Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Dream Of Brothers

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 John 3:16

"So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." Romans 7:4

Previously in my blog posts I've talked about how I want to talk about dreams more... it would be just like God to give me more opportunities by giving me more dreams! The other day I had another dream that was so basic, yet so wonderful.

I had a dream that my dad had another brother- a much younger, "surprise I'm part of the family" brother. This man came to us and told us the truth about being part of our family, and it was someone I knew and went to high school with. It just clicked for us, it all made sense somehow that he was my uncle, and I remember being so happy that he was part of our family, and he was so happy that he was part of our family. We'd even joked about how it was a good thing we never dated in high school, given that now it turned out he was my uncle. One thing there wasn't in this dream was the feeling that this was bad news of any kind. There wasn't any kind of accusing thoughts or remarks towards my grandparents, it just was accepted that this man was my dad's younger brother. And there was such joy in the family because we had this new family member- that's what I remember the most. Hugging my new uncle and both of us being filled with joy because we were related.

When I woke up, my first thought was about this young man in the dream. He was a rare friend in high school. While we weren't close friends, we were decent friends, there was never any thought of dating, and we shared other common friends in school as well. He is one of the people who I think about every once in a while from school, and I hope he is happy and doing well. When he was very young, he'd lost his parents in an accident, and was being raised by his grandmother. Well, his grandmother passed away our senior year, just after his 18th birthday, so all the sudden this teenager was responsible for himself, his two older brothers were in college, so essentially, he was alone a lot at the end of his school career. So I thought about all these things, and I prayed a little for him, that God would bless him and make Himself real in this man's life.

And then I really thought about this dream, and I kind of played the "what if" game, what if something like this actually happened- a new family member just appears and says I'm part of your family, and I remembered the joy in the dream and then I understood. The excitement, happiness, and joy from this young man being a part of our family is the same excitement, happiness and joy we should feel every time a new believer comes to Christ. These feelings of love that we have for our family members should extend beyond our physical family, and should embrace our Christian family as well. Think of a family reunion, think about how excited you always are to attend and see family members you haven't seen in a while. We should feel the exact same way every time we see a brother or sister in Christ. Understanding what this dream was saying was so exciting- because it was just such a happy thing! I was instantly able to compare it to how I have felt about going to church, and how blessed we are to be a part of a body of believers where I feel this way each and every time we walk in the doors at church.

I talked about the young man in my dream a bit above to share a point about dreams. One of the things I've learned about dreaming, is that sometimes you need to look at a person or a thing or a detail and think specifically about what that means to you. Any young man could have been used in this dream to make this point, but I think by using this particular one, it drove the point home more. To me, when I think of this person, I think about his family and how he didn't have much of a family growing up, and that drove the point of joy home even more. Think about how much more joy someone would have finding a family when they didn't have family before. Of course, the added bonus in this case of knowing the young man in the dream was that I had an opportunity to pray for him, and maybe he needed that just then.

God is so great, and I know that He is filled with joy every time someone comes to Him through Christ. And I also know that joy is ongoing. Think about how much stronger the body of Christ could be if we could stop looking at each other with the eyes of humans, and instead, look on each other with God's Eyes, the eyes of love and compassion. I want that. I want to see my brothers and sisters in Christ and feel the same joy that I felt in that dream when I found my new uncle.

"...for the joy of the LORD is your strength." Nehemiah 8:10

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Warfare Wednesday: The 100 Day Mark

"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." 1 Peter 2:13-17

This morning as we continue our weekly reminder to pray for President Obama, it's exciting to note that today is his 100th day in office. Let's really pray for perseverance for the President, as that 100 day mark means extra scrutinising by the nation. His first 100 days will be reviewed and criticized by many. Let us pray that the nation will not lose confidence in our elected leader, and let us pray that our President will have confidence in his abilities and the God who put them there. Let us pray especially for President Obama's continued safety as he becomes more at ease with his position and with all the traveling involved. Let us continue to pray for Godly Wisdom for this man, and for all those who work with him on a daily basis. Let's thank God for an uneventful first 100 days in office, and with God's help, may they continue to be crisis-free.

While we're praying for President Obama this morning, I think it would be right to give special attention to the outbreak of the Swine Flu. Let us pray for Godly Wisdom for all those involved, from the President and his cabinet to the CDC and the World Health Organization. There are little answers so far on this flu, other than that it's a deadly strain of the flu and it seems to be easily caught. But we have a Great and Mighty God who knows all the answers, and knows how to eliminate this disease. Whether through conventional human means or through a miracle from God, let us pray that this flu be stopped in its tracks.

I also want to take a minute to pray for wisdom for the president regarding situations in Asia and the Middle East. Last week it was announced that the Taliban is on the move and is enforcing their horrible laws on the people of Pakistan. May our military and government move wisely in dealing with these zealots, and may God grant wisdom to everyone involved. Most especially though, my God grant peace to the thousands of women who are being persecuted because of this law. May the Peace that passes all understanding fill them, and wrap around them and comfort them in this time of uncertainty. I can't imagine what it must feel like to be treated as a third rate non-citizen, and my heart breaks for each and every one of these women, teens and children affected by this terrorist situation. Also, let us pray for the country of Pakistan as they are a tender ally of ours in the war on terror. Let us pray for wisdom for their leaders in dealing with the filth that is moving within their borders.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Imagine The Possibilities

"When the sun was setting, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them." Luke 4:40

Imagine what the world could be like if followers of Jesus could just grab hold of the faith that Jesus had. The disciples and their companions found it, and this was their story as well.

"Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed." Acts 5:16

Seriously, just imagine what it would be like to really recognize what it means to ask Jesus into your heart. We make such a big deal about the actual event, the moment someone asks Jesus to come into their heart and lives, and well we should make a big deal about it, but I think we don't realize that when we ask Jesus to come into our hearts, we're actually asking Him to move in. We're asking that the worldly spirit of ourselves be removed to make room for Jesus. When I asked Jesus into my heart, it wasn't just saying a prayer, it was time for a remodeling on the inside. Erika, the spirit of fleshly and worldly desires needed to be evicted so that Jesus could move in. Could physically and spiritually move in. And that means that when I walk around today, and do my daily business, I am not just Erika. I am Jesus on the inside, with Erika on the outside. And maybe one day, people will be able to see the Jesus from the outside too.

Imagine what it would be like to see people set free from their addictions in an instant- a lifetime of torment gone in just a second, because someone had the faith and the compassion to care. Imagine... imagine a couple physically unable to have children, imagine their joy when they find that God has created a whole new reproductive system for them and they find themselves pregnant. Imagine an elderly woman, plagued with arthritis for years and years, suddenly finding herself standing straight up without pain, dancing with joy before the Lord. Imagine a young man, injured in a car crash as a teenager, unable to ever walk again, rising from his wheelchair only to fall to his knees again in thanksgiving.

It is a beautiful thing to imagine all that isn't it. It's time to stop imagining and start doing! It's time to dig deep and figure out how to activate these gifts that Jesus had to heal, because Jesus is IN us. Jesus is a part of me, and if Jesus could do miracles, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, it stands to reason that this Erika shell walking around with Jesus on the inside should be able to do the same things.

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 28:18-19

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Dream Explained

"Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.

9Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset--rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (AMP)"

I've mentioned before here that God talks to me through dreams sometimes. One of the frustrating things to me about dreaming God dreams is that often times, I have this dream, and I clearly remember all the parts, but I'll be dipped if I know what it means. I've written many of them down, some not at all, and there are some that I think about often, asking God to show me what they mean. Well, yesterday morning when I woke up for church, I quickly thought about the dreams I'd had, deciding if any of them were important and needing to be remembered, and then proceeded to get ready for the day. As I went about making coffee, I asked God once again if He could show me some of the meanings behind my dreams. There's one in particular that I know has real significance, but I suspect it could be one that the meaning will hold off for years. Yet I still ask God to reveal Himself to me. It's all in His timing that the answers will be there. But yesterday morning, as I sat in church, listening to a great sermon, I had one of my answers that I had been waiting for. *Grins*

Here is the dream I had a few weeks ago, as I wrote it then:

I had a dream that I was walking in our backyard, where there was a lovely garden with lots of foliage. I was walking with Zander and Andy's parents, we were talking nicely, enjoying the garden, when suddenly, in the bushes there was a cougar. And the cougar started growling and eyeing us up. I saw him through the bushes, and the second I saw him, he leaped out, aiming for Zander. I placed myself between the cougar and my son, and the cougar jumped on me instead. He kind of gnawed on my arm, but didn't draw blood. He pulled back, and then went for my chest instead. I remember Andy's parents just watching in horror, not knowing what to do, and my determination that no matter what, this cougar was not going to get my son. At that moment, I felt the presence of God on me in my dream, and I commanded the cougar to sit in the name of Jesus. And it did. And then I commanded it to lie down, walk, sit again, much like talking to a dog, and it did all those things. Then we walked away from the cougar like nothing had happened.

Yesterday morning, Pastor had us turn to 1 Peter 4, and as I scanned the page next to it, 5:18 literally jumped off the page and into my mind. I read it, then re-read it, and then smiled and read a few more verses. Then I thanked God for showing it to me, marked my place and commenced paying attention to the sermon at hand.

My dream was about a cougar- also known as a mountain lion in some regions, and when I thought about what verse 18 was actually saying, and calling the devil a lion, I just knew that my dream was about the devil coming after us. That the devil is very much like a lion, hiding in the brush, blending in with its surroundings, just waiting for the right moment to pounce and catch its victim by surprise. And this warns me to be on guard- to step up the prayers for my family and continue in His Word so that I can be prepared when such attacks happen.

There's more here though. While the cougar itself is a warning to be on guard, there is also great encouragement here, because the cougar in my dream was gnawing on my arm with no results. The teeth were not drawing blood or hurting me in any way. Satan has no teeth. No real teeth anyways. He may jump out of the bushes all scary and frightening and try to devour us, but as a family of God, we are under His protection, and those teeth have no power over us. And as the dream went on, I began to command the cougar in the Name if Jesus, and it obeyed, and there also lies the secret for defeating the devil. It's God's Word. Jesus showed us how to defeat the devil in Matthew 4.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9"All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

10Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him." Matthew 4:8-11

While it's not particularly encouraging to think about the devil stalking us, it is encouraging to know that he will not succeed in his attacks. If we stay firm in the Bible and with our time with God, we will have the tools necessary to send him away.

I am so thankful this morning for several things. I am thankful that God does talk to me in my dreams, and I am also incredibly thankful that he reveals to me what they mean at the correct time. I will continue to be vigilant with my prayers, and I will continue to devour God's Word. For by devouring God's Word every day, I will not be devoured myself.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Praying Mightily For The Little Ones

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7

I was a bad mom last night.

Abigail has not been sleeping very well as of late, and she's driving me batty with her behavior about it. Firstly, she simply won't tell me why she's having trouble sleeping. And secondly, she actually is sleeping, but then she wakes up, comes and finds me, and then complains that she can't sleep. This week, she's also got the added cold that I have. So last night, when all I want is to crawl into bed and go to sleep, she walks into our bedroom, sniffling, saying that she can't sleep. Meanwhile, we just checked on her, and she was indeed snoring, but for some reason, she woke and got all cranky. I went and laid down with her for a while, and she was mostly asleep, when she started sniffling a little bit and then complained about her nose running. I was at my end last night, so I simply went and got her an antihistamine and had her take that. It did work,and she slept the rest of the night, but this morning... I'm feeling like a bad mom. Like I simply drugged my daughter so that I could selfishly get some rest, rather than explore the real reasons for her lack of sleep.

"But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD's love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children's children-

18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts." Psalm 103:17-18

So this morning, I go to wake her up, and as I walk into her room, it just hit me like a ton of bricks, that I needed to spend some time praying for my children. I do it quite often, of course. In fact, some days I think all I do is pray for my children. But I really feel like I need to do some serious intercession and prayer for my little girl. She has about six weeks of school left before she comes home for the summer, and then we tackle homeschooling. But until then, that's a whole lot of time that the devil is going to be working overtime to try and snag my little beauty. And wouldn't it be easier for her to be swayed if she hasn't gotten enough rest and is a little on edge to begin with?

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Luke 11:13

I have found, over the last six months or so, that when Andy and I are spending more time in God's Word, and more time focused on God, that's when things try to go awry. The kids sleep poorly, sickness comes into the house, my neck spasms and goes stiff, outside family and friend issues get overwhelming, and I could go on and on. When I take a step back, or when I look back, I can see clear as day that all those things are the enemy trying to come against what we are trying to do. And getting short with my daughter about her sleeping badly is letting the enemy win, even a little bit. And I refuse to let that happen any longer.

A few months ago, we had similar sleep issues with Zander, except he was having nightmares. I would lie with him every night until he fell asleep, and he would wake up crying for Mommy, it was heartbreaking. This went on for a few nights before the light dawned, and right there and then, I prayed for Zander and for his sleep. That he would have wonderful dreams- and I prayed all this with Zander, and that very night, he slept well and the nightmares were gone. I need to do the same for Abigail, because as I'm writing this, it occurs to me that this week at school is tornado safety week. Why do they do that? We finally get over the trauma of fire safety week from the beginning of the year when they terrify the children all over again with "death by tornado."

Thank God that next year, that won't be an issue.

So I'm posting this whole thing today as a reminder. As a reminder to myself and a reminder to other parents that praying for our children is so, so important. It may seem trivial, and you may be like me, where you say that you do pray for your kids everyday. But some days, you need more than just the normal prayers. Some times, you need to spend some time really talking to God about your children. Today, I am going to spend some time talking to God while I give my daughters room a quick cleaning. She'll so appreciate coming home from school to find a clean bedroom. And while I clean, I'll put in a great inspirational CD and just fill her room with love and with God. And may God give her some beautiful sleep, and continue to show me where I could be doing better as a mom, because there's always room for improvement.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lifting Each Other Up

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galations 6:9-10

I'm going to do something today that I very, very seldom do here at Heart & Soul. I'm going to send you someplace else in a minute, because yesterday I was so very blessed by another woman's blog post. It just served as a wonderful reminder to me as I have been thinking a lot about my goings-on here in my little world of blogs.

When I first started this blog in particular, it was strictly a way to be accountable. I was really not doing well at all in any kind of time in God's Word, so I thought that blogging a devotional every day would keep me going. It's worked beautifully, and now I'm at a stage where I don't need to blog to stay in God's Word, instead, I blog about some of the things I see in God's Word. As I read through the Great Book cover to cover, there is always something that leaps off the pages and into my heart, and I think about how wonderful that word is, and that I must share it with anyone who will listen.

Sometimes though, I think I come across as angry, or forceful, or condescending, and that is never, ever my intent. A long time ago I worried about who would read this blog and would be careful of what I said. *Smile* Thankfully, I have broken free of that bondage, and my fingers have been loosed upon the keyboard to share what the Spirit places in my heart for the day. But maybe, every once in a while, I get a bee in my bonnet. And in those moments, the words that flow onto the screen don't come from the heart of love that they should. Instead, they come from the part of me that is still in this world and thinks that I know better than someone else. I apologize to my readers for that, because it should always be love that drives this blog, the words that you read on my screen. God loves you, and every day He wants you to know that, but some days, maybe that doesn't come through when I get in "a mood."

So all that being said, I want to send you to my dear friend Rina's blog, Into Still Waters. Rina is an incredible woman with a heart for God and her family, and I have had a wonderful time getting to know more through our blogs. I promise that if you spend any time reading through her posts and archives, you will come away incredibly blessed. Rina posted yesterday about blogging the truth, and blogging for the right reasons, not the wrong ones. It really made me stop and think, and I think you'll enjoy what she has to say as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Warfare Wednesday: Earth Day Edition

"After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
"Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever." 22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated." 2 Chronicles 20:21-22

This week as we pray for President Obama, we need to continue to pray for Godly wisdom and intervention. Last week at a speech, the President talked about the Sermon on the Mount. Specifically, he talked about the foolish man who built his house on the sand, and the wise man who built his house on the rock. Mr. Obama went on to say that if we want to improve our economy, we need to build upon a rock, and not back on the sinking sand... as soon as I read that, I thought about how we need to continue to pray for God to make His presence known to our President. May President Obama realize that the rock we need to build our economy on is the rock of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Let's also pray for the first daughters today, Malia and Sasha. Let us pray for their continued protection in everything that they do, and let us pray for them as they take on the responsibility of the family dog, Bo. May they take the challenge of caring for a pet head on, and may their family be blessed by the new addition to their family.

For our Earth Day edition of Warfare Wednesday, I thought it also appropriate that we take some time to pray for the very planet that we inhabit. God sure designed a beautiful place for us to live in. (Imagine how much more Heaven will be!) Every day as I look out my windows or spend time outside, I'm amazed at His Creation. Our Creator designed each and every piece just so. He designed the finches that are playing around my bird feeders as I type this. He designed the trees and the bushes to set their buds and leaves at just the right time, He designed the rain to fall just when it needs to to green the grass up and encourage the trees to blossom. He created a perfect place that provides us with everything we need. Yet we people do a terrible job of taking care of that which God has given us. May God give wisdom where wisdom is needed to better take care of this planet and the resources within.

"God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

29 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. 30 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 1:28-30

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Rock of Living Water

The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" Exodus 17:5-7

"They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:3-4

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." Matthew 7:24,25

Jesus is OUR rock. He IS the rock of salvation, and it is only through Christ that we find the living water that will sustain us. And once we've tasted of that living water, drank of it, and taken it into our souls, it is our responsibility to share that precious life-giving water.

Is there anyone on earth, who, if thirsty, would turn away a drink of water? No. No one, water is life for mankind. Without water, we will physically perish, our bodies will shrivel up and die. In fact, water is so essential to us, that depending on the temperature around us and our circumstances, we can only live from 2 to 10 days without water. It is essential and vital to our physical body that we are taking in water each and every day.

So to is it with Jesus. The more time we spend away from Christ, out of our Bibles and out of our prayer time, the more desperate our spirits become. Our spirit will wither up and dry out to nothing without the living water of Christ. It is Jesus who waters our spirit and fills us with the water that gives us eternal life. It is essential and vital to our spirit that we are taking in the living water each and every day.

"He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life." Revelation 21:6

"for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things." Psalm 107:9

Jesus is the only answer. It is through Jesus that we find exactly what our spirit is crying out for.

"as when a hungry man dreams that he is eating, but he awakens, and his hunger remains; as when a thirsty man dreams that he is drinking, but he awakens faint, with his thirst unquenched." Isaiah 29:8

When we have those days where we feel like something is missing, those days where we just don't feel quite right, like we haven't accomplished everything we needed to accomplish. Or we just feel slightly empty, like something is missing, that's when we need to look within and see if we've had enough Living Water. Our spirits cry out every day for more... Are we taking in all that we need to take in?

The best part?

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Isaiah 55:1

That eternal life giving water is free. It's absolutely free and just there for the taking, for the asking. All you need to do is take it in, and it's yours, and God wants you to have it. Your spirit is thirsty for the Living Water of Christ.

"The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Revelation 22:17

Come. The water of life, the water of the spirit is a free gift to all who will accept it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

To Praise Him

"My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music." Psalm 57:7

I want to say that it was about a year ago now, maybe longer, that we were having a conversation with someone about what Heaven was going to be like. Maybe we were talking with a group of people, I don't remember, but what I do remember was that someone said that if Heaven is simply worshipping and praising God all the time, that just didn't sound appealing. And I think that I agreed with this statement. I thought they had a point, I mean worship and praise is great fun, it's fantastic to spend time praising God, but to do it all the time? I seem to think that we reached the conclusion that praising God was just not something we would want to do all the time.

Except that we just spent three and a half days doing that very thing, and I'm terribly sad it's over. It's kind of strange to be sitting at the computer this morning, to be honest. And I have a whole day in front of me where all I really have to do is enjoy my family. It's almost like going through withdrawal, because I'm already missing the anticipation of waking up in the morning knowing that I'm heading off to church in a short while to worship.

And I think David knew what he was saying up above. He was experiencing rough times in his life, yet he still wanted to praise God. He still wanted to sing praises to his God and King, because that's where his heart was. This verse makes me think that even when David wasn't actively singing praises to God, that he was in a perpetual state of worship. And if David was a man after God's own heart... I think that's someone to have as an example, don't you think? I even think that I know a little bit how David was feeling when he was saying this to God. I mean, right now, as I sit here, it's snowing outside. It's wet, rainy and snowy, Andy isn't working because of the weather, it's snowing when I want to be planting, it's cold... I could sit here and focus on the fact that I hate that it's snowing and that Andy isn't working and bills are coming up, except that I just love God so much, and I am still in that worship mode this morning, and do you know what I thought when I first saw the snow?

I thought about how thankful I was that I was unable to put the plants in the ground that I wanted to last week. I actually took a second a thanked God this morning for making me too busy to work outside. And when Andy crawled back into bed this morning... I was actually thankful for him, because we had a long, busy weekend, and I know he'd be dragging at work. Now he can rest and relax and focus on everything he took in this weekend. And when something comes to mind from this weekend, he can just share it with me instead of wishing he could share it with me while at work. And as for him not working and making money? My first thought was to thank God because I know that he will provide our needs and our bills will be taken care of, and we'll just have another reason to brag about how much God loves us and wants us to be happy and taken care of.

Crazy. I feel like it's a crazy day, I feel crazy on the inside, and crazy on the outside, but by golly, God is great! It's a beautiful day, and He made it. How could I not want to fixate my heart on Him and praise Him?

Thursday, April 16, 2009


"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." 1 Corinthians 11:3

I must have read this Bible verse hundreds of times. In the past, every time I read it, in my mind it confirmed that, at least to me, Andy was the head of our household. That in matters of utmost importance, I would rely on his leadership and relationship with God to make the right decisions for our family. That was a hard one for me drill into my head too, I've always been a stubborn, strong-willed person, and it was hard to not be the one who was always right in a sense.

But yesterday, I read this verse and it was like looking at an onion. A layer peeled back and I saw a whole new layer underneath. I got so excited! Because this verse has always been the same, and I know how I've seen it before, but this was different and exciting! Now, see it says right there in black and white (and in different versions) that the head of the woman is man. And it also says that the head of every man is Christ. Okay, good, we've got that. But then it says that the head of Christ is God. Okay, that makes sense... or does it...

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. " John 1:1

Jesus was the Word, and here we read in John that Christ was with God, and then we see that Christ was God. We know this, we all know this! Even yesterday, my son randomly started singing a sweet little song about God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit- three in one.

"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20

If Christ and God are one and the same- two of God's pieces, how is it that right there in 1 Corinthians is says that God is the head of Christ? I don't think it's saying that, in a sense, God is the boss of Christ. I think that right here in these few words, that Paul is giving us a key to how our relationship as man and wife is supposed to be. And it's so much more than that,but for a minute I want to focus on the husband and wife relationship. Yes, my husband is at the head of our household, and ultimately, I suppose if it came down to something dire I would totally trust that he knows what God wants for us. Lately though, I've been thinking a lot about couples in the ministry. I think of our Pastor and his wife. Their relationship is not one of Pastor and Pastor's Wife, their relationship is that of Co-Pastors, because they are a team- they are united and one, and his wife jumped in full steam ahead with her husbands calling. I think of evangelists, more and more you hear of these men or women traveling and speaking with their spouses, and their spouses also join in their evangelising, taking on the task of their spouse, even though it was their spouse who may have been called in the first place.

"For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." 1 Corinthians 3:9 (KJV)

I don't think my role in life is to be the quiet, demure wife who acquiesces to every whim of her husband. I am not just meant to be the mother to my children who quietly stays in the background. Not that that role is a bad one, I want to be clear on that. I love being the mother (and teacher!) for my beautiful children. But I think that God doesn't just want us to sit back and take a backseat role to whatever our husband is called to do. I think that in this one brief mention in 1 Corinthians, that God is telling is that we are a team, that whatever my husband is called to do, I am too, and that I should not be afraid to be bold. Just as God is the head of Christ, my husband is the head of me. We are two parts of a team, a three member team of husband, wife and God. We each have a special and meaningful place in our relationship with God, but neither one of us is more important than the other. Jesus is not more important than the Holy Spirit, and vice versa. In the same way, my husband is not more important than me. Different, yes, but together, we can do amazing things for the Kingdom of Heaven.

And with that, I'm not sure I'm going to be blogging the next few days. I may try, I may not. But tonight we kick off a conference and will be spending lots of time in His Presence. We're really looking forward to it, but there won't be much time for anything else. So we'll see how things go over the next few days. Worse comes to worse, I'll take a little break and be back Monday morning.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Warfare Wednesday!

"but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.

20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!" Psalm 66:19-20

This week, let's continue to pray for President Obama (as we probably will every week). Let's pray for him and his family as they are searching for a church to attend regularly. You can imagine that might be a difficult task, given the security necessary for the President of the United States to simply attend church. May God guide them to the church He has for them. This week President Obama is also headed to Mexico to visit with Mexican president, Felipe Calderon. Let us pray for a successful meeting between these two leaders, and for continued safety for both of them. For more Presidential prayer needs, be sure to check out and sign up for the Presidential Prayer Team.

In addition this week, I'd also like to pray for our US Military Veterans. What do you think of when you hear the word veteran? I tend to think of a group of old gentlemen, talking about the "good ole days" to be honest. This past weekend I learned that's not exactly an accurate picture of a US Veteran. A Veteran is anyone who has served in our military for a time and has returned to civilian life for one reason or another, and surprising to me, it's not as easy of a transition as one would think. You would think that after serving in a rigorous military for a time that returning to what is perceived as normal life would be welcome and wonderful, and that's just not the case. So many veterans are struggling with not being in the military anymore-even years after their discharge. Let us pray for this group of brave men and women, let us pray for peace and health and joy in their lives. I thank God for their willingness to sacrifice their lives to keep my children free and safe. In return for their sacrifice, may God bless them and fill them with His love and His peace.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is Punctuality A Godly Trait?

"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." Colossians 4:5 (KJV)

Once upon a time, we were the family who was late for everything. And this was before we had kids! Here is what an evening looked like for Andy and I. We would have plans to meet someone somewhere at 6:30. We would both be home from work by 4:00 or so, have a bite to eat, look at the clock, get ourselves ready for going out and then sit and do nothing. Truly. We would sit around, watch the clock tick, debate whether or not we should go a little early, and then when we had about five minutes before it was time to leave, we would get caught up in doing something. Quickly doing dishes, throwing in a load of laundry, or flipping through the channels, seeing if there was anything we needed to record. Inevitably, we would end up dashing out the door at 6:35 with a ten minute drive in front of us, only to arrive at our destination 15 minutes late. And the whole time we were driving, we would be tense with each other because we were late. And why were we late? Simply because we were being poor stewards of our time.

Most often, people didn't mind that we were late, but over time, when kids came into the picture, we really had to start being better prepared to go places. After the first few times we went somewhere without a fully stocked diaper bag, we started learning to prepare to get ready earlier. It took some time, that's for sure. But now, we're becomes such so caught up in being ready to go early that it's natural for the whole family. In fact, a few weeks ago we all were ready a full 15 minutes early on a Sunday morning, so we left and went to church, and arrived a full 30 minutes before service was to start. Lol. We were practically the first ones in the building. And while we were laughing about it, I couldn't help but think how things have changed, and I had to thank God for the change in attitude and the willingness to be prepared.

So why is punctuality a Godly trait? Well, I happen to think that when we are punctual to a meeting, get-together, play-date, church service, we're telling the other people that we are gathering with that we value their time as much as our own. We honor God when we value and honor other people's commitment. In many instances, we all are sacrificing the same amount of time to get together. The very least we can do is show up on time. I think of our worship practices at church. When some people don't show up until 15 minutes after practice was supposed to begin, the whole group is behind. And some of us, who showed up 10 minutes early, are well aware that we just spent 25 minutes waiting when we could have been doing something productive. It's simply being respectful of those around us to be considerate of the clock.

"See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16

The devil would love nothing more than to see us disregard time. I'll tell you what, he loves those Sunday mornings when we decide to sleep a few minutes later. Why? Because then we're running around like crazy, getting kids ready, taking showers, finding all the shoes, jackets and Bibles, making sure the kids eat something for breakfast, and the whole time, we're wound up and irritated. Andy and I are usually pretty short with each other, the kids get scolded once or twice, and by the time we're all seated in the van on our way to church, we're all in a foul mood, and the last thing we want to do is go to church and be joyful and cheery. The simple solution here is obvious, set the alarm clock earlier. But I'll tell you, we really struggled with that! That devil wants us to love to sleep in the morning, and even ten minutes seemed like it was a big deal. But then we did that, we turned the clock back, and our Sunday's became easy as a breeze. Andy and I can take our time getting ready, and we each lend a hand in getting the kids ready, and get their things together for Kids Church, and by the time we get to church we are already feeling worshipful because we've had such a great morning together without the stress.

School days are the same way. Way back when Abigail first started kindergarten, I calculated carefully just how late we could sleep before getting ready for school. It didn't take me long to realize that I did not want to spend the next dozen years yelling at my daughter to hurry it up. So we got up earlier. Now she's ready for school a good half hour before it's time to go, but then she can just relax, read a little or watch some TV before school, and we're all much happier for it.

When we look at the time we have, and realize it is a gift from God, it makes us look at things a little differently. The time to be sitting at the computer reading headlines and checking e-mails is not when it is time to be heading out the door. We need to think like God would and be considerate and thoughtful and respectful of other people's commitment to the same time. Oh sure, there will always be days where a child has to dash to the bathroom just as it's time to leave, but that should be the exception, not the norm. As I spend my time and my days wanting to be more like Christ, I know that he would never have kept someone waiting.

"Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12

May God continue to work with us on this. May he continue to place the desire to be respectful of other people and their sacrifice of time. And may he continue to show us areas we need to improve.

"She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness. " Proverbs 31:27

I just know that watching over the affairs of her household includes wise time management. May God continue to work with me personally on this one, that I may not be idle with my time, and that I may use every minute to its full potential.

Monday, April 13, 2009

With Just One Word

I love this song. It says so much about the character of God...

"With just one word, were the heavens made."

"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day." Genesis 1: 3-8

I mean, think about it. All God did was speak. He spoke, and there was. The God who holds the stars in his hands also holds my heart. When I look up at night and see the sky filled with stars, I can't help but think of this song. It makes me feel so... small for one, and for number two, incredibly and profoundly blessed. How can the God who created all this care about me? Yet He does, immensely so.

I guess I'm in a mood today. We had a great Easter weekend, spending time with family, and we get to cap off the weekend by having a few days off of school. The kids slept well last night and are just being a happy pair today. I think we're going to have a great day, and at that, I am truly and wonderfully blessed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Seasoned With Salt: Part Two

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:5-6

I always enjoy reading references to food in the Bible, because I love to think about the many different ways it can be applied to everyday life. In this case, I've always enjoyed reading about salt in the Bible, because salt is essential to flavor in cooking. I posted about Seasoning With Salt last May, using the exact same scripture above. But this time, as I read these verses, a whole new salty idea came to me. Yes, salt is a flavor enhancer, a preservative, and necessary for life, actually. But there is an additional characteristic of salt that I think Paul is also talking about here.

Salt has the unique ability to make a person thirsty.

Think about that for just a minute. Think about how as a Christian, you walk through everyday life, seasoning your conversations with the love of God. Not only are you planting seeds of truth that could grow and bloom, but you are also adding a sprinkling of salt. Salt that is going to whet an appetite and make that person want more. That salt is going to leave a lasting impression, and eventually, that person is going to grow more and more thirsty for the Word of God. Eventually that thirst is going to take over and that unsaved person is going to be parched and in need of the refreshment that only Jesus can provide.

Isn't that an amazing thought!? That as I am entering into everyday conversations with people, something I may say (or not say for that matter) could eventually lead that person to God... it honestly makes me think a little more carefully about the things I could be saying. When someone talks about going through a rough time, do I take that opportunity to simply encourage them, or do I sprinkle a little salt in and let them know I'll be praying for them. Maybe that salt will make all the difference in the world.

So let's make a conscious effort to sprinkle in that salt as much as we can, for the world thirsts, and by leaving them a little trail of salt, maybe it will lead them straight to the one who can quench their thirst and shoulder all their burdens.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lessons From Snakes

"Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. 4When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." 5But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. 6The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god." Acts 28:3-6

I think that when reading these particular verses, it's important to notice Paul's reaction to the snake. I mean, what would you do? I know what I would do, I would scream bloody murder, run around like a crazy person and beg someone to remove the snake from my arm. Then I would panic about snake bite, possibly pass out... and on and on. But Paul didn't do any of those things. He simply shook the snake off his arm and continued about his business.

What a fantastic analogy for when the devil comes calling! What do we as Christians do when the devil starts attacking us with his mischief? We panic, we call everyone we know to start praying, we do everything we physically can to help ourselves through the situation. And then we focus on the situation ourselves, we pray about it, and we think about it so much it practically consumes us. What if, instead of dwelling on what the enemy is trying to do to us, we simply shake him off? What if we had so much confidence in God's protection over our lives that we were able to simply shake off whatever the devil was trying to do to us? My gosh, imagine what kind of testimony that would be to those around us!

I think about Andy and his lay-off time every year. Anyone who knew us three years ago would know when that moment of panic hits Andy. Even one year ago, I clearly recall having our friends over, and Andy just unloading on them, sharing his fears and doubts. Yet this year, you'd never even know that Andy spent nearly four months not working. He managed to keep himself busy, God provided any money and food we needed, and Andy continued to place his trust in the God who provides. Over four months, there was only one time where we actually emptied our bank account and were concerned about doing so- and the very next day, God provided. Every time that snake of doubt would try to creep in, Andy would shake it off and continue about his business- which happens to be His Father's business.

God is so wonderful, and I just love how every time I open my Bible, something leaps off the pages and talks to me. Thank you Lord for your ever-living Word.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Warfare Wednesday

"LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy." Habakkuk 3:2

This week I give thanks to God for the safe return of President Obama back to the United States. May the conversations to come about the economic summit be filled with Godly wisdom and understanding. I am also thankful that the President saw the need to make a surprise visit to the troops in Iraq. What a moral boost that has to be for the soldiers serving there. May his words of encouragement be just that, may those serving men and women be encouraged and reinvigorated, ready to continue their daily fight against terror and evil. May God bless their willingness to serve and reward them for their selflessness.

In addition this week, lets pray for the nation of Italy, who is recovering from a 6.2 earthquake. Many are dead, and many more are injured. With all the older architecture in Italy, you can imagine that it might not be the safest place to be experiencing an earthquake. Let us pray for a swift recovery of anyone yet missing, and a soothing peace to spread throughout the land. A peace that only can come from God, may all those with troubled hearts feel the embrace of the God who loves them so much. Let's pray for a fresh wave of strength and determination for workers who are still trying to rescue trapped citizens.

Let's also pray this week for the family unit as a whole. The concept of family, the idea of what a family is, is very much in danger in our world today. God designed the family unit to serve a purpose, and for so many people the idea of family just seems unnecessary. May society as a whole be enlightened as to the importance of family. And more importantly, may our First Family show the world what a family is all about. May God bless their time together, and make it rich and wonderful, and may they be an example to the rest of the nation. May we see a trend of a return to family burst forth and catch the country like a wildfire. Families are so precious, we need to pray for God's protection over the families we know and are a part of ourselves. Because when we see a return to family values, the family of God will grow stronger and stronger.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

No One In Need

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need." Acts 4:32-35

I read these verses yesterday and it just gave me so much encouragement. Just picture living in this scenario! Picture a life where absolutely everything you could possibly need is there when you need it, and that anyone who does need something, that need is immediately provided for. Imagine putting this into today's day and age. Picture a neighborhood, a standard small town block, let's say. Everyone has their own homes, their living spaces, and their yards. But the mentality is that what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine. Three lawn mowers are shared amongst the 15 houses, and no one complains about it. When one person needs to use one of the charcoal grills, another person is offering up some charcoal to use it. When it's fall, everyone helps rake everyone else's yards. The kids all play together, sharing all the time, and just safely going from yard to yard, where different adults keep an eye on them, with no concern about the interruption in their day. Perhaps this scenario is a little Utopian, but is it really? Because this is exactly what I picture when I read these verses.

I see no need. I see that when the pantries are starting to dwindle, God places the desire on some one's heart to give to those people. And because their needs were fully taken care of, the believers could focus their attentions on witnessing and serving their communities- they didn't have to work 40 hours a week to pay bills, because there were no bills. They were completely taken care of.

For so long, it seems there has always been so much need in the church. There are always families struggling to make ends meet and feed and clothe their families. Why? Within the church, it seems we need to do a better job of taking care of each other. When we're having a bountiful season, we should be sharing with those who have little. And even when we're in a lean season, there are always people who have less. I wonder if we changed our mentality about what we do have, if we would have an easier time sharing it? Would it be easier to give someone a few dollars for their gas tank if we stopped thinking about our dollars as our own? If we really thought about how God provides all we need, and in that regard, that makes all the money we have, God's money, wouldn't that make it easier to share? If I look in my pantry and think that all those foodstuffs belong to God, I have to think that it would be easier to just clean it out and take it to a food pantry.

So maybe I'm going to try to start thinking that way. I want to stop keeping so much stuff. Honestly, I don't need six sets of dishes, many of which are stored away in totes. I need one, maybe two, but the rest can go to a family who has maybe lost theirs in a house fire. We certainly don't need to keep packing away anything, if I really think about it. I even think about things like candle holders. I don't burn candles, because fire frightens my children, yet I keep hanging on to boxes and boxes of candles and candle holders. Why? Because someday I might use them? What if my candle holders would bring real joy to someone who maybe enjoys candles, but can't afford to buy some? I think that for the most part Andy and I have really culled down a lot of the things we keep and store, but I think that we can do better. There is no reason to hang onto stuff, just for the sake of hanging on to it. Sure, down the road, I might be able to burn candles without my children being afraid, but you know what? When it comes to that point, even then, I don't need twenty different holders and a case of candles. May God help us to be more aware of what we have that we really don't need to have. And may he use what he has given us to bring joy to others.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Guilty As Charged

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you." 1 Timothy 4:12-14

Our Pastor shared verse 14 here with us yesterday at church, and as soon as I read it, I knew that I was guilty of doing the very thing Timothy warned against. He says do not neglect your gift, and I think I've been doing just that. Last year, for the first time that I know of, I really discovered that God talks to me through dreams. I think he talks to many people through their dreams, they just don't realize it. But in my case, it became very obvious to me that God was telling me something in my dreams. I will never forget the very first dream I had, nor the second for that matter. But the first dream was interesting, specifically because it wasn't about me. I had a dream on a Saturday night, about a young man at our church at the time. I won't share the specific dream, but when I walked into church on Sunday, I went right up to that young man and told him how happy I was to see him, and then I proceeded to tell him about my dream. He kind of laughed it off, but the next week, his mother came up to me and told me that my dream really had an affect on him. What I had dreamed about, this young man's actions, was exactly how he was feeling, and he was able to re-think his situation, and find himself in a better position mentally.

I have to admit, that kind of creeped me out at first, that I would have a dream about someone and it would be important to them. And I also didn't think that this dream was anything from God, silly me, at the time I just thought it was a great coincidence. But then a few months later, I was intrigued by a book about dreams, so I picked it up. I learned so much about how God can and does talk to us in our dreams- but there was one constant, that most often, our dreams are really about us. If we have a dream about a neighbor committing murder, that's not necessarily a dream about the neighbor where we need to intervene or talk to them. The biggest thing I learned about dreams is that when you think you've had a dream from God, you need to think about all the pieces and parts, and what they mean to you. Many times, God will also give you a meaning right away, as was the case with the dream I linked to above. Mostly, anyways.

I was excited about learning more about dreams, but the more I tried to pay attention to what I was dreaming, the more frustrated I became. I'd have a dream about a specific place, and that place would hold no meaning or importance. And for a while, I wrote down some of my dreams and possible interpretations. But then, I started thinking that not all of my dreams mean something. That when I have a dream about going to the beach with my family, it was just that, a dream about going to the beach with my family. I have had some dreams about other people that struck me as important, and almost always, in those cases, I wake up praying seriously for that person. I still pray often for a pastor I vaguely know, because I had a dream about snakes in his church. But overall, I think I've become discouraged with the idea of dreaming. Even though I know that God talks to me through dreams, the fact that I was having so many with no idea what they meant was discouraging. And honestly, over the past few months, I've changed up my routine a little bit. Where before I would crawl into bed, talk to God a little, and ask him to show me some dreams, instead I've been crawling into bed tired, talking to God a little, but neglecting to ask for the dreams.

Last night though, I had another dream. I had a dream that I was walking in our backyard, where there was a lovely garden with lots of foliage. I was walking with Zander and Andy's parents, we were talking nicely, enjoying the garden, when suddenly, in the bushes there was a cougar. And the cougar started growling and eyeing us up. I saw him through the bushes, and the second I saw him, he leaped out, aiming for Zander. I placed myself between the cougar and my son, and the cougar jumped on me instead. He kind of gnawed on my arm, but didn't draw blood. He pulled back, and then went for my chest instead. I remember Andy's parents just watching in horror, not knowing what to do, and my determination that no matter what, this cougar was not going to get my son. At that moment, I felt the presence of God on me in my dream, and I commanded the cougar to sit in the name of Jesus. And it did. And then I commanded it to lie down, walk, sit again, much like talking to a dog, and it did all those things. Then we walked away from the cougar like nothing had happened.

It was strange, and I'm still not sure what it means, if much of anything. But I do know this. I am guilty of neglecting my gift. Yesterday at church someone shared with Andy a dream they'd had about our family. And while the dream was encouraging and exciting for us, when Andy shared that with me, I guess I felt a little chagrined. Why had I let the dreaming slide? Why have I stopped asking God for dreams? Maybe I'm a little afraid of what he might tell me, to be honest. But when I hear that someone else had a dream about us, and it really gave us a boost... well, what if I could provide the same boost for other people? I already had one dream one time about someone else- and by sharing it with him, it could have very well made an eternal difference to him. And so I apologize to God. If he wants to talk to me through dreams, I will listen, and I will follow His direction and share them if I need to share them, or treasure them in my heart if they need to be treasured.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Even The Plants Praise Him

"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

I've been starting seeds over the past month or so, in preparation for warm weather and gardening. It's been absolutely wonderful to look outside and see all the brown and the bare trees, and then look inside at all the green growing. I love watching my little vegetables and a few flowers spring up from the dirt- every time I'm amazed at the growing process, and how God put all of that "stuff" inside each and every seed. Yesterday, as I was watering some of my plants, I decided to take this picture:

It's a pepper plant, and just look at it! Doesn't it look like it's standing there, simply praising God? And most of my plants look like this! I really looked at this plant yesterday and it just made me laugh to think of all the plants in my house praising God, because I have a whole lot of plants growing here. And it made me think about myself and daily life, and how, more often than not, as I've been going about my business every day, I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of worship. And just what do I mean by that? Do I mean that I'm walking around singing all the time?

Well, sort of. I do walk around singing all the time, just not physically singing. Sometimes I'll squeak out a few verses, like when I'm very much alone. I almost always have songs in my head lately, it's like a virtual MP3 player in my head. But when I say that I'm in a perpetual state of worship, I mean with all of my self and body. I mean that when I do a task, I do it to the absolute best of my ability. I mean that when I walk outside the home, it's with a smile on my face, and I greet people that I run into. I mean that as I'm tending to sick children, that I think like Jesus, and they matter so much more than anything else I could possibly be working on or need to do. And as I'm doing all these things, as I'm going about my day, I'm thanking God for every single opportunity throughout my day.

Last night, I pulled out my quilt pieces that I've been forever working on, and it was just such a pleasure to handle the fabric and see some progress, that I was thanking God for the desire to make this quilt. And then that led me to asking God for the confidence to keep going with my first quilt, and increasing my ability, so that I could eventually make quilts for other people as a gift of love. When I bake homemade bread, I thank God for the ability to bake bread and for the desire in my heart to keep my family healthy and preservative free, and I'm always rewarded with wonderful fresh bread. As I've been starting my vegetable seeds, I've been thanking God over and over for His provision that has provided seeds and the tools necessary to start my early gardening. I'm also praying for a successful gardening year- not just for me but for the thousands of neighbors and countrymen who are planting a vegetable garden for the first time ever.

Even right now, I'm looking outside and there's a small group of fat robins hopping around by the neighbor's house. They are just so fun to watch, and it's always amazing to watch God's creation at work or play. And I think that the way these robins are skittering about they must be having a great day, and I'm thankful that the robins have returned, first of all, and I'm also thankful that I get to just sit here with my cup of coffee and watch the robins.

And even more right now, Andy is on the phone, as I type this. He is on the phone with HIS BOSS. See my happy dance? The return to work is imminent, which fills me with as much joy as you can imagine. And I know it fills my husband with even more joy, because he's been eager to return to work and provide for his family to the best of his ability. So it's a fantastic day, and everything that has breath in our house will be praising the Lord today.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Son of Man

"He said to me, "Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you." 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me." Ezekiel 2:1-2

I was reading through the first few chapters of Ezekiel this morning. If you've never taken the time to just read Ezekiel, you really should, because the man was... well, the man was completely sold out for God. And I mean completely. I have no doubt that even in his day and age, the man was considered a bit nuts. But I'll tell you what, he had some serious conversations and time with God. I mean, Ezekiel was literally moved by God from one spot to another. He did everything God asked of him without hesitation, and he's really just fascinating to read about. I noticed something this morning though, that I don't know if I would have noticed if I wasn't also in the middle of the gospels with my daily Bible reading. In the book of Ezekiel, both God and angels sent from God call Ezekiel the "son of man". Many times in fact, he is referred to as the son of man.

"And he said to me, "Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. 11 Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says,' whether they listen or fail to listen." Ezekiel 3:10,11

Now fast forward several hundred years and see what Jesus has to say:

"For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. " Matthew 12:40

and this:

"But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." Matthew 9:6

God himself called Ezekiel the son of man, and Jesus described himself often throughout the gospels as the Son of Man. I just keep thinking about this, this morning, and I can't help but think that Ezekiel was just a man, a human being, just like you or I. And while Jesus was also the Son of God, before he was crucified and raised to life again, he was just a man as well. And then I read verses like this one, and I think, my goodness, all things really are possible!

"O unbelieving and perverse generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me." 18Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

20He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:17-20

And then as I'm thinking on this, and thinking about how many times Jesus points the way to how the impossible is actually possible, I'm also wondering what is the difference between Ezekiel and I. What is the difference between Paul and I. What is the difference between Daniel and I? Well, I find that answer right here in the book of Daniel.

"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. " Daniel 6:10

Every day, Daniel spent time with God. Three times a day in fact, he was praying and spending time with God. And I'll bet that the three times a day he spent in prayer was not a quick little prayer in passing. I'm going to bet that the three times a day he spent in prayer was closer to three hours at least. Daniel sacrificed much of the time he had every day to simply spend time talking to God. There lies the crux of the difference between myself and these men of God. They were willing to put in the time. The were willing to give up some of their precious hours of every day to spend time with God. I think of all the times that we hear about a person feeling like they're being called to ministry or maybe they're willing to be a missionary and go out into the world, but then you ask them about their time with God, and they give you a deer in the headlights look. I'm talking about something so much more than a daily devotion time- something much deeper and more committal than reading a chapter in my Bible and saying a quick prayer.

I'm certainly not saying that quick prayers and devotions are a bad thing, but this really causes me to think this morning. If I think that God is trying to get through to me about something... if I think that maybe God has some grander plans for my life, then maybe it's time that I give him some of that time that Daniel and Ezekiel and Jesus did. We are so caught up in the world of the clock, we always have this to do by this time, someplace to be by this time. What if, just for a time every day, I chose to just turn away from the clock and stop letting it tell me what to do. These days, time seems to be one of the most precious things we have. When all is said and done, and I get to heaven, do I want to hear from God how he had so many more plans for me, but that I chose to spend my time doing something else? How I chose to spend my evenings in front of the TV or the computer instead of just listening to Him?

The Bible is just so full of examples of men and women waiting on the Lord. Imagine how much brighter our world could be if even just a handful more of us would give the gift of time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Warfare Wednesday!

"Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.

17 I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.

18 If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;

19 but God has surely listened
and heard my voice in prayer.

20 Praise be to God,
who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me!" Psalm 66:16-20

This is an exciting week for Warfare Wednesday, because President Obama is taking part in his first summit this week! It officially begins tomorrow in London, with a reception taking place today at Buckingham Palace. There are plenty of protests and demonstrations being planned for this G-20 Summit, so first and foremost, let's do some interceding for safety for our president, and all the world leaders in attendance. They are meeting to discuss the global economy, and how to take steps towards economic recovery for all nations. Let's pray for wisdom for these world leaders, and an awakening to God's plans and desires for all mankind. They will be looking very closely at the current global economic crisis and trying to figure out exactly where the problems are, and how they can be avoided in the future. One of the goals of the G-20 is to provide a plan for a complete recovery across the globe. Let's pray that God will fit into the equation while these leaders meet, that any plans created will be pleasing to God, and that God will uniquely touch each individual in attendance.

Today we are also going to pray for the brave men and women serving in our military. Just yesterday a suicide bomber attacked in Mosul, Iraq, killing at least seven people. In recent weeks, the suicide bombings have greatly increased in Iraq. Let us pray for safety and divine protection for the men and women serving in the military. Let us also continue to pray for God to bring peace to the Iraqi people, and peace to the Mid-East. With God, all things are possible.

For other Presidential prayer concerns, or to sign up for the Presidential Prayer Team, check out their website for more details.