Quotable Quote

Oh, would that my mind could let fall its dead ideas, as the tree does its withered leaves!

-Andre Gide, author, Nobel laureate (1869-1951)

...reminds me of a worship song by Kelanie Gloekler (and God bless Jamie at Finished Work, for introducing me to this incredible young worship leader, who sings only of the gospel of grace!) ~


Holy Spirit, overshadow me
Take me by the corners of my soul and shake me
What a love,
You’ve been waiting to
Break me wide open to carry Your heart

Oh my Jesus, draw near to me
Take me to the center of the flame, consume me
I surrender to this holy burn
Break me wide open to carry Your heart

All I wanna do is lose myself in You
Lean back in Your arms and just let go (repeat)

Let it be to me according to Your Word
Your ways are higher than mine
Let it be to me according to Your Word
Your ways are higher than mine

I let go…
Your kingdom come
In my life…
Your will be done
I let go!

"Gotta put yourself smack dab in it..."

Pastor Tim's Favorite Song ~

(not really, but it is a great song...sounds a lot like his messages of recent weeks. Feel free to turn your speakers way up and hit the "play" button on the YouTube screen. You won't regret it. )

Freedom - keep walkin'
Keep on your toes and don't stop talkin' 'bout
Freedom - get goin'
Lots to be learned and lots to be knowin' 'bout
People - gotta reach 'em
Sit 'em right down and then you gotta teach 'em 'bout
Freedom - gotta win it
Gotta put yourself smack dab in it

Hey tomorrow
Now don't you go away
'Cause freedom
Just might come your way

Freedom - keep tryin'
People stay alive and people keep dyin' for
Freedom - so don't lose it
Ya gotta understand ya just can't abuse it
Freedom - get movin'
Never gonna stop till everybody's groovin' on
Love for - one another
Callin' some friend and callin' some brother

Hey tomorrow
You're not so far away
We'll know you well someday...

Paul Prayed What?

And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Paul, in Philippians 1)

So, Paul doesn't pray that I will find a supernatural ability to keep the ten commandments better?


So, Paul isn't praying that I will increase more and more in my personal excellence, work ethic, honesty, integrity, and morality?


If not, why not?

Well, because Paul chooses not to pray for secondary things. Paul, as a wise apostle with the heart of a true pastor, prays for first things. Remember, if you focus on secondary things, you lose both first and second things; but if you focus on first things, secondary issues get tossed in, seemingly for free.

Paul prays that my relationships be blessed to overflowing, as a direct result of both my intellect and my emotions being deeply affected by the power of the gospel of grace.

"But Sheila...Paul said '..that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all judgement.' " That's what I just said. Love is a moot point outside the context of relationship. Without relationship, love does not exist. The knowledge of what Christ accomplished on my behalf contains enough doctrine to keep my intellect busy for an eternity, and it also infuses my heart with wonder, awe, and praise...love and adoration. The knowledge of what Christ accomplished on your behalf causes me to so urgently desire that you personally experience this great salvation, that I'd lay my life down to see you "get it". If I would lay my life down, I would certainly do anything else for you - anything necessary to your revelation of Christ. If that isn't loving you, what would loving you look like?

When first things are put in their proper place, what is the result? What is the result of abounding love-relationships, relationship with God and with people, relationships overflowing in a knowledge and experience of the gospel?

Answer: everything following the word "that". When Paul's first request, the one for abounding love, is answered, the other requests will also be answered - this he knew!

THAT I would discern the things that are excellent. (Not that I would have an ability to find fault. Ahem.)

THAT I would be sincere and untroubled by sin-consciousness until the day Jesus Christ returns, or I go to be with Him. That is what the phrase "without offense" means! It means to be untroubled by sin-consciousness....uh, probably because I'm too busy approving the things that are excellent, to become jaded by your mistakes. Or my own mistakes. Or the mistakes of my present or former church leaders. (Oh, this is huge! I have met people all over the world, who have been hurt in their church experience...)

I want very much to dig into what being "sincere" really means, but that will have to be another blog post for another day. Suffice it to say, being sincere is the opposite of being critical and jaded. The Lord is showing me that sincerity of faith is almost non existent in spiritual leadership today. Those who have managed to guard their sincerity are the cream of the crop.

If you know a leader who is sincere, as opposed to sophisticated or cynical, please give him or her a (sincere) tender embrace, and then pray for that person every day. I promise you, they and their heart of sincerity are the prime target of satan. The devil is out to rob them of their honest and childlike belief in the simple power of the gospel, as proclaimed through the foolishness of preaching it. And since misery loves company, every jaded person in the church wants to darken the heart of the sincere with their quasi-spiritual perspective.

In Paul's own words, the consequence of putting first things first (putting the focus on an abounding love for God and love for the saints) is that I am filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ.

Those are better results, by far, than I would get by adherence to anywhere from ten to six hundred plus commandments.

Wise man, that Paul. A true leader.

Wordless (Not Really) Wednesday

Pictures from my daughter Hannah's bridal shower, held this past Saturday, and hosted by my sister Lynn..."the hostess with the mostest"....who I could never, ever, thank enough for such beautiful, life long memories. Hannah and I were so blessed...

Pillars, dripping with fragrant wisteria, at the Avalon Clubhouse, on a storybook April morning...

...and a pile of presents. I mean, a pile!

Our Hannah, with Katie in the background to her right...

Hannah, Katie, and my gorgeous sister, Lynn...(who got all the "great hair genes" in my family genepool. Whoever said life was fair??)

Hannah, reading her hand made card from Katie...

Hannah and her "Wendy Basket"....

I wish I still had a piece of this cake right now...it was that good.

This is part, of just one of the food tables - each one loaded down with delectable things to eat, and lovingly and beautifully appointed with photographs and fresh roses...

A picture of Hannah and her man, on one of the tables...

It was the sort of bridal shower every girl (and her mother) dreams of. I was surrounded by life long friends, my Harvest Church family...plus my beautiful and supportive and loving mother, sister, and aunt...the sun was shining...there was an air of abundance...the fragrance of wisteria perfuming the breezes through the open doors leading to the balcony...and did I mention the veritable pile of presents?

"Father, I thank you..." My heart is so full. Thank you, dear online friends, for sharing these moments with me, via my blog!

Seek and Ye Shall Find

You and I are not to pursue “righteousness”. We submit to the gift of righteousness, that came from and through Christ alone. If you want to pursue something, to make yourself feel alive or somehow spiritual, then seek peace with people. Pursue right relationships. Ah…that is Biblical!!!

We do not pursue right standing with God. We submit to what has been done. We say, “I give up. I will never be able to bring anything to this covenant. God is always right. He is the only one righteous, and He has removed the law from me, nailing it to the cross forever.”

Romans 10: 13 ~ For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

“Ignorant” does not mean stupid. If you are “ignorant” of God’s righteousness, it might mean that you simply have not been thoroughly taught. Perhaps you came up in a denominational or charismatic church that never spent significant time establishing you in grace. Again – we would do well to thank God, if He has placed us in a church where this “full gospel” of grace is being hammered and taught and preached and spoken of - a church where, consistently, with maddening repetitiveness, the gospel is loved and esteemed.

Some will say, “Oh, but I want to live in the blessings spoken of in Deuteronomy that come with obeying the law!” Please. Please, please. You still don’t get it! (I say it in humility, because neither did I"get it"...not for many years!!!) If you insist on hugging Deuteronomy to your breast like a treasure, then you are under a curse.

There. I said it.

Anyone who does not FULLY obey “all these commands I give to you this day”, then ALL the curses come upon you. Read your Deuteronomy. Then read your New Testament. Those who are under the law (choosing to relate to God through their own ‘acts of righteousness’) are under a curse. But you don’t have to be. Christ became a curse FOR us. So that we could inherit the blessing of Abraham. (Not the blessing of Moses….the big “IF, THEN” blessing… “if you obey the law, then all these blessings will overtake you…”)

So stop seeking “righteousness” for the sake of righteousness. Instead, seek first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, and all you could possibly need will be added to you. He who spared not His own Son, shall He not, WITH HIM, freely give us all things? I'm blessed.

Seek peace. Seek God’s face. Seek those things which are above. Set your affections on things above, where CHRIST SITS at the right hand of God. If you are IN CHRIST, you sit at the right hand of blessing….period. Stop seeking righteousness, and submit to the gift.

Oh Dear...

I wasn't good at multitasking before wedding plans were underway. Now, one month before the Big Day (my daughter's Big Day), I am much worse than ever.

This past Sunday, after church, I was driving home when I realized...I'd been chewing on the same piece of minty gum since before I got there, that morning. I was instantly obsessed with the notion of getting rid of it.

As I motored along, I rooted about my console for the tiny ice-blue wrapper the piece of gum came in - or any wrapper, for that matter. Nothing. Not even a piece of paper, anywhere, from which a small corner could be sacrificed, and the no-longer-minty gum deposited in the fragment, then stuffed into my ashtray, which obviously is not ever used for ashes. (It is full of tiny wads of chewed gum, scrupulously wrapped in the tiny paper each piece came in. I can't bring myself to divest of my used gum in any other manner.)

Where is this going? Steel yourselves, my friends. This is psychotic.

No wrappers, no paper. What to do? I planned that at the next stop light, I would roll down my window, and very forcefully eject said piece of gum onto the grassy median to my immediate left. Unladylike, but necessary. Besides, no one ever walks there, I promise. As I neared the stop light, I rolled down my window. The light went from green to yellow. "HOO-rah." thought I. "This'll be an easy spit. From a stopped car."

As I came to a stop, with perfect timing, my cell phone rang. From my purse.

Ooooh, you can't make this stuff up.

I took a deep cleansing breath....iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin through the nose.....and pulled my purse onto my lap, unzipping it and opening it wide.

I. Almost. Did it.

I came within a split second of hocking that wad of gum into my purse, just as hard as I could. But I didn't. My inner alarm sounded: RED ALERT! RED ALERT! RED ALERT! My face froze into what had to have been a shocking expression of horror.

That phone call never got answered. I giggled till the tears came, very nearly (and gleefully) losing my mind in the process.

Ever since Sunday, the memory returns to me at the most inopportune times, robbing me of all dignity.


In celebration of the inauguration of the New Covenant, nullifying the 600+ ordinances that were formerly in force...

...it seems wildly appropriate that I will be putting a big, spiral sliced, honey baked ham in the oven, tomorrow morning. ::cheers, confetti::

What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

Hmmmmm. God has cleansed ME. Guess that makes me sanctified...uncommon...

Have A Blessed Resurrection Sunday!

After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth. (Hosea 6)

Blatant New Covenant truth, up there, found smack dab in the Old Testament...grace is all over the place, from Genesis to Malachi, from the first Messianic prophecy, and the blood sacrifice to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, to the Sun of Righteousness arising with healing in His wings.

But what reaches out and grabs me by the throat in these verses in Hosea is the phrase, "Then shall we know, IF we follow on to know the Lord..."

Some things pertaining to the Lord, I only get when I pursue them, persist in them, persevere in the quest. Follow on to know. I will not follow on to know with any sincerity if I think I already know all there is. And in my limited experience, the manifold grace of God is one of the aspects of the gospel that I have had to follow on to know. It has been a stunning journey, so far.

There is much more about the Lord that I will need to follow on to know. I plan to search for all of Him, as for hidden treasure, a priceless pearl concealed away in a field. Because, you see, I don't know. I know nothing as I should know it - there is always more to be discovered.

I'm so glad. What sort of God would He be if even one aspect of His nature could be comprehended in a glance?

C.S. Lewis

~C.S. Lewis, on his conversion …

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet.
That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me.
In the Trinity Term of 1929, I gave in, and admitted that God was God: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.
I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms.

The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet.

But who can duly adore the Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape?
The words compelle itrare - compel them to come in - have been so abused; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy.

The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and his compulsion is our liberation.
- C.S. Lewis

"Oh Lord, do not speak of me as you did those Pharisees, when you said, "Let them alone. They are blind leaders..." Bother me, Lord! Keep compelling me further and further into your gracious Self, keep forcing me to see You as You have always been...not as other men have presented You to me in the past, based on their own human understanding. Keep convincing me of how little I have known, and how much more is yet to be gained. Compel me to come into a better understanding. Be thus kind to me, Lord!"

Wake Up, People!

"Don't be deceived. Unbelieving companions corrupt your faith. Awake to righteousness, and don't sin! Some don't know God..." I Cor. 15

I love the conversations my husband and I have. Tonight, I found myself laughing out loud at Paul's wit and sarcasm, when he said, in the same chapter 15 as the above verses, "If after the manner of men, I fought with beasts at Ephesus..." In other words, "I'm not talking about literal lions and tigers and bears, oh my, I am referencing certain people in Ephesus ..."

Hoo boy. Paul, Paul, Paul! I laughed loudly, thinking I was alone. Tim, who, unbeknownst to me was in the closet, came out the door, putting his pajamas on, and asked "What is so funny?"

I smiled at him over the tops of my 1.5 fashionably blue-rimmed readers, and said, "Oh, just Paul's sarcastic humor."

Tim honestly asked me, "What's he done this time?"

As though Paul were alive to us both, right now, this moment. In a way, he is. I mean, you have no idea. I Corinthians 15. Paul is alive, in heaven, this very moment. We love that Paul...so much. We can't wait to meet him in glory, someday.

I then read to him the above passage from I Corinthians. A bit further down, Paul basically declares, "Somebody, somewhere is going to ask such-and-such a stupid question about bodily resurrection." I know Paul thought the inevitable question was stupid, not because it would be an honest question, but because he knew it would be a cloak for cynical argument. I also know he thought it would be a stupid question, because he answers it by saying, "You idiot..."

Yup. Read it for yourself. Paul, Paul, Paul.

But what stood out to me was Paul's passionate and brilliant defense of the finished work of Christ. As with any humble and Godly man, Paul says some things as asides that are in reality quite huge. He tosses profound statements out there as though they were a minor detail, a mere supporting argument to the greater issue of the completeness of our salvation - all the way down to the raising of the dead.

The "aside"? Oh, just this: "Awake to righteousness, and sin not." Or, you could reason, "If you wake up to the gift of righteousness that is in Christ, if you really know God like you think you do, you won't keep sinning through your unbelief and ignorance of His grace and power."

And you certainly won't keep company with those who are merely religious, who don't actually believe God saves to the absolute uttermost. If one aspect of our salvation - including bodily resurrection - has not been fully accomplished by Jesus Christ, by himself, without us having a thing to do with it....in the words of Paul, same chapter, "Let's party, because tomorrow we die."

"Neither is there salvation in any other..."

Oh, the Love of God!

But now, God's message:
The God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
I've called your name. You are mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place,
it won't be a dead end -
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That's how much you mean to me!
That's how much I love you!
I'd sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
So don't be afraid: I'm with you.

~Isaiah 43:1-5a in "The Message"

Someone (a friend who does not attend Harvest Church) said to me yesterday, "The grace of God is the gospel!" I agree. With all my heart, I agree. You can't separate God from His grace. You can't separate grace from the gospel, or the gospel from grace. You can't compartmentalize the atonement, justification, or the truth about the power of the Holy Spirit doing the works of God in and through the believer...it is all the gospel.

Because the gospel is many faceted, and the grace of God is, in Peter's words, "manifold", God raises up pastors and teachers who spend their lives for it...explaining it, living it, reminding everyone of it, at every opportunity.

Just because a limited, finite human vessel (like a pastor or teacher) has 45 minutes to an hour, once a week, to instruct and illustrate manifold "grace", does not mean grace has somehow been separated from the person of Jesus, or isolated from the other aspects of His nature. I'm sure there have been heretical antinomians who've done that, but I don't know them by name.

The "first things" that CS Lewis referred to? (see blog entitled "First Things") They are always all-of-a-piece. First things, (like the love of God), have no power apart from their source. You cannot slice and dice the Godhead. They dwell in an eternal, unchangeable state of unity amongst diversity. God is love. God is justice. God is wisdom and peace. God is grace. God is truth. Grace is the truth about God, and the truth about God is His grace.

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (I Cor. 1: 30, 31)

Because of God, we are in Christ Jesus, who because of God is our imputed wisdom, our imputed righteousness, our imputed (and ongoing) sanctification, and our complete redemption. That pretty much covers it all. The entire Trinity has conspired to make sure Jesus is our entire substitute, so that all we can take credit for is His Finished Work.

To focus on any aspect of this gospel, such as grace, using Scripture as your authority - what seems like a singular focus will automatically put you in the rip-tide of the Holy Ghost. You will be pulled, inexorably, into all God is; you will be drawn into the depths of all that Christ has accomplished on your behalf. Why? Because "Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God is one God." You might begin with grace, and you still end up with....GOD!

But until it becomes personal, until it becomes something we realize we desperately need, it is mere creed. The only thing that takes the gospel from creed to need is a constant exposure to The Message. More than a one-time "prayer of salvation", more than a doctrine; the more you see God, the more you become aware of your stark need of Him - his power, grace, and love.

Grace is the gospel. The atonement is the gospel. Righteousness is the gospel. The love of God is the gospel. He'd "sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you."