Wednesday, June 30, 2010
This week I am praying for peace and wisdom in the United States government. This week, hearings are being held for the confirmation of Elena Kagen as Supreme Court Justice. Historically, these hearings could get divisive, and I just pray that the men and women sitting in on the hearings will keep things peaceful and will ask the right questions- and that above all, God's will would be done in these matters.
I am also praying for God to intervene with Hurricane Alex. I pray that He would weaken the storm so it would not cause any destruction to the Texan and Mexican coasts where it is headed. May God show grace and mercy to the people of that area. May God also protect the oil spill workers who are working day and night in that region to try and clean up the oil. This past Sunday, the states most affected by the oil spill called for a statewide day of prayer. Seeing the different proclamations by the governors was amazing- and brought tears to my eyes. I have faith that God will intervene in a mighty way to clean up this oil, and I am looking forward to seeing it in action. It is my prayer that the world will know that our country bowed its knees to God and that God will get the glory for the miracle that is about to happen in the gulf.
And then I have something... different to pray for this morning. I keep reading news reports and predictions over and over about how the cost of living in our country is just going to keep going up. I want to pray that these predictions will stop. All these things do is cause fear in people who can't afford an increase in living. And fear is not from God. I pray that the predictions coming out will be positive, and will not cause the people to fear for their future. That as they look at the negative predictions, they will reject them, and they will turn to God to supply ALL their needs.
That's really what our country needs. We need to stop turning to man for all the answers- we need to stop placing our faith in human beings to change things for the better. Instead, we need to turn to God, because God IS our supply. He IS all the answers we could possibly needs. He loves this country! He has loved this country from its very beginnings, when men and women came to this land in search of a home where they were able to worship God as they saw fit- and not as a tyrant king saw fit. The way I worship God may not be the same way my neighbor worships God- and that is the most beautiful thing about this country. Regardless of the faith and the manner, every person is able to worship the One and Only True God in whatever way they want to. May the citizens of our country see this. Instead of fighting with each other- instead of fighting with other faiths, trying to declare ours the best, may we instead embrace our differences and rejoice in the fact that we are really working together. Together we can worship and praise God and bring healing to our land.
"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19
If God will meet my needs and the needs of my family- God can meet the needs of an entire nation- we just need to ask Him for it.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
When I saw this verse this morning, it did a few things to me all at once. First, I kind of shook my head and thought, of course that's the verse this morning. Then I read it again and that first part really sunk in- The Lord WILL fulfill his purpose for me- and that just seemed to sink in and give me a little boost this morning.
What made me laugh was that I had a really vibrant dream last night. Lately it seems I've had a lot of rapid fire dreaming. I vaguely remember them in the morning- but it's been a while since I had one like this. The dream was about houses. We were living in our new house, but while we were living there, we knew it was temporary while we were waiting for our real house to be ready for us. The day was coming close, and while the biggest part of me was not happy because we had to move again, I was so excited to explore our new house. It was so big! There were three floors- with a bathroom on each floor- and so many rooms and spaces. There were so many extra rooms that we were thinking of rooms in terms of what we'd do in them. There was a sewing room and a craft room and a school room and a library room- so much space. The kitchen space was also massive, and had an extra kitchen space next to it. And what I remember about the dream was that I'd posted on my Facebook wall to all our friends that moving day was coming- that the day was the 13th, and we were really hoping to have a lot of help.
When I woke up, my first thought was that I really hope that was not a dream about physical things, because I would really loathe the idea of moving. There's a reason it takes us so long to decide to move from place to place. There's nothing fun about it- we hate the process. But then the more I thought about this dream, the more I thought that moving to a new house- a new space signifies a great change. Could there be a great change coming to me or my family of a spiritual significance? That could very well be. See, the last few days, I've been a little extra reflective. God's brought us to where we are for a reason, and I've been gently asking God to show me what that is. Oh, I know He blessed us mightily by giving us a home in the very city we wanted to be in- and we're so in love with our new home and our new city. But I don't think that God put us here just to make us happy. Oh, we'll take the happiness and the joy, but what is our purpose here? That's what I've been asking.
And then I have this dream about change possibly coming and then I see this verse that says that God will fulfill his purpose for me, and all I can do is nod my head and say "Okay God. Bring it on."
I've been thinking a lot over the last few weeks about my purpose. I just wonder sometimes if I do enough. Is it enough that I'm spending every waking moment with my children? Guiding them and molding them and helping them to learn to become lovers of God? Is it enough that I spend my days attempting to be some kind of domestic diva- baking, cooking, sewing, gardening, learning to do as much with my own two hands as I possibly can? I just wonder sometimes- and I do try really hard to not compare myself to others, but sometimes, when you talk with other people and they go on and on about all the places they volunteer or all the ways they try and serve at church, and it almost makes me wonder if I'm doing enough. Almost. Because I know that when God gives my heart something new to pursue, I'll pursue it. And I could get more involved and do more within the church body too- but I kind of think that my purpose is not so much to get more involved within the body- as I should be doing stuff out of the body.
This is where I've had a bit of a challenge on my part. Because just how does one do that? well, you start with what you know and what you do. When I go grocery shopping, instead of getting annoyed with the slow cashier or slow people in front of me in line- I exhibit my patience, and I am friendly with the cashier and the people around me. When I'm actually shopping, when that short person can't reach the things on the top shelf, I happily get their item for them. Hey- being all food-centric, I've struck up many a conversation about a particular ingredient or vegetable, encouraging other people to cook away. When we go to swimming lessons, I see the other parents getting frustrated with their kids, and I make it a point to not do so with mine. I encourage them and cheer for them with every small victory. And I don't walk past other people like they are vapor. A simple smile may just encourage someone that day. When we're at dance classes and I hear other people complaining, I actually make it a point to not complain, to point out the good things and try to be encouraging.
I know to not speak negatively about anyone or anything, so that's where I start. I simply don't. And I know how to be friendly and how to smile- and that's where I start. It may not be much, but you know, I can't help but think that someday, one of those moms is just going to need to talk to someone, and they are going to remember me, sitting there being all positive, and they are going to wonder why that is. I have two purposes right now at this point in my life. One purpose is to raise my children in the best way I possibly can. And the second purpose is to take Jesus with me as I go about my day. I don't have to do anything special to fulfill that purpose- I don't have to spend my days volunteering and packing every minute with activities- I just need to have Jesus with me at all times. When I take my kids for a walk to the park, we take Jesus with us, and maybe a door will open up while we are there to share Him with someone else. That's purpose.
It could very well be that in the weeks, days and months ahead, my purpose will change or shift. But when it does, God will give me the sight to see where my purpose has changed, and He will give me the tools needed to accept that change and to ride with it. God doesn't just send us off to do a task without giving us what we need to accomplish the task in the first place. In my dream I had, we were very excited about this new house we were moving to- we were very excited about the change. And in the real world, I can feel myself getting excited at the thought of change. I'm looking forward to seeing what He has in store for us, and I pray that He will prepare us properly to accept that change when it does happen.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Boy, it sure seems like God is slow sometimes, doesn't it! To us, to our earthly ways of thinking, everything revolves around time. Everything! We are slave to a clock most of the time, and that's one thing that most weeks, I try really hard to not be. There are, of course, exceptions. Andy has to be at work at a certain time. Swim Lessons and Dance Classes have a start time. Church has a start time, and we all have to yield to those, but what about everything else in between? I've really been trying really hard to just let my days happen without focusing on time. Do you know how hard that is sometimes? The clock says it's noon, so it must be lunch time. That one in particular, we've been trying to make much more flexible. Are we actually hungry? No? Then we wait until our bodies tell us it's lunch time. What time do we get up in the morning? We wake when our eyes open up and see light, and we feel refreshed. Some days that's before seven in the morning. But some days it's closer to 8:30. Did you know our bodies are designed to be awake when it's light out and not be a slave to a clock?
I love reading this verse and seeing the reminder that God is not slow on his promises. It was last summer at this time that Andy and I made the big decision to move our family. We were certain the idea came from God, and at that point, we had to trust Him and then we had to wait. It sure seemed like God was awfully slow in providing the place for us to move to. In human time, we waited for nine months- that's as long as it takes a baby to develop and be born! Yet in God's eyes, He was not slow at all, His timing was, in fact, perfect. God's timing is always perfect. To us, He seems slow, and sometimes in my mind, I think about how God doesn't see the clocks and the calendars we see, and that can be frustrating to me, but then I know that He knows all, and He will meet our needs when we need them met. And He does every single time.
In particular though, this verse today is discussing God's promise to send Jesus back to earth to gather up His followers. It sure seems as if God's been slow on that one, doesn't it! This is an event that has been waited on for thousands of years! Yet to God, time is nothing. He does not measure time the same way we do. This is good news for us- and for all of mankind. Because what God is waiting for is for every single person on earth to have the opportunity to know Him and to choose to spend eternity with Him. He loves man so much that He is that patient. He will wait for the perfect moment- for the moment when every single person on the planet has heard the Good News and has had the opportunity to make the choice to love God. That's what He is waiting for.
I think of all the books and movies and stories I've read over the years about how the "end times" is going to be so horrible and terrible for everyone, and I just can't help but think that most of those are completely wrong in their assessment. If the moment when Jesus returns is dependant on every soul being able to make that choice, it seems to me that the "end times" will have to involve one heck of a global revival in order to make that possible. I think that instead of great evil overtaking the earth, as it's been talked about for years, that there will be a time of great light and joy overtaking the earth. I think we are going to be having one huge Jesus party here on the earth and then God's going to look down and say "Okay, Son, they're ready. Go get 'em." That's what God's waiting for. He's waiting for our hearts to be synched up with His.
God is patient. He isn't slow, and He isn't bound by the clock or the calendar. But He sure does hold to His promises. And you can be sure that when God tells you to do something, He will provide whatever you need to do that something. Whether that be finances, material goods, or even a boost in your spirit to help you tackle a challenge- God provides. It's just that we see things on our human level- boxed in by time and calendar, and we sometimes can let that get to us. Don't. Instead of focusing on those deadlines, focus on Him. Thank Him for His provision before He even provides it- God loves it when we do that.
Friday, June 25, 2010
I think we all have those days. Those days where we go about doing our thing, but the whole time our Bible sits over there on the shelf- unused. As a mom, I often have those days where I finally get a moment to just sit for a rest, and I really have an internal struggle. Do I pick up the novel I've been reading- or do I pick up my Bible and see what God has to say to me that day? Sometimes I'll even come up with a compromise. I'll flip open to the Psalms and tell myself that I will just read a few Psalms, and then I can read my book. That way, I don't feel bad about skipping the Bible reading altogether.
But you know, when we go through those times where we are not reading our Bible as much, I can't help but think about what God thinks of that.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." John 10:27 (NKJV)
I can't tell you how many times over the years we've gotten into discussions with one person or another about how we know we're hearing God's direction for our lives- and not the voice of the enemy trying to deceive us. The plain fact of the matter is that if you are spending time daily in your Word- you are learning to hear God's voice. It says right there that His sheep know His voice. We are His sheep, and when we spend time reading our Bibles, we are getting more and more in tune with knowing when we are hearing His voice- and when we are not.
That right there is a great reason to keep ourselves in a routine of sorts digging into God's Word, but I know every person goes through that period of time when they just aren't spending as much time in their Bible. It happens. It can happen for extended periods of time. I know when I have those periods, I will walk past my Bible, look at it, KNOW that I should pause and pick it up, but I don't. I just kind of shrug it off. But then I read the verse I started with today from Jeremiah, and it's kind of like, yikes!
"Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?" declares the LORD. "Do not I fill heaven and earth?" declares the LORD." Jeremiah 23:24
Those moments where I choose not to read my Bible- God knows it instantly. He does! I can't just dismiss my Bible without God knowing that I'm doing that very thing, and then that makes me think about the dynamic of my relationship with God- that of a Father and a daughter. Now it seems even worse to me. As a parent, I can think on my relationship with my kids, and what it would feel like to have my child walk past me every day for weeks on end and choose not to talk to me. Imagine what it would be like, if day after day, my child walked past me and raised up a hand and looked the other way- not interested in interaction or conversation. I imagine I would feel a bit like dirt.
I suspect that feeling is only a small portion of what God feels when we choose to ignore Him. Because in my human scenario, I'm just wanting to talk to my child. Now imagine that day after day, when they walk past me, I'm sitting there, waiting for them to talk to me because I have a million dollars to give to them. I have something awesome to give them, but first they need to talk to me. Now, I'm not saying that God has a million dollars for each of us, but I am saying that God has so much treasure to share with us in His Word, and when we choose to walk past it or ignore His beckon call, He gets a little sadder as each day passes- knowing that when we do decide to Hear, we will be rewarded well beyond what we can imagine. Think about that. All those rough days we have- those seem to be the days when I feel like reading my Bible the least. My mind is spinning in a thousand different directions and the last thing I want is to try and dissect scripture. But what if the very page He would have me turn to is the very word that I need to remedy my rough patch?
We cannot hide from Him! The best thing about that is that He is always going to be our Father, and He is always going to love us. He sees us when we walk past that Bible day after day. He sees us when we dismiss the very words He wants to encourage us with, and yet He still loves us all the time anyway. The more we spend time in His Word, the more we'll know and understand His voice. And that right there is incentive enough to stop what I'm doing and take a few minutes out of my day to see what my Father has to say to me. It's worth every minute.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5
The mind is a very powerful thing. Did you ever read this verse in Philippians and simply wonder why Paul was telling his friends this? Why did he just stick this tidbit in one of his letters about thinking on this list of positive things? I think it's because Paul knew something about the human mind. When we wake up in the morning and think about how the day ahead of us is not going to be good, or is going to be rough- we're setting our thoughts in the wrong direction right off the bat. Even if we know our day is going to bring trials, we should set our thoughts higher- we should wake up and tell our selves that it's going to be a great day. And then keep repeating that- maybe our mind will start to believe it, and our day won't be as much of a trial as we had anticipated.
Paul also tells the Corinthians to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. That is quite the statement! Think of all those random thoughts we have throughout the day- how many of those would Jesus be proud of? Those thoughts that you had toward that driver who cut you off... next time, capture that thought before it goes anywhere. Start training yourself to say a quick prayer for other drivers' safety instead of thinking bad thoughts about them.
Negative thoughts can affect out health and physical well-being. Let me give you a clear-cut example. I used to suffer with migraines every once in a while- and I found out that many of them were food triggered, so I started watching more closely what I ate. Well, standard procedure for me for a migraine was that I could feel it coming on. As quickly as I could I would take several painkillers, and get some caffeine into my system to try and stave it off. Then I would lie down and simply wait for it to take over- which it inevitably would. Then I would have to deal with a migraine for a day or so before it wore off and I could function normally again.
I can't tell you the last time I had a migraine- food induced or otherwise. In fact, I've started eating small amounts of the foods that gave me migraines in the first place. Why? Because I refuse to accept that eating bacon will give me a headache and cause me to throw up. Now, when I feel a migraine coming on, I do still take the painkillers, and the caffeine, but then I tell myself that it's just a little headache and it will go away soon. And then I continue to go about my day. I don't give up. I don't give in to the headache-turning-into a debilitating migraine. I've trained my mind to stop dwelling on the impending migraine, and I've turned my mind to the idea of rejecting them. So reject them I do, and I never suffer with a migraine anymore.
My mom was telling me the other day about a great-aunt who is 106 years old. The woman refuses to accept the fact that she is old and at deaths door. When people talk about all the diseases and ailments that come with aging, she tunes them out. She never accepted the fact that as she increased the years of her life, that it meant that she needed to succumb to aging calamities- things like arthritis, forgetfulness, and other diseases. Instead, she grabs hold of the idea that she is in perfect health and will live until the day that she is called home to be with Jesus. What a powerful testimony she is! Even when we turn on the TV these days, we see commercial after commercial touting products geared towards the aging. These commercials tell us that it is a certainty that we will lose bladder function, that we will have to watch our blood sugar, and that our joints will hurt and ache. Instead of accepting the reality that those commercials are telling us- we need to reject that reality and accept the reality that we are born again in Christ. And that when we became born again in Christ- that entitled us to the perfection that Jesus walked in while He was on earth.
Our thoughts can set the tone for the reality we live out. Paul knew this! Even our children can show us the power of positive thinking! Last week my kids started swimming lessons, and Zander kind of struggled for the first few days. He just didn't think that he could do the things that he was being asked to do. As the lessons went on, I could tell his teacher was getting frustrated, because Zander didn't even want to attempt some of the things- he would just wait until someone helped him out. My job was clear- I needed to encourage him and tell him that he could do these things- and I did so, every single day. And then the idea came up that we needed to take the kids to the pool just to play. So we did that, and when we got there, I told Zander that he should show Daddy all the tricks he could do in the pool. He insisted that he couldn't and I told him that he could- that he just needed practice. He kind of dismissed me and the idea, but a short while later, there he was, swimming. Swimming! And sticking his face in the water, and going under for 10 seconds at a time- I don't think I've ever seen Zander so proud of himself.
The next day when Zander got to swimming lessons, he showed his teacher all that he could do, and surprised everyone with the tenacity with which he tackled the things he is not proficient at yet. His mind wanted to tell him that swimming was too hard for him, that he would never learn to swim- but by flooding out those thoughts with positive thoughts, he finally got to the point where he believed those thoughts.
And that right there is the big lesson. I have an ankle that I broke many years ago. It gets sore a lot, and I've had it prayed for several times, and always after it's been prayed for it feels great for a while, and then the pain comes back. I could resign myself to the idea that I had a broken ankle that never healed right and I could be dealing with pain for the rest of my life, OR I could break those thoughts. And that's what I do. Every time my ankle flares up I tell myself that God gave me a new ankle and it doesn't hurt anymore. I keep walking or working or going up and down the stairs, ignoring the discomfort flaring from my leg- and the whole time I'm telling myself that I am a NEW creation in Christ Jesus, and I will not accept a bum leg. And someday, I have complete confidence that my thoughts and my ankle will line up and I will not have pain anymore- because God did take care of me and give me a new ankle. But the devil wants me to reject that new ankle. The devil wants me to dwell on the pain and the discomfort, instead of the freedom that is just on the other side of those thoughts.
Think happy thoughts. A mantra used in a children's story can serve us well all through our lives if we just heed the advice and guard our thoughts.
"A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22
Our reality is that we are citizens of Heaven, and our thoughts should reflect that. We should remain cheerful and reject what the world says is going to happen to us. Just the other day I read that prognosticators are predicting that the cost of groceries is going to go up 20% in the next year. Why do they do that? Why do they predict doom and gloom? Sure, groceries may go up 20%, but what the news story missed was that income is predicted to increase at a rate of 22%- so while the physical price of that pound of beef may go up, our income will more than cover it. Instead of clinging and accepting the bad news we hear- we need to proclaim God's Goodness over all that we take in. We need to filter out what is bad and what is going to bring us down, and accept those things that are going to feed our thought life positively. Nothing cures an ailment like a cheerful heart.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10
This week, I want to pray for the very presence of God to dwell in Room 219. What is room 219? Room 219 is a room in the U.S. Capitol Building that has specifically been set aside as a prayer room. It as room where congressional representatives can go to pray and meditate and seek God's will at any time- often times just before a major decision needs to be made. There is also a weekly meeting that goes on there in room 219- a time for lawmakers to come together and pray and spend time lifting each other up and encouraging each other to seek God's Will in everything they do. Oh, if there was ever a time for our prayers to go to the capitol, the time is now. May God make Himself known to the men and women who frequent Room 219, and may the Spirit of God then spill out from Room 219 and pervade the other rooms in the Capitol. May it be like a wave that grows and grows and and spills over into their fellow lawmakers. Our country was founded on the very principles of "In God We Trust", and it is my prayer this morning that these men and women will see that our country still believes this. We still trust in God, and want the very presence of God to go with and guide our country's leaders.
And I pray that as our country returns to its roots, as we realize that God is the answer, I pray that we will be an example to the world around us. That as other countries see our faith in God on display for all to see, they too, will submit to God's Will and will add their light to the world around them. Without God, we are all nothing.
Around the world today, I am praying for a peaceful day in Washington DC. The top commander in the US military for the war in Afghanistan is meeting with the president and other officials. I imagine that he probably has one of THE toughest jobs in the world, and today's meetings are not expected to go well. May the President and his advisers find themselves full of grace today. Only God knows who the best man for the job is, and I pray that Godly Wisdom will find its way into all the conversations today. May their words be filled with grace, mercy, and understanding. And may they be an example to the American people, and the world beyond to show how peaceful conversations are possible.
I also want to pray for mercy in China this morning. Every spring, China experiences flooding of their major rivers and waterways, but this year they have been especially bad. The death toll is up to 211, and relief is not expected anytime soon. Sandbagging is going on constantly, and the people of China are fleeing as fast as they can. May God keep them safe during this time, and may He provide peace to these people as well. God can also cause the water to recede faster than normal, and I pray for that on behalf of the Chinese people. May the winds blow, and send the waters back from whence they came. Landslides are also a major concern, as they can wipe out small villages in one swoop. May God hold that land in place, and may He show mercy to these people. And through all this, may the Chinese people turn to God to rescue them- and may they see God's work in their land and praise Him and love Him with all their hearts.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore." Psalm 121:7-8
I love this Psalm. Go ahead, read it again, let it sink in a bit. See? Isn't that wonderful to read? it's such an encouragement- so many parts of it! Where does our help come from? Right there at the very beginning of this passage, it leaps out at us and tells us that when we need help with something- anything, we should look to the hills- look to the Holy Hills, because that's where our help comes from. Our help comes from the Lord every single time. This verse could have simply stopped there and said that our help comes from God, but look at how it takes that one step further and reminds us just who our God is. The Maker of all is where our help comes from. The ONE who created every speck of life on this planet- the one who designed the stars in the skies and knows them all by name is the one who will come to our rescue in our times of need.
Wow! That's so exciting to think about. And then we go on in these verses and it tells us that He will not let our foot slip- which means that we can have confidence. We can have confidence while we move forward in life, we can take each step forcefully and purposefully, and be sure that where our foot lands is exactly where God wants it to land. We don't have to worry about a mis-step or moving in the wrong direction. On top of that- the One who watches us does not slumber. God doesn't sleep or take a nap- He's always got His eye on us, so we don't need to worry about anything. He knows everything that goes around us. He watches us when we are awake, and He watches us when we sleep- and He knows the steps we will take before we take them, and He will help us make them with confidence.
The Lord watches over us- He is our shade at our right hand. I just love it when scripture uses good imagery to tell us something about God. He is our shade. Think of a hot summer day, where the sun is just beating down on you all the time, and you are growing weary because of it. Then you find a shady spot and decide to rest there for a minute- oh, that shade feels so good! It's a relief on those hot summer days. It cools you down and gives you the time to rejuvenate and feel refreshed. God is our shade! Not only that though, He is the shade at our right hand, which means it's right there, always ready to be accessed. We don't have to go looking for Him, we don't have to spend hours searching for that perfect spot to rest- He is always right there, ready and waiting to be needed.
The Lord will keep us from all harm- He, Himself will personally watch over our lives. Not the use of the word "all" there. God will keep us from all harm. Again, we can have confidence in God as our protector to get us through whatever we may be facing. When we add that very last verse to that- there's another wow moment. He will watch over our comings and goings for all our days- but look there's just a little more there. Both now and forevermore- that means that we have God at our side always and forever. Not only is He with us now, while we're here on earth, but when our time here is done on earth, and we are promoted to the heavens, God will still be watching over us there.
When I think of that... that's just cool. Heaven is such an uncertainty for us- we have no idea what it's going to be like, or what to expect. But this is a little nugget of encouragement to tuck in our pocket- it's a little something to help us to not fear death, because the same God that is with us today, is the same God who will be with us when we die. God is not a God of fear, and I love that He gave us things like this chapter in the Bible to help encourage us in our daily walk. We have no reason to fear- because He is always with us. He is always ready to help us, and in fact, sees that need before we even do. I am so thankful this morning for this reminder of how wonderful our God truly is.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Last night I had a dream that I didn't think was significant in any way at all- and then I found this verse staring at me from the computer screen. Huh. I wonder if it was significant after all? I need to spend more time thinking about it, but the gist of the dream was that I was back in college. I remember that I was sitting at a table looking through a course catalog, making out my plan for the next year's classes. I only had two more classes to go before I had my degree, and I felt the thrill of writing those two courses down on my sheet of paper. Then my dream fast-forwarded a bit, and I remember feeling joy and a sense of accomplishment because I had completed those two courses and now held my degree.
The dream is strange at best to me. Because I never did finish college. I was literally one course away from my degree, and then I got the dream job with the opportunity to advance as far as I wanted, and the degree wasn't really necessary. Work got in the way of actually taking the one class I needed, and so I never took it. Time-wise, it's actually impossible for me to go back and get the degree, as it's been way too many years since I've been enrolled. And anyway, I have absolutely zero need for that degree in my life now. And I also don't see a need for it in the future either.
And yet, I do wonder about that dream. I don't really think it's telling me anything about going back to school and getting a degree- but I do think that it might be metaphorical, encouraging me to keep moving forward with what I've been learning about God. Back in the day, it was very easy for me to decide to not take that last class. I figured that if I needed the degree, I could always go back and take it at another time. But the things of God... do you know that while I can't go back to college and just pick up where I left off, that if I took a break from church and God, that I could pick up right where I left off?
But I think the thing that I need to focus on was the task of finishing the race. In my dream I finished the course requirements and received the degree I was working towards. It makes me think that if I keep moving forward with God, that there will be results- and in my dream I found joy with the results of the degree- how much more joy will there be for a real scenario with my Heavenly Father?
I'll admit that sometimes, I find myself wondering if it's worth it. Well, maybe not so much if living for God is worth it, but it's more that I think "who am I?" I am such a plain jane, and I live the basics- I am raising my children and trying to manage a household- what on earth could God want to use me for. As I read books written by great people of God, and even as I see other people and friends growing deeper in their relationships with God, I just wonder about my importance.
I think that those days when I have those thoughts, that maybe those are thoughts being dropped in by the devil, because when I think about that, when I think about me just being plain old me, and I feel unimportant, than some of the things in my day slide. True- even the housework slides sometime, because its kind of like, hey- I could do this anytime, and I can just sit around and do whatever I want today. But more importantly, some of the other things slide- my prayer time and my Bible reading specifically. And if I'm not reading my Bible each and every day, I'm not filling my mind with the thoughts that God would have for me.
And this morning, I think that God is telling me that it's worth finishing the race. It's worth it to keep moving forward, to keep plugging away and taking that extra time each and every day. It's worth it to turn the page and see what He has next for me- because there will be great joy there. I also think that there is a lesson here for me this morning that keeps coming back to me and I have to keep reminding myself of. It's not about me. Life is not about me at all- it's about Him. It's about doing the best that I can to live for Him each and every day. And sometimes, to live my absolute best for Him, it simply means being the best mom and housewife that I can be. I don't need to be important in man's eye- or even in my own eye. Because in God's eyes, I am important to Him.
"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the LORD,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, "The LORD is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him." Psalm 92:12-15
I will flourish right where I am planted, and I will keep moving forward, because this race is so worth finishing. I will not give up partway through, and I will see it through to the very end of my days.
Friday, June 18, 2010
As I read this verse this morning, it gave me a little bit of a laugh because I could totally see this happening with Abigail. I could close my eyes and think about her rolling her eyes and getting completely frustrated and irritated with her daddy.
But that then made me think about how raising children is such a delicate balance of behavior. It really is. I think about this past Monday, the day after a very busy and long weekend. Oh, were both kids crabby and obviously in need of a good nights sleep. Normally, were they to behave as they did much of the day, there would have been consequences, they would have lost a privilege, or spent some time alone in their bedrooms. But because I knew the reason for their behavior, I just let the whole day slide. I encouraged them a few times to not be short with each other- to understand that they were just short on sleep- but otherwise, I just let them be how they were going to be.
Because I didn't want to exasperate my children. Yes, this verse is directed to fathers, specifically, but since fathers and mothers are a team, I think I can take this verse to heart as well. If I had come down hard on the kids on Monday, it just would have exasperated them and made them even more cranky and annoyed. Annoyed with me, annoyed with each other, and just annoyed with the day in general. Instead, I followed the second direction in this verse- bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord. In this case, it was a day to show love, patience, and compassion, and I think by working around the crabbiness on those terms, it made the day seem so much better to them than it could have.
When I think about this verse this morning, it really is a good reminder for us as parents- but also a good reminder when dealing with people in general. When we're dealing with other people in a situation, we should never get to the point where they become exasperated- which also means annoyed, irritated and angry. If we were to see the exasperation coming on, it would be a sign to us to change tactics- to think more like Jesus and pull on the patience, understanding and compassion that we know is inside of us somewhere. Instead of making someone else angry with us, we should show them what the love of Jesus looks like and just love them while we try to give instruction or to help them with an issue.
I know that my kids are the better for it. The thing is, when you're dealing with children, there is almost always a root reason for bad behavior. Kids are not naughty to just be naughty- and this is where I really think that so many people maybe miss the mark, because they get so focused on doling out that punishment that they miss the reason for the bad behavior in the first place. When you work with patience and love, and use the Holy Spirit to help you guide your decision making process at that point in time, sometimes He can help you to see the truth of the situation, and you can correct the behavior first- you can see the root cause, address that, and then maybe work out a suitable punishment to fit the scenario.
With Father's Day upon us this weekend in America, this verse will no doubt be seen many times over the next few days, and while it is indeed a good reminder for Dads, I think it is also a wonderful reminder for those of us who aren't. So happy Father's Day weekend to all, may you be blessed this weekend as you spend time with family, friends, and fathers.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Oops! This morning as I woke up, wondering what I was going to blog about this morning, several different ideas ran through my head. Biggest on my mind though is the fact that for the first day in about a week we have abundant sunshine outside. What a wonderful thing God created! And it's amazing how a little sun can completely change your outlook on a day or change your mood.
But then I looked at the calendar and thought about how it's Thursday, and what would be good to blog about for a Thursday, and then it struck me. I completely forgot my Warfare Wednesday post yesterday! Not blogging on Monday because we had company completely messed me up, and forgot about the shortened week. One part of me thought about just skipping it this week- but wouldn't the enemy really like that? To have me take a break from remembering to pray for the president? So we will pray, and today will be as Wednesday usually is...
I have no doubt that President Obama is feeling the heat about the oil spill, and this morning I just would like to pray for God to intervene and give him Godly wisdom as to what should be done about the spill. God has the answers, and the president can talk to as many advisers as he wants, but only God can give him the answers he really needs to contain and clean up the spill. I also want to pray for wisdom for President Obama regarding the border with Mexico. Violence has increased with the drug cartels and there just needs to be a good way to make the border area safe AND allow immigrants to come into the country legally. I am praying for wisdom for the President as decisions are made, and I pray for safety for those along the border. May the issue of drugs be stopped as well...
While we're praying for the issues along the Mexican border, let's also add prayers for the Mexican president Felipe Calderon. May he turn to God for wisdom in dealing with the drug cartels- and may God bless him for his dedication to tackling the war on drugs. May our countries find a way to work together to eliminate the drug lords and may those who have succumbed to the allure of drugs be released from their addictions. May they find themselves addicted to God instead.
And since we're praying this morning for a neighbor country, let's look the other direction and pray towards the north. Let's also pray this morning for the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Our three countries are side-by-side, and while this drug war in Mexico is far to the south, any attempt to eliminate the drug running is a great thing for Canada as well. In just over a week, Canada is going to be hosting summits for world leaders. I am praying for safety for the leaders of the world while they are traveling to and from Canada, and I also pray that God would give Prime Minister Harper wisdom when dealing with these world leaders. May God play a key role in any decisions being made by these world representatives. And may He bless them for their service to their respective countries.
I think that with God's help, our three countries can work together in ways that were never thought possible before. May God give each of these men wisdom, and may He make Himself real in each and every one of their lives.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
For they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)
I seem to often hear the quote "blessed are the hungry"- I think it's often used in charitable situations, and maybe that's why I hear it so often. But I've been thinking on that statement for a while, and this morning I spent some time looking up this verse in different translations to see if any of them actually use the literal word hungry- and I was surprised that none of them do. Every single translation says blessed are those who hunger for righteousness. This is also one of those instances where I really liked what the Amplified version adds to the verse.
Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!" Matthew 5:6 (AMP)
So even though this verse is used often in the context of a person literally being hungry and thirsty- it's clearly not a physical need for food and nourishment that Jesus is talking about. He's talking about our spirits. He's talking about our spirit's hunger and thirst, because the spirit that is a part of us doesn't need physical sustenance, it needs more of God. Our souls hunger for more of God- and I believe that that hunger will not truly go away until we are spending eternity in His Presence. Hunger. So often we try to fill that hunger with things of this world. We try to learn a new hobby, we take new classes to learn a new skill- maybe even change careers, trying to satisfy this hunger, when all we really need to do to take steps to fill this empty space is turn to God. You hear it all the time- the rich and wealthy who can buy anything in the world, but still feel like they're missing something. What they are missing is the fact that their soul is hungry for God!
As I read this verse again in the Amplified version, do you know what I see? I see a guarantee. I see a certain result, if we allow our hunger and our thirst for more of God to take us to that place where we get more. I see that it says that we will be satisfied- and not just satisfied a little bit, but completely. Like Thanksgiving dinner satisfied, complete with appetizers and dessert.
Now lets think about this a minute, because Jesus did specifically use the words hunger and thirst. He didn't just say "blessed are those who want or desire more of God", he specifically said "blessed are those who hunger and thirst". When I think on that, think on the use of those words, it gives me a clue as to what He may have really meant when He said that. When we are physically hungry or physically thirsty, we have to take action. We have to physically take food or drink, put it to our mouths and then we have to go through the process of eating it. We must chew, and swallow, and then our bodies take over to digest. We cannot just sit there and look at a piece of meat and will it into our stomachs to satisfy us- we must take action and DO something to get that meat to where it will satisfy our hunger.
In the same way, we cannot just sit around, going about our day to day, wanting more of God without actually doing anything to get that more. We must spend time in our Word- we must spend time in prayer and reflection- and we must spend time worshiping and praising God. The act of corporate worship (church) can also definitely help get us in the mood to act on the desire for more of God. We need to take physical steps to get more of God- we need to take and eat- not food- but what He has for us.
"And he said to me, "Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel." 2 So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.
3 Then he said to me, "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it." So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth." Ezekiel 3:1-3
We cannot take in more of God without an action on our part. Just as we cannot eat a steak without action, we cannot receive more of God's righteousness without action. Sometimes, that action may simply be falling to our knees, or raising our hands towards heaven. Sometimes that action is opening up our Word and reading what He has for us. Sometimes the action may be a little more- sometimes I need to put in some really good, upbeat praise music and start dancing around with joy.
The greatest thing about this verse though is that it is a promise. If we will hunger and thirst for more of God- and take the action necessary to draw closer to that sustenance, we will be filled. We will find ourselves completely satisfied. God wants us to want more of Him. Jesus tells us that we are blessed, first of all, because of our hunger and our thirst for God. And then He tells us that we will be satisfied. Blessed are the hungry...
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Yesterday I took my kids to their first ever swimming lessons. We've never had a convenient opportunity to do so before, so when the opportunity arose, we leaped at the chance. I watched from several feet away as the swim instructor gave crazy-easy instructions and then the kids all followed along. What can I really say, but that as I watched my little boy conquer his fears and nervousness to at least try, my heart soared. I would watch Abigail proudly torpedo across the pool, and I just thought about how my kids are such treasures to me. And they are! Nearly every day I spend time just marveling at the wonderful people they truly are, and this morning as I think about these proud mommy moments I have, I realize exactly why it is that God created us the way we are.
When we become parents, when we care for that child with all our heart, and treasure them above all else, I truly think that we get a glimpse at the way God cares for His children. We get an idea of the pride that our Father has when He sees us overcome our fears, or when we learn to do something new. When I think about that... When I think that the feelings I have for my children pale in comparison to how God feels for me, my mind simply cannot process that. I would give my life for my children in an instant- without even a thought for myself- and God did that very thing for us. His Son, His only Son, part of Himself, was sacrificed for my benefit... How great is our God?!
"Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all." 1 Chronicles 29:11
I think that when we read verses like this in our Bibles, or sing them in song, we really don't understand the magnitude of what we are hearing or reading. Everything in heaven and earth belongs to God. Everything!
I think about when I am working in the garden or the yard, and I get something accomplished that I've been working hard at. I tend to view my work with pride- whether it be a newly planted garden, or a newly tended bed- free of weeds and neatened up just so. I see what I have accomplished and maybe I'll even show it off- like a proud parent showing off a new baby. But what have I really done? I've not done work in MY garden- I've spent time working in God's Garden, and He has blessed me with the ability to do what it is I have done. He has put those beautiful plants here on this earth and blessed me with the ability to know how to care for them properly. When my children do work like that, yes they are proud of their work, but more than that, what they really want is for Mommy or Daddy to be pleased with their work. I'm wondering a bit how my perspective on things might change if I were to approach it in that manner- in the way of a child.
Does the work I do please God? Do the things I do from day to day bring pleasure to God- is it pleasing to His eye? Does the way I go about my day cause my Father to swell with pride as He watches His treasured one go about her day? I suspect often times not. When I have those lazy days- or worse, those crabby days- what does God think of those?
My kids also had a crabby day yesterday. After a long weekend, they just were lacking rest and were short with each other- was I disappointed with them? Not really, I expected the crabbies. I expected that yesterday much of their behavior would simply need to be ignored, or treated with gentleness, so as not to rouse the bad attitudes that were not slumbering deeply. And as I think of that, as I think of the fact that as a mom, I understand when my kids have off days. I understand when they have had a lack of sleep and an excess of spent energy and they just need a day or two to relax and rejuvenate- and then I see that God understands too. He understands when we're burning the candle at both ends, and though He sees us when we are not at our best, He still loves us no matter what.
That is awesome to think on. I think that too often we focus on our failings, how maybe yesterday I could have just done a little more, or I could have done better. God knows that we are not perfect- He designed us this way after all! But He sees our hearts- He sees our intentions, and He understands when situations get even the best of us.
I just love thinking of God as a parent. There are so many thoughts that I have about my children that make me pause and reflect on how God views His children. A parent will always love their child. However far from grace they may fall- a parent's love will never, ever fail. That's exactly how God is. God's love for us will never cease- it is an everlasting love that will stay with us every moment of every day, and will last our whole lifetimes.
"But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children-" Psalm 103:17
Friday, June 11, 2010
What a great verse to turn on my computer and find this morning! I love reading those words- "Be still! And know that I am god!" They just soak straight into me and fill me with a soothing balm that just makes everything feel just right. That's perfect for this morning.
We're at the threshhold of what is one of our two busiest weekends of the year. Our two busiest weekends are a result of Abigail's love of dance- and also a result of my husbands abilities to work behind the stage. Over the years, as Abigail has gotten more and more involved in dance, we've become accustomed to these busy weekends. We just know that we won't have a life at all outside of dance and running around for a few days- and we're perfectly fine with that. As each year has passed, Andy has become more and more involved, and now if we were to step back and look at this weekend from an ourside perspective, it would look like sheer madness. And maybe it is sheer madness, but it's a weekend well worth experiencing. This year though, there has been an unexpected addition to the weekend to make it even more crazy, and leading up to this week, I admit, I was feeling the pressure of this weekend.
And yet, as the weekend has drawn closer and closer, as each day passed, I felt the opposite of what I was exepecting. I was expecting an increase in anxiety maybe- anxiousness to get the weekend over with. And now, well, now I just feel peace. I feel like the weekend is upon us, and whatever is going to go on this weekend is going to go on, and I am just going to settle in and ride the wave that is cresting behind me. It's going to be fun and exciting and when the wave settles, I'll be right back where I am now, in the midst of a peaceful setting.
"I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly." Psalm 85:8
This verse made me chuckle to myself a little bit- that end part about not returning to folly. Do you know what would be folly in the midst of busy times? It would be folly to let the whole situation bog me down. It would be folly to allow myself to become stressed and anxious. It would be folly to allow my spirit to be filled with unease and unrest. And so I will rest on God's promise right here- the promise of peace. God will provide everything we need this weekend- he will provide a wonderful time for our family, and when we have a few minutes to rest, they will be supernatural, blissful moments of rest. He will pick us up and stand us on that surfboard as we ride the wave- there will be no effort on our part, it will just come and we will ride in comfort and in ease.
"LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." Isaiah 26:12
When times are crazy- or they are going to be crazy, and we know it in advance, we have the assurance from our Bibles that it is God who establishes peace- and he can create that haven of peace for us right where we are. In the midst of the storm, we can find the greatest peace we've ever experienced- allowing us to just enjoy the life that we are in the midst of living. Ultimately though, as I'm thinking on this matter of peace, and thinking about Jesus- Jesus caused peace to exist in the midst of chaos.
"Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
26He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" Matthew 8:23-27
Jesus brought peace in the midst of a storm. He commanded the winds to stop and the waves to cease- and they did. The winds and the waves obeyed Jesus.
I just think that when we are caught up in a whirlwind of craziness- we bring it on ourselves when we end up stressed and anxious. When we approach a situation with stress and trepidation, we're just asking for the whirlwind of madness. But when we really look inside of ourselves and realize that the busy-ness is what we make of it, we can change our circumstances. Yes, we're still going to be crazy busy, but we can approach it with a pleasant and good attitude and prepare to enjoy instead of wishing to avoid.
The fact of the matter is that Jesus rebuked the storm. It stands to reason that if we, followers of Jesus, who have Jesus inside of us, can reach inside and really see that we have Jesus along with us for the ride, that we can rebuke our own storms. We can look at that crazy weekend in front of us and tell it to calm down, to be smooth sailing, and it will be so. So instead of being harried and anxious, we can thank Jesus for his example, and step into the busy time ahead with a smile on our face and a dance in our heart- because we have peace that passes all understanding flowing through our veins.
And when people look at us and ask us how it is that we can be so calm and relaxed in the midst of craziness, we have an opportunity to share the love of Christ with them. The secret is no secret at all- the secret is Jesus, inside of us, working through us to calm the storm and bring peace where there would appear to be none at all.
Heaven is HERE on earth- in us and through us. I'll leave you for this blissful, peaceful crazy busy weekend ahead with a really fun song that's been in my head a lot lately. Have a wonderfully blessed weekend- I will try to be back on Monday.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
This verse comes at the very end of Abraham's journey to sacrifice his son Isaac. As we all know, Abraham was told to sacrifice his son, and he went to do so, and just as he was about to do it, an angel of the Lord stopped him, and showed Abraham a ram caught in a nearby bush, and instead of sacrificing his son, Abraham sacrificed the ram. God provided for Abraham that day. As I'm writing this and thinking on this today, I'm thinking about that mountain. "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided." What do you need this morning? This week? This year?
Abraham obeyed God, plain and simple. God told him to sacrifice his only son- after God promised a multitude of descendants for Abraham. And Abraham obeyed fully- we may never know his actual thought processes here. Did he think God would raise Isaac from the dead? Did he think that God would stop him mid- process and provide the ram that he did? Did he think that God would provide another son to carry on the family line? No one will know until we can get to heaven and ask him, but the point is that he obeyed- regardless of the cost. He trusted and believed in God's promise to him that his descendants would number the stars, and he obeyed when God said to give up his one and only son. In his faithfulness to God, he went into the wilderness, and he met God on the mountain, and there, God provided for his needs.
The mountain is where God is calling each and every one of us to go. He wants to meet with us there on His Mountain- in that special place where it's just us and Him. Yet so many of us seem to fear going to the mountain- going to that secret place where we spend one on one time with God. And why is that? What is that fear? Well, I'll tell you what my fear is- my fear is that when Abraham went to the mountain, he was told to sacrifice his one and only son. If I were to go to that mountain- what would God ask me to sacrifice? What will I have to willingly surrender to God in order to gain that intimate relationship? That's what holds me back.
And yet... and yet I'm drawn to it. And yesterday as I flipped through my Bible, going to a completely different verse in Genesis, my Bible opened to this verse, and this verse today literally jumped off the page and drew me to it. On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. I just keep seeing that, and I keep hearing that repeated in my head. Then that makes me wonder- what will be provided? In Abraham's case, God provided a sacrifice and allowed him to keep his precious son. What would it be in my case?
When I was thinking on mountains, I also found these verses in Micah:
"In the last days
the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it. 2 Many nations will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths." Micah 4:1-2
That made me think of that old song sung many years ago. "I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord".
And then I started thinking about Abraham again. Was he glad as they journeyed toward that mountain? Was he afraid? Was there trepidation or sorrow? I think there is a key here about approaching the mountain of the Lord. I don't think God wants us to come to him out of reluctance, but out of a genuine desire to want more of Him. When we approach Him, it should be with gladness of heart, with joy, and with reverence. I think expectation as well.
Expectation? Well, it says right there in black and white that On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided. When we come to the mountain, when we come to that secret place where it's just us and God- we need to come with great expectations. At the very least, we need to expect that we will never be the same after our encounter with God. I bet Abraham was never the same after that experience- and for that matter, I bet Isaac was never the same either. Imagine that boy- imagine being tied up by your father, laid out on the bire, and realizing that YOU are to be the sacrifice to the Lord. And then God intervenes. Abraham and Isaac, from that moment forward were completely changed.
Expecting change from God is good- expecting that soul tie to the Lord is good. But I also expect that when my Bible says that On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided- that the word "it" can be replaced with just about anything. What is it you need? I asked that earlier- do you need healing? Do you know someone who needs a healing? Do you need provision of a home, a vehicle, or do you need provision of finances? Do you need a heart healed of hurt? Do you need to find the ability to forgive someone who trespassed against you? God wants to provide, but in order to provide, we need to go to the mountain. We need to purpose our hearts, leave everything behind- stay our minds to focus on him- and go to the mountain of the Lord. With an open heart and a heart full of joy and gladness, we can come to Him, meet Him on His Mountain, and He will provide what we need. Sometimes, all we need is rest- and He will provide that too.
"Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, his holy mountain." Psalm 48:1
Great is our God- and His mountain is Holy. It's time for us to meet Him there. There is no sacrifice that He will ask of us that will be too much for us.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
20 "Bring me a new bowl," he said, "and put salt in it." So they brought it to him.
21 Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, "This is what the LORD says: 'I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.' " 22 And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken."
2 Kings 2:19-22
God can heal the water in the ocean. God can fix the massive oil spill that every day is pumping thousands and thousands of gallons into the sea. I don't think it was any accident that I was led to these verses in the Bible today, because it's an example of God doing that very thing- of healing water of impurities that make it unfit for anything. Every day as I check in with the news it seems that more and more people are getting angry about the spill- and instead of getting angry and trying to place blame, I say that we need to turn to the only One who can fix the spill in the first place. Oh, just think about the example for the whole world should a miracle happen in the gulf! I was reading something yesterday where someone said that maybe you are the person God is waiting for to pray about the oil spill, and then He will intervene and do something about it. Maybe if enough of us ask, He will respond, and we can watch Him work in a mighty and wonderful way."if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
This oil spill could affect every single ocean on this earth. The way the currents and flows work in the water, there isn't a place on earth where the oil will not spread to and cause some kind of damage. Besides the obvious damage to the ecosystems in the ocean, there's the damage to the land along the way- the many beaches already closed because of oil are just one small example. Just think of what could happen if this oil spill, which is meant for harm, was used for good? We saw Elisha above adding salt to bad water to cleanse it along with the Word of the Lord. The ocean is already salt water, maybe all it needs is the Word of God to restore it and bring it back to good health. God can do it!
So this week, as we continue to pray for President Obama, Vice President Biden, and other governmental people as they come to mind, we pray for God's interference with the oil spill. God has the answers, and may we all turn to Him to find them.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
God is trying to tell me something. Actually, maybe trying isn't the right word there- God's been telling me something. It always becomes glaringly obvious to me when a verse pops up over and over- and sometimes in the most random of places. This is the verse that keeps showing up.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. " Jeremiah 29:13
I was thinking the other day about how God has just blessed us so much- how we are living in this wonderful house, and our children are so wonderful and full of joy. As I reflect back on the last few years and all He has done for us, I am just blown away by the obvious love He has shown us. And yet, at the same time, I've also been in a bit of a place of puzzlement, because it's like, what next? What am I supposed to seek God for next? It's like the last few years we've moved from request to request, always having something dangling out there that we're talking to God about, and now... Well, now there isn't anything, to be honest. I think that because we're in this place right now, I've been spending a little less time in my Bible and a little less time in prayer.
So this past Sunday I was thinking about this, while I was sitting in church and this verse came up, and I rolled it around a few times, and then thought about where I feel I am right now, and it was like a gentle question rolled through my brain. I kind of sat there and my thought to myself was that I suppose if there isn't anything in particular to talk to God about, I could always just ask for more of Him in my life. The gentle question that was put to me then was "isn't that enough?"
Yikes. Like a kid caught in the candy jar- here I am trying to figure out what it is I am supposed to be seeking God for, when the reality is simply that I should be seeking HIM for the sake of Him.
Think about that for a minute. It makes me think of Zander. There are days where it seems like he is always after something. He comes up to me and gives me a snuggle and then puts in his request for something- whether it be more video game time or something to eat. And as the day goes on, eventually, when he comes up to me and gives me a hug, I just cut to the chase and ask him what he wants- almost exasperated with him. 9 out of 10 times, it's at that point that he says nothing. He has come up to me and given me a snuggle just because he wanted to share a moment of love with his mommy. A hug is always, always sweeter when it is given just because it's a hug.
And I think God is the same way. Oh, He loves it when we come to Him with our requests and our needs- sometimes it's those very things that open up a dialogue and deepens the relationship a bit. But think about how much more thrilled God would be if we were to approach Him and just say "Okay God, I want more of you, " -and mean it. Instead of focusing on our present situation and the things going on around us, we can focus on Him for a change, just for the sake of focusing on Him.
It seems to me that this is a win-win opportunity, and I should grab hold of it and run with it, and so I intend to do it. I had planned for today to be a busy day. I would get some housework done in the morning- and then spend time in the garden today, but of course, it's raining this morning. So I can get my housework done, but I intend to do it while I talk to God. I won't have the distraction of trying to plan the rest of my day, and getting done quickly, I can just work, and spend time with Him while I do it. My favorite way to do that is with music. I will get the MP3 player going with some awesome praise music and praise while I clean. It's been a while since I've even done that, which is funny because adding music always makes the chores go by faster.
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. " Jeremiah 29:13
As I read this verse one more time before I go tackle my day, one more thing strikes me about these words from God- and that is that there is no option laid out for failure. When I seek with all my heart, I will find Him. Failure is not an option, and if my seeking doesn't seem to be bearing any fruit, then the obvious obstruction is my heart- which will need to be examined then. But I plan to succeed.
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5
Monday, June 07, 2010
all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls." Proverbs 31:11-15
One of the first things we did when we moved to our new city was introduce ourselves to our big town library. We've been in heaven ever since we did. Oh, we loved the library that we left behind, but this one has so much more material on the shelf- we don't have to request near as much from other libraries, and then wait for it. The kids have been in heaven, and my pile of books to read has grown immensely. One of the things I was tickled about finding at the library was a larger selection of Amish fiction. I know I've said it before here, but I love reading about the plain life- I can see myself living it sometimes. Sometimes a book will inspire me to go a little further with housework, or bake an extra something, but this time, as I wrapped up a book I was reading, I really felt like I needed to go read about my old friend, the Proverbs 31 woman again."She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27
For the last little while, I've almost felt like I've been in a bit of a funk. I almost feel as if I've been extra tired as of late. On the one hand, I've been pointing out to myself that our home is much bigger, and it takes that much more effort to keep it, but that would require that I actually do a lot of housework. Now admittedly, last week was our first week off of school, and as such, the kids and I all took it as kind of a lazy week- for a few days anyway. I spent some time reading, and this time, when I finished up, I didn't have this dreamy thought of "I could live like that if God wanted me to." Instead, I found myself chastised, almost. I felt like it was being pointed out to me that I've been idle.
Last fall someone pointed out to me that my love of cooking came from God. It was a blessing, and it was a tool that I could use to do so much for God. I thought that was awesome- I'd never heard it put that way! Then the holidays came along, and with limited resources I did what I could to enjoy the holiday cooking season, but then after that, it was like my desire to cook just kind of fell away. I really had to concentrate to come up with ideas for lunches and dinners. I always had an excuse. For a while when Andy wasn't working, I just had to make do with what we had, and that was that. Once he went back to work, we were preparing to move, so I was trying to use what we had on hand so we had to move less, and then of course, after we moved, things were crazy for a few weeks and we spent a lot of time utilizing our new found conveniences. And my poor food blog has suffered considerably- where I was posting every day for the longest time, I'm only posting a few days a week.
No more. I've identified what is going on. What I considered just a funk- something everyone goes through at times- is not a funk, but in fact, it's the enemy trying to foil me. And I will not be foiled. I've had cooking funks before, but they've lasted a week or two at the most. Several months? That is not the case- what this is, is the enemy trying to rob me of what brings me joy- and trying to rob me of the opportunity to be a blessing to those around me. And more so- to be a blessing to my husband. He works so hard to bring in provision for the family, the least I can do is provide the delicious meals to sustain him as he works throughout the day. More than that- could it be that some of my lethargy could also be caused by diet? Man truly cannot live by bread alone...
"When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple." Proverbs 31:21-22
As I'm thinking about everything this morning, I find it just like God to use a work of fiction- something I was reading purely for pleasure- to show me where things are going wrong. To show me how my actions are not pleasing to anyone- not to myself, my kids, my husband, nor to my God. I am not honoring anyone by sitting around all day, doing the minimal amount of housework- just enough to keep the dirt at bay and clean laundry about.
And so today is a new day- and it kicks off a new week. I find it completely ironic that this was brought to my attention at what truly is one of our busiest weeks of the year. But it will be filled with joy- and at the center of it- at the very heart of it all is this:"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5
A life of idleness is not a life of love at all. I want the life filled with love- I want my life to be an example of love for everyone around me. And so today it will begin again. I have a new resolve- completely thanks to the God who lives in me- who sees what I don't and brings it to my attention. I will love God with all I have, and in doing so, I will show my love to all around me by doing what it is that I do best. And in the end, God will get the praise and the glory for giving me the abilities HE gave me.
Friday, June 04, 2010
Sometimes there are just days when you need to take a minute and reflect on God. Actually, we should probably do that more often anyway, but I have found myself, so many times lately just stopping what I'm doing and thinking on God. It happens a lot when I'm outside. We have a pair of cardinals in our yard- a male and a female, and I just love watching them together. They are so pretty to watch, and they are definitely a couple- cardinals mate for life. Frequently when I'm watching them flit around, I catch my breath and I think about how God created these birds. I think about how God perfectly designed these birds- every thing about their body is perfectly designed for flight and for surviving in both the frigid winters and the hot summers here. And the vibrant red of the male cardinal is always something wonderful to see- God did that!
It's raining this morning, and as I really think about that, it fills me with awe. God designed rain to water the earth- to cause plants to grow and to give us water for everyday life- for drinking and using. Sure, sometimes it rains too much, and I think we'd all appreciate it if it didn't rain when we had a day planned outside, and yet, the rain IS God's perfect design.
Everything on this earth belongs to God. How often do we take a vacation to visit an iconic monument or something along those lines. I'm thinking like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Park, or Niagara Falls. Those are God's! He created them to be just the way they are- and just as beautiful as they are. When we take the time to visit them, we stand in awe of this great monument of creation, but how many times do we think on the One who created them in the first place? What was God thinking when He designed Niagara Falls? What was He thinking when He created Yellowstone Park, with those geysers of hot, sulfuric steam and water shooting from the earth? Was it just something whimsical that He felt like doing- or is there a purpose there?
The island state of Hawaii has been on our minds lately, as my sister and her husband are moving there in a few weeks. Hawaii is such an amazingly beautiful place- that someday I hope to get to visit. (Easier to think of now with my sister there!) God created those islands to be what they are today- He caused them to be created from undersea volcanoes, spewing out more and more lava until the islands came into being. There are still active volcanoes there today! Is there a purpose behind volcanoes? Why did God create them? I just read an article about Mt. McKinley exploding in the early 1980's. When I think about that- when I think about the sheer force behind a mountain literally blowing it's top, I'm thankful that God designed volcanoes- they allow the earth to release built up pressure- it wouldn't be any good to have that pressure just building up over time until, poof! No more earth!
And speaking of Hawaii- not only is it a tropical location, but there are also mountains there where it gets cold enough to snow- and skiing resorts are built there. What kind of God decided that a tropical island would be an ideal location for a snow-capped mountain? I just love thinking about the God who designed the variety here on the earth. The Amazon rain forest, for example, all the wonders of wildlife there- God designed each and every one. The literal hundreds of breeds of tree frogs that live there- God created them- and I have to say that I wonder how much he delights in His creation. I sure hope that He does, because I sure know that we do! Zoos are some of our favorite places to visit, because we love to see the Works of His Hands up close and in person.
Another weekend is upon us, and it can be so easy to get wrapped up in the busy-ness of getting things done, or spending time visiting. I challenge that we should also take the time to delight in the greatness of God, and really see what it is that He has created. As the crops start to spring forth in the country, as the clouds pass by in the sky- God created it all, and God put them all here for just this time. Isn't that interesting to think of. Back when God designed the cardinal, He knew that someday He would put a pair in my yard for me and my family to delight in. That is also a very cool thought- and something that really makes me smile as we get ready to go about our day.
"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?" Psalm 8:3-4
And yet with all this creation around us- God created you and I. Over all the things that God has created- He loves us best and cares for us so much that He sent His only son to redeem us from our sinful nature.
God is awesome.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
We are family. There's no other way to put it, and I really think that it's about time that we start to see each other in the light of family.
I had a dream a few weeks ago that I've been thinking on occasionally, and it seems that it was gently nudging me in the direction of family. I was by myself, getting ready to go to a family reunion. I remember being a little excited and a little nervous- you know how reunions are. I got there, and I didn't know anyone. Yet, I spent time going around and visiting with everyone like we had known each other for forever. As I was doing this, going around and visiting with everyone, two brothers walked in, and I remember being excited to see them- because I actually knew these people. They started visiting with people too, and the atmosphere of the reunion was one of joy. Everyone was just so happy to see everyone else. When I felt like it was time for me to leave, the two brothers came up to me and we all decided to leave together, and we talked about how wonderful it was to see everyone at the family reunion. The thing about these two brothers? I know them in real life, and there is no way that we are related- even our ethnicity is completely different.
Every time I think on this dream, it really sets me to thinking! As summer is upon us, actual family reunions are going on quite a bit, and people take time out of their busy summers to get together with relatives and reminisce and see what each other is up to these days. Thinking along these lines, if we are all part of one great big family of God, doesn't it stand to reason, that every time we go to church, it should be like going to a family reunion? How much sweeter would our worship be if we looked at each other as brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles? And family elders?
There is something unique about getting together with family. I was thinking about this not that long ago as well. I was thinking about some of my cousins who I haven't seen in probably ten-plus years, and yet were we to get together, there would be an instant camaraderie. We wouldn't have to spend time getting re-acquainted, we would just be so delighted to see each other and pick back up right where we left off all those years ago. Family reunions are just so different from, say, school reunions, where everyone goes because they are curious about each other. Family reunions are united by one very different factor- and that factor is love.
Love is what connects us, and for those of us who have asked Jesus to be a part of our lives, we each have the exact same love flowing in our veins. We also have the same DNA- the DNA of Christ swirling about in our bodies, so in that regard, we truly are family, aren't we? Think about how much more wonderful our times together would be- our Sunday mornings- if we could look at each other with the love of family. Family love is unconditional (or at least, it should be), no matter how much a family member messes up, we still love them. We may not like what they do, and often times families will come together to try and gently correct bad behavior, but that love never wavers.
So why is it, if we are the "family of God", that we do not behave the same way with each other?
What had me thinking about this again this morning was the fact that we had our mid-week church service last night. We missed church this past weekend because we were visiting family, and having a wonderful weekend relaxing. And yet we missed our church family. Even though we only missed one service, getting back last night just was wonderful and something sweet- to spend time worshiping with our church family again was delightful. And it should be like that every time we come together, it should be like a family reunion- an atmosphere charged with love for each other- a love that knows no boundaries and no limits.
Because isn't that what love is? The ultimate love was shown to us on the cross- a limitless and boundless love that spans the centuries even today. Love and family go hand in hand, and I think that if we could see each other in the light of family members, and break down any of those walls we have built up, we could accomplish so much more as a church.
Love and family begins with us! So many people don't go to church today because they hear the stories of fighting going on within the church, and they would just rather not deal with it- they see it as hypocrisy. We need to start first within our own bodies and love each other as family- and then we need to reach beyond the church walls and love each other as family as well. In my dream I was family with people who were obviously of a different ethnicity as me- we were brothers and sisters, just as we are brothers and sisters with each other- regardless of the walls where we choose to worship. When we stop arguing with each other over matters of semantics and technicalities, and just learn to love as family, why, we will be an unstoppable church in the matters of love.
It was love and compassion that drove Jesus to do all of his miracles! When he healed someone of a disease, it was because he had compassion for them.
"When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." Matthew 14:14
"Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." Matthew 20:34
"Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Mark 1:41
A church filled with compassion and love will be the church that will change the world. A family, working together as brothers and sisters can change the world if we could only start to see each other as brothers and sisters!
Many, many years ago there was a song that was sung in church that said "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God." I know I'm glad today- and I'm thrilled to have brothers and sisters beyond measurement- and I love each and every one of them.