Friday, June 24, 2011

No More Complaining

"Do all things without complaining and disputing,"  Philippians 2:14

Do you ever think about how often you complain?  I honestly think we're living in a time and culture where we're being trained to complain.  Shops, stores, and restaurants have policies where the customer is always right- and as a customer, if we complain about something, maybe we'll be lucky enough to score a discount or even a freebie.  We have reality television where everyone at home becomes a critic- whether it's about something artistic, something to eat, or the way someone has decorated their home. It seems to me that in order to really defeat complaining, we really, really have to be vigilant, because it's always there, just waiting to strike at any moment. And it happens to all of us.

Two weeks ago we had our first real, hot days of summer.  We've had a cold spring, and other than those two steamy days, we've had quite the cold summer as well.  Wouldn't you know, the first hot day hits and EVERYONE is complaining about how hot it is.  Just two days earlier everyone was moaning about how it seems like we're never going to get summer.   For myself, it's been a cool and rainy week, and we're getting ready to go camping next week.  I'm excited to see that it's actually supposed to warm up for us, and we'll have a great summery week.  Except that I'd really prefer if it wouldn't get so warm while I'm away, because I won't be around to water the garden.  See?  Always something to complain about.

Even within the church, we are trained to have a critical eye and find something to complain about.  When we're looking for a new church, we make a list of things we're looking for and a list of things we don't want.  And then we walk into a new church ready to find all the bad, instead of just saying "Okay, God, bless me and my family, bless this church this morning for hosting us, and if this is the church home you have for us, we ask that you make that clear to us."   That would be too easy.  Instead we find things to complain about- the music is to loud, or the offering should have been taken at a different time, or the lack of small groups in the church is disturbing to us.  Wouldn't it be better to look at the whole experience as to what you could possibly do to make that church your home?  Maybe you have a talent for sound engineering- what you don't know is that his church doesn't have that person, and that's why the music is so loud. 

I just think it's time for us, as a church, to set an example for all the world around us to stop complaining!  We complain about each other even- and social media is clearly making it much worse.  We can go all the way back in our Bibles and see that the Israelites, during what should have been the most glorious time of their lives, sought fit to complain...

"Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness."  Exodus 16:2

You know, there are times I read the story of the Exodus, and I see all the complaining done by the Israelites, and I think "what a bunch of whiners", and then I'll turn around and do the exact same thing and complain about something that I shouldn't.  It's time to stop.  It's time to start training ourselves to be more like Jesus and look for the good in everything instead of the bad.  Because the fact is, when we look for the bad, we become bad-focused, and soon that will be all we see- all the faults and negatives.  When we start behaving like a Pollyanna, and look for the good or the glad in everything, then we learn to be a little more like Jesus. Jesus himself certainly didn't complain about anything, and if anyone had reason to complain, it would certainly be him!

Think about it.  He had multitudes of people following him wherever he went- he didn't get a moment's peace!  And many of those people were far from homes- and away from bathing and clean clothing, so surely many of them smelled something horrific.  And then there were all the disease ridden- the lepers with body parts literally rotting and falling off.  Did Jesus complain even once? No.  Instead, He felt compassion and great love, and he did what he could for the people who followed him.  He healed those who came to him, and he loved on those who needed to be loved.  He didn't complain even once. 

So in the week ahead, I want to challenge all my readers to focus on not complaining.  Start by not letting the complaints come out of your mouth.  When there is opportunity to complain, just don't do it, keep it to yourself.  And then take the next step and look more closely at the situation.  Find something- anything, no matter how small- to be thankful, happy or glad about, and give voice to that instead.  It may take great effort at times, but I know I'll be practicing that myself during the next week- so you won't be doing it alone.

Have a blessed and wonderful week.  I'll see you on the flip side of our time away, and hopefully I will come back fully rested and full of all sorts of wonderful goodness that God has shared with me. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What To Do With Freedom

"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another."  Galatians 5:13

I read this verse this morning, and I instantly loved it.  I also instantly wondered thought, "boy, we've failed this one haven't we". 

The standard "American Dream" is one of having stuff.  It's living a life in a free nation, and having a house, two cars, a family, and all the things that go with it. I'm thinking our priorities are not exactly in the right place.Oh, I think that God wants us to have things that make us happy- He does want us to enjoy life after all, but He also wants us to share what we have with those who don't have.

There are just so many people in need these days.  It breaks my heart, and when I think on it too long, it's entirely saddening to me, because my heart wants to help in so many ways, but the bank account can only go so far, you know?  Every week I go in and clean at church, and I often am making my way through where we keep our food pantry at church, and it's just been getting closer and closer to empty as of late.  What is there is not exactly a whole lot of things that I would want to feed my family- even in a time of need.

The freedoms that we enjoy in this country are huge, yet we could be doing better with the freedom that we have.  The Bible says that we are to use it to love and serve one another- not serve ourselves.

I have my vegetable garden in the ground for this year, and I'm eagerly anticipating the vegetables that will come out of it.  I have plans for salsa making and for putting beans and corn in the freezer, but more than that, I can't wait to share it.  I think I've planted more than enough to be able to package some of it up and share it with those who need it.  That's serving!  I've been reading online of a gentleman in California who plants thousands of square feet of vegetables in his yard- but he doesn't eat any of it!  Every vegetable gets boxed up and delivered to a food bank to be distributed to those who need it.  Wow! That is serving in the biggest way, because growing a vegetable garden takes work and dedication. 

I guess maybe the whole point of this post today is to make me think.  Sometimes I think we get so caught up in our everyday that we miss the small opportunities to love someone or to serve in some small manner.  Sometimes, maybe the only thing we can do is pick up an extra jar of peanut butter for the food pantry- it's not much, but it's still something.  It seems that maybe when those thoughts of wanting to help and do something come along, that I should take some time to talk to God about it, and ask Him to show me an opportunity to show His love to those I run into every single day.  

Love is the most important thing that we can do with the freedoms that we have today.  Without love, we are nothing, and everything we do is worthless if it is without love. 

"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,but have not love, it profits me nothing."  1 Corinthians 13:3

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Hills AND The Valleys

"Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel, and said, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys,” therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’” 29 And they encamped opposite each other for seven days. So it was that on the seventh day the battle was joined; and the children of Israel killed one hundred thousand foot soldiers of the Syrians in one day."  1 Kings 20:28-29

I am certain I've done a post before about the hills and the valleys.  At the time when I'd written it, I'd just finished reading a fictional book that talked about the hills and the valleys.  It was a wonderful story, and it showed the value of faith and trust in God in all things.  The point of the book came from the 23 Psalm:

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
         I will fear no evil;
         For You
are with me;
         Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. " Psalm 23:4

The valleys are those times in our lives where it seems like we're searching or trudging.  Where we're going through a trying time as we try to reach the next mountain in our life.  The mountains would be the high points- where victory has been proclaimed, and where we can spend some time resting in His goodness before passing through another valley to get to the next mountain.  It really is a great way to look at life in pictures, and it can be encouraging to think that even though we're going through a rough time (a valley) there will always be a mountain that comes along- a high point .

But I think that sometimes we make the same mistake that Ben-Hadad made in 1 Kings.  When we're going through those valleys of life, we think that God isn't there with us- that we have to get to the mountains in order to find Him.  We think that because we're going through a rough time, that maybe God is teaching us something, and is distant like the next mountain seems to be.  That's simply not true.  God is the God of both the mountains AND the valleys.  I think all too often we take a step back from God when we're traveling a valley because we're so focused on what we're going through.  And yet, if we would only shift our focus to Him, our journey would not seem so difficult after all.

God decimated the Syrian army because they did not believe that He was God of the valleys as well as the mountains.  Think about that.  Thank God for the cross and for the mercy of Jesus, or every single one of us could be eligible to be wiped out for thinking that God has left us alone for a time.  Now, there are certainly times when God is just as a father is, and He will let us make that wrong turn and make wrong choices, but He doesn't step away from us and stop caring for a time.  He is always there, He is just waiting for US to choose Him instead of ourselves.  He doesn't go away when we're going through a valley, waiting for us on the other side of our trial.  He is our source and our supply to get through that valley. 

"God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble."  Psalm 46:1

He is always present- always there.  Sometimes we're just forgetful of that.  We get so focused on navigating the troubles of the valley, when instead, we should focus on Him to get us through.  He is the God of both the low times and the high times- and we should praise Him during both times in our life.  He gets praise whether we win, lose, cry or cheer.  When we praise Him in the low times, something really cool happens.  Not only are we being obedient in the act of praising God, but we're also bolstering our own spirits.  We're becoming encouraged simply through the act of praise to God the Father. (I think that's a topic for another post, another time!)

God is God no matter where life takes us.  When all seems lost and in dire straights because we've made a wrong turn, we don't have to wait for a high point to turn to Him for help.  We can do it at anytime, because He IS the God of the mountains AND the God of the valleys.  He is God at all times and in all things, and we can rely on that as an ever-present source when we are in trouble.  Sometimes we just need to stop and recognize that God is God, and then we will experience everything we need to journey through the valley.

"Be still, and know that I am God;"  Psalm 46:10

Monday, June 20, 2011

All Means ALL

"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19

Last week was pure bliss for me.  I can't really explain it, but we had no priorities, nothing that HAD to be done, and I literally spent most of the week just relaxing.  It was so wonderful and such a gift.  Now here we are in a new week, and the great big busy-ness has returned.  So I'm blogging a little late today, but I didn't want to skip anymore days of blogging, as I will be taking a vacation next week and will be away from my computer.

So I'll keep it quick and brief today, because I have things to get going on today.  I really just simply wanted to point out that sometimes we can miss the smallest things when we are reading our scriptures.  In this case, the simple word ALL is often skipped over, or we don't really realize that it IS saying all.  This verse in Philippians says that God will supply ALL our needs.  All of them, that means every single one- it doesn't mean some, or a few, or even most, it means Every. Single. Need.  It means that God will provide shelter and clothing and food for our families.  He's not going to provide a home and then tell us to fend for ourselves.  God is our supply- our source, and the provider of every thing we need to navigate this life here on earth.

That's just so cool.

When I think about needs that we have, I do often address them one at a time.  You know, I pay bills one at a time as their due dates come up in the month, so one at a time I address them and ask God to help us manage our finances and see that each and every bill is met.   But this verse, this is the simple one that I just need to keep reciting over and over, instead of concerning myself so often with each and every need.  My God shall supply all my needs.  Plain and simple.  I've been talking to God a bit lately about our needs throughout the summer.  It's time for me to start buying curriculum for the coming school year, and our vehicles need some work done, and then to still stay on top of all the regular expenses... It's a little overwhelming to think of all that at once, so I just keep talking to God about them.

Except that God knows exactly what I need.  He knows every single book that we need to have on our shelves in order to start school, and I truly believe that He's already set the things in motion that need to be so that we can get the books we need. 

Because my Bible says that God will supply all my needs.  And even better than that, look at the second part of that verse:  According to HIS riches.  God's riches are vast, limitless and overabundant.  That just gives me such comfort to think of that.  To think on that and to know that in the past He most certainly has provided for all our needs, and I also know that He will continue to do so. God is just so good. 

So think about that, the next time you wonder if that upcoming need will be met.  God supplies ALL your needs.  He supplies ALL of my needs.  Sometimes His timing may not be the same as our timing, but He always comes through regardless. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Warfare Wednesday: The Food Supply

"The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice
spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again."  Acts 10:9-16

Our food supply is in danger.  When the news started rumbling a few weeks back about a dangerous E.Coli outbreak in Europe, my "danger sense" went up to full alert.  Back at the beginning of the year I had read in more than one place that we needed to be praying for the food supply in our country.  There was also advice given about planting gardens and working on starting a food stockpile.  I've been praying on and off- food is such a big part of my life- but in the last few weeks, that prayer has become a daily effort.  Then, this morning I read on the news that there are at least 10 sick in the state of Tennessee from a strange form of E. Coli.  And so it begins.

And so it ends right here and now.  You know, God warns us about thing in advance so that we can have the opportunity to pray that they will not happen that way.   I think we saw that with the last round of tsunami danger in the Pacific.  I believe that the praying people of this nation rose up and prayed for God to intervene for Hawaii and the West Coast, and because of that, the damage done was so minimal.  Thank God for the prayers of the people!  And now we need to pray for our food supply.  Just this week, the US Government released a new model for eating that shows that half of our food intake should consist of fruits and vegetables.  This is excellent and sound advice.  Except that the current E.Coli invasion in Europe is suspected to come from "some kind of produce".  They can't even figure out where it is coming from- just that it's from something fresh.  Thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables are being destroyed "just in case". 

Is it coincidence that the same week this new food model comes out that our fresh produce supply is in danger?  This is no coincidence, and my prayer is for the food supply.  E.Coli is nothing to the power of Jesus Christ, and I pray that the fresh fruits and vegetables that our bodies need to function is safe and healthy.   I also pray that the government officials who deal with our food supply will be alert and ready, and that they will know decisively how to deal with situations as they arise.  I pray for wisdom for President Obama as these things come across his desk and he also has to deal with the threat to our nations food supply.  May God give him insight and understanding, and the tools necessary to nip any danger in the bud before it has a chance to progress.

And I also pray that panic and fear will not take hold of this country.  Fear is not of God.  Our nation was not founded on the principles of fear, but on the principles of freedom and unity.  May the people be united, and should the need arise, may neighbor share with neighbor freely and willingly.

I pray that God, Himself, will cleanse the food supply of this country.  I pray that the farmers and the growers who are growing our fruits and vegetables will be filled with Godly understanding and wisdom as to how to prevent deadly diseases, such as E.Coli from entering the system.  I pray that all these foods that God has already proclaimed clean, and for our good pleasure to eat, that they will be free of disease, and will only be filled with the good things our bodies need to thrive.

May God Bless America, and may God bless the food supply of not only this country, but of our allies and of our friends in other countries.  Food is vital, and I pray that the devil will lose his ability to manipulate the food stuffs to cause disease and calamity.  The devil has no power over that which God has created and blessed.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The Dwelling Place

"Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
 2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
         Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
         Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. " Psalm 90:1-2

I love reading verses in the Bible that simply blow my mind about the grandness of God.  My mind really doesn't process the idea that before anything here on earth even existed- God was.  The thought that God has always been doesn't process either.  But was does process is that God is our dwelling place- and always has been.

I've been reading the book of 1 Kings, and as it seems to be every time I make my way through that book, I am amazed at how even the great King Solomon failed in the conditions God set before him.  In chapter 3, Solomon asked God for wisdom, and this so pleased God, that God granted the wisdom, plus untold riches, and then said that he would bless Solomon with a long life if we continued to walk in God's ways.

"Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. 13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. 14 So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."  1 Kings 3:11-14

And then we get to read in 1 Kings about the splendor of King Solomon.  He was such a wise and noble leader that Kings and Queens traveled hundreds of miles to see him and his splendor.  In King Solomon's time, there was so much wealth in the land that silver was worthless- think about that one! And yet, with all this- with all the wisdom and the honor and the wealth, Solomon failed to follow God's command for his life.  Solomon had a weakness for women, and had hundreds of wives from foreign lands, and with those foreign wives came foreign gods, and Solomon began to worship them in addition to his God.  Solomon failed big time.  He did not focus his heart on the dwelling place of the Lord God.  Instead he focused his heart on his fleshly desires.  Which is the ultimate in irony, because Solomon physically built a physical dwelling place for the Lord! 

Solomon can be a great lesson to us to remind us to do the occasional "heart check".  Where does our heart truly lie?  I guess I think about some of the talents that God may bless us with.  When we use those talents, what is our ultimate purpose in using them?  Probably the easiest way to illustrate this is within the ministry of a worship team.  A worship leader or singer is using their talent for singing in the act of worship.  Sometimes, though, the focus can be on the singing itself or on displaying ones talents for accolades or praise.  The purpose for the actual singing should obviously be for the purpose of worshiping and praising God.  When that person's focus shifts from God to self, that's when they cross into the danger zone of focusing their heart in the wrong places.  Sadly, we actually hear about this a lot with professional Christian music artists.  Every once in a while a Christian artist will cross over into doing secular music and then they never come back to the music that inspires and is God-focused. They become enticed by the world and what it has to offer.

Maybe our enticements are not so grand.  Maybe it's simply choosing to purchase a few things for the home instead of tithing.  Maybe it's simply choosing to watch TV instead of spending time in our Bibles.  Regardless of what is trying to steal our focus, we are unlike Solomon in that we have a few amazing ways that we can work to avoid the trap that caught up Solomon.  We have Jesus- the boundless grace that set us free.  We also have the Holy Spirit who can guide us and keep our spirits in check.  It's the Holy Spirit who sends us those warning signals- that what we are about to do may not be the best idea we have.

The Lord has been the dwelling place for all generations- and He continues to be so today for all who desire Him.  When we rest our hearts and our minds in Him, nothing is impossible for us.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sometimes, He Just Wants To Hear "Yes, Lord."

"Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only
son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”  Genesis 22:1-2

I was thinking about Abraham and Isaac greatly last night as I was falling asleep.  I was actually thinking about them through much of the day yesterday.  Every single time I read this I am just amazed with Abraham, that he just does what the Lord asks. Someday, we will know exactly what Abraham was thinking when he took his only son to be sacrificed, but until that day, we can only speculate.  But what we can know, is that he did it- without arguing or complaining.   What is even more interesting about that, is just a few chapters ago, Abraham was arguing with God over the people of Sodom.  (Read Genesis 18 if you're interested in that story.)  So we know that Abraham has that kind of a relationship with God.  If he was going to question God about sacrificing Isaac, he would have done so.  Instead, he just DID it.  He took his son on a journey, and got as far as lifting the knife to take his life before an angel interrupted him.

God was requiring obedience from Abraham.  He was after a "Yes, Lord, it will be as you say" and He certainly got it from Abraham.  Abraham obeyed, and in return, he received an amazing blessing from God.

"Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”  Genesis 22:15-18

Sometimes, I think that's all that God really wants from us.  When we go through trials and tribulations, we're learning to put our faith and trust in Him who will get us through.  When He asks us to do something, we're like little children, He wants us to say yes obediently and follow through on the task.

I have been one of those naughty children who says no for a while.  That child who stomps their feet and says "I really don't wanna" and walks away.  And, I was like that for about two years, I want to say.  Every time the suggestion or question would come up about me being willing to play the drums at church, I dug my feet in and said I wasn't gonna.  I said I wasn't a drummer, and insisted that there were others better able than myself. (Which, that part is totally true.) But as I've shared here, several weeks ago, that all changed, and the more I do it, the better it's getting.  In fact, this coming week we have a conference at church, and the person who would normally play the drums for conferences isn't available, and I had a decision to make.  Really, I sort of resigned myself.  Yes, there was a good chance that I'd be playing the drums for the whole conference.  But once I said that I could do it, I started working at being able to.  I've practiced a few times, I've been working out to build up my stamina and leg strength, and as time went on, I did learn that one of the other drummers would be able to help me out.  I was thrilled about that, and while I patiently waited for a schedule for the week, I continued preparing myself. 

I was totally unlike Abraham, I totally recognize that, because I argued with God over this silly little thing for about two years.  It took awhile before I finally said yes and okay.  Playing the drums is also a very little thing compared to the idea of sacrificing a child- I totally get that, and I'm not really comparing the two.  The whole point is that sometimes God just wants to hear us say yes to Him.  And I think it's because if we will say yes to the little things, than we're opening the door for something bigger to come along.  I really felt like I was finally doing what God wanted me to do- I was preparing myself to play the drums this coming weekend, and I was working very hard at trying to rearrange my schedule so that I could do so as well.  But the whole amusing part, for me, is that now that the week is here, now that the moment is here, I don't need to play at all.  God totally cracked me up last night when I heard that.   All this fuss and stress on my part, and all I needed to do was be willing in the first place.

So now of course, I'm still looking forward to the weekend.  I am prepared if I need to jump on for a bit- I'll be okay with that, but it also has me wondering.  What is in store for me?  Is there something coming that God is going to ask me to do.  You know, there could be, and this whole experience for me was a major learning experience, because I really didn't think I could even DO what was being asked of me in the first place.  I surprised myself by finding out that I could.  Which brings me to another point.  God doesn't ask more of us than we are able to do.  Oh, sometimes there will be sacrifice on our part, but God never asks us to do something that we absolutely cannot do.  That's something that I've learned through this.  And while I won't be sitting on edge, on pins and needles waiting to find out what the next thing is, I also have learned that maybe I won't be so quick to just say no the next time.  Instead, I will prayerfully consider what is being asked, and if it feels right, will go for it.

I'm certainly not saying that I'm perfect and will simply say yes the next time.  I would like to think that I would, but only time will tell. In the meantime, I will keep moving forward and I will also continue to better myself in the areas that God has challenged me in. 

Friday, June 03, 2011

A Call To Prayer

"if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  2 Chronicles 7:14

I seem to be posting this verse a lot on the blog.  It just keeps coming up, and it really is a great verse to share exactly what God is thinking about us. God WANTS to hear his children praying.  He WANTS to hear His favorite kids (that's you and I, by the way) calling out to Him for mercy and for grace.

Just last week I was sharing some musings about how I was wondering if, in light of all the recent tornadoes in our country, if we, the church, were missing out on an opportunity to do something awesome regarding natural disasters.  I'm still wondering on that a bit.  But there is something more to it than just being pro-active and going out and calming the storm.  There's prayer to God, on behalf of our nation, to ask for mercy and ask for God to quell the storms before they even begin.

I've had so many dreams in the last several months involving tornadoes.  Every time I have one, it almost makes me sick... In every single one, there has been a tornado- or multiple tornadoes, and I rise to the occasion.  Usually I am speaking in tongues at the time, and then I command the tornado to go in Jesus' name.  The tornado always goes away.  One would think that would be a good dream- perhaps it's building up my faith for something in reality.  I had one just the other night though, and this one seemed more vivid to me, and it woke me.  As I lay there in the middle of the night, all I could think of was how much I did NOT want to have to put that to the test.  It really bothered me, and I just wasn't even sure how to respond to the dream.  And I told God that much.  I told Him that I appreciated the tornado dreams that are bolstering my faith, but that more than anything, I did not want my children and my family in a position to need to put that faith to the test.  This has been on my mind for two days now, and last night, there was a timely word in the verse above.

"A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,
      And a word
spoken in due season, how good it is!"  Proverbs 15:23

Perhaps those dreams have been building up my faith for a time of great need, but I choose, instead to be proactive about a time of great need.  Just the other day another wave of tornadoes swept through a state in our country where they seldom have them in the first place.  If that isn't a sign to us that we should be on our knees, praying for our country, I don't know what is.  So I am praying that I won't have to put any kind of faith to the test because of the weather.  I am praying that God would pull back the devastating winds that seem to be rising in every corner of our country.  I am joining up with Christians all over our country in praying for mercy for our nation, and praying that the death, destruction- and most importantly- the fear will be gone from our lands.  I've blogged before how the spirit of fear is not from the Lord, and tornadoes surely bring great fear with them.  I am praying that the destructive weather systems will cease, and that instead of spending time focusing on fear and destruction, that we can focus on God, and His wonderful goodness that is just waiting to pour out onto the nation who will ask Him for it.

God has great love for this country, and He certainly doesn't want to see it ravaged by tornadoes and flooding and severe drought.  But He is wanting to hear from His children.  He wants to hear us come together in agreement as we turn to Him and ask Him to calm the skies and the weather system.  The weather people blame all the extreme weather we've been having on climate change, and I've read in so many places that we just need to "get used to it".  Please.  God is bigger than climate change, and God is bigger than anything the earth can dish out.  It is time for us to focus on God, and it is time for us to ask Him to right our wrongs.  It's time for us to ask Him for forgiveness for our unbelief, and to ask Him to fix the climate problems.  God can do that in an instant!  In less than a moment, God can completely change the climate of our planet to be right, where a super cell storm or a magnanimous earthquake or a vicious volcanic eruption are very rare and random- and not the everyday.  God can fix all of this!  We just need to ask Him.

Please join me this weekend in focusing your prayer time on praying for our planet, and for our country.  God wants to hear from us, He's just waiting to hear from us.  And then we can give Him ALL the glory when our weather returns to normal. 

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Not Quite A Donkey

"Now the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road. 24 Then the Angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. 25 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her again. 26 Then the Angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27 And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
28 Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”  Numbers 22:23-28

I have a short little story to tell of how we should pay attention to everything around us.  And I mean everything.  I may not have had a donkey speak to me this morning, but God will use whatever is around to get our attention if needs be. 

I was laying in bed this morning, still feeling tired and wishing I could sleep just a little while longer.  I worked hard yesterday in the garden, and my body feels it, so a little more sleep would be welcome.  I was just laying there, debating whether I should get up or doze off for just a little longer.  I really had no big plans this morning- I had to do my blogging and my workout, but beyond that, the busy stuff for the day wasn't until afternoon.  I was thinking I should really get up, but a bigger part of me was still so tired...

When suddenly this crow lands on the roof right outside our bedroom window and starts cawing like mad.  It was an open window no less, and it sounded like he was right in the room with me.  He sat there for a minute or two cawing before he started flying in circles around the house- still cawing.  Have you ever had one of those moments where you just know something?  I knew that crow was not there by accident, and I needed to get up.  So I did.  I puzzled for a minute over what that could mean- why did I need to get up this morning and get my day going?

Yeah... the doorbell rang just half-an-hour later.  We had an appointment with a plumber to be here later in the day after 11:00 in the morning.  He had a sudden free-up of his morning and thought he'd stop by earlier.  Oh my.  Instantly, I was so thankful to God for sending that crow to caw me awake this morning.  Had I allowed myself to doze off, no doubt, the doorbell would have been what would have woken me up, and THAT would have been a totally awkward door answering.  Instead, I was awake, alert, and ready to receive the plumber. 

The crow was a nuisance.  Oh my, was that an annoying way to wake up!  But it got me out of bed, that's for sure.  And now the work being done by the plumber is being done early in the day, so that I can have the rest of my day free to do what I wasn't going to be able to.  God is so good!  I've been making plans all week to go and do specific things, and one thing or another has derailed them, the plumber was the latest of these.  Now I can try and rearrange my day to accommodate those things instead of simply being stuck here waiting for work to be done.

My messenger this morning may not have been as exciting as a donkey turning to me and speaking.   But God can and will use all manner of creatures to get our attention if He needs to. This morning, it just happened to be an annoying crow who sounded like he wanted to wake up the world.  Annoying, certainly, but it certainly got me out of bed, and it also turned my thoughts immediately toward Heaven, wondering why HE would want me up and ready for the day. 

Don't discount the little things.  I could have disregarded that crow (loud as he was), but a check in my spirit told me that this was something to pay attention to, and I'm so glad I did.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hello Warfare Wednesday!

"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelation 21:3-4

When I read passages like this in my Bible, it always gives me hope.  It can be so discouraging to open up the newspaper or turn on the news channel and see all the bad news being reported.  I know that often times, during a time of tragedy, those images and reports really turn my heart into a heart of prayer, as I pray for the people affected.  But at the same time, if I'm not careful, and if I dwell on that bad news, it can drag me down into a melancholy for the day, where I just feel hopeless and mundane. But thank God for His Word, and the many encouraging words inside of it!

It is along those lines this morning that I am focusing my prayers on President Obama. As President of the United States, you have to believe that each and every day he is confronting bad news after bad news.  When he first wakes up in the morning he is given reports of what has gone on around the world overnight.  Most days, that's probably not an encouraging way to wake up.  So very simply this morning, I want to pray that President Obama would find encouragement in the next few weeks.  As warm weather is finally moving into parts of the country, it's a time of great joy and happiness- as schools let out for the summer, children are naturally filled with joy at the time off from studies.  May the joy and exuberance that is capturing the children of this nation trickle all the way up to the top.

As the president's children also will be wrapping up their school year, I also pray that the whole family will find time together to enjoy the summer, and will reconnect with one another.  As another presidential race is looming in the near future, I pray that they are able to enjoy their time together this summer, and to not be plagued by pundits and pollsters.  May God give that whole family great joy, and may He make Himself known to them in a very real way.  May they know that God loves them so much, and that God has great plans for this country if they will only turn to Him for understanding.

We just celebrated Memorial Day here in the U.S., and as I watched the news reports of the various celebrations, and as I thought about all the service men and women who have given their lives for the freedoms we have today, I also thought about how much God truly does love this country.  He really does, and if the population of the United States will only grasp that God loves each and every person, then I think we can start to see a turnaround in every area of trouble.  It is God's love that is the answer to all our problems, but first we have to start looking so inward at ourselves and focus on each other, and on God above more than ourselves.  I'm praying that this summer will be a time of great love and selflessness for our country- may more and more people every day learn to stop being selfish, and learn to start caring for their neighbors.