Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Seeds And Trees

"Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."  Genesis 1:11-12

"And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food."  Genesis 1:29

I know, I know.  It's fall.  It's very much fall, and almost winter- in fact it may snow later today.  But thinking about growing things, thinking about doing something my Heavenly Father did first practically makes me giddy.  The other day one of the first seed catalogs for next spring arrived, I carefully set it aside for a later time because I just knew that once I started going through, I wouldn't want to put it down, and I had things to do.  And then yesterday I was online and saw a brand new seed for an heirloom variety of brussels sprouts, and I promise you, my heart skipped a beat.  I was so excited about this vegetable! I love growing fruits and vegetables, and every time I see something during this time of year, it reminds me that spring always comes again, and the whole growing cycle will begin again.

But there's more to it than that.  See, I keep thinking about God gave all the plants of the earth to mankind, and I remember my little experiment two years ago with tomato plants.

"Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it."  Genesis 2:15

My tomato plant experiment showed me what can happen when we truly take dominion over the plants of the earth.  I had three plants.  Two of them I blessed over and over.  I spoke kind words to my plants, and I spoke words of scripture over them.  Sometimes I would sing a little praise song as I tended them.  And they grew like you wouldn't believe!  They grew over eight feet tall- indoors no less- and were covered with fruit.  The third plant I placed in the same sun-facing window on a different floor of the house, and I did not bless it.  I did not speak kindly to it, I just tended it.  That plant grew too, but it only grew to about 4 feet tall. It looked different too- less robust and hardy.  It produced tomatoes too, but not near as many.

Last year when it came time to get the garden going, I was so behind that I didn't take time to bless anything.  I had blessed my tomato seedlings as I started them and they grew a bit, but after that, I just stopped.  I would work in the garden and when I was finished for the day, I wanted to be done, so I went inside thinking that I'd bless the garden later.  Of course, I never did.  Looking back, I wonder how much better my gardening would have gone this past year if I'd taken the time to actually take dominion over my garden and my yard.  I started blessing my tomatoes once the season for everything else was over, and of course, my toamtoes replied by giving me as many tomatoes as they could late in the season. By then though, the rest of the garden was lost.

So one of my missions this year, as I go through seed catalogs, is to prepare for the spring gardening season in a whole new way.   I plan to spend some time in the coming months with my Bible and a concordance or two, and prepare for gardening by looking for the scriptures that I can speak over my garden. 

"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God."  Romans 8:19

I am a son of God.  I am a child of God, and because my Savior died on the cross to fix the relationship between God and man, I can now grab hold of that which was promised me way back in Genesis.  I can take dominion over my garden and can cause it to be an area of great abundance.   My garden last year was just waiting for me to stand up and tell it exactly what to do, but I failed my garden, and in return, it failed me.

"And Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak."  Numbers 22:38

God already gave me all the words I need to take my gardens under my authority, but I have to find them- because they are written down in my precious Bible.  I will find them, and I will learn them, and then I will speak them to the seeds of the earth.  But it's kind of fun to think that part of garden preparation for the coming year will be time well-spent in my Bible!  It makes me think that there are too many times we don't turn to our Bibles in preparation for something.  That can be a daunting task sometimes, to find all the places in the Bible where a particular subject comes up, but what could be better than the task of searching them out in the first place?  Think of all the other verses that will be read along the way,all the other Words of encouragement that can be filed away for another time, and pulled out when needed.

So as I go about my days, encouraged by pictures of seeds and fruit trees, I am also going to be encouraged by the precious Words of God.  As winter rolls in and causes me to want to be a hermit, hiding in my house, I will be a hermit for a time, but it will be with seed catalogs in one hand, and my Bible in the other.  While I can't get vegetables to grow without the seeds that will come from the catalogs, it's the Word in my other hand that will be the key to a successful growing season next year.  It's going to be a good winter.

Monday, November 29, 2010

His Mercy Endures Forever

 1" Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
         For His mercy
endures forever.
 2 Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
         For His mercy
endures forever.
 3 Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
         For His mercy
endures forever:"  Psalm 136:1-3 (NKJV)

Do you ever read your Bible and come across something new to you?  I mean, you may have read it somewhere or heard it, but as you're reading through, you read something and wonder why you never spent time thinking on that before.  That was Psalm 136 for me this morning.  What a firecracker of a chapter in the Bible!  It has a resounding theme, that God is Good and His mercy endures forever!

So I went to the dictionary to see exactly what endures means, and I found that it means "to continue in the same state, to last" and there I thought that the important word was "same".   God doesn't change, and His mercy will last and never change as well.  Forever literally means just that- forever, until the end of time, never-ending.   So if you think on these verses in that context, there is just such an enveloping peace about reading and seeing that God is good, and His mercy endures forever!

God doesn't change, and that's one of the things I love about reading my Bible.  I can read about something that God did and because He doesn't change, the same God who provided for the widow woman in Zarephath is the same God who watches over us today.

"So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’”
So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah."  1 Kings 17:12-16 (NKJV)

I love reading that story over and over.  I love reading how this woman listened to the prophet, and didn't question him.  She just believed that Elijah was a man of God, and did as he said, and it totally paid off.  She found herself and her family provided for over and over.  Think about that.  Every time she dipped into that jar of flour or the jar of oil, she was reminded of the goodness of God, and how He was being faithful to her.

The same God who caused that jar of flour to always have flour in it is the same God that we worship today.  If he would do that for one woman, He would do that for many.  And I believe that with all my heart.

This past weekend with family was a wonderful weekend.  I'm not quite ready to let it go and get back to normal, because it just felt like Christmas, spending time with everyone.  But do you know that the devil totally tried to rob us of our joy this weekend?  Saturday morning we discovered that Andy had not gotten paid this past week like he was supposed to.  And that could have totally wrecked the weekend as we worried about not having money for gas, groceries, or checks hitting the bank when there were no funds to cover them.  But do you know, that for once, neither of us was worried about it.  We both knew that something must have gone wrong on his works end, and it would be put to rights when the new business week started.  Even better though, God is God, and He knew there was going to be a snafu of that sort, so God provided an odd job for Andy last week that paid him a bit of cash.  More than enough for gas, groceries, and any emergency need that could come up while we wait for that paycheck to be righted.

God is faithful to us even before we know we need Him to be faithful.  His mercy endures forever! Andy's paycheck will be corrected by tomorrow, and we still had the most wonderful weekend, because we refused to allow the devil to rob us of the joy of family and thankfulness.

God is good.  And as we go into a busy week ahead, I am still feeling so incredibly thankful.  I'm thankful for the weekend with family, and I am looking forward to the beginning of the Christmas season. 

"Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!
         For His mercy
endures forever."  Psalm 136:26 (NKJV)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

To Be Joyful

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations."  Psalm 100:4-5

I read these verses this morning, and all I could think at first was how joyful these verses are!  It's a holiday week here, and maybe I'm already bubbling up with joy because of that, but gosh, I just read these verses and saw a wonderful party.  I saw crowds upon crowds of people entering into a pair of gates singing, dancing, and being filled completely with joy.

There will be a day!  There will be a day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and we will ALL enter into his courts with praise.

That's a day I cannot wait for!!

Yesterday I spent a good time during the day working with my kids to do some cleaning.  And while it was a bit of work, I was still feeling incredibly thankful.  Thankful for my kids, for this house we're living in, and the freedom to do what we want together every day. Today will be another day like that, and here it is, morning, and I'm already thankful for the afternoon in front of me.  Because no matter how the day goes, I know that God is good all the time!  God is so good, He showed me a song that He wants me to share this week.

Because it's a holiday week, I'm going to be taking a few days off to spend time with family and friends.   Know that I love you, but more importantly, God loves you.  And he wanted you to know that today and this week.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

If you get my postings via e-mail, you'll want to click through to the actual blog and check out the music video I've posted. Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

For The Love of Cooking

"She is like the merchant ships,
      She brings her food from afar.
       15 She also rises while it is yet night,
      And provides food for her household,
      And a portion for her maidservants."  Proverbs 31:14-15

I've been wanting to do this post for a long time now.  It's been in my head many times over the years, and I've always mulled on it and wondered if it really would be a good thing to give voice to and put out there for others to see and read.  The reason I hadn't done it before was because I was worried that it was going to come across as prideful, which it most certainly is not.  But this, in fact, is a message for all the moms out there.  Or the would be moms.  Or the young ladies who have dreams of their future husband and future children. 

Lately, as I've been watching my daughter do various things, I've become very aware of the fact that she truly is now growing out of being a child, and beginning the stages of growing into a young lady.  And while I don't want to rob her of the remaining years of childhood that are left for her, I also realize that the time is now for some gentle training for her.  It's time for her to begin working on some of the skills that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.  And one of those things, one of the most important for her to learn is how to prepare food.

It just doesn't get much more basic than food, really.  If we don't eat every day and nourish our bodies, they will crumble.  They will get sick from lack of nutrients, they will fall apart, and will eventually wither away without proper nutrition.   Many, many illnesses and ailments people deal with today are simply because they are missing the right combination of nutrients for their bodies.  The task of preparing food doesn't have to be elaborate or fancy.  We don't need to be eating six-course meals every day of our lives, but we do need to eat, and we need to eat correctly.  Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and did you know that when we eat right, we glorify God?

"Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  "  1 Corinthians 6:19-20

And so, by extension, if I eat right, I glorify God, but how much more important, for me as a mom, is it for me to make sure my family is glorifying God with what they eat?  We see in Proverbs 31 that our Wife of Noble Character finds food very important and will go to great lengths to make sure that her household is properly fed.  She brings her food from afar, and she rises while it is still dark to prepare food for her family.  It is that important to her.  And it should be. 

This isn't meant to be a criticism of others, but it is meant to give pause.  It is meant to cause anyone who reads it to reflect on their attitude towards feeding their family, because if we have a sour attitude about food preparation, we are in the wrong, and we need to ask God to help us change our attitude.  Over the years, I've known many, many people who actually say they cannot be bothered to prepare food for their family.  They cannot be bothered... Just think about that.  If we think about our bodies being the temple of the Holy Spirit, let's think also about our church building. 

Lets say that we're sitting at church, in church, and a person across the aisle from us pulls a lunch out of their bag.  During service.  They proceed to sit there and eat a lunch during service, and while eating, they are spilling food all over the place.  Bits of sandwich are on the ground, soda spills on the furniture.  Wrappers are lying around.  And when they are done, and service is over, that person crumples up their lunch bag, drops it where they sit and walks away.  When someone asks if they're going to clean up their mess, they turn around and say "I can't be bothered." They have totally disrespected the house of God.

Or more simply, all moms need to deal with newborn infants who need to eat and have regular diaper changes all the time. What if one day, a new mom, exhausted from lack of sleep, heard her child crying and said "you know, today I can't be bothered to change diapers or nurse my infant."  In today's day and age, that mom could actually go to jail for neglect.

So why is it okay for a mom, the steward of her family's well-being, to look at the clock, see it's dinner time, and say she can't be bothered, and pick up the phone and order a pizza?

Oh, I'm guilty enough of the occasional pizza or drive-thru dinner nights.  But the fact of the matter comes down to this:  God has entrusted me with these two precious children to care for.  It is my job to see that they are properly fed, that they get the nutrition their bodies need each and every day.  And since I am my husband's help-meet it is also my job to see that he is cared for nutritionally.  It is just not that difficult to see that three times a day, a balanced meal is on the table.  Like I said, it doesn't need to be fancy.  Breakfast can be a bowl of porridge with fresh fruit and a glass of milk.  Lunch can be simple sandwiches with veggies, a cup of yogurt, and a glass of juice.  Dinner or supper should be balanced, with a protein, vegetables and a whole grain, along with another cup of milk.  

Dare I say that it's simply not enough to just grab random foodstuffs and feed it to my family?  I also need to purpose to learn about proper nutrition, and I need to make sure that my children are consuming a healthy diet each and every day.  Not just some days, and not only when I can be bothered to care. 

The other day I gave my precious daughter the task of preparing a meal for the family.  She gobbled up the opportunity with relish.  She went through cookbooks and found everything that she thought would make a balanced meal, and she did a wonderful job making sure there was meat and vegetables, and then thought to add some rice as well.  She made a fabulous dinner and the whole time she took her job very seriously.   I think she had fun with it too, although I think she was surprised at just how much work it was for her.  But to be completely frank, whether or not she has fun with it doesn't matter a lick to me.  Oh sure, I'd love it if she would learn to enjoy cooking as much as I do.  But honestly, I don't care if she decides she really dislikes cooking, she is going to learn to do it, and to do it well.

This last summer there was a short TV program on about a whole town trying to change the way they eat to combat childhood obesity.   They profiled one of the families, and one of the things I will forever take away from the show is how horrible the mom felt when she realized that the way she was cooking and feeding her family was literally killing her children.  She was shaving dozens of years off her children's lives by the way that she prepared their daily meals.  I am so grateful that I am not in that position, that God has given me the knowledge on how to cook and feed my family, and I've sensed for a time that He's wanted me to do more than just feed MY family, but I haven't figured quite out what that is yet. 

Good, sound nutrition, and healthy children begin at home.  And it begins in the Bible actually, with the charge that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit, and we need to take care of that temple.  Those of us who are moms also have the responsibility of caring for the temples that God has put in our care.  As my daughter grows older, it is also my responsibility to pass on those things to her that are important to know.  And proper food preparation is one of those things.   What I can't imagine is that day when I'm no longer on this earth, and it's just me and God talking about my time on earth... I don't want Him to look at me and tell me that I dishonored Him by putting garbage into my mouth, and into the mouths of my babes.  I don't want Him to look at me and tell me that I could have done better if I had only chosen to make feeding my family a priority and not some mundane task that needs to be done- like scrubbing a toilet.  My children, and the health of my children is so important to me, but it's also important to God. God wants them to live a healthy and fruitful life, and they cannot do that if poor nutrition has them sick all the time.

Cooking and feeding my family is not just something I do because I enjoy.  I do it because the Bible tells me to do it, and because without it, my family will suffer because of my negligence. And that, I simply cannot abide by.  When I get to heaven, and it's just me and God, I want Him to look at me and say "Well done Mom."  That right there is more than enough reason.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Invite Them All!

"Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”  Luke 14:12-14

With Thanksgiving next week, throwing a feast or a banquet is high on my mind.  I'm looking forward to celebrating with family and friends, and to be honest, I wish that I could invite more people to our Thanksgiving dinner.  I've thought about it more than once, but you do get to the point where there is just no more room at the table. 

As I read these verses in Luke, I thought about this list of people that we are supposed to invite.  The poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind, and I can't help but think that this list of people has two meanings.  One is a literal interpretation- literally invite the poor and the blind.  But it also means others, those who may be blind to the love of God.  Those who are poor in spirit, and those who don't have a personal walk with God.   Because how could there be a better way to share the love of God!  Really, throw a dinner party and invite both saved and unsaved, and do you know what happens?  Those who are not saved get to spend time mingling with those who are saved, and they discover that life with Christ can be a good thing.  They discover that Christians are still normal people who like to eat and have a good time.

I believe that's one of the reasons we've been having our Friday dinners.  We're a few weeks away from our next one, but when we literally invite everyone we know, we're looking to hopefully infuse some of our unsaved loved ones with the love of God.  It's a really cool and exciting thing.   I think that so often we get the people we know and associate with divided up into groups.  There's this group of people we hang out with sometimes, and then these people are our church people, and then these are our family people, and maybe there's some work people in there too.  Why is that?  When I think back to our wedding all those years ago, that's really the one time in our life where all these different groups of people came together at the same time for the purpose of a celebration- and it was a celebration.  But why do we try and keep different groups of people separate?

It's something to think about, I think.  If you have friends or family who don't know Jesus, what better way to give a gentle introduction that to invite them to dinner with other friends who are saved.  The subject of church or God or salvation may not ever come up, but those unsaved friends will have a wonderful time, and perhaps a door will have opened.

And of course, these verses are also talking about the literal poor, blind, and lame.  Just yesterday I saw on the news a story about crowds of people lining up for food from one of the local food pantries for Thanksgiving.  As I watched this crowd milling about, and they shared how the food ran out after just 90 minutes or so, I couldn't help but wonder why all these people are hungry.  Not in a negative, why aren't they working sense, but in a compassionate sense.  Why are there so many hungry people these days?  Why are these families with young children waiting in line all afternoon, only to be turned away and told sorry, we've run out.  And this was just one particular food pantry.  There are dozens in our area, and they all expect to be short this holiday season.  Why? 

That's a rhetorical why because I don't have the answer.  I know the answer lies with God somewhere and somehow, but I don't know what it is.  I was hearing on the radio the other day about various churches offering Thanksgiving dinners for free for the public.  That's nice, and it's a step, but what about the next day?  What about two days later when the box of Cheerios runs out and the milk has spoiled?  I think the church as a whole is missing something.  It seems to me that churches themselves should be more like grocery stores almost.  Where those who have the ability, but the groceries, and those who need, can help themselves at any time- and the church never runs out.  They never have to turn anyone away, because there will always be more.  And more people will always be welcome.  As strangers walk in off the streets and they wonder how they can qualify for this free food, and then they are simply asked if they are hungry, and then they are encouraged to fill up a grocery bag or two or three with whatever good quality food they can.

That's what's missing.   I'm not entirely sure where that came from today, but there it is.  I can't invite the entire city around me to our Thanksgiving dinner.  What I can do is pray.  And I can prayerfully consider buying extra groceries to take to a food pantry- or maybe I can ask God to bring someone to mind to give the food to.    And I can remember verses such as these today, and when an opportunity comes up, I can be ready to respond. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Greater Works

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do than these he will do, because I go to My Father. it."  John 14:12-14 (NKJV)

This verse above is in the New King James Version.  Normally, I tend to use NIV translations, because I think they tend to be something everyone can understand.  But in the last few weeks, there's been a new release of a new updated NIV version, and I have to say, I think I don't care for it.   So for awhile anyway, I will probably switch over and post my verses in the NKJV, but I will make a point to notate at the end of verses which translation I'm using, just in case it matters to someone.

Anyway.  I read John chapter 14 this morning, and these verses, above all really jumped out at me.  I've heard these verses hundreds of times, and I know that many Christians have too, but do they really see what it says there?  Do they really see the part where Jesus says "Greater works will you do".   I think most people see that, but maybe they think that Jesus only meant the disciples standing right there talking to him.  Instead, we need to look at these verses and see that while Jesus was talking to the disciples, those disciples are representative of the Body of Christ.  They were the first of many.

You know as you read through the gospels, there are so many things that Jesus does.  He does so many healings and deliverances, and gives us so many examples of simply showing love to another human being.  But then right there in verse 12 of chapter 14, he tells us that we will do better.  That's just cool!  And yet... when we hear or see or hear rumor of those very things happening, we get concerned and cautious.  We hear about a revival happening with healings, and our first thoughts are not along the lines of "Praise God"  instead they're along the lines of "gosh, I hope that's from God and not the devil". 

The fact is that the devil does not heal people. He doesn't deliver people from disease and demons, and he certainly doesn't give anyone peace of mind and love. 

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."  John 10:10 (NKJV)

I can't help but think of children.  When we are young children, we believe what we see and what people tell us, without thinking that someone may be lying to us.   We simply believe- the mind of a child is a wonderful thing.  How many children think that their beloved cartoon characters are real for a time- because no one tells them otherwise. 

"But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God."  Luke 18:16

Instead, when we hear of something exciting or new that could be from God, we should approach it like a child.  We should come to God with an open heart and an open mind and see what He has to say to us, or show us in some cases.   We should simply believe that He is God and He can truly do anything through us.  We WILL do greater works than Jesus did- we don't need to be afraid of those works.  And then we can trust in God and His precious Holy Spirit to warn us away if something is not for us.  He will protect us from that which we need to be protected from. 

Greater works will we do.  Surely I'm not the only one to wonder exactly what greater works there could possibly be?  What could be greater than raising a man from the dead who had been gone for three days?  What could be greater than cleansing a man of leprosy, or restoring a man's vision by spitting in his eye?  What could be cooler than turning water into wine- or walking on the water?  Jesus did all these things, and yet He says that we will do greater.

Our child-like faith could very well be the key to doing those greater works.  Will you come before God with an open mind and an open heart?  I know I will.  I know that I have faith that He can do all things, and that sometimes, maybe He will use me or those I know to do those very things.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Warfare Wednesday: Egypt

"Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe."  Genesis 12:10

"So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed."  Genesis 47:11

"When Israel was a child, I loved him,
   and out of Egypt I called my son."  Hosea 11:1

"So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son."  Matthew 2:14-16

Do you ever wonder where a thought came from?   This is one of those thoughts, and one of those times.   Last week when I was at the library, I was looking for something different to pick up and read.  I like to read books in a series, because then if I like the first one, I'm guaranteed a few more books that should keep my attention, so I was looking for a new series.  I wandered up and down the aisles looking for something that was not in my normal scope of reading material, and I found a series of books based in ancient Egypt.  Perfect.  The books have turned out to be enjoyable, and I would definitely seek out the author again, but the last few days, as I've been reading this fictional story, I've really found myself lost in thought, thinking about Egypt,and really feeling a need to pray for that country.

It really got me thinking about Egypt and the role the country played several times in the Bible.  More than once, Egypt served as a sanctuary for those who were beloved by God.  Up above I have a few of the primary examples.  Abraham sought refuge in Egypt during a time of famine.  Joseph was sold to Egyptian slavers and through that action, God used Joseph to save the entire nation of Israel from the worst famine ever.  Later on, after the birth of Jesus, an angel spoke to Joseph and told him to take Jesus and Mary to Egypt for a time- they would be safe there.

Honestly, many times when God brings a country to my mind, and I spend time praying for that country, a day or so, or even a few days later, something major happens in that country.  I will never forget feeling burdened for the country of Haiti, and spending time praying for it, and a specific orphanage in that country, and then a week after I started praying, the country was ravaged by the earthquake- with no major damage to the orphanage.  About a month ago, I really felt the need to pray for the country of Indonesia, which has been wrestling with an erupting volcano for several weeks now.  

It makes me realize that God loves all the people in this world, and sometimes He wants us to intervene on behalf of those who don't know to cry out to Him.  So this week, while this is the day we spend time praying for President Obama, I want to ask my readers to join me in spending time praying for the country of Egypt.  I did read in the news online that there have been tensions lately between Muslim and Christian groups- nothing super serious, but it's a frequent occurrence in the country.  I want to pray this morning that God would become real to the people of Egypt.  If they look to their history, they've seen the glory of God first-hand with the plagues, but they may have forgotten.  80 percent of the religious population in Egypt calls themselves Muslim, and in a country full of other gods and myths and religions, it is my prayer this morning that Jesus would become real to the people of Egypt.  I pray that they would know that this beloved son, who they themselves sheltered for a time, is their Savior too.  That He loves them so much and wants them to know His Name and His Love.

May God Bless the nation of Egypt and keep the precious people who live their safe.  May He open their eyes and soften their hearts to hearing the gospel and hearing about the love of Jesus for their country.  God loves the people of Egypt, and I look forward to the day I will walk the streets of Heaven with my Egyptian brothers and sisters.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shopping From The Proverbs 31 Woman

"She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night."  Proverbs 31:18

 It's that time of year again, the time when everybody and their mother is out shopping for the upcoming gift-giving season.   This is the time of year that we always *think* about starting our Christmas shopping, and then one thing runs into another and we just don't get much of it done early.  Two weeks ago while I was picking up a few necessities, the store I was at had an oddly placed clearance rack on it.  Lo and behold, there were a few items on there my kids would love- one for each of them at a great price, so I picked them up and they've been in hiding ever since.  Andy mentioned to me that if I could manage to do that every week between then and Christmas, we'd be set, and wouldn't have to rush out for a harried shopping evening. 

I thought about that, I really did.  And I thought about how easy it would be to just go make a serious dent in our shopping- we have many nieces and nephews to shop for too.  I took some time last week to go pick up a few things I needed at a thrift store, stopped at an office supply store for some schooling necessities, but when I thought on stopping at a toy store or department store, I really, really felt an unease about going and doing just that.  This past Saturday when I went to do my weekly church cleaning, I had to stop and pick up something needed for church and thought I'd swing through the toy section.  Again, I felt unease about picking up even one- and there were several things with decent prices. Huh.

"She sees that her trading is profitable."

Isn't that what shopping is?  When we go shopping we are trading our money for their goods. When we hand over our hard-earned money, the items we trade for should be of a good value.  It should be profitable for us- it should be worth it to trade our money for those items.   You know how sometimes you buy something, and then a little later you regret it?  I know I've done that.  I've looked at an item and wondered why I spent that money on that thing.  It seems to me that if we trust in God and trust in the Holy Spirit to help us- even with a task like shopping for the best deals- He will help us every single time.  And I need to pay attention.  When that feeling of unease about an item creeps up on me, I NEED to listen, to pay attention and put it back, or just walk away.

So why the unease about buying a few simple toys?  I have no idea.  Because to be honest, I really don't like Christmas shopping close to Christmas.  The selection gets so picked over, and you're stuck with what you find.  But I do know that I need to be obedient.  It could be as simple as that, it could have simply been God testing me as to whether or not I'd be obedient and pay attention to what He was telling me.  When I think about it like that, I'm very glad that I listened, because I want to be the obedient daughter. 

And you know, many years ago I asked God to help me control my shopping and spending, and to open my eyes to see, and He certainly opened my eyes.  I learned to listen to the  Holy Spirit when He said to stay home, and that reliance has served me well.  From the outside, it may not look so desirable.  Having to turn down invitations for shopping and lunch dates isn't exactly fun, but it ends up worth it in the end.  God helped me control my spending- or in essence, my trading.  He's helped me to see that my trading is profitable- that I'm not just trading for the sake of trading.  To keep up with the neighbors or get the latest and greatest gizmo.  God wants to be a part of every single aspect of our lives, and that includes our shopping and spending habits.

Something to think about as we head full-on into the shopping season.  Trust in the Holy Spirit to guide those purchases.  Who knows?  Maybe those feelings of unease are because something really grand is going to present itself, and I need the funds to be able to follow through on that particular thing.   I won't try and solve the mysteries of God by coming up with dozens of earthly solutions.  Instead, I will trust that Father knows best, and when He says no, I will listen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Joy In Pain

"Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight."  Psalm 119:143

"For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit."  1 Thessalonians 1:4-6

The joy of the Lord is a powerful thing.  This weekend I was witness to the joy of the Lord in a most unexpected way.  I watched, with tears in my eyes, as I watched a woman worship and love God with all her heart.  I watched the smile on her face as she praised God and I just knew that she meant every bit of it, and that she loved God with all her heart and soul.  What made this woman so unique was that this past week, she lost her husband and soul mate to cancer.   And two months prior she lost her beautiful daughter to the same horrible disease. If there was ever a time when someone might stay home from church for a week, this would have been it.  If there was ever a time where someone would have just sat down during worship, thinking about their loss, this would have been it.  Instead, she chose God, and it was amazing to see.

You know, we read verses like these ones in the Bible, and we hear a lot of talk about how God's love and joy will carry us through any struggle in life, but actually seeing it played out is a completely different thing.  Normally, we see bitterness and sadness, and we question God as to why these things have happened.  And I have no doubt this lady has questions, but she also has love.   She also knows that both her husband and daughter are in the presence of God, and that alone is surely a great comfort.  Oh, sure, there were tears and many hugs as people expressed their condolences and offered comfort, but when the time came for her to focus on God and worship Him, she did so with all her heart, and it showed.  Her face glowed with love for her Heavenly Father, and it really spoke to me.

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

As we come into the season of Thanksgiving, sometimes we may be wondering what we exactly have to be thankful for. We may look around and see lack in many areas, but no matter what we have a Heavenly Father who loves us, and we have an older brother in Christ who died for us.  We should give thanks in every situation because He is always there for us.  No matter how things look on the outside, God is there and is always there with open arms, wanting to show His love to us.  And He likes it when we give thanks.  Just as a parent likes it when their child thanks them for something, God does too.  I know that when I give one of my children something, I like to hear the words thank you.   Today we can be thankful that God gave us today.  Every day is a new opportunity to thank God for another day of life. 

I truly hope that I never have to go through the things this woman is going through at church.  And I hope no one else I know has to go through it either.  But at the same time, watching her yesterday really showed me that I have much to be thankful for, and sometimes I maybe take it all for granted.   I know many times I may not appreciate my husband or my children, because they're simply always there, always doing stuff.  That sometimes we don't take those moments to just be thankful.   So even though it's not Thanksgiving yet, Thanksgiving begins today in my heart.  I am thankful for the abounding joy that is in my life, and I pray that God will use me as a joy carrier, to take the joy to those around me who really need it. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

For You, Blog Readers

"For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives," Colossians 1:9

This blogging adventure here at Heart & Soul has truly been an adventure sometimes.  The first time I had a thought about blogging my thoughts about the Bible, it was an extension of a 40 Days of Purpose campaign.  I was reluctantly going along with a second trek through that book, and the idea came to me that blogging would put a new spin on it.  So I blogged it.  And I still didn't like the 40 Days of Purpose campaign, but I found that blogging thoughts about the Bible was not as difficult as it seemed.  In fact, I became amazed, as I would sit down at the computer, Bible in hand (or Bible Gateway as the case usually is) and find that I had lots to say about a particular verse or group of verses. 

The truth is, there are so many days where I wake up and I think that it would be nice to not have to do my Bible blogging in the morning.  When this blog first started, I was blogging seven days a week.  And then I dropped it to six, because Sunday mornings became too busy to spend some time at the computer first thing.  And then as time went on, I dropped Saturdays as well, because I realized that while my blogging is doing me great good, my family needed some attention as well.  So I faithfully blog Monday thru Friday in almost all circumstances.

But I couldn't do that without you.  So many times I know the devil would LOVE it if I took just one day off, or took just a few days off.   But you know, the ultimate thing is that digging into my Bible and giving thought and meditation to a verse or two is THE BEST way to start my day.  What could be better than opening God's Word and seeing what He has to say to me?  Well, there are days where I come up with other ideas.  But then there are also days, like yesterday, where I really was busy all day, and my Bible reading later in the day just did not happen.  And then I was so thankful for these precious minutes that I get to sit down with a verse or two and share what's on my heart and in my mind.  Because at least it's something.

The thing is, if I thought no one was reading this blog, it would certainly be easy to take a break or two, or just stop altogether.  But I know God has other plans for me, and I also know that there are a faithful few who read this blog regularly, and I love you for that.  This verse above from Colossians?  That's what I think everyday when I think about some of the people who may read my words.  I know sometimes I get e-mails and comments, and I try to respond to most of them, although sometimes that just doesn't happen.  I think of you as "My Precious Blog-Readers"  because that's what you are- whether you are reading my words for the first time or the thousandth.  You are so precious to Him, and to me, and even though I've certainly never met most of you, I just know that if we ever were to meet, it would be like old friends meeting up, even though we've never had that opportunity.  And you know what?  Someday we will meet up!  Someday we will be together in paradise and we will be able to worship God together!  How cool is that!

So I just wanted to take a rare minute and say thank you to my readers, because you keep me accountable.  You truly do, and I thank you for that, because it really does keep me going with my Bible reading and study.  And I'm always on the lookout for fresh perspective that I think my readers would like to hear.  My prayer this morning, as we head into the weekend is that you will be freshly blessed as you read these words.  I pray that God would make Himself very real in your hearts and lives, and that He would bless you abundantly, that your cup may be overflowing with His goodness and mercy.  Because He loves you so much, as do I.  Happy weekend, my dear blog readers.  May you find yourself in His arms of rest this weekend and feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cast Your Cares

"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are."  1 Peter 5:7-9 (NLT version)

Last night at church, Pastor gave a really good message about not worrying.  It was very timely for me, because I am generally not a worrier.  Oh, there are times where it creeps up, finances tend to get the worrying going pretty quickly if I dwell on them, but for the most part, I just don't find things in life to get worked up and worried about.

But over the last few weeks, I wondered if by not worrying, if I was maybe being a bad mom sometimes.  Specifically, health-wise.  Because I just don't worry about my kids health.  I believe that God has great plans for both of my kids for the future, and when they do seem to come down with something, I try and soothe their symptoms as best as possible, but my first instinct is not to run to the doctor's office.  It seems like every mom I know is talking frequently about running their kids to the doctor for this or that, and my daughter has only been to the doctor's office once since she was an infant and going in for regular well-baby check-ups.  I just don't worry about them.  When we get colds, ear infections, sinus infections, etc, those all go away naturally without medical intervention, there's no need to go get medication that isn't necessary.  I mean, if there was something serious, sure, we'd take them in.  But a random sniffle and cough does not send up my worry radar and get me googling for worst case scenarios.

However, back in August, the kids dealt with a mild case of a summer cold.  It was quite mild, no fevers or anything, just coughs and drippy noses, and after a few weeks, the symptoms passed by.  But ever since then, Abigail has had a random cough come on her every once in a while.  This is not the first time she has had a cough that lingered for months, so I didn't worry about it.  But then a few weeks ago, I overheard a conversation where someone was talking about their child being newly diagnose with asthma, and I couldn't stop thinking about that.  Should I be concerned about this cough of Abigail's?  Should I be worried that she may have asthma?  It's entirely possible, as I've dealt with asthma in my life.  And as the days have passed, she would cough a bit, and I would wonder if this is the time that I need to take her over to the Fast Care and get it checked out.

Except that the bigger part of me is believing that God has broken the cycle of asthma in my life.  I don't struggle with it, I haven't for years, and I believe that He will keep my children from having to suffer with it as well.    Ultimately, I kind of came down to the conclusion that a bit of coughing is not cause for concern when not accompanied by fever or any other troubles.  If Abigail actually had trouble breathing, I would take her in, and I believe that God gave me the mommy intuition that will tell me it's time to take her in.

And that right there is the difference.  If I listen to the world around me- including the many parents, magazines, news sources, etc, I need to worry about my children's health more.  The world tells me that there are dozens of diseases out there that my kids could get every single day and I need to be constantly worrying and vigilant about them.  Almost every building you walk into these days has a stand of hand sanitizer by there door when you walk in.  Why?  Because we're supposed to be worried about germs, according to the world.   We even have annual flu shots now to help prevent the flu every year- never mind the fact that the strain of flu floating about is likely not even one of the ones prevented by the annual injection.  We're supposed to worry in advance about getting the flu, so we should head to our local doctor or pharmacy like sheep and get that flu shot to the tune of quite a bit of money. 

When I don't worry about germs, that does not make me a bad mom.  It makes me a mom of faith, because I have faith in the mom that God has created me to be to know when my children have a serious medical need.  I have faith that when I need to seek medical care for my children for one thing or another, that I will know that it's time to seek care.   When I look back at the last few weeks I can totally see how the devil was using Abigail's random cough and that overheard conversation to cause me to worry.   This morning I can smile and say that I will not worry.  I will continue to have faith that God's got my back.  Because what does worrying do for me? 

Nothing.  Worrying does nothing good.  When I worry about something, I lose sleep, because it keeps me up at night.  When I worry about something, I get far less done during the day because I am so busy worrying that I spend hours at the computer, trying to either come up with a solution, or temporarily forget about the worry by doing something mindless like playing games.  All those things add up, and when I worry I become an unpleasant person, and the stress adds up until I finally succumb and find myself sick with something.   So I will not worry!  I will give those cares and those worries to God, and I will stand firm in my faith in Him.   And it says right there in 1 Peter that my Christian brothers and sisters all over the world deal with the same kind of issues of cares and worries.  So I tell you today, that if you are reading this, these verses are meant for you today as well.  Do not worry!  Give your worries to God, because He cares about YOU and He sent His Son to take the reasons for worries and cares away from us.   Give God your worries and stand firm in His promises.

"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"  Luke 12:24-25

You are so much more valuable than the ravens that God takes care of.  Cast your cares on Him, and He will take them and give you faith and rest in place of worry.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Warfare Wednesday

"For the LORD is our judge,
   the LORD is our lawgiver,
the LORD is our king;
   it is he who will save us."  Isaiah 33:22

Happy Wednesday! Today is the day of the week that we set aside time to specifically pray for President Obama and other government leaders.  This morning I want to pray specifically for wisdom for our president.  As he meets with other government leaders from around the world in South Korea, I pray that he will seek Godly wisdom and understanding.  I pray that God will give him discernment to know when he should stand up against something, or wholeheartedly support something else.  May God keep President Obama safe while he is in a part of the world that isn't always known for safety. 

I also want to pray for the transitional governments of the US Senate and House of Representatives.  During this time of transition, when many representatives and senators are packing up to leave the job to someone newly elected, I pray that there will be kindness and peace and understanding.  I pray that the transitions will be smooth, and that there will be no trickery on the part of the exiting leaders. 

I also have an odd thing to pray this morning.  I want to pray that God would shut the mouths of the political analysts during this time of transition.  Right now, much of our country is flooded with hope, as we see that change is truly desired by the people, and all it takes is some foul words on the part of the analysts to sow seeds of discontent and malice.  I am praying for understanding and wisdom for these people, that they would see that their words do make a difference.  And I am praying that  they would be filled with the desire to speak positive and encouraging words over the airwaves of this country.  We truly need to stop criticizing and analyzing one another, and it needs to start with those who have the loudest voices.

Mostly I pray this morning that those who think they know best will come to know God.  That they will know that only God knows what is best for this country.  And then I pray they start speaking the truth, and using their voices to share the Glory and Goodness of God.  Instead of spreading ill throughout this nation. 

May God Bless America, but more importantly, May American Bless God.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Overflowing with Thankfulness

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ."  Colossians 2:6-8

This is the time of year where we are traditionally told to be thankful.  It's November, and here in the United States, we celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving, a holiday to look back and see how far our country has come, and also to remind ourselves to be thankful for the year that has gone by.    That's all wonderful, and Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but at the same time, I'm having a bit of a time figuring out exactly how I want to celebrate this year, because I feel like I have already been overflowing with thankfulness for some time now.  Honestly and truly, every day when I spend time in this house that God brought us too, I just stand there and tell God how thankful I am for this home for my family.  And every day that I hop in the van and go for a drive in our new city, I am telling God how thankful I am to live here.  I feel like we're in paradise.

Just the other day I was thinking about how wonderful it is that Andy is still working at his job.   It's been a few years since we went into the Thanksgiving holiday with a regular paycheck, and I am so incredibly thankful.  But you know what?  As I thought on that yesterday, do you know that the devil tried to plant thoughts of doubt and anxiety in me at the exact same time?  I heard myself think about what we're going to do next month, and started feeling worry about what we'll do for December, how will we buy Christmas gifts this year, and how will we pay basic bills.  Oh, I knew those were not my thoughts, because I have the mind of Christ.  Jesus Christ, inside of me, will not be worried or anxious about tomorrow, for who knows what a day will bring!

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."  Matthew 6:34

So you know what I did? I sent those thoughts packing.  I will not worry about tomorrow, or next week, or next month.  God knows exactly where we are and how things are, and He is already in our tomorrow- working out our plan for then.  Think about that.  God is already there, in our December, and He knows exactly where our income will come from.  God knows and has a great plan, and I trust in Him completely.  I had to tell myself the other day that God has us in the palms of his hands and He will not fail us.  I was not going to listen to voices of doubt and anxiousness, because that would only serve to cause me stress and troubles that I didn't need to deal with.  

And I am so incredibly thankful that so many of these precious Words of God are hiding inside my heart so that when something comes up and tries to worry me, I can come back with those Words and send the worry away.   Nothing gets rid of a voice of worry like the words that Jesus spoke.

And this morning, as I listen to my children playing together, I'm filled with an incredible thankfulness.  Last night Abigail was not well, and this morning, she seems to be back to her normal self.  And I'm thankful that today we'll get to learn something new together and have an amazing day together.  

God is just so good, and I am so thankful for being thankful.   I could go on and on and list dozens of reasons why I'm thankful this morning, and I pray that I will continue to be thankful and will remember daily to thank God for all the many blessings He has bestowed.  Because it all comes from Him.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hospitality Within

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling."  1 Peter 4:8-9

A few months ago I shared how we were feeling very much like the Holy Spirit wanted us to start having company over more often.  We listened, and twice now we've had what we called "Friday Night Family Dinner", and we had a blast both times.  The company that came each time was completely different, and it was kind of fun, basically inviting everyone we know who lives nearby, and just inviting them for a simple meal and fellowship.  We're already planning ahead, and trying to figure out times to do it again.  We had been thinking that we'd do it once a month, but the day we had in our minds for November, someone else put out an invite for an event, and we felt like it would be bad form to throw our dinner in there as an option.

Anyway, I was thinking on our Friday night dinners, and trying to come up with a theme or idea for doing it in December, when I came across these verses in 1 Peter.  It made me think of the prep time before company comes over... and then I had to read these verses again.

For us, standard operating procedure is that when company comes, we clean the house.  For our big dinners, we also have to rearrange the house completely so there is room for everyone.  We clean top to bottom, and then on top of that, there is cooking to do.  And often times, during the course of the day of the event, my temper is running a little short.  I can get the living room completely spotless, and then the kids will just spend a minute or two in there, and then all the sudden it's covered with toys and pieces of clothing, and I will just get angry.  And they will know that I'm angry when I'm scolding them for making a mess.  Or I will spend time washing my kitchen floor.  I'll be on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor till it sparkles, and is company ready, and then Andy will dribble coffee on it as he's preparing some for guests.  I'll get angry and annoyed.  And yet... if company was already here and it was one of them who spilled the coffee, I would smile, grab a rag and wipe it up, assuring them it's not a big deal. 

1 Peter says to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling, and in those instances I just shared, there is definitely grumbling going on.  And as I look at this verse further, I see that it doesn't differentiate between people.  It doesn't say offer hospitality to guests without grumbling, it says to one another.  That hospitality includes those who live within our walls.   It's crazy to think that those we love the most often get the shortest end of the stick.  I think this is really important to think on, because when we are practicing what the Bible says by offering hospitality to those on the outside, we also need to practice the same hospitality on the inside.

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

This verse doesn't just apply to people outside of your home.  It also applies within the home.  It says let your conversation ALWAYS be full of grace.  That includes those times when your dear son spills a glass of juice all over the table, chair and floor because he was goofing around.  That includes those times that you walk into your bedroom and see their toys All. Over. The. Place.  because their rooms were too messy to play in that day. 

We need to practice hospitality within before we can really do a good job of practicing hospitality on others.  If we're only practicing it on others, we can think that we're following the instructions in our Bibles, but we're really not.   As a parent sometimes that's really difficult, because it's so easy to just scold our kids for doing something that we'd rather they not do.  And yet... when we have company over with children, we usually ask that they pick up their toys and games before they leave, but then we always say they don't really have to- that it's not a big deal.  We certainly don't tell our own children that.  They are forced to spend an entire afternoon in their rooms until the mess is picked up.  Grace.  Hospitality.  Both should be practiced in the home first.

The dictionary defines hospitality as hospitable treatment, reception or disposition.  And hospitable means offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.   As homemakers, as stewards of the home that God has entrusted to us, it is our job to offer this pleasant and sustaining environment to all who are within our homes- including the people who live here with us.  Our family should come first, and I suspect that as we practice this hospitality here in the home first, it will get even easier to practice hospitality to those from the outside. 

Friday, November 05, 2010

Teach Me

“‘“The LORD bless you
   and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine on you
   and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
   and give you peace.”’ Numbers 6: 24-26

Well, that has not happened in a very long time.  I spent some time looking for something to blog about today, and thought I found a nice passage in the Psalms.  I put the verses here on my screen, and thought on them for a while.  And nothing came to me to write about them.  Nothing.  Like, completely blank and void.  Yet, these verses, when I thought on them, filled me with a warm fuzzy feeling.  But nothing came to me to write about them.  So I went and did a few things, and came back, and still nothing.

But there were these verses which I did post.  These verses which I know in song, and the song has been going through my head for much of this morning.  My day has not started out so well, to be honest.  I pulled a muscle in my neck yesterday and spent most of the day with a stiff neck.  As such, sleep eluded me for much of the night, so I really woke up crabby.  I have a few things that have to be done today, and so when I crawled out of bed, after tossing and turning with no relief, I was truly angry.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I woke up angry either.  Thank God for His Holy Spirit.  Because as I made the coffee this morning, my internal soundtrack started playing, and there was this song.

I love it when the Holy Spirit does that.  Because I'm not angry anymore.  Oh, my neck, shoulders, and back are killing me, but I feel such a peace this morning.  I am so grateful.  So incredibly grateful, because that anger that drove me out of bed could have ruined a perfectly good and new day.  But it won't, because it's been chased away by the goodness of God.  His mercies are new every morning!

I love this song, because it takes a very powerful blessing from the Old Testament and puts it into music in a way that it just wants to come out.  This are wonderful words to bless someone with- you can use them in the way the scripture has them, saying "Bless you and keep you" but then you can also use them yourself and make them personal- "Bless me and keep me".   I am blessed, and I am kept!   I am kept safe and snug in His arms of peace, and for that I am so grateful.

My prayer this morning is that this song, and these verses will be a blessing to everyone who needs them this Friday, and this weekend.  Every day is a new day to discover the love of God.  Every day is a new opportunity to see the wonderful world around us that He created.  I pray that God will show His love to you in a new way this weekend, and that you will find rest and refreshment in His arms over the next few days. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010


"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."  Romans 8:22-25

I was reading these verse last night, and there was one particular bit that caught me- and almost set off my funnybone- because it is so true, and I wonder why I never saw it before.  It's verse 24 in particular that caught my attention.  First it says that hope that is seen is not hope at all.  And then it asks who hopes for what they already have?  And that's what struck me.  And I thought about how that is so true!  I mean, really, who does that?  Who looks at their car and says, gee I hope I have that car later today.  That's just silly- and yet, as Christians, we do that very thing all the time.

We go home from Sunday morning church service and we talk about how wonderful it was that day.  And then we voice our hope that next week will be just as wonderful. 

Why don't we voice a hope that next week will be even better? 

I'm trying to not make this come out harsh this morning, but it keeps wanting to come out that way... why do we sit around and hope for what we already have, instead of hoping for whatever God has waiting next for us.  Why do we content ourselves with being content? We walk around in our Christian happy bubble, content with the status quo, when God has so much more for us, if we only are willing to reach out and grab onto it, we could experience so much more.  And I think for the most part, people are just afraid of what they don't know- and I get that, but it's God!  We should never be afraid of a loving God! Look what He says in Isaiah:

"Forget the former things;
   do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?" Isaiah 43:18-19

Instead of forgetting the former things, we suck them up, and we get ourselves into a routine where we expect those things all the time, and we end up dwelling completely on the past.   These verses make me think of worship music at church, and how many times I've heard of actual church splits over something as simple as the music being sung during service.  Why?  Because people dwell on the former things, and when something new comes in, it's different, its not the same, and right away people worry that it might be from the devil- trying to come in and cause problems. 

You know, I've heard that as an argument quite a bit as of late.  But how do we know that something is not from the devil?  How do we know that what we are seeing or hearing about is from God?  Do you know the last time I heard someone say that, I actually almost got insulted.  Why?  Because I have a partner in life called the Holy Spirit who lives and breathes with me at all times.  I have complete trust in the Holy Spirit to warn me when something should be avoided, and conversely, to fill me with joy an excitement when I experience something that God is doing.  That's one of the roles of the Holy Spirit, to help us with discernment. 

To give a really basic example, lets use the example of money and spending. I can't tell you how many times in recent weeks it has occurred to me that I need something.  I am having a horrible string of luck with my clothes, putting lots of non-repairable holes in things, and more than once, I've thought that I really just need to go buy some pants or a sweater or something.  In fact, I'll go so far as to plan that the next day, I'll go do that very thing.  Only then the time comes and I really feel a sense of foreboding, like I really shouldn't go spend money on clothes.  So I don't go- that unease is really something I've learned to listen to.  And then later in the week, just before payday, I'll check the status of the finances and see that if I had gone and spent that money on clothes, there would not have been enough in the bank account that week. 

I trust that if the Holy Spirit is going to prompt me to not go buy a pair of jeans, He will also prompt me when the devil is trying to come at me with some spiritual mumbo-jumbo trying to pretend he's God.  Because you see above where Isaiah says that God is doing a new thing?  Well, the devil never does a new thing.  He is not The Creator, he is only an imitator, and never comes up with something new on his own. 

The whole point is that we do not need to be afraid.  All of creation is groaning for the presence of God- our souls are no different.  We can hope and pray each and every day that God will do something new to show Himself real to us.   There was a popular song not to long ago with the lyrics that "there's got to be more to life" and that right there says it all.  I don't want to get caught in a time warp and focus on the past.  I don't want to be that person who hopes for the things I already have.  I want what God would have for me next.  I want to know and experience what He has for the body next- I don't want the same old outpouring or revival of the past.  I want the new thing.  So I will hope, I will rest in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit will guide me, and I will be patient, while I wait on Him.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Warfare Wednesday

"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."  Romans 13:1

Well, the mid-term election is officially wrapped up, and in many cases, new faces have been elected into positions of leadership.  Many of them won't even take office officially until January, but we must begin now to pray for them.  We must pray for these people who will be giving up the next time in their lives to serve the people they represent, and we need to pray that their hearts and minds will be open to what God would have them do.  We need to pray for a smooth transition period for everyone concerned, and I pray that there will be no bitterness on the end of the people leaving office.  May God bless them for the time that they have given, and show them what He would like them to do next.   And may He become very real to them in this time of uncertainty.

I pray that President Obama will be willing to work with all these new faces headed to Washington, and I pray that his heart and mind will be open to the new ideas coming his way.   May God continue to keep him and his family safe at all times, and may God bless his family with abundant joy.

I also want to pray this morning for the precious people of Haiti.  They just can't seem to catch a break, and I fall to my knees this morning and ask the Lord for mercy on their behalf.  As I write this, tropical storm Tomas is threatening in the sea.  The rain it is expected to bring to the nation of Haiti could cause widespread disaster as so many people are still living in camps and in makeshift shelters.  May the breath of God blow on Tomas and put his fire out.  May Tomas do nothing to the country of Haiti, and may the people there know that God found mercy for their little country and turn to Him for all their needs.

We also need to pray for mercy for the country of Indonesia.  Mount Merapi has erupted again, worse this time, and once again people are evacuating from the area surrounding the volcano.   In addition to the eruptions, earthquakes are rocking the country as well.  I honestly and truly cannot imagine living in such a situation, it just has to be so frightening for those who live near the volcano.  May God give them supernatural peace.  Their first thoughts have to be toward panic, and fleeing for safety.  May God send his angels to protect them and help move them out of harms way.   May He become very real to these people in Indonesia, and may their turn their hearts towards Him to save them- both in the natural and spiritually.  May these disasters be used to turn this country's hearts toward God and the truth of Jesus Christ.

God loves the people of Haiti and the people of Indonesia.  I pray this morning that great peace will sweep over both nations, and that many will come to know Jesus because of the great peace they find.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Proclaiming The Goodness

"Listen, you heavens, and I will speak;
   hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.
2 Let my teaching fall like rain
   and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
   like abundant rain on tender plants.

 3 I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
   Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
   and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
   upright and just is he."  Deuteronomy 32:1-4

When I read these verses in Deuteronomy, it gives me a glimpse into how well Moses knew God, and how Moses really was a precious man in God's eyes.   Moses is saying these things at the end of his life- he lived 120 years, and I can't help but notice that He specifically says that God is a faithful God and does no wrong.

This wouldn't seem significant, except it makes me think of all the different things Moses was witness to when the Israelites were traveling in the desert.  How many times did God punish various people for various things?  Quite a bit.  And Moses saw all these things.  In fact, more than once, God told Moses that He was just going to wipe away the Israelites and start over with Moses, and Moses intervened on behalf of the people.  Moses experienced all these things, and here at the end of his life he says that God does no wrong and is upright and just.  Because God is. 

Fast forward in the Bible to Job.  So, so many people point to the book of Job as an example of how God allows suffering to come into people's lives.  Hey, if that makes someone feel better about the trials they are going through, great, but that's not what I take away from the book of Job.  What I take away from the book of Job is this man who is at the bottom of the pit of despair,and no matter what he goes through, he still believes and trusts in the goodness of God.  He refuses to blame God for all the wrongs that have happened to him.

“As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice,
   the Almighty, who has made my life bitter,
3 as long as I have life within me,
   the breath of God in my nostrils,
4 my lips will not say anything wicked,
   and my tongue will not utter lies."  Job 27:2-4

Job refused to blame God for all that came upon him, even when his wife and closest friends are telling him otherwise.  Both these men believe with all their heart in the Goodness of God.

Because God is good!  He's a good, and loving God all the time.  Sometimes, maybe there needs to be a punishment, but that doesn't change the fact that God is good and loving.  A father can discipline a child, and we don't say "gee, that man must not love his child anymore."  Because we know that father still loves his child, but that child disobeyed and needed to be punished. 

God is a good God all the time, and those are the things that I think on when my mind or heart try to dwell on something negative.  Do you know, back at the end of August, Andy was told that the first week of October would be his last week of work for the year.  Well, he is still working, and working hard.  Now he's been told he'll have work until Thanksgiving.  I believe that if God can give Andy work through Thanksgiving, He can also provide work through the month of December.   That's the goodness of God that Andy still has work!  I also believe though, that if Andy wasn't still working at his regular job, God's goodness would still be strong and right, because there would be something else that Andy needed to do.  God is good all the time, and when we go through different situations in life, I have to look at the examples of these great men in the Bible and see that God truly is good All. The. Time. 

No matter what comes at us, and no matter how things may look on the outside, for everything there is a season, and the goodness of God allows us another day to try and make things right.  The goodness of God wakes us each morning and gives us another blessed day to enjoy our family and friends.   And so today I swell upon His goodness.  Election day is finally here, and it is by God's goodness that I live in a country where I can go vote and let my voice be heard.  And it is God's goodness that is going to put the right people into office, and it is God's goodness that is going to go before us as our country begins to remember that it truly is In God We Trust. 

Monday, November 01, 2010

Just Like Daddy

"Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  27 So God created mankind in his own image,
   in the image of God he created them;
   male and female he created them."  Genesis 1:26-27

Yesterday was the official Halloween experience for our kids.  To say they had a good time would be an understatement.  They really had a blast getting to know the neighborhood a bit better as they went door-to-door gathering candy.  On my end, I was really surprised how few kids actually came to our door.  It was a nice opportunity to show our distant neighbors who actually lives here now, and that we are nice and normal people.   But what totally made the day, was as I was crawling into bed last night, I was thinking about the huge grins on my kids faces.  And I thought about them in their costumes, and I had a sudden thought that reminded me of these verses above.

See, they dressed up as their daddy last night.  They put on construction gear and dirtied their faces and dresses up as Daddy.  It just totally reminded me last night that "being like Daddy" is something that we should be striving for every single day.  We were created in God's image.  That means, that already, there's some measurement of us that already resembles God, the Father.   We should strive everyday to become more and more like God, because we already resemble Him somewhat.  But how do we do that? We follow the way our older brother Jesus lived His life.

"Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, 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 5:9

And why is it that we should want to be more like God every day?  What is it that gives us a reason to want to do that- we're already saved and going to heaven if we have accepted Jesus into our lives and hearts.  The truth is, there is more for us to do here on earth before our time to go to heaven.

"Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”  John 8:19

That verse right there shows me every reason why we should strive to become more like our Father in heaven.  So that those around us can see Him when they see us. So that we can be a light in the darkness for those who need to see and know the light.  That's ultimately why we participated in the neighborhood activity yesterday- to be a light in the darkness.  And what do people see now when they see us?  Our goal should be to have people say to us that there's something about us that makes them want to spend more time with us.  What an opportunity right there to say that we know what it is about us- it's Jesus in our hearts and lives that fills us with hope and love.  So much that we can't help but give some of it away, or we feel as if we'll burst from holding it in. 

Jesus was just like His Father while He was here on earth.  Now it's our turn to do what we can to strive for the exact same thing.  We should all want to be just like Daddy.