Thursday, January 31, 2013

Little Did I Know...

The Best of
Image by Cool Text: Logo and Button Generator
God has a great sense of humor.  Thankfully, it's not gnarly or gross, it's just kind and clever.  It often facilitates His desire to gently illuminate areas of our understanding with truth.  Here's a funny, truthful case-in-point from my life: 

Discovering My Actual Personality Bent

Remember all the rage among Christians back in the mid-90s I think it was, when various popular ministries correlated individual personality traits with that of animals?  You know, the Lion, the Beaver, the Retriever, and the Otter types? Well, for a while my friends and I got hold of those studies and took all the evaluation tests and reveled in the "discovery" of self-categorization nearly ad nauseum.  But my point is that, due to numerous study results, I came away with the iron-clad idea that I was a bona-fide "otter" personality.  I mean, for years after every circle was penciled in and every eraser worn down, I staunchly believed the results which leaned (almost too) heavily toward the otter type, and I was thrilled with that!

However, according to Daddy, I was dead wrong.

A pastor friend was also aware of my misread; in fact, it was rather obvious to her that I wasn't just dreaming or even employing wishful thinking - I was delusional!  When I asked her why she never broke the truth to me, she basically indicated it was for self-preservation, since it was very apparent to everyone that I wanted to be an otter type really badly.  "I wasn't touching it!" she declared.  In hindsight, I admit her response still makes me chuckle, and I see the truth about my personality so clearly now, it's almost incidental.

Sharon the Beaver

One day while relaxed in my home reliving the joy I'd first felt upon being "diagnosed" an otter (a cuddly, cute-nosed, playful, fun-loving creature), I heard the Lord Jesus whisper to me -
"Beloved, you're not an otter - you're a beaver."

I blinked and tilted my head in disbelief.  Surely I was just hearing things...
"A WHAT, Lord?!" I replied, shocked and insulted (how dare He?).

Calmly, He spoke again -
"Your personality bent - it's not that of an otter primarily - it's primarily a beaver."
Well, I don't need to tell you I wasn't coming around very easily to that news, even though it came from God because, to me, not only are beavers butt-ugly, okay... they're dead-serious, head-down, cerebrally-bound, workaholics who whistle on their S's, never have any fun, and rarely even look up!  (Huff, huff...)

[Post-tantrum sentiments:  To all my fellow beaver personality types out there, I offer my sincere apologies for the mindless ravings of my past.  Truce?]

The Scenario

After riding out the tidal wave of my response, God did the coolest thing to prove the truth of what He'd said to me ('cause I still wasn't buying it).  He gave me a "What Would You Do?" scenario also involving my best friend Lynette (a confirmed otter type, btw).  He said - 

Beloved, I'm going to send you on a foot journey of three days.  You'll have proper directions, a backpack, and enough food and water for all three days - but no change of clothing.

You're to deliver a very important package for Me, which you'll carry throughout your journey and give to a specific person by or before a set deadline on the afternoon of the third day.

I felt my mind humbly absorbing all His words and instructions.  I certainly was not going to blow this.  That package was going to be delivered intact and safely, or I would die trying.

The Lord continued - 

You've walked all day and camped out each night and become rather 'fragrant' and sweaty.  But on the dawn of the third day, you spy the landmarks indicating your journey's almost complete.  You walk all morning, rest a while for lunch, and start the last leg of the errand still in good time.  In a couple of hours, you check your watch, drawing near to the campsite where I specified your delivery be made.

You're relieved as you spot the recipient of My package afar off.  Walking down that last, dusty, humid mile to your destination you come to a huge lake of cool, cleansing, refreshing water, and there's at least an hour to go before My delivery deadline.

Do you stop for a while and take a swim before delivering the package, beloved, knowing there's plenty of time for you to be adequately refreshed after a three-day journey in the woods?

Saints, I blurted my answer so fast, I surprised myself.

"No waaay, Lord!" I said, almost appalled at His suggestion.

"I've been walking for THREE DAYS, camping out and winding my way through the woods with what's probably the most important package I'll ever have or carry for anyone, ever... and right before I get to my destination with time to spare, I'm gonna STOP and take a bath?  Are You kidding?!  No! I'M GOING TO DELIVER YOUR PACKAGE!
I can bathe later."

I felt God smiling.  He quietly said, "Good, daughter; well done."  Before I became overwhelmingly pleased with myself, Jesus added - 
"Now I want you to call Lynette and give her that same scenario to see what she says."
I was more than willing... hey, I knew my twin sister was an otter just like me and would, therefore, feel exactly the same way I did.  This was a cinch.

Silly Me

So I did call her and I did present her the same scenario Christ presented me, except - toward the end - I hedged my bet a little by telling her she had only half an hour to make the deadline once she saw the campsite.  Now I knew I had this!

"So what would you do, honey?" I asked with cheery confidence.  Her response shot out like a bullet.  Yeah, a playful... silly... true otter bullet.  "Oh, I'd take a bath!" she said.  "Yeah, go for a swim... then I'd deliver the package."

I thought she was crazy.  I couldn't believe my ears.  Really.

What's worse, I started to rant and rave at her innocent, truthful, harmless response.  But before I built up a full head of steam, Holy Spirit interrupted me and said, softly -
"See, daughter; that's what I mean.  You're a beaver, not an otter."
I froze in mid-rant.  All I could do was put my hand to my mouth realizing I'd been so glaringly exposed!  There was absolutely nothing wrong with Lynette's choice to play in the water prior to delivering God's package - nothing at all.  Yet you'd have thought she slapped my face by my clinched-jawed response.  I was busted... big time.

I stammered out an apology to the Lord - then to Lynette.  Then I talked to the pastor friend.

A Happy Ending

Of course, the Lord has since shown me a myriad of marvelous beaver characteristics and heroes of the Bible (like Moses) who were also of that design.  He's explained why He's integrated these traits into my calling and has shown me that - though it's not my primary type - to add helpful balance, there IS otter in me, secondarily.

That's cool, because I love to laugh - especially at myself!

Smiling in Jesus,
Daddy's Girl

"...fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

His Precious Seed

The truth that I am Abba's real daughter means more to me than anything in the world.
In a word the Lord once said to me,
"It is I from whence you descend..."
I believe He said a host of other wonderful things in that word - but I don't remember one of them to this day.

Several years ago, when God was dealing hot and heavily with my "father" issues, I recall asking Him about the scriptural matter of adoption and where I was supposed to put that in my emotions.  Feeling like a square peg in a round hole, I remember saying -

Lord, about this spirit of adoption - please know my heart in this in that I am not ungrateful that, as a Gentile,  I have been grafted into Your family as Your word says.  Being "adopted" is all well and good - honestly - but deep, deep down you don't really, really, really belong to your adoptive family; you've just been very generously and lovingly "accepted".

My heart ached; and as my query pressed against the failing dam of my emotions, I began to sob and could barely get the next words out.  I lifted my tear-soaked eyes to God and desperately added,

But, God... I NEED TO BELONG somewhere... to someone... for real.  Is it You?  Is it You, Lord?  Are You my TRUE AND ONLY FATHER for real, God?  O, God... please let it be You!

The Best of
That's what I asked of Him.  It's what I begged of Him. Maybe back then I should have known it wasn't necessary for me to beg Him, but I didn't.  I beseeched Him, and I have never been more desperate to know anything else in my life.  The whole adoption thing just wasn't cutting it for me, because I WANTED GOD TO BE MY TRUE AND HONEST-TO-GOODNESS LIVING FATHER, with all rights and privileges of love and affection included.  O, how I longed for that affection!  And did God anger at my question? Did He chide me for my genuine, innocent, ignorance?

Positively not.

As I sat weeping and trembling, with my head practically between my knees, Jesus walked over and sat down on the carpet beside me.  He put His healing arm around me, pulled me close, and buried His head in my neck.  Then He wept with me and willingly received my sorrow at the Father's loving behest.  When my mind cleared, in the spirit I glimpsed the expanse of Abba's chest.  Miles and miles from shoulder to shoulder I saw ethereal garments expand as if inflating upon Him... and I heard His deeeep inhalation.

Still captured in awe by what I saw, I began hearing His breath expel in the heavens high above the view of His chest.  Abba had taken a very deep breath, and was breathing it out into Heaven's atmosphere, when OUT of His mouth and into the air, like a fluffy new sparrow, burst a tiny, translucent-white, spirit.  It descended to Abba like a downy feather floating in slow, gentle zig-zags, and He cupped it tenderly to His breast.  It was lovely.

Afterward, I realized Christ had imparted the vision of my spirit's actual birth from the very breath of Abba!  We're all birthed that way, Saints.  But in my youth and mental pool of rejection and wounding, I had forgotten the Father has declared,
"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine..." (Ezekiel 18:4a)
Then Daddy said to me,
"I breathed you out from My very loins, beloved.  You are My Seed... Mine alone."
Friends, those were the sweetest words my soul had ever heard.  To me, they are eternal honeycombs of sustaining HOPE, favor, meaning, purpose, and cause.  I get out of bed joyfully each day, Saints, because I AM HIS, forever.  Truly His, and nobody else's!

I always cry when He sweetly refers to me as, "My Seed" because that goes deeper within me than simply, "My daughter", though I love that as well.  With "My Seed" He's claiming me as truly part of His own body... and nothing in existence means more to me than that.

In and of Himself, our God is the one and only, most important meaning of life.  And I also recognize the issue of spiritual adoption as a precious gift that surgically bonds us to the Royal Family of God through Christ's shed Blood. I am unutterably grateful for it.


Give the Godhead a group hug today, folks; They'll never back away.  They'll lean into you, wrap loving arms around you, and press you to Their heart.  They're mushy - each one of Them - and that I dearly love.   :0)

Filling Up on Hugs,
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

An Incomparable Gift

I used to be a die-hard NBA fan.  From the days of Julius Erving and Larry Bird right up through Patrick Ewing, Carl Malone, and Michael Jordan I followed the bouncing basketball and my favorite teams at an all-consuming pace.

However, Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals turned the eyes of my heart from the TV screen to Daddy's matchless goodness, forever.
"Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."  (Eph. 6:8)
I have never been a Chicago Bulls fan.
The Phoenix Suns weren't my favorite team, either.
But there it was... the championship match-up, and I wasn't going to miss it.

Back then, the Bulls' trophy shelf held only two titles and, by Game 6 of the series, a third was in sight.  But, like I said - I was not a Bulls fan.  So I prayed. And I didn't so much pray for the Suns to win as for the Bulls to lose.  Hey, that's how it goes in fan land, folks! ;0)
The Best of
My prayer went something like - Father, please don't let the Bulls win another championship! Please let the Suns win.

All my fan-fervor went into that prayer and, hey, being a favored daughter, I felt my single request locked that trophy into a cabinet of defeat for the Bulls and threw away the key... until I heard Abba's answer.

Through the pre-game theme music, fanfare, and popcorn Holy Spirit quietly spoke to me.
"It is necessary for the Bulls to win," He said.  "But I will allow the Suns to 'scare' them."
I remember kind of squinting my eyes and tilting my head at His words - disappointed, of course, but still too curious not to watch the game even though I knew its outcome.

Four grueling quarters featured some of the best athletic interchanges in all of basketball as guys like Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, and Danny Ainge fought valiantly against the two-time champion force of MJ and Scottie Pippen - it was rough, and exciting, and wonderful!  Fans of that day may recall it being one of Jordan's toughest battles prior to opposing teams falling to mental fatigue and downright intimidation in later years.  Long-story-short, the Suns did "scare" the Bulls, just like Abba said.

Final score: Bulls 99, Suns 98.  Reallyyy close but, as they say, the W is the W. Although thanked the Lord for a thrilling spectacle of sportsmanship I'll not soon forget, I still didn't understand why He let the already-arrogant Bulls have their way that day...

Then Michael Jordan's father was murdered a month later.

Watching news accounts of how close the two had been and the joy they shared over Michael's successes brought it all home to me.  That 1993 match-up would be the last victory young Jordan would share with his dad, and God in His mercy chose to honor that.

Abba told me that, even though Michael's heart didn't belong to Him, the genuine loyalty he felt for his father reminded Him of Jesus' great love and loyalty, and that was the last opportunity for Him to reward that allegiance with triumph.

Saints, I cried.  Do you see the wonderful heart of God?!  O, His mercy is past our understanding, and His wisdom past our finding out!

From then on, I rejoiced in His choice to honor Michael Jordan's love for his father; in fact, it truly humbled me.  Daddy deemed it necessary that father and son have one last moment of joy together.  He deemed it necessary to honor the heart of a young man who had done a "good thing" in loving and being loyal to his dad.  It didn't matter that Michael wasn't saved, it didn't matter that I wanted the Suns to win.  What mattered to Abba was the sonship of Christ's heart mirrored within the character of Jordan toward his father.  What mattered was the staggering, unstoppable, everlasting mercy of our God's heart.   It is an incomparable gift to humanity outstretched to all who honor its attributes - saved or unsaved - by God's power.

God's heart is filled with compassion and love reigning inexhaustibly over the sons and daughters of the earth in every walk of life in His creation... and He will have mercy upon whom He will.

Thank God and His goodness for that.

In His Heart Every Day,
Daddy's Girl

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Poem of Encouragement

Like so many who consistently touch our lives for good, my best friend and spiritual twin sister Lynette is often unappreciated by those around her.   We all have those particular people in our lives, don't we?  You know, the ones who work thanklessly for the good of us and others and who give the shirts off of their backs to strangers, genuinely expecting nothing in return?  Sometimes I rub my eyes, look at Lynette, and rub my eyes again because of the true example of pure-hearted Christian giving she lives and breathes before me each day.

From the post titled, "Dear Lynette", you all know what a gift she is to me and how much God uses her in my life.  As she has continued to give out and give out to me and my dreams and cause, Holy Spirit enabled me to reach out to her in the most powerful way I know (other than prayer). He sat down inside of me and penned a sonnet to her - the first I'd ever written - filled with His truth in loving expression He knew would encourage her, for only truth can encourage. 

He's put it on my heart to share it today with all of you, and I pray you are blessed by it.

     (Copyright ©  1996 by Sharon Joy Gramling)

In the depths of the ocean blue, where nobody sees,
are fine and flowing flowers blown by the water's breeze.
They expand and fling their colors about the ocean floor
and just because no one can see and no one can adore
the finesse of their spun tentacles, their hues brilliant or plain,
doesn't mean that they're unlovely; their majesty remains.
They're most attractive, probably, because they don't realize
that in the darkness of the sea, they're God's best-kept surprise.
So, too, are you my friend; your full and fragrant glow
is so like the homespun, powdered gift that loving hands would sew.
As the covered, unsung, woolen socks which warm a baby's toes,
you're modest - like a puckered bud not knowing it's a rose.
     Look up, my darling, for you'll see the whole truth in my eyes:
     Inside you, thus most privileged, is where true beauty lies.

Friends, ask the Lord to give you a special encouragement today for the people in your lives who often go unappreciated.  He will.  No matter how often you share the truth of your love, it will always encourage... Daddy planned it that way.

Be blessed and blessed and blessed,
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

True Strength and Honor

Society has its own definitions of strength and weakness.  So does the enemy.
So does our Daddy.

I have a nephew who weighs about 230 lbs. and is built like a freight train. He enjoys fitness and body-building.  He also loves the Lord.

Reuben is only six years my junior - we were raised together - and he's an expert marksman and combat technician, serving eight years in the United States Marine Corps (I'm told it's basically against the law to ever call them ex-Marines).  He also knows how to kill someone in, like, 450 different ways and can bench-press about 500 pounds.  I remember him scooping me up in his arms once like I was a sack of sugar, then bouncing me a few times declaring he works out with weights heavier than me! (And I'm not what you'd exactly call thin, btw.)

All of that "tough stuff" notwithstanding, my nephew's got a heart like a playful, fat-bellied, puppy dog.  To me, that is what makes him one of the world's strongest men.

Moreover, were he not of such tender, soft-hearted character I would still love him, but I'd also view him as just another fitness fan who goes about flexing his muscles and sipping dietary supplements.   But Reuben's not like that.  There's much more to his insides than his outside, and that's why God's mercy follows him wherever he goes.

I believe that all souls today - but men, especially - need to understand God's view and definition of true strength.  Like I said at the start, society and satan define it one way, and God another.  A merciful, compassionate, softhearted man is one of the most attractive, powerful specimens of masculinity in existence.  That's not only my opinion - its truth originates in the character of Almighty God:
"Bless the Lord, O, my soul and all that is within me; bless His Holy Name...Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies...The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy...He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy upon those who reverently regard Him...As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who reverently regard Him.  For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust."
So many more scriptures define His sweetness but, growing up, I remember how the truth about Daddy in these excerpts from Psalms 103 gripped my soul's plea and gave me hope for deeper relationship with God and with a man truly sold out to Him, possessed of His priceless attributes.  

My Pastor's brother, Van, is also a man of compassion who society has ridiculed for his tender heart all of his life.  God constantly uses our deep rapport and spiritual kinship to deliver my emotions from fleshly grievances against men.  In truth, each time I work up a silly lather regarding some man's actions or reactions to a thing (whether I know the guy or not),  as I'm poised to cast the fiery blanket of self-righteous judgement over all men in existence, Holy Spirit gently asks one question...  "What about Van?"

When that happens, I always see Jesus dipping His hand into God's waters of life and delicately pouring them over me, extinguishing the prickly sparks of my hard-hearted fuse.

Merciful God.

Society will tell you that it's the outside that makes a man (or woman).  It will tell you that the possession of money and status and things in callous, judgmental pride is where real strength and honor lie; but God's kids know differently... or at least we should.  God's encouragements are extended to us in the truth that it's what's inside hearts of men and women that make or break them as people.  Saints, what if the Lord wasn't compassionate?  What if He wasn't tender, full of mercy and loving-kindness?  Well, for one thing He wouldn't be God if that were true, because it takes unconditional love to rule and reign in sovereignty... hatred just couldn't do that.  But if by some impossibility those immutable aspects left His character - where would you and I be?

We wouldn't exist at all because He'd never have created us.  Remember, we were created for love's sake.  We were created to love Him!  Period.

Merciful men, take a truthful look at yourselves and be glad.  Lift your eyes to your Heavenly Father and thank Him for the tears that streak your cheeks over (seemingly) the smallest, "sweetest" things.  Remember, God still coos softly at tentative footfalls of babes learning to walk, and God created beautiful flowers, heavenly aromas, and breathtaking sunsets.  God did that... Almighty God.  All who embrace God's tender heart will be crowned with His true strength and honor. 

May God draw everyone to His life-giving fount of wisdom flowing from the heart of Christ Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

In His Bosom Forever,
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sing it with me: God is Good!

I was raised in the church "back in the day" - before the advent of technically-skilled worship teams ascending platforms to lead huge congregations in praise.

While I'm not Methuselah, I do recall one-organ, one-piano churches set off of public highways in rickety buildings only large enough to hold 150 members; the church I grew up in wasn't much more than that.  But before the enemy's ways swooped down on our life through the foul indulgences of my earthly father, there were those old deacons and church mothers who truly believed in and worshiped God themselves, as did their parents and parents' parents and so forth.  These elders took delight in coming to church on Wednesday nights and leading the prayer service, making music all their own with hearts and  hands and feet.  Holy Spirit was all over it, and my mother saw to it that her little girl was brought to those services and plopped right down in the middle of it all.

I'm so glad.

The Best of
I am so very grateful to God for my precious, sold-out-to-Jesus mother, who made certain to the best of her ability that I was raised in an atmosphere of singing in true Godliness and praise among those old Saints.  I remember many times looking under the wooden pews at their synchronized foot stomping, effortlessly and skillfully coordinated with clapping hands as they all sang in rhythmic praise to the Three in One.  It was wonderful and, although I didn't understand exactly the makeup of what took hold of me as I listened to their unity in adulation, I knew I liked it.  I was a child, but my spirit man recognized and welcomed Holy Spirit's Hand on me.

I love the old songs of that day; I was raised on them.  Mahalia Jackson, The Clara Ward Singers, Dorothy Love Coates and the Gospel Harmonettes, The Caravans; and then later, all the marvelous melodies from Walter and Edwin Hawkins... this music flows through my veins, and I still have most of it preserved in the vinyl LPs my mother purchased in Harlem, NY a million years ago.  Talk about a musical legacy...

Those were the days.

A marvelous song called "God is Good", sung by Regina Belle, came to my attention a few years ago when I testified at our fellowship about being exposed to the rustic "music" Holy Spirit fiercely inhabited which helped seal me in God's plan.  My loving friends secretly purchased her CD during the week and played the song for me the following Sunday.  I listened in tears, recalling how that youthful embrace of Godliness planted the seeds for my repentance.

The link at the end of this post takes you to the YouTube recording I like best; it's introduced by her brother. The song's old-time hand-clapping and foot-stomping comes through clearly.  Listen to the words, Saints... I dare you not to shout! THIS is the kind of atmosphere in which I was raised - many of us "nearly-fifty fogies" were! ;0)

Thank You, Jesus!

I love to play the song alone in my bedroom, because I immediately become the nine-year-old in 1974 feeling Holy Spirit move and groove in that little church, sealing my heart forever... it still makes me cry.

Also, I'm in a place to be particularly blessed by this song of late, because its powerful declarative testimony speaks to God's provision in all things.  May you be blessed by the everlasting TRUTH that God is Good.

Blessed by His Tender Heart Continually,
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Praise and the Fire of God

I enjoy playing conga drums.

Nearly four years ago, the desire to learn an instrument seized me such that I could not ignore it.  I'd pluck at the harp occasionally and beat a good tambourine but nothing more. So I asked Daddy which instrument He'd have me learn, and I heard Him say clearly, "Congas".  His choice seemed a bit odd until I tried them for the first time.  It was love at first strike.

Faithfully, Abba led me to a Christian conga master named William Johnson, and I learned online the various "stick control" hand motions necessary to make the fascinating vessels sing in full range before God.  Before God - I liked the sound of that.  I also really loved the notion of skin-on-skin percussive praise; it just seemed very organic and fruitful.  It was. Here are my drums:
The Fire of God
I have African, Native American, Celtic, and French blood in my ancestry so, to say the least, my friends - I've got rhythm!  ;0) While I can't burst into an energetic River Dance for you, by God's power I can sure beat a tune to bless you on this beautiful holy trio I have aptly named, The Fire of God.

Holy Spirit revealed to our fellowship that percussive tones played through the hands of Daddy's kids reflect the cadence of His Heart.  Isn't that amazing?  What's more, the lower tones of my biggest drum (at far left) - called the Tumba - affect deliverance in my life and the lives of the hearers as I play.  The higher musical tones bring restoration, as He told us years ago.

The truth of His deliverance explains so much in terms of why I've often left my drums, after a session, feeling much more than merely cheered up - I've felt free!  And it's even much more than a feeling, Saints, it's a reality of curses being broken off of me; it's the truth of being loosed from demonic forces sent against me in the atmosphere... it's the truth of God's Almighty hand of power breaking the back of the enemy in my life, and I just LOVE HIM for it!

Who but God, friends, could put such heavenly fire power in the pleasurable act and joyful undertaking of giving praise to His Holy Name?  When I play my drums, the power of God is at work, and I'm lost in the beauty of prayer and praise to Him filtering skillfully through my hands... God is such fun!  Such powerful, magnificent  p l e a s u r e  inhabits serving Him!  Indeed, JOY "unspeakable and full of Glory"!  Hallelujah!

Percussion in the Name of Jesus resides in every willing heart, y'all.  It doesn't have to be a set of congas that you beat; anything that resonates - including a coffee table or a refrigerator - can be made a life-changing instrument reflecting the cadence of Abba's Heart and bringing new freedom to your life.  For truly, we all carry the fire of God within us... and His Name is Jesus.

Drumming with JOY in Him,
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Identity Issues

I always feel bad for contestants on cooking shows who are crushed by losing.  I think it's mainly because these highly-talented individuals have placed every ounce of their identity in what they do.  Identity issues can be the most confusing of all personal dilemmas because the answer to them is often choked out by fleshly weeds.

I happen to enjoy cooking shows particularly (more than I enjoy cooking), but when any contestant anywhere leaves a competition discouraged and confounded, with their head down, often in tears, questioning their purpose in life, I grieve.  I also pray for them because I know what it's like to weigh life's value on society's scale; I'd say most of us do. Indeed, whenever I've placed the priceless coin of my identity (and, therefore, self-worth) into the slot machine of worldly opinion, words like catastropherejection, and failure clunk into place in mocking succession. 

In this place, I held barriers of misconception that would make the Berlin Wall resemble a park bench.  But when I think on the careful and loving approach Holy Spirit took to delivering my life from identity issues, this verse of scripture comes forward...  
"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died, and your life is hidden in Christ with God.  When Christ Who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in Glory." (Col. 3:2-4)
God is faithful.

Daddy wanted me first to realize that the focus of my personal value systems and life assessments shouldn't be anywhere near the things of this earth.  This earth is corruptible, this earth is perishing, and my "old man" was of the corruptible earth.

Moreover, now that I'm in Christ, Daddy's word also says...
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (2 Cor. 5:17)
So He wasn't even dealing with me from the perspective of the flesh.  He doesn't actually communicate with my flesh, either; which isn't something I always knew.  Abba speaks to me "spirit to spirit" - that's the only communication He's interested in, because the flesh can't hear Him - especially my flesh!

I began to truly understand that where I put my focus in terms of assessing and valuing His life in me has nothing to do with the earth because, in Christ, I'm born again of incorruptible "seed"; that means I'm no longer a child of death but of life.  The inheritance from my earthly father was corruptible, but the inheritance I receive as a new creation in Christ is of my Heavenly Father Who is incorruptible and lives forever!  Hallelujah!

The theme of "child and Father" became a repetitive one for a reason, and when my heart asked the ultimate question of "so, who am I, Lord? What is my identity by Your definition?"  this is what He said to me in a word through my Pastor,
You are a daughter of Christ, baptized into the family of Christ through His shed blood and redemptive plan.  That is who you are.
With that, everything fit, my friends.  Since the world and the things of it are perishing and will pass away, identity placed in the world is also corrupt and perishable.  Ten out of ten times that way, I'm guaranteed to walk away from circumstance after circumstance dejected, rejected, and discouraged, just like those contestants.  BUT IN CHRIST, my true identity can never be taken away from me because Christ is in God by the power of Holy Spirit and the Three cannot perish or even fade away... They are Eternal.  Abba IS Eternity! The Godhead is incorruptible.  They live forever and identity placed "in Them" can never be taken away.  Praise Their Holy Name which is summed up in the Name that is ABOVE EVERY NAME... the sweet and incomparable Name of Jesus!

Hallelujah!  Who is like HIM Who gives reality and meaning to our lives? Who gives us purpose and breath and cause? Bless His Holy Name, for NONE IS LIKE UNTO HIM from everlasting to everlasting!  Oh, brag on Him, y'all, for HE IS WORTHY, and He is ours forever - Glory to His Name!

The Lord mercifully healed my perspectives with this truth, causing me to realize that I cannot place my identity in anything that can be taken away from me.  When I approach everything from the truth that I am Christ's daughter, everything yields to His perspective. All of my thoughts, opinions, imaginations, and desires bow the knee automatically to His directives within me by Holy Spirit.  As long as I am in Christ Jesus, I will never again be lost, for I have been found; death no longer has victory over me, for I have been redeemed and born again of incorruptible seed.  Christ lives in me, Who is the very Hope of Glory - the very Hope of my eternal relationship with the Father... so what should I fear or regard of earth's assessments?  Absolutely nothing.

There is never true loss in Christ - only lessons.  By His definition there are no failures - only opportunities to grow and, believe me, Saints - there is NO death in Him - only life! This truth was sealed in me in a whole new way when He allowed me the priceless visit (and subsequent visits) to Heaven to see my mom... I know what I'm praising about!

Are you a son or daughter of Jesus?  There's your identity.  It's not in being a butcher, a baker, or ice cream maker, my friends - it's found solely in your being a child of Christ. That's it, and that's everything you need.

Let's pray...

[Merciful God, in Jesus' Name, please enable us all to release the world's hold on our mindsets of identity and self-assessment.  Father, in Jesus' Name I do reject the lie that says my identity is in any person, place, or thing other than You, and I accept and receive my true identity as Your child.  I am Your son/daughter - that is all I need for fullness of life and Godliness.  I cover and seal this truth and new life within me with the Blood of Jesus, and I forbid the enemy, his minions, or operatives any access to any of it all, ever - in Jesus' Name.  Thank You, Lord. Amen.]

Hooray!  :0)

Bursting with JOY in His Spirit,
Daddy's Girl

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Loving Thoughts

God is unfathomable, and yet He allows Himself to be plumbed.  Imagine that.

I often lay in the quiet of my bedroom thinking about Him and His magnificence.  I often ponder that He even tried to make our world, let alone actually did.  It's not the matter of His ability I ponder as much as it is His willingness despite the risks.  I'm so glad that, when we go beyond all "this", there is only Him.  You know what I mean?

Have you ever realized or allowed yourself to contemplate seriously the enormity of the Lord?  Or the truth that He sits on His Throne and is totally and consumingly enraptured by humans whom He created?  Do you ever dwell on the truth that God had a dream in creating all of us?  God had a dream.  Imagine that.

God is the unending Resource and Supply and the most powerful governing being in existence; yet His most ecstatic joy comes in allowing Himself to be stilled by us so that we can feed from His breast.  Think of that.  Allow Holy Spirit to come upon you long enough to fasten you to the Lord's bosom that you might draw from His amazing fullness and holiness and blessing in truly realizing the magnitude of all-consuming Source for humankind He is.

Allow yourselves to be in awe  of Him... it's a wonderful feeling, but it's more than that.  It's a plane and state of existence even more miraculous than life itself.  God's favor is more precious than life, even though God IS life.  Imagine that.

The life we expend here is life empowered by God - it's life in God, but it is not the life OF God.  There's a difference between living in the Master's house and being a son of the Master.  Only in sonship is the reality of true inheritance in God realized.  Only in being joined to the Lord do we become one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17).  And that is Christ's fondest prayer and desire expressed in John 17:20-23.  Being the Master and enveloping His sons and daughters in His all-encompassing, capable arms forever is what God's dream is all about.  Did you hear that?  We are what God's dream... WE are the focus of God's dreams, entirely, because Daddy is a family man.

Scripture verses like, "now  unto Him Who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that you can ask or think according to the power that works in us," (Eph. 3:20) have always fascinated me because they say right out that how far we go in God is up to us.  Let that reality and truth strike you.  How far we go in God is entirely up to us.  Ever really think about that in terms of plumbing an unfathomably deep well?  What about trying it?  That's what Holy Spirit said to me.  Years ago, Saints, He approached me and asked me to "taste and see".  He's asking it of all of us, but only some of us take Him seriously.  How unutterably strange is that?  The God of the Universe holds out His hand and asks us to take it - and we hesitate.

Imagine that.

Obviously, there have been quite a lot of deep thoughts on my mind lately.  Holy Spirit puts them there when He beckons me to venture forth to another level in God.  When we really listen, it's evident He does that with all of us.  It's like sitting on a mine of gold or innumerable diamonds and not even trying to tap its richness until the landowner reminds us it's there.  Sometimes I amaze myself in having to be reminded of such things.  God is the resource of resources, the supply of all supplies and He wants me to embrace Him so that He can realize His dream.  Think about that, Saints.  Relationship with us... full and fragrant, powerful relationship with us is the meaning and fruition of the Holy One's dream. Period.

God wants you.
God wants me.
God wants all of us together.
We're His family.

Apart from His fantastic fellowship with the Godhead, nothing matters to Him more.  He's chosen to have US as His centerpiece in love and desire for fellowship in fullness and wholeness.  He's chosen us to join Him in exploring the universe of His creations together.  He's chosen us, Saints.  He's chosen us.  Imagine that.

My soul says, I want You, O, Lord, more than I want anything.  My imagination's door is open to You.  Don't you want Him, Saints, today such that you will open the doors of your heart to the unimaginable, unfathomable, coolest, peerless richness of His love?  The One you can say anything to... the One you can wrap the arms of all your emotions around and just celebrate His heart in tears lying before His Throne.  God loves that.  He loves it when all we can do in His Presence is cry and thank Him like little children.  He loves it when we don't know what to say because our words are afloat amid gushes of love and desire and thanksgiving of our hearts toward Him.  He loves it.  

He can't get enough of our love.  He orchestrated it so that we're loving and returning His love of us for all of eternity.  He loved us first.  I said that to Him, once.  I said Lord I'm so wanting to express myself in love to you, but all I can do is praise.  All I can do is stand here and cry and laugh and worship and not articulate anything.  His heart wrapped around me in absolute fits of love, beloved, and this is what this awesome God said to me...

"I read every word of your heart to Me, beloved.  I read every word of your emotions you can't put into phrases.  I formed your heart, I know its language; I know every nuance of love and laughter and joy you have for Me, dearheart.  I formed you, I know you, and love you.  I am drawn to your fragrance like a bee is drawn to honey's pool from a tender plant. I love you."
Has the Father ever expressed His heart to you?  He longs to do it... believe me.

Cover yourself with the Blood of Jesus in prayer and still your heart to hear His voice; He'll sing sonnets of love to your spirit and bare His breast of desire before you; He is not ashamed.  He has no pride or arrogance to keep Him from His beloved.  He will stand and wait in the rain for us - hands and arms outstretched - until we turn and race to His anointed shelter.  I am so in love with Him... and it is because He first loved me.

Imagine that.

In total awe of Him,
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Acorns of Encouragement and Faith

Encouragement is a beautiful thing.  I thank God for it.

Back in the late '90s, I loved the TV series called Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman - basically, the story of a female medical doctor who forsakes her patrician upbringing in Boston to pursue her own practice in the Colorado frontier around 1872 but then finds herself the adopted mother of three and wife of a local mountain man before the series ends.  Replete with all the adventure, drama, and romance of traditional TV westerns, this show piqued my interest in numerous ways, not the least of which was because it starred Jane Seymour (a favorite actress of mine) in the lead role as Michaela Quinn.  Also, I was attracted to its obvious "woman as underdog" theme as well as its "cowboys and indians" subplots, since I'm half Native American.

But all that notwithstanding, the show's true draw for me was that many of its episodes - skillfully written by Beth Sullivan - contained prophetically encouraging elements I found richly gratifying.

Throughout life, I've discovered simple truths and encouragements are the most profoundly uplifting.

For instance, a scene from one of the show's early episodes features Michaela speaking to her youngest adoptive son, Brian - then a boy of eight or nine - about whether or not he should plant an acorn he found.  He'd been advised against planting it by others who said he'd never live to see it a fully-grown oak tree, because that would take 100 years.

This is the part I love best.  As Brian clutched the acorn and hung his little head in discouragement, Michaela took his hand in hers, looked into his eyes and said [paraphrasing] oh, but Brian you must plant it.  For when you come back to it next year, it will be at your shoulders; and when you've finished all your schooling, it will be taller than you.  Then when you're old enough to go courting, you and your lady friend can sit beneath it and have a picnic in its shade.  And it doesn't matter if you're not around to see it fully grown; all that matters is today.  Today, you held 100 years in your hand!

What if the patriarchs and elders of old gave up on "planting" the seeds of the gospel on our behalf, beloved?  What would any of us have done without Noah and his righteousness before God?  What would we do today if it had not been for the simple, willing contributions in faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?    All their miraculous acts paved the way for Messiah by beginning as little "acorns" of faith in their hearts.   They didn't focus on what seemed insignificant or on seasons in which they would not partake.  Rather, for the sake of others their acts would benefit, they focused on the theme of their day and carried out the missions given to them by the Lord.  They believed by God's encouragements and power that planting their seed of faith would benefit and bless those of us waiting at the other end of hundreds and thousands of years.  Saints, we stand now at the "oak" they planted, thanking God for their faithfulness.  Amen.

Take the hand of a child today and encourage them to follow Jesus, for God made acorns of faith to grow into mighty oaks.  Take the hand of your brother and sister in Christ and encourage them to keep moving; keep trusting and believing in His righteous, holy Name for no one's faith is wasted.  God has an oak tree of blessing planned for every acorn of faith.

Be encouraged, dear ones; for today you hold the next generation of miracles in your hand.

Smiling in Jesus, 
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Praise in Painting and Poetry

Since Sunday is His Day for praise, honor, and worship unto Him (and so is every day, really), I'm going to do so by sharing some of what He's given me in painting and poetry.  The love of poetic verse I've had all of my life; painting in oils is a newly-acquired, supernatural gifting by Daddy's hand.  Before His impartation, I'd never been able to draw or paint anything skillfully.  Now I've put poetry and painting together to grant you further insight to the utter joy God generously has bestowed upon my life.  At left is my first-ever oil painting.
"A Place to Rest"
Copyright © 2012 - Sharon Joy Gramling
When I finished this work, I was thrilled, but also captured by the truth that, no matter how gnarly the tree appears, to a wing-worn fowl it is a welcomed place of rest.  Saints, remember that God doesn't look at things the way we look at them - His word says that.  We may look narrowly at a person or thing whose loveliness isn't pushed forward and instantly form critical, hurtful opinions; but the Lord alone defines beauty.  He told me He often assigns great purpose and worth to people and things "overlooked" by the world; He loves doing that.  That truth soothes my soul when, otherwise, all I see in my mirror is the passing of years.  

After giving me this painting, Daddy's encouragements also inspired this poem:

(Copyright © February, 2012 - Sharon Joy Gramling)

I have a thing for gnarly trees and puckered buds and bumble bees;
the things that make one run away or shriek in awe or humbly sway
are things that I delight in most - like gumbo soup and crumbly toast.

The God we serve has such a heart for silly things that burst apart
or children who are lost all day and somehow faintly find their way
(through hills of deep and frosty snow amid winds high and vision low)
to burning fires of home and hearth before sleep takes them in the dark.

He’s the One Who holds such things in circles cool beneath His Wings.
He speaks love to their humble hearts and puts their burdens miles apart
from all that He’s enthroned in them, then fills the void up safe with Him.

So when you see a gnarly tree or puckered bud or bumble bee
do not “knee-jerk” to run away, but stay awhile - just think and stay.
Remember God’s got hold of you in all the silly things you do
and see and think and move and say… and yet, He loves you anyway. 

I bless God for His unconditional love of me! Lord willing, in future posts I'll share more of my artwork and poetry to Abba's praise, honor, and glory.  He mercifully declares that - like the restorative power of a quenching, flowing river over dry land - every place His Spirit's Heart and Hands touch in our lives shall live.  To that my soul says, Amen.

Giving Him Hugs and Glory,
Daddy's Girl

"... fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
(Romans 12:11b)