My Hiding Place

  1. I so enjoy the feeding of my soul with the Word and Presence of God.  The result is:  He makes slow changes in me.  Kind of like a crock pot. I am filled with God’s Spirit Who produces in me Holy Character of loving others without agendas, joy which is inner contentment, peace, rest, kindness meaning I value others, the goodness of pure motives, faithfulness, gentleness, and self discipline.  He is producing that in me.  This is process is called maturing in my inner man. Practising by intention the Presence Of God in my life on a daily basis.  Learning to hear His Voice, and then releasing control to His Spirit daily. Pausing the Rhythym of my life intentionally so I can hear the quiet whisper with my Heavenly Father. The world might call it meditation or mindfulness. We as Followers of Yahweh, Jesus followers, really had the secret 5,000 years ago because the One who “in the beginning created the Heavens and the Earth” also came to walk with us in the garden of Eden simply because He loves us.  This same God,  even after our early parents Adam & Eve violated His Person by sinning, called out “where are you”. His Heart broken by our sin. The very core values of the Holy Divine Nature reflected in “The Law of God” was assaulted, violated and betrayed by His own creation. And yet daily still He comes. Daily if we tune our inner ear to hear, he still calls, “where are you?”  Often it is only just a whisper.

Here is a quote from a book I have been reading “Whisper” by Mark Batterson. It is so good and has touched my spirit.

A Hiding Place
“Have you ever tried to quiet a loud room? Attempting to yell above the crowd usually doesn’t work, does it? It’s far more effective to shush the crowd with a shhh. That’s the method God employs. His whisper quiets us, calms us, stills us. That’s why chronic noise may be the greatest impediment to our spiritual growth. When our lives get loud, with noise filling every frequency, we lose our sense of being. We run the risk of turning into human doings rather than human beings. And when our schedules get busy, we lose our sense of balance, which (in my physical body) is a function of the inner ear. (In my spiritual life its a function of my inner man)

Can I go out on a limb?
Your life is too loud.
Your schedule is too busy.

That’s how and why and when we forget that God is God. And it takes very little to distract us. The solution? Stillness. Or more specifically, His still small voice.

Silence is anything but passive waiting. It’s proactive listening. And each day God’s voice gets a little louder in our      lives until He’s all we can hear.

If you want to hear the heart of God, silence is key. If you want the Spirit of God to fill you, be still.

The psalmists referred to God as their refuge, their fortress, and their ever-present help in time of need. But my favorite descriptor might be the “hiding place.” Did you know that God is singing songs of deliverance all around you all the time? You can’t hear them because they’re outside your range of hearing, but you’re surrounded by a sonic shield. Those songs of deliverance are powerful enough to break any bondage, overcome any addiction, and solve any problem.

I’m not sure what problem you need to solve or what issue you need to resolve, but my prayer is that you’ll learn to discern God’s voice. When you do, His songs of deliverance can set you free! Quit hiding from God. Hide yourself in Him.

What is one “noise” you could cut out from your day or your schedule this week so you might be able to hear God’s whispers to you more clearly?”

*italics mine

May this encourage and strengthen you as it has me. Take some time to learn and practise the rhythm of God’s Restfulness. Develop the intentionality of putting Him back daily in your inner life and listen for Him to deliver you. Go now, live this moment, this day, this week in His Spirit of shalom, His wholeness, completeness, restoration, renewal… His peace.

 

 

 

Little Hope

Crystal had come to the end of her ropes. She was crying frequently and expressed little hope that she could overcome her depression. She had become extremely disillusioned because her fairy tale marriage of sixteen years hadn’t turned out happily ever after. Rod wasn’t abusive or unloving, but he also wasn’t the nurturing, attentive husband she fell in love with.

It was four years after Crystal received a promotion at work and they bought a house. Both of the new changes required extra work and longer hours at the office for Crystal. She assumed Rod would understand and step up to help carry the load with household chores, after all, they discussed the extra responsibilities it would require before signing the papers. She quickly became disappointed and frustrated by his selfishness and insensitivity. He wasn’t able to understand but focused on the things that were important to him.

One night, going to bed exhausted and alone, while Rod stayed up watching his sci-fi movie, Crystal cried her tears in the pillow, talking to God, “I hate my life.” “Ever since I was a girl, I struggled competing for love, trying to prove myself worthy. I’ve learned not to expect anything God because I will only set myself up for disappointment and pain.”

As a child, a teenager, a young mother, Crystal had experienced terror. Her emotions ran the roller coaster of hate, fear, confusion, anxiety. The abusive trauma became so emotionally overwhelming that she learned the secret of disassociating and for her defense, she would zone out; get small and run. To survive on earth in the world of cruelty and hypocrites, she learned to wear a mask. Crystal couldn’t ‘fake it’ forever so instead she became increasingly reclusive, and took no chances, becoming paralyzed, losing hope, feeling despair, and suicidal.

Being raised in a Catholic home where Crystal attended church weekly, she learned to fear God instead of understanding His love. If she was in trouble, her mother would say, “Pray harder, work harder because you did something wrong to deserve the punishment.”

Have you ever been depressed? If you’re human, of course you have. Have you ever been in despair and lost hope? We’ve all fallen short, doubted our faith and wondered in darkness. Maybe not as deep as Crystal, but we can relate to her losing hope in some form.

In times of despair, a great source of strength is our friends and family staying near us, giving us those gentle touches and looks that communicate their sorrow and care. When we face troubled times, we should never forget that God remains close by, ready to supply us with his love and comfort. This can give me the courage to go on. It takes courage to live on earth and pursue the treasure of eternity with My Father in heaven. Courage comes from faith in God. Our relationship to Him is forever. I know this in my heart, but honestly, sometimes I just want my husband’s strong arms to hold me close with a warm sincere heart, saying nothing, just comforting me like Jesus would. Let me know you’re on my side, protecting me in the darkness.

Fear of the unknown is like fear of the darkness, I am afraid because I can’t see what is ahead. God does throw light on my distant future. Psalm 27: 1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread?” God’s face is not always visible to me when I’m in the dark path, but I’m still in His care and He is guiding my final destination with a light onto my path.

God promises help in time of need. This should give me boldness to face the hard times. In 1 Corinthian 16:13 we’re told, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Rely on God, our despair will turn to hope, and our hope will be courageous.

Encouragement Makes A Difference in Marriage

Thought: How embarrassing! We were bowling with friends and our families. I was showing off dance moves because I was hitting spares and strikes. On my tenth frame, I was tied in first place and was certain I was going to win. As I took control of my steps and approached the foul line to release my ball, I miss stepped and my entire body falls forward encroaching inside the lane. Game Over! Read more

What Motivates You to Give Thanks?

Scripture: “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18  

Thought: Thanksgiving is “a prayer expressing gratitude.” One of the beautiful things about the Thanksgiving holiday is that it motivates us to give a specific time to reflect on the wonderful blessings we all enjoy. While we may not have as many things as other people have, we can all be thankful for friends and family who love us and the life God has given us. As I look back and gratefully recount His faithfulness in my life, my confidence in Him grows. God provided what I needed, guided me through confusing situations, and delivered me from difficulty, hopelessness and temptation. As in Job, I didn’t always understand the tribulation, but I trusted His promise, He wouldn’t abandon me and He knew what He was doing. In all things, it is good to give thanks to the Lord. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show your gratitude to your loved ones as well as thank God for the divine blessings He has showered upon you.

Action: No matter our situation we can be thankful for what God has done with us this past year and for what He promises to do for us this coming year. Glorify Him in everything. What is your thanksgiving blessing? Restoration, family, health, job, relationships, unconditional love, freedom, forgiveness, second chance, recovery? Celebrate this festive occasion by giving thanks to everyone who’s been there for you, and express your gratitude to Our Almighty God with Thanksgiving prayers.

Prayer: Lord, in everything I give you thanks. I lift my hands in praise for all that you have done for me. Thank you for the splendor of your whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of your love. Thank you for the blessing of my family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds me every day. I also thank you for those disappointments and failures that led me to acknowledge my dependence upon Your mercies alone. Thank you for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to serve and make this country strong, they are models and an inspiration of your sacrificial love. Give me strength to live another day serving you and not to turn coward when difficulties transpire. Help me not to lose faith in other people but strengthen me and keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude and meanness. Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away my joy and gladness with You. Open wide the eyes of my heart that I may see good in all things and all people. Bless me with new vision of Your truth and give me the cup of strength to those that are hurting. May I see where you are calling me to share random acts of kindness, Your love to give away. Above all Father, thank you for your Son Jesus Christ, for the truth of his Word and the example of his life, for his steadfast obedience, which he overcame temptation, for his suffering and dying on the cross, through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Thank you for the free gift of your Spirit, for my salvation. In the name of Our Strong Deliverer, Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray with thanksgiving. Amen.

Maturity, Go the Extra Mile?

Scripture: Read Ephesians 5: 25-30 …a sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love.

 Thought: Who’s the More Mature One in Your Marriage? Going the extra mile isn’t always easy. It might look reasonable and mature. But our flesh doesn’t always enjoy doing reasonable mature things. To get better in this area, it’s important to recognize:

  1. I am not the only one going the extra mile. Sometimes couples can take on a “victim attitude”. They recognize their individual sacrifices but completely fail to see where the other person continually steps up. For example in our marriage, I am the planner. It’s easy to get lost in my little details and all the things “I make happen”…and fail to see everything my husband does (especially because he carries his burdens and sacrifices with much more maturity and self-respect). I have realized it comes down to caring differently, not caring less.
  1. What is important to me? Strong couples dream Still the person with more clarity and passion in one area will sometimes need to step out of the boat first. I used to think that just because we share a common dream meant we have to devote the same amount of time and passion to get the dream accomplished. But that’s not always the case. Right now my husband has more free time than I do. I am able to devote more time to the things we need. In the past, I’d make a lot of noise (mostly mental) about his seeming absence and “day dreaming.” But as I’ve learned to listen to his heart, I’ve come to appreciate the proficiency of teamwork, leaning shoulder 2 shoulder and collaborating. Being a good team player means establishing what we care about and then moving on it… even if I am the first one.
  1. We are gifted differently. Sometimes it’s not that one spouse doesn’t want to do something or that they wouldn’t want to be a certain way. It’s just they are wired differently.What the other spouse likes will never be a natural fit for them. Our temperaments are different. God has a plan for your life that involves using your marriage partner to bring your life into balance and pull you towards the center to make you more like Jesus.  We must learn to be grateful for our spouses, just as they are and be willing to extend the same grace we ourselves received.

Action: Marriage is like a mirror, a reflection of the person we truly are. Not the person we wish we could be. Going the extra mile is all about the character of the person walking that mile. Someone said that “prayer changes things.” I know it changes me, because it’s not about me, it’s about the best interest of my spouse. Take the first step and do a duty for your spouse wash or fuel the car, excuse her from grocery shopping, allow him/her to sleep in, start the dream project and don’t mention it. Instead of playing a victim or raising a conflict, talk to Our Father.

Prayer: Dear God, help me to enjoy life with my spouse and submit to each other with sacrificial, purifying, and steadfast love. Grant me courage each day to invest in my marriage, accept the things I cannot change, and wisdom to hear my spouse’s heart. Change me God, help me put you and others first before I put my desires ahead of anything or anyone. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

What Could Ever Come Between Us?

Scripture:  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.             Romans 8:31-39

Thought: Saturday, I awoke to my husband sitting in the living room crying. His hands covered his face as the tears so freely flowed with hopelessness. My heart ached with compassion as I sat next to him, not knowing why he was hurting with the deepest pit of despair. I tried to comfort him with physical touch as he grieved. After five minutes of uncontrollable weeping, he explained the wrath and judgment his spirit recoiled with thoughts of disappointments, failures, and bitterness towards his weakness and our world of hatred, condemnation, and competition.

During our marriage preparation, we discussed the mountains and valleys of married life we would encounter but we promised to take each other for better or for worse, for richer or for poor, in sickness and in health until death do us apart. I knew as his wife, his burdens were my burdens. What could I say to support him? I thought, “Nothing could ever come between us.”

Looking at the cross hanging on our wall with the quotation “Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound”, I was reminded that we are not of this world. (John 17:13-20) I imagined what Jesus felt when he prayed in Gethsemane when He was despaired and knew His time had come when He would be betrayed into the hands of sinners. He asked His disciples to stay alert and pray for him, but they fell asleep, their spirit was willing but their body was weak. (Matthew 26: 41) In the end was triumph and Our Father’s intent was to give us new life, hope and joy.

As a wife called to support my husband, I prayed and asked Jesus to lighten our burden. What should I say Lord? Please lead me, please walk beside me and lift this heavy burden from my husband. Then he gave me a verse that was engraved upon my heart, Proverbs 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Action: Are you pulling against the yoke of Jesus? Or are you following His lead? Being yoked to Jesus we can find rest and peace. Can you remember a time that you surrendered to your spouse and stood beside them to support and hold them up in a time of despair? Share it tonight, and watch how you will fall in love deeper as you lean together and humbly trust the lead of Our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock to let you be in control of my marriage. I want you to lead us in good times and in bad, my spirit is willing, but my body is week. Show me the areas that I need to repent, give me strength to surrender, encourage and support  my husband/wife. Please give me the wisdom of being yoked to you and bind our marriage together in unity. I believe in you God for great things. In Jesus name I pray with thanksgiving. Amen

Are You Protecting Your Marriage?

Scripture: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 AND
“Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Thought: I will never forget when, many years ago, I traveled once a month to market the business I was working for. I would leave my husband for a week, and be on the road, away from home, while meeting new people, attending business meetings and dinner engagements with prospective buyers. There were ALWAYS temptations because of the worldly pressure, wealth and fame. Adultery is not normal in my world and unacceptable in my marriage. Nevertheless, my boss invited me to participate in deceit. I was told, I could” move to “the top of the company, if I slept my way to the top.” No one would know the truth but the man, God and myself.

When we are loyal, we reflect our faithfulness to God. When we are disloyal, we reflect the betrayal of Satan. We live in a fallen world—one that is increasingly indifferent to sexual sin. If we want to live and lead with intention, we can’t be naive. I boldly, yet simply with confidence replied, “If I have to sleep my way to the top and not earn it by my own merit, than I don’t need to be at the top with this company.” We must recognize the temptation adultery poses and protect ourselves accordingly. Nothing will destroy our influence and gifts faster than an affair.

My husband and I have policies in place to avoid danger and to protect our marriage:
 Pray together. We are invested in the relationship we have and we pray together before we leave the house. If you want your marriage to grow and flourish, you must invest in it. This means investing time—dreaming, laughing, listening, praying and crying together.
 Using old-fashioned, common sense. We set boundaries; Do not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex; Do not travel anywhere alone with someone of the opposite sex, not to the library, a museum, or a business meeting. Do not flirt with someone of the opposite sex. Speak often and lovingly of each other, when out in public and around others.
 Consider what is at stake. Put the temptation in perspective. If Jesus walked in, would I be proud or embarrassed with my decision? How do I want others to remember me? What last impression do I want to leave as a legacy?

Action: Marriage is not merely between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God.
I truly believe with God all things are possible. Marriages that have not allowed God to be apart of the equation are truly missing out. He’s your biggest fan, and if anyone wants you to succeed and be happy, it is God! So don’t make your life even harder, allow Him to help! Character matters. We must take responsibility for our own actions. Our Father God is counting on us to use the Holy Spirit as our discernment. I believe God will rescue me from anything I ask for. I believe in Him for great things. Are you protecting your marriage?

If your marriage has fallen short or failed, know that God still adores you. His grace overflows upon you. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 3.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. My desire is to fight for my marriage in all situations. I pray for your intervention at all times, so I may remain loyal to You and my husband. If we have a fight, please replace anger with love, and pain with forgiveness. Please restore peace to our relationship. It can happen. Give us rest knowing that Your power is made perfect in our weakness.

5 Languages that Communicate “I Love You”

Scripture: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:8-10

Thought: Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a famous book on The Five Love Languages. Based on his book, here are the five languages that communicate love, actions, and things to avoid.
1. Words of Affirmation: Communicate with encouragement, affirm actions, appreciate efforts, empathize with compassion, and listen responsively. Actions to take: Send an unexpected note, text, or card, and encourage often with sincerity. Avoid non-constructive criticism, not recognizing and appreciating.
2. Physical Touch: Communicate through body language and touch to emphasize love; hug, kiss, hold hands, show physical affection regularly, make intimacy a thoughtful priority. Avoid physical neglect and long periods without intimacy. Avoid receiving love coldly.
3. Receiving Gifts: Communicate with thoughtfulness, kindness, patience, make your spouse a priority, and speak intentionally. Actions to take: Give thoughtful gifts and gestures, small things matter in a big way; flowers, dinner out, favorite candy or meal, video game or DVD movie, and express gratitude when receiving gift. Avoid forgetting special occasions, avoid being un-enthusiastic about receiving gift.
4. Quality Time: Communicate without interruptions and focus on conversation. Spend one-on-one time by way of date nights, quiet time after kids have gone to bed, sitting outside and observing the stars, take a walk together. Create those special moments and do small things together. Avoid distractions when spending time together; avoid long interludes without alone, quiet time together.
5. Acts of Service: Communicate that you are united with them as a partner and you want them to know that your are present to help serve; use action phrases, like, “I’ll help do this….” Do chores together or some other project improvement, make breakfast in bed, water plants, wash the car, fill the gas tank, go shopping for groceries or kids school supplies. Act anyway to alleviate the daily load. Avoid making the request of others a higher priority, avoid not following through or completing the task to the end, whether big or small tasks.

Action: Take this languages of love quiz together. Then re-center in Fathers Love and begin your date night with one another’s love language. For quiz go to http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=whats-your-love-langugae

Prayer: Lord, apart from you I desire nothing. I know that when I love you and use the special gift You have bestowed upon me that I can fill my spouse’s love tank. My desire is to do Your Will and I know and believe that you will fill my love tank in return. Teach me to communicate in the same way you so lovingly communicate with you. Please give me the motivation and commitment to take action and not just speak it or think about it. I need You, I want You, and I desire to center my love around You. Amen.

What’s Your Story?

I was pregnant with my third child, when I was baptized. I had given my life to the Lord in 1982. Prior to asking Jesus in my heart, and after 3 yrs of marriage, I wanted a divorce. Do you have a story about your marriage to share? [mk_contact_form style=”modern” skin=”dark” email=”#”]
My husband worked too many hours and was never home. When he was home, he wanted his beer and t.v. He was old fashion. He brought home the money and was king of his home. He expected me to do all the rest. I don’t need to describe my long list of duties as a wife, mother, and daughter-in-law. I’ll just say, I worked long hours too. I wanted more from my marriage and thought I could find something better. I wanted freedom.
Three key principles were missing from my marriage: Boundaries,
Forgiveness, Commitment. Before stepping into the wilderness of darkness God gave me hope with a promise from His word. Galatians 3:20.
Whats your story about when Jesus walked with you? Your story will encourage us. Leave us a comment at www.drjamesgjohnson.org.

It’s Not Be Right, But Find Right – Criticism

Scripture: “Let those who have never sinned, throw the first stones!” John 8:7; “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1; “If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and other people will approve of you too.” Romans 14:18

Thought: Infamy, there was a time I use to belittle my husband and children with disapproval. Criticism I felt it was “my job” to draw to their attention the mistake they were making because it wasn’t the choice I would make or think it would be God’s way. I learned that I was only hurting myself and pushing them away because they didn’t feel they could measure up. There is a time and place for healthy criticism, when another person is living in open sin or engaging in a life style that is not right. It is then that criticism can be healing or redemptive, if it is truly constructive criticism. But for the most part, criticism demeans, degrades or humiliates another, often to make the other critical person look better. Depreciating another to make a point or make ourselves look better is sinful, particularly when the devaluing robs the other of a sense of self worth. Constructive criticism should always be a welcome and wholesome gift if given in a spirit of love. But we have no right to give hurting criticism of another, because this is trying to be a judge over that person, and God alone is our judge. Remember you are not God and should not try to do His work for Him. It’s not about being right, its about finding what’s right, good and uplifting for Father God. Believe God for the great answers to prayer.

Action: Before criticizing your spouse, take an inventory of your own sins and shortcomings so that you can approach each other with understanding and humility. And likewise, if you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home with the wise. Take time to pray before you speak.

Prayer: Lord, I will ask, seek and knock. I ask for Your help to be constructive with love if You are calling me to act for your glory. I seek Your wisdom when I speak so I may choose Your words, and I knock on your door to show me what is rightfully Your will. Show me Father if my motives are pure before I speak. Amen