Thorns among the Barbs

Thoughts on my journey to heaven

Archive for the ‘hope’ Category

God is Good… all the time

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Years ago that was a very popular expression in the city churches… and i remember hearing a large african american woman say that all the time.  Her life was a story of challenge, trial, adversity, and loss.  It seemed that at almost every turn she expereinced yet one more departure from normal and mundane life.. but she always came back with that response “god is good… all the time… and all the time… God is good.”  Intellectually i understood her cry, and in my head i knew this to be true.  Every passage of scripture backed her statement up… and in every instance where an older saint came to the notice of the world for something heroic, startling or shocking it was always the same song… God is good… all the time.

I am not heartless, and i do not forget to connect my heart to my knowledge, but there was one thing missing from my life those years ago… it was that direct and immediate application of this principle in my own life.  Until our job loss my view was that God was indeed good… he provided cars, a job for each of us, and good health, all the food we wanted, and a life filled with stuff.  We could buy whatever we wanted.. well, almost everything.  He provided warmth in the winter, and fresh cool breeze in the summer…. and we were very insulated from the palpable cry hidden in that woman’s statement.  For we knew a god that prevented us from knowing the pain of joblessness, or of death.  He was a God of the mountain tops….

and it was only when our jobless adventure took us deep into the valley and the shadows of death that we really understood the goodness of God, walking us through times when we were not certain how any bills would be paid, or if we would have food on the table.  He provided.  Never beyond exactly what we needed, but his provision has been right on time, precise, calculated, and a blessing.  And he has held us in those emotional times when the world just did not seem right, or we wondered what else would be taken from us… but as the dust settled we knew he was looking out for us.  He cleared our plates of the burdens of excess, providing just what we need.  Is God Good?  Amen

Is God’s way my way? Not on your life.  But is his goodness better than my very life? You Bet. 

So i think back those many years, and still hear that deep growly voice shout from the depths of her soul “God is Good… all the time”… yes, in the death of a son,  and in the loss of that job, and in the time when a spouse walked out, and when the car died, and the house is falling apart.  Is God able to meet the need? Absolutely.  Does he want us looking to him for everything – Yes?  Does he take joy in being our provider, our savior and our friend – Amen.

So the God of the mountain tops does visit the valleys, the deep places where there is great pain, and challenge.  And he walks with us through these places, and stays with us as we ourselves change, shed the garments of materialism, and of greed, and of selfish desire…  For you see, we had worn worldly garments of self fulfillment, of greedy behavior, of indulgence, and of taking for granted the opportunities he had placed in our lives.  That valley shook us to the core.  Bankrupcy – of our souls, emotions, spirit and of our wallet… everything felt like it was stripped away, or ripped away.  In those moments i remember saying to God over and over “Please dont let us be homeless!”  And slowly we emerge from those  rags we once wrapped around ourselves, naked, sad that we have gotten it wrong for so long.  The message of worldly materialism is a distructive one, masquarading itself in a cloak of luxury, and desire, appealing to the deepest fleshly desires… and it was in direct opposition to the God of Creation.  He had other plans.  He allowed us to have alot stripped away – naked emotionally, financially, spiritually.  And naked we find ourselves being handed garments of praise, richly appointed clothing of humility, of dependence, and of selflessness.  We are no longer our own, and we no longer look like the world.  We emerge from the valley dressed in the garments of our God, prepared for us, that we may proclaim to every ear that will listen “God is Good… all the time”.  The climb up the mountain from the valley is challenging.  Rebuilding our lives is not for the faint of heart, but God has known that he designed us for his service, and for surrender from the world. 

Perhaps you ar e there… the economy has thrown you down for the count, left you wondering what your life is about or how you will ever regroup and move forward.  That same God who is Good will be there for you, and see you through this adventure, until one day you kneel in his presence in heaven, with this world’s struggle ended, and eternity beginning free of all of this.  My challenge is look to Jesus… fix your eyes on him, read his word, and yield your emotions and your mind to his spirit.  Stop letting the emotions lie to you, and let Jesus show you his goodness, his kindness, his mercy and his grace.

What is keeping you from yielding to his sovereign will today?

 

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Written by Barbara Bloom

July 17, 2012 at 11:07 PM

writing is cathartic

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I’ve known for a long time that I love to write .  But there is one thing about writing – it takes discipline in time .  and I will be the first to admit I am not very disciplined it sitting down to write .  so is a blog idea came to mind,  partly because it could be quick and short .  I love the thought of of selecting from what is going on in real life and spending a few moments thinking about it .  perhaps I missed my calling in should have gone into journalism .  at the heart of this blog was the goal of documents in my thoughts  and I most difficult time in my life .  I had a job that was challenging ,and I worked with people that were very strong willed .  throw my personality and my sense of faith in and this was quite a dynamic and challenging environment . Faith was not something that was valued in that environment  .  Curiously my faith upheld me through this time of difficulty. 

the writing is cathartic ,it’s healthy, and helpful to me to find ways of expressing what’s going on .  and perhaps writing is a means of document in my life  . 

Written by Barbara Bloom

April 24, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Posted in daily life, hope, Lessons learned

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Handling it….not me but God.

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Last night I had another powerful reminder that our lives are fragile and our God is a strong defender and protector.

Our neighborhood is older and so is the infrastructure.  The gas company is working on updating all the gas lines and moving meters out of our homes.  Last night was our turn to let 5 men with tools and hard hard loose in our basement to complete the work.  Here is the miracle: the gas company found for big leak in our gas line in the basement .  the more amazing thing was the biggest lake was at our furnace and the repair guy said the furnace it is blowing up and killed us all .  But god is good and he watched over us to protect us from that happening repairs are almost all done no more gas leaks and I’m thankful I’m alive .  last night when the news broke off valve leaks I was a bit frantic and then I realized how good god is to me.  initially the gas repair people told me the gas would be turned off we have to hire a plumber and thought we would then have to call to get service turned on.  steve was at his name and study and I didn’t want to disturb him but I was alarmed and needed to pray with him . we prayed together and then steve spoke with his mom’s bible study .  they prayed for the situation and offered several opportunities of christian man who do plumbing .  but here’s the miracle the gas company came back about 45 minutes later realizing they had been using 1 gauge that was hyper sensitive .  dan hypersensitive gauge was showing leak that did not necessarilly hold true .  when nate and tested the line with another gauge it has been fine .  the valve to the furnace is captain waiting are on completion repair however the gas service was turned back on and hallelujah we have no other leaks . 

so this is the miracle that god does ip knew that big ass would be leaking can you get it could kill us it wasn’t hard time and more than that he put on parts of the gas company none the idea to test with a different gauge . I know now how clearly god wants to answer prayer .  and I saw his good hands responding in very short order .  so I am thankful I’m alive and I’m very thankful that I know the lord and more than that I’m thankful that he loves and protects us .  god is good all the time .

Written by Barbara Bloom

April 17, 2012 at 12:03 PM

All we can do is pray

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No, not a hopeless statement, but a declaration of sheer dependency on the Sovereign God who rules over all things. I hate to tell you that i bristle when I hear someone say “well, all we can do is pray” as if to say there is no other alternative.

Prayer needs to be the core and first choice of every human… seeking the wisdom, guidance, clarity, and abundance that only our father can bring is not a last ditch effort.

Prayer has always been a part of my life, but in the crucible of unemployment, sharp and marked economic reversal and new health concerns there is no other thought than to lay everything into the hands of God, and seek his clarity daily. And honestly that may also be moment to moment at times.

So why do we carry a misconception that as humans we have the power to make everything happen, make it better, heal that wound, change that future in our own power.

For those of you reading who still believe you have great power over your life please excuse me for being so brash, but “You don;t have power over your life. Nor do I over mine.” Surely we have times of free will, and times when God blesses us in spite of our best layed human plans. But the truth is even the breath we breathe comes from Him. Salvation is not something we can conjur up – The Father has to draw us, to put a deep longing, a hunger, a desperate need for His Salvation deep in our soul.

And we are hopeless to shrug this sin nature, apart from His Spirit filling us up and changing our hearts. And yet we sin, and yet we stumble and fall. But He stands waiting for us like a parent holding his arms out and calling us back.

So the next time you hear someone say “all we can do is pray.” I challenge you to turn it around and say “Prayer is all we can do – the answer is up to the Lord.”

Written by Barbara Bloom

March 17, 2012 at 2:40 AM

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord.

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This week has been a roller coaster of emotions, of God work in our hearts and lives. And out of the depths of my soul I have been crying out to the Lord for his wisdom and clarity to know what I am living through. To see through the fog of emotion and to sense his strong hand of leadership. And it is there. Amen.

If you have been reading my posts you will know that we have been in a challenging place – unemployment, depression and a mother in law with problems that she wants to turn into our problems.

Out of the depths of my soul I have been crying out and begging for clarity on what to do with this life, with this sense of hopeless wandering, loss of income, loss of purpose, and midlife rejection by society. I confess I have been depressed and sluggish with simple things like cleaning the house, or doing laundry. Then it happened, and the Lord’s wisdom flooded my foggy soul. I had christian radio on while I was washing dishes and found myself listening intently to the conversation. The guest was an expert in spiritual warfare. He began talking about how we invite the darkness to have a foothold, and sometimes we do not know what happened to bring this oppression to our lives. And oppression can seem to linger, take hold.

I am all ears…. oppression – yes, i think this 2 year adventure qualifies as somewhat oppressive. The depression has been challenging at best, frustrating and life sucking is more accurate.

He went on to say that as a born again believer we cannot be posessed, but the darkness can follow us, thwart our lives, steer us to the rocks, and make every effort to disable our lives as christians. But “take heed- ultimately God the Father is in control, and he gives us tools to deal with this.” OK, i have heard this before many times.. I am all ears still.

First the most important thing is to define the source of this permission for the darkness to have its way in our lives. – I began thinking – what have i done, seen , read, or surrounded myself with that is dark, and in opposition to the Lord? Many years ago as a young believer I remember addressing this issue – and i did a thorough inventory of my life. List out what might be standing against the Lord Jesus.

Second- confess to the Lord these strongholds. Surrender them to the Lord and ask him to forgive you, and cleanse you from this.

Third – pray and stand against these strongholds. Pray with all belief, resting in the armour of the Lord, knowing that the Lord goes before you to win this battle, and secure this ground for his Glory!

So the inventory began again – and i thought of tv shows that had dark content, and a movie we recently saw that bothered me. In the name of Jesus I confess these as sin, renounce them and stood in the blood of Christ, redeemed and restored as a child of the King Jesus.

The afternoon after I spent time in warfare prayer I got wonderful amazing news that made us both jump for joy. Blessings and a door that only the Lord could open. It was brilliant and wonderful news. We were still thanking the Lord when it happened. The cell phone rang and it was the mother in law. Swooping in to rage against us, accusing us of untruths, and offering only belittling demasculating comments. And there it was… there was the biggest answer. Now we are fairly certain my mother in law is not a believer – although she has tried to pretend this. The timing of her call was incredible – and it was within minutes of good news. And her words were so hurtful, so cutting, like sharp knives stabbing us.

I watched my husband’s face, and realized how deeply painful these calls are to him. They are wounds that try to disable. Honestly they are words that do disable us- because they are words that come from someone who was blessed with the sacred honor of being a mother. Mothers should not kill and destroy with their words.

I had not told him of the radio show, or my prayers… until then.

I dont want him thinking I am calling his mother a demon – but i wanted to try to explain that Satan is using her to try to get to us. Before I could say anything he told me almost exactly those words.

So I suggested the inventory and prayer process.
As we began the inventory a pattern emerged. All of this stress and disturbance began when she came to live with us 2 years ago. During the time she lived with us this spiritual problem unveiled itself several times. Once when she and I got into an argument she acted oddly for a week, wearing those sunglasses the eye doctor gives after an exam both day and night so I could not see her eyes. Then she told me she had extensive counseling for a multiple personality disorder. I remember being gripped with the thought “Lord, what have we brought into this house. protect us.” No, it was not scenes from a scary movie, but it was irratic and disturbing behavior. At the time we were both stressed and trying to make the best of life. But her comments stayed with us both. Christians cannot have multiple personalities… they can be schizophrenic, or bi-polar, or have other mental illnesses, but this “multiple-personality” thing was just oddly not settling to my understanding of God’s Word.

Then we started tracking when her calls came, and realized that they were always on the heels of a victory, or quickly after the Lord had shown us his hope, his peace, his Glory.

We took our concerns to our prayer and bible study groups and asked them to join us in praying through this until there is a victory. The victory is already won by King Jesus.

Here is the audio link to this show:
http://www.moodyradio.org/brd_ProgramDetail.aspx?id=66132

“King Jesus, the Mighty One, You are the one that called me from the darkness, washed me in your blood. I come to you now, confession every time when I have aligned my heart with something dark. In the name of Jesus I confess my hostility toward my mother in law. In the name of Jesus I ask that the darkeness that we allowed to come into our home through my mother in law is now cancelled, and yielded to the Lord Jesus. By your blood and authority I ask that all forces of darkeness flee from us, from our home, and our minds. In the name of Jesus I claim our home for Jesus, and ask that every square inch of my life, soul and home exist for the glory of Jesus Christ. I now rededicate my life to Jesus, and rededicate our home to the Glory and Use of Jesus alone. I thank Jesus for the victory knowing that He holds the authority and power over everything. And I pray for the soul of my mother in law – that the Lord will take hold of her soul, draw her out of the darkness, and that she will come to know salvation and freedom from oppression and posession. In the Glorious name of Our Great God I pray. Amen”

Written by Barbara Bloom

February 3, 2012 at 4:52 AM

Comfort is overrated

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I heard those words on a blog i was reading and gasped… taken by surprise because everything in our mortal being strives to find comfort, to find the minimum resistance, the place where there is no pain. But there is a truth to the statement that comfort is overrated. I pondered this for some time.

Why was i surprised by this comment? what was it about comfort that drew the writer of that blog post to make this statement? In the back of my mind i have heard this before. Friends who went off to the mission field of the third world have easily come back changed, understanding that the church of the united states is soft, at ease, much like a former athlete who discovered the relaxation of breaking from the training schedule. I have heard natives of other nations speak of how the struggle, the pain, pushing through the difficulty builds the character, and develops a strong faith muscle. I confess until i lost my job i thought i had a pretty strong faith muscle, but realize now that was not the case.

So here are the comments he made about discomfort. This is what stirred my thoughts:

Comfort is overrated. It doesn’t lead to happiness. It makes us lazy—and forgetful. It often leads to self-absorption, boredom, and discontent.
Discomfort is a catalyst for growth. It makes us yearn for something more. It forces us to change, stretch, and adapt.
Discomfort is a sign we’re making progress. You’ve heard the expression, “no pain, no gain.” It’s true! When you push yourself to grow, you will experience discomfort.

These words spoke deeply to me. This is what i want in 2012 – growth, profound catalytic growth.

Lord, through this past year you have been the strength, the comfort, the one pulling us to new and unfamiliare places. I must confess that when i loose sight of your good hand it seems that I loose sight of the work you are doing in my life, my soul, my heart. I also confess that i like ease, comfort, minimal stress and i realize I have not grown during times of ease. Thank you Lord for seasons of growth, of trial, of challenge because it is in those times that we learn your true love, power, and wisdom. We learn your character in deeper and more secure ways. I thank you for the season of lack of comfort, and i yield this simple life to you. Make me into what you want me to be. Amen”

Written by Barbara Bloom

January 9, 2012 at 12:15 AM

Lord help me learn to rest in you

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Lord,
It is 6am and my sleep pattern is all messed up from working those occassional night shifts, coupled with anxiety about the current state of our life. Yes, the bankrupcy is final, the time share is gone, and so are most of our big bills, but we are still not working,and the savings are draining out. The little start up business is not paying the rent, and most employers seem to have slammed their doors to us. So where do we go and what do we do?
and then a still small voice says – “Do you trust me?”
What? “Do you trust me – you remember me, the creator of all life, the one who hung the stars in space, and set the planets in their orbit, the one who spoke and the waters and land seperated, the one who breathed and man came to life. Do you trust me?”

humbled i must say yes, but i am afraid Lord. I am afraid of being on this journey outside my comfort zone.

“Fear me, not life” “Fear the one who can take your life.”

OK, i understand. But will you please hold me until i stop shaking inside. will you give me your wisdom for the future? Will you guide us with your strength and wisdom? Will you open a door that we can earn an income to pay our bills?

“Trust me, my child” “Trust that I have a plan for you, that I want to give you a future and hope. Trust me.”

I will, but i need your strength to indeed live up to this, and trust you with my whole heart. I am still scared. This year has given us a lot of ugly reminders that unredeemed humanity is vicious, sadistic, and uncaring. I wrestle with forgiveness… and then there are times when I know I have declared forgiveness for these people. Help me not be so double minded. For I want freedom from those who have hurt us. I want release to love youand to love people and to share the hope you have given me.

“Yes, trust me though. Let go of your understanding and trust that I am doing a work that you may not see right now. Wait for me, wait for my good hand, and trust me please. For I love you with an everlasting love. I have bought you with the blood of my son. You are mine,and nothing can seperate you from me. Trust me. REstin me.”

and all i can say is “Lord help me learn to rest in you.” amen.

Written by Barbara Bloom

September 5, 2011 at 5:12 AM