Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Love of God

I have been reading "Lies that Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  Summer, a precious friend of mine told me it was a must read for all women and I would agree with her.  It has been very helpful in pointing out lies that I have grown to believe over time and the truth that should rule in my life.  I wanted to share a quick quote from this book that I am still soaking up.
"Put together all the tenderest love you know of, the deepest you have ever felt, and the strongest that has ever been poured out upon you, and heap upon it all the love of all the loving human hearts in the world, and then multiply it by infinity, and you will begin, perhaps, to have some faint glimpse of what the love of God is."
Hannah Whitall Smith

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There is a Season for Every Activity under Heaven

"We don't control the seasons; they happen to us.  Winter, spring, summer and fall come to us whether we like it or not.  Their rhythms teach us about our spiritual lives and the ways f God.  Consider the following description on the paradox of death and rebirth in nature and in our lives.
'Autumn is a season of great beauty, but it is also a season of decline: the days grow shorter, the light is suffused, and summer's abundance decays toward winter's death...In my own experience of autumn, I am rarely aware that seeds are being planted...But as I explore autumn's paradox of dying and seeding, I feel the power of metaphor.  In the autumnal events of my own experience, I am easily fixated on surface appearances - on the decline of meaning, the decay of relationships, the death of a work.  And yet if I look more deeply, I may see the myriad possibilities being planted to bear fruit in some season yet to come.  
In retrospect, I can see in my own life what I could not see at the time - how the job I lost helped me find work I needed to do, how the 'road closed' sign turned me toward terrain I needed to travel, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to discern meanings I needed to know.  On the surface, it seemed that life was lessening, but silently and lavishly the seeds of new life were always being sown.'"  Parker Palmer from Daily Office

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Precious Boys from ABP3

Marlon on the left and JayJay on the right

Paolo and Buknoy 

Ronald in front of the wall painting that Lindsey painted..  
Albert - he's quite a scholar
Marlon and JayJay (another scholar) and Buknoy

Friday, March 06, 2009

Living Life Out of the CENTER

Yesterday I was very unsettled.  I read my Bible a bit and felt the Lord calling me to read some more but I didn't want to, so I got busy and did everything I could think of doing.  Then, again I felt the Lord telling me to sit down and read a bit.  Finally, I gave up and sat down in my reading chair and glanced at my books.  Which one do I need to read today??  Lindsey has always laughed at me as most often I have 5 books going at one time.  But as is always the case, God leads me to read just what He is wanting me to hear.  I picked up The Lion and the Lamb by Brennan Manning.  The chapter was on living out of the Center (Jesus Christ) and I couldn't put it down.  It actually dove tailed quite well from yesterday's post, having a relationship simply between God and my soul where others are but shadows.  That is living out of the Center. What was so incredible is that Manning gave so many hands on applications which, I often need. Manning indicated that Living out of the Center (lootc) is actually a life of waiting, anticipating and seeking Christ's presence; literally centering upon Him.  The opposite of lootc is "living on the surface".  "Life is an experience without an agenda when you are lootc".  Well, I quickly saw that I wasn't living life much out of the center as my life daily is caught up in my own plans and projects; I most always have an agenda and many things to get accomplished.
Lootc "enables me to blend for a moment into a greater background, to be still and know that God is God."  A background centered (focused) on Christ and not my own fears!  Once again moving the clutter of my life into the shadows.
Living out of the center is a determination to make Christ the Center of my life.  To be able to lose myself in "it's good to be here, even if I don't know where here is".  To be able to rest in Christ (STOP) and trust Christ especially in the chaotic times of life AND to stop trying to figure things out and analyze things, once again moving all of that clutter into the shadows. Umm that one knocked the breath out of me cause I have such difficulty laying it at the cross and not taking it back and thinking about it, no I analyze it.  Manning indicated that when we are lootc, "inner stillness is enough for the moment, it's enough just to be centered in Jesus Christ". Living out of the center is to "know that I am poor and sinful but living with a spirit of self-acceptance without self-concern.  And living on the surface is "being discontented, feeling guilty, fearful, and shameful". I found Manning describing such peace and focus on Christ alone and me pushing (maybe shoveling by the dump truck loads) everything else into the shadows.  
But of course Manning didn't stop there, he had to talk about the trust/people issue!!  I was pegged again.  Manning pointed out that lootc is "living to please God as Jesus Christ did.  And this living to please God should free us from peer pressure.  Manning said, "Jesus Christ was not intimidated by 'what others will think'. He kept his distance from the expectation of others. He was not fazed by the murmurs of others. He did not live His life looking around anxiously fearing what others might say. He was not afraid of rejection or of stepping on other people's toes!" And then Manning asked a question - "Are you allowing the expectation of others to put subtle control on your behavior?" And he even pointed out that most of the time it's from people that we don't even respect!!!  Well, I was greatly convicted that I was not experiencing the freedom of living out of the center and that lack of focus and trust is what is causing my fear.  Have you ever read something and it just clicked?  Manning stated that "fear cripples me, makes me defensive, makes me closed to progress, makes me rush forward and not wait upon God (I'll take care of this, thank you very much God).  Oh my, I saw myself so much as living on the surface and caught such a glimpse of how my living on the surface, fear and all is adversely affecting my life.
And He closed the chapter saying that "a life hidden with Christ in God is all I need".  "One day with Christ at the center of my life (even if I don't feel His presence) is better than 1,000 good feeling days living on the surface!!! Psalm 84
Well, I'm still pondering, I'm still longing for a life lived out of the Center and I realized I sure do make this living thing much more difficult than God ever intended it to be!!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Gazing Only at the Face of God

Yesterday I read a devotion in The Daily Office which I was still pondering when I woke up this morning.  For those of you who know me, I am a ponderer.  But I wanted to share it with you and would love, as always, to hear your thoughts.
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." James 1:2-5
 "If there were never any clouds in our lives, we would have not faith. The clouds are the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3b) They are a sign that God is there.  What a revelation to know that sorrow, bereavement, and suffering are actually the clouds that come along with God!"
"It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials.  Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something.  His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child - a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows.  Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while.  Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?....Until we come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God's character, we do not yet know Him." Oswald Chambers
Now there is much meat in this to ponder, but what keeps going over and over in my mind is that God wants to simplify my beliefs until my relationship with Him is like that of a child. Hum, so God is once again desiring me to trust Him and He wants to remove everything that is standing in the way of me trusting Him. But it didn't stop there, a relationship simply between God and my soul, where other people are shadows.  Whew, these couple of sentences described for me a deep relationship of trust that I could actually picture.  I don't know about you, but it's so much easier for me to trust God in circumstances where it's easy (ha) to see He is in control. I think I have said this before, it's so much harder for me to trust God when hurtful words, attitudes and/or decisions come through another person and especially if they are believers. I long to live in a relationship with God like a child and be able to only see His face when those hurtful things come through others.  And to trust Him enough that I can focus only on His face and our relationship and in trust and dependence (like a little child) not be a bit concerned about the hurtful things said or done to me.  Instead what happens to me is often I get angry and come out swinging, grumbling and complaining.  But what a picture, when trials come, to be able to trust God, to be able to sit there at His feet and gaze into His face, feel and leave all the hurt and pain with Him, only focused upon my relationship with Him so strongly that all the hurt and pain are shadows with those people back there. I long for such a depth of trust and focus upon God and not the things of this world!  Sigh, I'm so far from this place but am thankful to God for allowing me to catch a glimpse of what He wants for me and how He is at work simplifying my beliefs and life.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Where's our Old House???

During our first term we lived in a small 3 bedroom flat that had a courtyard build around a mango tree.  Well, for those of you who visited, when we came back, that precious little house was torn down along with that huge mango tree and this is what they build in place.

More Beauty of the Philippines

We always call this an upside down Christmas tree.  Very unusual tree.

These are my favorites!

This is a fire tree and man are they pretty!

This one is for Lindsey - her favorite orange bougainvillea

Beauty of the Philippines

Check out these orchids that grown upside down and this is called a pink pineapple but it doesn't grow any fruit.

More orchids and yellow calla lillies on the bottom 

This house has always been Lindsey and my favorite.  The bougainvilleas are breath taking when it is in full bloom.