Posts Tagged ‘Christ’

Standing Still in The Word

I experienced one of those “kaleidescope-moments” while I was in the word this week.  Kaleidescope.   The definition I’m using here – a continually changing pattern of shapes, scenes and colors.  Have you ever felt that way before?  Like the whole world around you is just flashing from one thing to the next while you are caught up in a single thought or revelation, not caring about the things around you that are vying for your attention?

The world is that way.  It fights for our attention.  It is aggressive sometimes.  It’s hungry to occupy our thoughts and monopolize our focus. Sometimes I feel like the world and The Word are such polar opposite things.  The world is demanding.  The Word is patient.  The world is ephemeral.  The Word is ethereal.  The world is unreliable.  The Word is trustworthy…true…truth.

To best explain how The Word stopped the world for me in that moment, join me in the scripture – John chapter 11.  This is the chapter in which Jesus brings Lazarus back from the dead.  We were discussing this in Sunday School, noting how this is often considered the lead event that started the whole domino effect of events leading up to the crucification of Christ.  Imagine, being there when Jesus called for him to rise, “Lazarus, come out!”  Imagine!  What were the people who were gathered there saying?  What were Lazarus’s first words?  Were people scared?  Did anyone faint?  How many people accepted faith in Christ at the first hand witness of that miracle?  So, so many questions.  Now you’re with me.  We’re at an awesome place where Jesus has done something he had not done before.  Sure, he has brought people back to life again, but not after four days.  FOUR DAYS!  Don’t you believe Jesus can do anything?  I do, too.  Which is why I’m so excited to be studying this chapter.  It’s not just a story – it’s real.  This really happened.

And here it is.  Begin reading in verse 45.  Many Jews went out to see Mary, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn.  They saw what Jesus did.  Many came to faith.  Some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus did.  Well, it wasn’t long before the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting.  They were not happy that many were accepting faith in Jesus….so….they said:

John 11:48

“If we let him go on like this, everyone will have belief in him…..”



The world stands still.  All is silent, as the past events catch up with  current life and our immediate world.  Imagine.  Imagine! Imagine a world in which everyone had belief in Jesus Christ.  The days of the Pharisees catches up with the current events of today’s persecuted church.  Jesus was persecuted back then, and today, persecution continues.  The Pharisees and chief priests were afraid of people having faith in Jesus.  “If we let him go on like this, everyone will have belief in him…”  That just blows my mind, because this very same thing is happening today.  I’m thinking of Pastor Youcef, and the Iranian government that has imprisoned him because of his belief in Jesus Christ and has been threatening to end his life since 2009 if he fails to recant his faith.  Pastor Youcef is not denying Christ.  Through isolation.  Through torture.  Through temptations.  Through things I could never even imagine, Pastor Youcef remains faithful and steadfast for our Savior.  The Pharisees were afraid.  They had fear.  They were selfish and didn’t want to loose power or prestige.  What are the people who are threatening Pastor Youcef afraid of?  Could it be the same things?

Jesus tells us in John 15: 18-21:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you… If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… because they do not know Him who sent Me.”

Absolute stillness.  The Word is truth, and the truth has connected with me in a  very real way.

Praise God for the blessing of your son, Jesus, and for the gift of scripture to help teach us, direct us, and remind us of the path that was planned for us before we ever were.  Thank you, Father, for the blessing also of living in a place that allows for freedom in worshiping you, and studying your Word.  There are so many, Lord – too many – who do not have the same freedoms, yet, they risk everything, including their lives, for a glimpse into your Word and in sharing your light with others.  Father, I lift up my persecuted brothers and sisters and pray for their protection, for your peace to continue to be evident to them, and for more than anything, Father, your will to be done through their lives, as it is to be done through ours…through mine.  All this I offer and ask in your son’s precious, sweet name.  Amen.

I’d really like to hear about a time when The Word stopped you in your tracks and gave you a “kaleidoscope-moment”.

The Blessing of A Kitten Named Turkey

Meet Turkey.  She is the latest addition to our family.  How did we get her?  Turkey actually found us.  She was screaming (meowing) early one morning for us to let her in, so we did.  We were amazed right away by the mighty big voice she had for being such a tiny kitten.  It was obvious, upon first glance, that she was not someone’s pet.  Dirty, boney, flea-covered, and appearing to be missing an eye at first, we knew we couldn’t turn her back out onto the street.  So here we are, about 2 1/2 weeks later, and this tiny kitten has us smitten with her!

The Day She Found Us

Like any other healthy kitten, Turkey is rambunctious and busy every single second she is awake, but she is still a baby, so she has several catnaps a day and knows when it is bedtime for the rest of us.  Without being taught or encouraged, she’s learned to jump onto the foot of our bed as we’re turning in for the night. It’s a neat routine.  We get into bed.  Moments later, we can feel the tiny bounce of her massive 1.5 pound body, and she immediately turns on her purr.  When we call to her (“Turkey, good little Turkey, sweet kitty Turkey….”), she turns her purr up even louder.  And if we rub her beneath her chin, she purrs even louder still!  It’s funny, because when she’s running around the house all day, you won’t hear a purr out of her at all.  But at bedtime, in her contentment and seemingly gratitude, she offers us the warmth of her happiness through a purr. She appears to offer us “the purr” as a means of thanksgiving for taking her in.  For loving her. 

This past Tuesday, like most days as I’m driving to work, I was reflecting on the morning devotion and thinking about the scripture it was based upon.  Before I knew it, I was singing praises to our Saviour – belting it out! – unscripted words on paper, but definitely scripted in my heart.  Don’t you just love that when it happens?!  I was singing praises of thanks for the many, many blessings God has shown me, and for those that I knew He has in store for me yet to come.  Hallelujah, He knows my past, present and future!  As I was singing, I became aware of this warmth, building inside – almost as if some nurtured energy was about to unfold – like a daisy opening it’s petals beneath he morning’s early dew.  And as I continued to sing praises, that warmth became greater, and greater, until I was filled with such enormous joy!  Immediately, I began to think of Turkey, our newest feline family member, and an understanding of this joy came to me in the very simple, tangible definition of this tiny beast. Just as Turkey lands on the foot our our bed, offering her warm little purr that grows a little louder with some praiseful cooing, and then even louder with the anticipation of an outstretched hand coming toward her…… was the warmth, the radiation of the Holy Spirit within me.  The more I praised, the more I poured my heart out in Thanksgiving, the more I could feel the love and satisfaction of my Father.  Thank you, thank you, sweet Lord for giving me a glimpse of  the happiness you must feel when we glorify you and praise your name, in terms that I can understand.  Thank you for showing me this…..yet another blessing!

So maybe not everyone would understand it if I compared the warmth of the Holy Spirit to the instinctive purr of a cat…..but that’s okay.  Our wonderful Saviour has showed me in a way he knows I can understand.  He will reveal things to you, too, in ways you can understand them best. Our Father knows each of us, loves each of us, and is ready to reveal things to you in your language – way you can understand.  All you have to do is believe with all your heart, and listen for his gentle way.    John 14:  16-17

2 Weeks After Finding Us

A blessing in the making:  The night Turkey found us, we were in the middle of singing praises to our Saviour, literally.  We were at a recording studio with our oldest son as he was working on the final tracks for a song titled “Magnify”.  It was when taking a donut break at 2:00am that Turkey came-a-callin’.  Praise God for all the blessings, big and small, known and yet to come!

Be magnified
As we sing your praise and lift your name
Up higher than the mountaintops you made

                                 (c) 2011 – D. Johnston 

My Basket

It’s a big one.
Made out of some type of weave material native to the plantation area in the south.
And it’s elastic, of this I am sure, because it can stretch to hold a lot of junk.

It used to be really heavy when I first got it.  Sometimes, debilitatingly so.
Often times, it would slow my pace, or be so cumbersome, that it distracted me from other things.
And it used to be very important to me, too.
I would never leave home without it.
For that matter, I would never be home without it, either.
It used to hold a pretty prominent position, always close by my side, or in my lap.

I know this basket well – would recognize it anywhere.
Because it’s familiar, I sometimes feel comfort at the sheer recognition of it.
It’s no more than the comfort of habit, though, and it is only temporary.
I have spent a majority of my life toting it around.
It has been with me through so many turns.
For a long while, it seemed to be my only constant.
Through high school, college, broken relationships.
Through health issues.
Through the birth of three children, parenting.
Through all sorts of highs and lows, I’ve held onto it.

Now, it’s not nearly as heavy, although it hasn’t changed in shape or size.
I just don’t put that much junk in it anymore.
It doesn’t really slow my pace anymore, or distract me too often.
Sometimes, I don’t even notice it.
At home, I forget sometimes that I still have it.
When I leave, I forget sometimes to take it with me.

This is what happens when I let God have what’s inside the basket.
He takes that burden from me.
He eliminates the distraction of it’s contents.
He carries anything that is too much for me to handle.
He replaces it with peace, comfort and hope.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 4:6-7.

My basket is much less important to me than it used to be 20 years ago.
To be honest, it’s much less important to me than it was a year ago!
As my relationship with Christ grows stronger, my dependency on my basket diminishes.
Moving my focus toward faith, takes it away from things that are out of my control.

One of my favorite hymns is “Turn  Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim.
In the light of his glory and grace.

I’m so thankful for the understanding and comfort that only my Savior can provide.
And thankful that he so willingly and lovingly takes my worries from me & empties my basket.

1 Peter 5:7

Stop, Drop and Pray

You’ve heard that saying before…”Stop, Drop and Roll”.  You may have learned it when you were very young, like I did in elementary school when the local firemen visited our classroom to teach us the importance of remembering this life saving phrase.  I didn’t really understand the importance of those words when I was younger, but the phrase was so catchy that I held on to it and gained a better knowledge of what it meant as I grew older.  Thankfully, I’ve never had to put the phrase into action, but I think I could if I was ever in a situation where it was needed.  Those firemen taught a fundamental lesson and did so very well.

God has been moving in my life, and things that I’ve been taught or heard over the years are coming to life left and right.  Praise God!  It’s like a light switch being turned on!  That’s how I woke this morning.  In the pitch dark of my bedroom, before I even opened my eyes, I was reflecting on and thanking God for all of the opportunities He’s given me recently, and that’s when it came to me – Stop, Drop and Pray.

Just yesterday, while standing in the parking lot of WalMart, I met a man.  I’m going to call him Mr. Calvary Baptist Church, because I can remember that instead of his name (I’m terrible with names, and I’m not in denial, but chances are if I’ve met you, you hold a special moniker, too).  I really thought, upon hearing this man’s voice across the way, that I knew him.  I really thought, upon seeing his profile, that I knew him.  Excited to share with him some good news, I grabbed a flyer to an upcoming event and called to him.  As he  came closer, I realized that I didn’t know him at all!  Wow!  That was a hearing AND sight blooper, but that’s another blog for another time.  Moving on.   This normally would have embarrassed me, but now, so many things that would have done that before just remind me it’s an opportunity.  Within moments of our introduction, I had made that statement we all hear so many times, “Will you pray for _________”.  You fill in the blank.  I’ve asked people to pray for my mother, our President, a stressful situation I was facing, a friend’s sick husband, for clarity…….and so on.  And without batting an eye, this man who I had only known for seconds, put his arm around my shoulder, and right there in the parking lot of WalMart, in the middle of the day, front and center to the entrance doors, he began to pray.

Stop, Drop and Pray.  STOP DROP AND PRAY!  I get it, Lord.  I hear you!  Why has it taken me so long to understand this?  I’ve been doing this recently, and didn’t even know I was doing what has been taught to me all these years – what I’ve seen around me.  Other people have prayed on the spot when I’ve asked for prayer, but yesterday’s opportunity connected the dots for me.  Instead of agreeing to pray for someone when they ask me to, at a later time, I am going to pray right away, with them, if I can.  There are so many needs, and so many things that need to be prayed over.  I’ve tried to put them aside oftentimes until they accumulate and I, within a structured timeframe, pause to remember the list and pray at a “more convenient time”, or a “more private time”.  There’s nothing wrong with that – God wants our prayer and our conversation always, in all ways.  But today, I wake with a desire to address prayer immediately…to slow down and bring things to God in real time…to stop putting prayer time in a box and keeping it closed….

Thank you, Mr. Calvary Baptist Church.  I wish I could tell you how much the opportunity to meet you yesterday has meant to me!  “Stop, Drop and Roll” may be a life-saving phrase, but “Stop, Drop and Pray” is a saved-life phrase.  Now I have to go put it into action!

It’s Personal!

Who is Jesus Christ to you?

I’ve heard this question asked before.  I’ve listened to a multitude of responses.  Yes, He’s the Holy One, the Mighty Father… Counselor, Confidante and Corrector always.   He’s the Alpha, the Omega – the A to the Z.  The Omnipresent.  He’s called by so many dear, wonderful, descriptive names.

So who is Jesus Christ to me?  It’s personal.  I mean, really and truly, deep down and inside out, completely personal.  Jesus Christ is my best friend.  He calls me by name, and I call Him by His.  I don’t have to talk with Him through others.  He is in the front row, seat one.  I have access to Him all the time and desire Him to have access to me all the time.  I’m working on that!  As I grow in my relationship with Him, I desire to be more like Him.  I find  “including Him” in my daily walk to be more a recognition of Him “including me” in His.  He doesn’t just think of me sometimes, He thinks of me always, and always has.  Before, Now and in the Future, Christ thinks of me!  This is no one-sided relationship.  And it’s not an exclusive-to-me relationship.  Jesus Christ loves you and you and you and you…….and He longs to have a personal relationship with you, too.  He is mighty, indeed, but not in an intangible way.  Jesus Christ is very real and very present.  He is very personal!

Recently I met a couple of people who have not been called by their first names in a very long time.  They refer to themselves by title or last name or both, but not by first name.  In their friendships, they use their titles or last names.  Never their first names.  Even the mother of one doesn’t refer to her child by first name!  This made me sad.  I couldn’t help but think of my own family – my mom – and wondered how weird it would be for her to call me by some title, or by my last name.    My relationship with my mother – with my family – with my friends – it’s personal.  Why would I ask to be called by anything other than my name?  Then I started thinking about our Heavenly Father.  He calls me by name, too, and it is very personal.  We are family, and I can’t imagine it being any other way!

I’m so thankful for Jesus Christ, and that he calls me His. There’s a comfort that comes with being referred to by name.  His. I’m His!  And that is very personal!