Friday, July 23, 2010

Resting, Resting

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Rest. The number one thing that most people don't get enough of, is rest. We live in a go-go-go world with a go-go-go mentality. We read stories of people who are always busy, always doing something, and we think that we need to be like them. Even I see that as a housewife. Sometimes, I read books or articles that kind of make me feel like I need to be doing something at all times. That after the house is clean, laundry is done and the lawn is mowed, that it's not okay for me to take a breather and relax for a little while.

Sometimes that very thought can come from scripture- the Proverbs 31 woman whom I so admire appears on paper to be busy at all times, not wasting a precious moment of the day. Rest is so important though on so many levels. It's important physically, without rest we can wear ourselves out to the point of exhaustion- where sickness and disease can come upon us easier. Without rest, we can mentally become exhausted, bringing us to the place where stress and anxiety can wreak havoc. Without rest spiritually, we can experience the burnout which we hear happening so often to servants of God. Everyone needs rest.

In fact, rest is so important, that God, Himself set the example for us.

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Genesis 2:2,3

God rested after creating the heavens and the earth. Even more than that, look at what God did when He rested- He blessed the whole day because it was a day for Him to rest. He also made it a holy day! Why didn't God make day 5 holy, when He created the flying creatures of the sky? In fact, God didn't make any other day holy, they were simply work days- days to get something done. But the day that God rested, that was the holy day.

I've been a mom for nearly ten years now, and I've gone through both mindsets several times over. On the one hand, there would be the part of me that was so exhausted all the time that even getting one task done was an achievement. Then I would go through the phase where I always needed to be doing housework, getting something clean, or baking, or cooking, or working on a project of some kind. Those days were just as exhausting, because Andy would come home from work, and I would not be such good company for him. As it turns out, there is a balance to be had. I don't have to be working my hands all day long around the clock. It is still important to me to maintain a somewhat clean house, but I also recognize that wearing myself out for the sake of cleanliness is not good either. I don't feel bad anymore when I sit down and read for an hour or so, or just take a little while to watch something on TV. I actually find that those moments of rest can rejuvenate me and give me the energy I need to get another task done.

Rest. God is so good to give us the example of rest. Because we have the ultimate example, we don't need to feel guilty or bad in the least for taking the opportunity to rest when we can. For our family, we are about to embark on our only real rest period of the entire year, a week in the woods- just us, God, a lake, and a campfire, and we'll be content and happy and when the end of the week arrives, we will feel rejuvenated and ready to go for another 51 weeks.

So I won't be posting next week. Be blessed, know that God loves you, and see where you can get your own moments of rest. Rest in Him, rest secure in the knowledge that God loves you and sent His son to free you from an eternity of torment.

"...And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:18

Thursday, July 22, 2010


"You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come." Psalm 102:13

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." Lamentations 3:22

Last night I had some people on my mind as I went to bed. I couldn't sleep for a long time, and my thoughts kept wandering back to them. My thoughts were in the area of simply wishing how they were doing, thinking positively for them, and hoping that they make it through their current trials unscathed and stronger because of it.

And then my thoughts took a slightly skewed turn, and I just found myself thinking a judgmental thought, that came from out of nowhere. Immediately, I got angry with myself, because it is not my place to judge. I've been working on that and learning that. Judgement is for God alone to dole out, and it is not my place to look at an external situation and judge.

And that led me to praying for these precious people. I just prayed for grace and mercy from God, but more so, I prayed that they would not be judged by their fellow Christians, and I prayed that they would not feel like they are being judged, because I know how that goes too. Your mind plays games with you and you feel like everyone is looking at you, and behind their eyes you see the thoughts of judgement, of them feeling sorry for you and thinking that they could do better with the situation.

As I prayed for these friends, I also laid awake for some time, just thinking about compassion and empathy, and thinking that people just need more of it. And I determined, before I fell asleep that I was going to look up compassion in my Bible this morning. Did you know there are quite a few verses about compassion? And look at these, right off the top, right towards the beginning of the Old Testament, we learn that compassion is one of the characteristics of God.

"And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness," Exodus 34:6

God IS compassionate to all His children. Just look at that verse again. The Lord is compassionate. And gracious. And slow to anger. And abounding in both love AND faithfulness. We see all that in one little verse- words from God Himself as He passed by Moses.

Did you know that when we see a characteristic of God in our Bible, that is something worth emulating? The characteristics and traits of God are in our Word so that we can see them, and learn from them, and try to apply them more ourselves to our everyday life. While we're certainly not trying to BE God, we are trying to be more like Him. Here is what Jesus said about that:

"Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." John 5:19

Now think about a young boy with a father who is a fisherman. Think of that boy walking at his father's side throughout his young life, spending his days watching this man be the best fisherman ever. One by one, the boy spends time learning the tasks as he is ready for them. One day he learns to cast a net. Another day he learns to haul it in. Yet another day, he learns how to repair a net. Later on, he learns how to sort his catch- how to know what he should keep and what he should throw back. And one day, this young boy finds himself a young man with a huge talent for being a fisherman- all because he saw and did what he saw his father doing.

We should do the exact same thing. When we see something of God in our scriptures, we should take note, and do what we can to apply that to our very lives. And today, the very thing I am talking about applying is compassion.

Because the thing is, no matter what you have personally gone through in your life, you never can really know what that other person is going through. We can never really know how this particular trial is affecting someone, and honestly, it's not our place to try and understand that anyway. When someone is suffering, it is not our job to probe and prod and try to understand what is going on. Instead, our job is to love unconditionally, to have compassion in spades and to be faithful in lifting that person up in prayer, to support them as they go through their trial. So often we take other people's trials and we try to solve them for them, offering solutions that weren't really asked for in the first place.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 1 John 3:1

God, our Father has lavished His love on us, we need to do the same to our brothers and sisters when they are struggling. We need to love them, and cherish them, and offer ourselves to them, we do not need to judge them, or offer solutions. We just need to have compassion, as God IS compassion.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Today Is Warfare Wednesday

"Praise the LORD.
I will extol the LORD with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the LORD;
they are pondered by all who delight in them.

3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.

4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate.

5 He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
giving them the lands of other nations." Psalm 110:1-6

Praise God for this wonderful country we call The United States of America. Sometimes I think I sound like a broken record when I talk about this great country, and the history we went through to get to where we are today. But the facts remain that God has blessed this nation from the very beginning. So much of the world is the way it is now, because of the actions on American soil. The American Revolution provided an example for the world that people who want to be free of tyranny can be! After our own revolution, country after country experienced their own revolutions, their own civil wars, as the idea of freedom became more of a reality than an idea. Much of the innovation on this globe has been a result of American ingenuity- that's no accident. It's no accident that America has led the way in technology and inventions for years.

And yet our country is struggling. We're so caught up in debates over who is right and who is wrong, that we can't see the damage that is being done. We're struggling financially because people have become greedy and they want a whole lot of somethings for nothing. We're struggling because we're so busy trying to blame someone else for our own errors...

And one of those error is us. This is not the day or the hour to be politically correct. This is not the day to hide our faith under a bushel basket, to dim our fervor for the things of God. In fact, this is the day to let our beacons burn bright. This is the day for Christians all over the country to stand up and pray out loud for our nation. This is the day for Christians to intervene for all that is going wrong in our country, and to be public with our intervention. Because the day will come. The day will come when our prayers and our intercession will be answered, and the people and the country around us will KNOW that the answers came from God. It is God who supplies everything we need. It is God who supplies our food, our clothing, and our finances- from our personal checkbook to the checkbook of the government.

"The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty." Haggai 2:8

"But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today." Deuteronomy 8:18

It is God who supplies what we need, and what this country needs is to return to its roots. We need to look back and remember the days when people were burned at the stake for reading the Bible for themselves. We need to look back at the days when people gathered in secret to discuss God's Word and to pray together- at the very risk of their lives. We need to look back to the days when there was too much government, and government dictated who lived and died. We need to look back and remember the days of persecution, and the Holy Wars, and the way a few zealous individuals tried to change a world for the worst. It is important to remember.

"Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you." Deuteronomy 32:7

Today is our day. Today is the day that we need to pray for our country, and pray for our President, and pray for God's grace, favor, and mercy to sweep through this nation. Today, we need to stand up and praise God, from whom all blessings flow, for this free country where we live, and we need to pray for his intervention, and His Will to be done in the areas of finance, defense, and we need to pray for Godly men and women to be elected during this election season. We need to pray for Godly wisdom to be present in the Supreme Court of the United States. We need to pray for Godly wisdom on the floor of the Senate, and the House of Representative, and we need to pray for Godly wisdom in the halls of the White House, and most especially in the Oval Office. We need to pray that the angels that are on assignment in the White House will stay ever vigilant, and will protect our president. May God protect our president and keep him and his family safe.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

God IS Victory

"With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies." Psalm 108:13

Last night during my Bible reading I spent some time in the Psalms. When I have those days where I just don't know what I should be reading, the Psalms are always a good choice to go to. Last night it was Psalm 107-109, and as I read 108, I thought about how just reading the words here on the page felt like it was giving me a great boost in my spirit. I wasn't having a bad day at all, I wasn't in a tired mood or anything, but still, reading these words in Psalm 108 I just felt so encouraged, and reminded, that it is God who will take care of us.

Often times I hear it said that God has our back, you know, meaning that He will back us up when we are following His will, except that I'm thinking that is a little backwards. In fact, when we are following God's will, and consulting Him for direction, HE will take care of things completely for us, not just help clean up the mess afterwards. God did it for David, several time when he was in an actual battle.

"As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, move quickly, because that will mean the LORD has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army." 2 Samuel 5:24

God went before David, and as a result, David was victorious over his enemy. And what God did for David, God can do for us, because God is no respecter of persons- what He does for one, He will do for another.

Now we obviously are not running around this earth in battles, literally fighting off the enemy with swords and spears, but everyday we could potentially face something that we could regard as an enemy. Maybe our enemy is the clock- with not enough hours in the day to accomplish all we'd like. With God's help, we can make time work for us, and end up with everything done that we wanted to. I see this all the time. Really! We will plan to have company on what is an otherwise busy day, and I will know I don't have enough time to really get the house clean, get food prepared, and spend time with our guests. Yet every single time, I get the cleaning completely done, food prepared, AND I get to spend plenty of time visiting, it's almost like God slows time down while I am busy. I've even found that our Sundays themselves are loaded with time we didn't know we had! With church in the morning and the evening, that doesn't leave a whole lot of time in between to get stuff done. But wouldn't you know, every week, I feel like I spend the afternoon doing something, only to look at the clock and see that it's only 2:30 or so, and that we have several hours left before we have to head out again. Time really isn't our enemy anymore, because we have God before us.

Sometimes our enemy can be our own thoughts. I know I have those days... and usually those are the days where I spend no or very little time in His Word. The fact is, when my thoughts are unpleasant about other people, it's a tell-tale sign that I've not been spending enough time in my Bible, because when I do, my mind is filled with the good things and goodness of God. God can trample that enemy of bad thoughts, but first I have to give Him the right to be there in the first place by taking in all those words He has to say to me.

As I go back and read Psalm 108 in its entirety, I am also reminded that God likes it when we praise Him during our trials. Oh, God loves that, when we can discard those thoughts that dwell on our problems, and just focus on Him. Often times, praise is the very answer we need. There's that popular song about praising God in the storm, and it's really very true, that when we can focus on Him, when we can cast aside our trials for a time and really praise God and thank Him for His Son, and thank Him for life, then His favor can shine on us, and our problems will fade away. God is always worthy of our praise- we could be crawling through a mud pit, but if we are praising God, the crawling will seem to go much faster, because He'll be with us, bolstering us and giving us what we need to make it through. With God before us, who can be against us? No one. And nothing. With Him, there is always victory.

"My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.

2 Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.

3 I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.

4 For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
and let your glory be over all the earth.

6 Save us and help us with your right hand,
that those you love may be delivered." Psalm 108:1-6

Monday, July 19, 2010

Letting God Be God

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Last night Andy and I were having an interesting conversation about letting God be God. We were talking about how when we're talking to God, telling him about our problems or our struggles, that most people also tell God how to fix the problem. Think about this, I think we all do it! Say we have a bill coming up that's due, and we don't have the money to pay for it, so we talk to God about it. We tell Him about this bill, and then we ask for the finances to take care of it, and we ask for extra work to come in, or we ask for someone to send us a check, or we ask for something of ours to sell so that we can use the money from that. We don't take the opportunity to just let God be God! I wonder how things may have been different in the past if we had only let God do something Godly and cool, because, after all, He IS God! He can do whatever He wants. That bill that was due yesterday? He's God! He can cause that bill to be paid in full without money ever changing hands- there are no limits to what God can do.

"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Matthew 17:27

If God can send Peter fishing for money to pay his taxes, God can do anything when it comes to your bills and my bills. And this whole idea of letting God be God doesn't just apply to bills and money. I just think that so many times when we're talking to God and asking Him to intervene with something, we spend too much time giving him solutions or ideas, when He may have the best idea ever. So often though, we don't get to see that idea because we're too focused on what our human answers would be.

This past Saturday morning, Andy spent time working on our patio out back. It needed some TLC, and while he did that, I decided to tackle the screen porch adjacent to it. As I adjusted furniture and vacuumed, I was talking to God about the furniture out there. I decided that I really wanted a table out there so that we could eat outside if we felt like it. I thought about our finances and thought about how far down the road having money available for extra things like extra furniture would be, and I just kind of asked God to somehow make a way in the weeks to come for us to be able to afford to get a table for the porch. My human mind was thinking that it's getting to be that time where all the stores are going to be putting patio furniture and the like on clearance, so a deal could be had. But wouldn't you know, God had other plans. (You knew this was coming, right?)

Literally, not even one hour later, we all got into our van to go celebrate our kids swimming accomplishments with some ice cream. We go around the corner, and one of our neighbors has a table sitting at the curb. At a quick glance, it looked like a nice sturdy table, and Andy and I both commented on it, wondering if it was there for a reason, or if the people were getting rid of it. After we got back home some time later, Andy walked right on over and asked about the table. Of course they were getting rid of it, and of course we were welcome to it! And just like that, just a few hours after talking to God about it, I had a dining table in my screen porch. And a perfect table at that. It looks like it came from a cottage, it's made of wood and Formica, and will stand up to the outdoor elements that could be experienced out in the porch. That very night, after I cleaned it off, we enjoyed dinner outside with unexpected company. And then yesterday after church, we had some dear friends over for lunch and could do so outside.

My answer for getting a table was for God to provide money so that we could purchase a table. I wasn't picky as to how He'd provide the funds- whether Andy did some side work, worked overtime, or a mystery check showed up in the mail- I was happy with any of those solutions. It never occurred to me to just ask God for a table. Honest. It never crossed my mind to just ask God to put a table in my screen porch. Now I know better, and next time, I'm going to let God be God. In fact, I already have asked Him for some new dining chairs for inside the house. The ones we have fit around the patio table PERFECTLY, so now I have an empty dining table inside the house. And you know what? I just know that God's going to do that very thing for me, and I can't wait to see it happen.

God is God. It's time that we stop playing God and solving our own problems. Instead, we need to talk to God about them, and ask HIM to solve our problems for us- to show us that He truly is God and can meet our needs in some really cool and incredible ways.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Are You Shiny?

"For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness,"made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

Are you shiny? The short answer is that if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, yes, you are shiny. When you accepted Jesus as your Savior, He moved in, and brought His light with Him. Not only that, but when I read this verse, it also says that He gave us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God.

So remember way back in Exodus, when Moses was so shiny that he needed to cover his face with a veil? We have that. Our spirits know what it is to have spent so much time with God that our physical countenance reflects Him back to those around us.

I'm just thinking out loud here, but if we have the light of Jesus inside of us, there should be no room for darkness to try and move in. Because light displaces darkness- big time. Think of a flashlight in a pitch black room. That small flashlight can completely light up a room, making it not seem as dark and gloomy- now think about a large flashlight, it causes even more darkness to go away- right down to the corners of the room. Jesus is so much bigger than a flashlight! When Jesus moves in, there is no room for darkness, whatsoever. The darkness must flee, and then that light, that precious light of Jesus completely takes over.

The thing is, then the enemy uses people and events and such to try and convince us that the fact remains that we're human beings and sometimes darkness will creep in and cause us to sin or do wrong... Except that Jesus is always there with us, always being a light, and always causing the darkness to stay away. The actual facts here are that we are carries of the Light of Jesus, and as such, there is no room for darkness. We can remember that when the devil comes knocking, trying to convince us to do that one thing. We can send him packing with a simple word, a simple reminder that we carry the light of Jesus inside of us, and his darkness must go away. It's verses like this one today that we need to take inside of us and commit to memory so that we can dispel the darkness with a word. Just as our Father did before us.

"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. " Genesis 1:3

Now how cool is that? When we tell the darkness to flee we are emulating our Heavenly Father, just as our older brother Jesus did before us.

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12

We have the light of life within us. What a joy that is to read and to hear and to try to understand. We carry the light of Jesus with us wherever we go- when people look at us and say, what is so different about you, that's what they see. They see the shininess of God peering out at them. With just a word we can banish the darkness from our lives, and God gave us the very words we can use to do just that. What a great God to give us all the tools we need to conquer darkness and be a good steward of the light that is within us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good Stuff In, Bad Stuff Out

"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." James 1:21

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if the people who wrote the Bible were living today, and writing the Bible now? Imagine what James would say about the moral filth and evil...well, maybe I can't imagine, because as a Christian today it can be very, very difficult to avoid moral filth altogether. A book that can appear perfectly harmless can plant seeds of filth without us even realizing it. There are so many of those today- some of the most popular books out there today, while they appear to be just fun and harmless stories, may not be so much, and may be planting seeds of iniquity, and other undesirable things that we don't realize at the time. So what is a person to do today? Should we shut out the world completely and live in ignorance? It's a careful balance, and I think the solution lies within our Bibles.

I read a lot of books. A lot! Lately it's been a lot of period fiction, I love reading about Kings and Queens and revolutions, and often times, those come with a side order of some things I'd rather not read about much. I've done a fiction fast before, a fast where I read nothing but my Bible, and that was a great fast, I learned so much and accomplished so much more Bible reading than normal. At the conclusion of that fast, I was so excited to pick up a fictional book again, and I determined that I could find a balance of reading for fun, and reading for edification. The balance being that I needed to spend more time reading my Bible than anything else. That grew to include other books of a spiritual matter as well. I need to stay aware of what it is exactly that I am reading- and that's easy to gauge by considering my thoughts.

What am I thinking about all day long? Am I thinking on whatsoever things are lovely? As in God's glorious creation? Or am I spending my time dwelling on a particular intrigue in my books. Am I spending time thinking about how I wish I could be more like that fictional heroine? Or am I spending time thinking about how I could be more like Deborah or Lydia? Am I daydreaming about using the force to move objects with my mind? Or am I daydreaming about healing someone in Jesus' name? My thoughts will tell me if I need to make a change. Admittedly, right now, I think I am slightly out of balance. With it being summer, I spend much more time curled up with a good book, I just need to make more of an effort to make that good book THE good book.

Which brings me back to the idea of picking and choosing exactly what it is I am going to read when I'm not reading my Bible. To be completely honest, good, Christian period authors are hard to come by- and I think I've read most of them at this point. So many times my reading is not of a particularly Christian nature, and then I need to check my filters when I'm reading. There are several popular series of books out there that I have purposely chosen not to read, because they may be wonderful stories, but the undercurrent is most definitely from the world of darkness. Regardless of the spin taken within, a book that is written with the intent to convince people that evil isn't really evil is just not something I need to be reading. I need to keep my discernment at a heightened level- I don't need to read a book that encourages me to think that witchcraft is okay if it's used for good. Witchcraft just isn't good-ever- it's a tool of the devil, no matter how you spin it.

In the same vein, I wouldn't spend my time reading books that encourage me to think that murder is good, that adultery is good, that combining the two could ever be good. Every time we read something (or watch, for that matter) that skews our view of good and evil, we need to be on our guard- and we need to spend time in The Word, balancing out what we're taking in. We need to see the truth, that murder is never justified, that adultery is always, always wrong and against God's plan for men and women. For some people, that means that they need to avoid taking in that stuff altogether. For other people, they can enjoy some of that stuff, while realizing that it is completely fictional, knowing where they stand and where God stands.

As a parent, I think it's ever more important to be discerning of my reading material. When my kids see me choose to read my Bible instead of the book on the side table, it says volumes to them- that reading my Bible is much more than just something I do in Sunday School. When we start our school days by reading God's Word, I'm telling them that the Bible is the most important thing that we can study during our day- despite all the wonderful adventures yet to happen with our school day.

I guess I'm just posting a reminder today, really. A reminder that above all, spending time reading my Bible is most important, but that it is okay to read other things. I don't need to feel bad when I take a book along to the pool and read while the kids play. But when my day is done, and I think back on the things I read, and I'm meditating on them, I need to make sure that the words I am meditating on are the words of the Lord, and not the words of a fictional author. God wrote the best book ever, and it sets a standard by which all the others need to be accountable.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Warfare Wednesday

"Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day." 1 Kings 8:28

So this week as I go to check out all the different headlines, and see if there is something pressing to really pray about today, I see one of the headlines is about bickering in the House of Representatives. Again. There is fighting and arguing and comments being made about something that isn't even relevant to governmental matters today. Really. The people who are fighting with each other are fighting about a future event- about the fall elections and which political party will have the majority in the House. I'm sorry, but this is just ridiculous. It's completely ridiculous that these people could be dealing with pressing matters of government- of creating laws and discussing real issues, and instead they're arguing and fighting about something that is of total inconsequence right now.

Honestly? Some days it's difficult to pray for the leaders in this country. This morning I really feel like we need to pray for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when really, I would like nothing more than to request a special lightning strike from the heavens- just for her. However, I do know this, I know that God is a God of mercy and of love, and while I may really dislike the words that I hear Nancy Pelosi say from time to time, the fact of the matter is that God still loves her. With all His heart, actually. He loves her so much, and I just know that He desires a relationship with her- a relationship full of good counsel and wisdom. And so I will pray for that this morning. I am praying that Nancy Pelosi will meet with God in an unexpected way and that she will be blown away by the love He has for her. I pray that she will seek His wisdom and His guidance in the matters that are truly important for this country.

I also pray for President Obama and his family this morning. They are headed on a little vacation, and I just pray that God blesses them during this family time. May they have a relaxing time enjoying each other and the precious time they have together. I also pray that during this vacation time, that President Obama takes some time to have some one-on-one chats with God. May He turn to God in this hour of need for our country, and may God hear his cries and answer them in a wonderful way. May God give our president wisdom for dealing with the financial situation in our country- God's ways are the best ways, and the country that chooses to follow those ways is a wise and blessed country indeed.

May God hear the cries of the people and eliminate the darkness that is threatening to overtake our government. May God hear the cries of His people and pour out His Spirit upon the people of this nation, of this government, and may they, in turn, follow the voice of the Lord God. May His Spirit flow freely through the halls of government and cause the fighting and the rebellion to cease. Instead, may love and mercy find a home, and may Godly wisdom flow in the decisions to come.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

He Is Worthy

"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11

I read this verse this morning, and I instantly had an image in my head of Jesus walking on the earth. The first time Jesus walked on the the earth, I have to tell you, I wonder how creation reacted to Him. We know that the storm calmed when He spoke to it, the fig tree withered when He cursed it, but what about the birds, the beasts, and the livestock? Because I have this image of Jesus walking on the earth today, and every living thing stopping and bowing. Very much like in the Disney movie, Lion King, when the new prince is presented, every animal bows low- that's exactly what I see in my head. Every animal in creation bowing to worship Christ, only this time, all of mankind bows too. Mankind and animals together, bow their heads and bend low to the ground, to humble themselves before the one who is Worthy to be called Jesus Christ.

It's just such a cool mental image this morning. And yet, I don't think it's just some random image that was placed in my head for me to simply smile at. There's more to it. When I think about creation bowing and showing obeisance to Jesus, it makes me think that I need to spend more time in my Bible, learning more about what Jesus in me really means.

"To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:27

The glorious riches of Christ in you... Now we can all agree that salvation alone is one glorious thing, and is worth everything- but I think it is worth noting here in this verse that riches is plural- meaning more than one. We're not just talking about salvation here, we're talking about taking the Christ that's in us and activating it. I'm talking about realizing that I carry Jesus with me all the time. Not just a passive Jesus, but an active Jesus. The very same Jesus who calmed the storm and cursed the fig tree. The very same Jesus who turned water into wine, fed the multitudes, and healed the blind. The same Jesus that lives in me also lives in you!

I talked about us being a garden yesterday, and God has planted within all of us, the same seed that He planted in Jesus. The day we ask Jesus into our heart and our lives we get so much more than a feel-good moment and an assurance of eternal life. We also get the DNA of Christ. Where He was one man, walking on the earth and changing lives everywhere He went, we are many. We are the multitude- and imagine the possibilities if we could really learn to be like Jesus and change the world around us.

The thing is, Jesus didn't do the things He did for Himself. He wasn't showing off, He wasn't displaying "his powers" to do good or heal someone. He was doing what His Father showed Him to do.

"Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." John 5:19

Jesus did what He did for the glory of God- not for the glory of Himself.

"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." John 6:38

And He did what He did, to give us an example to follow as well. I honestly think that maybe as a church we are at a threshold. We're at a cross-point in time where we need to make a choice- we need to choose us this day whom we will serve. The world around us tells us we need to serve ourselves- they tell us that we need to do stuff so that we can be happy, so that we can feel fulfilled and important. The world tells us we need purpose and that it's okay for that purpose to be to make ourselves happy. I just think that it's time that we stop thinking about ourselves all the time. For me, there's that bit of conflict inside. Every time I hear someone say "I prayed for someone and their headache went away" I immediately wonder why they are telling me that. Are they telling me that to show off? Or are they telling me that to give glory to God? And that's where I am, I think. I wonder if I'm at the point where I would want to give the glory to God- or would a piece of me still want it to be about me.

I don't think I'd want it to be about me. Because God is everything. I can't take another breath without God wanting me to do so. And if He chooses to work through me, it's for His glory. It's to show those around me the loving God that I serve and adore. You know, every once in a while I have a crazy dream about healing someone. A few weeks back, I had a dream that I watched two children get run over by a train. They were literally sliced in half by the wheels of the train. And when the train passed, I walked over to these halves of children, and simply commanded them to be made whole. It was so matter-of-factly, like there was no choice for those bodies to stay broken, and they didn't. In no time at all, these children were running around, as if nothing had ever happened to them. When I walked away from them, it wasn't with this glowing feel-good feeling going on inside of me, it was almost like I had walked away from doing my job. I guess maybe I can't really explain the feeling, but it was like... It was like, of course those children were healed. There was no other option than for their broken bodies to obey what I said in Jesus' name.

I think when I get dreams like this, I'm getting a glimpse of what the Body of Christ is meant to be. We are meant to be matter-of-factly. We are meant to do everything that Jesus did while He was here on the earth- and our expectations should be for that. We should expect that when we pray for someone, they will be healed or delivered. It's not arrogance, it's assurance. Assurance that we are doing the Father's will, because He is a loving God and wants all His children to be healed and whole.

The life of Jesus is one worth studying. When we spend time in our Bible's, reading about all that He accomplished in the short time that He was on earth, we see the example of an older brother who so wants us to follow in His footsteps. And those are footsteps worth following in.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Garden

"Awake, north wind,
and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden,
that its fragrance may spread abroad.
Let my lover come into his garden
and taste its choice fruits." Song of Solomon 4:16

There's a song I've been listening to lately with many of these words in it. It's a lovely song, and every time I have it going through my head, I swear I can feel a gentle wind just blowing over me. I learned yesterday that these words are found in Song of Solomon, which I have to admit, I seldom turn to in my Bible readings. But turn, I did, and I discovered something, I discovered that as much as I love to garden myself, as much as I understand the language of gardening, that I, myself, am a garden.

Think about it. We are told in scripture that we are to bear fruit- what does a garden do? It bears fruit- the fruits of our labor, for gardeners, is a basket full of fruits and vegetables that we can enjoy. Plucking one tomato brings such joy to me- and as I thought about the great joy that my garden can bring me when it produces- how much more joy can I bring to the Master Gardener?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23

A garden needs constant attention. As the gardener, it is my job to pluck out weeds, prevent pests from getting my plants if possible, and protecting the tender plants from being attacked by small animals. I also need to fertilize and water, and just spend time- pretty much every day- checking up on my garden, making sure everything is as it should be. In order for it to bear fruit for me, I need to give it constant attention.

Do you know that God gives us the same constant attention? And He gives us the tools we need to get rid of the weeds and to prevent being attacked. He gives us His precious Words to help us keep the yuck out and take in the good. And then He gives us the good. He gives us the Bible which we can use every day to strengthen us and give us the nutrients we need to go another day. The more time we spend in our Bible, the deeper our roots will grow, the better our chances of bearing good fruit become.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. " John 15:1-2

As a gardener, one of the most difficult things for me to do is to prune my plants. Logic tells me that if I leave those branches, they could potentially bear more fruit for me in the future. But the reality is that the extra branches sap the energy out of the fruit-bearing branches. I need to lovingly prune off those extra branches, so the plant can concentrate its energy on the branches that bear fruit. When we go through a season of pruning, that's exactly what God is doing. He's very lovingly removing those things in our lives that are a hindrance to us- that are preventing our fruit from growing on our more productive branches. Those things that take my energy and attention away from Him need to be pruned away, and I need to submit my garden to Him, and trust that as my Master Gardener, he truly does know what is best for me. He knows what is needlessly taking my energy and focus away from Him- even when I don't realize it.

I want His wind to blow on my garden. I want that Holy Spirit to blow on me and cause me to bloom and grow, so that I can be fruitful for Him. Many plants in gardens today need wind in order to have successful pollination. It's the wind that gets the pollen to where it needs to go in order for fruit to produce. When the winds of the Spirit are upon me, I desire for Him to blow away the dust and the chaff and to enable the fruit to blossom and grow abundantly for His Glory. For that's what the fruit is for. It's not for me- it's not for me to show off and say look at me- look at all this fruit I bear. It's all for Him- for His glory and His Honor.

I'm going to leave this post today with one more look at Song of Solomon 4:16, only this time it will be the Amplified version. Let it speak to you today. Let it flow through you and fill you with peace and wonderment at the joyous and wonderful world that God has created. The first line here says "you have called me a garden". This means you. God is calling you a garden today, and I pray that His wind will blow upon you and fill you with abundance for His glory.

"[You have called me a garden, she said] Oh, I pray that the [cold] north wind and the [soft] south wind may blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out [in abundance for you in whom my soul delights]. Let my beloved come into his garden and eat its choicest fruits." Song of Solomon 4:16 (AMP)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Use Your Gifts

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." 1 Peter 4:10

As I read this verse this morning, I am thinking on all those times where I admired other people's gifts. You know, those times where something really pops out for someone, and you see a glimpse of their potential, and then you quietly wonder to yourself when your gift is going to pop out of hiding. We hear a young lady really sing for the first time and you realize she has a great gift for singing, and you wonder if you yourself have a gift along those lines. Or a young man will get up in church and share something that is on his heart, and for the first time you see that this young man is going to be a great preacher some day. It's so easy to see someone else using their spiritual gift, and then look back at ourselves and wish we had a gift to contribute.

And yet, each and every one of us has spiritual giftings- it's just that sometimes, our gift is not what we expect it to be, or is it something that puts us out there- showing everyone what our gift is. Some people are dynamic administrators- those people have the gift of administration, they put together great meetings and conferences, but they are behind the scenes, we don't actually see all the hard work they put into it. Unlike the preacher who gets up in front of us all and we physically see the studying that has gone into preparing a message. There are those, like myself, with the gift of hospitality. I can put together great meals and make someone feel right at home- but is that really what one would consider a glamorous gift?

I think sometimes we can feel disappointed with the gifts we actually have when we compare them one with another. And yet, every gifting is important to the body. Every person has a job to do- and that preacher up front can't do his job if everyone else isn't doing theirs as well. I think too many of us are sitting back, just waiting to be annointed with some special gifting, waiting on God to tell us exactly what it is we are to be doing, when the reality is that we already know what we're good at, and He's waiting on us to put that to good use. Someone who excels in sports could start or run a skills camp for underprivelaged kids- you know, the ones whose parents cannot afford several hundred dollars for good equipment or lesson fees. Someone who excels in the area of crafts could organize a craft day in the park, and work with someone who has a gifting to work with children- sharing the love of Jesus with the neighborhood through papercrafts.

Someone who has a gift in the fiber arts- whether it be knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing, can make blankets for the infirm and elderly- or make baby blankets to send to orphanages overseas. A person who is gifted with scrapbooking could put together a memento for a family who lost a child- provide a huge gift to help remember and honor that child. A person who is especially gifted to work with children could open up a day care in their home- just imagine the impact that could have to have children being cared for in a God-filled environment. A person with a gift for writing words can write encouraging notes to people who are depressed or down- or simply going through a rough time. Someone with a gift for growing vegetables can grow extra in their backyard garden to donate to a food pantry or to a homeless shelter.

The point of all this is to say that there is no gift too small. Every single gifting is important and integral to the body of Christ. If we had no one with the gift to put a meal together, no one would ever go to picnics and potlucks, because they'd know the food would be dismal. If we had no one with the gift of encouragement, think about how many people would be trapped in a spirit of depression. If we had no one with the gift of honesty, think of how many people would be trapped by sin, but because that one person was honest with them and told them to straighten up, they made a change and now are filled with the joy of the Lord as they are freed of that sinful desire. Every single gift is important, and it's important to spend some time talking to God and figuring out just what giftings you should be using. Sometimes we get so caught up and focuses on "the big gifts" that we don't see all these other gifts that are just lying dormant inside of us- waiting to be used!

God can use the smallest of talents to bless someone- if we are only willing to do so. Even a talent for arranging flowers can brighten someone's darkest day. Or a talent for doing dishes can help a new mother to stop feeling overwhelmed. It seems to me that if we desire more gifts, more abilities, that we first need to utilize the ones we have- show ourselves and God that we can be trusted with little, and then He will give us more.

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' " Matthew 25:21

If we desire to write a great novel someday, first we need to start by writing something small. Maybe we contribute to a monthly newsletter or write a blog. Maybe we start with a short story, or a few short stories, and watch our talents develop over time. We show God that we can be faithful with what He has blessed us with- a talent for writing, and then He will create the opportunities that fall into place when the time comes to write the big one.

And maybe it is the desire of our hearts to be a minister some day. Then you start by showing God that you can be faithful with the small things. You become faithful in your daily Bible reading and prayer time. You start by teaching a Sunday School class and taking your own classes on theology and Bible study. Show God that your heart truly is with wanting to minister, and He will blow open the doors of opportunity- He will provide someone to pay for the college classes required of a minister, or He will give you supernatural energy to take classes AND work a job full-time. With God all things are possible! But I do know this, He has gifted each and every one of us in a unique and different way, and He wants us to use those giftings to lift each other up. He doesn't want us to look at someone else's gift and be jealous of them- He wants us to use what we already have, and then as we use what He has given us, He will give us more as we desire it.

God has already shaped you and I into the exact people He wants us to be! It's up to us do dig inside and use the potential that He's already placed inside of us. There is no job and no gift that is too small for God. He sees every single one of us as important and integral to the body of Christ. But will we be willing to use what He has already given us? Just say yes, and the unexpected opportunties will present themselves exactly when they should. God is like that. Say yes, and He'll place opportunities before us that we could only dream of before. God loves to see us using the talents that He has already blessed us with.

"For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. " Matthew 25:29

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Visiting With An Old Friend

"A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies. " Proverbs 31:10

I've been reading Proverbs 31 again. I find that when I go through a slump of a bad attitude towards housework that I need to spend a few days reading Proverbs 31, boosting myself to do better. It generally works, as I read through all the things that the Proverbs 31 woman does each and every day, I feel less cranky towards my own goals for the day, and I feel better prepared to tackle them.

I just want to say, for the record, that when you increase your house size, it's AMAZING how much the work load increases. In our last home, when it was completely trashed, I could still get it company spotless in about 2 hours. This home, not so much. Gosh, I haven't come up with a good method or routine yet for that. The other day I was just getting discouraged about that, and that wasn't a good place to be, because that makes me not appreciate this wonderful home that God has blesses us with. Everyday as I look around my home, I am just amazed that this is where God wanted us, but I need to be mindful and take good care of our new home. And I need to remember that spending time cleaning it and keeping it nice is truly a blessing from the Lord as well. It really is my intention to try and keep the main floor company ready at all times- I want to be able to offer a refuge at any time to people who need it. I really believe that's one of the reasons we are where we are.

But the other day I was trying to get the house clean before going away for the weekend and I was grumbling to myself. I was just getting annoyed and not taking any joy in the work I had to do. I had to literally stop myself and chide myself for the bad attitude, and I had to take a moment to think about "what would the Proverbs 31 woman think" and I had to change right there.

"She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks. " Proverbs 31:17

Setting about her work vigorously implies to me that she has some gusto behind her work. When I have a bad attitude, sometimes the cleaning gets done just enough- instead of really being cleaned. A change in attitude will ensure that the cleaning gets done properly- and then it won't need to be done again as soon as if it had been done poorly. One way I change my attitude in a situation like that is to grab my mp3 player and put some rocking worship music on. That helps almost instantly, and I'm always annoyed with myself when I don't think of doing that sooner.

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

You know, I always read this verse with curiousity. I really enjoy reading historical fiction, and when I read that she watches over the affairs of her household, I always think of a plantation wife with a stately home. I think of a woman with a household staff- housekeepers, groomsmen, butlers, cooks, groundskeepers. And then part of me thinks that of course it's easy to keep a house when you have an army doing it for you- but then I really think about those women who lived in those days. They truly had to stay on top of their household. Martha Washington, in fact, would get up early every morning and take a lot of time to plan her households daily activities. Meaning that she planned out the entire days activities for every single servant. And then she frequently spent a good deal of her day checking up on each and every one of them- making sure they were completing their given tasks correctly and efficiently. In addition to managing the household, Mrs. Washington also made it a point to know how to do herself, every single task she would appoint someone to do. She always told her daughter that she couldn't expect someone else to do a task if she didn't train them to do it properly.

"She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life. " Proverbs 31:12

One of the not-so-good things I had been thinking last week was how it would be nice if Andy would help with the cleaning once in a while. It was just me being crabby and wishing I had help with what I was doing. In reality, one of my goals has pretty much always been to try and keep a clean and tidy home so that when Andy comes home after a long day at work, he doesn't have to lift a finger to do any of the household stuff. Oh, I'll save some of the more manly tasks for him- cleaning out gutters, some yardwork, taking care of plumbing issues, those kinds of things. But when he goes and puts in ten hours doing hard, physical labor, the last thing he needs to do is spend time scrubbing a shower or folding and putting away laundry. That's one of the ways I can be my husband's helpmeet- I take care of things at home while he's gone so he doesn't have to.

I probably say this every time I end up discussing this Wife of Noble Character, but I am just so glad she's in my Bible. I'm so glad that she's there to turn to- to read about her day and to gain inspiration from. And I love how every single time I do that, there is something different about her that speaks to me. This is a lesson that all women can learn from, whether married or not, young or old. When things start to feel out of balance, I need the reminder that all things are possible through Him- and sometimes that just means getting the housework done. But I can do that housework with a song in my heart and praise on my lips because this day is a whole new day that God has given us to live to its fullest.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Warfare Wednesday

"Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he chose for his inheritance." Psalm 33:12

It's July. Our 2010 is half over, and we plunge head-first into the second half of the year. Wow! Have you been praying for our president? Boy, does he need it. It's been a rough year for this country, everyone is just looking to pull out of recession, and it seems one thing after another prevents it from happening fully. We need to continue to pray for President Obama, that he would turn to God in our country's time of need. We need to pray that he would seek Godly wisdom, and would seek advice from Godly men and women. Proverbs tells us straight out to seek counsel in our times of need.

"The way of a fool seems right to him,
but a wise man listens to advice." Proverbs 12:15

May President Obama listen to advice that comes from God. And may God also continue to protect him and his family. May God surround that family with His angels of protection, and may the enemy be thwarted in any plot to cause destruction or harm to that family. But mostly, I just pray that the Obama family will find the love of God. May they discover the truth and learn to love Him with all their hearts, and then take that love and use it to guide this nation in the right direction.

Perhaps most importantly though, it is my prayer this morning that people will pray. I pray that followers of Christ all over will realize just how important it is to pray for our president. I truly believe that as the people start to pray, as the people start to bend their knees and intercede on behalf of our country, that we'll start to see change that is good. We will start to see a difference and will know that our prayers are being heard. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. It's just time for us to talk to God about our concerns for our country- not just each other. It's time for us to thank Him for this beautiful nation and to ask Him to bless and guide us. God has all the answers we could possibly need to head in the right direction. Isn't it time we ask Him for those answers?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Eat Clean

"About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."

14"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."

15The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

16This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven." Acts 10:9-16

This particular passage of the Bible has been on my mind a lot lately. Really, I think about it randomly and I've really been dwelling on it, desiring to know more about what God is trying to tell us through this passage in the Bible. I know in one instance, it's speaking specifically to us gentiles- Peter intentionally did not spend time with gentiles because to the Jewish community, they were considered unclean. Jesus's death changed all that, for He died for ALL men- that we may all know God and be considered clean. I love hearing that, reading that, and reading this passage in the Bible that confirms that again and again.

But I also happen to think that this passage is also speaking a mystery or two for us regarding our diets. I know many people change their diets in ways to try and fit Biblical standards, using different areas of the Bible. Many people decide to eliminate pork products and to keep a Kosher diet- because God directs the Israelites to do so, so there must be some value in that today. There very well could be for those people who feel compelled to follow that diet. I've heard of other people trying to eat a diet like what Jesus would have eaten while He was on the earth. I'm sure that's all well and good- unless you live in a region of the earth where there are not fig trees or olives in abundance or other mid-eastern specialties that can't be found elsewhere.

The more I'm writing this today, the more I'm wondering if this is even a good topic for a devotional blog post, but it's where I'm headed, so it must need to come out. The more I read this passage in the Bible, the more I'm convinced that as human beings, the diet that we should be following IS in fact a scriptural diet. Here's what God says:

"The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

So what did God make? He made plants for food, he made animals to produce products for food like eggs and milk, and he created animals to be killed for food. What God didn't make is un-natural chemicals and preservatives. God did not create chemicals to be substituted for real food. Instead, God created real food for all mankind. He created a vast variety of plants and animals to meet all of our unique dietary needs. I've read so many books about diets around the world- and I've come to one very specific conclusion. The cultures who eat what God has provided are the healthiest on the planet. The cultures who eat the man-made preservatives and highly processed ingredients are the most un-healthiest.

So, so many people go from diet to diet, searching for the best combination of foods for their health, when a vast majority of modern diets today rely on convenience foods- laden with chemicals and preservatives. Or they rely on using chemical substitutes in place of real foods. Or a diet will specifically eliminate a food group- a group that can provide a vast store of nutrients that our body needs. Just as one example, I think of the humble potato. If there is one whole food that has been vilified, it's the potato. The low-carb craze has turned the potato into an undesirable starch, when it is an incredible source of vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need to function. I just think we need to be very, very cautious when we eliminate a food group from our diet- whether it be starches, meats, dairy, etc. God gave us the perfect combination of ingredients to make our diet work for us- when we combine them all in varying ways, our bodies take in exactly what we need to function at our best.

Where we get in trouble, especially as Americans, is that we consume too much of it on a regular basis. We sit down for dinner five nights a week and fill our plates with mashed potatoes, and then wonder why we aren't feeling more healthy. Mashed potatoes are a fabulous source of nutrients- even when we add butter and milk to them, we're adding vital nutrients that only animal fats can provide- but when we eat too much of them, we send our system into overload and shock.

Did you know that animal fats provide essential nutrients? And yet, we've become so accustomed to trying to scrape off every bit of animal fat we can find. We blame animal fats for diseases and maladies, when it's really our over-consumption that is to blame. There are actually very healthy fatty acids in animal fats that are vital to our body chemistry- yet we proclaim fat the enemy and say it is unclean. In actuality, we are becoming deficient in these healthy acids and our immune systems become taxed trying to make-up for our shortcomings. Now, I'm certainly not sitting here thinking that we all need to rush out and start frying up food in beef tallow or goose fat. But I am saying that we should start thinking twice before eliminating something that God created for our benefit. Many of the diseases plaguing people today are directly attributed to a poor diet- one that could be improved if we simply opened our eyes to what we consume, and try to focus on eating those things which God already provided for our benefit.

When people ask me how it is that I eat well yet stay in a healthy weight range- I can honestly say that it's because I eat what God created me to eat. And I try to keep my family eating what created for them to eat. The occasional splurge or treat is not going to be harmful, and we'll enjoy them as they come along, but I am amazed at the number of conversations that go on between God-loving people about diet. Everyone wants to know what's the best diet out there. Everyone wants to know what the secret is to being healthy- and I believe that God has the answers right in His Word.

"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. " Genesis 1:29

"Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 2 The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. 3 Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." Genesis 9:1-3

God gave us the plants on the earth, and all the beasts, birds and fish for food. He tells us what we need to eat to sustain our earthly bodies. Nothing HE created should be considered unclean. When we eat what God has created, we can take joy in eating what God has provided for our needs. When we eat what God has deemed clean, when can take great satisfaction in knowing that we are taking in the best He has for us and we can eat clean.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Truth of Independance

"And God spoke all these words:

2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:1-4

So many years ago, the Israelites were brought out of Egypt by a God who loved them so. He loved them so much, He worked supernaturally to save them from a lifetime of slavery. And He saved their descendants from a lifetime of slavery.

Fast forward several years, and persecution of the Christians is spreading like wildfire throughout Europe. If you've never spent time reading the history of Europe and the truth about what went on there before the pilgrims fled England, you really should take the time to do so. A person could profess to worship God, but they had to worship God, according to what the King deemed appropriate. Bibles were not permitted in homes either. Imagine what would happen if the people actually read the Bible for themselves and started thinking on their own and getting ideas about freedom in Christ? Many thousands upon thousands of Christ-loving men, women and children were burned at the stake for their faith. Literally pulled from their homes, these people would be forced to stack the wood properly around their own stake before they were tied to it, and then the fire was set.

And then a new land was found, and the Christians, wanting a better life for their children- wanting their children to be able to love their God with all their heart- and without fear of persecution- worked for years and years to save enough money to pay for passage to this new land.

Years later, the new land was growing in leaps and bounds, and the King back in England still wanted to control the people in this new land. And great men of faith sought time with God and got together and organized the American Revolution. So often in many of the history books, we miss the fact that these men and women who fought for our country's Independence were great men of faith. They would spend time on their knees before a campaign- not only praying for their safety and the safety of loved ones back home- but mostly praying for freedom, and for God's Will to be done above all.

It was prayer and communion with God that created this country. These men spent time with God, and sought His Will above all else. They read in the Bible of how God freed the Israelites and prayed that He would do the same for them. And then God blessed them richly for it. He blessed this country right at it's very beginnings- and it's time for the people of this country to see that we are truly and wonderfully blessed, and to thank God for it!

From time to time our earthly conversations go in a direction of people that we'd like to meet in heaven. I know many people's lists center around people in the Bible- everyone wants to meet Moses, Elijah and Paul. But I'll tell you, I would love to get in a room with Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and William Bradford. Oh, those are the men of God I can't wait to just spend time with. The passion they must have had here on earth for the things of God just must have made them glow from time to time.

God says right there in Exodus that He will bless and show love to a thousand generations- for those who obey His commandments and love Him. And it seems to me that most of us really don't have trouble keeping most of the commandments. It's not hard to not commit murder, you know? But it can be hard to have no other gods before Him. When we place other priorities in front of God, we're elevating them to god status. When we make our money more important than God, we've elevated that to the status of a god in our life. When we make the acquiring of possessions and material objects more important than God, we're making that a god in our life. This verse isn't specifically talking about taking a "god" from another culture and worshiping it. Oh, it means that too- but it also means our day-to-day. What is so important to us that we honor it before God? Dancing With The Stars? American Idol?

It is my prayer, that as we head into the holiday weekend that God will make us ever so much more mindful of this. That He will show Himself God to our nation this weekend. As we celebrate freedom and Independence, may we truly remember what it is that we are celebrating- and may we thank God for the freedoms that we sometimes forget to cherish. Everything those men and women did during the revolution they did for God! I think we forget that as we focus on our barbecues and fireworks displays. This year, as millions of Americans look to the skies and admire the fireworks exploding and creating beauty in the sky, may they look beyond the fireworks. As our entire country "looks up" may they realize where their gaze is resting, and may they offer praise to Him and bless Him, for without Him, we are nothing, and we have nothing. It is through Him alone that we have what we have- a ticket to eternal life, and while we are here on earth- a free nation to spend time blessing and worshipping Him.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Judging One's Self

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you." Romans 12:3

I find this verse very interesting this morning. I've been thinking a lot on how I think of random people. You know, you see that lady in the grocery store who is a lot overweight- and her cart is full of unhealthy food. What do you think? That if she shopped smarter she could lose weight. You see that car zipping in and out of traffic a little ways in front of you and you think about how that person is an idiot. You see a girl at the pool with more tattoos than skin- including her face- and you wonder what on earth is wrong with her that she would tattoo her face. It's all the process of judging other people by your own standards- which the Bible says is clearly wrong.

"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. " Matthew 7:1

Who am I to think that I am any better than any of these people? And yet the judging happens over and over again. So over the last few days I've been trying to stop myself from doing so. I'm not always successful, but I am trying. So when I turn on my computer this morning and see a verse about judging myself- it's almost like a throw up your hands moment. You're kidding right? Here I am trying really hard not to be judgmental, but I'm supposed to judge myself? I can't win!

But then I read this verse a few times and try to figure out what it's saying to me today, and I start thinking about thinking highly of myself. What does that entail? Well, for me, I almost think that when I think highly of myself- I get confident. I think of those days where I really do a good job putting a new outfit together- I have my hair styled just so in a way that's flattering to me- and I have my make-up tastefully done. My shoes and my purse match and I'm just put together well. On those rare days, I walk around with confidence, I walk into a store with my head held high because I know I look good. I am confident in who I am, and I feel good about myself. On the days where I go out dressed just so or just normally, I don't give any thought to how I look or how I feel. I'm there to get a task done- however I'm dressed- I'm focused on my task- getting in and out of the store with what I need- how I feel about myself is irrelevant.

Now lets take that scenario and flip-flop it to a spiritual side. When I am spiritually confident, I may very well walk around with a confident air. More than that though, I may think that I have finally arrived- I am where God wants me to be, and I feel good about myself and feel good about where I am. Only, the thing is, as Christians, we never will "arrive". We will never get to the point where we are as Christ-like as we are going to get- we are always going to be able to strive for more- to seek God for more, and to do better each and every day. When I judge myself appropriately, I can see that those days of confidence- those days of feeling really great about where I am spiritually - are days where I need to be knocked down a notch or two. I am judging myself too highly on those days. I need to be more mindful. I need to realistically look at where I am, and see that I should not be in a place of confidence and contentment. I need to always desire for more of God. I am never (at least while I am here on earth in an earthly body) going to get to that place where I can just stop trying to improve myself.

I think of those first couple of times that I successfully read my Bible cover to cover. It was like, okay, I read my Bible through, now I can set it aside for a few days and read something else. The truth of the matter should have been more of, okay, time to pick it up and go at it again, and see if there's something new that God wants to say to me. Reading the Bible all the way through time and time again is good, but until we have every verse of scripture memorized, we should never reach that point where we feel we've read the Bible enough.

Think of yourself with sober judgement. The fact is, there are times where we can be proud of ourselves- we can see how far we've come, and it's okay to delight in seeing how far God has brought us. But it's important to remember that we still have so much farther to go. The spiritual journey we all are on is continuous until the day we take our last breath. That's important to remember. Judge others not, but judge yourself appropriately. That almost seems like an oxymoron, but when you really think about it- it's good. Maybe the next time I find myself looking at someone and judging them, I can make it a mental exercise to turn the judging eye on myself. What could I be doing better in that situation? I suspect if I start asking questions like that, God will start giving me answers. I can have confidence in Christ, but confidence that I have arrived is to be avoided at all costs. There will always be room for improvement.