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22nd of July

A New Day, A New Heart


I’m thankful for the truth—God’s promise in His word . . .

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

Sometimes life pounds us straight into the ground where at every turn there is challenge.  I can feel the driving, the relentless hammering of needs so great all in a week.

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Then Sunday came.  I sat in church hearing a message of repentance, of the need to examine and turn and not to make excuses.  How good I am at making excuses, of rationalizing away the grossest sin-stained parts of my soul, shifting the blame to someone, to something, to anyone, to anything, besides me.  Because, even after all these years, pride is alive.  Pride consumes from the inside out and I feel the death pangs every single time pride raises my voice, every time pride hardens my heart even against those I love most.  And I cringe.  Who am I?

The schizophrenic living of life—no, the crazy torn lie we all swallow whole—that we can have God and Satan too—that holy and evil can cohabitate, that we can live with one foot in the Kingdom of God and the other in the pit of Hell and still expect peace—since when?  Since the Garden?  Since we swallowed the chunk of juicy sweet telling us, “Surely you won’t die?”  Yes.  Since then.  We all do it.  So there’s safety in numbers?  There’s satisfaction in knowing we’re not alone?  That we’re all in this stinking, rotting mass grave together?  I want out.

I want out of the grave.  I want out of the tomb.  I want out of the excuses and the half-lies/half-truths that pound my heart and soul down, making my ears ring with pain, not with praise.

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Last week, one day after another, wore me down and I came to Sunday feeling defeated.  Monday, a funeral of a long-time friend, a year older than I, who died suddenly, and I was concerned because I didn’t have an appropriate black dress.  Really?  Tuesday, family issues I can’t write about because they’ll be read.  Wednesday, escaped horses found four hours later after thinking they’d been taken and the sheriff was called and I was so fuming mad thinking about people who steal with clear conscience.  And then I thought about how I steal from God all the time.  I steal His glory.  I try to take what is not rightfully mine—blessing without obedience—wanting my Father to be proud of me and give me nothing but good even while I disrespect and throw tantrums and live with an enlarged sense of entitlement and don’t even bother to give Him a minute from the 24 hours He gives me each day.  And Thursday?  Starting to feel the pounding.  My head.  My aching back.  My arms.  Setting fence lines and T-poles, each by hand, readying green pasture for horses.  And I just want to run away from the farm.  By Friday, the heat wave cooked me well-done and dry of heart and my temper rose with the thermometer.  And the Accuser pounded me some more . . .

Who do you think you are? 

And I didn’t fight back because I was just—too—tired.

So the final blow came on Saturday during a family outing we had planned.  Looking forward to dinner at Maxwell’s and a movie at The Rivoli to see “42” (highly recommended!) I came out of the theatre a ball of jumbled yarn wound tight and knotted.  One son, nearly 20, making inappropriate noises with non-stop leg shaking in excitement all the way through.  Another son, 15, constantly asking me questions too loudly with his sister in between us, then waving his baseball cap during an exciting scene, whacking his sister smack dab in the middle of the forehead, causing her to scream, popcorn flying, husband tensing, bad moods brewing faster than a witch-on-a-broom summer storm flying in from the west.  And then they wanted ICE CREAM!  But one didn’t.  Because she was in a really foul mood now and decided family outings weren’t worth it.  So I got my “We’re Talkin’ Chocolate” ice cream cone and the guys got their favorite flavors and daughter, she got nothing but a brief  slice of tongue from me for her passive-aggressive behavior.  And the sweet turned sour in my stomach.  And all I wanted to do was get home and plant a pillow over my head and call it a week and not even come up for air.

But I did.  And it was Sunday.  That sermon about repentance sent me reeling—the sermon about hard hearts that might as well have been an industrial strength spot light shining straight on me in the fourth row from the front.  “Yep!  I’m your visual aid!” my inside was saying to the outside gathering of souls that I’m sure were not nearly as grimy as mine.  And of course the pastor who was preaching couldn’t relate to his own words spoken, now could he?   Stinkin’ thinkin’.  That’s what I had.

And then I got knocked to my senses.

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Of course we’re all in the same sin boat together, no matter how lacquered our exteriors.  We’re all in this same pride mess, more regress than progress sometimes than others, and what is our hope?

Our hope is in the unfailing love of a Savior—our Savior Jesus—who knows.  He knows the mess we’ve made of ourselves, of each other, of our whole world.  He knows.  And He still saves, even the saved.  He still comes and loves us right out of the pit where we got pounded into the dark and He lifts us up and out into the bright of His glory.  He does not consume us with fire, though He could.  He consumes us with love, when we come.  When we realize our need so great, so beyond our own giving, He comes.  When we bow our hearts as well as our heads, He hears.  He heals . . .

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14

Since when did we become duped into believing the lie widely circulated today that obedience is optional?  Since when did we start thinking we could blend our spiritual beliefs to our own liking like a cup of Starbucks—tall or grande; decaf or fully leaded; whip or no whip; soy or 2%; Jesus as Lord or Self as Lord?

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Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken a good hard look at myself this week, thanks to the spotlight of the Holy Spirit who convicts not to condemn but to free from the chains I forge, link-by-link, with every disobedient choice, trying hard to believe I can gamble with God and escape negative consequences.  We wear what we forge.  Chains become heavy after a while and they wear us down with their weight.  But Christ offers us another type of binding—a yoke made to fit—a Designer yoke!  And when we allow Him to slip us into His yoke we find it’s not so ill-fitting as we presumed.  It’s actually comfortable and light—an easy wear because we don’t wear it alone.  We wear it with Him who pulls for us, with us.

Yes, Jesus is pulling for us.  He is FOR us.

So when I’m pounded down and buried deep in hard clay, I’m never too far down for Jesus.  He can lift me up.  He can lift you up.  Because God lifted HIM up—on the cross, from the grave, to the heavens.

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Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.  Psalm 90:14

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  Lamentations 3:22-23

It’s Monday morning—a new day—a new week.  I will rejoice and be glad because our God is the God of second and third and fourth and . . . .

innumerable chances . . .

to discover the depth of His love and His grace.

I would be crazy not to love back with all my heart, not to follow on with all my will, this God.

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Categories:  following Christ

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Come stroll the trails with me on our 44 acre Midwest horse farm where I seek God in the ordinary and always find Him--the Extraordinary--wooing, teaching, wowing me with Himself. Thanks for visiting. I hope you will be blessed!

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