My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for God

From death to life, empowered to stand

For several weeks I had been praying a short, simple prayer, “Holy Spirit of Life, ‘life’ your people, that we may live! Breathe in us, Spirit of God…”

…Only to find myself sliding in a kind of despair I’d never experienced before. I struggled with doubt I would have never thought possible and questioned every promise from God that would rise up in my spirit. At times when it seemed that the light and life had gone out inside me and I chose not to pray, I’d awake during the night to hear my spirit praying, “Holy Spirit of LIFE, life me with Yourself. I want to live!…”

As always, after God speaks and brings breakthrough in my personal life, He confirms His word in some public setting, speaking though some other source.

At watch might service, the sermon was entitled, “Time to live again.” As I study Ezekiel 37, the scripture reference from last night’s sermon, I once again rest in the covenant relationship with a God who will come to us when we find ourselves in valleys of despair and death.

He commands only that we perceive, become conscious by the ear and give our attention to His word (vs. 4 – Dry bones, HEAR the word of the Lord!). He follows with promises of what HE will do — vs. 6 “I will attach tendons, I will bring flesh on you, I will cover you with skin, I will put breath in you, and YOU will come to life.

I’m very much aware that death requires nothing of us, but LIFE does. Even after the first prophecy – that produced the rattling and noise of the coming together of bones, that gave the dry bones the appearance of a healthy physical body – they were still lifeless, without any power to act. However, when The Breath was called forth and the Spirit of God surged in them they stood up, ready for action.

The good news is that no matter what causes us to give in to despair, if we can decide not to shut down and close ourselves off but instead to open our ears and perceive/discern that in the midst of whatever it is, God is still speaking and working – we can live.

Becoming an Extravagant Lover

“What if he’s just like every other man…?”

She pushed the thought away and continued placing light, gentle kisses on his person. She suddenly realized she was crying, each tear drop voicing the ache in her sad, lonely heart, “Do YOU love me?…”

A familiar question. Millions are still asking… Imagine, after spending the night curled in someones’ arms, exchanging intimate kisses and passionate embraces…on the brink of giving one’s self to another…during…after…when lovemaking felt so much like being loved…the question is still whispered from empty, broken hearts, “Do you love me?”

…But Jesus was and is not like every other man. If He was insecure in who He is or uncertain about His purpose, he would have kicked at the kissing harlot, indignantly reminding her of who she was and who He is. Feeling the need to prove His own righteousness and win the approval of religious men He would have further wounded her instead of healing her.

No, Jesus is not like any other man, He is THE Extravagant Lover.

In the book “A Love Worth Giving,” Max Lucado states that the secret to loving, is living loved. Based on the story in Luke 7: 36-50 he speaks of the 7:47 principle from the same text “A person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Or to my understanding, “a person wrapped in his own self-righteous cannot really grasp his need of grace or forgiveness and therefore is incapable of (being an extravagant lover) offering grace, love and forgiveness to those in need. He can only give from the place where he lives.

This is where Simon dwells. The story shows that Simon, though very religious, showed contempt not only for this sinner but also for the Saviour. May I suggest that when our “righteousness” renders us incapable of showing love, causing us to live and speak hate, spewing condemnation and judgment on any person or group, wishing for their isolation and death, that we not only show contempt for them, but we also show contempt for the Saviour who died that they might live.  Living loved as Max Lucado describes it means first accepting the love that Jesus offers then learning to live and give from that place, (thus becoming an extravagant lover).

This is where the sinful woman lives. She knew who she was, a sinner. She knew what she needed, grace. So, she walks into the room bearing her alabaster jar, heads for the Saviour, stands behind him and weeps. Years of rejection and brokenness yield enough tears to wash His feet. A heart full of gratefulness, bursting with love expresses itself through kisses.

And what does The extravagant lover do? At the risk of His reputation, He gives her exactly what she needs. A safe place to express her love and the acceptance she so desperately craves. Her tears continued to flow voicing a new sound, “I’m loved, HE loves me!” The sinner becomes an extravagant lover as she pours out from what she has accepted, His grace, love and salvation.

On life, love, growing older, keeping life simple, natural hair and more…

life, love, growing older, keeping life simple, natural hair

Celebrate Life!

As I celebrated another birthday, I think what’s so beautiful about growing older is what can develop on the inside, and how our perspective on life changes.

Here are a few disjointed, yet connected thoughts:

On Life:
Don’t try to dance to everyone’s rhythm, find your own beat and move to it.
• People will try to define you, don’t let them. Discover who you are and be that.
• People will try to confine you. Grow in spite of.
• People will try to rattle you. Possess yourself from the inside and draw from that place of peace.
• Keep things that make you giggle, close – when life offers nothing to laugh about draw from that place.

On Love:
I learned very early not to allow fear to keep me in relationships, I’ve had to learn not to allow fear to keep me from relationships.

On Keeping Life Simple:
Even if you can’t afford to get dressed up and go to a live performance, get dressed up anyway, throw back your windows and let the birds serenade you. Learn to make your own moments beautiful, no matter your place or circumstance.

On Growing Older:
I love where I am at this moment. I love that I feel free to dance even if everyone chooses to sit it out. It’s great to feel good in your own skin.
Don’t be bothered by little things, and learn to forgive quickly. There are too many older people who are still bothered by little things.

On Natural Hair:
It seemed like such an unlikely affair, I fell in love with my naturally graying hair. Wearing ones natural hair doesn’t make one more self-aware, but I believe the journey of knowing and loving oneself is worthwhile — and such an awakening!

On God:
I really believe God exists. What He’s doing in me – renewing me, changing my attitude, my outlook;  filling me with strength, peace – that’s what beautifies.

It’s time to accept those who are different

“I’d have to change my response to the wedding vows from ‘I will’ to ‘I’ll do my best with God’s help’.” That did not go over very well with the minister and his wife with whom I was having this conversation. It was years ago, I don’t even recall why we were talking about this, but my response had greatly offended him and his response had not hidden that fact.

It keeps amazing me that people can seem to be getting along so well, yet offenses, misunderstandings, differences and disagreements can not only divide us, but cause an end to relationships, or even worst, cause people to make enemies of each other.

Time teaches that differences/disagreements/etc are normal happenings in life. However, I think the greater lesson is that our responses can paint very accurate pictures of where we are at various stages, and therefore can be the impetus for personal growth.

The idea of standing before God and saying, “I will,” to me meant writing a blank cheque of commitment to someone as we stepped in an unknown future, and it filled me with terror. Yet, in “Meeting God at Every Turn” as I read Philip Lader’s vow to Linda Ann LeSourd (Catherine Marshall’s stepdaughter), something within me exhaled and I finally got it.

Part of Philip’s beautifully written vow read, “…the “I will” said today is not so much fact accomplished, as responsibility assumed… you and I are commissioned by this wedding to make God’s love believable to the world. By His grace however, we have different gifts, and these beg quarrels. When frustrated by your tenacity of opinion, I shall not waive my own, but shall honestly and patiently seek resolution…”

When I think of how different we are — we can respond to conflicts, successes, challenges, pain, disagreements and even pleasure differently. Even if we’ve been raised in the same household we can still respond to life in very different ways. I believe our differences were meant to be complementary and not used as reasons for division.

However, as we live out life in its varying arenas – relational, religious, political, etc. “making God’s love believable to the world” still seems the most difficult thing for us to do?

In Acts chapter 10 Peter was being transformed by God’s lesson on acceptance. In a vision, as Peter dismissed the very idea of eating or being involved in any way with “unacceptable” things transformation took place when he exchanged his way of seeing things for God’s way.  It was time for the hostility between Jews and Gentiles to be faced, for hearts to be opened and for arms to be extended in love to the unacceptable.

God’s purpose has not changed, his reconciling love has always been extended to the whosoever – no matter how wide the cultural or ethnic divide. His heart has not changed, He still desires that ALL persons be brought into an intimate relationship with Him.

Acceptance becomes easier, I believe, when we realize that we would have been included with those who were condemned as unacceptable. Unacceptable, but for God’s grace and His command of not calling anything impure (unacceptable) that He had made clean.

As we represent Christ, His love, grace, mercy & forgiveness have to be the guide to our interactions with the “different” people in our world. His love has to touch those who have been destined to walk in the reach of His light that shines through us, and His acceptance of the whosoever has to be the standard by which we measure our acceptance of others.

Impelled at the point of surrender

Have you ever started a journey to a certain place, yet found yourself in a different location realizing that it was where you needed to be all along?

As I continued my study in Acts I started listing the different seasons of the early church: times of power and growth, peace and favor, obedience and courage, death and persecution…

Stephen had just been stoned to death and Acts 8:1 says, “…a great persecution broke out against the church… and all except the apostles were scattered …” These acts of persecution that were intended to destroy the church were being used by God to fulfill the great commission. Once again I felt unsettled by the reminder that God still allows, and moves through painful and discomforting circumstances.

I was amazed by the actions of the disciples, for though they had been thrust from their places of comfort, security and familiarity it is recorded that they preached the Word in all the “displaces” of their persecution.

Once again I was led to one of Catherine Marshall’s books, “Meeting God At Every Turn.” I didn’t know why I felt the need to track down her book, but at a time when we are being taught to declare and decree what we want, to demand an end to our discomfort  — what about a time of surrender?  Trusting God to work through us to accomplish His purpose no matter in what season we find ourselves.

“In Meeting God at Every Turn”, as Mrs Marshall traversed through some tough decisions and challenges she does this intentional probing of her life, her heart, her motives.  As she examined her life, I started examining mine, and felt deeply shaken by the awareness that there was a part of me that I kept closed, protected, even from God. Protected from that place of complete surrender, lest surrender takes me the way of Calvary — that place of “others-living,” where it’s not about my space and comfort but it’s a willingness to deny me, ALWAYS, for the cause of Christ.

This is the place where I had not intended to journey but was a journey that I needed to make — broken, honest and exposed before God, I surrendered everything…

One thing I know about the Word is that it’s active and alive. It probes our heads and hearts, challenges our places of comfort, exposes our motives and reveals hidden things with the intention of transforming our lives. For if the Word has no power to impact our living, if there is no intimate personal relationship with our Savior, if there is no indwelling of the Spirit to empower, lead and counsel, if there is no Difference Maker, then what would be the point? We could do life anyway we see fit. But at the point of our surrender to God, I’m convinced that’s when we are most powerful, where no matter what impels us, our hearts and lives can affirm, God’s Kingdom come, His will be done….

The time for obedience

It was Saturday and mommy had left my sister and I at home to do chores. My younger brother and stepbrother were outside riding on a cart they had made. The road they were on sloped and at the bottom was a cliff …

Someone suggested that we leave the chores and go have fun with them.

My sister got on the cart with my stepbrother and he guided the cart down the hill. When it was my turn I decided I did not need to have anyone ride with me. I climbed on the cart and it started wobbling. As it gained momentum I realized that I had neither knowledge nor experience on how to steer or stop the contraption.

I panicked, feeling certain if I kept going I would go over the cliff and just as certain that even if it killed me mommy would still give me a beating for having disobeyed.

I jumped off the cart while it still moving and wounded my knee. I was able to hide the incident from my mom only until the next morning, I was in so much pain I could not walk. I still have a scar on my left knee that reminds me of that day.

I had been drawn away from my study of the book of Acts by this memory.

The Wesleyan Bible Commentary on the book of Acts states, “There is no substitute for obedience, and there is no spiritual Pentecost, (and to my understanding, no power,) without obedience.

The book of Acts reminds me of my need for the Helper, I can’t ride this journey of life on my own.  It also reminds me that the body of Christ needs His power in order to obey the charge given to the church. The Wesleyan Bible Commentary further states – “….It was divine energy, (power) that the disciples were to receive through their enduement with the Holy Spirit…. but this power was not a gift to be received apart from the personal Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit in their lives.”

If God’s power working through us is in fact intertwined with us obeying His teaching, then is it not time for obedience? D.L.Moody is quoted to have said, “You might as well try to see without eyes, hear without ears or breathe without lungs as to live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit.

The time for courage

“Gift of Jehovah,” that’s what his name means. I sat at my desk on Tuesday morning, working, but the tears would not stop. He was dead. For several days my mind offered up a single cry, “Father, I don’t understand…” I had really admired this 19-year-old who was so responsibly and committed to his faith and his work in the church.

I tried searching the internet for news about the accident — it’s sometimes hard for me to process things without facts. I did not find anything about him but there were so many others who had died during that week and I found myself grieving for them and their families as well.

If what my faith teaches is true, that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved,”  then, is it not time for courage? I found myself troubled by this question, “Where will eternity find all those who had died?”

I was reminded of Matthew’s re-commitment to God on Sunday, he had held his hand up high when Pastor Garmon had asked if anyone wanted to renew their commitment to Christ, and I sat next to him as he reaffirmed that commitment out loud. I realize that if I believe “The Book” then Matthew’s life, no matter how much we miss him, is not lost. Paul said while we live we have the opportunity to glorify Christ and bring benefit to others, but when we die, if we know The Christ, we gain.

Matthew’s death reminds me that we have no guarantee of the length of the days of our loved ones –they can be taken in the next second, minute, hour, day; So I ask again, is it not time for courage?

In Acts 4:13 the Bible tells us that as Peter and John boldly proclaimed that there is only one way to God — that is through Jesus Christ — that those who opposed the message were astonished at their courage. Courage to speak the truth of The Word even though it could cost them their lives.

My prayer is that God would give us the courage to live and speak the Good News of the Gospel with clarity, conviction and boldness. Courage to work through those things in the body of Christ that divide us and cause others to question the validity of The Faith. Courage to decide to do life according to the Word so that we don’t cause others to stumble. Courage to reach and love those in our space back to a relationship with Christ. Courage to reach our world.

%d bloggers like this: