Saturday, November 29, 2008

Conversations With God

"Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23,24

Whoops! See, I tried yesterday to keep myself accountable, and even that failed me. I woke quite early in the morning to go shopping with my family, and so didn't really have time to do a big blogging session. (Well, I could have had I woken earlier I suppose.) So I decided to blog in the evening after getting home. Only, by the time I sat in front of the computer, my brain was simply tired. I didn't want to think about anything, and really only wanted to go to bed. So I did just that. I hope there wasn't anyone waiting on baited breath for me...

Anyway, I read these verses in Psalms this morning and I really had to read them through a few times. And each time I read them, I felt my chest get a little tighter. These are some really bold statements, and some statements of confidence- "search me...test me... and know my thoughts." How are your thoughts? Could you say that to God?

When I was a child, I hated cleaning my room more than anything. Yet it was always messy, so it seemed I was always cleaning it. And the grand moment would come where I could vacuum the floor and call mom to tell her the room was clean. And as she walked in the room for the examination, I was sweating bullets, just praying that she wouldn't lift the bed skirt and see everything that I'd stuffed under the bed. It was such a nice day outside, and I wanted to go out, if only she would miss...inevitably, she always looked, and I was always set to finishing my task properly. I was always found out.

If I were to turn to God and say, "go ahead, check it out," would there be an under-the-bed hiding spot? Would there be a closet that I would be sweating bullets over, hoping with all hopes that he wouldn't see it? Yet, I know that hiding anything from God is impossible. He knows my thoughts already, is inviting Him in asking for trouble? But then I look at verse 24, and at says- paraphrasing, mind you- "see if there is anything offensive, and show me how to get rid of it." It seems to me that makes the idea of inviting God in a bit easier. Help me get rid of that which is unpleasing to you. Help me to rid myself of that vice, that problem, that bad language that seeps in from time to time. Show me how to not curse at the other drivers, and show me how to look at the world with eyes of compassion, not eyes of contempt. God can do all that, but first, he needs to be invited in.

We need to stop sweating over what God might find in there, because, let's face it, he already knows it. He knows what keeps us up at night, he knows those secret problems we deal with. But by giving them to him, giving him full access to our lives and asking him to show us a way out, we're only taking that step that he so wants for us. God loves us and wants us to want Him so much, that we're willing to rid ourselves of everything unclean that would keep us from His presence.

"Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!" Deuteronomy 5:29

I need to remember that I live for God and God alone. That fear, the fear of... I don't know, the fear of the unknown? If I fear God and God alone, I can be afraid of nothing else. And if I do fear God alone, and remember that I serve God and not man, then I might be more inclined and able to follow the example of David and say "okay God, come on in and make yourself comfortable. And while you're in there, get rid of that garbage." Yet that's a really difficult step to take. I worry about far too much, and I worry about what others think far too much. I need God's help to deal with that. I need the Holy Spirit to break down that wall, that barrier that's keeping me from seeing what God has for me. God loves me and wants nothing but the best for me. I pray today that He will help me break these barriers, that He will help me make the changes necessary to welcome Him in completely.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever" Psalm 136:1

Friday, November 28, 2008


"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done." 1 Chronicles 16:8

Thank You Lord for your constant provision. And for the time with family both yesterday and today. Family is such a blessing.

I will be blogging today's devotional this evening... this is here to keep me accountable to do it today.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16

It's Thanksgiving morning, and I could go on and on about all the wonderful things that I am thankful for. I could, but I won't today. Because this morning I am particularly thankful for our new church family. And that would be because my children love it so much. I can tell that something is working right when Monday morning Zander comes up to me and says "I wish today was Wednesday." I was puzzled about that, and when I asked what he meant by that, he said it was because we get to go to church on Wednesday. So much for me being worried that going to church a second time during the week was going to wreak havoc on the kids lives. They are asking to go to church... that is incredible.

When we left our previous church, one of my biggest concerns was with Zander. He had found some older friends at church that he looked up to, and I was disappointed that we would be taking him away from those relationships. It has been completely delightful to watch Zander develop relationships with the people at our church now. He has befriended grown men and women who have a heart for God- he has a whole group of people who are going to encourage him to be a young man for Jesus. And that is amazing- completely amazing. It's fantastic to walk into church and watch Abigail and Zander interact with people. During the times they've been in worship, I've watched the sheer joy on Abigail's face as she danced with the other kids, and it sure makes me thrilled for my children. Our number one goal in finding a church was to find one the kids would be happy at, and they're beyond happy. When we say it's time to go to church they get excited and get ready as quickly as they can- and they don't seem to mind the drive in the least either.

So today I am thankful for our church family that loves my family so much. And it is my prayer this morning that each and every one of them has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe," Hebrews 12:28

I am in awe, because my heart feels near-to-bursting. And I don't know why that is. Well, no, I guess I do know why that is, because my heart is a dwelling place for My God, but when I open my eyes in the morning, and before I've even had a thought in my mind, my heart feels full of love and joy. And that's just amazing and cool.

Then I saw this verse this morning, and it just fit with my "full-o-heart" mood. That first line just grabs me, "we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken", and how true is that!? God's kingdom is perfect, and it cannot be shaken by anything or anyone. We can turn on the news and read about pirates and bad economies, and war and terrorism, all things that can shake our world as it is, and it can be scary to think on those for very long. Except that I am a temporary resident here on earth. I am a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, a kingdom that cannot be shaken, so whatever happens here on hearth, doesn't really affect me in the long run. Really! And because I know that God's got my back, I know that he also has my kids' back, and my husband's back, and my brothers' and sisters' backs. The economy can totally tank, and we'll be just fine. We'll be more than just fine, because we are under the protection of God, and He will not only see us provided for, but he will see us happy and full of joy.

And that is why my cup runneth over this morning, because this is a Thanksgiving to be truly thankful for, and I feel that with all my heart and with all my soul. Today as I ready the house for company, I know I won't be doing it alone. And as the children play to their hearts content today, they will also have company, the company that will keep them playing nicely and considerately with each other. It's going to be a wonderful Thanksgiving, and my words cannot express how truly thankful I am to the God that I love with every ounce of my being.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

"give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I was thinking about Thanksgiving this morning, and I find it almost humorous that our country, our land of "separation of church and state" celebrates a holiday that centers on giving thanks to God. I know that to many people, Thanksgiving is only about the turkey dinner, and maybe gathering with friends. But every year at this time, we are inundated with the idea of giving thanks. And while those who are not Christians can sit at their dinner table and simply say "I am thankful for..." and not say it specifically to God. They really are... aren't they? I mean, who do they think they are thanking?

I guess, to me, I just like the reminder this time of year, because I can get not-so-thankful in a hurry once that snow starts falling. Just this morning, as we were out and about early, I pulled up to a stop sign, saw the ice on the road, and thought to myself that it's going to be a long winter. Yet I choose to live in this part of the country, where winter is a very real reality. The fact is, that while I don't enjoy winter in the least, I am thankful for the winter, because it keeps the bugs under control. It keeps less desirable critters, like snakes, much further south where it's warmer. To be honest, it also gives me an excuse to be at home more often, and be in the home. Since I don't have to spend the time working in the garden or yard, I can take more time to read a book or work on a project and not feel bad about wasting time. So I like Thanksgiving because it makes me take a good hard look at life and remember that I really am thankful and grateful to God for everything.

Give thanks in all circumstances. I don't think it's possible to be a much more thankful person than I am right now. God has just blessed us so much, and when I look back at this past year, I am simply amazed at how far He has brought us. It wasn't that long ago that we were sitting in our living room, venting to friends about how things were looking grim. That seems like a whole other lifetime ago! And when I look at that, when I look at the difference, the changes that have occurred from January to now, I just wonder where God is going to take us next. I am so thankful that our eyes are being opened and that we can see the things that we need to see- especially what we find in His Word each and every day.

Today I am going to remember to be thankful for my children. They are both off of school for the week, and we're all looking forward to the time off. I'm going to do my best to enjoy as much of it as possible, and not be the bad mommy that comes out sometimes. And I'm going to be especially thankful for good health. For runny noses to stop completely, for coughing to go away, because I know that God is going to take care of that for us, and I like the thought of being thankful before something is even done.

Monday, November 24, 2008

God Is Great!

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7

I slept terrible last night. Absolutely terrible. I had a hard time falling asleep, and then I slept poorly, and then I was up crazy early and finally fell back asleep just as the alarm was about to go off. I really, really didn't want to get out of bed. And part of that was because I knew there was a blanket of snow on the ground. It's still there.

As much as I hate the snow though, it sure is beautiful to look at. And it sure made my children light up to look out the window.

One of the things that had me awake this morning was that Andy came back to bed. Due to the snow, his boss decided to call off work this morning, and he came back to bed, and then I was awake thinking about how it already was a shortened work week and we really couldn't afford another day off. So I prayed a little about that, before dozing in and out. And then when I crawled out of bed this morning I thought about all the Thanksgiving shopping and running around I had to do today and how much Zander didn't want to go do that today. And now he doesn't have to, because Andy will be home, and Zander can stay home and have a great time with Daddy. Which is win-win for all, because as much as I love having Zander with me, I am much more efficient when I shop alone. God answers even the little ones prayers, and that puts a huge smile on my face.

But God thought he'd put a smile on my face just for me this morning as well, and when I came to sit at the computer, I checked my e-mail as I usually do. And lo, and behold, I found an e-mail that told me that I'd won a Thanksgiving turkey. Now if that isn't fun, I don't know what is. So my bad night of sleep, followed by waking up grumpy is completely gone. I'm at least starting the day in a fantastic mood, and God-willing, it's going to be a great day. And it's going to be a great week, because it IS Thanksgiving week here, so we get to spend the week being thankful, and that always puts a smile on my face. I love Thanksgiving, and I'm glad it's here.

Take a minute today and think about how great God is. It'll put a smile on your face.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Go, And Sin No More

"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

"Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8:10,11

The last few weeks, every message I've heard and everything I've read has pointed to one specific area, and one specific thing. And that is sin, and the idea of sin. I think I've posted a bit on this here and there, but I wanted to take a minute and try and get all these random thoughts into one place. So much of what we see and read as Christians is about the idea that we are all sinners. And, of course we are, we are all human, after all.

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23

But then, somewhere in our lives we made a commitment, a covenant. We asked Jesus to become a part of our lives, and made the decision to do our best to live for him. When we accepted Jesus as our savior, that life of sin was washed away. And it should have stayed that way. We changed the moment we accepted Jesus... we were cleansed by his blood, and healed by his wounds. That life of sin should have been no more. And along with it, the thoughts that I am a sinner and am unworthy. I became a new person in Christ Jesus... so why is it that a good core part of my Christian life has been focused on sin? Part of our purpose, part of the reason for being, is that we are to grow as Christians, we are to become more like Jesus, become more righteous and more like Jesus every day so that when the time comes, we are worthy enough to be in the presence of God when we are in heaven. Jesus made this possible by dying for us, by covering us with His blood.

"just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." Ephesians 5:25-27

Read that verse again! According to that passage in Ephesians, Jesus cleansed us already, and we should not be a people of sin once we've made the commitment to follow Jesus. Yet we are...and we do... and that tells me that the devil is doing a happy dance because he's managed to pull the wool over a lot of people's eyes. Even after we've made our choice, the enemy continues to tell us that we're not worthy, that we're a sinner, with all the hopes of getting us to revoke our commitment and return to the ways of this world. Sadly, I suspect he is successful with many.

When we asked Jesus into our hearts- whether as an adult or a child, we became a new person In Him! There is no reason to dwell on the past. When we focus on the bad that happened in our life, focus on the sinner, that sin is going to come back. Instead, we need to put that sin completely behind us. It's in the past, it doesn't matter. We need to look forward. We need to look at today and tomorrow, not what's already been.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

When we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we were forgiven of all our sins. All. Of. Them. There is absolutely no reason to dwell on them, and yet, we do, and it bogs us down. What is in your mind is what comes out. Think on this.

Think about the person with the mindset that they are a sinner. They constantly think about the sins of the past, and all the mistakes they made. They dwell on those sins, and since they are at the forefront of their mind- it's very easy for them to repeat those mistakes. When an alcoholic is thinking about alcohol all the time, it's much easier for them to reach out and take that drink when the situation presents itself.

Now think about the person with the new mindset. Think about the person who walks with their head held high because their Jesus took their sins away. This person walks with purpose, with the mindset that they are no longer a sinner, that they are clean in the eyes of God. They have faith and confidence that they truly will sin no more. And when the devil tries to tempt them, they laugh at him and tell him that they are a new person and will sin no more.

Which person would you like to be? I, for one, am tired of dwelling on sin, and tired of dwelling on the past. I most certainly am not worthy of the lamb that was slain for me, and as such, I should be living each and every day as if I could repay that debt. I chose to take that life of sin and leave it in the past, and stop dwelling on it. I am a new person, and I choose to live that way.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

Friday, November 21, 2008


"There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying." Luke 2:36-37

I wanted to look up the word prophetess this morning. The definition given in Miriam-Webster is "a woman who is a prophet". That's all well and good, but what is a prophet? The dictionary defines a prophet as "one who utters divinely inspired revelations" and "one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God's Will." And "one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight."

Now let's look at the reality of what these verses are saying. It says that she lived with her husband seven years after her marriage and then was a widow. People married young in those days, so lets just say that Anna was sixteen when married, widowed then around twenty-three, and then lived in the temple, day and night until she was eighty-four years old. That's a long time to worship God day and night! Yet she did, and the mere fact that she was mentioned in the Bible says something about her and her character. She loved God and lived only for him, day and night. That's pretty incredible to think on.

Now obviously, I can't just give up life and turn to a cloistered life like Anna, but I can learn from her example. She worshipped God day and night, yet she had to have tasks to accomplish- even something simple like keeping herself clean and washing her clothes. At the same time, I know the Bible doesn't lie, so what's going on. I can bet you that Anna did her worshipping even as she went about her tasks, and in that same way, I can follow Anna's example. How much concentration do I really need to vacuum? Or like yesterday I spent several hours giving Zander's room a very thorough cleaning. I certainly didn't need to spend much time focusing, just doing. So as I cleaned and sorted and straightened, I spent time with God. I'm sure he doesn't mind me multi-tasking. ;-) I spent time in prayer, I spent some time kind of singing a song or two, I prayed especially for the little boy who's room I was cleaning, that he would sleep well in his room and that nightmares would stay away. I was just in a zone, and then, the phone rang, and there was an urgent prayer request on the other end. And because I was already in that mind frame of prayer and worship, I was able to slide right into interceding for that request. It was an experience all in itself, and a revelation of sorts.

As Anna spent all that time with God, it became easier and easier. And I bet you that people would come into the temple seeking counsel or help, and she would already be in that mind frame, she would already be filled with God's love, that she would share wonderful words of encouragement and guidance with people. And while I wonder what took Anna to the temple in the first place- was it grief over her dead husband? Was she depressed and looking for purpose? The Bible doesn't say, but she clearly found both love and purpose, and she allowed God to use her in whatever way He needed. God rewarded Anna for her years of devotion to him by allowing her to see the baby Jesus and speak about Him.

"Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem." Luke 2:38

Anna is a great example for both men and women, and a great reminder that we CAN worship God in all we do and with everything we do-and not just Sunday mornings.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Taking Patience From David

"Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:1

We all have times of struggle. Those times where we just want God to get it over with. Why are we learning this lesson? And could we please get on with it now- we've had enough! Or we're in a time of waiting. We know God's about to do something, or change something, or show us something, and we're tired of waiting on His timing.

We can take heart in knowing that David, the man after God's own heart, felt the same way at times. We can draw from David's example and not become discouraged. Because God always answers, and he has a plan for each and every one of us. God a reason for everything, and most often we don't want to hear that, we don't want to know that, but we can reach deep down within, reach for that Holy Spirit and draw off the strength and the hope we need to get to the end of the waiting period. And while we are waiting, we can worship. We can love God and thank Him for all things.

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Revelation 4:8

We can love God and sing praises to Him and spend time in His word. Because a season of waiting can also be a season of growing. We can grab hold of the opportunity to just spend in His Word without the distractions we normally have. We can fellowship with other believers and draw strength off of them, and come into agreement with them in prayer for a swift resolution to all this waiting.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

God always answers, dear ones. He loves you so much, he wants you to want nothing more than Him. He wants you to want Him and His Presence more than anything. Have patience. Be strong, and have heart, and love God with all your heart.

"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Delighting In The Word

"Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2

Oh how easy it is to be distracted. I always have four or five books going at one time, TV programs to watch, children and home to care for, recipes to write and prepare, and many, many other daily activities. So finding time to just sit with God's Word can be a challenge. Honestly, it's probably right up there with exercising- I don't do it near enough, but both will be good for me.

One of the traits I admire in other people a lot is their ability to recite scripture. Those people who, in the regular flow of conversation will just rattle off a verse because it fits. It's admirable to me, because if they have that many verses tucked away inside their head, they obviously have spent some precious time in the Bible, and that's something that I always need to do more of.

One thing that I have done, that seems to be helping, is that I've stopped watching the news. Completely. I pull up the weather channel once or twice a week to check the weather, and I read the headlines when my internet pops up, but I stay away from news broadcasts entirely. Why is that? Because it would be too easy to hear the reports, watch all the horrible news from day to day, and then walk away depressed. Walk away thinking about how terrible the world we live in is, and I question the sanity that caused me to bring children into it. And it makes me fear for them.

Instead of turning on the news, I sit down and open up my Bible. I read in Genesis of the wonderful world that God created, I read the Psalms and the joys and the tribulations of David. I read the love story in Song of Solomon, I read of the time of the judges in Judges, and I read of the world through Paul's travels in the Corinthians, Philippians and Ephesians. And I always walk away with a smile on my face, and I also always walk away with something to think on, to dwell on. I think about those words that David wrote so long ago, and how wonderful it is that they still apply to me today. Sometimes an old sermon, message I heard long ago will spring to mind, and all the sudden I will just understand it.

God's Word is so miraculous and alive. Every word inside has a purpose. And I want to know what that purpose is. I want to stop focusing on man, because man will fail each and every time. Every time we build someone up, or put them on a pedestal, we're opening ourselves up for disappointment. We can read the books that have been written about the Bible by great men and receive great encouragement from them, but we also need to remember that those books were written by men- not by God. It is God's word only that is infallible, and it is that one book that I will rely on. My thirst for knowledge will not be quenched in the words of man, but in the words of the Lord Our God.

"Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.

98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.

99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.

100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.

101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.

102 I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Psalm 119:97-103

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Behold, He Knocks

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Luke 11:9,10

One of the things that I have been asking God the last few weeks is what he wants from me. What is it that he would have me do for him? I've gone through it all, I've prayed that wherever he wants, I'll go, whatever he wants me to do, I'll do. If we're to stay right here and continue on as we are, I'll do that to. And I guess, when God answered me, I expected some kind of direction. Not the answer I believe I received as I slept this morning.

I had a dream. And in this dream I was preparing to walk home. I was younger, I knew I was about to be married, had a ring on my finger and I was excited to be married. I was working in a school situation of some kind, and for some reason, I was sitting on a bench, the school day had ended, and I was stuffing a lot of stuff into two backpacks that I had- and it was obvious that it wasn't all going to fit. Then a man sat down next to me and started to make small talk. Before I knew what happened, he offered to walk with me, and began putting what didn't fit in my bags into his bag. So we started our walk. It was a long walk, apparently, and we meandered all over, talking and being friendly. After a while he started asking more personal questions and before long I was sharing intimate details about my life, my family, growing up, getting married. I don't recall him actually saying much other than asking question, and I just felt like answering and emptying my soul to this strange man. And it was comfortable.

After a while of walking and baring my soul, I asked him where he was from, and he grinned and said Wisconsin. To which, I informed him that I was from Wisconsin and I would be moving back there in a few weeks. He just smiled in a way that suggested that he knew that. We arrived at my house where he made himself comfortable in the living room with my housemates. I headed out to the garden to check on my new compost pile and see what was going on. While I was in the garden, I became overwhelmed by all the bugs and insects and worms, they creeped me out. And then it was like one of those horror movie scenes, where everywhere I looked or turned I saw something that looked like a giant snake or gross bugs, and I started whimpering and then managed to let out a yell. In the blink of an eye, my new friend was there, and he took my hand and led me out of the garden. I thanked him profoundly, and at that moment he told me that he thought he should be on his way. I offered to see him to the street, and as we walked my heart was filled with incredible sadness. I was fiercely and desperately in love with this man, this stranger who spent just an afternoon with me. I was still going to be married, but there was something about this man, he had every ounce of my heart- I felt like if he told me to fly, I could fly. My heart was quickly filling with sadness and loss as this man prepared to leave. And as I opened my mouth to say something to that effect, he turned, grinned at me, and then I woke up.

You know that moment when you feel you've woken too early from a great dream? For a second, that was me, and then I felt that loss tug at me, and I knew that this wasn't just a dream with a ruined ending. After a quick prayer of thanks to God, I began thinking about this dream, and asking God to show me what the different parts mean. And I still don't know all of it, but I do know this. God answered my question of what he wants from me. He wants my heart. He wants all of it. The profound love that filled me in my dream for this strange man was a different love than the one that I loved my fiance with. This was an all-consuming love. I felt complete and whole and safe with this man. When I was in the garden experiencing fear and desperation, one touch from him and I was safe and sound again. And that man was God.

God wanted to help shoulder my burdens before He even really knew me. He wanted to escort me about my business, walk with me, and talk with me. And even after he knew all the dirty dark secrets of my past, he still wanted to be with me, and even saved me when I needed saving. He listened to all I had to say, without even one word of judgement or criticism. Our God is a God of love. Should it be so shocking that what he wants from us, more than anything is our love in return?

"He said: "O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way" 2 Chronicles 6:14

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever." Psalm 52:8

I said a few weeks ago that I wanted to be like Mary. I wanted to wait at His feet to see what he has to say to me. What I missed, or maybe forgot, was that she didn't just sit there, petulent and patient. She sat there and loved. She loved with all her heart, the God whose feet she waited at.

"And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

14That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil." Deuteronomy 11:13,14

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Great Healer

"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

Way back when this blog first started, we did a study on the names of God. It was one of the best we ever did, and I've used it a lot since. This morning I am reminded of Jehovah Rapha, the name of God that means "The Lord Who Heals". I think we've all heard God called The Great Physician before, but often times we forget that. We get sick and we turn to the medicine aisle at the pharmacy. I'm not saying those things are bad at all, please don't think that, and I know for a fact that God heals illnesses through the hands of doctors and nurses all the time. But as a mom, there is no time that I really remember to call on Jehovah Rapha, except for when one of my little ones is feeling ill. I'm just busy, I guess. When I'm not feeling well, it's an inconvenience to me. I have things to get done, places to go, I don't have the time to just rest and get well.

But when one of my children gets sick, they are my every focus. I have no problems with discarding an entire day to sit with Zander and watch cartoons, or cater to Abigail with her favorite soups and comfy pillows. When children are sick, they need comfort, and I am more than willing to give it. I've given up many a night of sleep to snuggle someone with a rocky tummy, whispering prayers as they sleep restlessly. When one of my children are sick, they get every second of my attention.

How much more is it with God? Why do we not turn to him when we are not feeling well? My first thought is always if I am sick enough to warrant a doctor visit. But if when my children are sick, they get my attention 100%, what is it like with God, who is our father? I've heard people say before how God gives people sickness to get their attention, and I believe that to be completely false. We have a loving God, he doesn't 'give' sickness and disease. There is no sickness in Heaven, so it must not come from God. Sickness is a tool of the devil, meant to weaken us, and potentially kill us. (Remember the other day- steal, kill and destroy?) I rather suspect that God is just waiting on us, waiting for the words to come from our mouths that will seek him out and ask him to heal an illness.

So as my rather ill daughter makes her way to school this morning on her insistence, I will speak the words of healing over her. I will pray for her, and ask God to bless her day and give her the strength she needs to accomplish her tasks at school, and to bring her back home to me feeling much better than when she left this morning. Jehovah Rapha will be looking out for her while she is away from home.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lessons From A Grapefruit

"Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so." Genesis 1:29,30

I wasn't going to blog today. Saturday mornings the kids usually wake first, claim the computers,and then mom has to wait her turn. In the meantime I get busy tackling projects and whatnot, and by the time a computer is available, I am well ensconced in a Saturday activity. But then Zander and Daddy left for a birthday party, Abigail sat down to a much-anticipated alone video game time, and I decided to peel a grapefruit.

It's my first grapefruit of the season, so I decided to eat it the difficult way- peeling it, removing the pith and then removing the skin from each individual segment, leaving just the tender juice-filled cells for enjoying. As I peeled and segmented I just marveled at this grapefruit, at how perfect it was, and how perfect it was going to taste. And I tell you, I did a bit of worshiping while peeling this grapefruit. I thanked God for fruit, and the pleasure from eating fruit, I thanked God for the wondrous variety he created, and just dwelled on all the different fruit we eat, and also how each one is ripe and perfect to eat at a different time of the year. It's amazing and oh, so perfect.

And then I thought about Eve in the garden of Eden. I thought about how they probably had all the different fruit trees on earth right there for their pleasure. I imagined her walking from tree to tree, sampling each and every fruit and savoring the sweet juices and the nourishment gained from the fruits. And I wondered if I was Eve, would I have been able to resist that serpent. I would have done the same thing as Eve, I think. As I so enjoy fruit, and I imagine looking at the forbidden tree and wondering what it was about that fruit that made it so special. And I would walk to a pear tree and eat a pear, walk to a plum tree and eat a plum, maybe grab a handful of cherries from a cherry tree, add to that an apricot, a fig and a kiwi, and whether the apple was an actual apple or a pomegranate, as I've also heard it said, either way, how could I not want whatever that fruit was! It would have taken very little for me to be swayed by that serpent.

"When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. " Genesis 3:6

I want to just point out one thing about Eve her, and one of the reasons I like her so much. She took the fruit and ate it, which I already admitted I would have done in her place. But then she shared it. She shared it with Adam, instead of keeping it to herself. Think about it, she could have eaten alone, Adam wouldn't have touched the tree himself. You know those questions of "what if"? What if she had eaten the fruit alone and not shared- what would have happened next? But she didn't, as she was not selfish by nature. Instead, she shared this wonderful new fruit with Adam, sharing the whole sensual experience of eating this fruit- and sharing the revelation that came with it.

I love the fact that she wasn't selfish, because I think as women, we aren't selfish in nature to begin with- I think that's a learned trait. I think so often we see commercials and read books and ads and such that tell us how much we deserve this, and how much we deserve that, and over time, the selfish nature develops. I can't imagine what it was like to bite into an apple for the first time and experience that crisp skin and burst of juice that I've never had before. I can come close when I think about the first time I had a papaya, but I was so quick to share that taste sensation with my husband and daughter.

All those thoughts rolled through my brain just a short while ago as I sat and peeled a grapefruit. I love how something as simple as eating a fruit can lead to worship and meditating and reflecting on God's word. The next time you do something mundane and everyday, look at it in a new light- look at it through eyes who truly see how God created everything for our pleasure, and discover a whole new world!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thoughts On Tolerance

"But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. 4 You happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed." 2 Corinthians 11:3,4

The new buzz word these days is tolerance. I've seen these new bumper stickers lately that say "coexist" and each letter is a different religious symbol, like the t is a cross, the x is part of the Star of David, the s is the symbol yin-yang. There is so much focus on just trying to all get along. Last year in our area at Christmas there was a big to-do over a local city putting up a manger scene, and then nearby the local Wicca group wanted to put up a symbol of some kind, and in the end I think all of them were taken down. I think that as Christians it can be very easy to get caught up in the idea of tolerance. After all, we're to love all people aren't we? And I think that is the exact kind of deception the snake uses on us. We're told that as we're walking around greeting people at Christmas time that we shouldn't say Merry Christmas to anyone, for fear of offending them. If we do decide to try and be bold, we say something glib like "who put the Christ in Christmas" or "Jesus is the reason for the season." Come on, we can do better! We can let the love of Jesus just ooze out of us without being condescending or trying to be clever.

Satan is a great deceiver. In fact, look at what verses 14 and 15 say in 2 Corinthians 11:

"But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve." 2 Corinthians 11:14,15

Satan does disguise himself as an angel of light- often, in fact. And while the idea of tolerance and getting along seems to be a great idea- it's actually the deceiver hard at work. Because those people who are not followers of Christ are not going to get to know Christ if we spend our time smiling at them and telling them that their choices are their own, and it's okay. And here, here is some space on our lawn for them to put their religious symbol too, we want them to feel free to worship how they want to.

And actually, it can be the same among Christians, sad to say. We see a brother or sister in Christ doing or saying something contrary to God's Word, and we turn a blind eye. Or we pat them on the shoulder and tell them we know what they're going through. We're told in our churches today that we shouldn't say anything to discourage them, we shouldn't tell them they're doing wrong, because, golly, we might offend them. And by golly, they should be offended. They are not following God's Word, and it is our task as brothers and sisters in Christ to hold them accountable, to tell them when they are doing wrong, and pray with them about it, pray for them about it, and send them to a spiritual adviser if needed. But we are not supposed to bite our tongue and look the other way. See? Satan deceives us in so many ways.

And how do we know whether it's Satan or not? The verses above say that he disguises himself as light! We look at the motive, the intent. Satan is only out to steal, kill and destroy. That's all he does, that's what drives him. If you don't call out your Christian brother or sister, the devil is winning because he's stealing that soul, he's destroying that person's relationship with Christ. Tolerance destroys our passion for Christ, and fear steals our boldness.

The best example I can think of in the church today and the idea of tolerance is the Harry Potter books.( I know, don't be hatin', I never talk about ideals and stuff, but this is a great example of tolerance and what I'm talking about.) Harry Potter is a series of books based on witchcraft. I've never read more than a small portion of one of the books, and you know what? I'm sure they are well written and tell a great adventure story. Except that the spells and incantations in it are real. Very real, in fact. While we're encouraging our children to read this great adventure story, we're also giving them an education in witchcraft, and how to recite incantations. Do we really want that in the minds of our children? The argument is that hey, at least our kids are reading something. Really? Would you say the exact same thing if your son brought home a stack of Playboy magazines? Would you say the exact same thing if you found a copy of the satanic bible in your child's backpack? There are thousands of new books being released every month in this country, surely, there is something else your child can read. Another fantasy series, perhaps that will engage their imagination without the realistic witchcraft and evil worship. Tolerance in the church has made this series of books okay- in fact, parents are reading them with their children, and more and more people are leaving the church. Wicca is the fastest growing religion right now- and that is no coincidence.

It's time, as Christians, to stop with the tolerance and take a stand for the sake of our children. It's time to heed the advice of Paul:

"Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11


"Greet each other with Christian love." 2 Corinthians 13:12

Not with tolerance.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

There Is No Try!

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord." Hebrews 12:14

Last night I read this verse and I got all excited! Then I read it again a few times, it just really spoke to me, and I live it when a verse does that. See it's the part where it says "Make every effort to be holy." Make every effort- that means with every fiber of your being, with every ounce of breath, do what you can to be holy. It doesn't say "try to be holy" or "do your best, it will be okay." It says to make every effort to be holy. And why is that? Because we need to become holy. That is one of the purposes of this journey of life- it's to become more like Jesus every day. Our goal is to become as holy and righteous as possible so that we may see God. We need that holiness to spend eternity in His presence. Jesus made holiness and righteousness possible when he died for us.

There is no try. When I fail, when I falter in my quest to become holy, I need to treat it as such. I need to rebuke the evil spirits that are tempting me- I need to do whatever it takes to rid myself of sin. If I am sinning by watching too much television, I need to get rid of the television. If my sin is taking too much drink, I need to eliminate it from the house. If my sin is with regards to the internet and un-wholesome viewing, I need to get rid of the internet. In essence, I need to regard sin as exactly what it is- an unholy black mark upon my being, and I need to cleanse myself of that black mark and never do it again. When I am tempted beyond measure, I need to change my mindset, I need to stop thinking that it's okay one more time- I can worry about the consequences later. Instead, I need to repent before I even sin. I need to repent for even thinking about it and ask the Holy Spirit to help me resist. And I need to grab my Bible. For the truth will set me free.

I will not try anymore, I will just do. I pray that God's word will fill me to bursting and that I will have the words I need to resist the temptation. Nothing eliminates sin faster than a few well-recited scripture verses. Jesus resisted temptation from the devil by quoting God's Word to him. A step towards holiness is learning to do the same. I pray that the more time I spend in His Word, the more it will cling to my mind and be there, ready and waiting. And I pray that this would not just be for me, but for my entire household, and for those I hold dear to me. Because I want to spend eternity with ALL those I love, not just a select few. We can all strive for holiness, each and every day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Being An Example

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children" Titus 2:3,4

You know the first thing I thought of when I read this verse? What is the definition of "older women?" Really, because this whole concept is interesting to me. When I have issues with my husband or my children, who do I ask for advice or share my frustrations with? Usually my friends and acquaintances, someone who had been there either recently, or is going through the same now and can commiserate. That makes me kind of sad, because it seems that somewhere along the way, I seem to have lost the concept of having a mentor- or a woman that I can look up to. Oh, I absolutely have my own mom to talk to, and my mother-in-law as well, but it's really not the same as having that impartial party to talk to, seek advice from, and maybe pray with about a problem.

I heard a sermon a few months ago about the importance of having spiritual fathers and spiritual mothers in our lives, and that really stuck with me. It hid me hard, because it was something I didn't have, and it was something I knew Andy didn't have either. We've been blessed by being close to my parents, so they kind of filled in that role, but what became very clear to us was that we needed these spiritual parents to be a part of our life- we needed them to be at the church we would attend, so that there would be a regular connection, a regular means of accountability. I feel very blessed that God didn't waste any time directing us to the right church, and to the right people. I want to go more into the idea of these spiritual parents, but that's not really the direction I'm headed today- that will be a future post, I think.

The idea that I'm wrapping my head around here is the idea of being instructed- which is what this verse is talking about. I have to tell you, the idea of being a young woman and receiving specific "training" about how to be a good wife or mother would have put me over the edge, it would have made me mad, to be honest. I remember our church doing a church-wide study on parenting shortly after we'd started attending, and I was really upset about the idea- we thought we were doing a fine job as parents, and the last thing we wanted to do was read a book and become confused, or be told things we didn't quite agree with. So we bowed out of that study for our family. And to be completely honest, I still think we're doing a good job, and the thought of getting my parenting skills from books (other than the Bible) still makes me mad.

But you know what I do notice? I don't mind learning by example. When I see someone doing something with their children that I'd never thought of, it makes more of an impression on me than if I'd read a book or been told. We learned not to spank our children by example- not because a book told us to do so. I learned not to yell at my children- by example, not by being told that yelling is harmful to them. I saw someone else approach a naughty child with calm collection and my immediate thought was that I wanted to do that. I wanted to stop yelling so much, and I've been working on it ever since, and I daresay the whole household is much happier when mommy is calm, rational, and doesn't yell.

I've definitely seen this in action too in the opposite direction. I really hate it when I am offered unsolicited advice about my kids, I really do. So it may have taken a while, but I stopped doing the same to other people unless I was asked first. Okay, it maybe took a long while, but when you're telling someone the best way to be a parent, and they turn around and roll their eyes at their spouse, you should take the hint. But what is interesting, is that I stopped offering unwanted advice, and then I started actually being asked. I allowed my actions to do the speaking for me. People notice how happy and delightful my children are- the see how we deal with naughty behavior, and they want to know exactly how we do it. I love it when a child is naughty among company or when we're out somewhere- because my reaction is no different than if we had been at home. We correct the behavior with a few words, not with a spank or anything physical, and people see this, and wonder if it actually works, and then they want to know more. Other people see the way Andy and I discuss issues together, and how we build each other up, and then they want to know how we do that.

So that's what we will continue doing. We will continue to be examples for others, but at the same time, we also have people to be an example to us. I don't want to "train" anyone, and I don't want to be "trained", but I certainly don't mind sharing information that I've gained along the way. I am far from an expert in anything, but I am always willing to talk about something I know a little about.

May I remember that there are always eyes on me. May God show other people what they need to see through my example, and may my example always be pleasing to God.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Shield of Faith

"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one." Ephesians 6:16

Faith is an interesting creature. I've had long discussions with people who don't believe in God at all- they see the evidence of science, and don't see all the scientific arguments for God along the way. These people see completely with their heads- and not their hearts. Faith is from the heart. There are also those who may be of a like-minded faith, but then you start stretching your faith, and you question yourself and your own faith, and you share your new growth and new beliefs, and then those people start to shy away from you. They're afraid of your faith- they don't want to be reminded that they don't share that faith that you have found.

And why is that? Why are people so afraid of faith? Maybe it's a fear of the unknown- a fear of being wrong maybe. When I think of faith, when I think of those who have an extreme faith, those people have something that I want. What they have is a different mindset. In their minds, they are praying for that disease to come out of a person because they know that God will do it. They have no doubts. Now someone of moderate faith maybe is praying for a disease to come out of a body, because God can do it, and maybe this will be the time it works. That's a huge difference! Saying that God will and God can are two completely different balls of wax. And I see where the God can people are coming from, to be honest. When someone tells me about something that can be prayed for, what I usually say is "I'll be praying for that." And I certainly do mean it when I say it, but in the back of my mind I'm thinking "why can't I just drop what I'm doing right now and pray for it right here and right now?" And that's where I struggle- with the fear.

I know, in my mind that the fear I experience in those moments is completely from the devil. He wants me to not pray for that person or that problem. And when that fear is there, faith obviously isn't. Yet I read this verse this morning, and I see faith described as a shield, so that it will extinguish those arrows of fear that the enemy is shooting at me. I really desire to have that much faith. To have the faith to know that God will and God does- not the faith for God can and God might.

My prayer today is that God will continue to deal with me on this. I know it's not going to be an overnight change, but I pray that when the time is right, that person of faith that is in me somewhere will come out roaring like a lion. That the shield of faith will come to mind and I will know no fear. Fear is a powerful enemy, and I pray that it would be gone from my heart- there's no room for it anymore. I choose faith to take its place.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Praying For Our Pastors

"The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."

Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:24-30

I was reading in John today, and this particular cluster of verses stuck out to me. Jesus had just finished giving a sermon on the shepherd and his flock, and here were the people who had been listening, arguing with him, not believing him, and later on they decide to try stoning him for blasphemy. Can you imagine how frustrating that must have been for Jesus? He was speaking pretty plainly, but these people were not listening because they were focused on the rules and their own comfort.

It had me thinking about our pastor, and the other pastors we know. How often do we actually take the time to turn to God and pray for our pastors? Really. Every October we celebrate "Pastoral Appreciation" where we lavish them with gifts and words of appreciation, maybe a prayer for blessings upon them. But what about the other 11 months of the year? It is so important for us to pray for our church leaders. It may very well be our prayers that keep them away from temptation. Because I am certain those temptations are there. Think about it. You and I are normal, everyday Christians, and we are tempted often by the devil. Our pastors are responsible for a whole group of Christians- the church they are leading, and that puts a huge target on their back, and you know the devil is going to try absolutely everything he can think of to tempt that pastor into doing something they shouldn't. It's so important for us as lay people and ministry leaders to pray for the man or woman who has been charged with shepherding a flock.

A few weeks back, I heard someone speak and ask specifically how often we prayed for our pastors? And then he asked when the last time was that the Sunday morning message meant something specifically for us? This speaker then went on to say that when we do our job, and spend time in prayer for our pastor, that the pastor can then do his job and focus on what his message should be and can spend his time in prayer and meditation. The direct result of our prayers and intercession for our pastor is a message that we may have needed to hear. God hears our prayers and loves it when we spend time praying for our pastor. He will bless us for our diligence in prayer by showing the pastor what he needs to preach on. It's a win-win situation! We pray for our pastor and church leaders, so that they are blessed and can resist the many temptations that come along. And in turn, our pastor is able to spend more time with God, and do his job as our pastor.

Over the last week there has been a lot mentioned about praying for our leaders. We need to remember that praying for our leaders includes our spiritual leaders. We are in a time of questioning and seeking, and so many of our churches are wound up as tight as a top. We are in desperate need of prayers and intercession to keep these churches from exploding in a bad way. Where better than to start at the top-praying for the pastor and the leadership. God will hear our prayers and our cries. I pray that we are all filled with this sense of urgency to pray for our pastors, and I also pray that they Holy Spirit will keep me in tune- so that I'll know to pray when our pastor comes to mind.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Made To Worship

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15

Yesterday while driving around I heard a new song on the radio. I can't say I particularly liked the song, actually, but it's point was very clear. I don't even know the name of the song or the artist, but the lyrics of the song spoke about how we are made to worship, and that is one of the reasons so many people are reaching out to worship something other than God. We have an inborn, natural need to worship something, and it is up to us to make the choice to worship God. Other people make the choice to worship gods, whether it be another religious deity, or money or sports. The sports thing is so true today. How many people schedule their weekends around a particular football game, or around a championship? But when it comes time to worship God or go to church, we're more flexible. It's okay to miss a few Sundays to do yard work- but when the big came comes on, we must assume the position in the easy chair with beverage and nachos in hand.

But you and I were really and truly made to worship. You hear or see so often people that just seem to be looking for more meaning to their life- something that makes it all seem important. What is going on with them is that need to worship kicking in, they're feeling that pull, they often just don't know that pull is to God. It's up to each and every person to make the choice that Joshua made- and that is to choose the God above all others. Me and my house have made our choice, and we choose to serve a living, breathing God. A God to be feared and a God to love. And most importantly, perhaps, a God who loves us despite all of our shortcomings. We were made to worship Him, and we will do our best with all that we have and all that we are.

Friday, November 07, 2008

My Supply

"For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ," Philippians 1:19 (KJV)

"and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. " Colossians 2:19

I bet we've all sung at least one song in church, or heard one on the radio that talks of God being our supply. We've probably heard it dozens of times, and never really thought twice about it. But what does it mean? The dictionary states that supply is to complete, compensate for, to fill up, complete, raise(a military unit or crew) to its full complement, and substitute. In a sense, it is the Holy Spirit which completes us. It is the Holy Spirit which fills us up to our full potential. Now, let me share something that I read this past weekend. It's a simple observation that I never noticed, or really payed attention to. Here's the passage in Matthew where John the Baptist baptises Jesus.

"Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"

Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:13-17

Here it is again in Luke:

"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Luke 3:21-22

Jesus had lived 30 years of his life as a man, a person like you and me. After he was baptised he began preaching and doing miracles, but it wasn't until after the Spirit had descended upon him. The Holy Spirit descended like a dove, lighted on him (meaning touched) and after that, Jesus had his supply and his source for preaching the Word of God- AND doing miracles and healing the sick. The Holy Spirit completed Jesus.

It is the Holy Spirit who completes us, he is our supply. Some versions of the Bible translate the word supply to nourishment. That adds a different layer of meaning in my mind,because nourishment, in the physical sense, is what sustains us. It's what gives us our health and our energy, essentially our life. Without nourishment we will wither and fade away, and eventually die.

We too can be like Jesus. We can allow the Holy Spirit to descend upon us and complete us. It is the Holy Spirit who will give us what we need, when we need it. After the Spirit came upon Jesus, he was tempted by the devil in the desert. But with the Holy Spirit there to complete him and bring the right scripture to mind at the right time, Jesus resisted temptation. Now that is something I like to think of. The devil knows us so well, and knows just the right things to tempt us with, but the Holy Spirit will enable us to resist those temptations be recalling the right verses to mind at the right time.

May the Holy Spirit continue to fill me up and be my supply. For without His sustenance and nourishment, I am nothing. And I don't want to be nothing.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Reliance on The Holy Spirit

"This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:6-7

"And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." Romans 5:5

As I read these verses this morning, they certainly have me wondering about myself. If God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity- why on earth am I afraid sometimes, and why do I feel so timid at times! I'll tell you why. Because the enemy likes to whisper in my ear that if I share that word with that person they will mock me and scorn me and hate me. It's the enemy who encourages me not to say something because I am afraid I might offend.

I've been discovering lately though that I have the tools within me to share the right words at the right time, and when I feel like I should share them, I should! I need to learn to rely on the Holy Spirit at all times, to allow Him to guide my mouth and my words. The Holy Spirit has filled my heart with love- he will not allow what comes out to reflect anything but love. He is a spirit of self-discipline, He will help me to know when to close my mouth and stop speaking. When I think of all the times I have just sat on the words that wanted to roll off my tongue... I wonder now what would have happened had I relied on the Holy Spirit instead. Would I have changed someones heart or ideas for the better? I'll never know now, but I know for the times ahead of me.

I was just twelve years old when I was baptised in the Holy Spirit. I was baptised in the Spirit before I was even baptised in water. And while I began speaking in tongues, and would use that prayer language from time to time, I think I don't think I ever really knew what that meant for me. Obviously, because I slid through my last year of high school like I was vapor. I didn't have a single friend among my classmates-as the timidity won out and I decided to just not care anymore. Had I relied on the Holy Spirit I might not have been the only one in my class who abstained from drinking. And for a time, I set the Holy Spirit on the proverbial shelf. I still remember the very first time I went to a small group at our previous church. One of the people there knew which church I'd grown up in, and asked if I'd learned all about the Holy Spirit there. Of course I had, and when I shared a little about what I knew, I had the feeling that eight pairs of eyes were on me and thought I was an alien. I quickly shut up and never brought it up again- and it was never brought up to me either.

I still don't understand the resistance to the greatest peace that there ever was. And by focusing each and every day on the Holy Spirit, I'm learning that reliance that I so desperately need. I like to think of it as a lifeline- or a virtual cord that connects my spirit to the Holy Spirit directly. That feeding tube that will give me exactly what I need, when I need it. He will give me the words to say when they need to be said. This also works hand in hand with spending more time reading the Bible. Because I can't share the right scriptures if I'm not reading them in the first place. The Holy Spirit is like the best memory ever. If I've read the Bible, and become familiar with it, He will recall to my mind the verses I need, when I need it. It's a team effort- and I have to do my part as well.

I know I have a long way to go, it seems like every day I learn something new, and it's almost...well, it's pretty overwhelming. I am so used to accomplishing things through my own power, and utilizing my own abilities, that placing that trust in the Holy Spirit's power and abilities is tough- really tough. Yet every day, when I feel like I want to give up, when I feel like I really don't want to do this blog anymore, or I just don't want to pick up my Bible, the Holy Spirit gives me that nudge that I need, and there I go. It is a learning process, and I suspect that until the day God calls me to heaven, I still won't have learned all there is to know. I'm determined to try though. I've been at the bottom of the barrel, with no place to go, and I don't wish to ever be in that position again.

It is my prayer this morning that the Holy Spirit will show me something new today, and He will continue to show me something new each and every day.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

God's Servants

"This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing." Romans 13:6

I wonder if all those newly elected officials realize that that are actually God's servants? I love this verse because it is so basic and so simple. And yet, on the morn after a huge election for our country, I wonder if all these men (and women? Were there women who won any races?) realize the task that is before them. I suspect that God is going to show up in the lives of each and every one of these people and open their eyes. It's going to be very exciting here in our great nation! It is our job, as The Church, to remember these officials in our prayers each and every day. No government official has an easy job- not even the town mayor, and we need to remember that and pray for them often.

Yet there is more in this verse. It tells us right in the Bible to pay our taxes- but why? We pay taxes to pay for those public servants. Those government officials who give up normal life and a normal job should be compensated for their time- that's for sure. But look at what this verse doesn't say. It doesn't say to pay taxes to that the hungry may be fed and the sick may be treated. That is where the church as a whole has fallen down, because those programs, that type of compassion is not supposed to be a government job. It's the job of the church. It's the church who is supposed to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. It's the church's job to see that the sick receive care and that the elderly are respected and cared for to the end of their days.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' " Matthew 25:35-40

The church fell down on the job, and government stepped in to keep it's people from hurting and starving. The role of compassion should not be with the government- it should be the church as a whole. A hungry, homeless person should be able to walk into any church and be welcomed with joy- given clothing, a meal, a place to sleep-not directed to the nearest government office.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35

While I can't change an entire church structure, I can change the way I see things with my own eye. People who get assistance from the government truly do need it. Otherwise, why would they go through the humiliating process of filling out forms and being questioned and examined, and all that. But as a follower of Christ, when I see someone who is getting government assistance, maybe I can do a little more to help them out in my own way. I guess my thought has been, "hey if they're getting food stamps to pay for groceries, then they don't need my groceries." And that is the wrong mentality to have.

It's interesting where this blog posting is going today. One of my dreams, my visions for my life has been to help those who need it. That's why I continue blogging, and do the recipes in the local newspaper. It breaks my heart to see a mother, with kids in tow, swiping the food stamp card at the grocery store when her cart is loaded with frozen pizzas, macaroni and cheese, soda, and frozen pot pies. I know the amount available per person for food stamps, and it doesn't go very far. But my goal is to help those people stretch that food stamp dollar. If that mom only knew that a pot of my hearty bean soup fed and nourished for two meals for about $6.00, she may think twice about the poor nutrition she is giving her family. Sure, not every child likes beans right off the bat, but there are ways around that. I've often thought about how such a "program" would work. How do you teach someone to cook wholesome, nutritious food for less money than they would think? How do you tell someone that they're feeding their precious children junk...?

Someday, when the time is right, the pieces and the ideas will fall into place. God wouldn't have placed this desire in my heart for no reason, and I know that. I just sense that the time is coming closer. I can see a church sponsored program, where a group of mothers gather for a few hours on a Saturday, and prepare a weeks worth of meals together to freeze and feed their families- and it doesn't cost them a penny. Child care is provided free of charge, and the food is provided by the church, all that's required is the time and the effort to do the actual cooking. Imagine the empowerment that would do! Imagine, these women feeding their children delicious, nutritious food that they prepared themselves for the first time ever. And as their skills grow, they learn to do this very thing on their own. I get shivers just thinking about it. I'm getting closer to drawing up actual plans, and someday, God will make this a reality, and that is incredibly exciting!

But for now... I will do my part and be compassionate. I will continue the learning process I am undergoing, and I will, above all, pray. I will pray for the churches around me to take up the call to compassion and mercy themselves. And I will pray for our new government leaders- for they are going to need those prayers heartily. Our President-Elect is going to need our prayers to keep him and his family safe and strong. God Bless him for agreeing to the job he will be assuming in the months to come.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Something Different

"and he said, "This is what the LORD says: Make this valley full of ditches. 17 For this is what the LORD says: You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. 18 This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also hand Moab over to you. 19 You will overthrow every fortified city and every major town. You will cut down every good tree, stop up all the springs, and ruin every good field with stones."

20 The next morning, about the time for offering the sacrifice, there it was—water flowing from the direction of Edom! And the land was filled with water." 2 Kings 3:16-20

I read this passage in 2 Kings today, and the very first thing I thought was that it didn't rain! In context, there were three armies who had come together to join forces against the Moabites- and they attacked by crossing a desert for seven days. By this time, they had no water for themselves or their animals, and in essence, were dehydrating to death. But God spoke through Elisha, and told the people to dig ditches to hold water. They didn't even question this direction- at least, not that we see in the Bible here. They dug the ditches, and the next morning they were full of water. It hadn't rained, there hadn't been an earthquake, and they hadn't all the sudden struck underground springs. God provided for them in a miraculous way.

Isn't that cool!? God took care of his people without taking a normal route. I think God wants to do that for us all the time, we just don't ever let him. These people were in an impossible situation, yet God did the very impossible, and gave them all exactly what they needed- the fortitude and strength to conquer the Moabites.

I think about how we pray sometimes, and ask God for things. Why is it that we direct how God is to answer that prayer? We pray that someone would be healed of a disease, but we don't just pray for healing. Instead, we pray for wisdom for the doctors, we pray for strength as this person goes through treatment. Why? It seems to me that the same God who can provide water in a desert without rain can provide a complete healing in the body without a doctor. I'm not saying that doctors aren't involved in healing- please know that. I believe God gave doctors the gifts to heal and treat and cure, and a cancer healed with the aid of physicians is still cancer healed. But the possibility... the possibility to not have to go through a treatment, to just simply have an ailment disappear in a miraculous fashion... that's what God would love to do. He wants us to have the faith to ask him for the impossible, and he will make it possible.

So how did that water get there? The Bible doesn't go into details, so it's up to us to use our imaginations. I personally serve a God who can speak and cause water to just be there. Yet there's more here about this water. Not only did he fill the valley with water for the people and animals to drink from, but to the Moabites, he made the water look like it was red from blood.

"Now all the Moabites had heard that the kings had come to fight against them; so every man, young and old, who could bear arms was called up and stationed on the border. When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red—like blood. "That's blood!" they said. "Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!" 2 Kings 3:20-23

This served a few purposes, don't you think? First of all, the red water made the Moabites think that the armies had fought each other and were ripe for the plucking. But secondly, they most likely did not drink of that water. They didn't receive the strength that comes from a full drink of water, and thus were the weaker army in that battle. God helped His people to victory, just as he provided for their needs.

God can do the impossible, we just need to let him! I think he wants to do the impossible each and every day- maybe it's time to give him the opportunity.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Make A Joyful Noise!

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his ;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:1-4

Yesterday I took the plunge. I took a huge leap and took in my percussion stuff and joined the worship team on stage. I was pretty nervous, this worship is team is really good- they are definitely well-rounded musicians. I mean, when we practiced a song for the first time ever on Saturday, and then did it on Sunday right away, well, these people are uber-talented. I just was really nervous about messing up or throwing someone else off, or, I don't know, something.

Of course, it all worked out fine. And as we started up the very first song, I was reminded why I was there, and why we all were there- and that was to worship God. If I wasn't going to do that, I might as well pack up my things and go home. God doesn't care if I miss a few beats, or if I hit the wrong drum, he cares about the heart behind the action. I totally relaxed almost instantly, and got into a groove with the drummer, and I daresay, had a blast. It felt really good to be worshipping in the way that I knew God wanted me to. I'm already looking forward to next week.

And in the next few weeks, we'll also be figuring out the logistics to go to the Sunday night and Wednesday night services. If I'm going to be on the worship team, I need to make sure I make the commitment to be there more than just Sunday morning. At first, I wasn't sure about that, about making that drive twice more in the week? Yikes. It's not so much the gas, but the half-hour drive one way, that's going to get old real fast. Except that I have made the decision that God is worth it. Totally worth it. In the last few weeks, I've been finding myself looking forward to Sunday and going to church, like I just can't get enough of worship and hearing God's Word. It's almost like the more I open myself up to listen, the more I actually hear. I find myself nodding to myself an awful lot each week- like the message the Pastor is sharing was meant just for me. But then I look around, and I see all these other people nodding, and I think it's simply amazing that God puts the right words into our Pastor's mouth that each and every person needs to hear.

And that is a God that I want to worship. I want to lavish Him with praise, and while I may not be an accomplished pianist, guitar player, or even a great drummer, I will do what I can with the talent I have. I will give him my all and make a joyful noise unto Him. Even the trees and the fields of the earth offer Him praise... I want to do my part too.

"let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them.
Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy" Psalm 96:12

"You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands. " Isaiah 55:12

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Shining Through The Weaknesses

"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Everybody has weaknesses. Areas in their life or in their personality that make them less than perfect. But while those weaknesses maybe make us less than perfect, they don't make us less of a person. God loves to use people despite their weaknesses, because it's in those moments that God's Glory really shows. Moses had a stuttering problem. God allowed Aaron to speak for Moses sometimes, but it was when Moses really spoke, that His Glory shone through. The people of Israel knew that the words that came from Moses were from God. Imagine- knowing this man who stutters and has a hard time getting word out in normal conversation. I can pretty much guarantee that when he was delivering a message from God, that his speech was perfect. God used a weakness in Moses to make Himself known even more to His people.

Gideon was afraid.

"But Lord , " Gideon asked, "how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family." Judges 6:15

Yet God used Gideon in a mighty way to show how mighty He Is. God used Gideon's weaknesses of fear and weakness to slay armies and save his people from certain death.

Noah was a drunk! He took to drinking a lot, and I imagine many times while building this great big behemoth of an ark that God told him to build that he heard a lot of comments about drinking too much and being delusional. Yet God most definitely used Noah in a mighty way to continue the human race.

God can and will use each and every one of us, despite our weaknesses, and sometimes, because of our weaknesses! God can use the smallest and the weakest of us, we just need to let him. One of my weaknesses has always been that I am actually a pretty shy person. Yet, God seems to give me an infusion of boldness just when I need it. He uses me, despite my reluctance to step forward.

There are many, many other examples in the Bible of how God used people with mighty weaknesses to show His glory. And he can use each and every one of us- no matter what our weakness might be. That's a fantastic thing to think on, that God can and will still use me, despite any flaws I may think I have. May God use my weaknesses in whatever way he sees fit.