Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Being A Real Wife

"For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."  Ephesians 5:23-24

I don't talk much on this blog about relational issues between husbands and wives.  A big reason for that is because those things can be very personal.  But another reason for that is that there are so many Bible blogs out there devoted to women, and they almost always are posting things about being a good wife to their husband.  There are zillions of books out there devoted to the subject, and they take many different stances and directions too.  But what does the Bible say?  Even that gets spun and twisted and conveniently molded to fit certain ideals.   But lately, during my prayer time, I've found that my usual prayers for my husband have intensified, pretty much on their own.  That tells me that the Holy Spirit is alive and well within me, and knows that my husband could use some extra prayers, and he usually can this time of year when he is not working his regular job.

I went and read these verses in Ephesians this morning to see if they had anything new to say to me.  This is one of those controversial verses, because there are so many women who see these verses as an attack on women in general, telling us that we are to submit to our husbands in everything.  But do you know what I see?  I see something completely different.  I see a charge to women to stay on our praying toes.  And it's really quite simple.  If I see my husband as the spiritual head of our family and our home, my most important job is to pray for him in that role.  My job is to pray that he stays on the straight and narrow, that he finds the time to spend in his Bible and that he finds the quiet time to spend talking to God.  If I am to submit to my husbands authority, he better very well be in the right place spiritually.  He better be resisting temptations, and he better be seeking God's Will in every direction and decision.  He better be.  And it's my job to pray that he is there at all times.  If I fail in my job at praying for my husband, then I deserve whatever happens, since I have submitted to his spiritual authority.

This time of year I find myself praying for peace for my husband's heart more than anything.

  "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful."  Colossians 3:15

Every year when he is not working his regular job, the devil likes to take the opportunity to lie to him.  He likes to tell him that he's failing in his role as provider for this family, and that can really be effectual if it is not prayed against.  This year it seems those whispers have been loud shouts, because it's been an especially difficult year.  I have this peace in my heart that God will work all things out, because God's just  like that.  I can read account after account in the Bible of God's provision and I am encouraged and emboldened to get through another day.  But sometimes that peace is only in my heart, and not in my husbands.  It is very important that I pray that for him, to give him hope and peace, and to silence the voice of the devil who is trying to tell him otherwise.

And I need to pray especially that my husband will continue to walk by faith, no matter how difficult it may be.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."  2 Corinthians 5:7

It's too easy to look at what is going on in the natural and physical around us and be discouraged.  It's difficult to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and what He would have for us.  Each and every day, the devil tries to get us to focus on our lack instead of all the blessings that abound.  More than once over the past weeks I got really discouraged as I would read about the mountains of gifts that people were wrapping to give to their children, and here we sat with a very small pile of gifts for our own children.   For my husband, whose heart holds the love language of gift giving, it was even more discouraging.  And so I found myself praying that he would find great joy in giving the gifts we were able to give, and to not be discouraged by not being able to give a lot this year.  I have also been praying that God would give my husband understanding, as to why things have been so difficult for us- what are we to be learning from, what are we to take with us as we move forward, and what are we to discard completely from our lives and leave behind.

A real wife is the wife that the Bible so often talks about.  A real wife is the wife who recognizes when her husband is hurting, and rather than try to offer trite advice or counsel, simply prays.  She prays for the right people to speak encouragement into her husband at the right moments.  She prays for her own mouth to be shut when it needs to be shut, and opened when it needs to be opened.  A real wife is not a wife on a pedestal who does absolutely everything perfectly and by the book.  A real wife may have her own failings to deal with, and her own struggles, but no matter what comes her way, she still puts the prayer needs of others before her own.  That right there is a huge secret to overcoming struggles.  I find when I pray for others, instead of praying for myself and focusing on my own needs, I find that my struggles seem to not be quite so mountainous- they seem just a bit smaller, and little easier to navigate. 

And that starts at home first.  Ladies, our number one role in marriage should be to pray for our husbands.  I pray for my husband daily, and quite honestly, most often it centers around God keeping him safe.  There's been far too many accidents that he has been either part of or witness too, and I pray daily that the angels around him will beef up their security detail, as God has great things for my husband to do with his life- but those require him to be intact and alive.  Sometimes though, he needs prayers in a more spiritual direction along with the protection prayers, and this is one of those times of year for us.  Just as important, we also need to be modeling these prayers with our children.  Every day when we start school, the kids and I pray together, and we always, always pray for Daddy, regardless of what his plans for the day are.  Someday, my daughter will be able to use what she has learned to pray for her own husband.  And someday, my son can take comfort and courage in knowing that his wife is at home praying for him when he has a difficult day at work. 

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."  1 John 1:7

I pray that my husband will always walk in the light, and that we will always do so together.   Ladies, take the time to pray for your husbands today and everyday.  I wholeheartedly believe that one of the keys to a strong and successful marriage is to pray for one another.  God gave us each other just for that purpose- so that we could lift one another in prayer and be an encouragement to one another. 

Monday, December 26, 2011


"Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this."  Revelation 1:19

I had a dream last night that I needed to reflect upon for a while this morning.  It was one of those dreams that puzzled me because it regarded a situation that I wouldn't think I would normally be involved in.  But the more I think on it, the more I am certain it was saying something to me, and it was using an analogy to try and get the point across.   I'm going to be mulling over this one for the next while, because I think I've only begun to scrape the surface as far as what this dream could be saying to me.

In the dream I found myself suddenly in the office of the governor of our state.  He had been waiting for someone specifically to come in, but when he found me there, he decided that I could take care of this important task for him instead of this other person.  He then proceeded to open up this manual of sorts and tell me more about my task.  I was to write for him.  I was going to be "the one" to write a 2100 paragraph report on something important.  It was vitally important, what it specifically was, I couldn't tell you, but it was extremely important that this report get written.  He handed me this manual, loaded with his notes and then gave me a deadline.  I was so excited as I walked out of that office, but a bit daunted by the idea of writing 2100 paragraphs.

On my way out to the parking lot, I suddenly couldn't find my car, and then I found myself in a cloak-and-dagger experience, as there were bad guys trying to get the manual I had been given.  They wanted to write their own report using those top secret notes.  I managed to somehow lose that manual, and rather than give up completely, I decided, as I drove home, that I would still be able to write this important report, I would just have to do a whole lot more work to get the report written.

It was a really strange dream, I have to say.  I almost discarded it at first, but the more I've thought on it, the more I think there is something there.   I don't think that it's saying that I'm meant to write some vital tome or report, and I don't think I'm going to be involved in something that is going to put me in peril, nor do I think it has anything to do with the governors office.

But I do think it has to do with the physical act of writing.  It could be this blog specifically, because I'll tell you, despite the resurgence I've enjoyed this month, there are days where it's really been a struggle to get myself to sit down and write.  I've had many great thoughts over the month about different scriptures, and I'll think about them and remind myself to dig deeper with the blog.  And then the blogging time comes, and those thoughts are completely gone- as if my notes have been stolen from me.   And yet, I find myself determined to continue, determined to put something down, because I will not fail, and I will not allow my blogging to be stolen from me.

It could very well be that this dream was a simple way of encouraging me to keep keeping on.  And yet there was also an element of excitement in this dream, and that is one thing that I'm really going to be thinking on further.  I enjoy my blogging here, but I would hardly call it exciting or riveting... it isn't a "life's work" so to speak.  I'm going to keep my mind open to the idea of this exciting thing as we head into the new year ahead.  I have to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing what God is going to do in the new year ahead.  Surely He is up to something, I've been feeling that for a while, and I'm looking forward to at least getting a glimmer of an idea of what that is.  I do know this, it's going to be good, and full of His Love. 

I hope that I get to be one of the ones to write it down.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Study Then, The Broken Trees

"Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!
      Shout, you lower parts of the earth;
      Break forth into singing, you mountains,
      O forest, and every tree in it!
      For the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
      And glorified Himself in Israel."  Isaiah 44:23

"For you shall go out with joy,
      And be led out with peace;
      The mountains and the hills
      Shall break forth into singing before you,
      And all the trees of the field shall clap
their hands."  Isaiah 55:12

Today as the kids and I drove about town running a few errands, my gaze was drawn to tree after tree.  This past summer we had several windstorms that wreaked havoc on the trees in our city.  So many old and towering trees have been broken, damaged, or completely felled in this past year.  With the leaves now gone, those broken limbs and trunks are very obvious, and are everywhere you look.  I was looking at all these broken trees and wondered about them.  As I thought back to those windstorms, I pondered the same thing that I thought back then.  What was God trying to say to us through those storms?  At the time I thought that one of the things God was saying was that He was watching over us very closely.  Those storms caused damage to trees, yards, homes and vehicles, but not a single person sustained even the tiniest of injuries because of the weather.  That was huge!

But as I saw those broken branches today, I felt something completely different.  I felt burdened.  I really felt a need to spend time praying for my community.  One of the things that I've always loved about trees is that they always look like they're praising God with outstretched arms.  Think of it- as they grow, their branches reach up and out, like a child reaching up for their daddy.  The trees that I saw today weren't praising anymore.  Their arms were broken off, and they just looked so sad and forlorn.  They looked lost, and without purpose.  It made me wonder if all these broken trees are a natural sign of how our community is faring in the spirit. 

Our community specifically has suffered many harships over the years as far as churches go.  There have been many church splits and many hurt feelings over the years, and as a result of that, a lot of the church going people have simply stopped going to church.  They've been burned by bad churches, by bad people within the churches, and especially by gossip and rumors.   I think because of that, also, the churches that are still forging ahead in our community do so cautiously, trying ever so hard to not offend or cause distress.  And I just think that there are too many people hurting because the church was not as they expected- and not as it should be to them in their times of need.

And so I found myself praying today for my city.  I love, love, love, living where we live.  Truly, every time I get in my van and go somewhere, or go for a walk, I think about how blessed I am to live in paradise with my family.  We really do love it here, and more than anything, I would love to see the hurt gone from our city.  There has been far too much of it.  I really think all the broken branches and trees around town are a sign to us that there is something missing in our community- and that is a relationship with God.  And I think what so many people have missed for years is that it doesn't really matter how that relationship is achieved- there is no one church congregation that does it best- and that is where so much of the brokenness is from.  It's from the people at one church condemning the people at another, simply because of a difference in doctrine or policy.  Instead we should appreciate one another and appreciate the uniqueness that each one of us brings to this community. 

That's my Christmas prayer this year.  That those around us will let go of the hurt they've experienced in the past, and just move forward.  And that they'll move forward in the Father's love- which is for each and every one, no matter what.  No matter what is in the past, God's Love is for every single person.

Maybe, just maybe, the broken trees do tell us something.  They tell us the story of the past, of the brokenness and hurt.  But they also can tell us something else.  As the old passes away, the new comes into being.  May the newness that comes only from Heaven fill our city and take away all the hurt of the past.  May the new be full of joy and praise, and worship for the King of Kings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Milk To Meat

I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;"  1 Corinthians 3:2

This week there's almost been a scent wafting through the house.  An aroma, if you will.  You would think this time of year that the dominant aroma would be that of baking and baked goods.  Cookies, cake, holiday treats, and all kinds of dainties come out of the kitchen every single day.  Though, that is not the aroma that keeps tantalizing my senses.  What I've been experiencing this week is most definitely a savory smell.  The best I can describe it as is what I think of when I think of the flavor of umami. Umami is the fifth flavor that the tongue can identify- we have sweet, salty, sour and bitter, and umami.  Umami is a meaty taste- it's found in red meat, mushrooms, tomatoes, soy sauce, and oysters as an example.  It's also what I think of when I smell a roast cooking slowly all day long, or the smell that wafts up from a bowl of delicious gravy made with meat drippings.  It's a wonderful taste and smell.  And I've been smelling it- even without a long slow roast going, or anything cooking at all.

It's a smell that makes me smile, it makes me take a deep breath and really drink it in, and I was wondering about it last night when I crawled into bed.  Why was I smelling this Umami in the house?  I mean, I've been cooking as normal, and the cooking odors don't usually linger like this.  Is this something that God is trying to tell me?  That's a question I always go to when the unexpected is happening. What is this, and what is God trying to tell me, if anything.  And the more I thought on this, the more I thought that perhaps there was something there, something that God wanted me to mull on and dwell on in my thoughts.  And then a few scriptures came to mind and I needed to look them up. 

One of these verses was the first one I posted, found in 1 Corinthians.  And the other verses are in Hebrews, chapter 5.

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."  Hebrews 5:12-14

Could it be that I've lingered too long in the infancy stage in my walk with God?  When I think about that, it really makes me look inside and really think on it.  It could be.  What these verses are talking about is not literal milk and solid food, rather coming to my Bible and gleaning only the milk from the scriptures, instead of looking deeper for the solid food- for the real meat hidden within.  Maybe there are too many times where I open up my Bible, and I almost just want to find something basic, something nice, something that will make me smile and then I'll go about my day.  The reality is that maybe I don't really want to open up my Bible, really dig in and then see something that is critical of me.  I don't want to see the errors of my ways or be challenged with a new way of thought.

That's not always how it is.  Sometimes I do really want to dig in, but it's not often enough, especially recently.  In fact, when I was taking my blogging break, it was also kind of a not reading the Bible much break, and boy, could I tell.  I would read just one or two verses and pat myself on the back for at least opening up and reading something.   My attitude was rather suckish.  And while it's still a struggle some days to even motivate myself to open up my Bible and dig in, more often than not, I've been finding little nuggets hiding within.

But perhaps those nuggets are not what I'm supposed to be finding.  Maybe I'm still skimming the surface, lapping up the milk, but avoiding the real meat.   Hebrews says that solid food belongs to those who are of age, and I suspect that I've spent far too long behaving as a babe with the Word of God.  When I read verse thirteen and I see that those who partake only of the milk is considered unskilled in the word of righteousness.   I don't want to be unskilled!  One of my great frustrations with myself is that I hear all this wonderful preaching and teaching about how to make the Word of God more active in my life, yet I don't put it to use.   Maybe it's because I haven't taken that important step to decide to set aside the milk and reach for the real meat before me.

It's truly amazing to experience something in the everyday- something as basic as smelling meat cooking- and then find truth about that very thing hiding in the Bible.  I really think that I'm smelling meat because my inner man, my spirit is craving meat, and now it's up to my outer man to see that the inner man gets what it's craving.  How do I do that?  I have no idea, but I know I can't get past the milk by being so complacent in my reading- I need to be more purposeful, and more intense.  I need to take the time to pray before I read, and after I read, and then commit certain passages to memory for meditation and reflection.  Basically, it takes more work on my part. Just as it takes much more work to chew a piece of beef versus drinking a glass of milk.   The benefit there is that the protein in the beef is a more hearty version of protein.  It lasts longer in the body, it sustains longer and it nourishes.  The milk also nourishes, but it goes through the system much more quickly.

I think the meat will be well worth it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Big Words

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, To give knowledge of salvation to His people By the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us"  Luke 1:76-78

Even as a new infant, Zacharias spoke into his son's life.  And John the Baptist indeed grew as Zacharias had prophesied to him. 

When I read accounts like this in the Bible, they always make me pause, because it is so easy as a parent to dictate what we would like for our children's lives.   It's entirely too easy to look at that stubborn little three year old and start calling them the little lawyer in the family.  That name sticks, and before you know it, that child is seriously considering law school, which is all well and good, except that God's plans for that child had been for them to go into medicine, to be a medical missionary to the unreached people around the world.  Whoops!  I want to be careful about when I speak into my children something that could affect their ultimate purpose in life.  And I wonder exactly how one does that- how do we guard our tongues and be careful?  Why, we look back at men like Zacharias, and we see that he didn't just randomly speak to his son, John.

"Now his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying:"  Luke 1:67

Zacharias spoke into his son's life with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.  He waited until the time was right, and I'm sure he spent some quiet time with God, asking Him for the right words to bless his son with, and they came.  With God's help, Zacharias gave voice to the plans God had for that tiny baby, and John's life fulfilled every single word.

It should come as no surprise to hear that I spend a great deal of time praying for my kids.  They are two amazing people, and I pray all the time that God would keep them that way.  They have such a heart for Jesus, and for people, and I'm constantly praying that they would survive the teenage years (that are creeping ever so close) unscathed, and still earnest in their desire for the things of God.   As I've watched my daughter over the last weeks, I've had fleeting thoughts of the person she is becoming, and I found myself casually wondering what kind of man she's going to end up marrying down the road.  Of course that led to praying for this mystery man, because I'm sure he's out there somewhere, and someday he's going to be my son-in-law, so I may as well get used to praying for him now.   So I pray, but how often do I speak?

Not enough, I'm sure.  Oh, I praise them quite often in regards to schoolwork.  I want them always to be encouraged and never to feel like they can't get something- they have a work ethic that is 100% due diligence right now.  They have no idea that there is such a concept as "just enough".  Everything they do, they do full out and to the best of their ability.   But when it comes to words about the future, I find myself strangely quiet on the subject.  And the reason for that is what I posted up above.  I don't want to steer them in the wrong direction. 

But as I read those verses in Luke today, it gave me something to ponder.  It's something to think about and to spend time talking to God about.  Because the words we speak to our children, while guided by the Holy Spirit, can be the very thing that bolsters their spirit and carries them through the next stage of life.  I want to make sure that should the moment come to encourage my children in that way come up, that I listen wholeheartedly to the Holy Spirit, and not add my own Mommy embellishments.  I see that Zacharias did not add anything superfluous either.  He didn't add something like "let him be handsome, let him marry well, let him get an education, etc." He simply let the Holy Spirit have His way.  Even as an infant.

May the Holy Spirit have His way with my children, and with our household- especially as we navigate this hectic holiday season.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sharing Is Not Whining

"WE WHO are strong [in our convictions and of robust faith] ought to bear with the failings and the frailties and the tender scruples of the weak; [we ought to help carry the doubts and qualms of others] and not to please ourselves.
    2Let each one of us make it a practice to please (make happy) his neighbor for his good and for his true welfare, to edify him [to strengthen him and build him up spiritually].
    3For Christ did not please Himself [gave no thought to His own interests]; but, as it is written, The reproaches and abuses of those who reproached and abused you fell on Me.
    4For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope.
    5Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
    6That together you may [unanimously] with united hearts and one voice, praise and glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)."  Romans 15:1-6 (AMP)

This is one of those subjects that can go two ways at times.  Because I'm sure we ALL know people who are chronic complainers.  There's always something to complain or gripe about in their world, and they're not shy about doing so.  And then there's the people who never say a word.  They're going through the trial of their lives, and only when they are at the very edge of despair do they quietly say something and ask for prayer.

There can be a balance here.  I don't believe that we should be complainers, we shouldn't be walking around looking for something to complain about.  Instead, we should be looking for the joy in every situation- which I agree can be difficult to find sometimes, but we still should look.  

But what we should be doing is sharing our struggles with our fellow believers.  God didn't mean for us to walk this path of life alone- He meant us to do it together.  Sometimes that simply means a husband and wife will come into agreement on something, but most times, it really means that we should be sharing our trials with other believers- for the purpose of edification and prayer.  God meant us to share one another's burdens.  He designed the body of Christ in such a way that no one person should suffer while the others glide along easily.  What He meant was for the struggles of the one to be carried by the many, to help ease the burden, and to help make it to the end of that trial.

I know a few weeks ago we really dealt with something major in our household.  And while I spent that day wanting to just curl up into a ball and cry my heart out, I kept thinking about how I knew that there were people praying for us right at that moment.  Those prayers were what got me through that dark, awful day.  Our burdens were being shared by those who I know are effective prayer warriors, and I could feel them lightening the load all through that long day.  And as others came alongside us as an answer to those prayers, we felt the burden lighten even further. 

Had we traveled that day alone, I can't imagine how the outcome would have been.

We were not designed to travel life alone.  Armed with the Word of God, we were meant to come alongside each other.  We were meant to share with each other when our burdens are causing us trouble, so that those we share with can help ease them.  How much better is a trial than one you go through with good friends and the faithful alongside of you?  Wow- the party at the end of the trial is always amazing!  When you are able to rejoice in the Goodness of God with those who have been praying, it's a truly wonderful thing. 

As we've been dealing with this season of lack in our household, I've really felt a burden to pray for those who are in a similar situation as us.  It's been heartbreaking to hear of other's struggles, but at the same time, as I pray for them, prayers are being answered, and each little answer builds my faith up just a little more.  It helps me to have faith that what God will do for one person, He will do for another, and I have complete faith that the answers to our prayers will come.

Knowing that there are others out there praying for us helps us keep fighting the good fight.  Just that simple knowing that others have come alongside us and are in agreement with us in prayer keeps us moving forward day after day and gives us strength and hope for the future.  Yet we wouldn't have that peace had we kept our struggles to ourselves.

"Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  Galatians 6:2 (NKJV)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dear God: Time For A Repeat!

"LORD, I have heard of your fame;
   I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
   in our time make them known;
   in wrath remember mercy."  Habakkuk 3:2

Pastor referenced this verse last night in his message and I couldn't stop going back to re-read it.  I'm still thinking about it this morning. 

I know so many Christians who have been going through struggles this last year.  Whether they're financial struggles similar to ours, or one of the many other problems that come along, it's like, well, it almost makes me think that the devil is trying to really mess us all up because his time is drawing to an end.  It's like there's this invisible shield that's been very, very slowly beginning to fall down on believers, and the devil is doing everything he can to mess us up before that shield drops firmly into place and he's completely unable to do anything anymore.  There IS something on the horizon, I can feel it, I can feel this apprehension in my spirit.  Apprehension like when you're accelerating up the hill of a roller coaster, you're almost to that first rise, and your stomach feels like it's doing back flips- you're excited for what's to come, but at the same time, you're wondering if it was a good idea to get on this ride in the first place.

The thing I love about verses like this is that it IS in my Bible.  All those years ago, there was someone else watching all this horrible stuff going on around him and he decided to talk to God about it.  He reminded God of the amazing things He had done in the past, and asked Him to do them again.  To show his love, once more, upon the chosen people.  I'm sure that Habakkuk was thinking of the Israelites flight out of Egypt, and how God made water to flow from a rock.  I'm sure he was thinking of Esther, and how her bravery saved an entire race from annihilation.  I'm sure he was thinking of King Solomon, and how there was such peace in the land during his reign.  And as Habakkuk looked around and saw the destruction and the sorrow, he asked God to remember.

I've been having similar thoughts as we ride closer and closer to Christmas and the New Year coming.  One of the things that we as Christians are supposed to do is be a light to the world around us.  It's kind of hard for us to be that light when we've got our own struggles keeping us from doing so.  And it's happening to so many!  While it can be easy to get caught up in our own individual struggles, when I look around, the struggles of the many are so tangible.  The fact is, we can't do it on our own.  We can't get through these low times on our own, and I'm filled with eager anticipation for the testimonies to start rolling in.  As I read this prayer from Habakkuk, it was a fabulous prayer then, and it's a fabulous prayer now.  It is my prayer that as a whole, God will look upon His people and will lift each and every one out of the tribulations that are threatening to suck the life out of us. Now won't that be an amazing day, the day He sets the captives free.

And then we can talk about it.  We can share with everyone we meet how God took care of us and erased the struggles, and it will just be so cool that those who are in need in the world around us will seek us out and will want to know how we did it.  And we can look at them with a glint in our eye and tell them that we had nothing to do with it, that it was all God, and the masses will turn to God because they just can't deny that they've seen His Goodness upon our lives.  Many, many people have heard about the fame of God.  So many people know the Bible stories, have spent time in a church, but have turned away, because they just haven't experienced the real and living God.  Something happened to rock their faith and they just couldn't shake it. The day is coming when the awe of His deeds is going to sweep across the nations, and it's coming soon.  I look forward to the day when I can shout from the rooftops that my enemies have been vanquished by the Rock of Ages.  That will be an amazing day, and it is coming.  It is coming!

"LORD, I have heard of your fame;
   I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
   in our time make them known;
   in wrath remember mercy."  Habakkuk 3:2

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ups And Downs

"But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29

It's been such a few weeks of ups and downs, and really a bit of a struggle, to be honest.  One minute we're delighting in what God is doing in our lives, and the next minute we're focused back again on some of the troubles.  One minute we're rejoicing about an unexpected gift card in the mail, and the next minute, I'm despairing in the store because it's vanishing more quickly than I'd like.  One minute Andy has the opportunity to earn a little cash, and the next minute he's paid with a thing instead of the needed cash.  One minute we're simply excited and anxious about Christmas, and spending time with family, and the next minute we're thinking about the gas needed to be able to attend the celebrations.

It's like every moment of joy that we can find, the devil is swooping in as fast as he can to rob it from us.   Perhaps that's not worded quite right, because money and gifts are not a source of joy, God is our source of joy.  Seeing God provide in such cool ways speaks volumes to us, to our children, and they will be moments that can be looked back upon.  I've been thinking about that too.  That gift card we received in the mail spoke volumes to my little girl, and at eleven years old, that's going to be something that she'll be able to reflect on for years.  In twenty years she'll be sitting around the Christmas tree with her own family, telling the story of the years God provided.

But for now, it's really a struggle to try and maintain the positive, to try and keep our eyes where they belong.  I could spend every waking second dwelling on the lack of finances, and trying to figure out how to make things work.  But that causes stress, anxiety, and lack of sleep.  Instead, I try my best to focus on what I should be focusing on.

"My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
         In the morning I will direct
it to You,
         And I will look up."  Psalm 5:3

The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up is ask God to bless the day in front of me.  (Wait, maybe that's the second thing, because the first thing I do is think about what day it is and what I need to get out of bed for.)  And I don't ask Him to bless it for selfish reasons, really.  I mean, I could, but I want more than blessings just for me.  Just last night I overheard a conversation among a few of the moms at dance about how they've just been in bad moods lately.  Boy, I sure could relate!  But what I really thought was that I need to get my eyes on straight, and focus on what's important, so that when I'm out and about and in those situations, maybe I could let God work through me to try and bring some joy to someone else.  It's not about me- it's not even about my children!  Though as I sit here typing this up, in the ultimate bit of irony, they're having one of THOSE days where they cannot agree on anything, and it really would be nice if they could just go to bed and start over fresh. Sigh.

"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another."  Romans 14:19

We're not pursuing things for the sake of pursuing things.  We're not pursuing money because we'd like to be wealthy, we're simply trying to pay our bills and put clothing on our children.  We're not pursuing the luxury vehicles, quite honestly, it would just be nice to be able to drive down the road and not be nervous that this is the time the vehicle is going to bite the bullet and need a major repair.

I want to pursue the things which make for peace.  And peace in our home, in our lives, starts by focusing on the Peace That Passes All Understanding.  Jesus IS peace.  One of the names of God is Peace, or Shalom.  With all the troubles we've had the last few months, I want to submit my heart fully to the God who is Peace, because that sure would be a lovely thing right about now.

May the peace of God flow in our household from this moment on, and may it flow in your household, filling all who meet you with the sweetest peace they've ever known.

"Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."  2 Corinthians 13:11

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Time To Receive

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 6:23

I was completely struck by a musing thought earlier today, and I can't stop musing on it.  I think it's going to be interesting to see what all God has to show me about this thought.  I was looking through the local newspaper, and right there was a big headline that said Christmas Memories Should Be About Giving.  It was an editorial piece, and I didn't actually read the article because I was so caught up by the headline.  Really?  Christmas memories should be about giving?  And so I started to think on that, because that is really what we keep hearing over and over- it's not about receiving gifts, it's about giving them, and I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, we're all a little bit wrong in that regard.

From a natural standpoint, I have to say, that if I think about this idea of giving gifts, that right there is a huge source of my stress this season.  How can one give to others when there is nothing to give? Does that mean that we're guilty of voiding the whole Christmas spirit because we don't have anything to give?

And why is Christmas supposed to be about giving in the first place?  I think in a quaint way, it's supposed to remind us all of the fact that God gave us an incredible gift two thousand years ago.  God gave us all eternal life, and somehow, when we give a gift, it's supposed to... I don't know... somehow make us think that we're being like our Father and giving good gifts to those we love.  Um, when I give someone a gift, I'm giving them a gift because I love them, and I was thinking of them, yes.  But when I physically hand over a gift-wrapped package, that doesn't somehow magically make me think of the Greatest Gift Of All.  Let's just be honest here, it doesn't.  When I physically hand someone a gift, I'm thinking about how I think they are really going to like what is hiding in that package.  Sometimes I'll even have a little story prepared as to why that particular thing made me think of them.

Receiving a gift, on the other hand, does make me reflect on the goodness of God.  When I open a package that someone so thoughtfully put together for me, it reminds me of my Good Father, who knows what I like and what I would love to have, and He places my desires in someone elses heart, so that when they see that thing, they think of me and get that thing to give to me.  When I receive a gift, it's not at all about the monetary value of whatever is hiding beneath that paper, it's knowing that the giver has purposed to give me something that will bring me joy.  I absolutely cannot receive a gift without feeling all warm and fuzzy inside- and feeling very much like the Grinch in the movie when his heart grew three sizes.  Even if that gift  turns out to be something on the strange side, the physical act of receiving a gift does something.

It's time for us to open up our hearts and really and truly receive Christmas.  Now, does this mean that we're not going to be giving Christmas gifts?  Of course not.  If we can find the funds to purchase or make gifts, we will certainly be doing so, but it does mean a shift in our thinking.  Honestly, it means that I'm done dwelling on all the gifts that we are not going to be able to do.  It also means that each and every gift that I end up on the receiving end of will be all the more special, because you know what?  God would do it all over again.  He would send Jesus to die for us over and over if that was necessary, because He loves us THAT much. 

And sadly, there are those who look at that Greatest Gift and decide to return it.  Or they want to exchange it, thinking that maybe there's something better out there than Jesus.  But the beauty of the Greatest Gift is that it's always available.  Jesus is always there, always ready and waiting with arms wide open.  The gift of God's Love is the most precious thing... and it's nothing that you or I can give.  It's something that only God can give.

This Christmas, it's all about receiving.

Monday, December 12, 2011

He Hears

"The poor and needy seek water, but there is none,
      Their tongues fail for thirst.
      I, the LORD, will hear them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
       18 I will open rivers in desolate heights,
      And fountains in the midst of the valleys;
      I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
      And the dry land springs of water."  Isaiah 41:17-18

I've been seeing a recurring theme in my Bible reading this last week.  Almost every single chapter says something about the fact that God always hears when His people cry out to Him. Clearly, that's something I need to hear and read about, for it to be so prominent. 

And I sure love reading those words and rolling them around in my head.  They fill me with an incredible peace. They let me know that even though there may be times where it seems like things are not going well at all, that God hears my cries and He will not forsake me and forget about me.

A few weeks ago I was looking at the calendar and figuring out how to make money stretch through the month.  No matter how I did it, no matter how I configured the tiny bit coming in, there was literally nothing left for Christmas gifts this year.  Nothing.  You know, I can certainly go without any Christmas gifts myself, and have been going without many of the basic things of life for a while now, simply because there hasn't been money for them, but that was kind of the last straw for me.  I almost got angry, but then instead I just got really weepy.  Because no matter how the year has gone, my children do not deserve to have to go without gifts for Christmas. Oh, they would get a few from relatives, but I was saddened to think that those gifts were it for them.  And I told God so.  I poured out my heart to Him and just asked Him to please, please not make my children go without gifts this year. 

I feel like I need to pause and interject here, because our family knows that Christmas is not all about the gifts.  In fact, my precious children LOVE to give gifts rather than receive.  But the gifts accent the holiday season.  It's a fun way to interject some surprise into our celebration, and a great way to remind each other that the greatest gift of all was Jesus.  But children should not have to come down the stairs Christmas morning to an empty Christmas tree.  I don't care how much you try to emphasize that the meaning of Christmas is not gifts- no gifts makes for saddened children on Christmas morning.

You know, I believe that God cares about our children, very much.  God heard my cries to him.  He heard my mommas heart pouring out to Him, asking for some provision so that we could try and do a little something for Christmas.  He heard my cries, and He did something about it.  Friday afternoon when I got the mail, we found an envelope addressed to our children with no return address on it.  It was a rather nice gift card that we'll be able to use to put some Christmas gifts under the tree.  I've been overwhelmed about this ever since.  Every time I think about that gift card, I think about how someone had heard that we had so little money this year that they wanted to make sure our children had some gifts for Christmas.  Part of me certainly wishes I knew who sent it, so that we could thank this anonymous person.  But I know that God knows, that God laid my children on their heart, and I know that He will bless them beyond measure for such a generous act.

And now there isn't such a dread of Christmas either.  While it certainly won't be the year of incredible delights under the tree, it will still be wonderful, and festive, and we can celebrate with each other in love- and not feel like we're lacking.  God's goodness is overwhelming, and I know that He Always, Always hears the cries of His children.  Even better?  He answers.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Be Not Afraid

"Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
   they will be remembered forever.
7 They will have no fear of bad news;
   their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD."  Psalm 112:6,7

I read Psalm 112 yesterday, and had to go back today and read these verses again, because verse seven in particular made me smile.

As Christians, I think that one way we show the fruit we are growing is by our reaction to those moments of bad news.  These verses specifically tells us that the righteous will have no fear of bad news.  They will take it as it comes, and their steadfast hearts will trust in God completely. 

I'm certainly not there yet.  At the first glimmer of bad news, my brain gets into gear and I logically spend time thinking about the bad news- Andy being laid off would be one instance of bad news.  Immediately I start calculating bills and trying to figure out with my own mind where money could come from to meet all our needs.  I spend time there, in the natural, thinking about how we can persevered and muddle through the situation.  And then I pray about it.  I talk to God about it and ask for his help.  I ask Him to help guide us through the season ahead, and that's all well and good, but I think I could do better.

Because I think that if my first reaction to bad news was to pray about it, we'd have a whole lot less stress in our lives.  If I turned to God as the very first thing upon the receipt of bad news, I could ask Him to help shape my thought processes, to help guide us in the path we are to take during this season of the uncertain.  I think that maybe our struggles could be a tad less of a struggle if the first response was turning to God instead of the second or third response.

I keep coming back to that last line, "their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord" and I can't help but linger on and love the use of the word steadfast.  When I think of steadfast, I think of something really, and truly important.  I think of a candle in the window on a snow covered night, steadfastly providing a beacon to those on the outside.  I think of a lighthouse- they are steadfast no matter the weather, always a guiding beacon for the ships at sea.  I think of a ship, in days gone by, trying to cross an Atlantic Ocean with a cargo full of immigrants, determined to reach the shores of the new world.  Thinking on the word steadfast fills my heart with hope and with determination.

I think of a girl, lost in the woods, with nothing but a small lamp to guide her way, and rather than panic, she steadfastly maintains her pace in one direction, determined to find her way out of the woods.  She is determined, she is steadfast. 

No matter what may come at us, we will be steadfast and we will trust in the Lord.  We will trust that He holds us in the palm of His hand and will guide us in the right direction we need to go.  We will stay on course, and we will not be afraid.  We will put one foot in front of the other, and where our heart leads, we will follow.  Because our heart belongs to Jesus, and He most certainly will not lead us astray.  He will guide us to the very answers to our problems, and He will keep us safe from ALL harm along the way.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

To Be A Doer

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."  James 1:22-25

The kids and I read James together a week or so ago, and I've been musing on these verses ever since.  Specifically, I was thinking about the actual acts of being a doer of the word, and trying to reconcile how that can be done where there are no finances available for the doing.   Because I'll tell you, I've found myself, over the past several months, really feeling filled with compassion for the needy.  I'll drive around town and see a newly foreclosed upon house- you know, the ones with all the papers plastered to the door, and it looks as if the home was quickly abandoned- and my heart will break for whoever was living there.  I'll see a line of people at one of the many bus stops I pass, and I wonder if they ride the bus as a "green" thing or if they are simply too poor to own a vehicle, and my heart goes out to them.  Or I'll see the crowd of people walking into the dollar store and I'll wonder what is taking them there today.  Are they looking for a good bargain, or are they there because they have to be, and they're hoping to find some halfway decent canned goods with which to feed their family. 

I tell you, my heart is ready to just pour out into our community.  I read about the food pantries and homeless shelters in the area, and I want to do something tangible to help.  I want to dedicate a portion of my garden next year to growing for a food pantry.  I go through my kids clothes and see so much wear left in them, and I wonder who I can bless with them, who really needs them.  I see that mom at the grocery store with just a few items in her cart, staring at her list and figuring with a calculator, and I know exactly what she is doing.  She's got just a few dollars in her pocket, and she's desperately trying to figure out how to stretch it to feed her family for just a few more days.  I know, I've been there, more than I care to think about.  And my heart instantly goes out to her, and more than anything, I want to reach into my own pocket and slip her that $20 dollar bill that I'm supposed to use to figure out my family's week worth of milk and eggs...

My heart is so tender right now to the need around me, and I can't even begin to do anything about it, because we're fighting tooth and nail for our own family's needs at the moment.  But, oh my gosh, there are so many people in need, and all I can do about is pray about it.  To be honest, I find that so discouraging on my part.  Because I know what it's like to be facing a mountain of bills and have someone know about that and say "we'll be praying for you."  On the one hand, I do know that the prayer of a fervent man availeth much, and I know those are not wasted prayers.

 "Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."  James 5:16

But what I really want is for that person to say "I know a person who wants this work done on their house, could I have them call Andy to do it?"  And when I think of those people at the homeless shelter who are being told that funding is short, and they might not be able to stay there much longer, I want to do so much more than just pray for those people. 

It's a little frustrating, to say the least.  But you know, when I think about all this, I think that the Holy Spirit has clearly been at work on me, because I clearly recall a blog post or two where I did ask that He would open our eyes to the need around us.  And because I know that God is such a good God, I know He didn't have my eyes and my heart opened for no reason. Right now it may very well be so that I could pray... But I have to think that this softened, weeping heart is there so that I can also DO.  And along with that, God knows that we are unable to do right now, and He will make a way where there seems to be no way.  I love connecting thoughts like that! There WILL be a day when we will be able to do so much more than pray for those who are in need around us.  That day will come, and then we can take the heart of Jesus to those who need it, and THAT is something that I'm truly excited about.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

God IS Good

"Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
         Bound in affliction and irons—
 11 Because they rebelled against the words of God,
         And despised the counsel of the Most High,
 12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor;
         They fell down, and
there was none to help.
 13 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
         And broke their chains in pieces.
 15 Oh, that
men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness,
for His wonderful works to the children of men!"  Psalm 107:10-15

I've been stuck in Psalm 107 for the past day or so.  I've been slowly making my way through the last section of the Psalms, and yesterday when I got to Psalm 107 I felt like I needed to stop there.  I read it through a few times, and when I woke up this morning it was still on my mind, so I turned to it again.  It's a wonderful chapter in the Bible to read when you need some encouragement, because it's loaded with examples of the goodness of God.  I think I like the one I posted here the best because the people who are in trouble were in trouble because of wrong they did.  It says they rebelled against the words of God, and yet when all was said and done, they cried out to God to save them, and He did.  He did!  Despite the error of their ways in the past, God stretched out His hand and brought them out of the darkness that had claimed them.  God's goodness is amazing, and something to cling to when the need arises.

Often times, when we're in a season of trouble and worry, it's through no fault of our own, circumstances just happened to be that way.  We're in a season of trying really hard to not worry about finances, and trusting that God will provide and meet all our needs.  Part of how we're here again is through no fault of our own.  Work that Andy was supposed to be doing until Christmas fell through because of the economic situation around us.  But then there's the part of this season that is our fault.  We could have done better at saving, at pinching pennies earlier in the year, and then this worry wouldn't be here.  We've made mistakes, and in this era of self- scrutiny it is WAY too easy to look at the mistakes and completely blame ourselves for our troubles.  The problem with doing that is then we look at the trouble we're in, know that we've caused it ourselves, and then we don't talk to God about it.  We get into self-condemnation and decide that we deserve all the struggles we're dealing with because we did this to ourselves.

The world within us would agree with that.  But we've got something better in there too.  We've got Jesus.  We who have asked Jesus into our lives and made Him a part of us also have the redemption that came with Him.  Redemption for all and for every situation.  Think about that- it's such a wonderful thought.  One of the character traits of Jesus is redemption.  He came to save us from sin and evil, and that is always with us- even when we stumble and fail.  God is a very, very good Father- He knew from the beginning that He would have struggles, and so He sent His son to take those very struggles upon Himself and take them to the depths of hell for us, so that we would not have to go there.  That's amazing and incredible! 

And if we think along that line of thought for even a moment, we can realize that any wrong that we have done... well, it's as if it never happened, because Jesus took that away with Him before we were even a twinkle in our mother's eye.  God provided a way out from our struggles before we even had them.  When I have thoughts like that, I'm so thankful, because I need to cling to them sometimes.  Sometimes I just need to pour out my heart to God and tell Him how sorry I am that I've failed again, and ask Him for mercy and for understanding.  And every time I find myself marveling at His goodness.

Reading chapters in my Bible like Psalm 107 can be such a light in the darkness.  As David says later on in Psalm 119, His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.  It's such a beacon of light for my heart- it can keep me going, it can get me through just one more day, and fill me with such hope for the days to come.  God's goodness gives me hope through the Words that He wrote all those years ago. I pray that you would know God's loving kindness today, tomorrow, and each and every day as we navigate this glorious Christmas season.

"Whoever is wise will observe these things,
         And they will understand the loving kindness of the LORD."  Psalm 107:43

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Vegetables Or Steak

"Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it."  Proverbs 15:17 (AMP)

"Better is a dish of vegetables where love is
Than a fattened ox
served with hatred."  Proverbs 15:17 (NASB)

"A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
      is better than steak with someone you hate."  Proverbs 15:17 (NLT)

I stumbled across this verse yesterday and it made me smile, so I had to look it up in several different translations to see what it said in each one. Each one continued to make me smile, because it is just so incredibly true, and it was fun to find such a nugget hiding away in Proverbs.

I know on a basic level, this verse means exactly what it says.  I would much rather eat a plate of vegetables here in my home with my family than go out to dinner for a fancy steak with someone I don't particularly like.  The vegetables would be far more tasty and far more enjoyable because I'm with those I love best.

But when I look a little deeper and think on it a little more, I also can't help but think about how this verse can say so much more and be applied to so many more situations.  When I think on that fattened ox, I think about all the work and trouble that went in to making that ox fat.  It took a lot of work, probably a lot of money... you know, when I think about this scenario, I think that in a husband and wife scenario, the husband probably wasn't around much in order to provide that fattened ox.  He probably worked hard- worked overtime, and was seldom home to spend time with his wife and family. 

On the other hand, down the road is the vegetable farmer.  The man who also works hard, but doesn't have to spend 24/7 tending to his oxen.  He plants his seeds, and tends to the plants during the daylight hours, but when the sun goes down he is able to spend plenty of time with his wife and family.  They live meagerly, but they are together, and happy, and when the harvest comes in they have an abundance to be blessed by.  It may only be vegetables, but they are together and happy, and that's what matters most.

Would I love to have a freezer full of steaks and meat?  You bet I would.  But not at the expense of our family's happiness and love for each other.  Instead, we will be happy and satisfied by the fruits and vegetables we have on the pantry shelf and in the freezer.  I sure do like the thought of having a freezer full of meat, but if we had, that would mean far less time that Andy would have gotten to spend here at home with the family.  Sometimes it's too easy to lose sight of that.  It's too easy to look around and see all the lack, and miss the part where we actually all get to spend time together.  That time is time that we could never get back!  Andy does spend long hours working when he is working, and the kids can go days without seeing him.  I imagine that if he worked like that year round, they would not have the relationships that they have with each other.  That's something that we lose sight of too often, I think.  This time of year it can be really difficult to look at the calendar and look at the bills and realize that there is just no way to do Christmas gifts and pay the bills at the same time.  And yet, that time together is very precious, and every year things work themselves out.

That's something to remember, and one of the reasons why I treasure this blog so much, because I can look back at the difficult winters and read my testimonies of years gone by and see exactly how God placed miracle after miracle in our lives.  I love that so much.  And I also especially love how I see this morning that God used a simple little Proverb about how vegetables served with love is better than meat served with hate to show me how the simple things in life are sometimes the things that matter the most.

Monday, December 05, 2011

It's About Relationship

"Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel."  John 5:19-20 (NKJV)

I think that so many of the questions us Christians cane come up with today can boil down to this one simple thing.  Or maybe it's not so simple.  I think of many of the speakers who we've heard at church who talk about how they travel the world and they have seen people healed of all kinds of diseases and deformities.  We've heard from a speaker who's ministry has raised over 400 people from the dead- verified dead people!  We hear about miraculous instances of money being transferred in large amounts to someone who needs it- and we've heard of supernatural debt cancellation even.  And yet... and yet we don't see any of these things manifesting here.  One of my children gets a simple cold, and we pray for it every day during school, but the cold still hangs around for weeks on end.  We pray for Andy to find some odd jobs to do so that we can pay bills and buy Christmas presents, and there's nothing there...

Yet there's always hope.  Maybe this will be the time! So we pray again for healing to come upon that little one and for the cold to be gone.  We've never seen the instantaneous healing, but I can tell you that we've never had a cold go beyond a cold.  So many times we hear of other people whose colds turn into bronchitis or pneumonia or something else, but our never, ever do.  Is that because we've prayed for healing?  So maybe we've stopped something greater from trying to invade that little one's body?  It's entirely possible.

But the more I spend time reading in my Bible and just meditating on thoughts of the supernatural and miraculous, and I can't help but realize that I'm missing something.   I've experimented with taking dominion over the earth with my gardening.  Several years ago a did a tomato plant grow out in the winter, where I started a few plants, and then blessed them every single day.  One plant did not receive the same blessing every day, and in fact was less than half the size of the blessed plants when all was said and done.  It was a simple blessing, something like "I call you blessed plants, wonderful plants.  Be healthy and multiply in Jesus' name".   Last year when I started some seeds I blessed them by reciting scripture over them- a verse about multiplication.  I had a good year of gardening, but not great.  And I've been thinking on that.  Why did my plant blessing experiment yield astounding results while my seed starting scripture reading didn't?

I think it's a matter of relationship.  When I read about Jesus performing miracles, He plain out says that He only does what He sees His Father doing.  That simple statement means that there is a relationship there.  A relationship where Jesus knows exactly what God would have Him do.  Would God have me bless my seeds and reap a bountiful harvest in my garden?  I think He would love that, but if all I'm doing is reciting a bunch of words, I'm not doing anything different than the person on the other side of town who subscribes to witchcraft does.  Reciting the right words- whether they're scripture or not- is not the key to doing anything for God's Kingdom.  The key is the relationship with God.  Can I see what my Father would have me do?  It takes a real relationship to see that, to open up that door to something that would be life-changing.

The relationship with God is key to everything, I'm positive of that.  All those speakers that I mentioned who I've heard speak talk about all the wonderful things they see God do... but what they don't always mention is how they got to that point.  How many hours a day did they spend on their knees, pouring out their hearts to God and asking for justice for those who need it.  How many days did they fast and spend that time in their Word, seeking God for clear direction.  How many times did they eschew the pleasures of the now and decide to seek God instead.  It's football season right now, and if someone was really into football they could watch games on TV at least three days a week, if not more.  How many of these people were football fans, but for a time set apart those hours they could have been watching and enjoying football games, and instead spent time with God?  I bet a good many of them.

The things that we read about Jesus doing in our Bibles are very much for us to do today as well.  But we don't live in some fictional fantasy land where some of us are born with a natural gift of healing or of speaking to the winds.  I read a lot of fantasy and fiction, and I happen to think that a lot of fantasy writers hear bits and pieces of what God would like to do with mankind here on earth, but they present it in a matter-of-fact way with magic and sorcery and different rules for different lands, when the only hard and fast rule is this:  Jesus.  I, too, can calm the winds of the storm and can multiply the loaves and fishes to feed the multitude, but FIRST I need to see my Father doing it.  And I can't see that without a relationship.  A real relationship with one-on-one time, with heart-to-heart talks, and with me spending time reading the very Book that my Father wrote just for me.

I've spent a lot of time in the gospels, reading the words that Jesus actually spoke.  It started when I was looking for the right verses about gardening.  I do think that taking in the scripture and learning it so that it can be recited is important, but a recitation is just a recitation unless there is something behind it.  I've gone to plays in the past where a person on stage was simply reciting lines.  Those plays are just so-so, and not something you want to go see again and again.  However, a play where the actor or actress takes the time to learn their lines in addition to a good character study makes all the difference in the world.  When they take the time to really get to know their character, to learn the nuances and the interactions with the other characters, they come across as believable and entertaining.  We want to see those plays and those actors again and again.  In the exact same way, we should be studying our lines- the Word of God- and also studying the character within.  When we work to develop our character to match that of our Father God, we will find that relationship that we are all intensely craving.

It's not just the right words.  It's not just a few prayers of supplication, it's relationship.  A real and true relationship with God is where we'll find the answers to so many of our questions.  Let's make time for Him today and see what keys He has for us, and what nuggets of wisdom He's just waiting for us to ask for.  He's a Great, Loving Father like that.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Almost Robbed

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  John 10:10

I received a rather powerful revelation today.

I've been very quiet on my blogs as of late.  Part of my away time was a reflection time, to see if this blogging "thing" was really something that I should be doing anymore.  I wondered if it was a part of me that was in the past, and should stay in the past.  As part of this reflection time, I went back to my blogging roots over at Tummy Treasure, and purposed to blog every single day in November.  It was good.  It reminded me that one of the reasons I blog is simply because I enjoy it so much. 

Today being a new month, I also was not going to blog over there today, as we are quite busy for the next few days.  But I had something small and silly to post, and decided to go ahead with it anyway. Upon pulling up my blog I found a rather nice comment, encouraging me to keep blogging, and then it was as if a veil was lifted from my eyes.

I was almost robbed. 

When I think of all the years that I've been blogging and enjoying it, it makes me sad to think that the last six months or so have been really sad in the area of blogging.  I've had so many conflicting thoughts about what to do with all my blogs.  And that one comment sparked something.  It reminded me that people DO read my blogs, whether they comment or not.  And not only that, they read ALL of my blogs.  That truly was an awakening moment for me, and I have to get back at the blogging, fast and furious.

Because I know with every fiber of my being that my blogging is a good thing.  Whether it's just a good thing for me personally, for people around me, or for the good of God, by golly, it's a good thing and that devil has used everything he could think of to throw at me over the last six months to try and discourage me away from blogging.  Why?  What is it that He's so scared of?  Ha-Ha-Ha-HA!  It's Jesus.  It's the Jesus that has been churning away inside of me, almost slumbering.  I feel as though I've been sleeping, and I've needed someone or something to come along and wake me out of that slumber.  The lion has roared, and in just a few short moments here, I've realized that I was almost robbed of something I truly enjoy, and it is going to continue NO LONGER!

Ha-Ha devil!  You do not win this round.  I am a blogger in every sense of the word, and by golly, I like doing it!  Even better- I bring glory to the Kingdom of God and to Jesus Christ through this very hobby that I enjoy so much.

I'm back.  And I love Jesus with all my heart, and all my soul and all my mind.  And I WILL run this race to its very bitter end.  And the end is NOT near.  Not for this blogger.