Watching & Waiting

Eyes on Jesus. Watching His eyes to learn how He loves everyone on whom His gaze rests. Jesus is a Good Shepherd.

Listening to His heart as He blesses, teaches, corrects, and sings with delight over His sheep.

Watching the love and delight in His countenance as He hears the varied and distinctive voices of His beloved ones in worship.

Reading His word back to Him. Singing praise to His name. Grateful to receive the gifts of His hands. Loving the sheep next door.

Waiting at His feet. I choose to calm and quiet myself in peace. I choose to rest. I choose to learn. I choose contentment. Not because I am calm or quiet or content, but because Jesus is.

Eyes on Jesus. Watching. Learning. Choosing. Surrender.

So be it.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Grateful or Disobedient?

A man with leprosy came to Him (Jesus) and begged Him on his knees, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Jesus was indignant. He reached out His hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
Mark 1:40‭-‬45 NIV

I’m curious. How do you read this true scenario? Was the man’s behavior disobedient or grateful?

Was the healed man dismissive of Jesus’ authority?

Or was he simply so overwhelmed with gratitude that he couldn’t help but tell everyone of his miraculous healing?

And was this glorifying to God? The healed leper was testifying to the kindness and power of Jesus.

But, didn’t Jesus, Messiah, command the healed man to go directly to the priests with his testimony? Wasn’t he strongly warned by Jesus not to tell anyone? The man was supposed to follow the law of Moses. (See Leviticus 13-14)

Did the healed man’s actions affect the movement of Jesus in that community? Was the work of God hampered by the man’s exercise of his free will? If so, how?

Worth pondering, this scenario is a much deeper well than it might appear on a cursory review.

I’m curious. Holy Spirit, what insight and revelation of truth would you like to reveal through this scripture? How does this real life scenario apply to my life in 2021?

Please come Holy Spirit and bring wisdom. Please reveal to me what You want me to know. Come and teach me how to honor Jesus and submit to His authority in my life. For my own good and for His glory…

I’m curious. What do you think?

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Who’s your stump buddy?

{First, let me recognize that many of you have lost loved ones without having the opportunity to celebrate their lives by gathering in person. I weep with you who weep. I want to recognize up front how fortunate we were to have a small masked in-person family funeral. I pray you will soon have a celebration of life for your loved one. I also honor and encourage you to take the time to fully grieve your loss.}

Do you have a stump buddy?


Recently, those of us who were able to travel, gathered for a celebration of life. He was my uncle. Husband to my mom’s youngest sister. Father to my cousins. Grandfather. Photographer. Navy man. Teacher.

I always thought well of him, and considered him a man who had accomplished much. Yet on this very cold, wet January day I learned some things about my uncle that I did not know.

Better still, I learned a valuable lesson about life, death and the value of friendship in between.

My uncle’s best friend stood and cried over the loss of his friend. Eventually as he gathered his emotions and found his voice, he announced to us all that my uncle was his ‘stump buddy‘. In time, as this elderly man regained his message, he painted a picture with words of what it means to be a stump buddy.

They had an agreement. The one left behind would give the eulogy for the other. This man speaking had fully expected that he would be the one watching from glory; however, God had other plans for this pair.

Stump buddies. What does it mean?

Simply this. Two men meeting together on two tree stumps sharing their lives in full. Sharing the real and raw of life in a broken world.

The tree stumps sit under a tree on the property of this dear friend left behind to tell the story. I don’t remember if he told how they met, perhaps they were neighbors. However, in some providencial way they found each other. They found the deepest of friendship.

The stumps became their sacred meeting place, and there these two men conversed about Jesus, the Bible, heaven, sin, forgiveness, and just everyday stuff.

It sounded to me that these stump buddies talked about everything under the sun and often disagreed. Yet, they valued their friendship bonded in the unity of Christ more than any difference threatening to separate them. The friend speaking didn’t attempt to sugar coat their friendship. He didn’t shy away from the splinters caused by their differing personalities either.

Altogether, this friend shared the good, the bad and a little of the ugly. And still the overarching theme of his talk was one of mutual joy and encouragement. These two stump buddies enjoyed their time together under the tree even after my aunt and uncle moved away. Their bond was enough to pull them back together again and again.

I personally am grateful to my uncle’s stump buddy because he was able to tell us with great certainty that my uncle is alive and well in Heaven. The conversations under the tree had been so deeply secured in faith and trust in God and His word that the stump buddy had not one shred of doubt regarding his friend’s eternal location.

What a gift!

I’m so grateful today that my uncle had such a friend who knew him intimately. I’m rejoicing knowing for certain that my uncle is alive and whole in every aspect right now restored with Jesus. And I’m pondering who will be the one who will stand and tell my story (without sugar coating) while announcing my sure promotion to Heaven?

Of course, I can only imagine, but don’t you bet there are stump buddies in Heaven? If so, wouldn’t it be a good idea to practice while we’re still living here on Earth?

In an upside down world that can feel more closed than open, a stump buddy is absolutely essential. I pray that if you are feeling isolated, unseen and unheard, that God will help you find at least one person with whom you can share a stump and the stuff of life.

{In loving memory of Uncle Gary, and all who have passed on from this earthly home in the last very difficult year. In honor of stump buddies everywhere around the world. And in honor of you who grieve.}

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,
~ Lisa

Ponders:

1. Do you have a stump buddy? What would you like to say to your dear friend regarding friendship?

2. If you’re looking for a stump buddy: a) Pray for one. b) Ask God to point out a person with whom you have at least one piece of common ground. c) Be one to someone.

3. What aspect of this story encouraged you? What action are you going to take as a result?

I Rather be Stirred, and Not Shaken.

Are you feeling shaken?

I imagine most people are feeling a bit rattled and undone at some level. If 2020 was the earthquake, 2021 is the aftershock. Although I think we could all agree that we’d like to put the fear and anguish of the past year behind us, the reverbations seem to jolt us awake again and again.

As followers of Christ, we really shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve been warned. We should be prepared. We should have been living on alert.

Unfortunately for the Church, the stirring of the last couple of decades hasn’t resulted in a people of God fully awake and ready for action. At least not the American Church. And so now, the Bridegroom is allowing His nearly comatose bride to be shaken for her own good.

On Christmas morning when our children were young, one wanted to sleep a little longer while the other had been awake most of the night waiting for the sun to rise. Stirring wasn’t going to achieve the necessary results. No one was going down the stairs to see the great surprise of Christmas until everyone was awake and moving. Therefore, the alert and fully stoked brother felt completely justified to shake the sleeper into consciousness and action.

There’s a GREAT surprise awaiting us.

Okay, so some of us are sleepers and awaken slowly. That’s me. I wholeheartedly admit that it takes me awhile to recognize a new day has dawned. About 3 cups of strong java later, I’m ready to move. However, there’s an exception to my rule; when I am vacationing at the beach I don’t need an alarm to catch the sunrise. Anticipation of something amazingly good on the horizon charges my senses and sleep just isn’t quite as important as watching and waiting!

The shaking we’re experiencing is essential. I prefer to be stirred to action, and I imagine I am not alone. And yet, we humans, especially those of us in America, have a tendency to get really comfortable and complacent. Isn’t it the kindness and patience of God that He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get our attention?

Awake, awake! Arise and shine!

Let’s turn our gaze upon Jesus. It’s time to tune our ears to His voice. Jesus, our elder brother with whom we are co-heirs of God’s glorious inheritance wants us to not miss the most exciting days of our lives. He’s asking us to trust Him for the grand surprise that is beyond our wildest imagination. He has goodness ahead for us, and He doesn’t want us to sleep through it.

Wake up! Wake up! Arise and shine! Get ready to receive the goodness of the Lord. Get up and get ready to be wowed out of your socks.

With Jesus as our Advocate, we don’t have to fear being shaken because His purposes are for our good. The Bridegroom is awakening His Bride. He’s whispering in her ears – “Awake, awake! Arise and shine!”

Family of God, it’s time to get ready for the most exciting, glorious days in which to be alive on planet Earth. The wedding is happening. The banquet tables are being prepared. It’s time, Bride of Christ, to be shaken if necessary. However, let us allow His shaking to create a stirring in our spirit. Let our spiritual alertness stir our senses and our physical bodies to action.

Indeed, I rather be stirred than shaken, but now that I’m experiencing the ongoing reverberations I get to choose my response. I choose to look up at Jesus. I choose to soak my thoughts in His words. I choose to anchor my hopeful anticipation of good to His promises. I choose to talk to Him about everything I feel and trust His ability to handle it all.

Watching. I’m alert. I’m ready to move as He moves.

Weeping. The kindness of the Lord to get my attention brings tears. His desire to have every person accept His sacrificial gift of forgiveness and life causes me to weep.

Whispering. I’m daily grateful that I get to participate with Jesus in His love. I’m thankful that He has awakened me to participate in His great harvest. Whispering gratitude as I receive my invitation to the grand banquet table at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Ponders:

Would you rather be stirred than shaken?

If you feel shaken, how do you feel about God allowing it? What is your response to Him?

Would you like to write Jesus a letter indicating all your concerns? Would you be willing to read His letter to you in response?

How about each day for the next month write in a journal…

1. Specific ways you see God moving in your life.
2. Feelings about the things being shaken loose from your life.
3. Your gratitude toward God for His kindness to you
4. How you feel stirred to action.
5. Exciting aspects of being alive in 2020-21.

Add your name to the comments if you want me to pray for you in the shaking. I bless you to come awake. Live alert. Anticipate the goodness of the Lord in these days.

Steadfast

Psalm 11

Lord, don’t You hear what my well-meaning friends keep saying to me: “Run away while you can! Fly away like a bird to hide in the mountains for safety. For your enemies have prepared a trap for you! They plan to destroy you with their slander and deceitful lies. Can’t you see them hiding in their place of darkness and shadows? They’re set against you and all those who live upright lives.”

But don’t they know, Lord, that I have made You my only hiding place? Don’t they know that I always trust in You? What can the righteous accomplish when truth’s pillars are destroyed and law and order collapse? Yet the Eternal One is never shaken — He is still found in His temple of holiness, reigning as Lord and King over all.

He is closely watching everything that happens. And with a glance, His eyes examine every heart. For His heavenly rule will prevail over all.

He will test both the righteous and the wicked, exposing each heart. God’s very soul detests those who love to resort to violence. He will rain down upon them judgment for their sins. A scorching wind will be their portion and lot in life.

But remember this: the Righteous Lord loves what is right and just, and every godly one will come into His presence and gaze upon His face!

{From The Passion Translation}

Steadfast. I want to be steadfast in faith. Steadfast in love I want to follow after You, Jesus. And then on some days I am weak in persevering.

Thankfully, Father, always is steadfast. Forever faithful. He is eternally true.

I praise You, Jesus, that You are steadfast in love and persevering in Your pursuit of us. Thank You for never wavering on Your promises, and for always forgiving.

I feast upon Your word and I am rejuvenated. Your living water refreshes my soul. Your steadfast love for us endures forever.

May I learn to live steadfast in love as I come into Your presence and longingly gaze into Your face. May it be said of me that I have been with You, my Lord. Steadfast and true!

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

Radiance

My focus is on Jesus in these awkward days of 2020. Eyes on Him.

Psalm 34:5 holds a key to the purpose I feel the Lord has given me for my life ministry. Those who keep their eyes on Jesus will be radiant and their faces will not be covered with shame.

Eyes on Jesus and Shine is the name of my ministry. Likely most people will never be aware that such a ministry exists. It doesn’t have a budget or a board. However it does have a CEO, and His name is Jesus.

My life is a ministry. Day-to-day living in the territory I have been given. I check in with my CEO regularly throughout the day and confer often with His written mandate for how to walk out this life calling. People cross my path regularly and I know He’s sent them on purpose for a purpose.

My prayer and hope is that I am filled up with my CEOs power source continuously. Yet, my eyes do wander at times. My tank gets depleted when I give into the temptation that this life ministry is on my shoulders and fueled from my fleshly physical, intellectual and emotional resources.

Those are the days or seasons when my CEO sends someone or something too much for my ability. I recognize in my insufficiency that my eyes are misdirected, and my supernatural power supply has become disconnected. People, most often, bring me back to the truth of Psalm 34:5.

Your life and mine are testimonies. Our lives tell an ongoing story. Lifegiving transformation enveloped my individual journey once I realized that each day of my life is a page written and the end of the story yet to be revealed.

I want my life to tell a story of intentionally choosing to turn my eyes to Jesus… To gaze at His face… To move in closer to His all consuming fire… To allow His love and glory to cause my face to shine as happened to Moses…I want His purifying fire to cleanse and purify me so that all shame is burned away.

Jesus is faithful. Eyes on Jesus… You’ll shine with His radiance. Psalm 34:5 We need more radiance and glory on earth. Will you turn your face to Jesus?

Ponders:

1. Take time to read slowly through Psalm 34:5 in several different translations. Perhaps, you can write one of them on a card to mail to yourself. Draw or paint what Holy Spirit reveals. Give this verse a tune and sing it.

2. Read through hebrews 12:1-3 in The Message translation below. Read it as if a coach is speaking you as a team player. Is this a pre-game or a half-time speech? How do you respond? What do you want to do with this motivational message?

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus , who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there , in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:1‭-‬3 MSG
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Bye bye, American Pie?

This is a “no judgment” zone. These words below are worthy of being shared. Gary and Patricia are my parents. They are elderly, and have lived more of history than I, and maybe you.

I’m sharing this very small platform with my parents because they matter, and their voices are important. We have somewhat lost the wisdom of learning from our elders, and our society is the worse for it. If you choose to read their story and mine, please do as my parents taught me.

If you have nothing nice to say, keep your thoughts to yourself.”

However, should you desire to engage in respectful and honoring dialogue, please let us know. And thank you in advance!

Before a word is on my tongue, You, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.
Psalms 139:4‭-‬5 NIV

Gary & Patricia Milford                                  October 19, 2020

Here’s our story….

A few weeks ago my wife was having a conversation with a Christian neighbor / friend.

During the course of that conversation the subject turned to the upcoming 2020 election and our friend made the following comment; “I believe this election will be the most important election of my lifetime and I further believe that if Biden / Harris win this election, it will be an indication that GOD has turned His back on America.”  (I don’t know if that’s true or not, but this is what I do know………..)

Later, as my wife was telling me about that conversation my mind went immediately back fifty years to a young man, Don McLean who in 1971 wrote, recorded and performed his now famous song, “Bye Bye Miss American Pie”.  The long version of that song is about various events (some tragic) that had occurred in America and how those events impacted the young man’s life.  The last verse, however, is about a future event which had not yet occurred.  He could not foresee the event, but evidently some foreboding caused him to write it down and include it as the final verse in his song.  

  • “I met a girl who sang the blues
  • And I asked her for some happy news
  • But she just smiled and turned away.
  • I went down to the sacred store
  • Where I’d heard the music years before
  • But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.
  • In the streets the children screamed
  • The lovers cried and the poets dreamed.
  • But not a word was spoken 
  • The church bells all were broken
  • And the three men I admire most
  • The Father, Son and The Holy Ghost
  • They caught the last train for the coast,
  • The day………….the music………died.
  • And they were singin’…..
  • Bye bye Miss American Pie
  • Drove my Chevy to the levee
  • But the levee was dry
  • And them good ol’ boys 
  • A drinkin’ whiskey and rye
  • Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die.” 
  • Bye Bye Miss American Pie

Final verse; Don McLean 1971

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
Psalms 139:16 NIV

The next generation of American Pie.  By Lisa Brittain

Hopefully, you’ve read Mom and Dad’s story, and I hope you will take a moment to read mine from the point of view of the next generation.  My hope and desire is not to persuade you; rather to cause you to ponder before God. I hope you will ask Him all your deepest and most relevant questions.  You, in the next generation, please will you write your story? I pray we, people of all generations, will continue to share our stories even when we disagree regarding the bigger picture of life on planet Earth.  

Our stories are unique.  My parent’s story is their story.  It is part of history, and God always meant for Mom’s story and Dad’s story to be single threads in the fabric of the greater portrait of God’s design.  My story is unique as well, and my story is a thread also.  Your thread is important.  Please receive this truth.  Your thread, your story is unique and important.

So, with that… here I go… jumping in the deep end!

Even though American Pie was released by Don Mclean in 1971, most likely you’re fairly familiar with this song.

Bye-bye, Miss American Pie”
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good old boys were drinking whiskey ‘n rye
Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die”
“This’ll be the day that I die.”

Dad started singing it while we worked in the shop weaving a new seat on a chair. He stopped singing, and proclaimed, “It’s almost 50 years old, you know? That song came out when you were 9.”  These memories of our shared days gone by are precious to me.  I love stories!  I love true life stories, especially the ones which contain a part of my family history.

Often times, the truth from God’s word mixed together with life experiences and distant memories mingle together with a glistening in Dad’s eyes. Sometimes, as we both get older, the stories are more animated with emotion, and many times shared from a place of growing grace and gentleness.

I can usually tell when a story is about to come forward. His hands get still, and he’s quiet for a moment. The story begins in his eyes, and I can tell that what I am about to hear is important. I want to listen and learn from Dad’s hard earned wisdom for as long as possible.  So, together, we take a moment.  He talks and I listen.

“I remember that old song,” I agreed.   

And I do. American Pie in the fullness of it’s 8+ minutes is etched in my childhood memories. There’s a whole soundtrack of Eagles, Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, Simon and Garfunkel, and the like; which play behind all the memories of warm days and breezy nights, bikes and trees, the sun and surf of my South Florida childhood. Isn’t it interesting the way a particular song can take you right back to a moment in time?

My childhood years were not peaceful days as we sometimes want to remember the “good old days”. There was much contention and unrest in the 1960’s & 70’s.  Our view of the past generally becomes dulled by time and age.  However, the songs of a culture tell the story of the culture and the signs of the times. When we choose to remember honestly, we have to acknowledge that generations of people were anxious, frustrated, angry and afraid because of the destructive atmosphere invading America during those two decades. People of all ages and cultures were desiring peace and love – seeking hope and unity.

The current atmosphere of division, hate and destruction with all the emotions that go with it, are not new. Unfortunately, we have been here before. Maybe there’s more to learn…

The evening news of my childhood contained graphic pictures of the Viet Nam war, civil rights marches, destructive protests, and a president under investigation.  Hatred, bloodshed, and division invaded our home through the television during my childhood. Current events are not new. And so American Pie was one of those songs that gave people living in that era a ballad with which to express their emotions, questions, and angst.

Suddenly, my Dad pondered out loud, “What if these words are for now?” He was specifically reflecting on the last verse of the song – American Pie

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play
And in the streets, the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most
The father, son, and the holy ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died

We wondered together: What if this young man wrote, prophetically, of a time when God would actually give up on America? Perhaps in 1971 it seemed to the young song writer, as it seemed to many Americans then, that the fabric of our land was irreparably torn. It’s a relevant question, and I’m so glad Dad brought the question out into the open air.  We rolled the question about – tossing circumstances back and forth. 

Yet, in the end we strolled confidently back to the truth we both know.  He and I both have built our lives on the foundation of God’s truth – the solid rock – and that’s exactly where we landed.  We walked right back to Psalm 139 – the scripture we are currently memorizing together – and stood there smiling in the assurance of God’s love for us.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

Dad pondered the question…  “What if the upcoming 2020 election results decide whether God (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) gives up on America?”  I honestly do not know the answer to that question.  No one knows the answer to that question, except well, God Himself. However, it is a good and honest question.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23‭-‬24 NIV

This I do know.  Whether God ever gives up on America, He will NEVER give up on His children.  He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  His promises are trustworthy and true. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5)

It would be awful to live in America if God should choose to take His hand of favor from our land. Dad, Mom and I are not the only people asking these questions.  We’re all asking, seeking, and knocking in search of the TRUTH.  Just as in the days of my birth and youth – the turbulent 60’s and 70’s or the war torn years of WWII, into which my parents were both born –many today are asking the same questions again and again. 

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and celebrate His rule with trembling. Kiss His Son, or He will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. Psalms 2:10‭-‬12 NIV

Have we as a country gone too far? 

I personally believe that is the wrong question. I believe we’re suffering in our country because the family of God is broken. The bride of Christ has been caught in adultery. The children of God are sleeping. The Church of the Living God has been unaware, uninvolved and selfishly looking for Jesus to step out of heaven signalling the eternal exit route.

Have we, in America, crossed the point of no return? Or has God’s family become so lukewarm that we’ve lost our first love?

God’s greatest commandments are to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re not seeing a whole lot of love in our country right now. The Church should be leading the love parade, but many churches are closed, hiding in fear, and just as divided in speech and action as the unbelieving world around us.

People of God, wake up! Come alive, dry bones! Awaken to the call of God on your life. All of the unbelieving world, in one way or another, are still seeking and longing for peace, love, unity and truth. (Matthew 7:78, Jeremiah 33:23)

Why aren’t we taking them by the hand, loving them where they are and introducing them to Jesus? Why aren’t we obeying the commands of God? Why aren’t we loving the One who saved us from ourselves?

What if 50 years ago a young man was inspired to write an 8+ minute song, so that all these years later awakening hearts would remember and begin to pray? Do you know Don McLean was told that his song was too long? He was told American Pie would never get radio time. It was just too long and people wouldn’t listen. Yet, fifty years later this song is still getting air time, and another generation knows the words by heart.

Do you know that God called many people such as Noah, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah (just to name a few) to proclaim a message of truth and salvation to the people of the world?  God has spoken His message through faithful servants throughout all the years of history, but the majority of people didn’t listen.  The message was discounted and scoffed at, but the messengers sent it forth anyway in obedience to God’s calling. I’m worried about being called “weird”; but truly, many people have paid for their obedience with their lives.

Do you know that God sent forth another messenger; this time His very own Son?  The Son of God left His Throne in heaven and put on the lowly flesh of our humanity to proclaim the good news of God’s deliverance.  He came into our world to love and heal, to declare truth and to redeem the broken, and the people He created and breathed into life killed Him for His message. 

Jesus came with a message from His Father that we could, if willing, be adopted into God’s family.  Jesus said that His Father would be our Father.  He would love us as the Father and Son love one another.  Jesus promised that if we were adopted into God’s family we would be united with God as Father and as Son, and that the Holy Spirit of God would come and dwell with us until the end of the age. (Ephesians 1, 1 John 3:1)

I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23

So, is it the end of the age?  I don’t know.  Are the three we admire most – Father, Son and Holy Ghost – about to take the last train for the coast?  I don’t know. But I have some thoughts…

Here’s where I’ve landed after this whole American Pie pondering…

Curious about the song from 1971, I went to Google. Interestingly, I found a verse which had been written in the song writer’s notes, but never included in the recording. This deleted verse, I think, is more important than those included in the recording. Reading the verse below, I recognize a reminder that God is a God of second chances and more. 

[Deleted Verse]
And there I stood alone and afraid
I dropped to my knees and there I prayed
And I promised him everything I could give
If only he would make the music live
And he promised it would live once more
But this time one would equal four
And in five years four had come to mourn
And the music was reborn
(https://genius.com/Don-mclean-american-pie-lyrics)

When we’re afraid we’ve gone too far, when we feel all alone, and we feel we’ve blown it one too many times; there’s an opportunity to fall to our knees and pray. We might make a promise to give everything we have to give, but really all that is necessary is to give our soul in full surrender to God.

I don’t have all the answers for myself, my family or my land. I’m not quite sure what, if anything, all these words mean about yesterday or today or our future. And quite honestly, I’m not sure why God hasn’t given up on America, or me, way before now.  All I can surmise by His forbearance is that God is exceedingly gracious, merciful and kind.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good ; His love endures forever! Psalm 107:1

Has God turned away from America? Is He about to do so? I honestly do not know.  Nor do you.

What I do know is that if we, who bear Christ’s name, are simply looking for the escape route to heaven, we are living disobedient. We’re not following God’s command to love Him and to love our neighbor. If we’re looking for our way out of all this mess by hiding and staying silent, we’re not following Jesus’ command to go into all the world and proclaim His name. If we’re not healing the sick, clothing the naked, and feeding the hungry with the Bread of Life; we’re simply living disobedient. Why shouldn’t a good Father be upset about that?

God is good and merciful and long-suffering. And I know that whether God gives up on America or not, He will NEVER turn away from His children. He is a good Father, and so He does discipline His children out of His abundant kindness. (Deuteronomy 8:5)

God, our Father, Son, and Holy Ghost may simply be waiting at the coast for His children to turn and run into His loving arms of forgiveness.

Is it bye, bye to America as we have always known her?

Perhaps.

Is that necessarily a bad thing?

Maybe not.

However, Church in America, yes – I mean The Bride of Christ –  it is time for us to wake up and arise. It is time for us to wash the sleep from our eyes. It’s time to go out to the fields and joyfully, triumphantly, bring in the harvest of ripened souls.

It is time for us to purify our thoughts, our lips, and our hearts, our hands and our feet. It is time for the Bride of Christ to consecrate herself and dress for the wedding banquet of the Lamb.

It is time to prepare invitations and make them ready for those who will receive the good news of the Bridegroom. 

It is time for the music to be reborn. It is time to glorify our King, Jesus.

Great is the Lord , and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain.
Psalms 48:1 NIV

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my very long pondering message.  Just like Don McLean, I’ve most often been told, “Your stories are too long.  No one will ever read them.”  That’s okay because you just did.  

Thank you, and may God, our Father, His Son and our Redeemer, and our Comforter, Holy Spirit be glorified.  May Almighty God’s Name be magnified and made famous.  And may I spend eternity in Heaven with you, my friend, so that we can praise God and tell stories forever and ever.  Amen.

PS – I just completed 80 days of reading out loud the word of God from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22:21. Our Zoom community (Healing Strong) began reading on August 1, 2020, and we completed the reading on October 19, 2020.  I highly recommend this journey to all who have questions. 

The reading of God’s Word out loud in community is powerful.  God’s Word is powerful for transformation.  So, if we’re seeking transformation in our land, I recommend we start with personal transformation through the reading and declaring of the Living and Active Word of God.  Give it a try. Take God at His Word. See what happens.

May God bless you with all the richness of His Glorious Light; may you receive His healing and life abundant, and may you spend the rest of your life making His name famous! Amen.

Kindly Correction

I love this verse so much. What if the people who speak to you honestly actually help you the most? Even better, a true friend loves you best by speaking the truth. What do you think about that?

One of the things I appreciate most in life is an honest conversation. Unfortunately, these are rare in today’s world. Rare things only increase in value, so there’s the silver lining, I guess.

Truth speakers help me grow in Christ, in love, in wisdom and in humility.

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Taking a stroll down memory lane this morning. I’ve had many supervisors in my life. Many of these leaders had my best interest at heart, and some clearly did not. Yet, I learned valuable life lessons from each one.

One woman stands out particularly as I think back. She heard me (on the job) bragging to coworkers about my exceptional spelling skills.

{By the way, this was 1986 and well before spell check technology. We had no laptops or smartphones. Dictionaries, in hard copy, were part of our workplace resources. And our work was documented in pencil on paper. The large eraser was also our ever present help.}

Perhaps my supervisor had not heard the entire conversation. Several of us 20-somethings were enthusiastically discussing our strengths, but mostly weaknesses regarding the written English language.

Apparently, our supervisor agreed with my self-assessment regarding my lack of grammatical expertise, and so, she let that go. However, she did not hold back as I touted my spelling skills.

From the far end of the conference table her voice arose. I froze hearing my name like a child unaware of a parent’s listening ears. Charlotte corrected me in front of all my colleagues. She listed 2 or 3 words for which I was habitually guilty of misspelling.

My coworkers chuckled. My cheeks became hot and I am sure my entire face was as red as ripe cherry tomatoes. I was dumbfounded. And I was truly frustrated with my supervisor, but not for the reason you might be thinking.

When I was able to speak without tears choking my throat and stinging my eyes, I addressed Charlotte, “Why haven’t you told me this before now?” I sincerely wanted to know why she would know for a fact I was doing something consistently wrong, but had not enough care for me to correct me. Now she, Charlotte, sat dumbfounded.

I asked her to circle the misspellings on my workpapers. Once she returned the papers containing her red marks circling my errors, I grabbed my dictionary to find the correct spelling for each misspelled word. She was correct, and now I had the opportunity to make my own correction. I re-wrote my workpapers ( yes, pencil and paper) and submitted them back to Charlotte.

Since we were working out of town, Charlotte asked if I could visit in her hotel room after dinner. I went and we had a longer than expected conversation about the events of the day. Charlotte was still intrigued by my desire for truth and correction. Perhaps, she had counted on me being offended rather than grateful.

I explained to Charlotte that I had lived deceived regarding truth for the most of my life. However, in those 20-something years, I met a young man who was willing to be a true friend by telling me that my life was on the wrong path. He honestly and painfully addressed some of the reasons for my obvious sadness and frustrations with life. He was willing to challenge me to read the Bible.

Before I left, I thanked Charlotte for speaking up, and I asked her to address anything she saw in me that might need correction. I hoped she would do it from a sincere heart. And I challenged Charlotte to read the Bible for herself.

I’m not sure I ever worked under Charlotte’s supervision after that week. Honestly, I don’t know what ever became of Charlotte. However, I promise you, every time I begin to spell those certain words I think of Charlotte with a smile, and gratitude.

Thank You, Jesus, for the many people You allow to intersect my life’s path. Help me today to be a friend seeking truth, and sharing truth in love. I thank You, Jesus, for Charlotte, and pray she is now adopted into Your heavenly family. I thank You for every Charlotte I am yet to meet. Continue to grow me up in wisdom, truth, grace and humility for Your glory, and to exalt Your name in my corner of the world.

Eyes in Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

God Breathed

There’s not one current human issue that has not been covered in the Bible. Not one! God is not shy about discussing every topic under the sun.

RELEVANT:

Upon invitation from a dear neighbor couple, I linked my desire for God’s word with a local Healing Strong group, and we corporately began our journey from Genesis to Revelation on August 1, 2020. We have just finished reading through the book of Jonah.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Reading straight through the Bible in 75 days is exactly what I’ve needed during this strange year. It’s not too late to join in by Zoom.

There’s much discussion on all forms of media regarding the chaotic and divisive landscape of our American society. Each point of view seems to point the blame finger at someone else for causing such hostility, bloodshed and corruption. All the angst threatens to make us silent rather than enter into lively conversations with even our dearest and most loved ones.

Yet, for those of us who are reading together the God breathed scriptures it has become apparent that the current destructive chaos rearing it’s ugly head is not a new phenomenon in our world.  The same evil events are catalogued in the Bible from Genesis all the way through Jonah, to this point. The cause in history, as is now the case, resides with us – faulty and lustful human beings.

Only God is innocent. The rest of us are guilty. Every single one of us.

CONVICTION:

These words we read together in community are the words of the Lord God Almighty. These are the powerful life-giving words of a good Father who has seen and heard it all, and yet loves His children. He is ‘Father Knows Best’ and He is looking for each one of His children to turn toward home.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23

Joshua Tree National Park, California

As I have been chewing on the inspired words of God’s chronicles unbound by time and space, I am freshly convicted. I recognize through the mirror of His perfecting word the compromises I have made because of the culture (even church culture) in which I have dwelt. The light of God’s magnificent glory is getting brighter as the scales of flesh are falling from my eyes.

The simple and yet disciplined act of reading God’s Word aloud in community has begun it’s work of exposing lies I have allowed to become subtly incorporated into my thinking. Unfortunately, I have simply, slowly over time, allowed the voices of the world to resonate louder than the voice of God in several areas of my life.

God’s word brings conviction because the Word of God is Jesus. When we, who were created in the image of God, stand in the mirror of His perfection we catch a glimpse of how muddied and tattered we’ve become. When God in His Triune nature created us in our mother’s womb we looked much more like Him. However, we were born in the flesh into a corrupt world, which scrapes, cuts, lies and injures the purity of His image in us until we can barely recognize that we were made for Him. And it’s not just corruption from the outside. Our flesh craves sin and we gulp it down of our own free will.

“Then they will know that I Am the LORD.”

God

Over and over, again and again, the Lord inspired Ezekiel to write example after example of God’s created people falling into the deepest pits of the flesh. It’s hard to read because it sounds just like the daily news feeds of our current American society. Yet at the end of each example, God declared that then they would know that He is God. It’s a hard truth, but for most of us it takes coming to the end of our self-sufficiency to bend our will to God’s all sufficiency and saving grace.

Comfort, comfort My People, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

COMFORT

The living and active word empowered by the Holy Spirit of God washes over my open wounds. The word reveals my broken flesh, and points to my inability to save myself. Holy Spirit reaches in with cleansing and restoration as I submit to correction. Gloriously, the scriptures also expose God’s kindness and love. His grace is on display, and His goodness to create a rescue plan leads me and many others to repentance.

Dana Point, California

If you need encouragement today, open the God breathed scriptures, and read. Let the breath of the Lion of Judah warm your face as you take in His nourishing truth.  Taste and see that the Lord is good. Give thanks to our Father for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever.

You will find in His word the answers you are seeking in these frustrating and fretful days of 2020. You will, if you seek in God’s word, and you ask for wisdom. Jesus wants to uncover His mysteries of love and life to you. If it was true of His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well, it will be true for us who are willing to meet with Jesus, The Word.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8

Understandably skeptical, the woman who met Jesus at the well in the middle of the day heard these words from the mouth of Jesus, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10)

Today, I want to offer you water. I know you’re thirsty. I know you are feeling parched. It’s just an offer. It’s an offer because I care. The cup of cool water is held out simply because I have experienced for myself the relief, the healing and the life received when I turned to the Lord’s glorious solutions for everything I feel and need.

I bless you to take a chance with Jesus today. Take just a sip. Like the woman at the well who sipped and then drank deeply from the cup that is life. Don’t let your doubt, fear or stubborn will keep you from fullness of life and joy. I could be wrong, and I don’t have the answers you so desperately need.

But I know the One who does. Let me have the joy and honor of introducing you through the God breathed, living and active Word. Jesus is The Word, which has endured throughout all of history, and has covered every topic currently discussed in our society. He is not wrong or without victory.

Eyes on Him… You’ll shine!

~Lisa

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst again.” ~Jesus

Ponders:

1. Be honest with yourself for a moment. What is it that keeps you from receiving a cup of living water? Is your solution to your thirst satisfying and providing fullness of life and joy?

2. Read John 4 and put yourself in the place of the skeptical woman. What’s your response to Jesus?

3. Join HealingStrong.org and finish reading the God breathed, living and active word of the Lord in community with us. You’re welcome!

4. Take time to read the Psalms daily or one of the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel alongside the book of Romans. What do you read of history that looks, sounds, and feels like it is written from today’s news?

5. I’m praying for you from Psalm 37:1-8. May you meet with Jesus with all your questions and concerns today and find His peace. May you be comforted like never before. May you find yourself feasting at the LORD’s banquet table and experience complete healing and restoration for His glory and the fame of His Name. Amen.

The Power of Words

Picture credit: @YouVersion Bible App

One of the first scripture verses I memorized in my toddling steps following after Jesus in my early twenties was 1 John 4:18.

I was tired of being fearful. A good friend and co-worker recommended that I memorize this scripture. This friend encouraged me to turn God’s word into a prayer – into a conversation with God.

I was desperate for relief from overwhelming fear and anxiety so I was willing to take his challenge.

In the darkest of storm clouds, God shines through. Picture credit: Lisa Brittain

I wrote this verse on an index card, and found myself saying this verse every few minutes the first few days. I carried my index card to work, kept it in my car, and memorized it in my heart.

Over the length of a month I recognized the power of God’s Word to transform my thoughts. Fear was taking a backseat to God’s love for me.

I still felt fearful and anxious many times. Don’t imagine I’m speaking of a magical incantation. The accuser did not immediately run away never to return.

A rainbow after the fiercest storm clouds. Picture credit: Lisa Brittain

However, the more I used the word of God as a sword in prayer, the more my thoughts were transformed. As my thoughts became transformed toward the mind of Christ, the more freedom I experienced.

All these years later, in world and personal circumstances I could have never forseen, this all time favorite scripture truth wields power and clarity in my prayers.

If you have a friend who sends you to the Word of God and challenges you to memorize, pray and study for life transformation, thank God for that friend right now. Thank You Father for giving us brothers and sisters who remind us to go back to Your Fatherly wisdom.

Picture credit: @YouVersion Bible App

If you don’t have such a friend, let’s ask Holy Spirit and Jesus to connect you with a Bible friend today. I know Father has a son or daughter near you and wants to introduce you. So be on the lookout for a new friend who loves God’s word and wants to help you  gain strength, courage and wisdom.

Lord Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, thank You for giving us Your word and for connecting us with brothers and sisters in Christ who challenge, love and sharpen us for Victory in living a life that brings honor to Your name!

Standing on tiptoes to see how You are going to answer our requests…

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

#eyesonjesusandshine #wordofGod #swordofthespirit
#nofear #love #transformation