Steadfast and Quivering at the Feet of my King

The last couple of days I was thinking about the turmoil I see on ‘fair and balanced’ news programs, political and religious debates on Facebook, multiple fear factor YouTube videos, and the war between the Law and the Spirit in the blogosphere. Someone on Facebook tried to cast fear upon me in regards to Islam and another person said Rapunzel fleeing her captor was a rebellious act. Sometimes I really struggle with using words of grace, because my flesh wants to say, “Oh brother!”
And yet people want to know where we stand on such issues and I believe we all have the freedom to speak up about how we feel without fear of reprisal. Is it abusive of me to say,”Oh brother!” ? Am I uncaring for thinking some people are crippled by fear mongering and narcissistic behaviors? OOPS! Did I just label a behavior in a way that casts judgment? How in the world do you remain steadfast and still quivering in humility before our Lord?
Then He whispers into my ear, “Naaman’s handmaid.” I remember this story from when a 3rd grade girl’s Sunday School teacher taught about being a peacemaker in difficult circumstances. I was a 21 year old assistant to this teacher and yet I felt like I was one of the 3rd grade girls listening to this story. She was kidnapped from her people and forced to be a servant. I would have to imagine this was not what the girl wanted, but there was nothing she could so about it. Somewhere along the line, her parents must have been compassionate parents who raised her to be obedient to her elders, even if she didn’t like what they are doing. For this little girl to speak out against her captors could have meant a whipping, death, or imprisonment. She had to obey.
There must have been times when her parents had taught her the reason why we obey those who have the rule over us, even when we disagree. In addition to this, I would imagine they also taught her when it’s good to speak up about what we believe, even if it means death. I see in the story that she had discernment to know when to keep silent and when to speak up. Then I pondered in my heart, “How do we speak up in the face of such serious consequences and remain respectful?”
He then whispered again, “Esther.” I also learned about Esther from the same Sunday School teacher. Esther knew that going before the King, her very own husband and head of household, could mean death. She knew that coming to him about a law, that he was deceived into making, would be a challenge of his authority in the land. Doing such a thing would have tremendously difficult consequences for the entire land. It was a sensitive issue to question the king and his highest servants.
Esther and the little handmaid were both steadfastly quivering before their authorities. They both spoke up when it meant destruction if they did. They knew there could be criticism from many for ‘challenging’ the authority of those over them. As a child of God, a handmaiden for our Lord, a servant of the King, a wife, and a mother, I saw all sides of this dilemma.
The still small, yet powerful voice, encouraged me, “You can be both steadfast and quivering.”
I sighed deeply and let that sink in to my soul. We have boldness to come before the throne room of our God and know His scepter of grace will be extended. We can know that even if we have a misunderstanding, hurt feelings, anger or even despair, that he will listen.
He listens when we cry out to him in anguish that we don’t understand why we are taken into captivity, or that our families are in danger of Haman’s laws to ‘kill’ our families with his legalism. I think He dislikes it more than we do, yet He allowed it. He allowed the handmaid to be kidnapped and He allowed Esther to be forced to marry. In those circumstances is when His power was revealed in their lives. That didn’t mean it was right for the army to steal the little girl. It didn’t make it right that Esther was forced to marry the king. But God had a higher purpose that was much grander than they knew at the time.
We don’t get angry with the little handmaid’s story nor are we angry with Esther. We don’t accuse them of disobedience for speaking up about what they had gone through or that they shed light on the corruption that was taking place. We applauded them for their bravery!
And yet we live in a world where we are criticized by our own brethren when we speak up about the government and abusive legalism in the households of faith. So here I am, steadfastly quivering at the feet of my King. I am steadfast that I can boldly enter his throne room in quivering humility beseeching His grace and mercy for the victims and their captors.
Did Namaan realize how much the little girl would miss her family? Did he realize how much pain it would be to have her taken from her loved ones? I don’t know, but I know God used her to bring him to the prophet for healing when leprosy plagued his body. In doing so he became a believer in the Living God. Is leprosy somehow an imagery of legalism or spiritual abuse?
Did the king know how much a young lady wants to actually fall in love with the man she would choose to marry? Did it matter to him that her heart longed to be with her family instead of isolated in the castle? I don’t know, but I do know that her act of obedience and bravery saved the entire Jewish race. Is this an imagery of how we withhold freedom from others?
sad girl by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-SphereI don’t know why God allows children to be abused, whether physically, sexually, or spiritually. But I do know that as God delivers us, we have the opportunity to speak up about what he has delivered us from. As a believer, it makes me so sad when other believers accuse the testimony of Christ in another. We all make mistakes as children of God, as parents, as friends. Forgiveness for one another frees our own hearts from bitterness so we can be lamps for the Light within us. He wants to shine through our cracks and cast His Light upon the world to show them the way. The Light bleeding through the cracks is naturally going to also show those cracks and we tell where those cracks come from. We tell about the cracks, because if those cracks weren’t there, how would the Light shine through? 
Why do Christians try to cover the cracks?
“Don’t tell anyone how those cracks got there! You’ll bring a shame to the ones who caused those cracks.”
Then don’t tell the story of how the handmaid was kidnapped and forced into slavery. Don’t you DARE tell the story of Esther and how her king forced her into marriage. Heaven forbid you tell about Queen Vashti and her mistakes. But through all those details is how the Light shines through to this dark world. You can’t hide the Light under a bushel, He’s meant to sit on a hill. He’s meant to shine in the ‘darkness’, because it’s in the darkness that the Light is needed.
The darkness is all around us and we can’t hide darkness. The Light is going to find His way to shine in that darkness. Shall we hide the Light and remain in darkness? Shall we continue to stumble? The greatest darkness of Christianity is that of hiding the Light in the household of faith. Christianity doesn’t want it’s covers stripped. It doesn’t want it’s cracks revealed and in doing so it’s followers don’t want Christ to shine.
Allowing Christ to shine in Christianity would mean we see the clergy who abuse children, who cheat on their wives, on deacons who force hierarchy control over their families, on wives who live in fear of telling her husband that is spanking tactics are out of control, in the world where children are afraid to say they don’t believe in hell out of fear of going there. Christianity has become the place where teens are cutting, anorexic, and homosexual without the parents knowing, because they fear rejection and loss of love and relationship. Christians live in just as much dark as the world around it and they have the Answer to their problems living within them. They just don’t want to have Him revealed, because it would reveal their cracks.
What are we afraid of? The same thing we all fear, rejection from our loved ones. Because we fear deep down that they won’t extend to us the grace our Lord has lavished us with.
Did Haman want Esther to speak up? Of course not, but it was needed to save her people. And here I am, speaking up for my people… I am steadfastly quivering before the feet of our King…
Christianity has cracks and they are there because of the stones hurled at glass houses. Many became transparent and the modern Pharisees saw through the glass walls and hurled stones at what they saw. The walls are cracked and falling apart. And all they need is grace so they can heal. No amount of bandages can heal or cover the cracks or what is inside the households of faith. Only Love covers these multitudes and grace doesn’t want to hide, it wants to shine. In doing so, we will know how the cracks got there, but can we offer grace to the modern Pharisees? Can the modern Pharisees stop casting stones and pointing out sin? Jesus covered our sin, why do we want to uncover what He covered?
The Scepter of Grace is such a powerful weapon. It reveals that we are quivering daughters trying to be steadfast in a dark world of legalism. But Mercy embraces each of us as we embark on our individual walkabouts with God. He lavished Grace on all of us and we each have unique testimonies where God’s son is revealed and heaven forbid we hide that lamp He has created us to be. Every single crack reveals His Glory.


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Dancing on Water

“..The key is to open our eyes, sometimes by closing them..breathe deep…and inside I see Him..and we’re dancing on water…” ~Sisterlisa
water by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere


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Precautions for Stormy Friendships

Part 4
There are counties in the Midwest that have alarm systems built in their towns that warn them of an oncoming storm. This alarm gives them some time to seek shelter. His Holy Spirit is our alarm system and He can warn us in advance that we need to take cover. When a family takes cover they usually go into a basement stocked with canned food and water, a flashlight with batteries, and a battery operated radio. This is a well equipped family. We can take precautions to keep our friendships safe
from storms.
Begin with the right foundation: 
Jesus Christ should be the foundation of all our friendships. If we build our friendships based on
what kind of coffee they serve us when we go for a visit not a good foundation.
Keep your focus:
Our focus should always be in Christ. Seeking Him each day and abiding in Him, together, will keep your friendships under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91)
Limit your time together:
I know this may be difficult for some women to understand. They enjoy their friendships and want to spend as much time as possible together. This is not a wise decision.

{Proverbs 25:17}
“Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.” 

Too much time together can lead to a shaky structure and is bound to fall when the storms hit.
Don’t own your friendships:
Sometimes friends tend to expect a blind loyalty. They feel that only they have the right to have that friendship. This is a selfish place to be. If we behaved that way with our relationship with Christ how would our loved ones ever experience His love through us? We don’t own our friends, so share your friendships with others. We don’t have exclusive rights to them.
Avoid Gossip:
It becomes far too easy to listen to and spread gossip when we have close friendships. If you’re having a difficulty with a friend, don’t go to your other friends about it, go to our Lord.
We can avoid gossip by:
-Limiting telephone conversations to the basics. By this I mean that
you should use the telephone for making plans to see each other, praying
with each other, or calling in to say hello from time to time.
-Don’t ask your friends to keep secrets. If you’re sharing something in confidence be sure to understand that sometimes people break one another’s confidences. It ‘could’ happen and if so how would you feel? Be careful what you share.
-Guard your social media outlets from gossip. It’s far too easy to text, email,  or even Tweet things you wouldn’t normally say to someone in person. Think and pray before hitting the ‘send’ button.
These are just a few tips I have learned from experience. That experience, at times, were after making the mistakes of not following these tips. Drink from the Living Water and your friendships will grow.

Stay tuned for part 5


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Rest

Part 3
The winter season is a time of rest. Many animals go into hibernation to rest for the winter, while the storms of life howl past them. The cold wet weather causes us to draw back inside while we strike up a cozy fireplace and sip hot cocoa. There are benefits and drawbacks to this time of rest. We either use this time to focus on the home and enjoy the winter holidays or we isolate ourselves from the world around us. The winter months make it difficult to keep up with our local friends just as
storms in friendships causes us to lose sight of friendly communication. We need to be on guard to protect our friendships during these troublesome times.
Winter Scene by nonpoppop, on Pix-O-Sphere

The most common strategy a Christian attempts to initiate when a storm pours down is to isolate. Isolation causes bitterness to take root and hibernate in our hearts. The interesting thing is that even during hibernation, growth occurs. A hibernating bear does not cease from growing during the winter months, try to disturb their sleep and you’ll have an angry bear coming after you. We must resist the urge to isolate.

This is where the enemy likes to take his place. The enemy of the heart is like a dragon who wants to creep into your heart while you’re in isolation and dig his talons deep into your hearts and continue to twist that pain deeper into your chest. Keeping yourself in that cold and bitter place can cause ‘frostbite’, which is bitterness. We need to stoke up the fireplace and thaw out. Wrap yourself in the warm embrace of the ‘most comforting blanket’ you have and gather around the ‘glowing fire’. Keep your heart warm by the love of Christ our Lord. The best way to avoid bitterness is to pray for the friend who hurt you.
We are told by our Lord that love covers a multitude of sins. His sacrificial love is what it takes to keep the heart warm while a cold winter storm is raging. We may think that isolating ourselves in the basement and boarding up the windows to avoid the storm will keep us safe, but that’s not entirely true. I do agree that sometimes injured friendships needs some breathing room. Sometimes a little time apart can do some good, but I don’t recommend we stay there. There comes a time when
sharing some ‘hot cocoa’ can help break the ice again.
The warm mixture of sugar, cream, and chocolate, topped with whipped cream and marshmallows can add a sweet delightful taste to a cold heart. In Proverbs we learn that “..a gift in secret pacifieth anger…” This means to offer a gift without bragging to everyone else that you’ve done that. Let it be between you and the friend. The gift may not always be accepted at first, but keep it before our Lord in prayer and commit the friendship to Him.
He will do his work in their heart and keep your heart protected from the cold bitterness that seeks to destroy the love of Christ within you. The frost that builds upon a cold heart will begin to thaw when we allow His love and warmth to embrace us and we need to embrace Him right back.
Stay tuned for Part 4

Begin here

Change Leads to Rest

Part 2
Sometimes friends break up, move away, change churches, or experience some other sad departure. All of these changes are normal and to be expected at some point or another. When I was younger I didn’t like change. When a friend moved away, I fought it with all my might. I used up all my strength begging them not to go, or crying through the night after saying goodbye. Ladies, we can’t stop change. We can’t stop the leaves from changing or even falling off the limbs when the Fall winds
arrive.
There are three phases of change that we all need to be prepared for. First of all, when change begins to appear we experience rejection. We reject the change and refuse to allow it to seize our hearts and emotions. It takes time to flow with the movement of the Fall winds. The next step of change in our hearts is tolerance. We admit the change has occurred, we don’t like it, but we know we can’t stop it. So we tolerate it. A little while later, we come to realize we can’t live with tolerance. Tolerance
does not free us from the pain we feel when change takes place. We must take the last step to freedom by accepting the change.
leaves landscape by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

We can help ourselves on the friendship road by realizing that there will be change and we can’t stop it. Enjoy the friendships you make along the way and allow life to move you forward as God’s timing brings those changes. Yes, friends will come and go and that’s a part of life. Enjoy those gifts while you have them and if a departure is necessary, let it be done with grace and love. Send them along with blessings and encouragement. When the Autumn season of friendship makes it final trek, we see a new season appear, the season of rest, Winter. The time of rest.

Stay tuned for Part 3
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Change

Part 1
Autumn is a season that brings change and each friendship has it’s Autumn. Where there was once a bountiful tree full of vivid green leaves, there now are limbs swaying in the wind with a new variety of vibrant colors. These beautiful colors that God paints on each and every tree throughout the world are what makes life worth gazing at. I love each yellow, gold, red, pink, burgundy and green tree all on their own and in the midst of a gorgeous hillside of splendor. Yet as we travel down the road of life we see different trees and different colors along the way.
Every bend in the road introduces a new breathtaking view. If we lived in a world filled with Evergreen trees, we would never experience the beauty of a Japanese Maple. If every tree was a Japanese Maple, we’d never enjoy the fragrance of the Cherry tree’s blossoms. Each tree on it’s own has a gift that it’s boughs bestow upon us in it’s due season. How dreary this world would be without the Apple tree. Each one is so unique and we can not live with only one, if we could God would
have left out all the many varieties we have today. 
orange leaves by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Just as He has a purpose for every tree on this gift he gave us called Earth, He also has a purpose for each and every friendship he brings along our path to walk with us. Imagine if we decided to stop on the road of life to enjoy just one tree. We would not be able to come in contact with the many other
beautiful trees God has created. I can’t imagine living my whole life and never seeing a Grand Oak tree or a Vermont Maple tree in Autumn. I certainly don’t want to imagine a life where I never got to taste authentic Maple syrup on my pancakes. Stopping along the way, to never continue down the road, limits our exposure to the other gifts God has waiting for us. Each tree has it’s own unique gift to this world, as does each friend. He’ll cross your path with the friend with large leaves to provide shade in the summer, another with fruit to provide nutrition, and sometimes a tree stump to give us a place to rest on a long journey. 
Not one tree is more important than another, each one has it’s time and purpose in our lives. The view along the way is gorgeous. Enjoy the view, but don’t forget there are other beautiful trees waiting to be discovered just around the bend. Keep focused on the road ahead of you, never take your eyes off of Jesus Christ. He is the road we follow and He will give you the trees you
need in this life, at his divine appointed time. Thank Him for each one and yield to Him if or when he decides to move you, or them, along when He so chooses.

Stay tuned for part 2….

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Seasons of Friendship Series

friendship by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere
After many years of friendships coming and going and broken hearts along the way, the lesson of the seasons of friendship is one I wish I had known all along. In this study I will share with you my ups and downs, heartaches, and blessings I have experienced through my friendships.
Friendships are one of God’s blessings to us and are to be treasured and embraced. We know there were many close knit friendships in the Bible such as David and Jonathon, Paul and Silas, Lydia and her maidens, etc.
Although I wish I had known then what I know now, the experiences I have been through has created a testimony of friendships and I am blessed to be able to share it with you. I have lost touch with some friends over the years, and some were broken by this present world. Yet, while God allowed
me to have them in my life, I loved them and enjoyed the times we were together. 
I do not intend to speak of the terrible times I had with some (and they had with me) but rather share from my experience how you could avoid some tsunamis and prevent drought along the way. Bless you as you seek Christ as the foundation for all your friendships.

I hope you’ll join me for this series here at Soul Liberty Faith. If you’d like to have your friends come join us, would you consider hosting this graphic on your blog above the fold?

sof by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Part 1 Change
Part 2 Change leads to Rest

Part 3 Rest
Part 4 Precautions for Stormy Friendships

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Truth is a Proper Noun

Many ministries are working overtime to create innovative ways to attract people to Christ…well at least I think they feel as though they are attempting to do such a thing. But are they really attracting them to Christ? Or to their church so they can teach them their interpretation of the Bible?
It feels so unnatural to me. Jesus didn’t have a mega church, a hymnal, or a New testament Bible in various English translations. He didn’t use exhaustive sound systems, fog machines, strobe lights, or massive televisions screens for his power point presentations.
So just what is it about Him that attracted the crowds in such large numbers when he passed through town? Do we need a new path to God? What happen to the ancient path?
He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Just Him.
{Jesus}

Jesus is the Way. The Way is a person.
Jesus is the Truth. The Truth is a person.
Jesus is the Life. Life is a person.

Man’s interpretations will always be just that. As fascinating as the Bible is, let us not push the Person out and swap in man’s interpretations of the Bible. We will always have error in our limited human understanding of scripture. But there is no err in Christ. Christ is our Truth. Truth is a proper noun.
covered bridge side by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere
{John 14:5-7} 
5Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

One Size Fits All

Came to realize that the ‘wedding garments’ that religion enforces are for the wrong groom. I’ve ditched those and have taken the gown that God created for me. He is the best gown maker, designer, and it’s fits perfectly!

{ONE size fits All.}

We don’t choose the best garments for our wedding, He does. Yield in Him and enjoy His garments. His garments are perfect, holy and without wrinkle. He made the gown for you. He hand sewed each stitch in His fabric, added each detail of embroidery, His fabric is designed with an interwoven beauty that only He could design.
Religion tells us that we need to achieve godliness by a list of do’s and a list of do not’s, but that list weaves a gown that is not perfect. Only His garment will do. 
 Are you walking down the aisle in His Garment or your own?
Matthew 22:11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.”

wedding by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

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Reflections

Recently I have given a lot more time to some other passions in my life, like family and photography…so this blog and my Facebook conversations have slowed down a little. In a life as a wife, a mom, a homeschool mom at that, and a CEO of a new online business, shifting of priorities has it’s proper place in our lives. Finding balance isn’t always easy and having to decide which area should be put on the back burner for a week or so is not as easy as it may seem to others.
But this has been a good thing since my Master has reminded me of a basic life principle that is truth for anyone. We are always in need of teaching, of receiving, of having some quiet still time to reflect. In order for us to give away what flows from our hearts, our hearts need to be refilled again and again.
river1b by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere
I know that my Lord is always filled within me, but as a human vessel I need to listen more than speak. There was a time when I thought I had a pretty good amount of knowledge about photography, until I went to a class. Then I walked away challenged. Challenged because I really didn’t know as much as I thought I did. Then the desire to learn more came upon me. I think we’re the same way when it comes to writing about spiritual matters. Our gracious King has placed other men and women in my life through which He feeds me and gives me drink. I enjoy ‘sitting at their feet’ (or rather, their blogs and Facebook notes) to glean what King Jesus has given to them and I pick up the morsels from below their feasting tables and savor every flavor and nutrient they provide.
These wonderful portions have been growing within my heart and soul and when they have formed a more full lesson within for myself, then I can come and share them with you. But for now may I share with you some of my recent feasting tables? The reflection I’m seeing in their lives is that of Christ our Messiah. Such brilliant reflections..so close to the original image..the image of Christ. Because Christ is within.
reflectiononemile by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

{Colossians 1:27 Christ in you, the hope of glory.}

When you’re called into The Insignificant Significant by Ann Voskamp (A Holy Experience)
Learning to Breathe by Emily Freeman (Chatting at the Sky)
A Broken Hallelujah by Hillary McFarland (Quivering Daughters)
Battlefield of Grace by Serena Woods (Grace is for Sinners)
To Be Like Christ by Bob Greaves (The Unconventional Pastor)


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