Friday, October 29, 2010

From Mountain To Mountain

"Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
       who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

 6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
       they make it a place of springs;
       the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 

 7 They go from strength to strength,
       till each appears before God in Zion."  Psalm 84:5-7

I'm in the middle of reading a fiction book that uses some of the verses above.  I just love the analogy they are using in the book with the Valley of Baca, and I thought it would make a great blog post.  Something that I always find interesting when I'm reading my Bible is how so many different things in the Bible have different meanings.  Names of places and people can completely change the meaning of a verse if you learn what their meaning is.  In this case, it's the Valley of Baca.  Baca actually means weeping, so we're talking about people of God going through a valley of weeping- or a tough spot in their life.

Now think about a mountain range, littered with valleys.  Normally, when you see a couple of mountains lined up, they are not stacked one on top of another, instead, you have a mountain, and then a valley, then another mountain.  Then there is another valley before you come to the next mountain, and so on.  This can be applied directly to life.

Think about it.  Think back to some of the high points in life.  We don't just usually have a string of high points, normally they are high points in life, but in between we go through some tough stuff.   When we are unsaved these "mountains" and "valleys" don't seem to have meaning or purpose, but look again at this verse above in Psalms, which we who are believers can use and cling to when we are going through a rough time.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have their hearts set on pilgrimage.  Pilgrimage tells us that these people are those who want to get closer to God.  (That's us!) But while we're on our pilgrimage- this journey we call life- we sometimes make our way across the Valley of Baca- the valley of sorrows. This can be a rough patch in life, a period of time where we may feel a bit like Job- like things are just going wrong and then wrong some more.  When we find ourselves in one of these valleys of sorrow, we can take great comfort from this verse.  Because as we are going through this valley, there will be springs and pools where we can find refreshing in the midst of our toils.  But there's an even bigger encouragement here- something to cling to all the days of our lives.

We go from strength to strength!  We go from mountain to mountain.  The valley we may occasionally find ourselves has an end, and one day we will find ourselves on another mountain.  The valley always has an end.  Always!  And when we look back, we can see the many valleys and mountains we have gone through, and we can be encouraged, because each valley has made us stronger and more able to climb out of the next valley we come to. 

And one day, we will climb that final mountain and find ourselves in the midst of glory, in Zion, where He dwells.   But we can't get to that mountain until we go through the valley before it!

Sometimes those valleys just seem like they will never end, or they seem to get worse and worse.  We can take our rest and refreshing by the springs and pools, and gain the strength we need to make it through the valley.  And as we make our way through the valley, we can also look ahead, and see in front of us that mountain that we are going to reach.  That alone can be such an encouragement and can lift our spirits- to know that this valley will not last forever.  We will make it to the next mountain, and we will find ourselves in a blessed and wonderful time in our life.  The struggles we find in the valley are worth it to get to that next mountain.   

I like this analogy.  I don't much care for the times we're going through our own valley of sorrows, but I sure do love thinking that the next time we find ourselves in a rough patch, we will find a great source of encouragement right here in the Psalms.   Someday we'll make the climb up that last mountain, and when we look back, I think we will find that the journey will have been worth it.  Mountain climbers don't just one day decide they are going to climb Mt. Everest.  They start small.  The climb smaller mountains and work their way up through the mountains of the world, and then one day they decide that they are ready to tackle the big one.  It's a serious of steps to condition themselves and prepare themselves for the climb of their lives.   Each mountain and valley that we go through is another step to prepare us for eternity in His Glorious Presence.  I will be thankful for the small mountains that we have climbed, and I will be thankful for the valleys that are behind us as well.  And as others come along, and we see them struggling through that valley that we've already navigated, we can offer counsel and encouragement for them as well.

"How lovely is your dwelling place,
       O LORD Almighty!
 2 My soul yearns, even faints,
       for the courts of the LORD;
       my heart and my flesh cry out
       for the living God.

 3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
       and the swallow a nest for herself,
       where she may have her young—
       a place near your altar,
       O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
       they are ever praising you.
       Selah"  Psalm 84:1-4

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hold The Tongue...What About The Brain?

"Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue."  Proverbs 17:28

It was just last Friday that I posted some thoughts I was thinking about watching what we say.  But as the week has gone past, while I have been making a very conscious effort to watch what I say, I'm not doing so hot at watching what I think.  I wonder where the verses are about holding your brain in check? 

You know, I belong to a few community bulletin boards online- mostly those that deal directly with my love of cooking and homeschooling.  In both those instances, there are features on the bulletin boards that if I don't like the things that someone says most of the time, I can add them to my ignore list.  It sounds cold, but they have no idea, and when I come across someone who, over and over, ruffles my feathers, I can click "ignore" and then I can't even see their posts.  I see a little note that says that person is on my ignore list, and that's it.  It keeps my thoughts in check because I don't get annoyed at their repeated postings, and I save myself a lot of imagined angst- I mean, after all, I only interact with these people virtually.

But what about in real life?  I can't just click "ignore" and have someone magically move into this space where I don't even see them there, let alone ignore what they are saying.  You know what we can do in those instances?  We can pray, and we can ask for help from the ever-present Holy Spirit.  There are a few ways we can ask Him to help.

One, we can ask Him to help our reaction to the things that are being said.   We can ask him to help us to choose to not be offended by the words of the other person.  We can also ask Him to guard our own tongue- to prevent us from saying something to provoke the other person, or just from saying something we'll regret later.   We can also ask Him to simply bless that other person.  Did you ever think about how that's got to annoy the devil to no end?  How when we may not like someone or something someone says, and instead of cursing them, we ask God to bless them.  It's an effective way to foil the devil and his plans to get you riled up.

As I think upon these different types of people who roll into life and "bother" me for a time, there isn't a single one of them who are normal.  They all have issues, and maybe they are just really struggling with some of those issues.  I often wonder why God brings certain people into our lives, but I really honestly believe that there are times where he brings these people into our realm of being simply so that we can pray for them.   Their time in our circle may even be short-lived, but while they are there, all God wants us to do is pray for them.  And that's one tactic I've been using to stop dwelling on the things these people are saying.  I just pray for them.  And on the chance time that we are face-to-face and having a conversation, I keep this verse in mind:

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."  Colossians 4:6

When we ask God to help us in our everyday conversations, you know He'll help us out every single time.  I'll often find myself, mid-conversation, crying out to God with my thoughts, asking Him quickly to help me to know the right things to say, and more importantly, to help me not say the wrong things.  But you do know, there will always be those people who will not listen to a word you say anyway, so in those instances, I try my best to be polite, and let that person know that I'll be praying for them, and move on as quickly as possible.

Life is too short to let ourselves be riled up by the thoughtless words of others- whether they be in print or vocalized.  I have lost sleep too many times to count, getting worked up about completely pointless things that I've heard other people say.  I've learned that it's best to try and recognize when I'm getting worked up over something pointless, and simply give it to God.  When you interrupt your thought patterns that are not going in a good direction, and you say "Lord, I know you know what I'm thinking on, and I think that you know best how to deal with this situation.  Please bless so-and-so and help them to see that their words have meaning and that they should watch what they say. And thank you for allowing me to take my problems to you whenever I need to."  And usually that does the trick.  Truly.  One quick prayer and the hours of angst I've had simply melt away and I can drift off into dreamland.  It always makes me add an addendum to ask God to help me be more mindful next time, so I don't lose hours of sleep on something so worthless.

I love that God is there all the time, that He sees and knows all, so that when a situation comes up, we can go right to the heart of the matter.  He's not a person that we need to go into myriads of details to get our point across.  We can simply say "God, you know."  And He does! 

"God is our refuge and strength,
       an ever-present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Warfare Wednesday: Of Elections, Tsunamis, and Cholera

"No one from the east or the west
       or from the desert can exalt a man.

 7 But it is God who judges:
       He brings one down, he exalts another."  Psalm 75:6-7

This verse popped up in my inbox this morning with a really good reminder for me that God is ultimately the one who judges.   I've really been thinking a lot of that simple concept of judging people and realize that I really do it a lot- and most often, not intentionally.  I'll see someone in an outfit that I would never wear and think something to myself about it.  Right there.  Judgement of another.  I'll see a photo of someone doing something I consider distasteful or wrong, and right there, my opinion of them lessens, because I judge them.

It is God who judges.  There are a couple of verses in the Bible about how we are not to judge one another, but as election season is really upon us- with elections less than a week away- here we are being told to judge between candidates.   But how do we know we are choosing the right candidate?  I have to trust in God on this one.  I have to believe that as I read about the candidates and make my choice, that the Holy Spirit is helping me make that choice.  Because you know what?  These campaigns are full of lies and slander, and it gives me great peace to think on and know that really, God knows the truth.  God knows the hearts of these men and women who are running for office, and He knows which ones will do the job in a Godly way.  I trust in that.  I also trust that should the wrong person get elected, that God knows their heart, AND God can change their heart- just as He changed Pharoah's heart all those years ago.  My job is to go out there and vote, and also to pray.  To pray that no matter who gets elected, God wins.   And then after the election, my job is to continue to pray for the people elected into office.

And so I pray this morning for this next week to be uneventful and peaceful in terms of the election. May God's candidates win in all instances.

I also am praying this morning for the people of Indonesia.  On Monday a large earthquake rumbled through the country triggering a 10-foot tsunami that has left a wake of destruction all along Indonesia's many islands.  As if that weren't enough, one of the volcanoes in the region, Mt. Merapi erupted, spewing ash and killing several dozen people.   As of this morning nearly 300 people are confirmed dead, with 400-some still missing.

Oh, may God bless Indonesia.  And the people of Indonesia.  May He give them comfort that only He can give.  May the love of God sweep through the islands and give these people who have lost everything hope peace, and comfort.  I am praying that we will hear stories of miracles and survivors who were thought lost- and all the glory will be given to God for their well-being.   May Indonesia turn to God in this time of rebuilding and recovery.

I also want to continue to pray for the country of Haiti this morning.  It just seems that we really need to keep this little country lifted in constant prayer.  It's been almost ten months since that devastating earthquake rocked the country, and now they are facing a very real threat from cholera.  Cholera comes from a contaminated water supply, and with so many people still living in camps and makeshift tent cities around the country, clean water can be hard to come by.  I am praying this morning for relief.  I am praying for the doctors who are working endlessly to try and reach all the people who may be infected with cholera.  Cholera can kill very quickly- sometimes within hours- and the people who suddenly find themselves very ill with symptoms have to be facing panic and terror at the idea that they could die without medicine.  May the peace of God spread through that tiny country.  May the Great Healer Himself, Jesus Christ walk through those camps and bring healing and life to those who are suffering.  May we hear about thousands of sick people suddenly being well again- and all the glory going to God.  May God purify the water there and make it sage once again for the people to drink.  I can't imagine being a mom with kids who are so thirsty, and you have to make a choice between no water or contaminated water. 

God loves the people of Haiti, and the people of Indonesia.  May they know the love He has for them as a result of these disasters being upon them.  God can use all things for good, and I pray that He does so in both these instances.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Light Of The World

"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

It's a gray, gray day outside today.  It's been raining most of the night, and it's still going.   Someone posted this verse above on Facebook, and it made me smile, because the only light so far this morning is coming from inside the house- it's just a dreary, blustery day.

Jesus is the light of the world.  I actually was thinking about this very thing last night, so seeing this verse this morning is confirmation to me that I was thinking the right thing.  I had been thinking about Halloween.  It's this coming Sunday, and every year I feel so conflicted about letting my kids dress up and do the trick-or-treat thing.  Every year!  Last year was the best Halloween ever, because we had a conference, and were at church all day, so the subject of Halloween didn't even really come up.  But as Halloween gets closer, and the kids are asking to go door-to-door, I just wish I had a really good answer for them.

What I was thinking about yesterday was about the actual "holiday" Halloween.  You know, it has so many different stories as to what it celebrates and where it came from.  The one I was particularly thinking of was the witchcraft celebration of Halloween as one of their "high holidays" of the year.  And it actually made me laugh, because I thought about this people group who worships the sun, the moon and the earth around them, and I just was shaking my head, because to me, that seems so silly to worship "things".  And things that God created after all!  You know, once upon a time (and not all that long ago) the day of Halloween made me nervous.  Maybe it was too many bad stories in Sunday School growing up about the evil that lurks on Halloween, but I would try to stay in at home as much as possible- I just had this feeling of foreboding when I would go out, that I had to watch myself because there was evil lurking about on Halloween.

But you know what?  Jesus is the light of the world.  And anyone who follows him will NEVER walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  There is absolutely no reason to fear the day of Halloween.  The thing is, when Jesus died on that cross for my sins, the devil lost every single chance to send evil my way.  I have Jesus inside of me- evil doesn't stand a chance.  It can try to scare me and mess with me, but the reality is that with Jesus a part of me, the darkness must flee. It has to, because I walk with the light of life a part of me at all times.

When you flip a switch on even a very small lamp, it lights up the darkest of rooms instantly.  When we ask Jesus into our hearts and lives, that switch is flipped, and while darkness may try to creep in from time to time, it really stands no chance with the light of life dwelling inside of us.   As I thought on this yesterday, it came to me that I really had no reason to be concerned about the day of Halloween.  No reason at all.  Then I thought about my kids going trick-or-treating, and I wondered if that was a compromise to participate in the holiday.  Eh. I've decided not.  Because while we do trick-or-treating on the day of Halloween, it doesn't mean we endorse the day and celebrate it.  I also thought that if we decided to take a stand and say we weren't going to do it, that we would also have to consider not participating in some of the Christmas activities we do, and the Easter activities we do, and maybe even reconsider parts of Thanksgiving.

So you know, my kids want to dress up and go ask the neighbors for candy.  Being new in the neighborhood, maybe this is a great opportunity to get to know some neighbors.  While Andy and the kids go out walking, I'll be at home with the light turned on to say hello as the neighbors knock on our door.  The light will be on, and who knows what opportunities could come in the future to share Jesus with our neighbors because we chose to not be hermits and hide away on this day. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Music In My Heart

"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."  Ephesians 5:19-20

I always have music playing in my heart.  I guess it's kind of an internal soundtrack- I always have a song going through my head- sometimes I even sing along a bit.  There have been times where that very thing has annoyed me to no end- whatever the song of the day is will keep me awake at night, because it just won't stop.  But you know, it's been a while since a song has annoyed me like that because I think I'm finally realizing that when a particular song is running through my head- it's supposed to be there.  I think that it's the Holy Spirit, looking through the catalog of music that I know and cuing up just the right one to fit a situation that's coming up, or to fit the day in general.

Most times, the songs running through my head are some kind of worship song- it just seems to happen that way.  But every once in a while that will change and I'll get something more unusual going through my head.  An old song from my teenage years, or a song from a musical- secular, not secular.  Over the last few weeks there actually has been one song in particular ending up in my head a lot- from one of the kids favorite musicals.  Not only has it been in my head a lot, but I even hear it when I'm out shopping over the loudspeaker in the store. After two or three weeks it finally dawned on me to ask God what He's trying to communicate to me with this song- if anything.  Maybe it's just getting stuck in my head.

Here are the main lyrics from the song that's been in my head.

We can't back down
There's too much at stake
This is serious
Don't walk away
We can't pretend it's not happening
In our own backyard
Our own home plate
We've been called out
Do you hear your name?
I'm not confused
Let's win this thing
We can't back down
There's too much at stake
Don't walk away
Don't walk away
 I have to say that in this case, when I read these lyrics, it is no trouble at all to see that maybe God is trying to tell me something with this song.  As Christians, we can't back down!  The world around us is crumbling and dying, and we can't just ignore it and walk away- we win in the end, and it's our job to take as many with us as we can. 

And yet sometimes, we can get fired up and charged up, and then we just kind of take a break or fizzle out.  Wouldn't you know, the Sunday morning sermon yesterday was all about not losing momentum.  It was about staying focused on God and not settling back to relax (spiritually) for even a minute. 

At the same time, yesterday I was having such a rough day.  I felt like I hadn't slept in weeks- I was so tired and exhausted.  The kids were far from pleasant (and I mean far!) and for a good deal of the day I went back and forth on whether or not to go to the Sunday evening service.  I always go to the Sunday evening service, and every time I contemplate not going, I end up going, and I find that there is something in the message that I really needed to hear.  Yesterday though, I was conflicted.  All I wanted to do was stay home, relax, put the kids to bed early, and go to bed early myself.  Was I backing down if I skipped going to church? Was I losing focus if I stayed home for the purpose of physically resting?

Just as I was thinking about how torn I was about whether or not to stay home, the kids had a particularly yucky argument.  They were obviously tired, and I had a thought come to mind about all the bugs and flu's and sicknesses going around, and I realized that tired kids and tired me are not repelling disease like we should.  If our physical bodies are worn down, we can't fight off those bugs.  I know that God placed that thought in my head.  He let me know that it really was okay that I was staying home with the kids for the purpose of resting. It wasn't compromising anything if we took an evening to get extra rest.  And that's exactly what we did.  I let the kids relax and watch TV for a while, and then I put them to bed early.  Shortly after Andy came from church, I turned in myself.  And slept.

And this morning, I am so thankful to God for the peace in my heart about staying home last night because I feel like I really got some rest.  I feel like I slept well (although the jury is still out on the kids) and I am ready for a new day. 

And that song that has been in my head- is still there. And you know, when I think about it, not only does it have a message for me, but the song itself has got a really energizing beat.  Something to help me look at the week ahead and decide to tackle it head on- thanks to the wonderful rest I got yesterday.  God is so good to give us just what we need.  And as I look one more time at this verse this morning, it makes me laugh a little.  It says right there to speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sounds like a musical to me!  Can you imagine if we were standing in the grocery line and just started singing to the person next to us?  And yet, isn't that really what this verse is telling us to do?  It's something to think about, because we've already learned that our words have power.  If we add some song to those words does that make them even more powerful?  Hmm, thoughts for another day I think.

God is so good.  Tell Him that today, and ask Him to show you something new and exciting today.  He loves you, and He's hoping you'll ask today.

Friday, October 22, 2010


"The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly." Proverbs 15:2

One of our local car dealerships often has scripture verses on its billboard.  This one has been on there for a few weeks now, and every time I read it, I have to pause and think about it.   This morning for some reason I thought about that billboard upon waking, so here it is.  When I look at a Proverb in particular, I like to look at it in several translations, because sometimes it sheds new light on what it has to say to me.

Here it is in Amplified:

"The tongue of the wise utters knowledge rightly, but the mouth of the [self-confident] fool pours out folly."

And I like the King James version too in this case:

The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.

So the question today is are we wise and do we know how to use our tongue wisely? How many times have you had a conversation with someone that later on when you thought about it, you thought you said some dumb things?  I sure know I have.  Sometimes, those things come out because I feel like I HAVE to say something.  Instead, I should just keep the foolish words to myself and look like the quiet type instead of the foolish type.

Here's the thing.  When we follow the path of the foolish, just saying whatever comes to mind, we appear to be foolish to others- even when we may not be.  Now what happens when that person has a serious matter that needs prayer?  Or what happens when that person needs some spiritual counsel?  Who are they going to talk to?  Certainly not you - not even when you may be the best person for the job.  You may have gone through exactly what that person is going through and can counsel them to help them get through, but in past conversations with them, your mouth runneth over with foolish sayings, and they don't believe that you truly have wisdom to offer.

Wisdom is holding your tongue in the first place. 

There are other reasons to hold your tongue though- it isn't necessarily just to keep you from appearing foolish to others, the tongue is also one of the most important tools in our body.

"The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."  Proverbs 18:21

The tongue has the power of life and death.  Truly, it does.  We should be using our tongues at all times to speak life into people, and not death.  We should guard our tongues carefully against cursing someone, or calling them a name that makes them less than what they are.  I'll give you a very real and very practical example.

How many people are walking around cursing our saying bad things about President Obama and the current administration?  A whole lot.  There's a whole lot of negative tongue talking, and the longer his presidency goes on, the worse things seem to be getting.  What if all these naysayers and spreaders of negativity actually took the time to say positive things about him?  Even the simplest things, and instead of cursing him or his administration, say a blessing over him and speak words of encouragement.  Think of all those horrible political pundits on radio shows or TV talk shows whose only job is to criticize whatever the current president is doing.  Those people should be banned from spreading their malicious words, because they are causing so much hurt.  Every time the president hears someone say he is doing a bad job, his spirit takes that in.  You can see it visibly- I think!  When he was first elected, he had a stature and a demeanor to him that told me he had a chance at doing a decent job.  All those negative words take a toll, and he just seems to have lost some of that spark.

We Christians especially, should be speaking life into our leaders and elected officials.  We should be speaking life into our neighbors, our friends, our checkout clerk at the grocery store.  The other day, Zander was struggling a bit with his subtraction problems for school.  He knows his subtraction problems, so this baffled me a bit.  He kept saying that he wasn't good at subtraction, and just all over had a deflated math day.  The whole time I kept telling him that he is a smart boy, that he knows his subtraction facts and that he could do it.  Well, the next day, we opened up his math book and found the subtraction to be much harder in content- subtracting double digits instead of the basic facts.  I warned him that it might be a little tricky, but I thought he could do it.  He gave me a crazy look and sat down and did every single problem with an attitude like he knew what he was doing and had done this a million times before.

Our words are powerful!  And so many of us just don't realize that what we are saying can and will truly affect the person we are speaking with.  If you only know me from this blog, you'd be surprised to learn that by nature, I am a fairly quiet person.  I like to really take in what other people are saying, and I just find that many times I don't have much to say in return.  But more so, lately, I've been trying to be more conscious of what my tongue says- and I think that makes me even quieter.  If I can't say something nice, I don't say anything at all.  And sometimes, that leads to complete silence.  That's okay.  I'd rather come across as a shy, quiet person than as the person who killed some one's dream or idea.

So let's take on a personal challenge this weekend to watch our words.  Let's challenge ourselves to only speak life- and to keep the poisonous words out of our vocabulary in all things.  And by all things, I mean not cursing the leaves all over the yard that need to be raked up.  I mean not cursing the dog when they pee on your carpet.  And not cursing your child when you have to repeat instructions to them 20 times before they seem to hear you.  Let's watch our words, and see if we can make a difference. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our Desire

"I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."  Psalm 40:8

Is it?  Is His precious law within my heart?  It's getting better.  You know, I have a fabulous short-term memory.  I can look at a verse or two, sear it into my brain and recite it perfectly within a couple of hours.  But ask me a few days later, and then I get forgetful.  When I was a kid in Sunday School class, I always had my verses memorized- but it was a result of memorizing just before class started.  I would recite, and then promptly forget.

Every once in a while I would come across someone who could recite scripture like you wouldn't believe.  They knew the verses, where they were found, and it seemed like they knew hundreds of them.  I determined that these people learned their scripture so well because they purposed to spend time in His Word.  That has helped a lot, that's for sure.  I do know more and more verses, and actually, a lot of those verses that I thought I forgot from my youth?  I still remember them after all.  I may not remember where they are, but I will find myself, in situations, trilling familiar words in my head, and it will be one of those long-lost verses.  The mind is an incredible thing!

But what we take into it is what comes out.  Have you ever known someone who can quote movies or songs like there's no tomorrow?  Ask them to recite some scripture... the mouth is very telling.   I know I talk a lot about making sure we are spending time reading our Bibles, it's just so incredibly important! Imagine living in a house with someone.  You see each other every day, spend hours in the same room, you eat together, go to bed at the same time at night, but you never actually communicate with each other.  You never talk to each other to find out what the other person has to say to you.  It's the same thing with God.  When we don't spend time reading our Bibles, we're not giving Him opportunity to pour something special into our lives. 

Memorization is another tool to help take that Word into our hearts, and trap it- or keep it there.  My kids learn incredibly when they memorize to song- I actually imagine most people memorize easily that way.  Every day, at the beginning of our school day, we listen to scripture set to music.  One verse, every day for a few weeks, and they know that verse incredibly well.  It can be a great tool- and I mention it hear for anyone who may be struggling to memorize scripture.  Find one of the many CD's out there that is simply that- scripture verse set to song.

Another way to help memorize a verse is to put a verse on paper, and put it somewhere where you see it every day.  I have a verse that I've stuck to the fridge.  It's been there for months, and every time I go to the fridge (which is a lot in a day) I see that verse and read it again.  I most definitely have it memorized, and should probably put another one up, but I've become so fond of seeing THAT verse throughout my day.

And that's one of the points of memorization.  When you have God's Word locked and hidden inside your heart, you can bring it forth in a time of need.  When you're really struggling with whether God has the best intentions for you, you can recite Jeremiah 29:11 to yourself, and bolster your soul by telling yourself that God has plans for you- plans to prosper and not harm you.  Even better, when you have these words hidden in your heart, and you come upon someone who needs to know how much God loves them, you can just share God's Word with them- from the depths of your own heart and mind.  I don't know about you, but I don't carry a Bible with me everywhere I go.

Scripture memorization has such a wonderful place in helping us to become more like Christ.  I think that all too often it is dismissed as something for school-children or Sunday School classes.  It's not.  It's very much for you and I, so that the more of God's Word we take into our minds, the more Christ-like our minds become.  And when the devil comes a-calling, trying to mess us up, we can spit scripture right at him and make him disappear and leave us alone.

When we have God's law within our hearts, it's much easier to do His Will.  It should be our desire to want to take as much of His Word into us and make it a part of us, so that we can call upon the name of the Lord whenever we need it.

"I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart."  Psalm 40:8

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Warfare Wednesday

"For lack of guidance a nation falls,
       but many advisers make victory sure."  Proverbs 11:14

We're just a few short weeks away from election day here in the United States.  The advertising and stumping for candidates is off the charts this time around.  Every day half the newspaper is about how this candidate is accusing that candidate of spreading fallacies or is stretching the truth.  And it doesn't stop!  Nearly a month ago it was brought to light how one of the candidates may have stretched the truth a little bit.  And just yesterday there it was again- only in a full-blown headline.   It's just become the hour of desperation for some, I think.  And I have to believe that the more we pray for this election, the more we will see God work on the hearts of the men and women running for office.  I think the more we pray for those who we know reverence God, the better the outcome will be for them on election day.

That's our job you know.  I heard someone this past weekend say that it was time for us who are Christians to start running for office.  Well, I am not one to run for office, but I sure can pray for those who are running for office.  I can pray that they will hear God's voice, and listen to it.  And I can pray that these men and women will surround themselves with good counsel.  As I read this verse in Proverbs this morning, all I see is the blazing truth in it.  A leader needs good advisers- and many of them- surrounding them at all times.  Trusted advisers who seek God's Will for their leader and will guide them in the right direction.

I fear our President does not have such advisers at his disposal, and I pray for that this morning.  I pray that Godly men and women will come into positions to advise the President of the United States.  And I pray that President Obama will listen to them.  That he will see the truth in their words, and that he will know the love that God has for him personally, as well as for this country.

We're studying the Civil War right now in History.  It's been very mind-opening, as I've learned things that I don't remember learning before.  One of the things that's important for us to do is to look back and see how things went awry in the past, and not repeat bad mistakes.  Right now our country is in a bad state politically- the political parties are in a terrible way right now, and what's horrible to look back and see is that the state of the political parties in the 1860's is what exactly led to Civil War in this nation.  It was the division of the political parties that ultimately caused the south to secede, because they saw there was no respect for their candidates from the north, east or west.  So they seceded, put their own government in place, and the worst war in our nation's history began shortly thereafter.

I pray that God will work in His mighty way within the political parties.  I pray for His Will to be done above all, and that people within the parties will look to God for the answers.  I pray for an end to the divisiveness in this country, that people will find the Peace that passes all understanding, and that righteousness will be the answer.  May God be with our nation in the weeks ahead, and may His Mighty Spirit breathe on those who He would have in office and fill them with Godly wisdom and understanding.

May God Bless America.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Desires of Your Heart

“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."  Psalm 37:4

I had been witness to a discussion a while back about this very verse in the Bible.  It really wasn't a very good discussion, but it made me think about it for a while.  There were people in this discussion who seemed to be terribly offended by other people who took this verse at face value and believed it.   What the discussion did for me, personally, was that it prompted me to really think on God, to examine my heart and think about what this verse actually is saying.

Is it saying that if I delight myself in God that He will give me a house?  A car?  A new boat?  A million dollars? 

It could be.  I happen to believe in a loving God who is my Father.  And as a parent, I know how wonderful it is to experience the joy that comes from giving my children something they really want.  I think that God thinks that way sometimes, and I know that the day that I found this house that we are living in, that God was just as delighted for us as we were.  He was rejoicing with us and pleased with Himself for bringing us to such a place of joy.

But then I examine this verse further.  It used to be that when I read this verse, I got caught up in the idea of delighting in God.  I had no idea what that meant, and maybe I still don't fully understand, but I do know how to let myself go and delight in Him from time to time.  I know how to throw my arms out, spin in a circle and thank God for the beautiful sunny day He has provided.  I know how to praise Him and thank Him with all my heart for the goodness and mercy that He has shown others.   I do think I know how to delight.  But it's that second part that is catching me now- the desires of my heart.  What are the desires of my heart?  The REAL and true desires of my heart?

So often, I think we read the verse above and think that the desires of our heart are some of the physical or material things here on earth.  Maybe we read this verse and think that the desire of our heart is for a spouse, for children and a family.  Maybe we think the desire of our heart is to be financially secure.  Or maybe we think our desire is to travel the globe to reach out to unsaved people for Him.  All wonderful desires, but are they the true desires of our heart? 

"For you created my inmost being;
       you knit me together in my mother's womb.
 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
       your works are wonderful,
       I know that full well.

 15 My frame was not hidden from you
       when I was made in the secret place.
       When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,"  Psalm 139:13-15

He knit us together in the womb.  And when He knit us together, He placed a particular desire in our heart for Jesus, and for His love.   The more I'm thinking on this verse, the more I'm thinking that it could be as simple as that.  When we delight in God, He gives us the desires of our heart, by giving us more of Him in our lives.  My heart cries out for Him, and only He can satisfy.

"My soul yearns, even faints,
       for the courts of the LORD;
       my heart and my flesh cry out
       for the living God."  Psalm 84:2

The more we delight in Him, the more He fills our hearts with more of Him. And the more we get of Him, the closer we are to becoming like our brother Jesus.

"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 more we delight in Him, the more the Christ that is inside of us awakens, waiting to be revealed to those around us who need Him. Maybe the desires of my heart are actually the same as the desires of His heart.  To see the whole world choose Him.  To see a trillion souls choose life and love with a loving Father for all eternity.  And the world will know...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good Morning

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."  Psalm 27:14

What a wonderful weekend.  We are literally exhausted, but we were so blessed by the words that wonderful people of God brought forth. As the weekend went on, despite all the work we had to put into it, I just felt more and more at peace.  And when I saw this verse this morning, it just seemed to fit. 

Because I'm almost in a thought pattern of "what's next God?"  Truly, we've been waiting for this past weekend for almost a full year, and a lot of what we've been learning has been in preparation for what we were going to hear. This peaceful feeling I have this morning, this state of bliss, just  takes this verse from the Psalms and applies it directly to my brain.  Seriously.  Because maybe I am thinking about what's next.  But you know what?  God knows exactly what's next, and when the time is right, He will let me know what is next.

So I can wait.  I will wait, I will wait patiently, and I will just relish being in this peaceful place while I am waiting.  There is no need for me to run frazzled into the headlights and try to find something, anything to do.  I think that often times, that's what people do.  A season of service comes to a conclusion, and rather than waiting on the Lord, and waiting for His direction, they take a logical look at the options and just thrust themselves headlong into a new task.   When perhaps God had been preparing a new place for them, and now they are too busy to see that God had been doing so in the first place.  When we wait, when we sit back and wait for God to give us a go-ahead, we can have confidence in knowing that we are doing exactly what He wants us to be doing.

Do you know what else I've found though?  That when I truly do wait on God, when He does bring an answer, He brings it clearly.  In addition to that, there is usually confirmation through another source as to the correctness of this decision we are making.

When we were thinking about making our physical move for our family, we were really wondering where God wanted us.  We had a radius in mind that included dozens of different communities, and it was really important to us that we ended up exactly where God wanted us.   When we found this house, even though I felt it was right, I wanted to be sure, and I asked God if He really wanted us in this city.  I'll admit, I had dreams of visions of living in the country,and thought maybe that was where God directed us.  What God did was bring to mind a conversation that Andy had shared with a good friend of ours.  She had had a dream about our family, and in the dream, we were in an apple orchard and we were full of joy, and we were happy.  I'll admit that after hearing that, a part of me wondered if God was going to give us an actual apple orchard.  But as I thought on that dream further, it didn't take me long to realize that we were moving to a city called Appleton.  Appleton also means "apple town"  but to take it one step further with etymology, in Old English, aeppletun literally means "orchard".   God confirmed for us, through the words of another person, that we were making the right move for our family.

"A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."  Deuteronomy 19:15

This verse in Deuteronomy is actually being applied to an issue of men committing crimes, but I find that it is applicable in other situations as well.  If we are unsure of the decision to be made, I think that God actually likes it when we ask Him for confirmation, if we ask Him for two or three "witnesses", because then He has more opportunities to talk to us and share His plans for us.

So we wait on Him.  We wait and be patient, and when we think an answer has presented itself, we can ask Him for confirmation.  God will let us know if we are making the right choice, or the bad choice.  We can have confidence in our God, because he is good all the time. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  Romans 8:28

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Warfare Wednesday: He Is God

"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."  Exodus 20:2-3

Sometimes a person just needs to read this verse out loud.  When I read the words "I am the Lord your God", I just feel like I have to do something.  I feel like I'm torn between two things, on the one hand, I want to start jumping up and down and shouting for joy.  On the other hand, I want to fall prostrate to the ground in adoration.  I think both would be acceptable to God.  :)

This morning, which is the scheduled morning when we set aside time to pray for President Obama and other government leaders, I am filled with joy.  The rescue is underway this morning for the Chilean Miners.  My heart is near to bursting at the goodness of God, to be with those men as they've been trapped underground for 69 days.  Honestly, I imagine this is how the world felt during the Apollo 13 disaster, as they learned with great joy that the astronauts would not perish in space, but would return to earth.  

God is just so good!  He IS the Lord our God, and it is HE who enabled the drill to get to the miners many weeks sooner than anticipated.  It is God who filled the men above with knowledge to design and build the rescue capsule.  And it is God who is even now, with the men waiting underground.  He is filling them with HIS peace and HIS goodness.  I have even heard reports that there are miners who have accepted Jesus as their Savior while underground!  How wonderful is that!?

The song in my heart this morning is that God is good all the time. I have such joy right now, as I think about these miners reaching the surface and seeing their loved ones.  It is my fervent prayer this morning that all 33 will know that God was with them while they were trapped underground, and that they will not have the health and mental and emotional troubles of being back in the real world.  May God give them His perfect peace and perfect health.

I also want to pray this morning for the many campaigns going on around the country- and particularly here in my home state of Wisconsin.  I want to pray for truth to come to light.  The campaigns have not been very good, actually, and there has been a lot of mudslinging and untruthful words said.  While a campaign may use an untruth to try and sway voters, really, all it's doing right now is causing confusion.  Voters are having to really research and sift through this and that, trying to find out the actual truth.  I pray that the campaigns in general will stop being so dishonest and just share the truth.  I pray that God will help the voters to see the truth behind the words being shared. 

But most of all this morning, I just pray that the verse I posted above will be truth around the globe.  May this Chilean miner rescue show the glory of God as the whole world is watching the situation unfold.  And as I close this morning, I have a verse running through my head, so I guess I will share it.

"The LORD bless you
       and keep you;
 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
       and be gracious to you;

 26 the LORD turn his face toward you
       and give you peace." ' Numbers 6:24-26

I am going to be taking an extended weekend break this week.  It's conference week, and I simply won't have the time to do some regular posting over the next few days.  For all my regular readers, I pray these verses from the book of Numbers over you.  May God bless you in the days ahead, may He shine on you and give you great peace.  Be blessed, I'll talk to you soon.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Golden Calf

"When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him."
 2 Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods,  O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." Exodus 32:1-4

Last night, as I was dozing off to sleep, I randomly began to think about what I might blog about this morning.  I do that sometimes, and some scripture verses will come to mind and I'll be able to mull on them a while before going to sleep. Last night, as I though to myself, what shall I blog about tomorrow, I got a blazing mental image in my mind of the great golden calf.  Huh.

So I spent some time dwelling on it. I was thinking about the Israelites- how could they?  Really.  How could they have experienced all this wonderful, miraculous stuff from God and then turn around and start worshiping a golden calf?  It doesn't make any sense at all.  Moses was on that mountain for 40 days, and they couldn't even go that long before they started demanding that Aaron make them an idol to worship.  They crossed the Red Sea on dry land.  They watched Pharaoh and his armies be obliterated before their eyes.  And yet they wanted an idol to worship.

And then it came to me.  I thought about that golden calf, and I thought about how it hadn't been all that long, and already the Israelites were turning to something else instead of God, and I saw that the Israelites were only being human.   While we may not be taking off our jewelry and making idols with it, we may have our own golden calf that's taking the place of God. Yikes.

Just yesterday, I had an incredibly busy day (and another one today) where I was literally doing two things at once all day long.   When lunch time rolled around, I prepared my lunch, and my usual habit is to sit at the table and do some Bible reading with lunch.  Yesterday though, I looked at my Bible, stared at it for a while and then thought to myself how this was such a busy day, I should go sit at the computer with lunch and check e-mails and message boards, because it would probably be the only time during the day I would get to do that.  And I did!  And do you know that later in the day I really felt badly about that.  I kept seeing myself in my mind choosing the computer over time with God.  So to think on that golden calf just before bed...

How many of us make golden calves in our life sometimes.  We can experience something wonderful from God, and then just a short while later, we're "too busy" to spend time with him.  This time of year in particular, that golden calf is often a football game, or TV shows that are starting back up again.  Our golden calf could be our jobs, our hobbies, or even activities with our kids.  The golden calf is the thing that takes our eyes off God, and takes the status of importance in our life.  When I choose to go sit at the computer and spend the time with people I've never even met in real life over spending time in my Bible and KNOWING that God will speak to me in that time, I've obviously made a really poor choice.

Because I know that God speaks to me personally a lot in my Bible reading time.  Almost every single time I open up my Bible and just spend time inside, something new comes to light that I've never seen before.  Or I'll see a scripture or two that directly apply to my current situation.  

But yesterday, the golden calf, gleaming and bright called to me from across the room and beckoned me to come spend some time, and I listened.

Thank God I am alive in the time of grace, and thank God we all are alive during this time, and not Old Testament time.   Because what happened to those golden calf worshipers?  They were put to death!

"Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.' " 28 The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died."  Exodus 32:27-28

And those who didn't die directly were struck down with a horrible plague.

"And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made."  Exodus 32:35

Dear God, please help me to not be like the Israelites.  Help me to learn from their example, and to not let the golden calves of this day distract me from the glory that is You. Help me to be more mindful of my choices each day, and keep me centered in Your perfect will.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dwell On Him

"My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him."  Psalm 62:1

This verse this morning reminded me that rest really does come from God.  And you know what?  Sometimes the devil tries to steal our rest.  Why?  Because when we don't get enough rest, our bodies react to it.  One needs only to spend time with a baby who didn't get their regular nap to see how that works.  When I don't get enough rest, my temper gets shorter and shorter, and it really doesn't take long for me to go from normal to irritated with everyone around me.  I used to have a habit of spending time talking to God when I went to bed at night. I would thank Him for the day, share any concerns, and if I still found myself struggling to fall asleep, I would start thinking in tongues... that works almost every single time.

But it's been a while since I did that.  I think it's because I've been trying to get more in the habit of talking to God all day long, and at the end of the day I just want to hit my pillow and fall asleep.  Well, the other night I was reminded of one of the reasons that I had been talking to God at night.  I was thinking about something.  Specifically, a situation that was completely annoying to me, except that this particular situation had nothing to do with me.  And I literally mean nothing to do with me.  It wasn't a problem that I should have been mulling on in the first place, but I was.  And I was mulling on it for a really long time- it was keeping me awake well into the night.  I truly could not stop thinking about this thing.  The worst of it was, the next day was extremely busy for me too- so I really could have used the sleep, and every once in a while that would creep into my head as well.

And then it struck me.  It struck me totally that the situation that was keeping me up at night Was. Not. My. Problem.  Not only that, the feelings of anger and frustration that kept coming to surface were not as they should be.  I had no reason to be angry or frustrated, and I had to repent.  I know the Holy Spirit finally decided He had had enough of my dwelling that night, because it became clear as a crystal ball that I was totally wrong, and worse than that, I was losing hours of sleep over something that was none of my business.  I apologized to God, asked him to take those thoughts out of my head, and I also commanded the devil to get away from my mind.  He has no authority over me, since salvation comes from God alone, I belong to God, and the devil has no right to place errant thoughts in my head.  And just like that, the thoughts stopped, I thanked God, and asked Him to help me get a restful sleep with the night that was left.

I did have a fairly restful night after that.  The next day I was only a touch more tired than normal, but as the day went on, a quick cup of coffee or such revived me enough, and I got everything done that needed to get done- and then some. 

Rest, real rest, and salvation come from God alone.  If we are saved, if we are blessed enough to have asked Jesus into our lives, His rest is right there, waiting for us.  All we have to do is reach out and grab it, and it's ours.  God wants us to find rest throughout our days- it was so important to Him that God Himself rested on the seventh day.

"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 on the seventh day- AND made the day holy because He rested.  God is our source of rest, because He created rest.  When we dwell on Him, and spend time with Him, He helps us to see when we are  not getting enough rest.

I am so thankful for His rest, and I am thankful for salvation, so that I can rest, and abide in Him all the days of my life.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Perfect Peace

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

I read this verse yesterday and it really made me smile, because I noticed something in this verse that I hadn't noticed before.  I've heard and read this verse a hundred times- and then some.  When we're going through a rough time, I like to read it, because it fills me with peace just to read it or say it to myself.  When I notice that I start to get anxious and troubled, I remember that my Bible says to not be troubled, and to not be afraid.  It's like a soothing balm to my troubled soul.

But do you see what it says there?  Jesus is talking and He says "Peace I leave with you; MY peace I give you." That's huge!  Right there Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving them HIS peace.  I know I've read and heard that the same number of times I've heard the rest of the verse, but this is awesome to read, because I happen to know something about Jesus' peace.  It's perfect.  It's absolute perfection- just as Jesus was. 

Jesus gave us His Perfect Peace before leaving this earth.   Fear and worry have absolutely no place in our lives, and yet the devil wants us to fear and worry.  He will place newspaper headlines in our path that will give us fear- movies, books and TV shows that also fill our spirits with the ideas of fear.  Those all come from the devil and from this world.  And the thing is,  we don't just keep that fear to ourselves, but we pass that fear on to our children in many regards as well.  We worry about our children's safety sometimes, (naturally, as most parents do), but maybe sometimes we take that too far and plant a seed of fear in them instead of a seed of peace.

I'm thinking about that idea this morning.  And I'm praying about it simultaneously.  Because the last thing I want is to have inadvertently placed a seed of something worldly in my children's hearts- even out of a desire for good.   I remember Abigail coming home from school in first grade and telling me about the "Code Black" drill they'd had to practice.  Boy, what a way to put fear into the hears of the entire school district.  School shootings were happening en masse then, and they just wanted to do their best to prevent the same tragedy from happening at their school.  Abigail seemed to be okay with it, but after that, any day that I heard fire trucks or police sirens in the distance, my heart would instantly start racing and I would be so afraid that something awful was going on at the school just a few blocks away where my baby was. That little kernel of fear was suggested to me, and I really couldn't let it go.

Perfect Peace chases out the not-so-perfect fear.  Jesus gave us a spirit of peace, it's this world that tries to chase that peace out.  In fact, the peace of Jesus is so perfect, it can keep the fear out completely, but we live in a world that tells us it is natural to have fears.  Every other character on TV has a phobia or fear of something, and we are told it is perfectly normal.  In grade school, kids make their lists of favorite colors, birthdays, and what they are afraid of.  Why do we make fears normal? 

I should note that fear and caution are two different things.  Caution is a wonderful tool that God gave us to use common sense in our lives.  When we see a snake in our yard, we should use caution to discern whether or not that snake could bring us harm.  We should not take an attitude of fearlessness and just approach what could be a harmful snake... we should use the caution and common sense that God gave us to discern whether or not the situation should be avoided.

Peace erases fear.  I've been talking a bit about natural fears- fears of death, snakes, strangers, but what about the emotional fears?  Guess what?  Jesus takes those away too.  We don't have to be afraid of what other people think of us.  We don't have to be afraid of approaching that stranger to pray for them- because God gives us a spirit of truth and peace.   We also don't have to ever be afraid of following God's will for our lives, because Jesus' peace will smooth the path before us.  He will guide us in the way we should go and has more peace just waiting there for us, should we need it.

Jesus gave us perfect peace!   Perfect because it is His peace, and He is perfection.  This is something to remember, and to pray about.  And the next time we feel fear creeping up on us and causing not so pleasant things to stir in our spirit, we should speak aloud the words that Jesus left us with.  We should stir up the atmosphere around us with His perfect peace, and when we do that, the worldly fear trying to break in will have to flee, because Jesus has already conquered the darkness for us, and it has no power here on earth.  It may think it does sometimes- and it wants us to think it does, but it really doesn't.  With Jesus' perfect peace, there is no room for darkness and fear.

May God bless you this weekend with the perfect peace of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Better Than Life

"O God, you are my God,
       earnestly I seek you;
       my soul thirsts for you,
       my body longs for you,
       in a dry and weary land
       where there is no water.

 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
       and beheld your power and your glory.

 3 Because your love is better than life,
       my lips will glorify you.

 4 I will praise you as long as I live,
       and in your name I will lift up my hands.

 5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
       with singing lips my mouth will praise you."  Psalm 63:1-5

I added all five of these verses here this morning, because the whole cluster of verses just plain makes me happy.  It makes me smile and think about how truly wonderful God is.  But it's verse 3 that really sings to me this morning- and specifically the first part of verse three.  The part where David says "your love is better than life."  WOW! And then I close my eyes and I think on that dreamily, and I repeat it to myself.  "Your love is better than life."

You know, that's quite the statement.  It makes me think about how each and every day I find myself amazed at life itself and how wonderful it is.  I drive around our city and think my heart is going to burst because I'm so overjoyed to live here.   I spend time with my kids and every day I think about how wonderful they are and  how rich they make my life.  I go to church where I spend time in corporate worship, and I just think about how life just can't get any better than this.  And then I see David say that God's love is better than life.

That makes me smile. It also makes me think and as I read these verses written by a man who was in a troublesome situation, and yet takes the time to praise and glorify God, I think that I want to be there.  I want to be at that point in my walk with God where every word out of my lips will seek to glorify God- and not be used, instead, to tear someone down or say something unkind.  I want to be satisfied.  I want to know what David knew, and also what Paul knew.

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:11-13

Any day now, Andy could come home from work and share with us that the work year is over for him, and I dwell on that far too much.  Yet, yesterday he came home with news that his work year may very well be extended now- thank God for that!  But still, in the forefront of my mind is, OK, but what are you going to do when the work is done...bills and rent just don't go away...and yet I read verses like this almost every day it seems, and I just know that God is doing a great work in me.  I know that God is speaking to my spirit and I desire to trust Him with all my heart.  I am learning, very much, to do everything through Him, because He gives me strength.  It is because of Him that I get out of bed every morning.

My soul wants to be satisfied.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Warfare Wednesday

"Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal."  Isaiah 26:4

In God We Trust.

This week I am praying for President Obama and his wife Michelle.  Specifically, I feel like today I want to pray for their marriage- that they are able to find time for each other with all the craziness that's required of the president.  I pray that they can maintain a healthy relationship for both their benefit- and for the benefit of their daughters.  I cannot imagine how tough it is to maintain a successful relationship, let alone a marriage, when one or the both of you is constantly flying around the country.  I pray for peace in their family, and that God will continue to protect both of them in every circumstance.  Most importantly though, I pray that together, they will desire to draw closer to God.

And I am praying, once again, for the many election campaigns working hard right now to get their candidates elected.  May the right people for the job get elected- the ones who believe those very words that are printed on all our money- In God We Trust.  When the people go to the ballots to cast their votes- may votes be cast for God above all- regardless of the party that person is in.  May Godly men and women be elected to take over Washington and the state governments.  And may there be peace in this country through the whole election process.

This morning I'd also like to spend time praying for the miners that are trapped in the country of Chile.  They have been trapped underground since mid-August.  Rescue efforts are going remarkably well, and the timeline for rescuing them from underground has been drastically bumped up.  I pray for peace underground, that those trapped men will continue to stay safe and sane.  I also pray for continued safety as the actual rescue drilling is underway.  May God keep any further collapse from happening, and may each and every one of those men underground return to their families safe and sound.  May they feel the presence of God with them as they continue to live their day-to-day in a bizarre fashion. 

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Come And Eat

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

 2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
       and your labor on what does not satisfy?
       Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
       and your soul will delight in the richest of fare."  Isaiah 55:1-2 

Imagine this scenario.  You decide to go grocery shopping.  You wheel your cart around the store, filling it with good things to eat, and then you go to the checkout.  You wait in line for your turn at the cashier, and then you arrive.  The cashier scans your groceries and they get placed in bags.  You wait patiently for the total so that you can pay and leave.  Instead, the cashier smiles, and says Thank you for shopping with us today, there is no charge for these groceries, enjoy them, and come back when you need to."

That would be fun, wouldn't it?  And yet, those groceries, though they cost us nothing, don't really satisfy that hunger that is deep inside us.  That gnawing that is coming from within us that neither food nor drink will fill and take away.

Only God can satisfy that hunger that lies restless inside. 

So many people today try to fill that hunger with other things.  They try to find a hobby to fill it with, or a career, or perhaps they try to fill it with other people, family, friends.  But the truth is, that until God fills that hunger, there will always seem to be something missing.  And then, when the truth comes to light, that it is only God who can fill that empty space, and we ask God to fill that empty space, we will find that our soul is filled with delight.

We were born to crave God. 

Have you ever had a food craving?  Pregnant women are infamous for food cravings, but I'm sure we all remember one time or another where we just HAD to have a brownie, or a piece of fried chicken, or a cheeseburger from that fast food place down the street.

Our soul has a different craving- a craving that will not go away until Jesus Christ Himself has satisfied it.  We could spend our entire lifetime spending millions of dollars on millions of things to try and meet that craving, but it is all in vain- as the only thing that will satisy that craving is the Living Bread and the Living Water.

The great news is that we don't have to spend our lifetime searching in vain for that elusive "thing" that will satisfy our soul.  We can have that very thing for free at anytime.  All we have to do is say yes to Jesus, and He will satisfy our soul's desires beyond our wildest dreams.

Jesus is all we need.  With Him in our hearts and our lives, we need never fear finding an empty space in our lives again.  Sometimes we may feel that our tanks might be running a little low- and for me, that is a sign that I have not been spending enough time in my Bible, or enough time in prayer.   But all I have to do is purpose to spend some time with Him, and that tank fills right back up, and I feel satiety and contentment.  I feel blessed and like I can take on the world.  Jesus does that all by Himself.

Jesus satisfies like nothing else can.  Come, all you are thirsty and drink.  There is no cost.

Monday, October 04, 2010

'Tis True!

"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth."  Proverbs 27:1

Sometimes all it takes is one simple little sentence to give you a really great reminder.  Boasting is such an annoying habit to witness.  I'm sure we all know people who tend to boast about their doings in life- their comings and goings, who they interact with, and things like that.   When you interact with someone like that on an everyday basis though, it can be easy to get caught up in their boasting, and maybe want to show them up or at least try to look like you do things as important as they do.

Well, we shouldn't stoop to their level.   This verse just gives us such great advice.  Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.  SO true!  How many times do we look at the calendar, see the day ahead of us and think how grand that day will be.  Then we wake up, and they day goes wrong from start to finish.   Or we make plans financially- we plan a grand trip or a major purchase, and we tell others about how we're going to do this or buy this- and then the plan goes south because of a job lay-off or reduced hours, or an unexpected expense comes up.

God simply doesn't want us to be boasting.  Boasting and pride kind of go hand in hand, but look what it says in 1 Corinthians 13:

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."  1 Corinthians 13:4

Love does not boast, nor is it proud.  And if our command, our challenge for each and every day of our life is to love those around us- we should not engage in either boasting or pridefulness.  Solomon gives us a warning about boasting in Proverbs.  He lets us know that what we brag about for tomorrow could go seriously wrong.  And then where are we?  Then we look foolish is where we are.

We are to love.  We should love each other, and one way we love is each other is not by being prideful and boasting.  The thing is, when we do boast and brag and are prideful of what we have, what we are doing, and things of that nature, is that we're inherently making the other people around us feel bad.   They may feel bad because they simply can't afford to go out to lunch every Sunday.  Or they may feel bad because you're buying that brand new car while they are limping along with an old beater- and it's really a struggle for them to have faith in God's provision when they are stuck on the side of the road with a faulty transmission.

Now, I do think that God likes us to share with each other what He is doing in our lives.  It's a form of testimony, to be able to share how God has blessed us so much that we are able to do something or make a significant purchase.    I know that I love to hear how God blesses other people, because it gives me great hope for our own future- it helps to improve my faith in the fact that God truly is our provider. 

So I guess the fact is, and the point this morning is that we are to think before we speak.  Before we tell that person about this wonderful newness in our lives, we need to think on our reason for sharing in the first place.  Are we sharing this news to give God glory?  Or are we sharing this news to give ourselves glory or a pat on the back?  Are we trying to show off?  Or are we trying to give a testimony to share with someone else and give them their own hope?  I think if we take the step to really think on this before we say it, that the Holy Spirit will work in our hearts and guide us as to what we should do or say.   If we need to share the testimony with the person in front of us, He will bring the words to our mouths.  But if what we share could only be perceived as boasting and could serve as a stumbling block for that other person, He may very well shut our mouths.

Open or shut.  May God keep me mindful of the things that I say that may hurt or edify someone else.  May He guide my words correctly when encouragement is needed- and may He shut my mouth when I need to remain silent.

Friday, October 01, 2010

In All Your Ways

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart
       and lean not on your own understanding;  

6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
       and he will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

This is a fairly common Proverb.  It gets quoted a lot, and I know I've used it plenty of times to bolster my faith and help me to believe that I can truly trust in the Lord.

But do you see that part where it throws in that one word?  It says ALL.  In fact, it says all twice! 

First, it says trust in the Lord with ALL your heart.  Oh, that is so hard to do sometimes, isn't it.  I know for myself, I want to trust in God at every moment, but there are so many times where that doubt just creeps in, and I just find it so impossible to fully trust.  Even right now.  Right now, Andy is in the time of the year with work where work is running out.  He could potentially have just two weeks of work left... and I'm trying so hard to just trust God completely to provide for us.  I'm trying to trust that Andy has enough work lined up to keep the income rolling in...but it's difficult.  When you're used to that regular paycheck coming in each and every week on a certain day, and you know how much exactly you need to continue from month to month, that trust needs to come from a very deep place.  Most of the time, I have been doing okay.  I know that God has plans for Andy if he's not working at his normal job.  I know that, and most days that I think on that I make sure that I give thanks to God for Andy's skill set that enables him to provide even when not actively employed.

But there are those days where I look at the checkbook.  I look at the calendar.  I look at the monthly expenses, and I get nervous, and I try to think on my own what I could possibly do to help out.  And I almost get a moment of panic or anxiety.  But then the Holy Spirit swoops in and reminds me that God is in control, and I let Him wrap me up in peace and calm, and I ask Him to help me with my unbelief.  And I also ask Him to stretch my understanding- I would love for God to work in some very unexpected ways so that we can share with others exactly what He has done for us to get us through.

But then we go on in these two verses and we find the word all again!  As if once wasn't enough to stretch our way of thinking, now we see it a second time, and it tells us that we are to acknowledge Him in ALL our ways.  Every time we are at a juncture in life- a moment of decisions, are we talking to God?  Are we asking Him which path to take?  We should be.  We should be consulting Him every step of the way because then, when we are asked by others about it, we have the perfect answer.

When we were looking to move, there was only one real criteria for us in where to move.  We wanted to be within a certain radius of the city we are now living in.  That turned out to be a pretty big area, and consisted of probably two dozen communities that potentially could be called home for us.   But God knew exactly where He wanted us, and we relied on Him completely to show us the right house, and the right path to get there.  When people ask us what brought us to Appleton, we can honestly say that God brought us here.  God made this path straight and clear for us, and He gets all the glory for bringing us here.  Every day as I drive around my new city I find myself so incredibly thankful- I love where we live sooo much.  Really, I think all the time that God brought us to our paradise for now, and I thank Him daily for showing us exactly where we needed to be.

We acknowledge God in all our ways when they are big ways- but what about the everyday?  I was thinking about that yesterday, as this verse clearly says ALL our ways- it doesn't just say when there is a big decision to be made.   It says in all our ways.  The other day I talked on one of my blogs about how we used September as a no-spend month to try and save a little money.  In the blog post, I also talked about making wise decisions when it comes to spending- and that's the perfect example of acknowledging God with a little path.

Do you know what He did?  I expected that He'd maybe provide a little extra money so that I could pick up a few things.  Instead, He provided the clothes themselves.  He literally filled the back of my van with bag upon bag of clothing for my children- including the much needed winter clothing.  Had I not waited, had I not talked to God and asked Him to show me the best path, I could have very well missed out on that blessing.  Those clothes could have gone to someone else.  Instead, I trusted God with all my heart that He saw that my children needed clothing, and I let Him direct my path.   And God came through in such a big way that only He could get glory for the abundance of clothing that flowed through our home.

And so this morning I wake up and tackle my day with a heart full of trust.  God loves me, and He loves my family, and as each day passes, I feel that love more and more.  He provides in some mysterious ways sometimes, but that's one of the many things that makes God so awesome.  Those mysterious ways sometimes turn out to be the most exciting- and make for the best storytelling.   May God show you some wonderful and amazing ways this weekend.  Trust in Him with all your heart, and you will not be disappointed.