A Lifetime of Chocolates

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I love a new box of chocolates – surprise waits in every bite. When I was a child it took a long time to decide which was the very best one and that choice would bring delight to my taste buds – most of the time. My mom’s rule was “if you take it – you eat it.” When it was that “gooey” Caramel I was in heaven but then there were those ones – you know those ones that ruin the whole chocolate experience. The only name I had was “nastiness.” When I was the unfortunate recipient of that choice, my only focus had to be on the fact that it was wrapped in chocolate and I would will my mind to think of that. Soon I found a trick – at least until I was found out – if I stuck my fingernail in the bottom I could know what was inside, and avoid a “nastiness” experience.

Well, “life is like a box of chocolates” and we wish we could use that fingernail trick to check inside. However, just like my moms response to my great idea; life’s response is the same – “no peeking allowed”.

We receive those “yummy gooey” Caramel’s, those “ok” cream centers and those “nastiness” unknowns – in our lifetime box of chocolates. Each filling is wrapped in chocolate. The chocolate is the ultimate focus. When we get the “yummy gooey” and the “ok” ones we often miss the chocolate so lovingly covering it. But, without that covering layer those “nastiness” ones just wouldn’t make it down.

Jesus has lovingly covered each of life’s fillings with chocolate – giving us a gift of the Holy Spirit. He is always there covering us with that sweet layer as we enjoy the “yummy gooey” and the “ok” fillings of life. But when we get a bite of the “nastiness” fillings, the reality of His presence – His very taste – is our comfort and focus to get us through.

Our box of chocolates comes pre-sorted just for us from the Father’s hand and we don’t get to peek. Whatever each piece brings into our lives, we can depend on that sweet chocolate taste to get us through. As we focus on the chocolate, not the filling, we will find the surprises He has planned for us – even in the midst of the “nastiness”. Our box takes a lifetime to complete so allow each piece to produce its effect in your life – and don’t forget the chocolate.

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness, have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)

 

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Out of Love

The desire for the “best of the best” directly from our Fathers hand is available and stretched out to us. He wants to be a Father, to welcome us and dwell with us.

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From the moment we feel the first flutter of life, excitement stirs to see this little life filled with all the “best of the best”. We protect and provide but most of all we love! There is a place within us that is so full of love for this precious one, that it often overwhelms us. As they grow and become adults – well, it NEVER changes – that love grows too. As parents we always want to see the best for our children and that desire comes directly from Heaven.

Our Heavenly Father desires the “best of the best” for us – He protects and provides but most of all He loves, loves and loves. He promises us He will dwell with us, He will receive (welcome) us and He will be a Father to us.

Just as we try to warn our children from making life-impacting mistakes, so does He. The desire is not to manipulate, control or be harsh but is poured out – out of love!

The words “unequally yoked” strike many feelings in us – most eliciting thoughts from our past; but in truth this passage is written to us out of love – great love. The desire for the “best of the best” directly from our Fathers hand is available and stretched out to us. He wants to be a Father, to welcome us and dwell with us. The HOWEVER – is our choice. That HOWEVER says light and darkness cannot share the same room – that’s our choice. If we walk unequally yoked – it is a place that “daddy” just can’t come into to visit.

Yes – there is His unmerited favor and grace extended to us through Christ – that’s a gift – given to us. BUT the “best of the best” that your Father desires to give to you is available for those who walk purely in the light. So take a minute and “reformat” your brain around this scripture – seeing what He is giving you in exchange for that choice of not being unequally yoked (those who you choose to intimately fold into your closest circle).

Daddy has the “best of the best” waiting for you – the however – is up to you.

IICorinthians 6:14 You are not the same as those who don’t believe. So don’t join yourselves to them. Good and evil don’t belong together. Light and darkness cannot share the same room.(ERV)

 

God’s Miracle Dew

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     The story of Gideon, a man hiding from the national chaos around him, sounds rather like us today. He chose to tuck himself in the side of a cliff (a wine press) to beat out his wheat in secret – just minding his own business. But suddenly there in that cave, he is met by an angel – there, he is called a “mighty man of valor” and told he is to save Israel; here begins his questions. Here God begins to mold him into that man “a mighty man of valor” that God already knows him as. God shows up, speaks to him, patiently shows him grace upon grace, and builds his faith.

     My interest today is on God’s confirmation of that “call” – the fleece.

     “Are you sure God?” or “Who me?” These phrases have rung out from before Gideon – right up to today – including you and me.

     We often think of this story and wonder why he asked twice – but Gideon’s belief-system was one of living with the natural course of life. He believed there was a god that created us but he didn’t intervene – life just happened “it is, what it is”. There were no miracles. Ummm – sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it?

     So asking for proof was a big deal to begin with. But though morning #1 gave a specific answer with the fleece being soaking wet and the ground dry, Gideon’s upbringing and belief-system kicked in. Fleece naturally pulled in water, so his mind questioned if this was not just a natural phenomenon. But his second request, to keep the fleece dry and dew everywhere else, was a big step of faith and when on day #2 it occurred, his paradigm shifted – this was a miracle.

     This miracle opened Gideon’s eyes to walk into all that was to come. This miracle opened his ears to hear more clearly when God said to go into battle with only 300 men – sending home nearly 30,000. God wanted them to know that it was not a natural battle but one where God was REAL, where He intervened and where He brought victory. Because of their belief-system, the people needed to see what was truth – that there was a God who was REAL.

     Are we not living in the same state today? Often we don’t ask because we don’t believe He will intervene, He is REAL, or that He cares, much-less loves us. We live a life where, life just happens, “it is, what it is” BUT I know a God that is REAL and makes Himself real in our lives every day if we open our eyes to see and our ears to hear.

     Gideon’s request – his “fleece” didn’t anger God. That fleece was a genuine heart request and God was filled with love and compassion to show His divine grace and favor over that request.

     That fleece was the miracle that allowed the “YES LORD” to leap into Gideon’s spirit and move his feet into place. That place allowed him to pick up and wear the mantle that made him God’s “mighty man of valor”.

     As ambassadors of Christ we all have been given assignments – maybe not like Gideon – but ones that impact others. Often due to insecurities, belief-systems or other obstacles we question that assignment – that’s ok – don’t allow the enemy to win. God still is gracious to confirm His assignments and build your faith – making you ready to carry all He has called you to. Taking that opportunity is where faith steps in.

     Remember, not only was Gideon’s double “fleece” confirmation a miracle in the natural it also gives us an incredible example of God’s grace and patience.

     And one more tidbit – dew throughout scripture is used as a sign of divine grace and favor. So step into it and watch as HE makes Himself REAL in your life.

Numbers11:9 When the dew fell on the camp at night, the manna would fall with it.

Stronger & Higher Together

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With a 6ft wooden fence between them my 20ft majestic Purple Robe tree stands beside my neighbor’s spectacular Wisteria vine – both prolific in growth and multiplication. Shoots abound underground – both ways – between the fence line. Each spring to early summer both flower with intoxicating floral blooms that are glorious to behold. This summer, however, I have noticed an exciting merging of the two. The Wisteria, now strong and flourishing, has “jumped the fence” and has begun intertwining with the strength and height of the Purple Robe, reaching its tendrils higher then it previously could. OH, MY – anticipation waits for next springs glorious sight as they erupt – stronger together – each increasing the others beauty – transforming from glory to glory.

Spiritually, we too are meant periodically to “jump the fence”. Those who believe in Christ are many – many different individuals in many different buildings – each prolific and multiplying in their own sphere. As one body through Christ – it’s ok – to “jump the fence”: to intertwine and to bring the beauty of one into many.

We, individually plant our roots into a single place of growth. There we are safe, nurtured, grow, and produce; reaching the top of that 6ft fence, our strength then can be shared, expanded, enlarged into the body of Christ around us.

We as a body require and thrive in unity and connection to each member – whether that is individually or as complete groups of believers. We are all one in Christ!

Just as the strength of the Purple Robe will support the continued expansion of the Wisteria vine (even over the fence) so should we strengthen and support our sisters and brothers in faith. Together we will produce the glorious sight of growing from Glory to Glory. We will grow stronger and higher as we become one body – loving and walking together.

I Corinthians 12: 12-13As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with the body of Christ. For we were all baptised by the Spirit into one body, whether we were Jews, Gentiles, slaves or free men, and we have all had experience of the same Spirit. (Phillips)

Freedom in Your “hodgepodge”!

Enjoy the walk exactly where you are and walk in that assignment. Your design, your purpose may be “hodgepodge” – enjoy it and find freedom in your difference.

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We hear about “style” in all areas of our lives – clothing, decorating and even in cooking but what does that mean? There is no right or wrong, (REALLY – though some will disagree) it’s just different. It comes down to what you prefer – what makes you happy – what looks good to your eye – what brings life and freedom to your life.

In the midst of this style conscious world I have observed and questioned my oddity. But, I have a wonderful friend who’s decorating style is “minimalist” – I go into her home and it has a peaceful flow, clean and open. I love it! But, it’s not me. I’m not country, or contemporary, and surely not modern, so – maybe I don’t have one, and my hodgepodge style struggled on.

For years I have contemplated the word “hodgepodge” – a word my mom would use – sounding like a swear word. I have carried that “hodgepodge” like shame over my head – but it’s not wrong – it’s just different. I enjoy multiple types of wood furniture in the same room, different art pieces of every style and “clutter” treasures tucked here and there. It is funny, how a name changes everything! One day I found the word “eclectic” attached to a home decorating magazine and my heart skipped a beat – that’s me – I have a “named” style – I am eclectic! Wow – freedom!

Now I can enjoy, embrace and walk in my “style” freedom; finding freedom in who I am – in my hodgepodge. And now a recent example of this presented it’s self in my beautiful courtyard. Within our back yard, I have a secluded little courtyard – my secret garden, and I have it filled with pots and plants. As I originally designed it, I worked hard to keep the ceramic pots color coordinated, the plants all in shades of purples and blues with a touch of pink and white. It was nice, but now as those pots are overgrown they are ready to be re-done. Pondering this job, a freedom emerged and I am embracing my “eclectic” style and began choosing just what I like – I now will have reds, yellows, and oranges right there next to the blues, pinks and purples and I even added different colored pots.

Spiritually speaking – BE who you are – find true freedom in who HE has created you to be! Enjoy the walk exactly where you are and walk in that assignment. Your design, your purpose may be “hodgepodge” – enjoy it and find freedom in your difference.

I Corinthians 7:17a Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. (NASB)

John 8:32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (ESV)