Saturday, December 15, 2007
My father-in-law has been fooled by scam artists again via the web.
God has allowed his efforts to be frustrated so far and to our knowledge has not been able to get them the money he intended to send to them last week.
Pray for Mom that she will know what she is supposed to do and when and that her physical strength will be returned to her.
Pray for all of us that we will be willing to do whatever God needs us to do in this situation.
That Dad will see that he needs to discover why he is vulnerable to these influences. That he will seek help outside the family.
That we will all trust for God's provision if his choices lead to the loss of their home or even worse the loss of either of their lives due to the stress they are both under.
We had a one year and three month reprieve from this. Now it feels like it is spinning out of control. Maybe it is. Maybe that is exactly what we need to have happen for Dad's eyes to be opened.
Please take this as a loving warning. If God is trying to get your attention by identifying something in your life that you repeatedly do out of rebellion. Please beg God to help you figure out why you do it and show you how to submit your life to Him in that area. If your like me the answers wont come overnight. You will not be changed overnight. But excusing sin and ignoring God where He is at work in your life can have very grave consequences to you and to all who love you.
Thank goodness there is hope and life and healing in turning away from rebellion and towards our Heavenly Father. Oh what a happy day it will be if Dad ever sees the light on this piece of his otherwise faithful life.
Thank you for your prayers.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Isn't it amazing how much a gift of service, a warm smile and knowing nod does for the soul?!
I've been away from this group of friends for a number of years. Today was one of those days when it was exceptionally good to be here and not just passing through town.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Sometimes I need to stop on a particular page because God is shifting my thinking on something. I need time to reflect about how I used to understand something. I also need to really think about and pray about whether or not there is a biblical basis for a new perspective I am being introduced to.
Now for the real reason I wanted to write this post. One of the big challenges of walking with God is that His ways are not our ways. So when we use words to teach something God had given us to teach if we don't redefine a word we can unintentionally teach what we didn't mean to teach. (Hang with me this will make sense in a minute.)
Increasingly there is a call in books and magazines for the exercise of what is labeled "spiritual disciplines". The problem with using the word discipline is that from a worldly perspective it makes us think of ideas like efficiency and control that are very self-directed. In reading this book today I came across the best explanation I've seen so far on the difference between a worldly and a biblical perspective on discipline.
I am going to quote a couple of paragraphs but substitute patience for the virtue they used in the text because patience seems to be something that almost all of us can relate to being in need of:
"Discipline in the Christian life should never be construed as a rigorous method or technique to attain patience. Patience is not a skill that we can master by arduous training, years of study or careful supervision. Patience is a divine gift and not a result of systematic study or effort. At a time when many programs are designed to help us become more virtuous, we need to be reminded continuously that patience is not conquered but given, not the outcome of our hard work but the fruit of God's grace. In the Christian life, discipline is the human effort to unveil what has been covered, to bring to the fore ground what has remained hidden, and to put on the lamp stand what has been kept under a basket. It is like raking away the leaves that cover the pathways in the garden of our soul. Discipline enables the revelation of God's divine Spirit in us.
Discipline in the Christian life does indeed require effort, but it is an effort to reveal rather than to conquer. God always calls. To hear God's call and allow that call to guide our actions requires discipline in order to prevent ourselves from remaining or becoming spiritually deaf. There are so many activities distracting us that a serious effort is necessary if we are to become and remain sensitive to the divine presence in our lives."
We know that we can't make ourselves good. We try doing it through control Lord because its a familiar way to us of solving problems. We've all tried in countless ways on countless topics. Lord we try because we know you've called us to be good. We know that good is better than bad. We love you and desire to do the right and good thing. Lord help us to see, we can't do it through just making a decision to do the right thing. Help us to understand your role in revealing yourself to us. Help us to see what area of our life your wanting to work on. Your work is so individual and so perfectly planned. Help us to choose to want to be sensitive to your leading and submissive to your direction. Help us to be willing to put forth the effort this kind of living takes. Help us to stop fearing discipline but instead to appreciate your gifts to us through it.
In Jesus name, Amen.
(Compassion by Henri Nouwen, Donald McNeill and Douglas Morrison, pg. 88)
Friday, November 30, 2007
To see how God is as work in each life is so humbling. God is so big, so powerful, so personal. It doesn't take long to meditate on those truths before I feel ridiculous for not checking in with Him on everything.
After a morning like that it's not hard to take the advice of the psalmist who wrote in Psalm 136:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
I think the most lasting insight I received from these last few weeks of bible study is this. I have discovered another reason why quiet time with God is so important. It is our chance to sit quietly and ask God to show us what part of our lives we are feeling anxious about. Once we identify the fear we are dealing with, we can pray and ask God for what we need to overcome that fear so we can walk in faith. I bet that is one of God's favorite prayers to answer! I know its one of my favorite answers to receive!
May the peace of God rule in each of our hearts today! Amen.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
to receive salvation
to get urgent help
because God said so
our prayers are used by God for the benefit of others
In the past these have all been reasons why I have prayed. At some point these answers didn't seem complete. What was I missing about the point of prayer? Why do some believers have testimonies of loving to pray? Why do some have passionate prayer lives?
I believe that God prompted these questions. I believe God got me to a place where I really wanted answers to these questions.
Getting answers to these questions has taken time. There were things I needed to unlearn. There were things I needed to learn. I did this through relationship with praying people that are in my life and through biographies of praying people. Also, through being taught by authors who have committed themselves to discovering and the sharing what God has shown them regarding prayer.
I mentioned the book called the Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias yesterday. There is a paragraph from this book on prayer that I couldn't agree with more:
"More than anything else, prayer enables you to see your own heart and brings you into alignment with God's heart. Prayer is not a monologue in which we imagine ourselves to be communing with God. Rather, it is a dialog through which God fashions your heart and makes his dream of you a reality. It is truly the treasured gift of the Christian that through direct answers and not-so-direct answers, the follower of Jesus begins to love God for who he is, not for what he may get out of him."
This paragraph is packed with profound motivations for praying. These realizations and motivations in my own life have made a staggering amount of difference in my passion and enjoyment of prayer.
One thing I love about all of this, is that the relationship with God that is created through these motivations for prayer makes it possible to serve others well through prayers for them.
I wish having an ongoing conversation with you everyday wasn't such a challenge. I wish there wasn't so much to overcome. But I'm grateful that you keep inviting us to be more and more aware of you and your work in our lives and the lives of those around us. I'm grateful it only takes the smallest amounts of faith to ask for you to open us up to what you have for us in conversation with you. Help us to see all the ways you respond to our prayers. Help us to have the courage to talk to you about absolutely anything. Especially the parts of ourselves that we are most disappointed exist. Help us to invite you to go to work on us.
Help each of us to see you working to make us into your dream of who you want us to be. Help us to be confident that that person, your dream, will be worth what it will take to get there.
Lord teach each one of us to pray.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Here's a quote from this book: "Only if you are willing to pray sincerely for God's will to be done and are willing to live the life apportioned to you will you see the breathtaking view of God that he wants you to have, through the windows he has placed into your life."
I believe this statement is true. I believe this statement matches the journey I have been on for some time now.
God has been teaching me what it means to trust him enough to "pray sincerely for God's will to be done". Not easy. Not doable with out first dying to self. Not possible with out God's grace.
But oh the "breathtaking view of God" that exists in the midst of dying to self and sincerely praying for God's will...
The Christians who choose to live this belief inspire me. I marvel at their lives. By God's grace I want to live that life.
Sometimes my biggest struggle is being satisfied by what the Lord has apportioned to me. This time when it came up I had two images in my mind. They were very humble jobs as the world sees jobs. I sincerely want God to transform my heart to the point that I am truly content and joyful in whatever God has apportioned for me.
Forgive us for not understanding what and how you are weaving into our lives. Thank you for, in spite of our blindness, being a master at weaving yourself into our lives. Give us the ability to let go of the expectations of others and of our own expectations. Help us to see the necessity of being humble worshipers of you. Your ways are not our ways. Thank you for opening our eyes to your ways through worship.
In the precious name of Jesus Christ,
Our family has been very thankful for a little adventure we got to go on earlier in the week.
We went to the Branson, MO area to see our friends Handy and Cindy. We met this couple 18+ years ago. At that time they had grade school and Jr. High girls. Now these young ladies are married with beautiful little children. We met this family in the first small group we ever joined. To see how God has answered so many prayers for their children was really really enjoyable.
I'm thankful God has provided them a beautiful home in the Ozarks.
I'm thankful they love to use their gifts of hospitality and loved having us for a visit.
I'm thankful for the Ozarks. The landscape is beautiful and the people are fabulously unpretentious.
I'm thankful that my family really loves road trips.... the talks... the music... the open road.
I'm thankful for the bond between believers that allows us to pick up right where we left off and get to the heart of the matter very quickly.
I'm thankful that at the end of the trip my son wanted to know when we could go back to see them again!
I'm thankful we got home in time to get everything together to host my husband's side of the family for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to be together.
I hope you have had some time this week to reflect on the important relationships and the amazing provisions, the little things and random interactions with people that God has allowed into your life. It is so good to be a child of the King.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
some lyrics in changed.
You have changed the way i do everything
You have changed the way i wear my wedding ring
You have changed the way i treat my family
You have changed the way i see my friends
You have changed the way i spend my time
You have changed the way i use my mind
You have changed the things i spend my money on
You have changed everything i ever thought was mine
You have changed my emotions, you have steadied me
You have changed my eyes and what I let them see
You have changed the course of my history
thank God, You're still changing me!
some lyrics of desperate.
Lord, i thank you for this rain
healing waters when there's pain
there are rivers of Your providence
surrounding our obedience
in Your faithfulness, i put my faith
so Lord, i thank you for this rain
and i will always choose to praise you
music and lyrics by phil joel and dale evrist
I love it when God drops the perfect song or album into my week. I wonder if song writers really understand how much God uses them?
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I am hard pressed on every side.
I am left to choose between right and easy.
I am broken in spirit.
I am without hope.
I am left with unanswered questions.
Only you can I turn to for strength.
Only you can I turn to for hope.
Only you can give me wisdom and understanding.
So I will seek You, trust You, ask You.
I will be grateful You are there.
A few entries ago I had a day where rejoicing in the day the Lord had made was pretty darn easy. Yesterday, not so easy. Like most of life it turns out substitute teaching has good days, average days and really bad days. Writing this Psalm really did help me get perspective on the whole thing. Coming home to my family did me a whole lot of good as well. Thanks, you two.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
A speaker this week said she has become convinced that you never really know the will of God until your looking at it in the rear view mirror.
I can relate to that comment. When you look back its so much easier on many things to say, "Now I understand what you were up to God."
My newest adventure is substitute teaching for my local school district. I substitute teach for middle school and high school teachers for potentially all subjects.
In the spring several events and several conversations with Lord led me to think this is what God wants me to do. The reasons that made the most sense to me is my love for English Second Language students. The school systems of American have more of those than they know what to do with. I have had the opportunity to sub in this area several times both for high school and for middle school classes. I loved working with those kids just as much as I have enjoyed working with their parents. The reg flags of this experience are the lack flexibility in leadership one has as a teacher in the current environments. That's a blog entry for a whole separate blogspot.
I have identified in just one month of doing this a couple of unexpected gains. There is no other event in my life that has put me in a more dependent place daily than the choice to substitute teach. I am very outside my comfort zone and leadership skill level. I have seen God provide for me in very specific and wise ways. I am hopeful about the future benefits of learning to discipline myself to be dependent on God daily for my "work life".
The other gain is the chance to develop flexible leadership skills. Some classes get to a place where a heavy hand is the only option. Most classes need someone to facilitate the natural leaders in the class to step up and lead. Leading kids through the confusion of doing things differently has been interesting as well.
I just thought of something else I am learning to do. I have to discern who to trust quickly. Every one enjoys themselves much more if I lead from a place of trust rather than fear. That kind of leading has risks. But it has also had great rewards.
So its going to be very exciting to look in my rear view mirror someday and know more about why God has me doing this now.
And, I look forward to God answering my questions about whether or not God wants me to pursue being certified as a teacher and obtaining a teaching position in the school district.
What new challenge has God presented you? What are you gaining from it in your walk with God?
Monday, October 22, 2007
One of the ways that evangelicals distinguish themselves is their passion for truth. This turns into a belief that we can know what is "right". Being "right" is highly prized. If its true that for every strength there is a weakness what is the weakness of this viewpoint?
A while back I was thinking these questions. "Is God's highest and best for me that I be "right"?" "Does God communicate to us about himself through scripture that his greatest and most important characteristic is his "rightness"?" Do we learn in the New Testament that we will be most like him if we just learn what is the "right" answer for every question?"
I was also observing that those that prize being "right" also often talk about the dangers of being "wrong". This leads to list of dangerous enemies. While some say we have to love our enemies they never talk about how to do that. Instead they move onto telling you more about why they are "right". How many people who make it a mission to teach what is "right" have as their highest goal, the persuasion of those who are wrong because they love them and are deeply concerned about their well-being verses the motivation of self preservation?
Some people have taken these messages and come to believe that their highest calling from God is to tell people how to think and act rightly. When challenged about what to do with the verses that tell us we are not to judge lest we be judged they don't know how to fit that thought into their belief system. To judge others and tell them that they are wrong is one of their duties.
My paradigm shift - What if we valued God's love and compassion for every one as being equal to God being right. Is telling the world how right God is without sharing with them how loving He is doing more harm than good?
Having a relationship with Jesus, experiencing his love for me has been what has persuaded me to give up what I want, what my flesh craves and take a chance that Jesus is right. Over and over again Jesus has proven himself to be right, always right.
This means I'll be willing to have a friend who is struggling to give up being a prostitute, because she isn't sure she can believe that God will provide for her if she gives up the only security she knows. I will listen to her not judge her. I will pray for her. I will testify to why I am so certain the promise of provision is true. I will find other prostitutes who feared the same thing trusted God and He was faithful.
This means that I will encourage my son to have friendships with people who don't believe that following God is worth the trouble. It means I wont abandon my son if he chooses to lead a double life.
It means that I'll be honest about my own sin nature and my desperate need for the love and correction of God. I will be honest about the damage the self righteousness has done to my own soul.
It means I will risk being misunderstood by those who believe that compassion is the same as giving permission for sin.
God has extended me so much compassion, grace, forgiveness, love, mercy to me. How on earth do I have the right to withhold that from others? I believe it is God's place and responsibility to judge and to convict. My job is to affirm through my own testimony what God has done for me.
It is my job to seek the Lord so He can teach me what He wants me to know. Trusting that what I learn from Him can be confirmed in scripture and in the testimony of other believers.
P.S - I'm willing to listen to any reaction you may have to what I have just written. I don't want to engage in an argument so I may not respond to your comment but I do promise to think about and pray about whatever you might share.
If you have a question please don't hesitate to ask? Please don't hesitate to respond anonymously if that is important to you for some reason.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
- have listened to great worship music - Vicky Beeching and David Crowder.
- enjoyed taking a walk with my dog.
- had great left over Thai food from a gathering we had at our house last night.
- enjoyed a wonderful conversation with my husband.
- found a job for tomorrow as an English Second Language teacher in a school I've been hoping to get into soon.
- worked something out with God that I was feeling really frustrated and disappointed in myself about.
- soon I get to leave the house for an all-church celebration regarding our new pastor coming to our church.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The instructions were basically think of a word or image that relates to your walk with God right now. Then somewhere on a blank page write the word and a very simplistic marking to represent that word. Keep repeating the process.
The first word that came to mind was growth. This word was related to the Lord stretching me by asking me to pursue substitute teaching in the middle and high schools in our community. So I drew a tree trunk. That led to my hopes about the fruit that would be born from this activity in my life. So I drew apples and they each represented a different characteristic I either was hoping to see developed in me or expressed to the kids. That led to drawing a path on the right side of the page.
What happened next was so telling. I consciously thought that Jesus should be just a half step a head of me. So I wrote his name down and then mine. I looked at what I had done. I had put my own name a half-step ahead of his. Shoot. So I crossed out my name and rewrote it where it belonged. What I loved about the way I drew the path was that there was no destination in sight. I don't know specifically yet where this is headed. I'm walking by faith.
That thought prompted the words "eyes to see". I desire to have eyes to see what God has planned for me as soon as he wants to let me in on it. So I drew a pair of eyes.
That thought led to the word glory. All of this is to be for his glory so I made "marks of praise" and "marks of glory" at the top of my page. Time was up and I was done with my prayer.
Everyone at our table shared their prayer and expressed how amazed they were at the process and that it did reveal to them where they are at right now. What a gift our leader gave to us.
I continue to be amazed at the wonder of the combination of being and doing. When we are honest in our being before you and doing something anything that reflects that the indescribable and something very meaningful happens. Lord so many of us have been so afraid of legalistic doing we have been tricked into passivity. So I ask that you would continue to give me and others who desire this as well doings that match up with our being in you. Help us to see the light you create and give you all the glory for it.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I was really struggling to be obedient about something. At first I tried behaviors that have helped put my heart attitude back in a good place. That was having limited success. I've learned that when the old ways of doing things aren't helping something new is up. So after resisting a heart to heart with God about the thing I finally sat my butt down and asked the Lord sincerely what's up!
The answer I got back was indeed something new for me. The Lord pointed out that I was struggling to obey because I was finding more security in disobeying than obeying. Really its the same thing as deciding to trust God. But somehow the word security made it all so clear.
When I feel more secure in rebellion than I do in trusting God I choose rebellion. So I needed to revisit all the reasons why rebellion in this particular choice was not a good idea. And I had to revisit why I could walk by faith knowing I would be secure if I depended on God to make the choice I knew God wanted me to make.
There was so much joy and freedom in the realization and then in the obedience. Seeking God honestly had brought clarity, hope, strength, courage and a willingness to do what I knew God wanted me to do.
Thanks for convicting us when we are choosing to walk in ways that you desire to correct in us. Thanks for teaching us to come and ask what's up. Thanks for answering our questions. Thanks for being the source of our ability to obey. Thanks for not making our status as loved children conditional on our behavior. But thanks too for not letting us go on and on in rebellion without talking to us about it. Help us to be brave enough to explore new territory with you.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I was blessed to be there remembering him with so many old friends.
There is sadness for our loss. No more new memories are coming our way. We have to be content with the old ones. At least till we cross over into eternity.
There is joy and hope that is so much bigger than the sadness. It so great to be a Christian.
For those who spent time with him daily and weekly I'll pray for them that the transition to a different life without his daily and weekly presence will go as smoothly as it possibly can.
A funeral of a friend that you respected and believe lived well, really is a great opportunity to do a priority check.
Just before going to the funeral, I told a friend that I believe that a life well lived is one where you have loved God and you have loved people. I really hope that sticks with me as I prayerfully consider the priorities of each day.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Think about this has reminded me of a time when I was watching an African American preacher, preaching on TV. It was a stadium sized meeting. In this particular groups culture, they did something I have never seen before. When they could identify with what the preacher was saying they would stand up. As the preacher finished his point they would sit back down. It wasn't in any flashy way that they did this. To me it looked like just a different form of shouting Amen in agreement. It was a testimony without words. Their facial expressions and body movements spoke volumes.
Why do I love the way Miriam responded and the way this group demonstrated their faith? Because it takes boldness. It takes confidence in who you believe in to celebrate and believe God in a public way.
Likewise, I love it when our youth in the 5:00pm service rise to their feet in the middle of a song. They are both practicing and preparing their hearts to have that same kind of boldness when they cross the thresholds of their schools or jobs.
I think my generation and those above me need to have more and more respect for how much those younger than us face when they encounter our American culture.
I like loving and bold believers. I want to keep growing in my ability to be both loving and bold.
Friday, September 14, 2007
I used to wonder what on earth motivated the despair and irrational behaviors until I went through my own. For me it was a sense that I had not found a to do list that matched up with what mattered to me most. In part that was true because I didn't even know what mattered to me most. I was also feeling extremely sad because others had found a to do list that matched up. I could see the joy and fulfillment they were walking in. I didn't know whether to believe that a joyful and fulfilling life could be available to me or not? Was that something that some people got and others did not? So many honest anguished prayers were prayed in those days.
The other large issue for me was that even though I thought I wasn't looking for things to make me happy. I was frustrated that I never seemed able to be content with things just the way they were.
The journey the Lord has taken me on to address all this stuff and more could literally fill a book. One of the bottom line helps has been understanding that Jesus wanted to have a very personal relationship with me. So to be helped through my crisis, I had to learn to walk with Him as my friend and leader. He has become much more to me than my beloved Savior. As I walked more closely I understood that He wanted me to be willing to give up my expectations which were largely based in worldly perspectives about how life "should" be. He wanted to show me what matters to me most. As I have testified here before that process has not been easy. Dying to self and living for God have become very real words to me. Giving up a long held worldly beliefs feels like dying. The irony is that if you don't give them up you die. If you do give them up you live.
One of the most exciting things that has happened in this process is that as God has brought a to my attention a way that I was thinking he has also been very generous in making known to me eternal ways of seeing. Then He has asked me to walk in obedience to Him. As I have chosen submission and obedience I have seen the words on the pages of scripture come alive. I can't tell you how many times I have walked away from situations now thinking, "Wow, all this stuff that God has told us is really true."
For all my brothers and sisters who are disillusioned with their lives and who they believe You are, I pray that you would make your presence in their lives known to them. I pray that you would break down thinking that prevents them from trusting you. I pray you will break down thinking that allows us to trust in ourselves more than we trust in you. Thank you God that when you ask us to come and die to ourselves and live for you that you are with us in that. Thank you that you never abandon us. Help us all to learn how to abide with you, walk with you, hang out with you every moment of every day. Thank you for never giving up on us even when we feel like giving up on You.
Thank you for using the boredom and disillusionment and depression to bring us looking to you for answers. Thank you for promising to answer all our questions. May we embrace you and your answers and choose the life that comes from following you.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
I started a bible study this week subtitled - Walking from fear to faith. I realized this week how much I walk in fear related to raising Matt. I realized how much those fears are related to really ridiculous reactions on my part to certain things. I'm grateful God's getting my attention on this one. I'm looking forward to my heart changing in this area.
I chose Proverbs 3:5&6 for Matt this week. I prayed that he would, "Trust the Lord with all his heart and lean not on his own way of understanding things." Then it seemed like the Lord was showing me that the odds are better for Matt to actually have that perspective if I model it as I parent him. I need to trust the Lord with all my heart in matters that relate to going through the day with Matt.
I have never been so aware that I am so in over my head when it comes to raising Matt. I'm grateful for that feeling because its leading me to you. So Lord I pray that all of us that are raising kids right now that you will help us to trust that you have every intention of letting us in on what we need to know. That as we walk in step with your Spirit that we will be empowered by you to provide what you know our kids need. I thank you in advance for the answers to prayer we will get to witness live and in living color. God you are so good to us. We thank you for being good. We love you and we want to love you more. We want our kids to love you with all their hearts, their souls, their minds and their muscles and their gifts. All these things, which are the very biggest of things, we ask in Jesus name.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
This last week I watched my son leave for his first day of High School. I spent my week being reunited with old friends and meeting new friends. The hand of God just kept showing up in such meaningful ways. What a ride!
I'd like to tell you about two of them. My friend W**** invited me to a prayer group called Moms In Touch. This same friend said casually out loud in a gathering of Marching Band Moms that she would be attending this group the next day. One of the Mom's that heard her comment came. As we were being introduced to each other as new to the area we explained where we had come from etc. It turns out her husband and my husband and I all went to the same small college in East Texas. I never meet anyone who has attending my school. Not only did we attend the same school but at the same time and I remembered who her husband is. She has become friends with my freshman roommate who I had lost track of and needed a new address for. So much fun!!!
That wasn't the only great conversation that took place at that meeting. But I want to tell you about something else instead. Four years ago I did a Bible study this summer I have been going over the material again. For my birthday, my mother in law gave me a book called Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. I have wanted to read that book for years. I realized in the last few days that it had been quoted in the bible study I am now redoing and that is why I have wanted to read it all this time. Will I ever stop being shocked at how detailed God gets in my life? What a marvel God is?!
So I started reading this book over the last four days, I wish every believer who wonders why they face more roadblocks than green lights at church would be able to read this book. It is a 200 page or so defense of why talking to the Lord, crying out to the Lord, being a community that does this together is a necessary piece of a congregations life. I really do mean the word necessary.
So now I'm praying. Lord, how do you want me specifically to participate in prayer for and with this congregation of believers I call my church home? I can't wait to find out what the answer is.
So how is God showing you He's involved in your day?
Monday, August 20, 2007
I woke up to a breathtaking sunrise.
I read a passage in Luke that had me in awe of Jesus again.
I hosted a brunch for seven girlfriends. A mini-retreat. A joy to do.
I had a long Sunday afternoon nap.
I went to church and heard from missionaries. Some of my very favorite people.
We stayed after church and listened to one of the missionary couples share some victories and some hope and some challenges. This particular missionary couple is a couple I was first introducd to eighteen years ago. They were just leaving for the mission field when we met them in Plano.
Over the years they have come back and shared how difficult the area they are ministering to is. You could see in their faces the burden they carried for this people who did not trust what they had to share about God. They would ask us to pray. We did.
This time the joy on their faces was so beautiful to behold. A church has been planted. The pastor is someone local. All that was prayed for, for so many years by so many people is now in existence.
So now there are new prayers to pray. There are new challenges to face. There is hope to face them with.
Then we went to dinner as a family.
Then God ended the day with a beautiful sunset.
It was a great day to become 40 years old. :)
Friday, August 10, 2007
I believe it is God's will to provide shelter from the elements. In some places that may just be a shade tree. In fact this morning I was reading on a blog about a mission trip to Africa, to the nation of Angolia. This country is five years beyond a civil war. Some progress is being made in feeding the children of this country. The mission orgaznizations however only have food to offer to the children and nursing mothers. So the workers feed the children and have to observe the adults standing off to the side waiting for their children to eat the one nutritious meal they will have all day.
On the same day I reflect on her mission experience, I'm receiving a gift today which is more than a shelter, it is a home that matches with desires of my heart. The cupboards will be bare when we walk in today but very soon they will be filled up with food. My husband and I will not have to choose which one of us will go without a meal so our son can grow and avoid dying from a mosquito bite.
The extreme differences between these two existences makes so little sense.
In places like Isaiah, which I can't quote right now, there are passages that basically translate, You got fat and happy and you stopped caring about those who were in desperate need. I, God, hold this against you.
So I'm extremely grateful that God has orchestrated the purchase of this home in such a way that I am confident this is a gift from God to us. Our family is going to enjoy living there and sharing the home with others. And I'm asking God to somehow help me enjoy it and at the same time avoid getting fat and happy and ambivalent or arrogant towards those who have less.
Thank you. Help us to truly be grateful and even humbled by what you have done for us. Thanks for taking stuff away from us and showing us its more blessed to be without stuff and with you then the other way around. Thank you now for trusting us to have stuff again. Please convict us when we're losing perspective. Please show us how to demonstrate that we care about the needs of others.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
His answer may be "not yet" and then the waiting and praying will continue. Or his answer may be "yes" and a new list of prayer requests will begin.
So we pray:
Our Father who is in Heaven, Sovereign over all people and situations, we praise your holy name. We desire your kingdom and we desire to be a part of your plan here on earth. So above all of the things, we think or we want, we turn our wills over to you and ask for your will to be done. We ask for your grace.
Thanks for giving us what we need every single day. Help us to get that it is you meeting our needs. Keep us mindful when we don't do things the way you desire us to do them. Help us to forgive others when they make that same mistake. Since we know that evil is real and this decision this week is a really big deal. We ask for protection for all those involved.
Lord we praise you for letting us be apart of you and your kingdom. We desire to give you the glory and honor and praise. It's good to be a part of what is eternal. Help us to increasingly desire to be a part of what is eternal.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Back in the spring a small group of us were meeting together to pray for each other and for our church family. During that time we came to the conclusion as a small group that we would participate in memorizing scripture together. We gave each other hints, discovered how differently some of us memorize from others. Enjoyed having something in common as well as our uniqueness.
After the first passage was memorized, it was time to choose another. Someone in the group was reading from a book that had a suggested list of passages to memorize. Choosing another set of verses happened to coincide with my discovering of the verses in Lamentations that I have commented so much on in the last few months. The group understood how much these verses had touched me and why and agreed to memorize them with me. This meant that memorizing portions of Phillipians 2 got put on the back burner.
When we all had the next set of verse memorized everyone but me was ready to move on to Phillipians 2. I think this was a good lesson for all of us. At that moment I had a decision to make. I knew that meditating on what I had learned in Lamentations was getting me through challenging days. I also knew that if I gave up that time of meditation and jumped in Phillipians 2 I would be doing it to please the group. I would be obeying some kind of group law. I explained this and they understood. I didn't start memorizing with them.
But now I find it interesting that Phillipians 2 is exactly where I think I need to be memorizing and meditating on the word. This passage reflects on and worships the Lord Jesus Christ for his humility. It challenges us with the reality that being transformed into the image of Christ requires humility and is the experience of humilty. I am now ready to work on learning these verses.
I'm hesitating to type this next part. I'm very embarrassed. But I have been struggling to have an attitude of humility in the midst of God answering so many prayers for us. I'm very grateful the Lord has been convicting me of this. I'm grateful for his forgiveness. There is probably no better passage for me to be working on memorizing than Phillipians 2.
Like so many others, there has been a song that has meant so much to me over the last few years. One of the lines of the song is: Blessed be Your name in the land that is plentiful where the streams of abundance flow. Blessed be Your name. I allowed myself moments of blessing my own name. That is sin. I'm very sorry those moments happened. I hope and pray that I am learning how to walk truly praising God and giving Him credit for all He has done and is doing in my life.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
This particular week she has spent time reminding us that God intends our walk of faith to have the qualities of strength and courage.
As I face the challenges associated with moving, especially the challenge that God may be asking me to enter new territory regarding work, it has been a good reminder that God will provide strength and courage for such a place.
One of my greatest inspirations in this area of walking with the Lord is my boy. My boy who is turning into a man. This guy hasn't known for over a year what city or state he would be attending high school in. And, I couldn't even count on two hands the number of minutes he has spent angry or frustrated about it. I can't even tell you how many times people have asked me about how he is doing. When I have described it, I think most have had a hard time believing he was coping so well. We have attributed this to answered prayer. God has provided him strength and courage over this last year to face change.
Since we've been back in Texas, I've seen it show up in new ways. The fact that his old friends don't or haven't been able to attend Wednesday nights at church hasn't kept him from braving new territory. He is determined to have meaningful relationships with God's people. He understands that requires showing up in places and situations that your not always comfortable in at first. That touches this Mama's heart at its very epicenter.
Thank you for giving my fourteen year old boy/man a vision for why on earth church matters. May the journey we've been on as a family this past year be a spiritual marker for him. May he be able to look back on how you provided for him during this time of transition. May that fuel trust in you for days that are even more challenging than the ones he has passed through this last year. May he have the courage and strength to give you his whole heart. May he continue to be willing to walk by faith and not by sight.
Friday, July 13, 2007
It feels like I'm having that conversation with God almost hourly the last few days. Light bulb moments are firing off faster than I can remember them. I keep thinking God I want to have time to write down everything you're doing because I want to remember.
I've also noticed that in relationships with people, especially the parent child relationship, a parent says, "Just do what I'm telling you." Sometimes parents say this because they don't have time to explain or they're to tired. Other times it is because their child is not ready to comprehend the reasons why. And still others the parent doesn't really know "why" well enough to explain it themselves. And then when the child comes around to seeing the wisdom of the instruction or action a parent can be very tempted to have an, "I told you so attitude."
Looking back I think there were times when God said, "I just can't explain what I'm doing yet. You just wouldn't understand." But instead of feeling hung out to dry in those moments, I felt a calling to persevere with hope. A call to believe in God's goodness.
Its one thing to believe God is good when things are going smoothly and linearly. Its quite another when God takes seriously your desire to be transformed by Him into his likeness and therefore his perspectives. Because letting go of earthly values can be very difficult and even heartbreaking. But not I can see so many purposes in wandering around in the desert. I needed time away from what was my normal in order to have eyes to see and ears to hear what God wanted to show me.
A crazy part of that journey was that I was wandering around in the desert with people who were in their homelands the last four years. Their love and hospitality went a long way towards making the spiritual desert experience survivable. But it was never meant to be our homeland as well.
So what's my point? If you find yourself in circumstances that don't make sense to you. You wish God would lighten up. Hang on tight to the truth that God loves you. If you have told God that you will go an do and be wherever and whatever He wants you to be, there will be some sifting out of earthly perspectives and their will be some fires for refining. But on the other side of the sifter and the fire there is love for God that can be obtained no other way. I truly trust Him more than I ever have before.
You are blowing me away. I am flabbergasted by your orchestration of the details of my life. I am just one little soul on the planet of billions of people. I also watch you doing these things in lives of people I love. Lord, help us all to put our faith in you every single day. Give us opportunities to testify with love and gentleness and humility about who you are and what your up to. Help us not to squander what you've done in our hearts and the resources you have given us. Thank you for providing what we need to hang on to you when things just don't seem to add up. We love you Lord and we want to learn to love you more.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Sad "see you laters" to our California friends.
27 hour road trip with all our stuff. Stuff is so overrated. If they would allow families to live in a commune I would seriously consider it this week.
Large and small God-incidences. So many prayers were answered so wonderfully.
Fabulously fun reunions with family and friends.
We are experiencing the fruit of waiting on the Lord. The fruit tastes very sweet and wholesome.
There are many decisions ahead of us over the next weeks and months and we rejoice that we are confident that the Lord will guide us as we make them. We're looking forward to what surprises await us as the plan unfolds.
So what's the adventure God has you on this summer? I would LOVE to hear about it. :)
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
This season has been long from an earthly perspective. It has been full of one central question. God has been asking, "Will you trust me?"
While our testimony of what God has provided for our future is so generous and sweet and a hundred other words, what I want to say today is that God was generous, sweet, faithful, hopeful, good and a provider of peace and joy during the waiting. When I doubted, life was awful. When I believed in Him, the words on the pages of Scripture came alive in me. There is so much life available to us in submissive dependency on God. There is so much life available in a state of humility. There is angst and misery in pride and independence.
So why was it good and loving for God to force me into a state of waiting the last couple of years? I have discovered, at least in part, the answer to that recently. It turns out one of the hallmarks of my personality is a drive to acheive. This is a quality that God has place in me. It has been a strength. But as we all know strengths are also our greatest weaknesses. You see, I haven't been good at all in the past at waiting on God. I think God looked down on me and said okay now is the time. It's time to teach our dear Cheri the value of waiting. I think God knew that I believe just enough in His goodness and His love that forcing me to wait would not break my faith instead it would strenghen it.
I can honestly say that I am grateful for what I have come to know about the Lord and what I understand about myself as a result of the journey I have been on. I don't think an easier path would have provided me what I am so grateful for now.
Here's the crazy generous part! Five days before getting on the road to return to Dallas to continue a job search for my husband, he got a job offer in Dallas with a move package included for the company he most wanted to go to work for. Grace, Grace God's Amazing Grace!
Do you know that God loves you just as much when he is saying "no" and "maybe" and "I'll let you know eventually" and "yes"!
Yet this I will call to mind and therefore I have hope, because of the Lord's GREAT LOVE, we are not consumed. His COMPASSION never fails, they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I will say to myself, the LORD is my portion, I will wait for Him. The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him. It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3
Thank you for going out of your way to teach me to wait. Thank you for pouring your love out on us. Thank you for brothers and sisters in Christ that we could depend on as we waited. Thank you for being who you are and doing what you do on our behalf.
Amen and Amen
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Days like today take me back to our son's preschool days. There were so many choices for educating him. Homeschool, public school and private school. All our friends wanted to make a good decision and one that matched our families and matched our kids. We asked God for guidance. We were given an answer. It went well. The cycle has continued every year since then. I marvel at what God has provided every single year. Great teachers. Great schools. Both great and small challenges. We have been blessed and we are grateful.
In addition to feeling reflective, I'm also very delighted. I have often pondered what my son would be like as he grew into a man. The little boy is fleeing and the young man is emerging. And, I like him. He is engergetic, fun loving, eternally optimistic, good to his friends and quick to wear shirts and sweatshirts that declare to the world his love of God.
Many of you who read this blog have contributed to his life in countless ways. I want to say Thank you!! From the bottom of this Momma's heart, Thank you!!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
A few ideas have come to mind. First of all, I believe it is important to remember that anytime mankind takes a look at scripture and makes decisions about what they understand the Word of God to say they risk being only partially correct. I think the Lord I worship is so complex that to determine that I can sum Him and His teachings up is at best persumptuous. So I allow myself to consider doctrines and listen to how they were arrived at. But when I camp, when I dwell, when I worship I do that based on my relationship with God. I have seen evidence that if I worship a doctrine I run the risk of becoming arrogant and self-righteous.
Thinking about a doctrine is usually an intellectual exercise. Consistently this exercise has a pattern. I read a doctrine. I read the defense of the doctrine. I read the verses used to defend the doctrine. Usuall, I come to the end of the arguement thinking I can see why someone could arrive at that belief. But then that next thing almost always happens. "But what about this passage or this verse?" Right now I am more afraid of what I will miss if I ignore that last question then what I will gain by being rigid in my interpretation of God's Word.
I hope this perspective invites a walk with God that is marked with humility, because this requires me to pay close attention to the Lord. It is my hearts desire to have a relationship with and to be a worshipper of God not doctrine.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
The thing about silence and our culture is they really don't go together very well. I personally have avoided silence like the plague and welcomed with open arms the noisiness. Silence only represented a lonely place for me.
Sitting, in silence with the Lord, is not for the faint of heart especially if your one who naturally loves noise. It is also not an invitation to mindlessness. Many Christians avoid this topic because they are afraid they are being invited to participate in mindlessness.
When I read different authors explain their way of sitting with God silently I found there are many variations of this practice. It was very helpful to read a handful of them. I'll leave that to you to explore on your own if your interested. The times when I sit quietly with the intention of focusing on the Lord is quite random. These times are very short in their duration. Usually five minutes maybe ten minutes tops.
My intention for writing this is to share what I have discovered so far from choosing silence:
I am more comfortable and even often prefer to have nothing going on in the background of my life.
Silence is not lonely anymore because overall I am more aware of the presence of God.
I more readily accept that God is God and I am not. My attitude can be more easily brought to a place of surrender in everyday circumstances. I yearn for God's words, "Be still and know that I am God" to be the attitude of my heart. In other words I don't feel as full of my own agenda. I am hopeful it is easier for God to get my attention.
Which brings me back to my very favorite verses these days:
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Friday, June 01, 2007
A friend suggested we change up our usual Friday walk at the beach and go on a hike instead. So we went 15 miles or so south to a place called El Moro Canyon. It was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever been on. Amazing vistas. For a Colorado girl that's saying somethin'. :)
big birds and little birds
minding their own business birds and hunter birds
sandy canyons descending to the ocean
the beautiful blue pacific
a regatta race of sailboats
pink, purple, yellow and white wildflowers
30 plus miles of California Coastline
confusing trail signs
homes with views that have no end
California really is an amazing place. I still can't believe I've had the opportunity in my life time to live in a beach community and in a mountain community. I'm so very grateful .
What do you love about where you live now or where you come from?
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Thursday, May 24, 2007
The questions are: Do I believe that the contents of the pack are true and trustworthy? Do I believe it is a good decision to jump? Do I believe that jumping is really my only way of knowing whether or not what's in the pack is true? Do I believe the pack creator and designer has provided me with all I need to survive even soar next to this particular cliff? Do I believe...?
I bow at the edge of the cliff and I sing words from my new favorite song.
Falling on my knees in worship
giving all I am to seek your face
Lord all I am is yours
my whole life I place in your hands
God of mercy humble I bow down
in your presence at your throne
By God's grace and only because of His grace, I believe. I stand. I jump.
Is there a cliff God is inviting you to the edge of?
Friday, May 18, 2007
I believe God has called us to live obedient lives. But with out love for God and realization of His love for you and without a relationship based in knowledge of the Scripture and what you experience and learn in prayer it has been my experience that obedience is virtually impossible. I believe this is especially true in those areas where bondage runs deep. I am not asking you to strive for perfect obedience. I am asking you to believe that God wants to develop in you, a heart that is more prone to obedience than rebellion. Don’t give up on believing in freedom in Christ. This process of being converted from one who rebels to one who obeys is grounded in trust. Trust develops over time. Invest in your relationship with God and you will develop trust in God. I’ve joked that a good title for a book would be “OBEY is not a Four Letter Word.”
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, all three, always have a united yet unique roll in your life. Be intentional about not leaving any of God out.
I want you to know that you have blessed me, encouraged me, strengthened me, challenged me, given me reason to have hope, helped to guide me and have been the source of great joy in my life.It is now time for me to go a different way, taking all that you have given me in my heart. Rejoicing that we will have eternity to spend on each others front porches, back yards, beach chairs and mountaintops and all in the presence our indescribable Triune God. HALLELUJAH!
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face to shine upon you and grant you His peace, both now and forevermore.
With love and a thankful heart,
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Since we are moving back to the Dallas area at the end of June, my time as teaching leader in our Bible study has come to an end. I've decided to post the letter in two parts because it reflects my big picture perspective of walking by faith in relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For a month or more I have been dreading the last time my name was on the list to teach. I knew it was going to be difficult for several reasons. Initially my thought was that I would share with you what I hope you’ve heard me emphasize over the last three years. But because I love and appreciate each of you so much and because what is most important to me creates a great deal of emotion also, I couldn’t imagine how it was that I was going to be able to do that. A few tears when someone teaches are no big deal but I wasn’t sure a few tears were going to be the limit.
Then this week I started pondering what the message of the last half of Daniel is and different songs came to mind. One thing led to another and we ended up having a worship service instead. I hope it was an encouragement to you.
Then I thought there is no reason why I can’t share in a letter what I had previously wanted to do from the front of the room. So I share the following words from my heart to yours.
I feel like I’ve said this one hundred times but its never less true than the last time. God loves you.
Ephesians 3: 14-19
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
It is my prayer for each of you that these would not simply be words of knowledge for you mind but you would come to know them with heart, soul, mind and body. Everything begins with the love of God.
I wont be able to speak to everything that matters to me about prayer in this letter. So what I want to make sure you’ve heard me say is that prayer is in part about your conversion. Praising God in prayer converts us from being worshipers of ourselves to being worshipers of God. Confession converts us from self-righteousness to awareness that we are dependent on the righteousness of Christ. It leads to a willingness to be changed by God. Thanksgiving converts us from be self-reliant to being aware that all goodness in our lives comes from God. Prayer is the action that gives God the opportunity to convert us to believing that God’s will is what matters. When we believe that we will choose to die to ourselves and begin to live in Christ. I believe this with everything I have in me. Please allow God to draw you into a life of prayer.
So asking God for things has become my lowest priority in prayer. I absolutely believe in asking. I believe that God has designed interaction with Him and He with us to include asking. It has simply been moved from the way I most pray to the way I least pray. I am asking God to teach me more about prayer and how and what to ask for. I’m so thankful for what God has taught me so far about prayer.
To be continued...
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
One of my assignments has been to write about my journey of discovering what it is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I've done timelines before of significant spiritual markers or events in my walk with the Lord but this time I was struck by something new. While the Lord is always central, I was amazed by the timing of the particular people who have arrived in particular stages of my journey. Those with genuine faith in the Lord and a love for Him and for me have drawn me into their lives. I have gained so much from my time with each one of them. For some, that has been brief encounters for others we have a long history together. It made me so grateful that I have never questioned the value of being an active part of the body of Christ. Almost every mentor and spiritual friend I've had has come from my local church family.
Discipleship is not about just passing on what you know. Its about passing on a relationship through a relationship. At least that has been my experience.
So, thanks for the assignment Dr. Rexroat! May God continue to bring into my journey those who can help me put my faith in Christ. May I be used by the Lord to invite others to do the same.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
After Bible study, I enjoyed a spontaneous lunch that went on for close to two relaxing hours with three other ladies. It was a great gift after a hard morning. Then it was time to go home. My husband is away this week so he called to check in on how my morning went. The anxiousness and sadness was steadily building.
After our phone call, I started working on the blog entry I posted yesterday, the words from Lamentations were so helpful to me. I went from being depressed and sad to generally hopeful again.
But God wasn't done encouraging me yet!
Last night I had class, I took an old Bible of mine. There is so many things about this Bible that I love. The number one thing is that is was given to me by Grandparents who dearly loved me and dearly loved the Lord. They gave it to me for my seventeenth birthday and I loved it from the very beginning. On the first inside page, my grandmother wrote these words:
Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God concerning you. With much love, Grandmother and Granddad True. I Thes. 5:16-18
I have read this inscription countless times over the years. I can remember thinking in years past, why did Grandma pick these verses over all other verses to write in the bible she gave me?
But this time I realized this was not only a verse she appreciated, but a prayer for me. She wanted me to be able to live my life with the kind of relationship with God that would lead to rejoicing always, praying always and knowing that it was God's will for me to be thankful no matter what.
Being prayerful yesterday about my questions and my feelings led me to two places, a passage in Lamentations and a passage in 1 Thessalonians. The Word of God and the Spirit of God truly brought me back from sadness and insecurity to deep joy and hopefulness and certainty in Him.
One of my biggest concerns is that I do not want to be intentionally rebellious or blind to any rebellion associated with this situation. Am I being rebellious? I need to know if we are doing the right thing.
The second I finished reading 1 Thes. 5:16-18 I realized that I have been given an opportunity to rejoice always, pray always and to be thankful. To be living right smack dab in the middle of the will of God and the prayers and hopes of my grandparents. It was a powerful moment for me.
Oh the joy that has flooded my soul! I intend to enjoy every second of the lingering joy. God has been crazy good in spite of me again today.
One last thing, I wonder if an angel got to go tell my Grandparents what happened last night?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
I wish the best way to learn to trust God wasn't in the midst of circumstances that are out of my control.
I wish God wasn't so willing to be an excellent Father and was more on board with spoiling me rotten.
I wish that the illusion of being in control of my life didn't run so deeply in me.
I wish bringing joy to one group of people didn't mean bringing a little sadness to another group of people.
I'm glad God does what is best for me even when I don't like it.
I'm glad that when I question my decisions that I can be confident that if they were not made in rebellion that He will redirect me and work it all out.
I'm glad prayer works.
I'm glad I had to memorize an outline for Ecclesiastes last week. Timely.
I'm glad my family continues to get closer.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
Thanks for bringing me back to hope. I like hope.
Waiting as quietly as I know how,
Thursday, May 03, 2007
That's been my breath prayer for a while now. I've been taught that a breath prayer is something you can say in one breath. The process to discovering a breath prayer can be thinking about what title or way of addressing God that is currently most important to you. Then adding to that what you believe God wants to most work into or out of your life right now.
Out of considering those two questions came this breath prayer that I pray.
Some days this prayer gets prayed many times over. Some weeks I don't think of it at all. This has been a week when I've prayed over and over again.
This week God closed a door that we didn't expect. He has yet to open a new door.
God gives and He takes away. God has taken away before he has given this week. He has asked me to trust Him with that. He has also made known to me how He has been preparing me for that. Amazing!
On Tuesday this week I was digging through my papers from school looking for a resource I need for this quarter. I came across a Bible study I completed over four years ago now called I'm Believing God (Beth Moore is the author). I started thumbing through and reading the first week's lesson and then I remembered that I can still watch the videos online so I watched the first one. So helpful. Just what I needed to listen to.
God: "Dear daughter, are you going to believe me? Are you going to trust me? Are you going to walk by faith and not by sight?"
me: Yes, by your grace and with the help of my family members and brothers and sisters in Christ I am. I am going to believe you are my provider. I am going to believe you have plans for my husband, my son and me. I am going to believe that you will be my comforter, our guide, our hope. I am going to believe your intentions towards us are marked by your goodness and faithfulness. I am going to believe my weakness can be exchanged for your strength. I believe it is good for me to sit in the lessons you intend to teach me and not run from them.
I believe because it is your will that I trust you and because I have been praying this prayer that you have provided an opportunity to grow me in my trust of You. Thank you God for answering my prayer.
When I get tired Lord, help my unbelief.
Have you ever had a breath prayer? If so what did the Lord lead you to pray? How did God change your life?
Monday, April 30, 2007
I now believe, that in my life compassion takes more energy and surrender, to the Lordship of Christ, than judgement. I'm not saying this is the case for everyone. But for me it is easier to have judgement without love than to have compassion without love.
God through Jesus Christ has called us to love Him with our whole being. Our minds, our emotions, our wills and our physical strength. Maybe we should be careful about teaching anything that places more emphasis on one part of our lives over another.
Haven't we made the mistake throughout church history of swinging to an emphasis that focuses on one or two over the others. Some churches focus on the engagement of the mind. Some churches focus on the engagement of the emotion. Some churches focus on the engagement of the bodies in service to others. I believe when we get overly focused we ignore the others and even worse we often become very critical of those who place their focus in a different place while being totally blind or feeling totally justified in our own particular emphasis.
If we had a relationship with the Lord that demonstrated that God wants us to love him with our minds, our emotions, our wills and our actions wouldn't we be living in a process of sanctification or transformation? How could we stop God from changing us? God doesn't want parts of us. He wants our whole being.
Wouldn't we have a life that we could share with our neighbors? Wouldn't we have a testimony at church for our fellow believers? Wouldn't we be light in a dark world?
For instance, many of us know quite a bit about the gospel. But over and over again the testimony we hear at church is that we lost an opportunity in our everyday world to share because of fear. I would argue that many believers have not been trained that there emotions need to be submitted to the Lord. They don't know what to do with their emotional life. So when it overcomes their faith they feel hopeless and even ashamed. It doesn't even occur to them that they could become equipped to know what to do with that emotion.
Has the language of reason obliterated our ablility to speak about emotion?
It makes sense to me that communities of believers who have been focused on knowing also tend to be weak on compassion.
I see real hope and real possibilities for a rich life in learning to love the Lord my God with all my heart, with all my mind, with all my strength. I am hopeful that the first leads to the second having compassion in words, in my heart and in my deeds for my neighbors.
I know this post barely holds together. It covers a lot of territory. But that makes it an honest reflection of my walk with the Lord right now. So much of my time has been spent in details. Somehow I think so much of the big picture became lost. I want to be able to interact with the big picture. When I am examining or climbing in a tree I want to be able to hold onto the reality of the forest.
Monday, April 23, 2007
I wish I didn't have days when my family received the least compassion of anyone.
I wish I wasn't afraid to extend compassion to strangers.
I wish I wasn't afraid to extend compassion to my neighbors.
I wish I understood how much compassion God has for me and has extended to me.
I hope God keeps working on my lack of compassion.
I hope God develops courage related to compassion.
I hope my son is learning to have a compassionte heart.
I hope I learn to obey the Lord when he asks me to act in compassion towards someone else.
I hope someday my heart will be more prone to compassion than to judgement.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
We've had a small army of people praying for us on this one. I've been so grateful for every prayer.
God has been using this time in my life to deepen my trust in Him. It has been an opportunity to walk in the knowledge of His goodness towards us and to trust that wherever we end up it will be purposeful.
A few weeks ago on this journey of trust, I had a gigantic lightbulb moment about what Paul was saying when he testified to learning the secret of contentment. Its hard for me to describe but I'm going to try.
Prior to my recent lightbulb moment the Lord has had me focused on what it means to abide. It suddenly became important to look at abiding from a different angle. I have all kinds of experience with not abiding. But what does it mean in my life. What does it look like to not abide?
Not abiding, has meant using all that I know about God and all that I want in life and mixing it up into this place I now call "taking" from God. I was bouncing around between truly seeing what the Lord wanted and obeying and taking life into my own hands and just doing. So if this "taking" approach to God helps me give language to my version of not abiding. Then what is abiding? What I believe God is showing me is His desire for me to learn how to "receive" from Him. A friend of mind describes this same thing as moving from willfullness in my walk with God to willingness. I am here to receive from Him as He wills rather than taking from God. Huge, Huge, Huge lightbulb for me. I was driving people crazy with the joy I was walking in associated with this revelation.
So while going through this process of discovering where we might be living I would experience contentment if I could walk by faith believing and trusting that God in his goodness will act on our behalf to get us to the location He wants us to be. If during that process God called upon me to act then I need to be obedient and act. If God called upon me to wait patiently then I need to be obedient and wait patiently. I could rest and be free.
Today I woke up suffering from lack of strength and patience with God and our cirucmstances. I have been struggling for days with being very tempted to take matters into my own hands and start forcing some issues. I was losing my grip on contentment and choosing to be discontent. Completely aware during every moment that it was coming from a place of rebellion and willfulness.
Why the change? I'm human. I'm physically and emotionally tired. People we love want answers as bad as we do. I'm suffering because I want this part of my journey to be over and I wanted to stop walking by faith and take back control of my life. There it is again an inclination to "take" from God. Choosing to not "take" and instead to offer up my life in obedience to Christ is costing me. It is not painless.
The thing is that the Lord has allowed me enough of "taste and see that the Lord is good" and enough "miry places" created by my own willfullness that taking control wasn't really that attractive either.
I think what God has been saying to me today is that I want you to learn to be able to live with the pain of abiding. And because of all the work God has done on my behalf leading me up to today I was able to say through tears, "okay". The first thing I did was pray for grace and obedience and trust and patience and endurance and hope. By God's grace, I decided I am not going to choose rebellion. By God's grace, I decided I am going to choose contentment in all things. By God's grace, I decided I am going to choose to rejoice always.
So here's what God provided since that prayer this morning:
I picked up a book a friend gave me and the page bookmarked said in big bold letters, "Hope when you are depressed by the greatness of your problems."
My prayer partner and I ususally talk on Fridays. This week it worked out to be today instead. Our conversation and prayer time together was good for my soul.
My husband is on a business trip and we just had the best conversation over the phone about this whole ordeal. Even though God isn't working according to my schedule His hand is at work on our behalf.
I had time to take a long nap this afternoon.
Once again God generously met me with all that He is and all that He provides when I chose to believe Him and to call on Him.
I'm so thankful that God hasn't and never will give up on me. I'm so grateful for his graciousness to me today. I'm so thankful for friends and family who are His hands and feet to us. For those of you who made it to the end of this entry, thanks for listening.
Don't stop praying! I've got to make it through tomorrow and the day after that and ..... :)
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
One comment he made really stuck with me. He said he liked the quality of people taking the message into their own hands. I find that an interesting comment to ponder. Are preachers not doing a good job with their comments? Are preachers making to many comments? What made him appreciate that they might be motitvated to take the message into their own hands?
I would say I was also a little convicted. I don't think I respect enough that God can use more things than I can possibly imagine to turn the attention of people off of themselves and onto Him.
Oh, while I was on the internet this morning I saw a list of "church signs". This one made me smile:
When the restaurant next to the Church put out a big sign that said, "Open Sundays," the church reciprocated with its own message: "We are open on Sundays, too."
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I spent some time in the Word and praying.
An old friend found my email through the "grapevine". We haven't talked to each other in 10+ years. So great to get caught up.
A friend in Germany and I have gotten into a great conversation via email about a really cool subject.
I read 150 amazing pages in two different books for class.
I got the grocery shopping done.
I wrote a couple of notes to put in the mail tomorrow.
I found out my old college has a new President and listened to his installation address.
Isn't that crazy? Who would have believed that could be possible in 1901? That kind of interaction with one another is becoming mundane, totally normal, nothing extraordinary.
What actually makes all those moments so extraordinary is that God wants to be involved in every moment of every one of our days! WOW! God is so amazing!
Sunday, April 01, 2007
The house that is built consists of three rooms and a loft. It is built out of 2x4's, plywood and sheet rock. There is no plumbing and in many cases no electricity although electricity is coming to more and more hillsides.
I think the supplies for the house cost in the neighborhood of $6,000. I have no idea what the land costs. In California an 1100 sq ft house can cost you over $600,000. An imaginary line divides these two existences.
I've gone on the trip to Mexico three times now. You hear the teenagers pondering and being surprised by the difference between their home and the homes their building. Or they might contemplate what its like to be a kid growing up in those hills. They notice things like its dusty and dirty. There are no trees. It is basically a hilly desert which appears to have very little natural resources for supporting life. They wonder how people don't die from boredom.
So often when people get back from these experiences they speak about being grateful that we have so much. But as I've been praying about this trip for my son, I've been wondering if gratefulness for what we have is really the point.
Instead I find myself longing, for my son to ask bigger questions? Why do we have so much? What does it mean for me to have a lot when someone else has so little? What does God expect of me when I am born on the side of the line which has so much?
Then there are the questions for me, what if God breaks my son's heart for the poor? What if God calls my son to go drill holes in Africa so villages can have fresh water? Am I going to cheer him on? Or am I going to try to stand in God's way?
I raise this question because I happen to know several young people who right now are serving God against their parents "better" judgement. These young people get questions like: How will you feed your family? How will you ever own a home? You can't be successful doing that? I've sacrificed so you could have a good education? The list goes on...
May my son have the courage to ask really hard questions? May he have ears by God's grace to receive the answers. May his dear ol' Mom and Dad have the courage to help guide him towards the Father's will and not away.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Chloe has been a part of our family for a couple of years now. She is loved equally by all three of us. She loves all three of us back just the same. She doesn't have a favorite.
Tuesday night I was reading in my room when I heard her make a strange bark near the back gate. I asked the guys if the back gate had been locked after the mowers had finished. They said it had. I ignored her and continued to read.
30 minutes went by and my son decided to figure out why she hadn't come back in. Yep, the gate was open. She was gone. We spread out through the neighborhood and looked for her for an hour or so.
As I was walking, calling her name and praying that the Lord would bring her back to us. God gave me a deep sense of peace about the whole thing. I was frustrated and I was concerned she might get hit by a car. She's not very street smart but yet peaceful. We left the gate open in the back. We prayed together as a family and went to sleep.
In the middle of a dream I heard a strange sound, "Am I dreaming about hearing Chloe or did I hear Chloe"? I jumped out of bed but she beat me to the door already scratching at it before I made it. She had returned home at 1:42 am, smelling like perfume and absent her collar and dog tags. We wish she could tell us that story.
My sense of thankfulness was so deep. I was thankful she was safe. I was thankful we had her back. I was thankful God had granted both a sense of peace and a quick answer to prayer. Quick does not seem to be on His agenda for me lately. :)
I am thankful God has created creatures that we get to enjoy as much as we enjoy our little dog. I am thankful I have further proof God cares about everything in our lives.
What has God used to show you how much He cares about everything in your life?
Thursday, March 22, 2007
God has taken something that I have resisted since Jr. High and turned me from repulsion to real appreciation for it.
It started something like this. God I don't know what to do today during my time out with you. What should I do? I went through my typical list of choices. Everything seemed flat. Then I had a moment when I sensed the Lord wanted me to start to learn by heart a passage of scripture. What scripture? I was teaching out of Galatians at the time so it was where I began.
Wow! A couple of weeks into it I started to wonder why do I like this so much when I have hated it , and rebelled against it for so long. What was different?
This is what I believe happened. In the beginning of my walk with the Lord I had been told to memorize for a competition or to have to say out loud in a group setting of some kind. Both of those terrify me. So as I continued my journey with the Lord, every time the invitation came from a person to "memorize" a verse or passage all those past emotions came to the surface. So I avoided it or said I just don't seem to be able to "memorize."
Now that's just plain crazy. I knew it when I would use it as an excuse. It's crazy because as a professional I had to take one of those three day tests. That test requires you to memorize for six months to a year prior to the test. I was able to do that. My entire educational training, like it is for all of us, had been to memorize. We've all been trained to memorize. Certainly for some of us it is easier than for others but we are all capable of it.
The difference this time was that there was no agenda for how much I would learn or how long it would take. There was going to be no test at the end. As I started to learn the Word by heart, amazing things happened. One day a particular word would stick out over another. I would pray about questions I had or praise God for insights He gave me related to that word. It was absolutely not a chore it was an act of worship.
How did I memorize? I wrote the verses out. I walked around and memorized them. I said them out loud. I wrote the first letter of every word as I got to know the verses better. I did everything I could think of and best of all I asked God to help me. I believe with all my heart, God helped me.
Guess when I stopped being able to learn the Word by heart? When I started showing my husband how much I had memorized. I became proud. A proud heart is not a teachable heart. It took me some time to realize what had happened. I felt very bad about it when I did figure it out. I said I was sorry. God forgave me.
So why am I writing about this today, because I want you to know that the next time the Lord invites you to learn something by heart from His Word that it can be the most amazing and wonderful experience. God really does use it in your life to bless you in so many unexpected ways and in unanticipated circumstances.
Thank you for giving us Your Word. Help us to understand what you given us. Help us to be hungry for Your Word. Thank you that Your Word brings us into your presence in a way that nothing else does. Thank you for dealing with our fears so they can be taken away from us. Thank you for pursuing in us a change of mind and heart.