Babylon is Not My Home

I walked past the piano on my way to bed last night, and noticed a layer of dust. I pulled out the bench, clicked on the desk lamp, and sat down.

Prayers for a friend were heavy on my heart. I was reminded how a veil of dust can cover many things in our lives, and I began to write.

Verse One: “The dust had covered my beloved, futile thinking had come, but not for long, not forever, Babylon is not my home.”

I then remembered my journey in my twenties, dating a fellow whom I loved very much, but going about our relationship in a very different way than what God commanded. There was a picture of Jesus in his bedroom, and every time I looked at it I was reminded of my Saviour, and what He did for me on the cross.

Eventually I shook the dust of deception from my spirit, and stopped pretending to be someone I was not. I didn’t belong in that relationship, I belonged to Jesus. My joy would never be full without trusting Jesus, and obeying Him.

Scripture tells us of a time when the Israelites had forgotten God, and went their own way. As a result God exiled them to a foreign country, Babylon. At one point the captors ask the musicians of Israel to sing, and their reply is:

“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our harps, for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land? Psalm 137:1-4

My relationship with my boyfriend was like living in a foreign land. I tried to talk to him about my faith, but eventually it drove us further apart.

I wrote verse two: “By the river, I hung my harp up, no more reason to sing, but not for long, not forever, I’m the remnant and He’s my King.”

The bible tells us, “A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. A remnant will return; yes, the remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God” Isaiah 10:21.

My eyes began to get heavy as I worked on the chorus portion of the song. I couldn’t finish last night, but before I put down my pen and paper, another scripture verse came to mind.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13.

If you have heard the voice of God call you into a relationship of faith in Jesus Christ, and have made a decision to follow Him, then everything you do thereafter will be subject to God’s will for your life. If you are living outside of His will, as the Israelites were, you may feel as though you are in exile. Your joy is hanging on a poplar tree, and you cannot breathe let alone sing, because you are in a foreign land where you do not belong.

God sees you, His love’s relentless, and he desires to see your relationship with Him restored.

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Connecting to Combat Apathy

In 2005 I was in South Africa listening to a very well-educated young woman speak to me about the future demise of their next generation.  Most of the adults had already died from AIDS, leaving the children to fend for themselves.  I ask you, how does our society differ?

We have a North American disease that is picking off both adults and young adults, and leaving our children to fend for themselves.  It is called APATHY.  This disease is rampant, both in our community, and our churches.  This disease does not put us six feet under immediately, at least physically, but spiritually – absolutely!  We don’t need pills to combat this disease, but there is a high cost.  A cost that is going to obliterate our nation’s future and suffocate any signs of hope for THE family.

We religiously sponsor children in other countries, to save their lives.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a generous thing to do and we should do it.  I suggest, if you are sponsoring a child right now, look around your neighborhood and get involved with a family right here, in your own home town, over and above your sponsorship.

Many choose sponsorship because relationship is not required.  Now this isn’t true for all of the sponsor organizations or sponsors involved, but if we are to be brutally honest with ourselves, and how we buy into our culture, it is – money first, relationships later, if at all – unless there is something in it for us.  This is who we really are.

We have programs that run over the school year, and camp programs throughout the summer, many designed to emphasize mentor-ship.  But all too often, once the program ends, so does the relationship.

Oh, I can hear you – “what’s wrong with the kid’s parents?”.  Take a good look in the mirror and ask that question again?  None of us are perfect and we should all be so blessed to have someone interested in walking along side us and our children, whether we’re parenting or teaching, coaching a sports team, or listening to the birds sing.

So what’s the cure for our disease?  How can we change so that our children will grow into strong caring individuals, full of purpose and joy?

One on one relationships.  Getting to know Jesus is the best one on one relationship there is.  If you catch a glimpse of His commitment to you, you will want to commit to him.  He’s going to ask you to love people.  Watch for his lead, listen for his voice.  Guaranteed – he’s not going to give you an impossible task, and He isn’t going to wait for you to become perfect.  He’s going to ask you to get involved as you are, and love others as they are, and together we will learn who He is.

Sarah Young tells us in “Jesus Calling” that a “mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control”.  Connect instead!

No matter where you work, no matter where you play, or what program you’re involved in, find someone to mentor,  and commit.  This isn’t a trial drug, this is a cure we’re talking about.  You must be willing to commit for life.  Think about it, we commit to a whole lot of stuff, except for people?

The big picture is too overwhelming, so remember – one on one connections is the best place to begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maintaining Healthy Relationships

I’ve been working on a paper for school.  I share this information not because I am focused on the importance of chasing intellect, but because the subject of my paper and my present heart ache are connected.

I am exploring the importance of remembering God’s saving deeds throughout history and sharing that information with the next generation (Psalm 78).  Ultimately the message scripture is revealing is about maintaining a faithful relationship with God, which brings me to the question “how do we maintain healthy earthly relationships?”

We know if our relationship with God is not healthy and growing, our earthly relationships will also be affected.  If our relationship with God is healthy we are able to embrace others. Perhaps the word ’embrace’ only applies to some, and the word ‘accept’ applies to others?

See what I mean, we are such a fickle people, deciding whom we should love based on what feels comfortable, always so in tune to the immediate and the physical.

Jesus tells us to “love our neighbor as ourselves….but if we show favoritism we are sinning”(James 2:8,9)

What if we are doing everything in our power to maintain a healthy relationship with God, but some of our earthy relationships still remain strained?  We cannot control another person’s response, but we can ask God to help us with our attitude.

I’ve also wondered, why I seem to be harder on people who are believers, when they make bad decisions?  Is it because they know better? Perhaps it is an opportunity for me to see how God feels when I disappoint him.

The Israelites knew better and God was patient with them.  They rejected Jesus and put him on a cross.  Here we see God sacrificing his own Son in order for us to be in relationship with him.  I find it amazing how He loves us all the same too, how his love isn’t based on our height, or weight or smell, or intelligence, or behavior.

Perhaps I have come full circle.  By constantly remembering what God has done for us, our mind has no room for pity or circumstance, no time to point the finger of blame? By constantly talking about what God has done and can do, we are obediently announcing that we trust Him with everything, especially that which we don’t understand, and totally mesmerized with who He is!

That’s where I want my mind right now Jesus; totally off my circumstance and pain, praying for those who have hurt me, for they too must be in pain, and a heart that is totally in awe of YOU.

 

 

 

 

 

Living Vertical in a Horizontal World

Good morning Jesus. It has been an interesting week, holding on tight to your hand and walking with you while you open my eyes and lift my chin gently upwards with the tips of your fingers.  You keep me living vertical.

Windows and doors open all around me, revealing images of this world’s reality, of our perilous soul condition.  Objects of desire are blotting out the Son, blind sheep still wander.  The weight of it wraps around my feet and threatens to keep me horizontal.  The pain of it tries to drown me, but you severed my ball and chain on the cross, and we walked into freedom from the tomb.

Since you joined the Father and left your Spirit here, there’s a lot of seeking going on, but not for you.  Your truth has been traded for brighter lights, bigger toys, man’s temporary fascinations.  As if we can compete with you and your design, your purpose and your plan? Have we forgotten the cycle of history repeating itself?  Our struggles and our triumphs are not original, or the first, or the last, but You are.

You hand crafted our intricate, brilliant minds in your image, kissed our lungs with air and yet some can’t even bring themselves to speak your name.  So much safer and hip to use the buzz words of the day, so non-committal, so plastic intelligence, empty, and most of all – powerless.  But my soul is not downcast.

You delight to say my name and called me before the earth felt the warmth of the sun.  The realization that I even bleep on your radar slays me, that I am so much smaller than the stars, yet matter more to you than the entire universe put together.  I am but a speck of star-dust orbiting around you.  You are a mystery magnet I cannot explain. I am in awe of you and go deeper, past the velvet curtains of your solar systems to the beginning and the end, into your heart.

How do I know you are real?  How do I know there is one God, and that you love me?  How do I know I have nothing to fear when I put my trust in you?  You have proven yourself over and over and over again.  Every living cell bears your seal, every generation has witnessed the majesty of your handiwork.

The closer I come to you, the faster you run to me.  I don’t need to see the exact lines of your face to feel you here beside me.  I am not ashamed, and I will not apologize for believing in a baby born in Bethlehem, born of God and born of man.

As the world grows darker, as the pages of time draw to an earthly close, even though my body may lie down before the trumpet sounds, keep my spirit living vertical.  I love you.

Monkey See, Monkey do do do do do do do

You’ve heard it said, heck we’ve all seen it proven that ten percent of a church body does the work while the rest…..  I don’t know what the rest do, and I don’t want to waste time finding out.  All I want is to hear Jesus speak to me.  If I take my eyes off of Jesus I will drown.  

I am convinced if we are all sitting on the edge of our seat with expectation, He is going to speak to us and tell us what is needed.  And usually, if we’re really paying attention, he whispers something sweet and low ..”here I am” – r e l a t i o n s h i p.

Ah that’s the key.  What is needed.  Jesus has been teaching me so much about relationship which is very important from where I come from.  I was born into a family and my parents did the best they could but relationship wasn’t encouraged.  You could say we are the same as anyone that is born here on earth.  Monkey see, monkey do.

Look at Adam and Eve, they were given this garden to walk and talk with God in and Satan comes along and tempts them to ‘DO” something.  All of a sudden just being with God wasn’t enough.

It is all this doing that we do, that keeps us from Jesus and truly caring about one another.

Our human word, the one that trips us up because it sounds so dog gone necessary….

r e s p o n s i b i l i t y

That’s right, most of the time we miss Jesus and everything he has for us because we are so high and mighty on the responsibility thing, the planning, the details, the lists.

If you want to get technical, the most responsible thing you can do is be “eternal” minded, and to be eternal minded you need a mind transplant, and for a mind transplant – it’s quite simple – you need to listen to Jesus.  Only Jesus can reach in with his healing hand and turn our brains heavenward again.  When he does – we are saved from the perpetual

do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  do  – you get the idea.

If you are planning something today and want God’s blessing, ask yourself this question:  Was it His idea, or yours?

If it was His idea, how much of it did you decide to pump up, and why?

Be very careful you don’t plan God right out of the plan because if you do – there won’t be any relationship come of it at all.  Even the smallest of things can take His glory away.

God has a plan, and He’s asked us to share it with others.  The simpler we do that the better..   No, so and so isn’t going to pat you on the back, and maybe you who over there is going to scowl.  You might look disorganized or artsy fartsy, but in the end it only matters what God looks like.  It’s always been about HIM.

 

My Master is Painting

Driving alongside the Columbia River that divides the Washington and Oregon States. Even in the rain I see Him.

My Master is painting

I see his hand as we drive by

Broad strokes purposefully plunging the earth into the Columbia

These mammoth hills, his naked canvas

Rock, layered upon layer

Tufted with narrow upward strokes of straw grass

The tip of his brush stamping texture

 

Dabs of color, drips and runs the rain

He breathes in close and fog shrouds the sun

He steps back just one universe’s width, before

Smiling in yellow to highlight the peaks

He stills the wind with an upright palm

Rests his brush on Mars

and admires this valley

I turn to look out our rear view window

“This isn’t goodbye” I whisper

“The road ahead will lead us to more of You”!

©Cindy Palin November 11th, 2012

 

“Clear My Name” Party!

Dear Jesus, it’s me – Cindy….

Is there such a thing as a “clear my name” party?  I know you Jesus and you’ve already done the work, but what if there’s someone down here I love, that’s hurting and people believe something terrible about him?  He’s kept a close account just as you’ve asked Him, and his name is written in the Lamb’s book of life, and You love him!

But there are people down here on earth that believe lies about him, things he’s never, ever done!  What about the years he has to endure those “looks” and hear those “rumors”, the years he has left on earth to remember the Father who wouldn’t love him, the Father who’s very lips began those lies?

I think of Joseph and how his brothers were blinded with jealousy and threw him in a pit, and went home and told their Father that his favorite son was dead.  They actually sold their brother as a slave to some travelers, who took him to Egypt.  Is that what we do, even now Lord, exchange the truth for a lie if it means gold in one’s pocket?

I know you tell us that we can do anything in your strength, and I believe you.  I see how you upheld Joseph, and how Joseph continued in the faith even after his entire family was torn from him, but did Joseph’s strength come in part from knowing that both his earthly Father and Heavenly Father loved him?  Did Joseph’s strength come in part from knowing he was a favorite son?  Did Joseph’s strength solely rest on Your love alone?

I read in your Word how you granted Joseph justice before his earthly Father died and they enjoyed a sweet reunion.  Joseph also enjoyed reconciliation with his brothers because Joseph chose to forgive them.

Lord, our earthly Father is gone. We enjoyed a sweet reunion one Christmas out of a thousand,  before “it” returned.   Some call “it” sickness, others call it “senility”, I have only one word to describe “it”, evil.  We cannot, even though we’ve been betrayed, dare whisper what “it” has stolen from us, because you, O Lord,  have asked us to fix our eyes on You, the author and finisher of our faith!

If we dare linger but a second on “it”, we will sink, the pain is too great and the poison might seep under our skin.

I’ve seen you work miracles, Your mercy alone is all I need.

But I’d still like that “clear my name” party, for him, if that’s o.k. with you?

Wait a minute….

I can’t bear to invite the people who need to be there, the people who need to hear the truth, because we don’t belong together.  Is that what you want me to see, that we don’t belong anyway?  Do I really want to have a party with the living dead to reveal information to them that will only save one, and not the whole?  Do I really want to settle for vindication, or do I want to be impassioned for their souls?   Should I be concerned about my brother’s name, when we know his eternity is secure or should I rather be grieved for the pompous blind, who wander the earth unconcerned with their spiritual destination?

I hear you….Lord.

Amazing, through all this writing and thinking and grieving, You have revealed something incredible to me….a truth that is healing.

You want me to spend the rest of my days on earth clearing Your name.  After all, there are still so many that don’t believe they crucified the Son of the Living God.  They killed an innocent man who took on the sins of many, that those who believed might enjoy a sweet reunion one day in Heaven.

Are we not suffering even now in order to understand, even if it is but a little; your sacrifice?