Psalm 139, What do I have to offer God?

I have lived my life in a great struggle against something I cannot see. It has been a burden to me since I was a little girl, a dark monster, an unforeseen force that haunted my days. I could never readily identify it, associated it mostly with some tragic experiences I had in my life. But even after I finished recovery for my sexual abuse, there were some things that simply lingered…

Becoming a Catholic became the single greatest event of my life. It was a true conversion of mind, body and soul, a true understanding of obedience and sacrifice, and a coming home party as big and as wide and as deep as heaven could offer. It was immediately apparent to me that it was the right decision, as “Christian” friends left my life and disappeared…

I’ve never been one to hold myself out as a theologian, that’s never been my purpose. God has plans and purposes for everything, and our calls and individual walks are as personal as the maker has made us. When I became a Catholic, I thought my days of darkness may be far behind me, but I did not recognize them for what they were…

As I often do, I began to scroll through my new favorite app “Flipboard” which I have found to be a great mix of so many of the topics I enjoy. If you haven’t used it, it’s like the tabernacle opening for information junkies, news aggregated in one place, and the ability to receive information based upon your specified areas of interest.

So I happen upon a story of a man whose greatest fear was death, so as he explains it, makes himself busy to distract himself from the thought of it, although this was not a conscious fear. He began to understand this fear after meeting with a “life” coach as he recounted the busyness of his lifestyle, his hyper competitiveness and his drive to “squeeze” in as much as possible in one day. After coming to the realization of this fear, he began reading numerous books related to people who lived life to its fullest on finding out they were terminally ill. This in turn led him to face his fear and realize that he needed to do something about it. Once he identified the monster, he was set free…

The story intrigued me in a unique way, I didn’t understand at the time why. He had related to Buddhist theories, hired a life coach and fear of death was not my problem. But as the story stirred in my soul, it was making its mark. What was I afraid of? What was my monster?

It was a verse in Sirach this morning that drew my attention, although I had no idea why.

Do not appear before the Lord empty handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts. Sirach 35:6

The question that came to mind after reading that passage was,

What do I have to offer God?

I meditated on it, researched it and could not get away from it. But it had a familiar darkness, a familiar fear. The question and the passage scared me. 

And in the midst of my ruminations and emptiness before the Lord, I asked Him that same question. And then the story of the man who was scared of death entered my mind. And that’s when I realized who and what my monster was.

I was deathly afraid I had no purpose…I had met my monster.

The thing that had haunted me, even chased me, the thing I just could not shake. The reason behind my faltering and depression. I wasn’t afraid to die, I was afraid to die without having a purpose. 

There was no human force who could have told me that, no sermon, no book. It was a cry from so deep inside my soul that I could not contain it. The hurt, the anguish of knowing that I had or maybe never would make a deep and lasting impression on this earth.

I didn’t consider the thousands of cases I handled on behalf of foster kids or indigent defendants or even my work as a police attorney. I didn’t consider the love I had for the homeless or the prostitute. It just wasn’t enough of a mark for me. And I paused to consider that although I know my purpose in Jesus, I still felt an overwhelming sense that I had not come into what God had for me, or maybe He had nothing at all…

I am sure that many of you will comment about how our purpose is in Jesus and that my wanting “more” and fearing there may be none is a sign that I don’t understand my purpose. I have read and considered all of the scriptures and have lived and continued to live a Christian life. I don’t believe this is a lack of trust in Jesus, it is a fear I have to face that I believe many of you have but have not yet identified.

I am not talking about being a missionary or call to the priesthood or some other very distinctive call. I am talking about a knowing that God has a specific place and purpose for your life that you know you have just not come into yet. I have been on the search all my life, I continue to be a pilgrim waiting for my Master…

Identifying the fear made my heart feel in a way that I never had before. Like slaughtering the beast, I understood David’s victory against Goliath. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. PRESENT darkness…

I pray that in identifying the fear, God will reassure me that He has a purpose for me. That at some stage in my life I am blessed to enter it and know that the struggle was not some figment of my imagination, but a very real one in the unseen spiritual realm. And I hope for the sake of this truth that has been exposed, that my experience and honesty can help someone overcome their fear too. That God made us for a purpose, that we are loved and that He will not let us leave this world without allowing us to leave our mark on it, for Him.

Psalm 139

Sonshift study starts on Monday, February 20

YAY!!  Study time!!  Anyone else joining me?

🙂

Paul

 

(as always – comments are disabled here, please leave your thoughts at Mel’s place – thank you)

In My Father's House

sonshift_3dAs I mentioned last month, I want to include you in thecreation ofa study curriculum formy book, Sonshift: Everything Changes in the Father’s Embrace.

I will be postingmy firstquestions from chapter one titled, “What is Sonshift?” next Monday, February 20th.

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The Skeptical Woman Who Became A Christian

Don’t you just love journeying with another Follower?

Might I disagree with some of the footsteps – aren’t some too short … too long … in the wrong place … trodden too hard … trodden too lightly … not yet trodden at all (yet) …

Might I disagree? NO !! !! !! !! !

Not unless Kriz MUST only journey MY journey.  Must only tread where I tread.  Must only follow where I follow.  Must be a mini-me (or – heaven forbid – I have to become a mini-me of Kriz!)  Because just what kind of a journey would that be?  Certainly not Kriz’s journey – not even mine (and certainly not a journey of freedom) – not a journey of love.

I love to journey alongside another Follower.

We never have to complete the same journey!

(as always comments are disabled here, please add your thoughts at Kriz’s place, thank you)

KrizSummer

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? – Mark 8:36

Someone can be so close to knowing Christ, but fail to make Him as the LORD of his life right away.

I for one was an example of that.

I grew up in a Christian Community. My family and I lived for seven years in the same villagewith our Pastor’s family, and our church was just few steps from our house. I never missed a Sunday Fellowship when I was younger. I even remember sitting beside my Mom during the sermon while I envy my friends as they play outside. I was portrayed as a good kid, but deep inside I still have a heart of stone.

I learned about Christ and His sacrifice when I was 8, and it was through my Mom. I didn’t understand back then why is…

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Some homework … really???

“Here’s some homework: Reflect and pray on these verses, asking Him to reveal them in their fullness to you.”
Teach us to pray – The Life Project: Don Merritt

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“‘Father,
I remember with my Mum and Dad – they always were.  They always had been, they always were just “Mum and Dad”.  I was always loved – maybe not always in the way I wanted – but I was always loved.  They had created me.  They had grown me from a couple of cells.  They had fed me, watered, cared, clothed, taught – but always love.  Was my Dad better than my Mum?  No. They were different but the same.  They just “were”.

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hallowed be your name,
This name is not just any old name.  This name is the name of all that is – who I am, who I was, where I came from, where I was birthed – who I am.

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your kingdom come.
That promise. That sacred promise. A promise fulfilled then and now. And – even better – in my lifetime fulfilled in every second – every breath – every heartbeat – every moment of my living!

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Give us each day our daily bread.
What are my needs?  My needs are simple.  My “need” is life itself.  And that requires my body to function – to house my living – my soul.  In even this detail He cares for me.

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Forgive us our sins,
Am I a “sinner”?  NO!  I am His creation.  I am perfect.  Yet imperfect.  Always free to come thither and thither.  To speak this or that.  To think this or that.  To be this or that.  I will hurt myself, I will hurt others – can I hurt Him?  No.  I think not.  So maybe this forgiveness is only for me – so that I know I am loved (even when I think I should not be loved).  Am I “sinner” – no I am not.

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for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
A beautiful reminder: what is good for the goose is good for the gander!  This “being loved” even when I think I am not – THAT is for all – for each – for you (as well as me).  Am I to only “take” – am I to be more loved than you?  No I am not.  So how can I not love you as I am loved – even when we think we are not?  I cannot.  I must not.

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And lead us not into temptation.’”
Emphatically we have the choice to love and be loved, as well as the choice to be loved and NOT to love.  This is not “what about me” – this is “what about you” – this is “love your neighbour as yourself”.  This is Love always is – not just when it suits – nor just when it is easy – not about when there is return on my loving “investment”.  It is about the choice I make that will be imperfect.  It is about companionship.  It is about indwelling.  It is about “your kingdom come” right now, right here, right inside every cell of my body and soul.  It is about this second and the next.  It is about “real”.  And it is not about theory.  Not about “religion”.  This is about living right now.

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WOW!

Now I never knew all that dwelt within!  BIG thanks, Don!

Now …

How about you?

Paul

By the way, God is not a man…

One example is a polemic documentary called, “The Shack: It’s Dangerous Doctrine and Full of Error.” It seems their biggest beef is that the book teaches extra-biblical doctrine and violates “Sola Scriptura.” Specifically, about God directly speaking to people outside the Bible as quoted here:

“The book [The Shack] teaches, clearly, that God is communicating with man outside of the Word of God.”

Okay, there’s a problem with this? So God only speaks to us through the text? How is that conclusion not “extra-biblical,” even contradictory to Scripture?

 

Is Church Set Free different to God Set Free?

Mel Wild reminded me in this post of how The Shack, for me, cut through so much “Christian Tradition” and let me look deep into the eyes of my Saviour.

Whether you have read this book or not, whether you approve or not, whether you hear God or the Devil in this book … Mel’s post is a powerful reminder of how easily we all take sides so quickly and so easily.

(comments are disabled here, please add your thoughts under Mel’s post – thank you)

In My Father's House

theshack_movieA movie based on William Paul Young’s best-selling book, The Shack, is finally coming out this March 3rd! I am very excited to see this for many reasons.

This post is inspired by Cindy Powell’s post, “Hollywood, please get this one right.” I join her prayer that this movie does justice to the book.  But it also got me to thinking about our ideas about theology and God.

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February 2 – Dead Presidents

“How many dead presidents have I been giving to God?”

Beejai caught me unawares with that sentence.

And then those words dragged me back … and again … and again …

“How many dead presidents have I been giving to God?”

If you want to immerse yourself in something I have never seen before – then click to read the original.

(as always, comments are disabled here, please add your thoughts over at Beejai’s place, thank you)

THE RIVER WALK

Dead Presidents

“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)

Read: Exodus 15:19-17:7, Matthew 22:1-33, Psalm 27:1-6, Proverbs 6:20-26

Relate: Real quick, open up your wallet. Grab your change purse or wherever you store your coins and pull some out. What do you see? Honestly, I don’t know who these guys are on my money. Mustafa Kemal, obviously. Images of that guy are everywhere but some of these others… Mimar Kemaleddin, Aydin Sayili, Cahit Arf. Who are these folks? The illustration works better for you Americans than it does for me here. You Americans are probably seeing pictures of people like Washington, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Jackson… maybe even one or two coins with Queen Elizabeth (dang Canadians sneaking their money across borders despite Trump’s best efforts to keep it out)

Most of your bills and coins feature dead presidents. Most of those presidents…

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If My Blog Stinks…

Agent X found me.

I wrote.  He commented.  I looked.  And here I am.

There are moments when I know a connection across this internet fellowship is “right”.  And this is one such moment for me.  Because always I have found that sense – with hindsight – to be a gift from my Lord.

So why re-blog this on “Church Set Free”?

Spend some time with Agent X.  Meander through his blog.  And together he and your Father will provide the answers.

(Which is why comments and likes are disabled here. Get out of this blog – be free – and go and see Agent X)

Thank you –

Paul

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

On this blog, I do my best to REPRESENT.  I want you, dear reader, to see JESUS, not so much in me or on this blog, but in that bum you drive past on your daily commute, that bag lady down by your corner Starbucks, that dumpster diver in your alley.  And without the capability of emitting a sense of smell through the website, I must make myself metaphorically stink like Jesus (“the aroma of Christ”) in your nostrils.

I spent an hour talking to a man on the street corner downtown by St. Benedicts a couple of years ago who must have urinated in his pants a dozen times at least.  He was a hardcore alcoholic.  Was drunk at the time when we spoke, but I could not smell the alcohol over the piss.  The smell was overwhelming.  Thank God Lubbock is a breezy place!  I talked with the guy…

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