Sunday, May 30, 2010

Don't Want to Be Adult

Right now I do not want to be an adult with responsibilities. I do not want to make the hard decisions. I want someone else to take charge so I can gripe from the sidelines like an adolescent child. I am overwhelmed as I swim around in the confusion caused by lack of information and the blurry lines for what is the right thing to do. I know what the Bible says.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV

So I am to trust God. When I dwell on and nourish my worries and frustrations I am setting myself up as more important than God. I am being self-directed and not God-directed. Just maybe my prescription for spiritual health tonight should be to kneel before God and beg his forgiveness for my sin of pride.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;” Ps 37:7a NIV

Not only must I confess but I also must be patient and still as I wait for God’s flawless instructions.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. Philippians 4:7 NIV

Lord, forgive my arrogance of wallowing in my self-pity. Give me the wisdom and patience to persevere through this season of caring for aged parents.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Who Me? Blind?

Recently I read a story about a mining accident. When the rescuers finally were able to dig into the cavern in which the miners were trapped, one of the miners asked why they did not turn on the lanterns. Of course the rescue team was using lighted lanterns but the miner did not know this fact because he had been blinded by the accident.

I have been troubled by passages which say that hearts were made hard. How could a loving God do such a thing? God is revealing to me that just because he is a loving God does not mean he is a mushy-hearted pushover. In the Isaiah passage below, God told Isaiah to give this prophesy of consequences for their behaviors to the nation of Israel who had for years been not following God’s commands. They had fallen into evil, immoral, and idolatrous practices. The overwhelming majority of the people were not sincerely worshipping God.

“He said, ‘Go and tell this people:"'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Isaiah 6:9-10 NIV

God was passing judgment and punishment on a group of people who had purposely, methodically, and overwhelmingly rejected him over a period of many years. God had clearly instructed the Israelites in expected behaviors and warned them numerous times that their errant behaviors would result in punishment. He was not making their hearts hard. God was letting the nation of Israel experience the consequences of their callous sinfulness.

So which of God’s commands am I guilty of breaking repeatedly? What behaviors do I excuse in myself instead of confessing them to God and asking for the strength to eradicate those sins from my life?

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17 NIV

With being a part of the modern American society of extreme self-indulgence and consumerism, how can I live in this culture and not break the tenth commandment almost daily? Only by confessing my selfish sin to God.

Lord, forgive my greediness. Create in me a satisfaction with what I currently own. Make me truly happy for the material blessings others have received without thinking I should have been similarly blessed. Lord, thank you for your abundant blessings for me and my family.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ups and Downs

Little Hannah Bear (the family nickname for my great-niece Hannah) was up to bat. Her coach drew Hannah’s attention to him as he prepared to place the ball in the pitching machine. Hannah stood up at the plate, took a practice swing, and watched her coach. The ball came and she swung. The "plong" of a ball hit solidly rang out. An amazing hit for such a little one! Hannah took off running as fast as she could go and made it to first. The first hit of the season! Excitement everywhere! The next batter made solid contact and Hannah ran hard for second, looked at her coach then ran for third, looked at her coach then ran for home. Her legs were holding up, and she was still running almost full speed. Then disaster hit. The fielder made an excellent throw to home, the catcher caught the ball, and Hannah was tagged out. A frustrated little girl walked to the dugout.

This is like much of what happens to us in life. We practice and prepare. The hard work pays off and we experience success--such a joy that things are finally going right. Things are looking better and better when disaster hits and we experience being put out. Like Hannah we walk to the dugout in frustration and disappointment.

Hannah was greeted by her coach with wonderful encouraging words and told to get her glove to go out in field. When Hannah came up to bat again, she was excited and ready to hit the ball.

So just like Hannah’s coach encouraged her and sent her to do the next thing, our God never leaves us down if we listen to him. He will comfort us, send us off to the next task, and encourage us again as we grow more skilled at living our lives for him.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NIV

Lord, thank you for the encouragement and the coaching along the way. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, make me more skilled at living for you.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Mother-In-Law

Our Lord repeatedly states the importance of raising children rightly. In the following passage God lets the early church know that its elders must be good parents.

“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” 1 Timothy 3:4 NIV

So how is this done? Through lovingly and firmly teaching children to obey their parents.

“Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.” Proverbs 29:17 NIV

Oh how true this is. Throughout my married life, I have watched the interaction of my husband and his mother. He has told me many stories of how his misdeeds were disciplined with firmness and love. I have witnessed the love and respect my husband feels for his mother and the love and respect she feels for her adult son. She is confident she raised her son well. And she did.

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NIV

Discipline with love is a good thing. My husband and his brother are living examples of this. They learned to love, obey, and respect their mother.

Obedience to parents is a biblical command which has a promise.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother’-which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.’" Ephesians 6:1-3 NIV

Lord, thank you for my mother-in-law and for my loving and godly parents.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Bride

What a beautiful wedding! The church adornments were simple but elegantly beautiful. The flower girls were precious. The ring bearer walked down the aisle even though he discarded the “bothersome” ring pillow after the first ten feet. The groomsmen looked like real gentlemen. The bridesmaids were beautiful in their flattering navy blue gowns. Scriptures were read, songs sung, rings exchanged, and vows made. The bride in her beautiful and flattering gown stood by the spiffed up groom. Both seemed truly to enjoy their wedding. They were pronounced married. Then came the surprise of guys donning sunglasses and the bridal party dancing out of the church. This is a couple who not only knows how to be committed and proper but also knows how to have fun together.

"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Matthew 19:4-6 NIV

Scriptures say that a married couple is to become one. Pastor asked members of the audience to pray for the couple for the next 365 days that they will truly be able to do this. Becoming one in purpose, dreams, and goals is the difficult part of marriage. It is so easy to become self-centered while handling the stresses of life because it takes time and effort to be “one.” It takes communication, consideration, and constantly praying to keep the oneness in a marriage.

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord... Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself…However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22, 25, 28, 33 NIV

Right in the middle of his exhortation on marriage, Paul makes an odd statement.

“… but I am talking about Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:32b NIV

So what is going on? In various places in Scriptures, the church is called the bride of Jesus. In many passages the believer is instructed to be submissive to God and to put him first. The believer is to love God above all else as a bride loves her groom, to please God as an adoring bride strives to please her groom, and to become one with Christ through studying the Bible and prayer.

Sometime, hopefully soon, we will see prophesy fulfilled. Revelations 21 describes the second coming using the analogy of the bride.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelations 21:1-4 NIV

So I can be assured my God loves me, a believer, with a deep and abiding love.

“…as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5b NIV

Lord, I love you and desire to be one with you.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Filthy Rags

Yes, in the eyes of the world I am a good person. And compared to some, I am exemplary. But in Isaiah 64:6, God points out that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” In the past I was able to give lip service to this statement, but it did not sink into my heart. It was one of those phrases we Christians say but do not let penetrate our thinking because we are unwilling to admit to ourselves how self-centered and self-righteous we are.

Even though God gave me numerous positive strokes yesterday, I was in a blue mood and unable to focus. I’d like to be able to say that I do not know why, but I do. I was nursing hurt feelings over a friendship which has become fractured—one in which I thought my hurt had been resolved. I recognize God’s work in much of what has happened; much that needed adjustment in my attitudes and behaviors has been rectified. However, for the past couple of days my focus has been on the frustration and hurt of not being able to “fix” the relationship.

So God in his love and wisdom directed me to read some of Psalms yesterday. Like usual, verses which I needed riveted my attention.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17 NIV

This verse is not necessarily promising that all our troubles will become non-existent. It means that God will work his good through the troubles and give us peace. God will deliver us in his way which may or may not be how we envisioned.

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20 NIV

And God’s deliverance may not be according to our timetable. We have to be willing to wait for the Lord to deliver. While we are waiting, God will be working his purposes and his good which transpire into the best for us.

“O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2 NIV

So I gave my problem to God and am waiting his instructions. I am striving to squelch my fix-it desires, pray, and discern his timing for my next action. Then and only then is there even the remotest possibility the friendship fracture will heal.

Lord, thank you for teaching me the hard lessons and through them working a healing deep in my heart.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I have just been off today. Nothing flowed. I felt disoriented. I could not get motivated. What is up with this? The morning actually went well. Nothing bad happened in the afternoon or evening. I just feel ill at ease. I cannot seem to focus, but yet that is not true. I cannot put my finger on it, but something is out of kilter with my psychic. Right now I need a big hug—to feel loved and needed.

Why is this? Today several ladies affirmed me and my Christian witness at Bible Study Fellowship. Three different family members in completely different situations and locations gave me warm fuzzies. What is wrong with me? Maybe my focus has been temporarily diverted from God.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV

So why can’t I feel satisfied and loved? Why do I focus on the relationship which seems to be irrevocably damaged? Why must I feel so needy?

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” Romans 8:26 NIV

How affirming! I can ask for no more. The Holy Spirit is my strength when I am weak. He helps me in my prayers to beg God for reassurance that my life is significant. In my need I implore God for manifestations of his love, and he provides.

Lord, I yearn for you. Thank you for providing signs that I am living my life as a witness of your love. But, Lord, the affirmations of this world do not quench my thirst because only you can bestow the recognition of a life of significance and peace.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thank You

At times life can be discouraging. I know that I am to stay grounded in God and do his bidding, but sometimes things just get to me. I think it is part of being human. Even David, who was known as the man with a heart for God, became discouraged. All you have to do is read the book of Psalms. Yes, there are wonderful inspirational psalms and wonderful praise psalms. But there are also psalms in which David is begging God to give him relief and hope.

This year has been a struggle for me. Some important aspects of my life are no longer viable. I mourned the loss of things that were close to my heart and part of my identity. These losses caused me to question much of what I do and have been doing over the past few years. I have sought God by reading the Bible, meditating on verses, memorizing scripture, praying, and seeking solitude as a spiritual discipline. It has been an excruciatingly difficult year.

But my God is so good. He allowed the pain, and he is orchestrating the healing. Even in the darkest times he gave me hope in many unexpected ways. But most importantly, my God protected me and nurtured me through Bible Study Fellowship. The lectures and lessons for our study of the Book of John were tailor-made for my current struggles. God ministered to me each week as I worked on the lesson, read the notes, listened to the lecture, and interacted with the ladies in my discussion group. God called me to be a discussion leader then gave me the most delightful group of ladies possible. This group of ladies have amazing spiritual depth and blessed me each week with their answers to the lesson questions and with their expressions of faith when I talked with them on the phone. These ladies were so positive and encouraging in their remarks to me all year. But today I was humbled as one after another they thanked me and told me how I had blessed them this year. God is good. He knew I needed that.

“… but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25b NIV

So, who is God calling you to bless today? Please do not hesitate to obey his bidding. It may be the word of encouragement that person needs to pull her through a difficult time.

Lord, show me who you want me to encourage. Give me the words, the method, and the timing to bestow a blessing on one of your servants today.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mov'n On

That is what graduation is all about—completing one phase of life and moving on to the next. It was gratifying watching the many fine young people conduct themselves in an appropriate manner as they finished their last high school activity today—the graduation ceremony. The choir performed beautifully, the students knew what they were supposed to do when, and the speeches were well organized and delivered. Now it is time for them to move on. Important decisions are being made now by each graduate that will take them into the next phase of their lives. Some are making good decisions, some are making bad decisions, and sadly some are just letting life happen to them.

This is the case in our Christian lives also. We make a resolution to follow Jesus. Some of us truly listen to God and make decisions pleasing to him. Some of us give lip service to following Jesus and do what we think is best. Some of us just live making no changes or efforts to grow in our faith. But, mov’n on is key to living a victorious Christian life.

So how do we move on with Jesus?

1. Love and worship God above all.
"You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below... You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God...” Exodus 20:3, 4, 7 NIV

2. Love others.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39b NIV
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

3. With humility recognize our God-given abilities.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you…We have different gifts, according to the grace given us…” Romans 12:3, 6a NIV
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1 NIV

4. Use God-given resources well.
"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.' His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' Matthew 25:22-23 NIV

5. Give our lives away.
“… Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:43-45 NIV

Lord, give me the will and the ability to place you first in my life, to love my neighbor as myself, to recognize the gifts you have given me to use in your work, to use my resources as you desire, and to willingly give all aspects of my life to you.

Cleaning Up the Mess

My kitchen is a mess. When we moved in over twelve years ago, I was stressed and very busy with my career. Therefore, I just stuck things in my kitchen cupboards wherever I could make them fit. Since then I have purchased a heavy-duty mixer and food processor plus several other smaller items. Nothing has been removed. By now you should be getting the picture. My kitchen is a total mess!

I allotted a whole day to the kitchen clean-up project. What a joke! So far I have spent most of one day and fairly large chunks of two more days on the project and the project is maybe half done. Do you know how many thousands of individual items are in a normal kitchen? I am looking at each item then evaluating if it should be kept because it is useful, kept because it has sentimental value, trashed, recycled, or donated to Goodwill. Quite a daunting task! I keep telling myself that God is a god of order.

“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” 1 Corinthians 14:40 NIV

Even though Paul is talking about the worship services being orderly in this passage, many passages speak to God’s command for us to live an exemplary life not just while we worship but all the time.

“She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27 NIV

The mess in my kitchen is not the result of idleness for I am busy most of the time, but it is the result of misuse of my time and energy. Just because I keep myself busy does not mean it is fine for me to be negligent in watching over the "affairs of my kitchen."

So I am struggling to clean up my mess and make my kitchen orderly again.

Lord, give me the endurance to complete this task and the wisdom to complete it well.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


153 Fish ?

John when he wrote the Gospel of John included information and details which were missing in the other Gospel accounts. He also left out some things apparently because he did not feel a need to repeat information which had been recorded so well by the others. When he repeated information it included a new detail that is important. However, the recording of the fishing miracle when the disciples caught 153 fish stumped me for the longest time. So what—153 large fish!

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. John 21:11 NIV

This miracle takes place after Jesus’ resurrection and right before Jesus restores Peter into the leadership role. But why would John record that they caught 153 large fish? Wouldn’t it have been sufficient to have said that they caught so many fish that it amazed them the net did not tear? Why give the number?

When something does not seem to make sense in a particular passage, it is important to check the rest of Scripture to see if there is a pattern.

"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? …I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Luke 15:4, 7 NIV

So Jesus is concerned about each of us. He told this parable to emphasize how much he loves each individual—how each individual is significant.

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 NIV

The account of the fishing miracle was with professional fisherman. The number of large fish would have been significant to them. It represented success beyond their wildest dreams. All they had to do is to follow Jesus’ instructions and he, the good shepherd, abundantly provided for them.

Just as Jesus the good shepherd is concerned about each individual sheep, the disciples he commissioned to be fishers of men were given an object lesson demonstrating how victorious they would be in their ministry for Jesus. He was affirming these future leaders in the Christian faith.

So, do I believe that if I follow Jesus’ instructions that I will be abundantly blessed by him in whatever task he assigns to me? Or do I doubt?

Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, make me strong in my faith and willing to follow every instruction you give.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mind Your Own Business

I finally get it. Have you ever read a passage of scripture that just did not make any sense? No matter what angle you came at it, it still seemed illogical. This is my problem with the following verses.

“Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’ Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’ John 21:20-23 NIV

Essentially, Jesus was telling Peter to quit being concerned about how Jesus was working with another individual. Jesus had been leading Peter and the disciples to understand that Peter was to be a leader in the developing church, and Peter was beginning to understand his role. However, his glance rested on John (the disciple Jesus loved), and Peter's focus was changed. Peter was no longer concentrating on following Jesus’ instructions. His focus was jealously on another disciple. In essence, Jesus told Peter to mind his own business. Jesus would deal with John individually as he saw fit just as Jesus was dealing with Peter as an individual.

So when I focus my attention on how God is working in another person’s life or how God is using another person, I am setting myself up as a god who knows best. It is none of my business. It is God’s business and that is a good thing. I have no control over anyone else. I only have control over how I respond to situations and circumstances. I am not responsible for anyone else. I am accountable for me. God will deal with everyone else through the power of the Holy Spirit. I am only answerable to God and to do as he commands me. I am not to mess with or be envious of God's intentions for others. My God is capable of perfectly working his plan. He is capable of doing more than I can humanly imagine.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

Lord, give me the insight to recognize when I am meddling and not keeping my eyes firmly focused on you. Show me which of my attitudes, actions, or thoughts indicate that I am jealous and more concerned about the standing of another in your eyes. Show me what I need to do or stop doing to keep my focus clearly on you.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Workplace

The old hymn “This World Is Not My Home” has been buzzing around my head today.

This world is not my home,
I'm just a passing through,
My treasures are laid up
somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me
from heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home
in this world anymore.

My Savior pardoned me
from guilt and shame I know,
I'll trust His saving grace
while trav'ling here below;
I know He'll welcome me
at heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home
in this world anymore.

O Lord, I know,
I have no friend like you,
If heaven's not my home
O Lord, what can I do?
The angels beckon me
from heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home
in this world anymore.

How true this song is! How much difference it makes in my priorities and attitudes if I truly believe what it says! My life on earth is only temporary. This world is not my home. Jesus is arranging and decorating my home in heaven.

“In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:2-3 NIV

This time on earth is temporary. It is my jobsite. It is my workplace for the present. That is all.

So I can bear whatever God allows to come my way. I can have peace, not based on circumstances, but based on Jesus Christ. I can experience joy in Jesus each and every day knowing I am doing his work in the location and time he has given me with the work materials he has provided.

Lord, thank you for calling me to work for you during my temporary stay on earth. Make me an effective laborer for you.

I Want

I want many things—some altruistic, some necessary, and some selfish. These wants are numerous and would make a very long list. Psalm 23:1 states that I shall not want because the Lord is my shepherd.

“ The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3a NKJV

So does that mean that I will get everything I want? Absolutely not. That is not the intent of the verse. Because the Lord is my shepherd, he knows me well. He knows my every want. He knows everything that is in my heart. He knows what is truly a want and what is only a destructive selfish desire. God will provide me with the true wants—what I need for living the abundant life (green pastures and quiet waters). But more importantly, he restores my soul. God not only meets my physical needs, but he also meets my emotional and spiritual needs. My emotional issues of hurt feelings or feelings of lack of love can be met when I am submissive to my Good Shepherd. What a Savior!

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6 NKJV

So what God has for me is much better and more satisfying than what I have for myself. What God has for me is much better than I can accomplish under my own direction and power. He is leading me to the abundant life now and forever. If only I will desire more than anything else to keep my focus on him each moment of each day and not slip into the well ingrained thought patterns of self-direction.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NIV

Lord, thank you for the assurance that you will direct and care for me in any and every situation. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, draw me close to you as I move in submission to you through each and every moment today.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Who Says?

It had been a hectic day filled with family responsibilities. I was extremely disappointed that I was unable to go on the Hwy 254 prayer walk from Benton to Park City. I wanted desperately to be a part of praying along that road while moving at a slow pace. I often pray and I drive that highway while driving 70 mph, but to pray for the people driving by, for the owners of the land, and for a spiritual cleansing of that area of Butler County and Sedgwick County—what a privilege it would have been. But that task was not given to me by God. According to reports there were about ten people that God gave this job, and they were blessed. What an inspiration to know that Millie Young was one of those people! What other seventy-something person would walk and pray for four hours while walking from our church to the church plant sight, but Millie? What a heart for God!

I pulled into the church parking lot about 8:45 PM. Several cars were still there so I entered the front doors and walked into the worship area. By the time I had taken my first step into the room, I felt God wrapping His arms around me. I was quietly greeted and signed my name on the paper at the front greeting table. I walked to the first prayer station and started reading prayers written on the table tops. Tears filled my eyes and an unexplainable joy filled my heart. As I walked from prayer station to prayer station, I felt God wrapping me up as if in a cocoon of his love. Tears of joy flowed then and flow now as I write about the experience. People moved quietly from prayer station to prayer station. The dimmed lights and soft spiritual music set the mood perfectly. People prayed at the prayer walls and put hearts and crosses on the prayer messages they were praying over. New prayer requests were added. I could not bring myself to write. My hand was too shaky, but I placed it on the request I was praying over.

Finally I knelt at the alter and had an intense quiet time with My God and My Savior. I spoke to Him and He spoke to me.

So who says you cannot physically feel the presence of God? I did last evening.

Lord, thank you for providing a special day and time for us to set aside to meet you. May it sustain us in the days to come and encourage us to daily set aside a special, unhurried time for you.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Just say NO

How do you do that? I’ve often been told that I cannot say that word. And I suppose people who tell me this are right in their observations. But what do they know? They are not living in my skin—in my situation.

How can I say no to…
• A task that I have a unique ability to complete
• A friend’s request for a favor
• A child’s request for help
• A church need that no one is addressing
• My husband’s requests, especially since he is not very demanding
• The needs of my elderly mother

My housework can wait. I can surely find something to wear in my closet without having to do a load of laundry. The toilet can go one more day without scrubbing. Paper plates will work for supper tonight. Of course I’ll have to scrub the skillet before cooking the meal. Better yet, I’ll just grab something at the KFC drive-through window on my way home from meeting a friend for afternoon coffee. She had a lot on her mind and needed someone to talk to.

I’ve been feeling a bit stressed lately and know I need to slow down. How can I balance all my responsibilities? If only I would use my time better and God would expand my time, then I should be able to do all of the good deeds I am doing without undue stress.

So what does God say about time management and keeping up my many servant activities?

“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’" Luke 10:40-42 NIV

So Martha chose to work diligently to make special preparations for her Lord. Mary chose to form a relationship with her Lord. Which am I to do--works or relationship?

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 NIV

So we are to do only the good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. But how am I to know what those works are? There are so many good and necessary activities which should be done.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14 NIV

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:7 NIV

"Be still, and know that I am God;…” Psalm 46:10a NIV

“Be still before the Lord, all mankind…" Zechariah 2:13a NIV

So I am to slow down long enough to seek God’s council—to ask for his direction and advice. I am not to barge ahead in an activity even though I might be uniquely equipped to do it well. God may have that activity reserved for someone else. Who do I think I am if I take it upon myself?

Lord, forgive my arrogance to taking on tasks and activities you have not designated as mine. Give me discernment. Make me keenly in tune with your will.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guilt? Not Me!

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with guilt.
• Why didn’t I …?
• I should have known better than to ….
• Why can’t I ever get … right?
• Why didn’t I just keep my mouth shut when …?
• I should have … when … happened.
I can really beat myself up sometimes when my emotions were in control and my intellect was not engaged. Those are times my sin nature wins out over my love for God and my obedience to his directives.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 NIV

So why do I perseverate on the hurts and frustrations of the past? Why do I not allow God to heal my emotional hurts? Why do I insist on wallowing in my misery? Why do I think I can fix things myself?

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4 NIV

So since the concept of burial implies a barrier between the past and the now, my past actions should be put to death and a new life begun. That means I must change my thinking about events in the past.
• Memories and discouragements of past failures
• Hurt and bitterness relating to unjust treatment from someone
• Dreams which went awry
• Jealousy for another person’s accomplishments or recognition
When I put specific and persistent thoughts under each of the above topics, I was shocked at how much I have been holding onto negative thoughts about the past which should have been dealt with and buried long ago. Why is it that even good people who love the Lord, like me, fail to recognize that we are new creations and thought patterns established by conforming to the world are sin? For, the types of thoughts mentioned above are definitely not from God.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

So I must put away my former and current thought patterns and emotional reactions toward others, God, and myself. I need to rid myself of guilt feelings by giving them to God. Then I need to ask God to give me something to replace the guilt feelings. Holding onto guilt is the sin of not believing what God says.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 NIV

Lord, forgive my unbelief. I am struggling with burying my worldly patterns of thought. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, change my thought patterns. Make me able to bury the past and to focus on joyfully serving you today.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Stress--A Problem?

Now that is something I know about! Most of you also have a pretty good grasp of how debilitating stress can be on us. It is emotionally and physically damaging, but more seriously, it is spiritually damaging. Our reactions to stress keep us from having a powerful Christian witness. Who of us have not said words or displayed actions which were hurtful to others, not because of anything that they had done but because we were feeling undue pressure?

We should not allow our lives to be ruled by stress!

But I am –Guilty, Guilty, Guilty. My main stressor is myself. I make unrealistic demands on myself. I am always expecting to get more accomplished than is realistic. Generally my desires for accomplishment for the day are straight out of Fantasyland. When things don’t get done, I fret and make a new list with a time schedule for the next day. Well, not always, but I do this more often that I like to admit even to myself. My problem is I just like to accomplish things, to do things, to be busy.

So what does the Bible say about stress created by busyness?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

So sounds like I am to focus on Jesus and not on the accomplishment of completing my long daily list of worldly projects. As I look at today’s list, many of the tasks are really not of eternal value. They are just things I think I should do. That shortens the list but it is still unrealistic.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22 NIV

So it sounds like I am to pray before I create the “to-do” list and schedule for today. Okay I will add that to my “to-do” list! Actually I see the value in this list item. If I will just be still during my prayer time and allow God to lead my thoughts then the list should be exactly right. Come to think of it, isn’t it very arrogant of me not to allow my daily plans to be totally under God’s direction?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV

So this morning I decided be still before God. I fixed a cup of tea, started the water fountain on my deck, sat in my favorite deck chair, listened to the birds sing, and watched the squirrels cavorting in the trees. The sun rose over the hedge row and the delicate cobwebs glistened on dried up milo stalks in the field behind my house. The flowers are blooming, the grass in green, and the wind is but a gentle breeze.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:3-9 NIV

Lord, thank you for your beauty, your order, and our loving care. Through the power of the Holy Spirit teach me to let go of my “to-do” list and make me eager and willing to complete your plan for my life each day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Got Talent

What a blessing to be at the Taylor Weber concert tonight. This was the debut of her CD Sweet Release. And it was a sweet release of the spiritual kind. Her voice was showcased by the songs she selected for performance. Her stage presence was very mature. She even cracked a joke and laughed. Fun. However, the real blessing was in the message of the evening. Put God first because he is always there for you.

Taylor is proof of Jeremiah 29:11. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ” NIV

God has a purpose for Taylor, and she is beginning to grasp how God may be positioning her to accomplish his aim. What a witness that she is following God’s plan for her voice and not the popular trends for the modern talented vocalist.

Where did those words-- the messages-- in the songs she wrote come from? It is impossible that they came from the mind of a person who has only been out of high school one year. The imagery and the obvious depth of her belief in the sovereignty of God can’t be missed. The songs are God-inspired. God does have plans for her.

She has the talent. She has the faith. She has the right focus. She has the verse to keep her center of attention on God.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26 NIV

So how am I using my talents and skills? Even though my talents may not be amazing by worldly standards like Taylor’s are, God created plans for me with the abilities he gave me. Am I using them to serve God according to his direction?

Lord, you know the plans you have for me. You have given me all I need to successfully complete your plans. Now, Lord, give me the wisdom and the strength to use my capabilities to serve you each day.