Learning to Trust

Ollie will you trust meI came home to my noisy parakeet, Ollie.  He saw a cardinal on the patio and was chirping away.  I proceeded to clean out his cage as I do everyday and thought about how he is not skittish anymore when I’m dismantling his home.

After all, he should be used to me by now since I adopted him four months ago.  I don’t know much about his past but he was a young bird of 3 or 4 months old when he came into my home and he was scared of everything.  I called him a “scaredy bird”.  Get it….instead of scaredy cat.  Then I realized I was getting no where with him and I began calling him a “good boy”! I talked to him everyday and finally got him to come up on my hand without biting me.  He would bob his head from side to side looking at me and get restless and fly wildly away.  Never knowing where he would land, I would have to rescue him by cupping him in my hands while he struggled and continued to bite me.  I said,  “Listen here, I’m bigger than you!”

Matthew 6:26I don’t know why, but one day I began humming an old hymn and he stopped struggling and listened.  I had to listen to what I was humming and realized the hymn was called “The Love of God”.  After repeating the hymn three times, he had heard enough and wanted to fly back to his cage.  I repeated this process for two weeks and now I don’t have to sing because he doesn’t struggle and bite me, when I have to pick him up.

After these past months, I realized Ollie still did not trust me.  One day, we had a heart to heart talk.  I talked.  He listened.  I told him I feed him, and clean his cage everyday, give him fresh water, take time to talk to him and it is time for him to realize I care about him and I’m not going to hurt him.

It takes a time honored relationship to develop trust of any kind.  What about trusting God?  You cant truly trust someone you don’t know.  We get to know God by spending time with Him.  Knowing who He is through reading His Word; talking to Him and listening to Him.

Luke 13:18Building Trust.  Its takes time and because trust can be a verb, it takes action.  Just like in a marriage.  It takes a life long commitment built on a foundation of trust.

Oh by the way, something wonderful happened on this day of thinking about trust.  After cleaning Ollie’s cage, I sat on the floor and began talking to him and to my utter amazement, for the first time on his own, he flew onto my shoulder and nuzzled close to my neck as I kept talking to him.  He stayed quite a while, too.  God, did you do that for me as I pondered this subject of trust? You are so good.  Now can you please get Ollie to talk?

Learning to trust

This was excerpted from a story by Theresa Harper entitled “Trust”. Theresa and Ollie live in Fort Mill, South Carolina where Theresa shares her joy in and love of the Lord with many, encouraging them in their journey of faith.

 

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Flying Free

2 Corinthians 3:17Picture for a moment your favorite bird or butterfly, or other flying creature. Now imagine a shackle with a huge chain attached. What happened to their flying? Suddenly, they either spend all of their energy struggling against the chain, or they fly in circles, or they just flutter in place. gone are the soaring arcs and dips of graceful flying in the air.

Like the birds and the butterflies, we were created to fly free, to soar with the eagles. And yet, many of us have heavy chains that weigh us down, chains of unforgiveness, chains of unrepentance, chains forged in lies we have believed. I assume that you, like me, desire to fly free. In order to do this we must rid ourselves of the weight of these chains. How do we do this? We learn to walk in humility, forgiveness, submission, and truth.

It starts with forgiveness. Galatians 5:1
When we forgive others, the weight of their sin, the control that we have given them over our life, is broken, and that chain falls away. The more we understand our need for forgiveness and learn to receive it from God, the easier it becomes to forgive ourselves and other.

As we grow in forgiveness and those chains fall away, the light of truth begins to be able to shine. This is the beginning of walking in truth, and the place where we start learning to control our thoughts, rejecting lies, anger, and bitterness and replacing them with thoughts of gratitude and joy.

As our thoughts become aligned with truth, we will automatically start to submit to the Creator, the one who made us and is the ruler of all. We will also grow in humility as we see God and ourselves more Chainsclearly.

The result? We are able to fly free, soaring with great joy regardless of our situation. And which of us does not want that?

How’s Your Temperature?

Revelation3:1Do you ever have a passage that sticks with you, that you delve into, and keep finding deeper meaning each time? The letter that Jesus sent to the church in Laodicea via John is such a passage for me. It is too easy to impose our modern western view of the world and understanding of language into this passage and miss the dire warning Jesus is giving.

The word “lukewarm” had a totally different meaning for the Laodiceans then it does for us today. After telling the Laodiceans they were lukewarm and that therefore He was going to spit them out of his mouth, Jesus goes on to explain his use of the word in the next verse (Rev 3:17 ESV, emphasis mine). “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Jesus is telling them that they are relying on themselves instead of God.

Laodicea was placed between hot springs which heated their homes and substantially supported their lifestyle and cold water that they used for the production of their famous cloth. Water that was lukewarm was worthless, not useful for anything.

To make sure the Laodiceans understood that Jesus was mocking their pride, warning them against their self-reliance, he proceeds to give them three examples specific to them.

1Peter6b7a

The Laodiceans were very proud of their wealth. They were so wealthy that they did not have to appeal to Rome for assistance to recover from earthquakes, or other natural disasters. Therefore the first example that Jesus gives deal with gold. Instead of material wealth, Jesus tells them to buy gold refined in the fire. In prior biblical verses this refers to people who have been tested by trials and found to be fully devoted to God, trusting and relying on God instead of themselves.

Next Jesus tells them to buy white clothes to wear to cover their nakedness. White clothes are frequently used to represent the purity of those who have turned their lives and their will over to the care of God, to follow Him and remain in a “right” relationship with Him (righteouseness). If they were already in a right relationship with God, wearing the righteousness that comes from reliance on Christ, they would not have a need to buy these clothes. Once again, Jesus is pointing out the inadequacy of the white cloth they were so proud of producing.

Revelation3:18

Thirdly, Jesus tells them to buy salve for their eyes. The Laodiceans had a renowned medical center and produced an eye salve for which they were famous. Jesus tells them that they do not understand spiritual truth, but are, in fact, blind to what is before them.

After emphasizing their desperate need, Jesus encourages them to persevere, relinquishing their reliance on themselves, so that they will be able to withstand the coming trials and enjoy the victory with Him, sharing eternity with Jesus on His throne.Revelation 3:21a

The Laodiceans were relying on their own wealth, their own vision, and their own righteousness. In other words, they weren’t apathetic, indifferent, or laid back, they were extremely confident of their own means, their own understanding and their deeds as a way of gaining eternal life. There is a strong temptation to rely on our own talents, abilities, and wealth instead of on God.

Every time I think of the Laodiceans I am reminded to look at my own life, to seek out the areas in which I am relying on myself and my own abilities above God, His provision, His wisdom, and His strength.

Feeling Distant?

Feeling Distant_Every so often I will see a sign in front of a church that says something about it being me who moved if I don’t feel close to God. While it is true that God does not abandon His children, there are times when He is silent. God’s silence does not mean that He is distant. Sometimes He is silent because of His great patience and His great love for us. While Job was losing all of his children and all of his earthly possessions and his health, God did not speak to him. However, God did leave Job his wife, who told him to curse God and die. Finally, Job’s friends became an emotional pain to add to the physical pain He was already feeling (since he also lost his health).

We know more about why Job was suffering then Job did at the time. We know this because we are given a glimpse into God’s throne Room at the beginning of the book, where we discover that there is something bigger going on. There is a lesson that is being demonstrated that goes beyond Job. It is only at the end of the book, when God begins to speak to Job that we discover that there God was training Job as well. GodJob 38:22 was teaching Job to trust God, even when Job could not see or understand what God was doing. To me, this is one of the hardest lessons to learn. I understand in my head that God is The Creator and that God loves me and is working everything in my life, even my mistakes, into something good, to teach me and others and to bring us into the full, free and abundant life of joy that God originally planned for us. But, in my frailty I want to see and understand the end result. Just like Job, I want to know why.

When if feels like I am distant from God, I remember Job. I remember that I did not name each of the stars, nor have I entered the storehouses of snow or hail. When I remember how small I am in the entirety of creation, I bow in awe that The One who created all of this has chosen to call me His child and to bestow His love upon me. Then, my attitude changes to one of wonder, awe and gratitude, and I discover once again that God is always with me, he will never leave me or forsake me.Hebrews 13:5

Are you blaming or trusting?

Job 42:12a

I just completed reading the book of Job. He had what seemed a perfect life – wealth, land, holdings, and lots of kids. Then he lost it all and had a choice to make. He could blame God for his dilemma or he could trust the Lord to get him through. Well, as the story ends, he did trust the Lord and in turn, received more blessing than he had before.

However, the trial wasn’t easy. A brief commentary on this situation put it all into perspective. “In the anguish of his darkest days, Job wished that he had never been born. Like it or not, brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness. Life is seldom a sustained march in a single direction. Job found that it has its highs and its lows, its delights and its tragedies. But through it all, God is there – and so is His blessing for faithful obedience”.

 

Enjoying his “retirement” years, Greg Partipilo brings a unique perspective gained from his many years walking with Christ and studying the Bible.

Adoption

Deuteronomy 14_1aWhat thoughts and emotions come to mind when you hear the word “adopted?” Do you think something must be wrong with the one that is adopted? Do you marvel at the openness and love of the parents

who are willing to adopt one that is not their own?

Depending on our background and where we are in our own life, we can have many different responses to the concept of adoption.

Parents who adopt do so for many reasons, but they all have one thing in common: they are making a commitment to love the child they are adopting. The key difference between adoptive parents and natural parents is that adoption requires a choice.

When parents make the choice to adopt, they are making a lifelong commitment. Parenthood does not end when a child reaches a certain age, it lasts as long as a parent and child are alive. Since God is eternal, this means that when God adopts a person, we are adopted forever and ever, with no ending!

Hebrews 6_1aThe parents do not expect the child they are adopting to be perfect, complete and mature when they take the child home. Rather, they expect to train the child, to teach and correct and guide, loving them when they succeed and when they falter. They are not surprised when the child messes up, makes mistakes, and acts selfishly. They expect the child to make mistakes. They even find many of the mistakes that they make along the way endearing.

So then, why do we think we have to be perfect and mature with complete control over all of our thoughts, emotions and actions before we come to God? Why do we struggle so much with the concept that God loves us and wants to spend time with us? Do we really think that human adoptive parents are more loving and have a better understanding of what it takes to raise a child then the God who created people?

God doesn’t adopt perfect and complete people. God adopts children to raise up to become what God has already destined, designed and declared them to be! How glorious!

1 John 3_1

Victim or Victor?

Have you ever referred to yourself as a victim? Do you notice how many people identify themselves as victims? What makes a victim?

Proverbs 7:26-27

The word victim only appears a few times in the entire bible. In these verses we learn that victims: are attacked by people who hate, believe lies and flattery, are reaping what they sowed, and/or run to God for refuge. What all of these passages have in common is that they are circumstances, situations and actions. They are not an identity.

When people attack me physically or verbally, when I believe lies, when past sins turn around and bite me, I suffer. How I respond however, determines whether I am a victim or victor of that situation. Those are things that happened to me. They are NOT who I am. I am not a victim. I can have victory over everything that threatens to overwhelm me.

As the psalmist says, I achieve victory by running to God. I do this by learning, trusting and relying on His Word; basing my thoughts, words and actions on truth. When I do this, I realize that I am a dearly beloved daughter (son) of the King of the Universe!

When I remember my true identity, I am able to forgive those who have mistreated me which frees me to move on, recovering from the attack and putting it into the past as a memory.

When I do not allow circumstances to define my identity, I maintain the power and control God has given me over my own life. I do not give it away to the attacker.

When I turn to God to ascertain truth, I do not allow lies to bind me up and steal my joy.

When I trust God, regardless of what things look like, I will see Him work all things together for good. Like Joseph, I will see how God will use everything that people do to me that the enemy is using to try to steal my joy and my life, and use it to prepare me to be His instrument to rescue many, to display His loving protection. I will see Romans 8:28 years in my life.

All this may sound good, but it is not easily accomplished. If I could go back, instead of accepting the assaults on my personhood, I would work on learning :

  • How to forgive,
  • How to live in the present, learning from the past and leaving it where it belongs, as a memory,
  • How to control my thoughts, rejecting lies and accepting truth,
  • My true identity as a child of God and what that entails, and
  • How to resist temptation, staying focused on God at all times and in all circumstances.

Oh, wait! These are all the things I work on now! Each of these have one thing in common, they start with knowing God and discovering my identity and destiny.

So, repeat after me:  “I, ________________(fill in your name), am not what happened to me in the past. That is a memory. I am, a dearly beloved daughter (son) of the Lord.
Psalm 9:9

 

If you need help learning how to forgive and let go of your past, join a Transcend group,  buy the book (info@alabasterboxes.org), and/or order The King’s Protocol (https://www.amazon.com/Kings-Protocol-Sean-Quental/dp/1630631728).

The “H” Word

Phil2.3

Humility. It is elusive, difficult, and the simplest thing in the world!

Most of us have a distorted understanding of humility. We think that we have to be self-effacing, and never acknowledge that we are good at anything to be humble. Many people never understand that this focus on self, even when it is negative is not humility, but pride!

True humility is knowing our true identity. It is knowing who we are and who we are not. When we understand this, many things happen.

First, we discover that we are a dearly loved child of God. God made us and has plans for us and desires the best for us. Entire books are written on what this means. This is our destiny. It is what Adam and Eve were created for. It is what Jesus suffered and died to restore to us. It is a marvelous mystery and gloriously incredible.

When we know who we really are, we also know who we are not! The primary person whose role we keep trying to usurp is God’s.  When we stop trying to do God’s job, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off of us! We no longer need to judge ourselves or others. We no longer need to worry about what other people are, or are not doing. We no longer need to worry about what other people think of us, or whether or not we are measuring up! Instead, knowing we are not God, but that we are His child and He loves us, we can simply take our concerns to Him and let Him deal with it2 Chronicles 34:27! Wow!

But, I have to . . . . I really should . . . .

Logos background have tos

How many times do we use one of these phrases? There are very few things that we “have” to do. I don’t even “have to” eat. Now, I choose to eat because if I don’t, I will starve to death. Of course, if I were really honest, I eat for other reasons too, like because it tastes good, or I like the feel of it going down my throat, or I like the way I feel after I eat it. But most of us recognize that we don’t need to eat things like ice cream.

An interesting thing is revealed by our choice of words, and it strengthened by it. When we say I have to, we are saying that we don’t have a choice, and therefore we are not responsible! The phrase “I should” is very similar. When we say this, we are accepting some other standard, set by some unnamed entity, to make our choices for us. When we do this, we relinquish our power to chose, submitting ourselves to this other entity.
2 Cor 10:5b
Frequently, when we talk about submitting to our spouse, other people or God, we rear up and rebel, thinking this infringes on “our rights”. Why then, do we submit to this unnamed entity that says “we should”?

If the God who created the universe and everything and everybody in it gives us the ability to choose to obey Him or go our own way, why would we give up this ability to choose? And especially, why would we give this power and authority to anybody or anything that does not have our best interest in mind?
I have been working on catching and removing these phrases from my life. As they become less and less frequent, I am becoming stronger in my own identity, more aware of the choices that I make every day, and accepting the consequences of my own choices. I choose not to be a victim, I choose to submit only to the one Who created me and loves me, and to the authorities that He has placed in my life. Where God’s instructions and those authorities appear to be in conflict, I ta6 In all your ways kacknowledge him, and he lwill make straight your paths. The Holy Bible_ English Standard Version. (2016). (Pr 3_6). Wheaton_ Standard Bible Society.ke the issue back to God, seeking His wisdom on how to proceed. It is amazing how many situations God resolves when I remember to seek God and His kingdom first!

Coffee Filter Christianity

I love coffee. I love the smell of freshly ground coffee. I love the feel of a nice hot cup of coffee going down my throat.

Have you ever sat down to drink a nice hot cup of coffee, and then discovered grounds in the coffee? That is one of the fastest ways to ruin a rally good cup of coffee – by not filtering it well!

And so it is with God’s Word. If we do not filter out our own desires, our own preferences, and our own woundedness, it is like drinking a cup of coffee with the coffee grounds still in it. Too often we read into God’s Word what we want to find and what we expect to find. This is not a new problem. You can see the disciples having the same problem in their conversations with Jesus.NPOTH007

In Matthew 16 Jesus warns his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees. The disciples are confused, and decide that since Jesus just finished feeding over five thousand people, he must be talking about bread. Only after Jesus corrects them do they realize Jesus is teaching them a spiritual truth. Jesus is warning them to be careful about what the recognized spiritual leaders of the time were teaching them.

And so it is with us. We need to approach God’s Word expectantly anticipating that God is going to reveal something new to us. It is not a new truth. It is something that is new to us. Either a truth we have not previously recognized, or a deeper level or reminder of a truth we have already accepted.

 

 

 

 

Coffee Filter photo by Elke Wetzig (Elya), cropped