Welcome to Mary Lou's Sitting Room

Hello! You are entering the world of Mary Lou...hope you have fun here! I created this blog to be a place of refuge in the storm, inspiration in the fog, light in the darkness, and hope for your life. I love to encourage people and have fun-I hope you will find this true as you visit me here. I plan on writing about all types of subjects, because I am interested in all the good things God has made, so hang on for the ride~! I love to sew and also cook...hence the name..

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cats and Shadows

Cats love to chase anything...they will chase shadows with zealous fervor, certain that the thing they see moving is alive and real! I enjoy watching them as they play with anything that shows movement.....even if the movement is only a shape cast from an object concealing the light!

 I have found in my own life's experience that religion was like that....I was chasing shadows and coming up empty.  We go through the motions of observing religious rituals and even serving God - but we come away without anything tangible...our hearts
 remain unoccupied - hollow....and we wonder why.  We have supposedly "done" everything required in order to achieve the desired result of spirituality, but we don't find it there....we are disappointed, disillusioned and discouraged.
 and we ask ourselves....
 "What's it all about, anyway?  Is it worth the effort anymore?  I thought I'd "feel" something if I went through the rituals, the motions, even the "goodness" of serving God in ministry, for heaven's sake!"          
Well, I found out that God is NOT in the shadows - He is real, He is here with us, He does care after all!  And most of all, I found out that He doesn't want me "going through the motions of religious activity" - He wants me - my whole heart, mind, soul and
 strength!  And I discovered that if I seek Him, I will find Him - if I take time to just be with Him - sharing my heart, listening for that still, small voice - He is there.  He listens, He even speaks - mostly through His Word - the bible - but I have heard his voice in my thoughts and it is a beautiful thing!
 So I'm not chasing shadows anymore...I'm chasing...HIM!  In the book of Colossians that Paul wrote, it says..   8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh[b] was put off when you were circumcised by[c] Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
 13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[d] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.[e]16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

 Paul nails it here - Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets - the entire Old Testament - He said that Himself in Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill them."

 So...no more shadows for me - God has shown me the way to true fulfillment - in a relationship with Jesus, my Savior!
I encourage you to think about these things as we near Good Friday and Easter.  Jesus came for a reason - and He died for a reason - and He rose again in order to provide salvation for us - not religion - but a real, vibrant, living & breathing relationship - one that is satisfying in every respect!  Just don't allow yourself to get caught
 up in the wearying activity, the "doing of the thing" - get captured by the Love of God Himself and just rest in His Glorious Presence each day and let Him fill you...as the disillusionment, frustration and sadness drain away from you all the while.
(this guy is certainly not anxious for anything!)
 The joy of the Lord is my strength! And shall be evermore!
(Cats "get" this concept of not worrying!)
 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace that passes all understanding shall guard your hearts and your minds." Philippians 4:6 & 7.
No more shadows...only the glorious reality of....HIM!

 "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10. Go in peace today, my friend and know God's power, love and grace! It's there simply for the asking.
(a true relationship...security, closeness, love, forgiveness, mercy...)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Looking into the hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross"

Today we will examine the hymn "When I survey the wondrous cross" and I will comment in parentheses....I think a song means more when we look at it in a non-musical manner-just pondering the words, so join me here....

 "When I survey the wondrous cross" (to survey means to look at thoroughly, to investigate, examine....so I ponder what that cross meant to Jesus - an altar of Love where He sacrificed Himself to bear ALL our sin) "on which the Prince of Glory died"
(the Prince of Glory-what a perfect name for Him!)
"my richest gain I count but loss" (anything that made me feel important, or that I loved or paid attention to-even my accomplishments done for Him in His Church-as Paul said - "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ....What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing
Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ." Phil. 3:7-8)
"And pour contempt on all my pride." (I disregard it, I lay down my pride at the foot of the cross...I abhor any thought that would exalt itself or me...anything I am or have accomplished has come from HIM anyway!)

verse 2.."Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ, my God; all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood." (for me, this means that nothing is as precious to me as the sacrifice He made on my behalf on that Cross-He suffered shame & contempt to bear my sin before a Holy God-His own Father - so I could be counted worthy to receive Eternal Life!)

verse 3 ..."See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down." (can you picture this? His love for US motivated him to give His very life-to shed his blood as the Passover Lamb for us...)
"Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?" (love and sorrow-he felt them both in greater degrees than we will EVER know!)

And Lord Jesus, my Savior and Redeemer, all I can say now is "thank you" and "I fall on my face before you", because only YOU are worthy of ALL honor, ALL glory, All power and praise forever and ever! Amen!

 As you leave here today, I pray you will take time to ponder what the Prince of Glory did for you - to allow you to have the gift of Eternal Life which is to know God the Father as your own...to be in that relationship which is beyond a dream!  :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday's Word for March

Today we read from Psalm 63..a favorite of mine - I've even written a worship song from it...I will be mixing my own thoughts into the words of the Psalm and they will be in parentheses...

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;
(I will search for you, waiting expectantly for you to reveal yourself through your Word,  
 nature, other people, life circumstances...prayer) 
my souls thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
 (my whole being has need of your Presence, your love, your peace) 
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld

your power and your glory. (imagine how King David, the author of this psalm beheld God as he prayed in the Temple!)  
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
(God's love is  worth living for and dying for!  I can't help but praise Him!)
 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods, (nothing in this world can or will satisfy our basic needs like God's love can! Though we try to fill them with people and things, we will only be disillusioned and frustrated and left empty and bereft)
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.  On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.  Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
(I have such confidence in God - in his love, his power, his mercy and grace and compassion that I can sing even when I am going through distress, pain and heartache. I hide myself within him through prayer & worship & reading his word.  And I find rest, and peace. "Come to Me, all ye who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest," Jesus said.)
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me."

 (He has promised to be with us always and I know that He is truly holding me tighter than I could ever hold onto HIM! Thanks be to God!)

I pray that as you leave here today you will know His peace and the confidence that it is HE who holds YOU as you put your trust in Him! Blessings to you, my friend.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Broken and Spilled Out..thoughts on worship

I often ask myself this question..."What is worship really?"
 I have been involved in leading worship most of my adult life. I have often thought I do a pretty good job of giving Him glory & honoring Him with my praises.  However.....when I read the story below, I realize I don't even come close to what He deserves!

Have you ever read the story in the bible of the woman that came to Jesus while he was eating at the Pharisee's house, took perfume & poured it on his feet & while weeping, she wet his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair? Did you ever try to picture that event and wonder what would happen if someone did that today?

This story is recorded in Luke 7:36-50, and I quote...

"Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table.  When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears.  Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would knowwho is touching him and what kind of woman she is-that she is a sinner."

Jesus answered him, 

"Simon, I have something to tell you."

"Tell me, teacher", he said.

"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender.  One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both.  Now which of them will love him more?"

Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."

"You have judged correctly", Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not pour oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven-for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

The other guests began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?"
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

Do you think that Simon the Pharisee had less sin than this woman?  I don't - I think the main difference is that he didn't even see or admit his sin...he thought he was pretty darn righteous and was doing a good deed by even having Jesus in his home!

The woman, however, knew she was not worthy of Him, believed in Him as Savior, and literally was a broken woman before Him.  Her heart was humbled and she recognized His holiness & purity.  I have known times in deep worship, where I was on my face before my Lord and was so acutely aware of His holiness and how sinful I am.  I hadn't done anything outwardly terrible and to most folks I am sure I appear as a very nice, thoughtful person...but I became aware of selfish motives deep inside that were not pleasing to my God.  And yet, I did not feel like withdrawing from Him or running away - I wanted to draw even closer if that were possible...the peace & Presence of God were so exceedingly strong that I literally could not move!  I wonder if that is what it was like for this woman at Simon's house.  When we truly worship from our hearts we become "broken and spilled out" before Him, and then He puts us back together again with His healing hands of grace.

So the next time you are in a worship service or spend time in His Presence at home - don't be afraid to give Him extravagant worship, enthusiastic worship, emotional worship - worship that comes from the very soul that realizes

we are not worthy of Him - and yet He makes us worthy - calls us to come - calls us to be broken - calls us to be whole the only way we can be - and that is by His Power.  I have been blessed to experience His Presence so deeply that I will never in a million years be satisfied with "lip service worship" ever again! I want to bow before Him, pour perfume on His feet and wipe them with my tears and hair.  After all...it's what He deserves.