23 He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory. 24 And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.

You don’t hear that much in Sunday church. Why? Can God not defend himself?

I never really cared to debate Calvinism, Armenianism, and Lutheranism with people. Now I wonder if God is having me to think about these doctrines because it is shaping some issues in my life. It all started with a You Tube titled, “Can I Lose My Salvation?” By Mark Driscoll.  Mark’s answer is basically a no. He believes in the doctrine of election and while he is not a “Calvinist”, he agrees with much of Calvin’s interpretation of biblical doctrine. When your “picked” your “picked”.

My problem is condemnation. Ever since I was born again by the Holy Spirit, Satan found it amusing to tempt me to doubt my salvation. He mostly would use my divorce when I was newly saved and also uses every time I fail to get me to doubt God’s hold on me. Satan has used church people to perpetuate this lie and that was an extremely powerful tactic. However, with my knees feeble and shaking, I get back up in faith and choose to believe. God didn’t pull me out of that depraved wicked sewer for nothing. I was once lost and now I am found…it was his power, not mine and that’s why I’m convinced of biblical truth, and that’s why I love him.

For me, its powerful to believe I have a father that predestined me to be a vessel of honor (Romans 9) and his irresistible grace (Calvinism tulip point #5) drew me into my election that was made before I even married an abusive drug dealer in 1999. As I walk in the security that Satan may not tempt me into depression through a condemned mindset, joy, strength, and confidence flow out of me. I am than able to accomplish the good works the Lord prepared for me to do before I was even born (Ephesians 2:10).

Imagine your in a marriage and divorce is considered an option and maybe your spouse even threatens you with it. You are than operating out of a shaky foundation and are than tempted with giving up because, after all, there is a good chance, according to your performance, that you will end up divorced.

It seems, for the elect, there is security. But who is elect, and who is not, is not for you or I to determine based off many scriptures, but here is just one:

2 Timothy 2:25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. 26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

I will continue further in studying this concept…but I will say believing that the Lord is more like a loving parent, than a God who is ready to deposit me into hell according to my performance, or a spouse willing to divorce me if I mess up one to many times, is freeing. To believe that God has elected me as a vessel of honor before I was even born (Jeremiah 1:5   “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”) disengages Satan’s condemnation weaponry within my mind.  If you want to guarantee insecurity and depression inside of a person, put their security with you on a rocky foundation.

But it is love and unconditional commitment that changes people and brings the blessing. My dear grandpa knows what I stand for. Now my duty is to love him and tryst God with the rest.

Divorce Is Violence

I don’t get envious over the things people are supposed to be envious about. There are some people that have nice homes, great jobs, popularity, beautiful faces and bodies. I am happy for them. I do not wish what they had was mine. I can easily look at my own life and see where I have been blessed and I am thankful.

But there are those moments that I see certain lives and I realize envy is an emotion in my life. These lives can be on TV, an acquaintance, or maybe someone I know. In today’s American culture these lives are few and far between so to be honest, most of what I have envied I have seen on reality TV.

Family.Yes. In tact, non-divorced, multiple-sibling, multiple-generation families.

Let’s take Duck Dynasty. (I do not know them personally, and since there is sin in every person, it is safe to say they have their problems) When the patriarch of that family, Phil,  gave his life to Christ at 28 and got clean, his wife Kay rejoiced. She probably spent several years as a loving mediator between their children and their dad before his heart conversion. They did not divorce. Phil and Kay are now enjoying four boys that serve the Lord, God fearing submissive wives their boys married, and all their grandchildren. I looked at a picture of one of their grandchildren, River, and I could almost feel the love of God radiating off the face of this smiling little boy! And happy for them? Yes. Yes. I am so happy for them. Do I wish I had that too? Yes, I do.

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Phil & Kay

This family has Jesus. They are not judgmental religious people, but earnestly love the Lord. And in some interviews they expressed Duck Dynasty as a way to show a traditional family to an increasingly God-hating society. America is a ship going the wrong way and Phil sees DD as a small current nudging the beautiful ship to turn back around.

I still wish my parents were married. Or even wish my mom was still married to my step dad. I wish my parents had had more siblings. I wish my only uncle and only brother weren’t dysfunctional alcoholics. I wish I had met Jesus earlier in my life and had not been a drug addict that married an abusive addict. There Lord….there it all is. My broken world.

The pain will get so intense, but than something good happens. I have been given this something good by God and it is what makes me resilient. It protects me and tells me by divine order that I was meant to live this life I’m living. It stops me from saying, “why me?” and instead has me saying, “why not me?” This something is Faith.

Faith is just the umbrella gift I have been given but there are many gifts that shower down from heaven to help me be an over comer in this life. It may be a verse, the voice of the holy spirit, or even a rare blue cardinal flying by because the Lord knew I wanted to see one. One day a particular gift hit me like a ton of bricks. I was given some scripture that I have read dozens of times before, but that day it gripped my entire being.

Matthew 10:37-39 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

There were many times I could have finagled, in my own strength, the things I think I wanted to make me happy. I could have set up things in my life to crowd out the pain of me being an only child because my brother was an addict or my son being an only child and fatherless for nine years. But I got to a point that I allowed the little “mustard seed faith” to control my life. And for a long time it seemed to just be a quiet seed stuck in the dirt. And those times where I doubted, or sinned, or was betrayed by dear ones; I still believed.

I have seen God do some restoration for me in this area of a family. But as I have watched my life play out and as i read scripture I am not holding onto this dream as tightly as I once did. I’m letting it go one experience, one day at a time. I am clay in the hands of the potter. I am not supposed to tell the potter what to do with me. I release the right to tell the potter he should have made me a Christian earlier so there is a better chance I wouldn’t have had to experience divorce. I release the potter from many things I held against him…one day at a time.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things yet unseen! I have faith that in heaven I will be completely satisfied. This satisfaction will last forever and not be temporary, and threatened, and infected with sin.

Those families here on earth, still intact, I am so blessed by. My little family, a picture of restoration.

Little lights in a sea of darkness.

A goodness from God in a land swayed by the wicked one.

Time ticking away, quickly.