Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Problem with Labels, added note

“Labeling people can undermine our ability to see

them as human beings and as individuals.”

(David Kinnaman in unChristian book, published by Baker Books)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Has Risen!

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ … He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. … Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. … Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’ (Matthew 16:13-25)

And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull … And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, ‘He saved others; He cannot save Himself He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.’ ‘He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'’ The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’” (Matthew 27:33-54)

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of Glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride
See from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did ever such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown
Oh the wonderful cross,
Oh the wonderful cross,
Bids me come and die
And find that I may truly live
Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were an offering far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all
Oh the wonderful cross,
Oh the wonderful cross,
All who gather here by grace
Draw near and bless Your name

(The Wonderful Cross, Matt Redman/Chris Tomlin version)

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.’ (Matthew 28:1-10)

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.’

(Matthew 28:1-10)

You have opened the door
To the riches of God
And poured out Your life for the lost
The Lamb that who was slain
You erased all our sin
Purchased man with Your blood
And made us as priests unto God
The Lamb who was slain

You erased all our sin
Purchased man with Your blood
And made us as priests unto God
The Lamb who was slain

You are worthy
You are faithful
You are holy
The Lamb who was slain

You came down as a man
And you suffered the cross
Your kingdom the heavens became
The Lamb who was slain
But our God raised You up
And our tongues now confess
Yes, You are the Lord and the Christ
The Lamb who was slain

You are worthy
You are faithful
You are holy
The Lamb who was slain

(The Lamb Who Was Slain written by Sal Oliveri & Jeff Nelson)

Thank you, Jesus, for your self-less and most loving sacrifice on behalf of the whole world.

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb”

“Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God”

(Revelation 7:10, 19:1)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Ekklesia, Simply Defined

"The true church is not an organization controlled by the rules of men

but a holy collection of living stones with Jesus Christ as the Cornerstone."

(Brother Yun, The Heavenly Man)

In His Presence

In Your presence I find comfort
In Your presence I find peace
In Your presence I surrender
Lord I give you all of me

And in Your presence,
I fall on my knees
For are you are worthy
In Your presence
I hear angels sing
Holy, holy is the Lamb of God

In Your presence I find comfort
In Your presence I find peace
In Your presence I surrender
Lord I give you all of me

And in Your presence,
I fall on my knees
For are you are worthy
In Your presence
I hear angels sing
Holy, holy in Your presence
I fall on my knees
For you are worthy
In Your presence
I hear angels sing
Holy, holy, worthy, worthy
Holy, holy, worthy, worthy
Holy, holy is the Lamb of God

Lord I give you all of me

(“In Your Presence” by Charity Von)
(The song played on this video is the original version but words are shown in another language)

In His presence…

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Blown by the Breath of God

In the past week I have been reading Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C. Reading from Mother Teresa’s personal letters and about her spiritual experiences has brought forth various emotions and wondering thoughts within me. As I read the book it encouraged me with the aspect of her devotion to God and to the Lord Jesus because I can relate with her passion to give ALL of herself; to have God be true King over her heart and her life. But then I also became disheartened all at the same time because I feel so awful when I compare what she was led to do with what I have been led to do for Him. She was led and called to do something truly beautiful and sacrificial for the benefit of others. Five years ago, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that God was calling me to know Him more intimately and to make Him known. Over the last five years, there have been great difficulties with this calling…not in the knowing Him more intimately (that has been a miraculous experience), but in the making Him known part. Every time I’ve stepped forward proclaiming something (whether through singing, writing, or speaking) it somehow doesn’t quite go quite as well as I imagined or hoped it would. There have been a few instances when people have become very angry with me for boldly speaking out.

Over the past week, as I have read about Mother Teresa, I had a great deal of wondering and doubting thoughts and “maybe’s” go through my mind. It started by my wondering if it could be that all God truly wants from me is just to know and experience Him intimately and nothing else. I wondered if whatever other “task” which came along as a result of that relationship was just to make this little daughter of His feel like she was being of use and of help to her “Daddy”. I love Him so much, and He knows that very well. He also knows that I want to be “helpful” to Him, and therefore, He allows me to do these little “jobs” here and there to make me happy and to feel like I am being useful to Him. But maybe, ultimately, what He most desires from me is intimate relationship with Him.

In the last few days I ran the gamut of emotions and possibilities in my ponderings—from the above thoughts all the way to pondering if I should just keep my writings and experiences with God completely private from now on and delete this blog all together. I don’t claim to know any “grand” spiritual purpose any longer—the “grandest” it gets is knowing Him, period; knowing my God and my Lord intimately and passionately; no more, no less. I am worthy to Him even if I were to sit here in my chair and do nothing else. Although, it is hard—very hard—for me to not have a goal before me. But God knows that about me. I long to help my Father God and to live Christ and the abundant life He offers me. He will accomplish this—it doesn’t have to mean my doing anything “special” by worldly standards. It can all happen in the simplicity of daily life if He so chooses. Five years ago, Jesus said to me, “Let’s cross over to the other side”. I believe we have. Though, I have yet SO much to learn from Him.

I spent at least two full days exploring in my dark ponderings, wonderings, questions, and doubts along with second-guessing my past, present, and future actions…then He began to change the direction of my thoughts and bring His light into the darkness.

Through my reading in another book, I ended up at Acts 4:20 where Peter and John tell the Sanhedrin, “We cannot but be speaking of what we perceive and hear”. They could not keep themselves from speaking out about what they had experienced with Christ! I can relate well with them. Sharing with others about the moving of God in my life is what I get most excited to talk about! To remain silent is to be like the “walking dead”.

The next day, I awoke with the realization of how much better I did living each day if I just went with the flow of each moment, as His wind blows me, rather than trying so hard to understand each step I take and what that means next. I knew it was time to relax into His arms once again and that I had been way too tense because I had been playing a comparison game that was detrimental. I basked in the magnificent truth that I was to let His breath blow me where it will…to take me where He wills! I could second-guess every word I wrote or spoke and each move I made…but I knew that was not my purpose! My purpose is to know Him and have an intimate relationship with Him. All else is icing on the cake; dark chocolate icing. I am to let the breath of God blow me wherever He desires. The breath of God blows me—my job is to relax and let myself be blown wherever He chooseshowever He chooses. The wind that blows me from here to there is the very breath of God. His breath has been blowing me perfectly; if I resist it now then I will be flailing in mid-air and may fall. I certainly don’t want to fall from the heights that He has brought me to.

Through Jesus words in John 3:12, it was reconfirmed to me that I was to relax and let Him blow me as He wills. He said to me, “If you are having trouble believing these simpler truths having to do with this earthly realm, how could I ever tell you the truths of the heavenly realms and you believe them? How can I keep taking you into My heights if you continually doubt where I take you and what I show you? It’s useless! You might as well just stay content below, on earthly territory.” Then it was so beautiful to find myself at John 3:8, “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." What’s even more beautiful about this whole breath of God thing is that the Greek word translated spirit in the New Testament is “pneuma”, which literally means “blow-effect”. Pneuma is the Greek word for “wind” and “spirit” in John 3:8.

It was also brought to my memory of a part in The Chronicles of Narnia story, The Silver Chair, where Aslan blows Eustace and Jill. There is so much Christ truth in this story written by C.S. Lewis as Aslan, the Lion, represents Christ. After Jill is left alone on the cliff (due to her “showing off”) she finds herself “dying of thirst”. She longs to find “water” to quench her thirst. She eventually finds a stream to drink from, but there is a lion sitting by the stream, and she is so afraid of him eating her that she hesitates to take that drink. He invites her to drink but her fear at this moment supersedes her desperate need for a drink. She asks the lion to leave so she may drink, but he refuses her. Finally, frantic with thirst, she asks him, “Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come? He answers her, “I make no promise”…

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion…

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill…“I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

There are no other “living waters” to quench our “dying thirsts” except that which Christ offers to us through Himself. Jill finally decides to take a drink from the refreshing waters and the lion asks her to come to him. After getting her to admit her wrong-doing, which caused Eustace to fall off the edge of the cliff, he informs her that he has a task for her and Eustace…

“Please, what task, Sir?” said Jill.

“The task for which I called you and him here out of your own world.”

This puzzled Jill very much. “It’s mistaking me for someone else,” she thought…“I was wondering—I mean—could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know. It was we who asked to come here. Scrubb said we were to call to—to Somebody—it was a name I wouldn’t know—and perhaps the Somebody would let us in. And we did, and then we found the door open.”

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.

“Then you are Somebody, Sir?” said Jill.

“I am.”…

As Aslan called Jill and Eustace out from their worldly realm so also Christ calls us out. We could not call out to Him or draw near to Him unless He had not already been calling us and drawing us to Himself. No one can come to Me if ever the Father Who sends Me should not be drawing [dragging] him” (John 6:44) Aslan proceeds to give Jill the task given to her and Eustace and a set of signs or instructions as to how they are to go about accomplishing the task. He impresses upon her how important it is for her to memorize and remember the signs he has given her. Jill asks the lion…

“Please, how am I to get to Narnia?”

“On my breath,” said the Lion. “I will blow you into the west of the world as I blew Eustace.”… “Stand still. In a moment I will blow. But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning, and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters…”

Yes, on the “mountaintop”, with the voice of God speaking clearly to us, we have no doubts of what God is saying. His voice is clear, the instructions are not hard to understand, and we are filled with great courage to believe all that He has spoken and to follow through with whatever He has instructed us to do. Then we come down from the “mountaintop”, as we must, to regular daily, worldly life around us and suddenly the “mountaintop” experience becomes muddled, fuzzy, and unbelievable. Questions begin to race through our minds: Did it even really happen? Was that really God speaking to me up there? I’m not so sure I heard Him quite right? Maybe I imagined the whole thing? Did I misunderstand what He said? Did He really say…? Oh boy, that question, “Did He really say…?” reminds me of what the serpent said to Eve in the beginning. “Did God really say…?” Let us not be deceived by that voice.

I was doing quite a bit of that type of questioning over the last week’s time. So it was a loving reminder from my LORD to not doubt Him, His voice, and His work in my life just because the worldly circumstances didn’t seem to fit in nicely with the moving of His spirit in my life.

As a final word of reassurance and correction to me on that particular day--after the passages in John 3, the reminder of His breath blowing me, and through the story with Jill’s encounter with Aslan—God showed me one more thing. I was looking through a Christian bookstore catalog and saw the front cover to the story book The Three Trees. And suddenly I knew the bottom line of the truth He was confirming to me. My life, most especially over the last 5-7 years, has been a story much like the lesson taught through the folktale of The Three Trees.

There were these three young trees standing on a mountaintop and each one expressed what they wanted “to be when they grew up”. The first tree wanted to hold treasure and be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world sparkling with jewels. The second tree wanted to be the strongest sailing ship that traveled mighty waters carrying powerful kings. The third tree just wanted to be the tallest tree staying on the mountaintop so that when people looked up at it they would raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. Well, time passed and the trees grew up and there came three woodcutters to the mountaintop. Each tree was cut down and taken away to the world below. The first tree was certain that now it would be made into a treasure chest, but instead, it was crafted into a simple feed box for animals and filled with hay. The second tree was certain it would now be made into a strong sailing ship, but instead, it was crafted into a fishing boat hauling stinky fish in from the sea. The third tree was totally confused about being cut down in the first place when all it ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God. It was fashioned into strong beams and cast aside in a lumberyard. Then one night a woman placed a newborn baby inside the feed box that was the first tree, and the tree realized that it was holding the greatest treasure in the world. Years later, on a stormy night, the second tree trembled in the middle of a sea storm and thought that it would surely not have the strength required to carry its passengers safely to their destination. Then one of the men he held stood and spoke “Peace” to calm the storm, and the tree knew that he was carrying the King of heaven and earth. Not long after that, the third tree was picked up and carried harshly out of the lumberyard where it had sat forgotten so many years. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hands to her. She felt so ugly and harsh and cruel. But a couple of days later the third tree realized “that God’s love had changed everything. It had made the first tree beautiful. It had made the second tree strong. And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God. That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

And so it is with my life…He does the growing, the blowing, the cutting, and the shaping…that He may create with me and my life the perfect work of HIS hands. At times, it may seem to me that what is being done cannot possibly be for His glory, but my understanding and my vision is greatly limited and hindered. I will trust in HIS work BY FAITH. Faith is an assumption of what is being expected, a conviction concerning matters which are not being observed” (Hebrews 11:1). No matter what must take place in the process, I have complete faith that the end result He has in mind is perfect and beautiful. Whatever He has planned is far superior to anything I can imagine.

In His arms…

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seeing the Truth Through Jesus Christ

Some see a teacher standing on a hill
Speaking words of wisdom
Some see a healer
Reaching out his hand to give sight to a blind man
Some see a dreamer wasting his life
On what can never be
Some see a fool dying for his dreams

But I see love (I see love)
I see love (I see love)
Light of heaven breaking through
Well I see grace (I see grace)
I see God's face (I see God’s face)
Shining pure and perfect love
When I see you, I see love

Some see a prisoner alone before his judge
With no one to defend him
Some see a victim beaten and abused
With all the world against him
Some see a martyr carrying his cross
For what he believes
Some see a hero who set his people free

But I see love (I see love)
I see love (I see love)
Light of heaven breaking through
Well I see grace (I see grace)
I see God's face (I see God’s face)
Shining pure and perfect love
When I see you

With your last breath I see love
Through your death I see love
I see peace in the eyes of the king
I see hope in your suffering (I see love)
I see a calm in the center of the storm
I see a Savior

I see love, I see love
Light of heaven breaking through

I see grace
I see God's face
Shining pure and perfect love
When I see you

I see love when I see you
I see heaven breaking through
See God’s face
Shining pure and perfect love
When I see you, when I see you
When I see you, I see love
I see love when I see…

Some see Him walking from an empty grave

(“I See Love” by Third Day, Mercy Me, Steven Curtis Chapman)
(the music video contains some disturbing scenes from “The Passion” movie

Jesus Christ, THE Hero

I sing and post this for Jesus Christ… THE Hero of my life…

THE Truth of God

THE Life we were meant to live

THE Way to God

THE Light that enlightens every man

THE Savior of the world

There's a Hero if you look inside your heart
You don't have to be afraid of what you are
There's an answer if you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know will melt away

And then a Hero comes along with the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth that a Hero lies in you

It's a long road when you face the world alone
No one reaches out a hand for you to hold
You can find love if you search within yourself
And the emptiness you felt will disappear

And then a Hero comes along with the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth that a Hero lies in you

The Lord knows dreams are hard to follow
But don't let anyone tear them away
Just hold on there will be tomorrow
In time you'll find The Way

And then a Hero comes along with the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside and you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone look inside you and be strong
And you'll finally see the truth that a Hero lies in you
That a Hero, Jesus Christ, lies in you

("Hero" by Mariah Carey, “Jesus Christ” added by MA)

In His arms...

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Problem with Labels

There is a problem with labels.
Label – 1. a slip of paper, cloth, or other material, marked or inscribed, for attachment to something to indicate its manufacturer, nature, ownership, destination, etc. 2. a short word or phrase descriptive of a person, group, intellectual movement, etc. (
Labels made by man are not always reliable sources of full disclosure on an item. Even when food or clothing is labeled we don’t necessary know all the ingredients. They may not all be disclosed. There are times when a food label may be correct on the outside of the package but something has happened to the food inside, and it has spoiled due to a contamination of unknown origin.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Links on God's Reconciliation of All

The following links are a resource to search further information on the topic of God’s ultimate reconciliation of all mankind. These links offer further information on the topic. 

However, this is my formal and personal disclaimer that I have not read every single word on every single article at these various websites.  I have chosen to share some of the sites that, for the better part, have the most in common with my beliefs and have a solid Scriptural foundation to what they say.  

I do not agree with all the viewpoints expressed by all the authors at these links.  In fact, there absolutely are points on which I wholeheartedly disagree! 

These links are listed here to help others in their spiritual journey as they seek to understand and know God more.  I highly encourage all people to search the Scriptures and study them for themselves and to seek God on a personal level, not merely relying on what others say about Him.

May God use all for His glory!

In His superexceeding grace,
Mary Ann

God's Magnitude

This week I came across this picture of a faraway galaxy 

Immediately after looking at it I tried to relate it to God’s magnitude, as He is the creator of that galaxy along with everything else in the entire universe.

The thoughts that came to my mind were very simple-minded compared to God’s thoughts, but still, here they are:

--God is SO BIG!

--We are SO small in comparison

--What we know about God compares to the size of the earth in relation to the dimension of the universe as a whole!

--We tend to be so self-important in our own eyes, when **HE** is what is of the utmost importance!

-HE IS THE Important One

--Man's knowledge and understanding are mere specks compared to the 
magnitude, power, and knowledge of God!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Stepping Into the Day with Him as My Covering

You could turn a hundred years and never empty all your fears
They’re pouring out like broken words and broken bones
They could fill a thousand pages, be the cry for all the ages
And the song for every soul who stands alone

The ache of life is more than you are able

Hold on love, don’t give up
Don’t close your eyes
The light is breaking through the night

Step out into the day, all the clouds and all the rain are gone
It’s over now
Step out into the sun, for you have only begun to know
What it’s all about
As the hungering dark gives way to the dawn, my love
It’s over now

Time will let the story told grow and grow ‘til it unfolds
In a way that even you cannot ignore
You can say the seasons change but never if you just remain
In a place where the freeze is at your door

What you don’t know is the signs are right for the turning tide

Hold on, hold on
It won’t be long
So hold on

(“Into the Day” by Bebo Norman)

The sun gives to a darkened sky
Blood red are the tears we cry
So far from Your design
Oh God, hear me tonight

Though the waters rise
They will not pull me under
When the mountain slides
And crashes to the sea
I will lift my eyes
And call out to You, Father
Be my covering

War-torn are the rags of every nation
Fear lives in the heart of every home
Louder than the groans of creation
Oh, my God, be the voice of hope

Though the waters rise
They will not pull me under
When the mountain slides
And crashes to the sea
I will lift my eyes
And call out to You, Father
Be my covering

Covering…Be My Covering…

(“Be My Covering” by Bebo Norman)

I step forward into the day with boldness for He is my covering…

Presenting the Truth in Love

Very well stated…

“It is always pleasing to God for His saints to imitate Him, in His latest revelation of Himself. Our characters should conform to the truth we teach. The marvelous message of the ultimate reconciliation of all to God is the most powerful incentive to peace. We look upon all our enemies as potential friends. We welcome and anticipate the time when all enmity and every difference will vanish, and it is bound to have a soothing and salutary effect on our present conduct, in the measure in which it has gripped our hearts.

But that is future. A still more potent truth is God’s present attitude toward mankind. Only those who have peace with God are reconciled to Him, nevertheless He is conciliated to all mankind. The estrangement between man and his Creator is a one-sided enmity. It is all on man’s side. God is not at all at war with mankind. Alas that this great truth should be most denied by those who seek to preach the gospel, and picture Him as a distant, angry god, who must be sought, who must be implored, who must be entreated for the smallest favor! Can any course more effectively conceal the grace He displays in seeking and beseeching the sinner to be conciliated to Him?

Great as is God’s grace in the gospel, how excessively redundant is its outflow to those who have received the conciliation and are reconciled! We are to imitate Him, not merely in our attitude to His enemies, but more especially toward those whom He has taken to be His friends. Here is where we all fail. Here is where we all place limits on His favor.

The highest evidence of a close communion with God is not a haughty holding of the truth and a separation from all who do not see it as we do. We are to endeavor to correctly partition the word of truth, but we are also to endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit in the tie of peace. Truth, too often, has been held in hate. Truth in love is the key to the approval of God and to the hearts of His saints…

…But truth, in love, has a power difficult to resist.

Truth, in love, is sometimes silent, for fear of offending. It is often grieved, but does not retaliate. Above all it does not, like Peter, cut off the ears of those who oppose, for it is patiently waiting for the time when the ears will be healed, not hurt.

(editorial written by A.E. Knoch)

He Is Always With Me

He is always there, right beside me.

God is speaking, and fortunately, I am hearing very clearly. He has been giving me reassurances over and over again this week. I asked Him for that reassurance, and He has lovingly answered the request in miraculous ways.

For the past two mornings I have awakened singing the song, “I Am Not Alone”, in my mind. I posted the words to this song in this blog a few days ago. This is God’s theme and word for me this week.

This morning I picked up the book Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light. It is a book written about Mother Teresa from her own private writings. I had just picked it up from the library yesterday and hadn’t really begun to read anything yet beyond the first page of the editor’s introduction. But this morning I flipped through the pages from back to front, as I often do with books, just scanning the pages. And what page did I flip backwards onto that spoke to me?!

Chapter 1’s title: “Put Your Hand in His Hand and Walk Alone With Him

The first sentence of that chapter reads, “Put your hand in His [Jesus’] hand, and walk alone with Him. Walk ahead, because if you look back you will go back.

Those were words that Mother Teresa’s own mother spoke to her when she was only 18 years old. God spoke them to me today. The words “JUMPED” out of the page and onto me.

God will speak to all of us in whatever ways He knows we need most. Praises to HIM!

For His glory…

Thursday, March 6, 2008

GOD, The Savior of All Mankind

I cannot remain silent any longer…
I cannot remain silent about all that God has been and continues to reveal to me because it might mean that my character and my Christian faith will be questioned or attacked by those who may disagree with what I proclaim. This life is not about me anyway, it is all about HIM, YHWH.

For too long I have lived as M.A. – Mary Ann who is Much Afraid of what man shall be doing to her. A few months ago God lovingly and firmly spoke to me and said that I was no longer to live as Much Afraid. He said that instead I was to live freely and securely in Him, abundantly and victoriously, as M.A. – Mary Ann, the Master’s Apprentice. He assured me that now I was to live life standing firm with Him as the verse in Hebrews 13:6 says:

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I Am Never Alone

You're here in my heart
You're the Light
That Guides Me Through The Dark

You walk beside me
The night seems cold
Each time that I fall
Your arms are there to hold

You walk right beside me
Giving strength I've never known
And I am not alone
You walk beside me

You are here in my mind
I talk to You and all my fears unwind
I know I’m loved for who I am
You make me want to be the best that I can
And you walk beside me
Giving strength I’ve never known

I am not alone

You walk beside me
I am not alone
Wherever the road leads

And I rely on your patience
When I face the unknown
And because of You, I am...
I am not alone!

You’re always beside me, yeah, I am not alone
In the sun, in the rain
Through the good times and in the pain
You’re always beside me
I reach out for Your hand
I know that you understand

I am not alone!

(“I Am Not Alone by Natalie Grant)

Never alone…

Sunday, March 2, 2008

God Speaking

I am so excited and filled with such inexpressible thankfulness every time one of my children’s dreams comes true. When God comes along their side and gives them a grand blessing and grants them a desire of their heart I cannot express with words the joy that fills my heart! My tears of joy do my speaking for me.

For example, my husband took my daughter to a Christian concert tonight so that she could have the pleasure of getting to listen to Mandisa sing in person. Not only did God allow my little girl to be there for Mandisa’s singing but He also allowed her the opportunity to take a picture with Mandisa and also have her autograph the CD that we own. My daughter’s joy is my joy and even more so. The same is true as God works through the lives of my boys. I stand by and watch God do HIS thing in each of my children’s lives, making opportunities for each one of them and leading them, step by step. Each one of their God-given dreams come true and each accomplishment in their God-ordained paths are also dreams come true for me!

I thank Him that the children He has allowed me the privilege of caring for are in HIS most capable hands. I am BLESSED beyond measure as I watch Him work in their hearts and in their lives.

So in praise for this joy and how He assures me that HE IS in control of each one of our lives and having HIS perfect will and ways with each one of us, I also post the song below. I believe God is ALWAYS speaking (even in His occasional “silence”), we just need pause and attentively listen. He will speak to us in whatever ways it takes for us to hear Him.

Have you ever heard a love song
That set your spirit free
Have you ever watched a sunrise
And felt you could not breathe
What if it's Him
What if it's God speaking
Have you ever cried a tear that
You could not explain
Have you ever met a stranger
That already knew your name
What if it's Him
What if it's God speaking

Who knows how He'll get a hold of us
Get our attention to prove He is enough
He'll do and He'll use
Whatever He wants to
To tell us I love you

Have you ever lost a loved one
Who you thought should still be here
Do you know what it feels like
To be tangled up in fear
What if He's somehow involved
What if He's speaking through it all

His ways are higher
His ways are better
Though sometimes strange
What could be stranger
Than God in a manger

God is speaking
I love you

(“God Speaking” sung by Mandisa)

In absolute gratitude and love to YHWH for His presence over us and His will done in our lives… Jesus...

WOW!!! This is AWESOME!!! I was made aware of an incredible blog post from an email through the Home Church Discussion List yahoo group to which I belong. I just had to post that blog entry here. Wayne Jacobsen, author of the Lifestream Blog, posted a letter he received speaking a powerful word on the importance of things in light of the reality of things.

I’ll let Michele do have my blog today. I got this email after she had read a downloaded version of So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore and wrote me this letter. This could be the last post ever on this blog because it speaks my heart as well as anything can:

My day got interrupted with your book! A long time friend told me I should download it, which I did in the London airport on my way home back to the bush of Southern Sudan. Three weeks later I got caught up in your story and my tissue box became my friend. I am a simple little white city girl from Florida who is now in Sudan taking in orphaned children to live with her.

I was really relieved when Jesus called me to move to Sudan out of the west… when I got here I realized it was ten times more religious than anything I have ever seen and the “Christian” south is an absolute cartoon mockery, as caricature of all things of the religious system called Christianity with all the avarice it breeds. Leaders who actually know Jesus estimate maybe only 3% of people here actually know Jesus, really. The spirit of religion is soooooo strong here it feels choking at times—totally empowered by a spirit of fear. It is only Jesus as He truly His and His life that will draw them—and He is the only one that can fix this mess.

When I was in the simple church movement in the west with campus churches, a few months into it I realized I was training people how to plant churches so nicely they could do it with out God… and a few months more it seemed to me we were reproducing another box we tried to contain God in and saying our box was better than the other boxes. Now, after nearing 2 years in the war torn bush of central Africa I don’t really give a rip whether it is house church or legacy church or cell church or open church, a sitting room, a sanctuary or a stadium- if people are growing in Jesus, walking in love with one another and being the face of His love to the world around them. It is just about love and life and Him.

I don’t want to have to figure out whether I should embrace the system, conform, reform or vacate. I don’t have time. Other things are too precious. I just want to do what He is doing and love people. I don’t want to debate what is the right way to have church- I DON’T GIVE A RIP because it all can become a box and a prison if not filled with His life so why can’t we all just focus on Him and fall in love with Him and love the people around us. I don’t want to figure it all out—I can’t. I was just holding a dying woman in my arms in the hospital here whose family will not feed her or help her because the stench of rotting flesh is too bad and she soils herself and people are arguing if they should meet in homes or buildings. Last week a blind woman saw, this week another woman lay dying in my arms, I cannot figure it out. I can’t even try anymore. If I can’t embrace His mystery and love Him beyond my little understanding, I will limit the place I give to His majesty to be revealed in and through my life. Meet under a tree, rent a cathedral, go on a hike with your family- but love people—learn about love. Learn of Him. Live in Him. Have an encounter in Him, live in encounter with Him, be His encounter to those around you. That’s what He said to me last night. Can’t we just do that? I don’t have any answers or anything except a heart cry to love each person He sets in front of me and stay in His Presence because I love Him more than I love anything. He is my life.

Thank you for describing the One I love more than life, so beautifully and accurately. It means a lot. I met Him face to face when I was seven and He walked into my room. Very few I have read or heard actually describe the One Who captured my heart as a little girl. You have.

As I prepared to post this, the Lord brought a perfect song to go along with this powerful word.

The love of her life is drifting away
They're losing the fight for another day
The life that she's known is falling apart
A fatherless home, a child's broken heart

You're holding her hand, you're straining for words
You trying to make - sense of it all
She's desperate for hope, darkness clouding her view
She's looking to you

Just love her like Jesus, carry her to Him
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves her and stay by her side
Love her like Jesus
Love her like Jesus

The gifts lie in wait, in a room painted blue
Little blessing from Heaven would be there soon
Hope fades in the night, blue skies turn to gray
As the little one slips away

You're holding her hand, you're straining for words
You're trying to make sense of it all
They're desperate for hope, darkness clouding their view
They're looking to you

Just love them like Jesus, carry them to Him
His yoke is easy, His burden is light
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side
Love them like Jesus

Lord of all creation holds our lives in His hands
The God of all the nations holds our lives in His hands
The Rock of our salvation holds our lives in His hands
He cares for them just as He cares for you

So love them like Jesus, love them like Jesus
You don't need the answers to all of life's questions
Just know that He loves them and stay by their side
Love them like Jesus
Love them like Jesus

(“Love Them Like Jesus” by Casting Crowns)

As we do ANYthing each day I think we do well to ask ourselves, “Where is my heart and the Spirit of God within me in this?” Is my heart immersed in the powerful and unconditional love of Christ? Am I loving others with overflowing mercy, understanding, and compassion, or am I loving as it is merely convenient?

When we make our “stands” for what we believe, when we proclaim God’s work within us and where He has placed our feet and our faith, do we make our stand in HIS love or in our flesh? In doing whatever we do, if His love has been cast aside for the sake of whatever “that” may be, then I will be bold enough to say, He and His love have been left behind.

LORD, would you please fill us up and to overflowing with YOUR heart and love towards others…May YOUR love flowing through us towards others not ever be cast aside for the sake of anything else we do in our lives, most especially things done in and for Your name.

For HIS glory…