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Friday, March 9, 2012

Mending Fences

It's a sunny afternoon and the wind is howling outside.  I thought it would be warmer outside.  The wind bites hard.  Mama cow and calf need to move from their pen to the small field.  Today.  A storm is on it's way and they need the space to roam free, but not too free.  The fence needs some mending. So does my heart.  Loose ends flap in the harsh winds of life.  Unresolved forgiveness waits like the fence in need of repair. I need a Savior to fix and mend now. Barbed wire attached to T-posts needs to be re-stretched.  Can I bend anymore? Pulled in so many directions, I might just bust.  The fence has. It is need of repair. So am I.  How much voltage runs through these lines?  Can I withstand another jolt?

Chasing the wind...

It doesn't have to look pretty, it just has to keep the cows in.  Life is messy.  Laundry and bills are stacked up.  My long list of Spring to-dos keeps growing every day.  The wind gusts.  My lips are getting chapped.  Walking the fence line, again.  Keep checking it over in my mind for any place it could be grounding out.  This is a dangerous place for the heart.  I have been there.  Grounded out - hit rock bottom.  Nothing works.  It is all a struggle to survive.  The current has been interrupted.  This is a one-way street.  He has not left me, but I have left Him.

You never let me go...

 How does a heart get to this stage?  Just like the fence, it needs mending.  Daily mending.  Things happen and the fence gives way and the cows leave home.  Stuff happens.  Troubles come.

Hold onto me...

So we tie bailing twine around the part of the fence that is not electrified and tie it to the mesh panels.  We hope it will hold.  Will it?  I will keep checking on it, daily.  We build a rock wall to block the holes going under the mesh panels.  Like Nehemiah instructing the Israelite's to build the city walls one brick at a time.  Being watchful and ready for battle.  In one hand they worked with tools of the wall building trade, in the other a sword or shield ready for battle.  What of my daily routine is preparing me for battle at any given moment?  Am I prepared or are their holes in my fence?  I wish I could report that their are no holes.  I am getting better at spotting the holes and quickly repairing them.  This is a holy discipline.  This is the where God separates the true believers with the fake ones.  This is where faith is lived out in real action and fruit is the result.  This is not for the slow to learn as the writer of Hebrews (Chapter 5:11) distinguishes between those who crave milk or solid food.  If we are seasoned believers we should be chewing up the solid Word and not nursing the bottle of milk.  Harsh words for a beat up heart.  But the truth is clear -- I know what work needs to be done to get my heart mended, yet I procrastinate and like the cows they find the hole in the fence and now I have a mess.  So I must stay on top of it and keep mending the fences and my heart.

Don't let me loose my way...


This is what works for me.  I am still learning.  Maybe this will help you.
Steps to take when your heart needs some mending :

I won't try to pretend...
I've got it all figured out...

1.  Admit to God you need His help, direction and wisdom and seek a new heart. Pray Psalm 51:10 "Create in me a pure heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me."
2.  Take some down time and be alone with your thoughts and listen for the Holy Spirit to speak
3.  Journal the experience (have your Bible)
4.  Write down a daily action plan for spiritual health to follow  (examples include: Year though the Bible, Jesus Calling daily devotional, The Daily Light on the Daily Path, My Utmost for His Highest, Prayer Journal)
5.  Confide in a trusted friend.  James 5:16 states, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed."
6.  Commit to memorizing scripture.  Psalm 119:11 states, "I have hidden your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you."
7.  Be thankful for the struggle and opportunity for growth. "Be joyful always! Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I am in need of a change...
I am desperate for grace...
I've got a busted heart...

This is not a magic formula by any means.  It's just something that is working for me.  I am sure there are many other good things that could be added to this list. 

I have a busted heart just like the fence has a gaping hole screaming for cows to find their way out.  I love the words in this song...let it minster to your busted heart as it did mine.

 Chasing the wind...
 You never let me go...
 Hold onto me...
 Don't let me loose my way... 
 I won't try to pretend...
I've got it all figured out...
I am in need of a change...
I am desperate for grace...
I've got a busted heart... 




Thursday, March 1, 2012

Following the Leader

One of my favorite authors is John Maxwell.  I have read several of his books on leadership.  They are all good and very insightful.  I have been doing more reading these days, staying close to home and resting.  I am discovering more nuggets of truth in the pages I read.  The great thing about Maxwell is His ability to write on a subject such a leadership and tie it to scripture.  I'm a big fan of reading various books on a wide range of topics.  I know some get concerned, too much over stimulation with "worldly" advice.  I always maintain the premise that I spend quality time reading the Word before indulging myself with other reading interests.  (Even if they are of spiritual emphasis). So much that is out there in the main stream really isn't helpful for spiritual growth, one must use caution.  Yet, I have found many of these books to be a valuable tool to my growth and over all health as a believer. 

Everyone is a leader.  Just think about it.  If you are a Mom you lead your children...or at least they follow what you are doing (or not doing).  If you have a career you have co-workers, a boss or maybe customers. Jesus said to Peter, "Follow me." (John 21)  I think the biggest question is who am I following in order that those who follow me are being lead down the right path?  Whether I realize it or not I am leading and others are following close behind.  What I say and do matters.  It matters to God and it matters to those around me.  This is not to be confused with Jesus advice to Peter in John 21.  Peter was comparing himself to John.  This is something we all struggle with.  I am not to be concerned with someone else's path --- where they are going or following.  I am just supposed to focus on my path.  How does one do this? 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

This is really the heart of the Christ life: my treasure is buried in the pages of scripture.  I often hear the phrase, "What is God's will for my life?"  How does one know, really know what His will is?  The answer may be shockingly simple.  Jesus summed it up simply by stating,

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well."  Matthew 6:33 

The old testament version states:

"To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8

Following God's laws proceeds the blessings in our lives.  If you follow the rules you win the prize.  Simple.  So what are the rules?  They may not be easy in our own strength to keep but with God nothing is impossible.  Great attention to the Word and constant awareness to His presence makes this journey more enjoyable.  It may not be easy but God is always good.  Embracing this is an expedition into personal discovery and deeper understanding of God's character.  When faced with adversity, like the diagnosis of cancer, one must dig deep into the soul and seek God earnestly to wrestle these truths to the surface.  This is why I like Jacob. (See Genesis 32) Even his name means wrestler.  All night he wrestled.  It was hard, physically and spiritually exhausting.  Yet Jacob would not let the Man-Christ leave with out a blessing.  So the Man-Christ asks, what is your name?  Jacob responds and the Man-Christ gives him a new name.  Following delivers with a name change -- from the discipline of following here comes the blessing.  Obedience to Christ always results in blessing.  John Maxwell states, "People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to."

Being a leader means you are following a leader.  I want to make sure the leader I am following is Christ.  John Maxwell said, "Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” I certainly want Christ to influence my life so that I can influence the lives of those around me.  I know this to be true.  We all need spiritual mentors to model for us how to navigate through the rough waters.  I am eternally grateful for wise men and women who have cared to take the time to counsel me using the Word as their guide.  These are the true leaders who put Christ first in their lives and in effect are leading others to Christ.  This is kingdom multiplication work at its best.

I want to be like this Psalm 1 man.  A person who does not walk in bad counsel, or surround myself with bad influences or friends who mock God.  My daily delight will be found in the law, in the Word where I think and ponder it continually.  Then I will be like this tree, roots down deep anchored in Him.   We know that the seasons change and storms slam us down, but I will be fruitful despite the adversity because, I will follow the Leader.