Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Borders of A Country From My Perspective

When I was in South Korea I experienced something very poignant to what I'm experiencing as a Christian American citizen; I met a ninety-plus year old man and his wife. I was honored to meet them as I felt great awe that I was talking to humans who'd survived both WW2, and the Korean War. They'd also endured the Japanese colonization.  If I were meeting he and his wife on the street I would have been honored to merely meet their persons. But it was a HUGE DEAL to me, double the honor, that I was in their home! But, I quickly learned that this was considered HIS home, not "theirs."


I had brought them dinner. It was literally my ticket in the door which I gladly paid as I was greatly desirous to meet them. But this gave me no rights in his home. His fifty year old daughter instructed me where to sit, but he had me move to a different seat. (It wasn't clear why.) He  corrected his adult-daughter from having me address him by his easier to pronounce firs tname, to the more proper (but very difficult to pronounce) family name. I held no rights over the  dinner that I had brought into the house. He thoroughly enjoyed it, and I sat passively until he signaled permission for us to partake. 


The truth is, I completely enjoyed myself. I didn't mind one inconvenience I experienced there. I cleaned the table and washed the dishes. I was in awe of his survival and experiences. I was honored to be in his home, I quickly acquiesced to whatever I was told, and further still, I looked for ways to serve.


But, it did take me a bit off-guard when this man who was lord and high-king of his apartment-castle expressed his lordship over the borders of MY country! How could this man who so firmly believes in the borders and walls of his home not "get" the borders and walls of a country? How could this man who'd endured the terrorism of the Japanese invading their borders and way of life not "get" that the United States of America must protect its own borders and way of life?


I'm going to guess that he didn't put two and two together because he's inundated with left-wing news media who is blind in one eye and can't see out of the other. I'm betting he only gets information from sources who has no more wisdom than to believe that open borders is kindness, when in fact, we're welcoming wolves in refugees clothing. I do not believe all refugees are wolves. But I do believe that in the same way I'm going to be careful about who I let in my house (the place where I protect and comfort my children) our goverenmemt should be just as diligent about protecting our way of life. Let those who need help come labor with us. Let those who will (as I did in his house) sit where we say, speak as we say, and respect the rules of "this house," these great Untied States come on in.


The wall and the vetting is resonable. I appreciate those who are speaking on behalf of refugees and immigrants. But wisdom says, "Lets have a conversation before I let you in my house." The Bible tells us to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. We are in danger of annihilation if we're only harmless as doves. I'll leave the topic of arms to someone with more guts than I. But I'm not afraid to say that we should be wise as serpents in our efforts to welcome and host strangers. We need to know if they are with us, or against us. For the safety of our children, for the security of our way of life, for the peace of our nation, we must know!


The wall is a no-brainer to me. The wall is the equivalent of a visible home. It's an honor to enter someone's home. Those who want that honor should approach the front door, not sneak into the back window. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Another Look At Jubilee

For those of us who like facts & figures in ink, Leviticus 25 is hard to swallow. We have an entire YEAR of "Sabbath," culminating every fifty years to a "Jubilee."


Perhaps I should say that it's hard to actually live out in practice. It's actually quite nice to read;


"But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years. When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the large crop of the sixth year. In fact, you will still be eating from that large crop when the new crop is harvested in the ninth year."

‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭25:20-22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

http://bible.com/116/lev.25.20-22.nlt


But, I confess that upon reading this chapter the FIRST thing that came to my mind was, "But, what are we gonna DO for a YEAR?!" (Yes. My brain said, "we." I really get into what I read.) Then I started actually planning what I'd do that year of Sabbath: I'd read more., I'd write more, I'd travel more, and I'd have parties.


But then the chapter brings us to a completely different kind of "rest;" The Year of Jubilee. (I encourage you to read the chapter for yourself.)


My fellow planners can imagine how this "Jubilee" celebration is not exactly the party it seems on the surface. At least, not to us.


If you'd gotten accustomed to certain smiling faces of foreign places greeting you, THE FAMILAR SMILE WAS GONE.


If you had gotten used to waking at 5am, being in the barn loading your sacks with seed by 6am, and rigging yourself behind a plow by 7am, YOU LOST THAT COMFORT ROUTINE.


If you had gotten used to certain recipes concocted by fellow laborers, THAT NICETY WAS CUT.


If bringing in a crop with the chatter of many people around you was invigorating, YOU LOST THOSE PEOPLE.


So many little things that gave life meaning were GONE when the year of Jubilee came. Oftentimes we imagine the workers who were released during the year of Jubilee to have been treated as the early Americans treated their slaves in the years leading up to the Civil War; that's not the case. The same God & law that proclaimed the Year of Jubilee was adamant that workers be treated well. We imagine brown faces running back to their homeland at the stroke of midnight on the year of Jubilee; that's not the correct scenario. Perhaps if you'd only been in this system of indebtedness for a short time, you would be biting at the bits to get back home. But, understand, this system is akin to our modern day employee/employer situation. We gather a small income, while the boss reaps the full benefit of profit. There's no beating. There's no ill-treatment. You provide your own housing. You are responsible to show up for work, or you lose that source of income; simple as that. People created families in homes lovingly cared for.


The Year of Jubilee only came about once every fifty years. Most of these people had created a comfortable, peaceful, contented life during that fifty year timespan. Even if they'd only been there for ten years, that's more than enough time to create a comfortable way of life, content in the comfort of routine. If I lived in ancient Israel, and if I made the equivalent of my current income, I'd likely be one of those tending someone else's field to supplement my income.


I am a rare-bird in my home state of Florida; I was born here, and I still live here. The majority of the population of Florida moved here in their adult life, but, this is all I've known! My experience gets even rarer still; I only lived in three homes from my birth, until I married at the age of 21. I still live in the house I moved into upon marriage. I wanted to move when we suffered divorce, but the house was on family property, so I was obliged to remain. Now I'm glad I stayed, but it took a solid five years to be peaceful in my home again. Consequently, I've lived in this one house for more years than I lived in all three of my childhood homes! I've traveled the world over, I rent a home in another city in Florida. But THIS house is my HOME. I COULDN'T IMAGINE LEAVING! Not, "for good," anyway. 


The Year of Jubilee did what the majority of the people wouldn't choose of their own accord; IT KICKED THEM OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE.


People had to go back to their homeland and reacquaint with family they didn't know. They may, or may not have had to part with possessions they'd garnered much comfort from. Traditions and cultures they'd enjoyed were left behind. They didn't live in our modern world where the same fruits and veggies are available all across the country, regardless of the season. When they left their fields of labor, they lost foods they loved. 


I'm painting the grim side of this picture on purpose. "Jubilee" is not comfortable for everybody. Some people are very put off by "Jubilee." The older of an age you are reading this, the more in sync with me you are. We want life to remain predictable. We want to be in total control of our hours. We like our bedtime, and our same recipes, thank you very much! But God, our Creator, knows what's best for us. From our mind's plasticity, to our soul's need for newness, God set an example and precedent in the law that we step out of our comfort zone. Usually, we won't do this on purpose of our own accord. Therefore, He PUSHES!


"Jubilee" means, "Blast of a horn."

I am a gentle, solitude seeker. I like for my ambiance to be slow and calm. I do NOT like for a "blast of a horn," to interrupt my life! I plan to be caught up when the Lord comes, but I'm certain the startling affect of that trumpet is going to help the process! It's interesting that the ancients started with a rams' horn, then developed the sound with the production of silver trumpets. To my way of thinking, they were going to great lengths to make the startling, interrupting BLAST of the horn as pleasant as possible! 


In our present lives we must accept that God's gift of "newness of life" is uncomfortable, because it requires new habits. God's daily morning gift of "new mercy" is uncomfortable because it requires we rise to the occasion to attempt to live worthy of that mercy. Jubilee is not easy, but it IS freeing! Sometimes we choose a Jubilee, but sometimes a Jubilee chooses us.


When it's our time to be free of what was, whether we like it, or not, we MUST go free. It's an act of faith, it's proof that we are relying on God. After all, we are supposed to walk by faith, and not by sight.


If your life has recently been startled by a BLAST of Jubilee, trust me when I say, "YOU CAN DO THIS!"


Our God is a good, good Father. He knows the newness will be both invigorating and troubling, but the outcome will make your life one of purpose. Not only will you be better off, but you will in turn make others' lives better off! This Jubilee is good for you, good for your family, and good for your community.


Sure! Jubilee is disrupting & shocking... but it's also the door to your healing and completion. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fresh Start

It's January. The month when Walmart puts storage bins, and other organizational tools in the section that is packed with plastic eggs at Easter, romaric frills at Valentine's, and gift sets at Christmas. The reason the industry highlights what is typically boring, uncelebrated items is because during January, households all over the country have a well-intentioned woman resolved to start the new year with an organized home. Closets get purged. Kitchens get de-cluttered. Creative under-bed storage commences. All because it's the first month of a new year.

During this first month of the year we also resolve to get fit, and to read more, and to be wiser with our finances. January brings our dreams to the surface for consideration. But, some people are, quite frankly, sick of it. They've attempted the newness every January for so often, only to be at a total loss in a mere thirty days. The lack of accomplishment in these few areas overshadows everything else, and they end up feeling like losers. Then they do the worst possible thing that can be done; they give up the process altogether.

We should never give up, no matter how often we fail. Failure is not the end, it's the beginning! Failure is not the finish line, it's the starting line! Failure is not failure. Quitting is failure. There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with failing.

Our feelings about this is locked into our mindset. We don't recognize that every start makes us better at the skill than the time before. It takes multiple strikes across a flint to start a flame. Every strike creates friction and molecular changes that are necessary to get to the point of a flame. It's not a failed flint that doesn't produce a flame as every strike is necessary for the outcome. We need every start the "failure" gifts us to get us to fruition.

Exodus holds an inspiring story of how multiple fresh starts bring us to fruition. Every time Moses went to pharaoh he left with our definition of "failure." But every "failure" was in fact another strike of the flint. And these flint strikes didn't happen over the course of ten days, which is how I always pictured it in Sunday school. Moses was not operating in a simple plague-a-day. I've googled how long the plagues took, and as of now I've not found a guesstimate. But I did a little investigating the possible endurance of just one plague; that of dead fish. 

One google search told me about a place that had a "fish kill" situation which took at least three weeks to clean up. (http://www.co.chisago.mn.us/DocumentCenter/View/5904) I have to point out that these dead fish in the related link didn't remain in the water until they stank, as it occurred in Exodus. Disposal of fish is standardized according to the simple search I did. I doubt Egypt had such a system. Even if they did, three weeks can feel like an eternity when rotting fish is your daily existence. Also, it's unclear how long God waited between plagues to tell Moses to go back to Pharoah.

My point is that striking the flint to get to the point of fruition doesn't happen overnight, even when God is ordaining every step in detail. 

So, chill out about your "failure." Because IT ISN'T FAILURE. It's a step forward. It's progress.

Then, they (finally) reach their goal; Pharoah released them to leave. And in so doing God basically told them that it didn't matter what calendar the rest of the world used, they were to call a do-over right then, in the middle of the year! For us in our Gregorian calendar, it'd be like getting to April and saying, "I declare this day to be JANUARY!"

My friends, set your goals. Fail at your goals. And then start your goals again. Rinse and repeat. Because this behavior gets you to fruition. 

Then when you get to your goal you need to do something important. You'll need to declare all the work and labor to get there as the past. And you'll need to declare a new start. Because there will be more greatness to excel to! There will be loftier goals to achieve! 

Never, never, never give up! 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Vision Statements & Life Verses

Having a vision statement is extremely important for any corporation. A vision statement is akin to a dart board; it gives you a place to aim for. Regardless of your mood, your health, or your financial status, a vision statement keeps you on course. When your energy is low you still take strides toward your goal, even if merely lethargic strides. When you're wired and at high-octane energy, you can channel that energy into staying on course, rather than shooting off in a million directions. (I'm looking at YOU, DenĂ©e.)

A vision statement is concise. My church's is one of my favorites, "To model the Book of Acts church." With this dart board, we sit in staff meetings making sure our creative juices are channeled into accomplishing this goal. If we feel like the church needs a party, we say, "Good! But how will this party hit our goal of modeling the Book of Acts church?" The answer is to take the party out of our beautiful, air-conditioned dining room or gym, and party in a community that needs to know what salvation is, what joy looks like, and where they can find it for themselves! So, we have block parties! If we're having a dinner fund raiser, we give free meals to all attending guests that day so they can have the opportunity to get to know fellowship, and learn of Christ through our love for each other. When we live by a vision statement, we can accomplish so much more than living by the seat-of-our-pants.

I have a personal vision statement, "Live in the reality of hope, faith, & love."

I have found that when life feels overwhelming, if I channel my energies into this behavior of trusting God, everything (and I do mean everything) works out for my good! It doesn't mean I get everything I want, but it does mean that when I feel incredibly sad and despondent I behave as if everything were PERFECT. Because, in fact, IT IS PERFECT! His plan for me is perfect. He has good intentions for me. No matter what I feel, or what I see, His plan for me is perfect! So I live in the reality (not the emotion) of hope, faith, & love. This vision statement makes me behave on a reality which requires that I hope when I'd rather give in to the call of the darkness to crawl in a hole and shrivel up. This vision statement calls me to walk by FAITH, not by sight. And lastly, this vision statement requires that I pinpoint love in my life. It requires me to ensure that I'm giving it. And that even though it may not be coming from sources I'd prefer, I am a recipient of love. My personal vision statement makes all the difference in the world for me. 

Another habit of mine is that of having personal Life Verses. Obviously, the Bible is for every human on earth. But over time I've collected verses that I incorporate into my daily life. Also, over time I've retired some passages even as I adopted new ones. Every morning at 9:00am, my phone alerts me that it's time to read my life verses. Sometimes I read them silently, sometimes I read them aloud to myself, and other times I have Siri read them to me. Whatever the format, I ingest the verses each and every day. I like the privacy of the verses, so I will not share them in this blog (except one) but I will tell you about them.

One passage is a series of blessings.
One is a cry to God to hear and protect me.
Another is one of rejoicing and praise.
But the Big Daddy of them all is Ezekiel 17:22-24.

Ezekiel17 was the first Life Verse I adopted. Or rather, it adopted me. It consumed me. I'd never had a scripture overtake me as that one did. It described me perfectly; a cut down tree. And it described in detail what I wanted fulfilled in my life. I wanted to grow again. I wanted to be fruitful. I wanted to be strong enough to house "birds of every sort."

Now, four years later, I can tell you that this has literally (slowly & gradually) been exactly what God has done in me! It's been miraculous, to say the least. Not only is the verse prophecy for me, but it's also a reminder that I can't allow myself to get haughty of the things He has done in me. For He is the God who makes "the green tree whither," just as He can "make the short tree grow tall." I know that my present state of growth and health is directly related to these scriptures administering health into my life. 

As you prepare your goals for accomplishment in 2017, I encourage you to begin to create your life's vision statement. But don't stop there; keep your eyes pealed for "your personal" life verses. All of this will take time, especially your search for life verses. And like me, you'll likely retire some from your regime even as you discover new ones. 

The Word of God is life and strength even to our physical selves. Embrace it, love it, and make a habit of SPEAKING it into your atmosphere every day. 

Special thanks to Angel Craig & Morgan Richardson for editing this piece. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

How to Wait

Isaiah 40:31
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.

I admit that I always (always, always, always) interpreted this verse to mean that "wait" meant to behave as a restaurant staffer, "waiting tables." Therefore, my strength would be renewed by being busy. While I'm unopposed to making oneself useful during our waiting periods, that is NOT what this verse means. 

This verse is requiring something of far more effort than the usual service of ministry. For in actuality, "wait," means, "TO HOPE."

It doesn't matter if you spend every waking moment in ministerial duties, and then dream of ministry once you go to sleep. How much you work does not renew your strength. In fact, it can often deplete you so thoroughly you haven't the energy or ability to actually do what the Word is instructing; HOPE.

I've experienced giving so much of my energy and virtue in ministry that I lay in bed at night HOPELESS. Besides the enemy's mental attack when I was vulnerable, this is often a lack of discipline on my part. Those in ministry (even ministry outside the church, in volunteer situations) know there is overwhelming joy in serving. We could even call it a "high," akin to a drug hit. It feels empowering to serve. When we are in a season of pain or sorrow, ministry is often the ONLY relief we get. So, of course we would like to interpret this verse to mean that when we "wait" on the Lord (aka: minister) we renew our strength, but in fact the thrill we experience is a high, a hit-in-the-moment. Perhaps even designed by God to be a sort of "pain pill."

In fact, waiting on the Lord is more like a Gym experience, rather than a drug experience. A person can pop a pill and feel empowered even though they're a weakling. A gym experience often leaves one's muscles a little shaky due  to the duress endured in the training process. The Gym-guy may feel more exhausted and depleted, but he's actually building strength. He'll be better off, not only the next time he's in the gym, but the mind thinks more clearly after a gym experience, the digestion works better, healing is released into other areas of the body not even in the targeted muscles after a work out. The Drug-guy feels powerful, but is actually depleting strength while he's feeling like the Incredible Hulk. 

We do not work in our fields of ministry in efforts to win brownie-points with God, as if working more and harder in ministry is a get-out-of-jail-free card. We work in our ministries because it's our gifting and calling, and because it's our offering of sacrifice. It's a beautiful benefit that the tasks inspire and motivate us to keep breathing one more day. While "waiting on the Lord" may involve being busy about our Father's work, it is not what this verse is asking for. 

When we reach a desert or valley circumstance of life, where the joy is gone, the confusion is abundant, the pain is severe, the last thing we have by nature is hope. As children, hope comes very easy and naturally to us. But through life's busyness, and hard knocks, our hope wanes. Perhaps a good comparison to how hope works in us is Melatonin. Our brains easily and abundantly produce melatonin in our youth, but as we age it isn't naturally reproduced and we need to take a supplement to help us sleep. This is of course also true of skin tightness, muscle tone, eyesight, hearing, and so forth. Somehow in the course of our lives hope reproduces on its own less and less. And when we hit a tragedy where we lose so much, we do not naturally get over it and in youthful vibrancy seek the next good thing. We get sick and tired of losing a good thing we were settled with, a good thing we enjoyed ownership of. When it's taken from us we can't see WHY we'd want to go seek yet another good thing, because, of course, there's a risk that it too will be taken. 

Not only does Hope seem non-existent, the very idea of hoping for something feels very painful. We can't tell what to hope for, or why to hope for it.

And yet, this is what renews our strength, causes us to mount up on wings as eagles; Hope.

Hope makes it possible for us to run without getting weary. Hope, not busyness, causes us to walk, even through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This is God's long term plan and purpose for our Gym seasons; to strengthen us.

It's not an easy request. 
Tears are shed when you hope. 
Instead of a high you can feel shaky and vulnerable. 

But Hope is a powerful muscle to build. For Hope powers Faith. Faith makes ANYTHING possible.

So, while you offer your sacrifice of ministry, while you endure hardness, while you pay your bills and are faithful to the routines; hope in the Lord. 

Here are some "booster shots" of scripture to encourage you to HOPE:
Genesis 49:18 (KJV) 18 I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD.

Psalm 25:3 (KJV) 3 Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

Psalm 25:5 (KJV) 5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Psalm 25:21 (KJV) 21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

Psalm 37:9 (KJV) 9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37:34 (KJV) 34 Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.

Psalm 39:7 (KJV) 7 And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalm 40:1 (KJV) 1 [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.]] I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

Psalm 52:9 (KJV) 9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

Psalm 130:5 (KJV) 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Proverbs 20:22 (KJV) 22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Soul Winning Beyond Acts 2:38

"If someone asks about your hope, be ready to explain it in a gentle and respectful way."

1 Peter 3:15-16

[abridged]


In my youth I had hope without realizing it as it was part of the personality tool kit I was born with. This beautiful hope was further strengthened by my safe upbringing. People were attracted to my hope and lust for life, but when they'd ask me about it I didn't know how to answer them. I had no explanation for my radiant life outside of telling them about the power of the Holy Ghost. While that's the complete bottom-line answer, it wasn't necessarily the most enticing of answers.


In my adult years I experienced the natural knocks and bangs of life. In the process of being shifted around, and knocked about I lost that all-purpose, perfect little tool called, "hope." I found myself utterly hopeless. I saw no reason to raise my kids when I could point to several other people in their lives that I felt could do a better job than I could. I saw no reason to work in my calling of worship leading because singers are a dime-a-dozen. I saw no reason to write because I'm an uneducated wannabe. I saw no reason to fellowship with friends because either I would end up dragging them down with my life-reality, or I was too weak to help them carry their burdens. I was truly hopeless. I asked God many times a day (for many years) to take my life. Proverbs 13:12 talks about how a lack of hope makes the heart sick. Boy, he wasn't kidding. Out of the heart come the issues (the flow) of life. A sick heart infected with hopelessness affects the whole body.


But, "when the desire cometh," Proverbs goes on to read, "it is a tree of life." Whereas its true that obtaining what we hope for is a really great feeling, DESIRE itself is a tree of life! I've experienced the difference in receiving what I wanted, and desiring something. While receiving is a win indeed, the thrill of that newness fades and I'm back to needing another "fix." But DESIRE wakes me up every day with anticipation. If my mood is down, or if I'm ill, or if I'm weighed down with present reality-of-life, DESIRE makes me get dressed, go for a run, breathe deep and chill, read a book to pass the time. DESIRE for certain things (not exclusively material possessions, sometimes it's a desire for situations, relationships, accomplishments) is a tree with roots of stability.  Hope deferred makes the heart so sick, in turn the whole of life is sick. But DESIRE is a tree that produces fruit. A special fruit called, "LIFE!"


I started looking for my hope tool because it was becoming obvious that God was ignoring my plea for The Next Life. He was definitely hearing me pray, clearly. Because he was  answering all of the other prayers I'd pray. He was just stubbornly refusing to answer "that" prayer. 


After some books (and prayer asking God to help me want to live) I began some deliberate outward behaviors in efforts to trigger inward desires. I called these exercises my "happy habits." Every hour (my phone alerts were set) I'd stand from my seating (usually at a desk) and I'd stretch, or do some push-ups (uh-hem. I closed my office door as I didn't want to intimidate my fellow workers with my great might.) I'd smile-for-no-reason (Yes. I just smiled into empty space) And I would speak aloud something I was thankful for. It took about a year, but I started to feel a difference.


It's been about two and a half years now, but I definitely have hope! I must be honest with you, sometimes the desire hurts. Wanting what seems impossible aches to my bones. But, I'm aware that these aches are growing pains, whereas my old ache was due to hope being deferred. 


But here's the really cool part about my present state of hope; I'm a better witness for Christ now. 


NOW when people are attracted to me I am ready to give them a more thorough answer. I'm able to guide them to the source of my tree of life; Christ. 


Christ's love for me enables me to trust that goodness is in store for me.  When I'm in a blue mood it doesn't feel like the end of the world because I know He's going to work things out for my good.  He has my best interests at heart. He has plans for me that have a beautiful outcome.


Soul winners need more than that perfect and beautiful Acts 2:38 experience. Souls winner need to exhibit HOPE in our hopeless world. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Get Back Up

I remember when knockdowns and setbacks were a mere annoyance, as simple to remedy as a pesky bug buzzing around. It was laughable to think that getting back up would be hard! Getting back up required no forethought, no energy, no emotion. I just popped right back up as if I were still a kid on the trampoline in my backyard, propelled to soar to tree limbs with such little energy.
Not so now.

I'm not sure if it's physical age, or the depth of devastation, or why it's different now. But it is different now. 

Every.
Single.
Day.

Each day I plan how to live victoriously in that day. Each day I PURPOSEFULLY live happily. Each day I have to get back up.

When this new method of living was my reality I was so angry at God for not taking me out of this earth to Heaven. If "to live is Christ, to die is GAIN," then what kind of cruelty kept me here? Give me my "gain," for goodness sake! Every plane takeoff where I was on board I'd send texts of love, forgiveness, and mercy before we had to power down our phones. THAT'S how confident I was that God was going to answer my prayer and take me to The Other Side. In the old days I prayed safety and protection over the plane and flight, but I stopped doing that since it seemed like a quick and easy way for God to answer my prayer. I didn't talk about this line of thinking to anybody because I wasn't trying to be dramatic and get attention. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to pay attention to me. I wanted to be left alone to die. But neither God nor man were in sync with me on this one.

"To live is Christ."
I've always seen this activity of living-is-Christ as being very jubilant, therefore very fluid, natural, and easy. But that was from my perspective of youth and fairy tales. What about Christ's life was easy? From his first year of life the government was hunting him down to kill him. While travel is sometimes fun when you're headed to Disney World, a road trip in the dead of night because you're being hunted down certainly turns up the volume on the phrase, "Are we there yet?"

Living-is-Christ puts us in a position to participate in the miraculous, to have power over death, hell, and the grave, and to be surrounded by followers. And as long as these people and situations are helping us accomplish our goals these moments are ecstatic. But let us not forget that Christ was run out of town, was continually in one argument or another with the religious, was rarely with his family, was a 24/7 teacher. Not to mention the final hours of his life; the excruciating crucifixion. 

Dying is gain because it puts us across the finish line. Dying with a clean conscience toward God is gain because we've run a good race and we've finished  our course. But LIVING is necessary to accomplish the victory of death. 

There is no victory in hiding in a hole waiting for death. The will of God is that we get out of the hole and LIVE as Christ did. It is the will of God that we have HOPE. It is the will of God that we experience JOY. It is the will of God that we produce all of the fruit of the Spirit. We are cheating God if we do not get back up and strive to fulfill His will of pursuing these things. 

Why does he ask this of us? So that we are a testimony of His strength and involvement in our lives. If after our devastation we live in a hole we are telling the world around us that God is a liar. Holed-up behavior is exhibiting that God is nowhere to be found, that there is no hope, no joy, nothing to rise again for. 

Christ got back up after his devastation. He got back up because there was more to do. You need to get back up yourself because there is more to do! To die will NOT be "gain" if you do not do the will of God and LIVE AGAIN. 

I personally have chosen four verses that I read EVERY morning. I have alerts set up on my phone to smile EVERY hour. I have a life vision that pops up on my phone EVERY morning; To live in the reality of Faith, Hope, & Love.

My feelings tell me every day that life is not worth living. My logic shows me every day that I should not expect my hopes to come to pass. My present shows me every day that after all these years I STILL have not obtained the desires of my heart. 

BUT GOD'S WORD TELLS ME TO NOT BE DICTATED BY THESE THINGS.

I'm suppose to walk by faith, not by sight.

That's why I fight each and every day to get back up again. I smile because the REALITY of life is not what I feel, or see, or think. The REALITY is what I can't see: Faith, Hope, and Love. Christ is not my Fairy Godmother, giving me my whims. He sees the end from the beginning and He's going to give me the desires of my heart based on all He knows of what's to unfold. His top priority as my Father is to protect and defend me. If I'm allowing him to protect me from my desires that will hurt me, everything will work out for my good! If I live every day angry at Him for "making" me live... well, how sad and unproductive is THAT!

Whatever has knocked you for a loop, has left you flat on your back... I'm truly sorry you've gone through those things. But, get back up. It may feel like "fake it 'till you make it," but in fact it's "FAITH it 'till you make it."

Proverbs 24:16 (KJV)
For a just [man] falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.