By Him

For by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him.

Colossians 1:16

heaven and earth

Where are you God in the land you ordained?

We look up, eyes to heaven.

Where are you God in the people you dwell?

We look out, eyes to man.

Where are you God in the dust you formed?

We look down, eyes to earth.

By His creation He says “I am here.”

When will you lift your hand of protection?

We hold on, faith in God, The Father.

When will you come for your Bride?

We hold on, worshiping the Son.

When will you leave the lost to themselves?

We hold on, trusting in the Holy Spirit.

By His Word He says “I am the Great I AM.”

Why do you wait for all to come?

He gives hope, our only way.

Why do you forgive when all have sinned?

He gives mercy, His only way.

Why do you sacrifice one for many?

He gives love, The Only Way.

By His gift He says “I am love.”

by Michelle M. McMillen 
© 2016 all rights reserved

 

Craziness That Is Out There

What does it say about a person when they’ve enjoyed sunshine most of their life, only to be comforted when it rains? These days it is the rain that almost makes me feel safe from the world.  It is a barrier between me and the craziness that is out there. Everything has changed from when I was a child. Not only my views of life, people and eternity but the world around me is almost unrecognizable. What was up is now down, what was in is now out and what is evil is called good and what is good is called evil.

world 2Most people’s views change as they grow up and move into different phases of life and as they go through different experiences. What I believed as a young adult quickly changed as I began to see the world beyond myself.  What I understood was very, very little in comparison to what I understand now.  Yes, I know, hindsight is 20/20 but that is not what I am alluding to. You have heard the statement, “If I knew then what I know now,” well, what is the point of that statement, really? How would that even be possible unless you had a time machine. Back then the world revolved around me and I was the smartest person alive. Isn’t every teenager going out into the big, big world? Today the world is revolving all right but not particularly around me and I am definitely not the smartest person alive. I have been literally put in my place on several occasions, by Jesus!

In the first part of 2 Timothy 3, Paul seems to me, to be describing this day and age.  The last part of the chapter Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue in what he has learned from childhood because it is what will keep him focused on Christ and his faith in Him. The Word is what will give him wisdom, strength and endurance for the coming persecution of his faith. It speaks to me, I am sure as it did Timothy as well, for the coming persecution of Christians on a scale like never before.  We are seeing first hand what it means to follow Christ in certain countries around the world. We are reading minute by minute the atrocities committed by those who are the enemies of God.  Be-headings, torture, sex-trafficking, sexual slaves of young girls, mutilation of their genitalia, burning in cages, hangings, on and on it goes. No end to the horror.

And here in America…where do I begin? Those things are happening here. You don’t believe it because you do not see it or hear of it.  Because the media would not have you knowing truth.  Truth is a barbaric thing to them.  It is politically incorrect to speak of such things here in A-M-E-R-I-C-A. I believe they believe we are shielded from the evil that is building in those parts far, far away from us. They believe we are safe as long as we do not speak of it. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. They focus on the inane. And while they go about filling people’s eyes and ears with the most important ideas like sex, global warming and racism we are slowly losing the ability to discern the truth. Absolute truth. Absolute truth is disappearing. And when it is gone we will have lost one of the most important things our country was founded on, Freedom.

Freedom.  What a concept!  The word itself would stir up the most passionate of men and women.  It was fought for, died for and sacrificed for throughout history. Flags have flown for it. The children of Israel fled to the wilderness for it. And the greatest experiment in history, the pilgrims of the Netherlands crossed an ocean for it. The colonies of America fought the monarch of England for it. Countries have banded together to fight wars for it. Men have died for other men so they may be called “free.” But who fights for it now? What does it even mean to us today? Today freedom is about taking it away from one man and giving it to another man and calling it “rights.”

While the world seems to be losing sight of that noble word I have come to know the word very personally.  I did not fight on a battle field nor did I have to travel far for it. I experienced F-R-E-E-D-O-M when I met the savior, Jesus Christ. Freedom from the power of sin.  At first it was a peace and realization that I did not have to carry the weight of my sins any longer. Then as I began to walk with Him I discovered another kind of freedom.  Freedom from the bondage of my sins. Let me explain.

As I learned what it meant ‘to be a sinner’ I understood that I was born into sin. That from the beginning of time, when Adam and Eve fell from fellowship with God because they disobeyed Him in the perfect place on earth. They plunged every human born after into the same sinful state, a state of death. We are basically born dead.  Our spirit is dead to God. He himself placed a spirit in us but He gave us the choice to allow Him to bring it to life. It had to be our choice because He would not force us into a relationship with Himself. That is not His nature. He desires a relationship with us but we have to want it.

Once I realized that I was sinful and dead to God, I was undone. I wanted to live. I wanted God to live in me. I wanted Him to take away my sin. To wash me clean and give me a new beginning.  To set me free.  When I asked for His forgiveness of my sin and for Him to come into my life and lead me, He did!  First He showed me who He was.  By reading the bible and studying His Word I was able to learn about the one who gave me a new life. I spent time reading, praying and worshiping the one who had to power to give life.  The more time I spent with Him, the closer we became. And the closer we became the more I was able to overcome the sin in my life.

Then He did something that caused me great pain.  At first I did not understand the pain. But then I realized that He wanted me to go deeper into our relationship by going deeper into His Word.  He wanted me to trust Him completely; To walk with Him without questioning His leading. I was a babe in Christ, as they say and I did not know how to do that fully because of the consequences of the sin in my life. Those consequences bound me up and kept me from going forward with God. They were stumbling blocks to trusting Him. The were hindrances to growing the fruit of the spirit in my life.  They kept me believing lies about myself and about God.  Because of the consequences there were powerful voices of doubt which became extremely frustrating and exhausting.

So through the tribulations and desperate cries to be free from the bondage, God led me to the truth in His word, and to godly counselors and Pastors.  Those years of wrestling with my flesh and the Holy Spirit led me to the most amazing and joyous times in my faith. He opened doors for me that I would never have imagined to be opened.  He used me in others lives to show them Christ and to find freedom in their lives.  He brought me to a place of freedom the likes I had never known to that point.  All the while preparing me for the most devastating time in my life to come.

Lighthouse in Storm --- Image by © John Lund/Corbis

Lighthouse in Storm — Image by © John Lund/Corbis

When the bottom fell out God took me by the hand and led me the whole time. It was as if I was in a bubble of peace.  The storm was raging and I was losing everything that I thought made me normal. The world as I knew it had done a 180, along with my views and new-found faith and knowledge of God.  When you are confronted with truth in a way that rips the rug out from under you, you either fall or stand solid.  It all just depends on what is holding you up.  I stood at first because God was holding me up.  I wish I could say that I remained standing through it all. But I did not.  The storm grew so powerful that I allowed myself to be taken along with the wind, tossed to and fro.  God basically yanked me back to reality in a very public and painful way. With the help of godly friends and a strong support system through my church I was able to once again stand and even to move forward.

Not without scars to show for it. Hurt and pain I never knew existed. As I said in the beginning our views change over time. If you asked me if I would want to go back and have a do-over I am not so sure I would want that.  While I hate the bad things that have happened in my life due to the actions of others or of my own accord, I love how God has taken those bad things and made something beautiful out of them.  How He has given me a new outlook on life, people and eternity.  My thoughts turn to more meaningful questions such as have I lived a good life? Have I given more than I have taken? Have I made a difference in world?

I don’t even feel qualified to answer those questions.  For what I think I am is often influenced by what I hope I am and therefore to be objective I would have to separate every thought, action and reaction I have ever had.  Then I would have to relate that information to the type of relationships I have now in my life. It is all very scientific. But in the end useless. Because as I said before it comes down to the fact that the world does not revolve around me. So what questions should I be asking?

Maybe something that is more in line with what Jesus would want from me. Have I allowed Christ to live through me? Have I given to others in the name of Christ more than I have taken in the name of Christ? Has Jesus made a difference in the world through me?  In being honest I would have to say No, not always. No, definitely not and finally, only time will tell.  The world is changing so much so fast that it seems time is speeding up.  It makes me think more of heaven and my time left here.  It gives me a sense of urgency.  As if time is running out, not just for me but for everyone.

What does it say about a person when they’ve enjoyed sunshine most of their life, only to be comforted when it rains? I think it says that you can not completely enjoy the sunshine without the rain and it is the rain that brings new life. It is God who sends the rain and He gives me safety in His Word and truth. The actual barrier between me and the craziness that is out there is God’s love, mercy and grace.  Everything has changed from when I was a child or so it seems. It is God who has actually changed me.water sun

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 His ever constant faithfulness to me no matter where I am in my walk or in the world continues to encourage my faith.  For He has certainly changed my views of life, people and eternity through His unchanging love.

My views:

  • Life is precious
  • People need Jesus
  • Eternity is closer than ever

Grace to you,

Shell

A Cardboard Shoe Box

fall autum-colours

I seemed to be at a loss as to how to share with the world all the things I was and am thankful for this year. Many had posted their thankfulness list on Facebook throughout the month of November.  I did the list last year and pretty much kept up with it each day but my heart and mind could not settle on this notion of listing all the things I am thankful for for the sake of posting, it was something more internal this year. Something I believe God wanted me to communicate with Him intimately.  And so began somewhat of a different focus on Thanksgiving.

I saw a prayer on a devotional post several months ago and it sparked something within me and so I began praying it also, “Lord, stir my heart, awaken my soul!” I told my oldest son about it and he said he completely understood.  He himself felt the urgency to wake up!  We all have been sort of asleep at our house.  As if waiting for something or someone to wake us all up with a bang.  But after some discussion we decided we did not want to be caught asleep at the wheel so to speak if it just happened to be the rapture.

After some ‘soul searching’ among us we found that we each had settled into a comfortableness, almost complacency.  For my son and daughter-in-law it was looking for the next place to be.  Somewhere else God was calling them.  The Lord began to speak to them about being called right here.  Where they are now.  So a spark was lit for them as well.  When we compared notes on the last few months we understood that God was moving us to wake up together. I believe we have been lulled asleep by the insanity of our world.  Bad news every day on every level of humanity.  We tune it out because it overwhelms and it causes us to be tempted to give in to the fear it brings with it.  We turn inward hoping it does not touch us and we begin to show the signs of walking in the flesh by the lack of concern or compassion we show others.  Our love flickers to a small dim flame because we have our eyes on the waves and not on Jesus.

We believe the themes of the messages we have been hearing are simple and back to basics.  Back to the simple gospel of Christ and the sold-out worship of Him. No idols standing in His place.  No program or plan to replace Him.  No monotonous “Christian” thing done each day of the week.  No box checked on Sunday morning. Just an overwhelming sense of love flowing from our hearts that spills onto others in acts of kindness and mercy.  We question are we grateful, thankful to the God that saved us, changed us and is daily conforming us to His image or is it because of what He can give us or do for us?  Are we living out of the gratefulness and walking thankful lives by our actions?

I heard a message on the radio by David Jeremiah and I am sure it was no coincidence, he said, “You worship the one you trust and you trust the one you know.” He was preaching from the old testament book of Habakkuk.  I love that book.  The short three chapters are so huge with a message of pure worship.  The conversation between the prophet and God about a people who turned their backs on God and hearts to idols, he pleads with God over His decision to use the Babylonians to bring judgment on  the children of Israel by taking them into captivity.  The fact is God will use any and all things to turn our hearts back to Him.  When the prophet comes to face to face of the inevitability of what he and his people will endure he still worships the one who created him.  The one he knows.

The prophet ends his rapport with God stating that if there is nothing left, there is still God.  He will rejoice in Him and have joy in his salvation.  He trusts God for his strength and he knows that God will exalt him through difficulties if he remains faithful.  Or at least that is what the Lord speaks to me through words of Habakkuk.  I know first hand the touch of God’s hand in my life. I have seen Him make me clean after a venture into sin.  I have seen Him make all things new.  I have seen Him raise many in my family from spiritual death.  I have seen Him restore to me the years the locusts have eaten.   I have seen. With all the wonders of God’s miracles in my life I still have not seen what He has prepared for me in Heaven.  But I know He has because He said so. 

If I am asleep or awake God is still present.  He speaks to me through so many things, through His Word, music, people, children, nature and circumstances. He even times His messages so that they are heard with eyes and ears that are prepared to hear and see them.  I have been asked the question, “How do you know God is there, how do you see Him?”  I believe it is like connecting the dots.  I loved doing that as a child.  I would try to figure out what the picture would look like before I put the pencil to paper. I followed the numbers with my eyes and drew the lines in my mind to try to guess the outline.  But it was not until I actually drew the line from 1 to 2 and then to 3 that I could actually realize what the artist had envisioned.  The closer I got to the last number the more clear it came into view.  And at last I could see the form.  There was some satisfaction or surprise in seeing it for the first time.  Partly because I was a part of the process, there was accomplishment and partly because I followed the correct path to the end.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.~Jeremiah 29:13

It is much like this when you seek God.  The daily readings connect to the messages heard throughout the day connecting to the conversations you have with others. Which all connects to the circumstances you travel through on your way to the end of the day.  And in  the stillness of the night or the calm quiet time you spend  with God or even during the morning service Sunday morning He brings it all together in your heart and mind.  The two synchronize the connections and voice speaks to you through the Holy Spirit of God.  He is saying, “I see you and I hear you, you are chosen and you are mine.”

That happens to me many times.  This past Sunday morning is no exception. Our Pastor had us all bring a box to church early in the year of 2013.  He called it a “Praise Box.” He wanted us to get in the habit of praising and thanking God each day for His blessings in our lives.  We were to bring notes, songs, poems, pictures, scriptures, prayers  or whatever we wanted to put in our box to praise God.  It was not to share with others but between God and ourselves. As part of our Thanksgiving  week we took our boxes this Sunday and went through them to look back on all the things we put in there through out this past year. What sweet memories there were for me in that cardboard shoe box.  Giving thanks for all God had done in my life and that of my families.  All He gave and all He took.

A wedding anniversary, high school graduation, a baby shower, a death, a celebration of a life, a birth, a son going off to Army basic training, a wedding and a few salvations.  All this year. Life in all of its forms passing from one thing to the next with God ever-present in it all.  And then as I went back through the dates of the slips of paper I arrived to the very first one I slipped into my box.  No great event happened that day, just an ordinary day but a verse that God had given me.  It was written out word for word.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. ~ Hebrews 12:28

I did not even notate the reason for writing it down other than the fact that it was significant that day.  The awesomeness of God, giving to us the gift of salvation that can never be taken away and a life in Him that can never be destroyed.  A God who is more powerful than anything known to man.  A God who chose me to serve Him with all my heart, mind soul and strength.  And why did I gasp when I read that verse? Because He again gave me the very same verse last week as I have been praying the prayer, “Lord, stir my heart, awaken my soul!”  What do you think He wanted me to see?  What dots was He connecting in my life?  I believe that no matter what happens in my life, no matter what losses I suffer, no matter what blessings I gain  my worship has to be grounded in humility and my walk has to be the picture of gratefulness.  Nothing else will do when my works are judged by a consuming fire the day I stand or kneel in the unshakable kingdom before my awesome God!

Grace to you all who have come here,

Shell