Good question. What sort of friend am I?
None of us can 100 % say we have never faltered or never hurt anyone. When someone betrays us, hurts us or disappoints us (whether it is intentional or not) we have to remember we too have been in Judas shoes. We too have hurt others, failed to love unconditionally, disappointed others whether it was intentional or not. I asked this question of the Lord today and then went searching (I had a personal reason for asking)… “Lord, Did you still consider Judas your friend after he betrayed you”? I then read in Matthew 26 where Jesus calls Judas ‘friend’ upon greeting him, as Judas led the Temple Guards of the Sanhedrin to arrest him. Judas betrayed Jesus. Jesus called him ‘friend.’ I had to let that sink in.
Betrayal is the breaking or violation of a presumptive contract, trust, or confidence that produces moral and psychological conflict within a relationship amongst individuals, between organizations or between individuals and organizations. Often betrayal is the act of supporting a rival group, or it is a complete break from previously decided upon or presumed norms by one party from the others. Someone who betrays others is commonly called a traitor or betrayer.Wikipedia
I began thinking, “Lord, I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum. I’ve betrayed trust, and I’ve been betrayed.” There are times, others will ‘feel’ betrayed whether or not that was the heart intent of the ‘betrayer.’ It matters not: the disappointment lingers and we have to fight to overcome the unloving thoughts, and to keep our hearts soft and pliable before the Lord. The only real choice is to forgive if we want to move on. There comes a time where you just ‘have to let go.’ Things may never be the same in the relationship: trust has been broken, though reconciliation is always a possibility. What a powerful image, Jesus, in the Garden, praying and waiting, and has known all along who was going to betray him, and yet he continued to love Judas and called him ‘FRIEND!” When I read this today it blew me away. I’m so grateful that Jesus STILL calls me ‘FRIEND’ when I mess up. Even when I fail, Jesus never fails. He’s constant. Jesus was staying true to His character and being obedient to His Father, to love and forgive Judas, though the relationship was severed forever. Betrayal affects relationships, but forgiveness empowers us to love like Christ did as we submit to Him, and take the ‘high road’. Judas was no longer in the inner circle and he no longer had access to Jesus, due to his own choices, BUT Jesus still loved him! That’s powerful, and amazing to me!
I’m reminded of Proverbs 18:24 : A man of many companions may come to ruin, BUT there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Jesus is that brother!
I want to be that kind of friend, though it is not always easy. The story of Judas and his betrayal has never really been about Judas, it’s always been about Jesus and his overpowering and all consuming love for us. It’s about Him being OUR friend, even when we don’t deserve His love and friendship.
Lord, help us to be more like you.
God is shifting and shaking, exposing what is in our hearts, be it fear, offence, love, forgiveness and even our motives. He is asking us to pray and seek His face to rightly discern a matter. If we harbor any ill feelings or unresolved issues when we make a judgement toward others, it can become a trap of the enemy, to distort our hearing God clearly. “We cannot pray in love and live in hate and still think we are worshipping God…A.W. Tozer.” It’s imperative we come to God with a clean heart, asking Him to give us His heart concerning others. There was a time, that my heart was so broken by a situation, one in which involved a family member. I wanted to lash out, the pain went so deep. So, after a moment of crying out to God, beating my fist on the wall, and then crumbling into a heap on the floor, I asked God quietly, “How do you see this ‘person’, Lord? He said to me in a small, still voice… “You cannot curse that whom I love.” So, I prayed, I chose to forgive, and every time a negative thought would come, I would choose to forgive again, til one day I felt Gods compassion overwhelm me for that person. I still struggle, like everyone else, but I’ve learned, and am learning, that above all else I want Gods will, favor and blessing on my life more than I want to hold onto bitterness and offence. Lets choose to be Peacemakers, take the road least traveled, repent of offence, back biting and gossip. The Word says we are to “bless and pray for our enemies,” and even more so, those of the household of faith. ❤
Here I sit, feeling like I’ve come full circle. From the time I first came to Christ, as a young woman, lost, broken and without hope…I was drawn to this scripture in Luke 7:37
…37When a sinful woman from that town learned that Jesus was dining there, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume. 38As she stood behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feetwith her tears and wipe them with her hair. Thenshe kissed His feet and anointed them with the perfume. 39When the Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know who this is and what kind of woman is touching Him—for she is a sinner!”…
I had felt the touch of the Saviors hand, and my life would never be the same. I had such a desire to be like this woman who worshiped with abandon, wiping Jesus feet with her tears and then anointing them with oil. I remember weeping as I sat in my room and the overpowering Presence of the Lord ministered to me. At that moment, I was overcome with gratitude and thankfulness, and a hunger to minister unto the Lord. He was wooing me and calling me to come up higher.
I also recall during this time, kneeling at the altar after some youth event. Others had come up too, but as I sat there I had a vision of Jesus on the cross, and waves upon waves of His Presence washed over me, and I again wept in awe and thankfulness. It was overpowering, and I felt like I could have stayed there forever. I have had other amazing experiences in the Presence of the Lord over the years since those early years, and yet found myself in these last few years holding on for dear life at times, wondering if, as Peggy Lee sang in her song…’ is that all there is to life.’ As I entered my 60’s, I had begun to look back over my life and I asked God, “What about all those unmet expectations, hopes, desires and dreams that seemed to fade into the shadows of my youth? My love for the Lord, was intact, albeit, I felt dry, and there were still times He made His Presence known in a tangible way, but my passion, my zeal was waning, and I was struggling going forward. I felt I had somehow missed my ‘calling,’ my purpose for living if you will.
I was once asked what my ‘destiny’ was, what my calling was. At the time I wasn’t sure I could answer that question. I was a licensed minister (Christian Worker) and leading worship for a Women’s Bible Study, and for other women’s events (eventually with the help of my husband who is an excellent keyboardist, as well as an Assistant Pastor). We eventually began co-leading worship on Sunday mornings, but then after a few years, due to various life circumstances, I found myself sitting on the shelf; withdrawn, and I hid, struggling with hopelessness. There were many times I asked God, “Can these dry bones live again?” I felt lost and without direction, a foreigner in a strange land and then…
God began to breathe new life, new vision and I began to realize the best was yet to come. I began to step out and the walls that I had so meticulously placed around myself, began to crumble. Sometimes the weights and cares of this world distract and pull us away from our GREATEST CALLING, which is to sit at His Feet and Worship Him. I find myself starting over… getting back to the basics: a place of surrender, repentance, consecration and determination once again. Abba Father, has assured me, the best is yet to come … where He leads me I will follow.
This video is an encouragement and declaration that nothing else matters but God. At the end of the video, a minister quotes, “I stopped following my dreams, and I’ve started following Jesus, and my dreams followed me.” It’s time to lay aside our own preconceived ideas, the things we’ve held onto, the baggage, the old ways of doing things and surrender to the Lover of Our Souls. Nothing else matters but Jesus, His will, and His way. He wants all of our heart, not just a piece.
I submit to you a prophetic word given at one of our Church meetings, going into 2019. It encouraged me more now than it did then, especially as my walls began to crumble. It’s time to Be Still (let go) and KNOW that He is God. It’s time to embrace the new, and let go of the old … So many of us are at a place of transition and change. Be encouraged as we forge ahead…
“A new year is upon you. New days will arise. The old things will pass away. Put this year, 2018, under the blood. Let it go says the Lord. Let go of the good and let go of the bad. Let go of all the setbacks and the disappointments – any hurts- any frustrations! Let it go, says the Lord. Let it go. Look to Me-look up says the Lord. Seek My face and you shall find Me for I have new things for each and every one of you. Old things will not hold you down, but new things will begin to lift you up. My Church is going to rise. My Church- My Church- those that are open and willing – those that will obey me and listen and seek Me- you will arise into new things, says the Lord. New things are on the horizon. Breakthroughs are coming your way. Turn-arounds are taking place- but you have to trust me on a new level, says the Lord. You will have to have not limited thinking, but open your mind to the new things. Open your mind to all possibilities. Open and you shall see it, says the Lord, for My heart is with My people. My heart is to do good things. My heart is bring My Church up and out. So look to Me in these days ahead and see the new things, for I have special things. I have called thee up and I have called thee out. Will you listen? Will you hear? Will you obey? and if you do, you shall see it, says the Lord.”
I was listening to this song the other day, and I immediately started thinking about the abortion travesty, and the killing of the over 60 million innocent, precious babies who were sacrificed at the altar of ‘inconvenience.’ So many in our society have lost their moral compass, their conscious having been seared and polluted with the ‘politically correct’ thinking of the day, and humanism: a whatever feels good do it, even if it means the killing of an innocent child, mentality. I am not here to condemn anyone, if by happenstance you, dear reader, have had an abortion (willingly or by compulsion), there is always forgiveness and redemption through the loving heart of our Creator.
As I continued to listen to the song, ‘Abba’ by Jonathan David Hesler ; it was as if I could hear and sense these precious innocent souls singing along ‘Abba,’ I belong to You’. I could see the faces, the beautiful, pure and holy, faces of the children gazing up tenderly into face of their Creator, surrounded by His overwhelming Presence and Love.They still had their own uniqueness, personalities, individual traits and gifts that they were endowed with here on earth; but in heaven they were now complete and perfected. They were not lost, they were safe, and they were waiting, praying and worshiping. They were eternal. They were loved.
The same week that I was listening to this song, I came upon this excerpt from James Nesbit on one of his Facebook pages. It was a prophetic encounter he had with the Lord during a time of corporate intercession. It brought tears to my eyes…such a moving vision:
“As I was leaving that prayer meeting before going to the land assignment, a prophet stopped me and said, “You are going to hear a sound on the land today!”
About an hour later, I was standing in the midst of the intercessors leading worship when all of the sudden we stopped singing and it got very still; And as I felt the wind brush across my face, I heard the Lord say:
“There are over 50 Million babies worshiping around My throne; And the sound of their worship is unimaginable to you. A portion of their worshipful cry is, mercy for their mommies and daddies and their grandparents who counseled their mothers to abort them.”
He said, “Get over this notion that they are dead babies, they are eternal souls who see the beginning and the end!”
He said, “I love these innocents more than you know, and I love their mommies and daddies and grandparents as well.”
He said, “I am going to honor their worshipful cries, and send the Light of My love, and the awakening gentleness of My mercy, to visit their loved ones in the middle of the night, and draw them to me.”
Then He said, “These babies are not angry at them and neither am I, for it is the thief, who came to steal, kill, and destroy their family tree.”
Finally He said, “I need You to stand in the earth and agree with what I have just shared with you.”
What a powerful mandate from the Lord. Let us stand and ‘agree’ dear brothers and sisters, that the ‘Light of God’s Love, and the awakening gentleness of His mercy,’ will go forth into our Nation and soften and heal the broken heart, save and set free. I’m believing that Roe vs. Wade will eventually be overturned, the sanctity of life restored, and righteousness will once again take hold of America, as we turn our hearts toward Him. Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing!
In October / November of 2014, I had flown into Arkansas to once again spend an extended time with my mother and father; something I had begun to do on a yearly basis, especially after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers. They had left Arkansas as a young married couple, my sister and I in tow, and permanently moved to Northern California, where my dad spent his days as a logger, until he retired. A few years after retirement, the two of them, decided to pull up stakes once more unbeknownst to me , and return to Arkansas, back to where it all began, leaving behind my younger sister, and youngest brother, and a slew of relatives mostly on my mama’s side, in Red Bluff, California and the surrounding communities. It came as a total shock to me when upon calling them one day, the number so familiar to me as a kid growing up, and into adult hood, was disconnected! I panicked big time, started making calls, and finally my sister told me they had driven off into the ‘sunset’…(well, more or less). When I finally was able to talk to my mother, she said to me, “it’s our last BIG adventure!” Yes, Indeed, I just wish I’d been privy to it!
As stated above, I was visiting my folks, mama’s memory had slowly been fading, and though I knew it, nothing prepared me for what lay ahead. The year before, in 2013, I had a wonderful visit. I decided I would paint her kitchen all white, something she wanted for awhile, and feeling that time was of essence, I jumped into it with all my heart and soul! I just wanted to do whatever I could do to bring her joy and be close to her, as well as help support my dad. My main goal in going this time again, was to pour myself into loving and supporting my mother as well as my father, who was dealing with his own grief. It was in my heart to take photo’s and video’s, and to journal my time with mama, daddy and my other family and siblings when we were together. I am so glad that I did. These pictures, and videos are some of my most treasured possessions. I cherish these memories. I knew the inevitable would happen, that soon enough she would forget who I was, so I would hide my fears, and my tears as I hugged her, held her hand (she often would reach for my hand) and almost every night, I would sit on the edge of her bed, or lean over her and we would talk, and I then would pray with her before she went to sleep. That was 2013. Several months later, 2014, things changed.
Mama forgot who I was when I walked into the house. At first, she seemed to kind of know me, but I knew she was struggling the first night I was there; I was laying next to her in the bed, we talked and I was sharing some of our memories growing up. At one point she quietly said, “You’re Karen, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes, Mama. I’m Karen, your eldest daughter.” Oh, my heart. Oh, my heart. Oh, my sweet, sweet mama. To this day, that still brings tears to my eyes. I had fun ‘moments’ on this trip, but it was bittersweet, and my heart hurt. I had to stuff my pain and hide it as much as possible. I had to be strong. At the time, I posted on Facebook only the positive and left out the really hurtful experiences, mostly to protect my mother and my father, and to hide my pain: I was too vulnerable. I hurt for her, and for my dad, and our family. It was on this trip that I began to grieve the loss of my beautiful mother, the essence of who she was and had been. I saw glimpses here and there, of my mothers humor, and her fun spirit, including the time my husband came to pick me up. He stayed a week…and though she did not know him, and for the most part wasn’t sure who I was, she asked me with a twinkle in her eye, why didn’t I ‘tell’ her that I had gotten married? I said, “Mama, you were at the wedding.” I even showed her a picture. She still insisted I had not told her. She was chuckling, and I said, ‘Well, mama, I’ve been hiding him under the bed!” We both had a good laugh at that. Precious memories…how they linger ❤
This video, was made on my phone, my first attempt, and the lyrics of the song, ‘Love is Never Ending,’ spoke volumes to me about my folks, my mother, and father, and about the brevity of life, about God, and His love. When we said goodbye to mama in 2015, and the angels took her to heaven, it wasn’t the ending of a life of loving and giving. It was just the beginning for mama as she reached out for the Saviors hand, and for those of us who were left behind (for now), her legacy lives on in us, her children and grandchildren, as do her prayers. ❤
Love is Never Ending
Seasons come and seasons go
One day sun, the next day snow
Flowers die and flowers grow
But love is never-ending
You can’t kill it with goodbye
It always finds a place to hide
Inside your heart for your whole life
Love is never-ending
When the lights have all gone down
It’ll still be hangin’ ’round
Even when you think it’s lost, it can still be found
When every memory has been made
And the pages start to fade
And every prayer you ever prayed is heaven bound
When you think the ride is over
You’re back at the beginning
Oh, love is never-ending
When a man and a woman start growin’ old
The fire of passion may grow cold
But what they got still warms their soul
Love is never-ending
Time may change what you believe
But one day the truth will set you free
Just have faith and you will see
Love is never-ending.
Love is never-ending…
Recently, I began contemplating the phrase ‘walk on the water,’ after a friend of mine informed me she was considering and praying about whether to go to Israel with a group from our church. I had, myself, grabbed a brochure from the back of the Church sanctuary, a few weeks earlier, but did not pursue it mostly because of health concerns and all the added preparation that goes into traveling with diabetes, as well as the price of the trip, which is a nice amount.
So, There I was texting my friend, encouraging her to ‘walk on the water’, and believe for the trip, and that she would never regret it. At this point I’m not thinking at all about going to Israel myself, when she text me back, and said, “I want you to go.” We text back and forth for a bit, and I gave her all my excuses, which in reality, were all my ‘fears,’ only I didn’t recognize that at first. She finally text me back echoing my own words to her… “walk on the water”, whereas I burst out laughing, much like Sarah must have when faced with an impossibility of having a baby in her older age.
Then I decided to call her, and pretty much that was the ‘hook’ the Holy Spirit used to open my eyes to the fact, that indeed, it was a trip that I wouldn’t want to miss, and God was compelling me to go. It was an epiphany moment! I could feel the Joy of the Lord well up, and could hardly contain my excitement that this trip to Israel was going to be life-changing. He’s doing a new thing, He’s birthing something. God further showed me that I had been walking in fear, and trepidation because of some traumatic health issues over the last two+ years, that had kept me bound up, but as I stepped out in faith, and ‘walked on the water,’ He would indeed be holding my hand.
I began to realize, I was behaving like Peter in Matthew 14:22-33, when he began to walk on the water towards Jesus. Once Peter’s eyes focused on the rough seas and took his gaze off of Jesus, he began to sink. God spoke to me, it’s time to rise above the fear, and its time to declare and decree, and cling to to promises of God. A friend of mine shared this quote on Facebook, and it resonated with my spirit:
“If you spend all of your time dwelling on what’s wrong in your life, you will forget to rehearse and meditate on what God says, who He is, what He has done for you and what He has promised to do.” – Sean Dunn
Isn’t that amazing? So simple, and yet so profound. It’s time to stop dwelling on the problems in our lives, and to begin to rehearse and meditate “on what God says, who He is, what He has for for us, and what He has promised to do.” It’s time to rise above the rough seas and walk on the water. Are you ready to walk on the water? I am!
“There are times we all struggle with feeling alone, especially when faced with surmounting and overwhelming circumstances, pains, and disappointments. Hopelessness comes knocking at the door of our hearts and minds, threatening to squeeze out the Word and Promises of God. Even the most seasoned among us can falter when we are faced with unrelenting attacks and the forces that surround us push us to utter exhaustion, and weariness. If only we could really understand the depth of God’s love for us, and His desire to refresh us and restore us. May we be enriched and encouraged this year by His Word, and may we experience the TRUTH of His Word in our hearts, minds and bodies…as we come into the FULLNESS of the Gospel, and receive all that He has for us.”
Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Matthew 11: 28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.
Through trials and heartache
You’ve held my hand
When I doubted
You helped me to stand
Your Word sustained me
And kept me alive
And yet my flesh continued to strive
In the midst of my tears
The debilitating fears,
I hid in the shadows,
Afraid to come out
Lest others would see
all my hypocrisy
“Do You love me, Lord?
I tried to believe, I’m so imperfect,
How could it be?
Then little by little,
He captured my heart,
His love tore the walls down,
That had kept us apart.
I love You, Lord,
Your love is boundless
Your Love laid upon the tree,
has set me free
Facebook Memory: November 5, 2014. Six months later after this posting, mama fell in rehab, hit her head, attempting to get to the bathroom, 3am in the morning. Hours later she was rushed to the hospital with a brain hemorrhage from which she never regained consciousness. She was recovering from hip surgery and it was going well up until this point. Prior to this, she had been struggling with Alzheimer’s for a few years; 2014 was a turning point as far as the severity of the disease. When I came for an extended visit to give daddy a break and spend sometime loving on mama she hardly recognized me. It was then that I truly started to grieve. I will always cherish the time I was able to be there. In spite of the heartache at times, I experienced a deep joy in loving them and pouring into them. I was very aware of the faithfulness and goodness of God during this difficult time. There were tears and laughter, but love was always in the mix. :
“Wednesday, November 5th, 2014. We went to the Senior Citizen’s Center for Spaghetti and bingo. I took a picture of the last of some of daddy’s flowers that he brought in for mama. Pretty with the yellow deck in the background. After bingo we head out the door and drive down the road to Uncle Billy’s Barber shop. We usually sit around and chat while he cuts hair. Sometimes the customers join right in with the mini ‘ family’ reunions. Laughter and tales of days gone by oft come up. I learned this day for instance from Uncle Billy, that their mom, my grandma Atwell…or granny….had no sense of smell. He said it was because of a run in with a skunk…a direct hit in the face. I love these little meetings….and I love his barber shop where he has been cutting hair for about 30 years. The building has been there since the early 1900’s. Most of the adjacent storefront shops are empty, including the Crawdad Hole where many of the locals came for years to grab a bite in the little cafe and then listen to a little bit of bluegrass, country and gospel. Uncle Billy said this little strip will soon be a relic of the past. It truly feels like you’ve walked through a time warp into the past….a lot of history there.”