Thursday, December 31, 2009

Better is One Day in Your Courts

I was reading in Luke 9 this morning, and Jesus was talking about discipleship. Following Jesus isn't easy. He requires alot of us. The people that He invited to follow Him made excuses "Let me bury my father first" (v.59). In v. 61, they wanted to go and say goodbye to their family first. I understand from many theologians that these people weren't saying, "Wait a minute, let me literally go say goodbye, and I'll be right back." They were saying, when my dad dies, then I'll come follow You. Regardless of what is literally being said here, Jesus requires His followers to be fully committed to Him. Nothing is priority over Him. I remember saying, "God don't come until I graduate from school or until I get married or until I have kids." The reality was that this life was more important to me than He was.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't fully arrived. One day, when I get to Heaven, maybe I will have arrived . . . but for now, I struggle on . . . daily battling my fleshly desires. I have graduated & I have gotten married. I don't have any kids, and I'm not financially secure, but I battle daily to make sure that my priorities are His priorities. I battle daily to be sure that I don't wish my life away so that I can finally give my everything to Him. I hear often, "Well, I'm too busy. School (or work, or family, or church activities, or tv shows) takes too much of my time." Guess what, your life is never going to slow down. You need to make a choice to make His priorities your priorities.

I was listening to Pandora this morning, and Better is One Day in Your Courts came on. I'm finding that it is much better to be in His courts for a few minutes than a lifetime anywhere else.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Glory to God in the Highest

Christmas is about worshipping God. The shepherds came to worship. The wise men came and worshipped, and we should too. Everything is about God getting the glory, so why wouldn't Christmas be about God's glory too?

Simeon in Luke 2 is a great example of this. First off, I was under the impression that Mary & Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to see Simeon & Anna. I thought that Simeon was doing the circumcision or something. But upon closer reading of Luke 2, this isn't at all the case. Simeon was just a righteous & devout follower of God who lived in Jerusalem and was waiting for the promised Messiah. The Holy Spirit directed him to the temple when Mary & Joseph came there, so he could see the promised Messiah in the flesh. He sees Jesus & blesses God.

"And he [Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 'Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel.'" (Luke 2:27-32)

Anna the prophetess does the same thing. She comes up at the moment that Simeon is speaking. "At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." (vs 38).

How much do we bless God this season? Half of the Christmas carols talk about giving Him glory, but do we focus on that? We are supposed to do it all the time, but we get so caught up in life. Take time each day & give GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST!

Do the ends justify the means?

Just before Jesus ministry began, he was in the wilderness, and Satan came to tempt Him (Luke 4). Satan suggested that Jesus make stones into bread bkz Jesus was hungry. On the surface, nothing seems wrong with this request, but Satan was asking Him to prove He was the Son of God by making stones into bread. Jesus, in His pride or arrogance, could have done so to say, "See what I can do? See Who I am?" But He had nothing to prove to Satan, so He responded with "Man shall not live on bread alone" (vs. 4).

So then Satan offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would just bow down and worship him. Jesus could avoid all of the pain and suffering that He would experience in about 3 years if He just bowed down to worship Satan. It seems a whole lot easier, bkz then the kingdoms of the world would belong to Jesus and His death would be unnecessary. But He submitted to God's will, and didn't allow Satan to get any glory. Only God deserves glory. He responded, "You shall worship the Lord Your God and serve Him only" (vs. 8).

The third time Satan takes Him up on the pinnacle of the temple, and says basically, "Go ahead and show off . . . if You throw yourself off of this pinnacle, You can command angels to come save You. That would be cool to show off Your power." Satan even quotes Scripture to try to convince Jesus. But Jesus responds, "You shall not put the Lord Your God to the test" (vs. 12).

Jesus was more concerned about God's agenda . . . and not just the end result of God's agenda, but the process as well. He followed God's will, and He didn't break any of God's laws in the process.

The Catholic church has a law that exempts lying in self-defense of life, person, & property, but God is clear that lying is sin. If we have to sin to carry out what we think it God's will, then the means probably isn't God's will. Don't you think that God would take care of us if we chose to do what He commands us to do?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pondering Joseph & Mary's Journey

I'm always intrigued by the songs that people have written about Mary & Joseph. They pose intriguing questions and thoughts of what might have been going through their heads. Like "when you kiss your little baby, you kiss the face of God?" (Mary Did You Know). "How could it be this baby in my arms, sleeping now, so peacefully, the Son of God, how could it be?" (Joseph's song).

I started reading Luke the other day, since I had finished Judges, and was looking for somewhere to go. The Christmas story seemed appropriate. God has shown me more this year than ever before about the story. I've been able to put myself in their shoes a little more. Yesterday, when I was reading about Zacharias & Elizabeth, I thought it was interesting that Zacharias referred to Jesus as "the Sunrise from on High." I liked that as you probably gathered from a recent blog.

This morning as I'm reading about the shepherds, an angel of the Lord appears to them, and they are afraid. I'm sure they were more than startled when it says "suddenly" (2:13) a multitude of heavenly host appeared. They go running to find this child, and then tell everyone what the angel told them "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (2:11 & 17). The Savior that they had been waiting for and they had heard nothing about for 400 years was here!

Vs. 19 says, "but Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." How cool to hear & observe these shepherds that she didn't know from Adam come running in to see the Savior. I'm sure Mary & Joseph didn't tell too many people for fear of people thinking they are nuts or for even talking about her being pregnant without being married. They probably laid low during her pregnancy as much as possible. It was like God continued to confirm for her that He was doing this, and she could trust Him, even though she had already committed to Him (1:38).

I love how when we obey Him willingly, He blesses us so much for our obedience. I think this is what Mary was treasuring in her heart. Do we obey willingly even if it will "look bad" to the world around us?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

My new favorite Christmas carol is Come Thou Long Expected Jesus. I've been learning over the last few years more and more about Christmas. God's people had been waiting for the Messiah. After Malachi, there was 400 years of hearing nothing from God. Talk about trusting God! Those people waited a long time for God's promise to be fulfilled. Read the words to this song with those thoughts in mind.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus

Born to set Thy people free

From our fears and sins release us

Let us find our rest in Thee

Israel's strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of ev'ry longing heart

Born Thy people to deliver

Born a child, and yet a King

Born to reign in us forever

Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring

By Thine own eternal Spirit

Rule in all our hearts alone

By Thine all sufficient merit

Raise us to Thy glorious throne

Israel's strength and consolation

Hope of all the earth Thou art

Dear desire of every nation

Joy of ev'ry longing heart

Come Jesus Come

So now, as we celebrate the fact that He did come even after 400 years of silence from God. He came, He lived, He died, & He rose again. AND He will also come again. We wait in expectation of His return. I get very tired of the fallenness of this world, and so let's reflect on Him . . . He is coming again to restore His kingdom. So I'm longing for the expected Jesus! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 7, 2009


Wow . . . it has been awhile since I posted. The Lord has been taking me through a very dry time, but He has still been faithful.

This morning, I walked out of my bedroom to the sunrise shining through the window. I love sunrises. God & I have this agreement that whenever I see a good sunrise or sunset, that I will stop & reflect on His love & faithfulness. So this morning, I stood in my living room, eating my yogurt, and pondering God's love & faithfulness to me.

As I watched the sun rise, a layer of dark cloudiness hovered above. Within a couple of minutes, the sun rise was limited by that cloudiness, and eventually I couldn't see the sunrise anymore. All I could see was clouds. I said to the Lord, "Is this foretelling of my day today? Are you saying, 'Remember I love you, bkz it is going to get difficult?'" He said, "All I'm saying is that sometimes, you can easily see My love & faithfulness, and other times, you need to just trust Me that it is there."

So as I came to work and things went nuts for the first 3 hours, I looked back and said, "Yes, He loves me. He chose me. He is still faithful . . . even when everything else is trying to distract me from that truth."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Will You Still Love Him?

I had to contain myself. I had almost the entire chapter of Deuteronomy 8 posted here, and then realized that you all probably aren't as excited about it as I am. I encourage you to read the whole chapter if you are interested, especially verses 11-18. So a small bite . . . here are some of my favorite verses from my reading this morning in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."

The Lord is constantly trying to humble us. We think we do things, but we don't. We can't do anything without Him. These verses grabbed my attention when I got to He "let you be hungry . . . that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD." The Lord allowed the Israelites to be hungry so that they would know it isn't about physical food. He wanted to refine their character and make them more like Him.

So yes . . . it is all for our good . . . even going hungry. Will we trust that He is teaching us even when we don't have everything that we think we need? Will you still love & serve Him even if He lets you be hungry?

(In verses 11-18, He goes on and addresses this situation more including money.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Learning about Humility

I've been learning alot about my pride in case you haven't noticed from my previous postings. I spot pride quickly in people, bkz I hate my sin of pride, and I hate seeing it in other people as well. But it again becomes about me & my pride. "I see your pride . . . you better deal with it!" My attitude has been judgmental, tense, & divisive, not always outwardly but to myself. However, if unattended to, it will become outward.

People's pride comes out in controlling personalities, extreme insecurity, extremely opinionated, cockiness, etc. After spending some time processing how difficult it is to love people who are like this, the Lord reminded me of my struggle with pride, and how humility is the antithesis to pride. I've been praying for the Lord to teach me humility withouth humiliating me, and He has been so graciously doing so. (I'm so grateful!) As I sat in my car processing how I could deal with these people, and then being reminded of humility, I remembered back through my most recent interactions with difficult people, and the Lord showed me how I can be humble in those situations. He showed me that I need to speak less & listen more. When I visualized what it would look like with me not feeling the need to voice my opinion, disapproval, etc, I thought, that reminds me of how Jamie Work is. He is gentle, kind, peaceable. He doesn't always speak, when he certainly could . . . this is godly wisdom (James 3:17). This is very different from my judgmental & tense attitude. Then I looked up and saw the beginning of chapter 3, and realized it is all about controlling the tongue. When you control the tongue, you control the whole body! James 3:2 says, " . . .we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well."

I've been learning alot, so I know that this blog may not make as much sense to you as it does to me, but I wanted to share it. Our tongue gets us into alot of trouble, and if we can be humble & control our tongue, I can see why James calls him a "perfect man."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Its About Him

I've been reading Colossians this week, and each morning, I'm brought back to how everything is about Christ. He is the head of the body. He is preeminent. Everything we do should be for Him. We should constantly look at things like He would look at things.

I struggle hard to do this somedays. Some days I win, some days I lose. Most days involve me winning some & losing some. As I struggle today , I realize it is bkz my eyes are on what I want, not what He wants. He wants my eyes on Him. I want my eyes on Him . . . but I want what I want too.

Lord help me to be willing to give up my desires in order to achieve what You have for me to do. Help me to be completely satisfied in You.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Romans 8:31-39 . . . one more time

One of the verses in this passage that I usually gloss over is interesting . . . FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED. This comes right after Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Hold on . . . why are we being put to death all day long? What kind of love considers us as sheep to be slaughtered?

This passage used to be one of those sappy passages for me: "Oh!!! God loves me!!! Yea!!!" This is true, He does love me. He loves me so much that he refines me. He slaughters my flesh, so that I can live anew in Him, bkz He continues with . . .

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So He loves us . . . and absolutely nothing can separate us from His love which is available to us only bkz of Jesus Christ.

Back to Romans 8

Last night, our small group was dissecting Romans 8:31-39. Romans 8 is one of my favorite chapters in Scripture (along with Philippians 4), so I was excited to cover this chapter in our small group.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39 (NASB)

It was the one of the same parts that usually sticks out to me, but in a different way. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? The first thought was, how could tribulation, distress, etc separate us from Christ's love? Does the fact that we have nothing to eat change the fact that God loves us? Then it clicked. No. It doesn't separate us from His love. But when we are in the pit of despair and things are going badly, we say "Why God? Why don't You care what I'm going through? Where are you?" He is right there with you!

He promises that no matter what you are going through is going to separate you from His love. You don't have to ask where is He! He is right there with you!!! He loves you!!!

. . . . more thoughts on this passage tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Philippians 4, especially vs 4-9, seems to always be on my heart. I guess bkz it is so outside of our box to rejoice in all things & be anxious about nothing. Things haven't been going so well the last several weeks, and I've been very anxious & depressed about them. I've been trying to pull myself out of this funk, but the more I try, the more deeply I descend into the pit of self-pity & such. Many times I go to Psalms when I'm feeling like this, but sometimes I go deeper into the funk when I'm in Psalms. Today, I needed a life preserver, not someone to associate with my griefs.

Remembering that Philippians is the book about joy, I opened it up. I read it the whole book, but since Philippians 4 has always been a favorite spot, I camped out there a little bit. Verse 5 has always seemed a bit out of place to me. I'm still not sure that I completely understand its place, but I think some light may have been shed on it today:

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

In my anxiety & depressed mood, I've become irritable, short with people, unloving, etc, etc. I've been doing everything in my pain, but having a gentle spirit. So Paul says, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! I don't feel like rejoicing. Then Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. But I don't have a gentle spirit. Then get one bkz the Lord is near!!! You should be contented & joyful bkz He is right here! So . . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

God, Thank you for being near. I need your help to rejoice. I need your help to have a gentle spirit, but when I remember that You are near, it helps so much. Help me not to be anxious. Help me to seek hard after You on my knees being grateful for what You are going to do. Your peace will protect my mind & heart that get a bit out of control sometimes. Help me to focus on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise not things that are anxiety provoking, fear-based, false, ugly, sinful, etc. Help me to rejoice, be gentle, & be at peace in Your arms.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Cliches drive me crazy, but unfortunately, they are cliches for a reason. Why? Bkz most of the time they are true or at based in truth. There are some Scripture verses that have become cliche:

For God so loved the world . . .
Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . .
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me . . .
But the one I think I hear the most is based in Romans 8:28: all things work together for good. I think I hear this one the most bkz even unbelievers essentially quote it when they say, "it will all work out for the best!" Not necessarily . . .

Look at Romans 8:28 (NASB) in its context. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom he predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

God causes all things to work together for who? For those who love God & are called. What is good? to be conformed to the image of His Son. It isn't necessarily happy or fun. Most people don't like the process of being conformed to the image of His Son. But those who love God and are called are content with the outcome of that process. So be careful where you throw this verse around. BUT, be encouraged! God makes all circumstances in the lives of those who love Him and are called, to make them more like Him. That is the goal of life to be like Christ & give Him all the glory.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leviticus & Numbers

I've not been posting much recently bkz I've been reading Leviticus & Numbers. It was really tough. I'm not finished with Numbers yet, but I'm about half way. I prayed several mornings for understanding. Why does God go into such great detail about how to build the tabernacle, how to transport it, endless numbers of laws? Why are women created to be "unclean" for a week every month? But then I realized that men are unclean often as well, maybe not for a week at a time, but pretty often.

These last 2 questions were the most intriguing to me. Then it hit me. People have said that all the lists of laws & such are reminding us how holy God is. I sort of understood, but when I really mulled over why God would declare women unclean for 12 months out of 52, He said, "Bkz you ARE unclean." We aren't worthy of Him. He is a holy God, and we in and of ourselves, are unclean. We can't truly know the Lord and understand salvation for all it is without realizing that we are unclean.

Hence the message of redemption. I love how even in the Torah tells us about the Gospel. All of those laws are just saying, "You can't possibly keep all of these laws. You are going to break some. You need a sacrifice to pay the penalty."

I think I forget how much I need a Savior too often. I think I do alot of things that "good Christians" do. I go to church, read my bible, pray, etc. So what do I need forgiveness for? Alot of things, but lets start with just bkz I'm human . . .

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life from Death

It is interesting how so many things in Scripture defy what we commonly believe. Things like "he who is least among you all--he is the greatest" (Lk 9:48). The one that I've been learning the most is how life comes from death. Things have to die in order for other things to live. A seed has to die in order to produce more fruit. Christ had to die in order for us to have an opportunity at life. We have to die to ourselves in order to have life in Christ.

The unfortunate reality is that we all fight death. We do whatever we can to avoid it. We'll do whatever we can do to keep something alive whether a business, organization, church, etc, but sometimes God's will is for it to die, so new life can come from it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we should all commit suicide & die. But, one day we are all going to die physically, and what an amazing life lies beyond for those of us who know Him! We'll live forever! So start now, "die" to yourself and live completely for the Lord.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why God?

There are many times that we don't understand what is going on in our lives, and I find myself asking God why? The question comes often, but I'm rarely left wanting as I'm assured in Psalm 23:1 "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." I can't completely understand God (Romans 11:34, "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?"), so don't fool yourself that you are going to understand with a finite mind what the Lord is doing. However, I've found that the more I seek Him, the more I look to Him, the more I see how He has done things in Scripture, the more I am in His word, the less I argue with Him . . . whether I understand or not.

1. Why does God allow a 4 year old to get 3rd degree burns on her leg? 2. Why does God take a mom from a 13 year old girl and her family? 3. Why does God allow people to go long periods of time without work? 4. Why does God seem to be silent sometimes? 5. Why does God allow people to be abused by their parents or anyone? 6. Why does God allow marriages to dissolve? 7. Why does God allow people to be raped? Can I answer any of these questions? Not exactly, but the more I know the Lord, the more I can understand a bit more.

Here are some things that I've learned throughout my life some from personal experience, some vicariously. 1. So a small child can be saved by her brother & begin to understand unconditional love . . . something that originated with God, and thus can only point to Him. (John 15:13). 2. To take away a child's idol and bring a family to a point of desperation that we can only seek after Him for true healing (among 1000s of other things). If I could tell you the stories about that one! 3. So we learn that we don't provide for ourselves, the Lord is the One who provides. To increase our faith. 4. To increase my faith in what is true. Even when He is silent, we need to trust that He is who He says He is & believe. Will I believe even when I don't see or hear Him. 5. To understand that only the Lord loves perfectly, and we are all searching after Him. 6. Again to understand that the Lord is the only one who loves perfectly & completely. Humans can't be a substitute for God. He is to be the only God in our life. To understand that we are only completely fulfilled in Him. 7. To understand what God did when He forgave us. To understand that only God loves perfectly.

I could go on and on, and I've not completely answered any of these. So my goal isn't to make anyone angry at my very simplistic answers. But we are here to bring glory to God. Everything is here for the purpose of bringing Him glory. We need to be able to know Him well enough that we can see outside of ourselves and our pain, and see the only One who can truly bring healing.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Stop the Madness!

I had a student the other day ask me how to stop thinking too much. He is constantly thinking, and thinking again, and over thinking some more, and analyzing everything. It was driving him mad! It was one of those moments that I just wasn't sure how to answer him, and I just shot up what my colleague calls a "flare prayer," truly having no idea how to respond to him. The next thing that happened was pretty amazing. It has happened a few times in my life, and I just stand in awe after it happens. A word came out of my mouth. My mouth moved. My vocal chords vibrated, but it wasn't me saying the word. "Trust" is all that came out of my mouth. At first, I panicked wondering, "what just happened, what did I say, and was it true?!?!" It took only 2 seconds to return to a state of peace as God quickly helped me understand what He just used me to say.

I am so important in my life that it is up to me to fix and solve everything. When I trust, there is a sense of overwhelming peace & rest. My mind isn't in overdrive anymore.

The student & I weren't communicating well until this point, so I was pretty frustrated, but after that word came out of my mouth, we both stopped and pondered. The Lord spoke, and we were both pondering the amazing truth that we have to trust or we'll drive ourselves mad!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

This morning, I was sitting out on my front porch swing wrapped in a blanket bkz it is starting to get cool here in the mornings! I just wanted to be still for a few minutes before I began to read. I heard hundreds of birds chirping. You know, the sound that for those of us who have seen Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds causes us to want to run inside at the sound bkz we have been classically conditioned to fear that sound! Anyway, since I'm talking about learning (classical conditioning), I've learned by association that when I hear that sound, it triggers a memory of sitting in a Bryan College chapel a few years ago. Forgive me bkz the details won't be exactly accurate, but you'll get the gist. A missionary came to tell us about his ministry in South America. He led a witch doctor to the Lord. The witch doctor's specialty was being able to interpret the noises that animals made into English. As the missionary & the former witch doctor were talking one day, they heard a bunch of birds, and the missionary curiously asked, "When you were a witch doctor, what did you hear the birds saying?" The former witch doctor smiled, and said, "Glory to God in the Highest! Blessed be the Lord!" (Now the quote of the interpretation may not be exact, but the point is, the birds were praising God!). So I think of that story all the time when I hear birds chirping. I like that reaction a little better than the reaction I used to have from The Birds.

It was interesting too, that all of a sudden the chirping stopped in unison. I wonder if they were having church up there and they had all just been singing praise together! The song was over ;)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Exodus

It is always amazing to me as I read about the Lord leading his people out of Egypt. A couple of things stood out to me today.

1. They didn't just go to the Promised Land from Egypt. God led them way out of the way. I looked at a map this morning, and it would be like me driving to Pennsylvania from Tennessee by way of Florida, but they got distracted in Georgia so it took a long time. (I don't know about mileage, but I'm speaking in directional terms.) God had a lot more to teach them. From what I've read, the journey should have taken them less than a month. It took them 40 years! God wants me to learn some things on the way, so He doesn't usually take me the shortest way. He takes me the way that I'll learn the most. And it seems that the more I refuse to learn the longer it takes!

2. They saw the Red Sea part for them, and it lasted many hours. For about 1 million people, plus thousands of Egyptian soldiers to pass through, it didn't take a few minutes. They watched the Lord hold the walls of the sea back for hours. Yet a few days later, they whine to him about not having anything to drink, and then eat. When He gives them food, they complain about the food. Instead of being grateful, they complain. Sounds like me! [Side note, the description of manna must have been the first "astronaut food." It is a "fine flake like thing, fine as frost on the ground" yet "It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey." (Ex.16:14, 31 ESV) That's a lot of flavor in something as fine as frost! :)]

3. Rememberances. God knows us. He knows we are terrible at remembering, so He was always instructing them to remember how He took care of them. I think it is so good to reflect back on what the Lord has been doing in our lives, so that we don't get discouraged by what is in front of us. If we remember how the Lord is good, we won't be deceived by the devil's lies that tell us He isn't good.

Monday, September 28, 2009


The Lord has really been trying to teach me about prayer this year, and I'm fighting it. I'm not sure why I'm fighting it. There is nothing more helpful & God centered than prayer. Yet, I struggle so much to pray. I think there is an air of mystery around prayer. There are so many verses that are so confusing about it. Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17). If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matt. 21:22). There are 3 places in John (14-16) where Jesus says whatever you ask for in my name, it will be given to you. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:3). There are multiple other verses on prayer, and yet, we pray but we don't get what we ask for. Apparently, we ask with wrong motives. I wish I knew how to be selfless and totally God centered. These verses would be true then. God doesn't give me whatever I pray for bkz I ask self-centeredly. His goal isn't my desires, but His glory. If I can keep that in mind, it helps.

But how do we pray then? Why do we pray, when God has a plan and is sovereign anyway? Do we really change God? I saw The Shadowlands which is CS Lewis' story, and I remember him saying, "I don't pray bkz it changes God, I pray bkz it changes me." I think prayer helps align me with what God wants. It gets me on the same page with Him, so that I can see the world from His perspective more easily. It gets me out of the fallenness of this world for a few minutes, and takes me before His throne.

Prayer is still hard bkz it is so unnatural, and those of us with full blown or even ADHD tendencies don't concentrate well. Satan doesn't want us to pray, so he throws everything at us when we start. It shows that we are dependent on a sovereign & all powerful God.

I want to know what it would be like to be totally devoted to the Lord in prayer. I think my life would be considerably different. Lord, help me to be a disciple devoted to prayer.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Just Get Me Through God!

I've had this conversation with a couple of people already today . . . I think God is trying to refresh my memory & perspective. It is one of the things I love about being a counselor. God uses His truth in my life, as I share it with other people. There is something very powerful about speaking God's truth outloud. The thief hears it, the demons hear it, God hears it, and most importantly, we hear it.

Today's truth? Don't just survive. Flourish! Life many times seems to overwhelm us, and I beg God, "Please just get me through today!" He desires to do so much more than just "get us through!" The thief wants us to drag through the day and barely survive. God wants us to give Him all the honor & glory. When we focus on the overwhelming number of things we have to do today, we lose our focus on Him. So stay focused on the Lord, and ask Him to help you flourish today!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (NASB)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What does it mean to "feel" loved by God?

I attended the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference last week in Nashville @ the Opryland Hotel, so if you were wondering why I didn't post much last week, there is your reason. John Piper spoke on Wednesday night, and of course, I could have gone home when he was finished speaking. He gives such deep truths, that I'm still processing it! All of the quotations in this blog are from Piper's message. If you want the manuscript of Piper's message, the link is below. If the link doesn't work, just go to & search: Beholding Glory & Becoming Whole: Seeing and Savoring God as the Heart of Mental Health. I had to put spaces in it in order for it all to fit on the blog:

There are so many things that he said, but I want to focus in on one thing. "We are spring-loaded in our sin to feel loved only if God endorses our desire to be made much of . . . 'Christ died for me to make much of me. He rescued me while undeserving to make much of me. He forgave me to make much of me. He removed his wrath to make much of me.' Oh how gloriously good this feels! What a precious gospel! " Yes, it is, but is that what He is doing? Did He do all of those things for me? I hate to burst my own bubble, but not really . . . Yes, He did do it for me, but His purpose was for His glory.

So "feeling loved by God means feeling glad that God not only crushed his Son for me, but that he is now crushing every vestige of desire in my life that competes with the pleasure of the praise of the glory of his grace . . . This transforming experience of being loved by God with his God-centered love is so unnatural to fallen humans, it takes supernatural power everyday to experience it."

We constantly think it is all about me, but it isn't. It is all about Him. No wonder we don't experience abundant life. Abundant life comes from loving Him not us.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:14-16

Monday, September 21, 2009

God's Perspective

Life can be really frustrating and wearisome. I've been reading through Genesis, and the last two days, I've been reading about Joseph. He was mocked for being the "favorite" child. He was thrown in a pit and then sold as a slave. He was set up by Potiphar's wife. He did everything he could to avoid her advances, but as he ran, he left his shirt with her so that she couldn't get him. He was put in prison, and the people he helped while in prison forgot about him for 2 years. Finally things begin to turn around for him.

This isn't the first time I've read Joseph's story, so as I'm reading the story, I feel myself not all that upset about what Joseph is experiencing. Imagine what Joseph must have felt like sitting in a pit, or in prison, or being set up by Potiphar's wife, or being forgotten by the cupbearer & baker. He could have easily settled into self-pity. But he was patient & waited on the Lord. I'm sure there were days where he battled self-pity, but he didn't get angry or ruin his testimony or anything like that. He was patient. Why wasn't I upset about what he was experiencing? Bkz I know the end of the story. I'm not trying to be irreverent, but I felt like God in a way, bkz I could see things from His perspective for once. I knew that in a couple of chapters (or years :)) that Joseph was going to be 2nd in command in Egypt. I knew that God had good things planned. I could see it. Genesis 50:20, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."

I wish I could see it in my own life, but I can't. So again, I must learn to trust Him. Help me to always be taking Your perspective, God!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Loving & Forgiving Others

It is really hard to love some people some days. Some people just drive me up a wall. I was talking to a someone about learning to forgive, and I brought up the verse in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." I made it red bkz Jesus was speaking :)

The Lord made it pretty clear to me that one of the first steps in forgiveness is being able to pray for the person. The Lord changes your heart as you pray for them. He commands us to do that in these verses. I know some people are hard to love, but the unsaved love the people who are easy to love. The Lord calls us to the next level: Love everyone, even the people who aren't kind to us.

So love the person who is condescending to you. Love the person who mocks you. Love the person who spits in your face. Love the person that uses & abuses you. Jesus did in Luke 23:34: Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Pray that the Lord will help you to see them like He sees them. When you try to see them as the Lord does, you see a scared, sinful person trying to find peace & value. It should help you pity them some . . . which helps you forgive them some.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grace in Genesis

You know it is interesting . . . many times we look at the Old Testament and talk about how we see the "judging" side of God, and that is true. We do see God destroying alot of people & being aggressively angry towards sin. But as I read through Genesis, the Lord is showing me His grace as well. Grace is undeserved . . .

Abram & Isaac both lied to leaders about their wives telling the leaders that their wives were their sisters. Yet, the leaders are the ones that got punished, and Abram & Isaac were both given much wealth because of it.

Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright & Isaac out of Esau's blessing. Yet Jacob is the one who receives the birthright, the blessing, and becomes a very wealthy & blessed man of God.

We need to remember that God never changes. He was just as gracious then as now. He will continue to be gracious to as well. He also hates sin. Always has, and always will. So be grateful for His grace, and flee sin.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lowly & Humble

I find it interesting that there is a common thread of God using the unqualified, uneducated, outcasts, lowest of society, etc. He chose 12 disciples that were uneducated (Acts 4:13) and couldn't make it as normal disciples of other Rabbis in that day. He chose to go to have lunch with tax collectors, gluttons, sinners, drunkards, instead of the religious people. What is the deal with Israel? It is ugly land that is far from valuable except to be a route to the sea, and yet nations haven't ceased to war over it. Jesus chose a donkey to ride into Jerusalem on. They knew He was the King, and yet He rode in on a donkey . . . no horse, no chariot, a donkey.

People complain about having a low self-esteem. The truth is, they love themselves alot! If they didn't love themselves alot, then they wouldn't be so worried about how they feel about themselves & how others perceive them! Jesus tells us that we love ourselves (Mark 12:33). If we are humble, the Lord will use us. He can't use the proud, that is why he opposes them (I Peter 5:5). He uses the humble.

So don't tell God that He can't use you or you aren't worthy. Let Him decide who is valuable & usable. My favorite quote is my Helmut Thielicke: God does not love us because we are so valuable; we are valuable because God loves us. He is the One Who gives us value, not us!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beauty from Ashes

This morning around 4:30am was when my mom died 19 years ago. It was a horrible day, and I remember every detail like it happened yesterday. Those of you who knew me then, know that I became a very angry & bitter teenager. As I look back, I remember many people who did so much for me to help me cope & heal, and I'm so grateful for their tireless (but never unnoticed) work.

I was counseling a student the other day, and we were talking about a great loss in their life. After that appointment, God has brought to mind the many things that I didn't understand then (when my mom died), but now they are crystal clear. Who knows really why the Lord took my mom at that time, but He obviously saw it as best for all involved. Over the last 19 years, He has been showing me small benefits to the timing of her death. I would never have left home if she was still alive. I would have never pursued counseling as a career. I would have never met Miles. I would have never been stretched spiritually as I have been over the last 10 years. I wouldn't be where I am in my relationship with God. That in and of itself is enough explanation for me . . . the peace & joy that come from knowing the Lord well is indispensible to my life. I think her death was the first in a chain of events that took me to where I am. PTL!!! I'm so grateful for where the Lord has brought me.

Romans 8:28 is absolutely true: All things work together for the good of those who love Him . . .

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Without Faith . . .

I was reading about Noah & the Flood this morning. It is such a familiar story.

I wonder how much mockery Noah endured while he was building a boat. It had never rained before. I wonder when the faith became easier. Did it get easier when 2 of every kind of animal & 7 of every kind of clean animal got on the boat? Did it get easier when the rain actually started to fall? I wonder what it was like to be in a boat with all of those animals for about 6 months? I wonder what it smelled like? I wonder how the animals got along. I mean was it millenium like? Were the lions living at peace with their prey? Were the animals of prey on separate floors? What was it like when Noah sent out a dove & it returned with no hope of land? Did they all wonder if they were going to die on that boat? The relief that must have come when it returned the 2nd time with an olive branch.

I noticed some new things this time. First of all, Noah was 500 years old when his children were born. The dude was old no matter what time you put him in! I also noticed that Noah was an incredible man of faith as I alluded to some in the previous paragraph. He had to have been mocked while he was building the boat. Seriously God, you are going to bring all of those animals to me and then it is going to rain? What water is going to fall from the sky? Oh to have been there when the animals started showing up. You want me to live on a boat with all of these animals? How are You going to feed them? How are You going to take care of us all? Is it ever going to stop raining? It rained for over a month straight!! (And I complain if it rains a couple of days in a row!). How depressing to look out the window of the boat, see only sky & water, and know that everything is dead except those on the boat (I suppose except for the water animals.). Or what a realization of your faith to know that the Lord saved you. What relief to see God lead and answer them! The olive branch, the dry land, the rainbow . . . Noah's family had a crazy year!

As I was pondering all of this, I remembered that Noah is mentioned in the "Faith Chapter" in Hebrews 11. I went to find it, and read this in verse 6 just before I got to Noah: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Without faith . . . it is IMPOSSIBLE to please him. Where is my faith? I'll be honest. It has been almost invisible the last few weeks, but today's passage increased my faith. Lord, help me to have faith, bkz without it, I can't please You.

Monday, September 7, 2009

God has a Sense of Humor

So I woke up today feeling better which makes everything seem a little better even though I had a 13 hour work day ahead of me. I read Ps. 146-150 which basically says over & over again . . . "Praise the Lord!" So I sit thinking, and said to God, "Well, I guess you want me to praise You!" (I'm quick, I know!) So I decided that I would try to praise God every hour of the day. Now, it is already late in the day, and I didn't do very well on the challenge, but I think it is bkz the first 30 minutes were the biggest struggle for me. I won that battle, but didn't do so well the rest of the day.

One of the biggest stressors for me right now is money . . . we are just struggling so much financially, but trying to learn that God takes care of us . . . we don't take care of us. So I had just stated that I wanted to try to praise God every hour today intentionally, and 30 minutes later I got pulled over by a State Trooper on my way to work . . . which . . . it's labor day . . . if only I'd had off like everyone else. Oh well, I won't exchange my fall, summer, Christmas, & spring breaks for Labor day! :) So yes . . . I got a ticket . . . and bkz it is labor day, no one is answering the phone at the Meigs County Court Clerk's office so they can't tell me the damage yet. The trooper said that he couldn't tell me what the amount is bkz the counties have been getting frustrated with them charging too much or not enough ... so they leave it to the county. That could be good or bad . . . we'll hopefully find out tomorrow!

ANYWAY . . . As I'm sitting in my car waiting for a very polite trooper to write me a ticket (bkz I got a warning a long time ago, and I've never been extended more mercy by the police departments to get another one though my husband has been extended mercy on a number of occasions bkz he knows all the police officers! Even though I'm jealous, I'm still relieved bkz we can't afford these tickets!), I heard God say, "Are you praising Me?" "Are you serious God? You want me to praise You when I'm getting a ticket to add to my mounting bills?" "Yes." "Okay . . . I praise You God for allowing me to get this ticket. Why? Bkz I'll slow down, maybe you are keeping me from a fatal accident at some point. Maybe You just want to show off that You are the One Who provides, not me. Who knows . . . but You have a purpose, and in that . . . I'll praise You." And I've had a remarkably great day . . . It happens pretty often when I submit to His will.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Finally . . . Some Rest

This week has been a continual battle for contentment, strength, and joy. This morning, I am there (at least more so than earlier this week). Yes, some of it is that it is Friday, but more of it is allowing the Lord's truth to continue to sink in. I think sometimes He is quiet just to know if we will seek hard after Him when it doesn't feel like He is there. We need to trust that He is, bkz He said He is, not bkz we feel Him.

Psalm 139:4-6: "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it."

Verse 5 was especially encouraging today. He knows what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen . . . it is all in His hands. We don't need to worry. He loves us. He is in control. He isn't worried. He knows how it is all going to work out.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Battle Rages

Still battling my pride . . . my pride makes me miserable! And well it should . . .

My pride is surfacing as I want certain things for my life and the Lord isn't giving them to me. How dare He! How dare the Lord of the Universe, King of Kings, Who knows past, present, & future, and loves me more than I could ever ask or imagine, not take my advice as to what I think is best for me . . . I'm such a measly peon . . . How dare I think I know better than He!

John 12:25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Point of Grace has a song on one of their earlier albums called Steady On. The chorus says:
"We run up ahead, we lag behind you
It's hard to wait when heaven's on our mind
Teach our restless feet to walk beside you
Cause in our hearts we're already gone
Will you walk with us
Steady on"

This song comes to mind often because I feel like I'm holding the Lord's hand trying to stay in step with Him, but as a small child, I'm constantly running ahead in excitement or impatience OR I'm lagging behind in fear or apathy. It is so hard to stay in step with Him. But His timing in perfect, and when the time is right, all will be well. We must wait on the Lord.

Psalm 130:6-7: My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Psalm 121

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

Do I need to say anything else?

Monday, August 31, 2009


You know, some days I wake up & I just want to scream or give up bkz everything seems to be going nuts & nothing is going right . . . today was one of those days.

I was reading Psalm 119, such a great chapter of encouragement. It is all about the Word of God. It restores, it rejuvenates, it strengthens, it encourages . . . and on and on it goes. So I just want to leave you with one verse: 165 Those who love Your law have great peace, And nothing causes them to stumble.

The best way to know the Lord is to spend time in His Word . . . so let's love His word . . . that is where peace is.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Giver vs. the Gift

This morning I was feeling very frustrated that nothing seemed to be going right for me. I've been begging God for a few things in my life, and yet nothing seems to be coming to fruition. I was feeling hopeless & frustrated. I sat on the front porch to begin my quiet time, and there was a steady rain falling. I opened my Bible to Ps. 103 (can you tell I'm reading through the book?).

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. (NASB)

"Yeah right God" was my first self-centered thought, but the Lord didn't give up on me. I kept reading, and I was reminded of what God does for me . . . all good things (James 1:17). And I was reminded that a few verses earlier in James 1:2, He encourages me to "consider it . . . all joy when you encounter various trials." I was also reminded that He takes care of all my needs, not just the physical ones. HE is all I need. He provides me with peace, love, mercy, forgiveness, etc.

I got to Ps. 104:27-29 They all wait for You to give them their food in due season. You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good. You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire and return to their dust. He gives us the things that I think I give to myself: my house, my job, my food, my breathe, my spirit, His face.

So I walked away realizing that I'm craving the gifts more than the Giver. Lord, help me to crave after Your face, not after what You will give to me.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Seeking the Lord

Here is a quote from John Piper's article, What Does it Mean to Seek the Lord (

"Seeking involves calling and pleading. O Lord, open my eyes. O Lord, pull back the curtain of my own blindness. Lord, have mercy and reveal yourself. I long to see your face.
The great obstacle to seeking the Lord is pride. “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him” (Psalm 10:4). Therefore, humility [emphasis mine] is essential to seeking the Lord.The great promise to those who seek the Lord is that he will be found. “If you seek him, he will be found by you” (1 Chronicles 28:9). And when he is found, there is great reward. “Whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). God himself is our greatest reward."

Oh, how arrogant of me to think that if I do certain things that I will find the Lord. If I read enough Scripture, listen to enough sermons, go to church enough times, share the Gospel with enough people, pray long enough. Not that these things are bad, but if our motive is for "me to find God" it may not be effective. It is all about Him. He is the one who has to remove the blinders from our eyes, and if I'm being proud or depending on myself to find the Lord, I'm not going to find Him. So Lord, continue to teach me humility (preferably without humiliation!).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


God has been showing me how prideful I am over the last year or so. The antithesis of pride is humility, so I figure that the best way to fight pride is to learn to be humble. So I've been asking God to show me how to be humble without having to be humiliated. He has graciously obliged. It doesn't make the inner struggle any easier, but it certainly helps me save face (bkz my pride couldn't handle the humiliation!).

So I was confronted with a situation yesterday that was not correct in my opinion. I wanted so badly to correct it bkz I should have gotten more recognition out of it. To bring the mistake to someone's attention would have been feeding my pride, so I had to let it go. I could feel the intensity of the battle in my soul as I contemplated the sitaution. A couple of people even pointed out that it was wrong, I should have been treated differently. I wanted to scream, "Yes!!! Someone notices! How dare this mistake be made against me!! I should hunt down the person who made the error & rectify the situation." I'm still battling it to be honest. But lucky for me, God gave me some time to sit & ponder the situation. I begged the Lord to show me what perspective I should have. All I kept hearing was I Peter 5:5b-7 (ESV) Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." So how do I humble myself God? I'm trying!

And Philippians 2:1-11 came to mind: "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

So as I pondered that Jesus didn't make sure that He was counted equal with God when He is God, but was only concerned about the glory of God the Father . . . I was strangely humbled.

God's Will for Your Life

I first want to apologize for being MIA for the last week. I missed doing these blogs. Writing these blogs have kept me focused on the Lord. It is so easy for me to forget what my quiet time was about if I don't process it by writing it out in this blog. Which leads me into focusing on the Lord each day and really thinking about what He is trying to teach us.

Yesterday was a bit of a yuck kind of day, and I realized that I got so caught up in the busyness, that I didn't allow the Word to penetrate my life. When I have to really process what the Lord is teaching me in my quiet time in order to write a blog about it, it really sticks with me much more during the day.

An important part of my quiet time is a time of expressing my greatfulness to God. It takes my sometimes negative attitude and focuses it on the positive. This morning I had to give a little devotional to all the new psychology majors, and I talked about being greatful to the Lord. We are always asking what is the Lord's will, and it is clearly spelled out in I Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shine Like Stars

As Charles Swindoll says in his little pamplet entitled, Attitude (loosely quoted), "Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how we respond to it." This is why siblings can live through the same events, and their lives can take very different turns. This is why someone can loose their job and be at peace, while someone else can loose their pen and be angry for a week! It is all about how you choose to respond to negative (or positive for that matter) circumstances.

I chose to be negative and have a bad attitude about an event that I had to go to. I whined to a few people, who mostly empathized with me and my bad attitude spread. The Lord convicted me, and I prayed for a good attitude. I knew a good attitude about this event wasn't coming of my own initiative. At the event, the Lord gave me grace, and I was able to be fairly positive. I was surprised at how many people had a bad attitude at the event. I had to fight to not just sink into complaining again. In fact, the Lord showed me just how ugly the complaining was to Him as I watched others complain, and as I fought against going down that road again. It was really refreshing to run into an occasional good attitude, adnd the Lord reminded me of His Word:

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing." Phil. 2:14-16 (NIV).

I've noticed that people stick out when they are really positive about something . . . they shine like stars. I want to shine like a star for the Lord, so I'll need to nip my complaining in the bud. It is a tough battle, but one that not only pleases the Lord, but gives you a better perspective in life.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Lead Me to the Rock, where I'll Sit under the Shelter of His Wings

When it rains, it pours. I have a mug that says, "When you pray for rain, be prepared for the mud." I've been praying for God to teach me humility kindly, bkz being taught humility could be humiliating! :) I know that my pride is a big problem for me, and I want to learn to be humble.

Well this week is the busiest of the semester at work (as far as the number of things that need to get done & the number of workdays and nights that take place). Most of it isn't too stressful, it is just alot. I have some other things going on in my life that are in limbo, and this is the week that many of them will hopefully cease to be in limbo. I'm not sleeping very well, and I'm waking up with a list in my head. I'm trying to let God take it, but I'm apparently doing something wrong, bkz the more I try to let God take it, the more stressed I get. I guess I'm not doing a very good job of resting. So this may be how the Lord is teaching me to rest, as I came to work knowing I only have 3 hours this morning to get some work done before faculty workshop begins, and my computer is on the fritz. This blog will probably look weird just bkz it really isn't letting me format much.

So this morning, as I'm sitting on my porch swing begging for peace, the Lord reminds me of His care for me.
Psalm 61:1-4 Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!

So I'm climbing to the Rock to sit under His sheltering wings. The storm will be over soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It is All for His Glory

This entry may seem a bit scattered . . . but hang with me . . .

A friend of mine's 5 year old asked him, "If God wants everything to be for his glory, why isn't that selfish?" What a great question. It is amazing what children understand.

His response to her (though probably not word for word): 1. He has the right to receive glory from all that He has made because HE made it. 2. For God to really love us He must have us pursue that which will make us the most happiest. Himself. It is for our joy that we glorify God.3. Self-exaltation is a virtue for God. For all others it is evil. He is worthy of glory and we are not. (Stolen from Shannon Brown's facebook page . . . thanks Shannon!) :)

Last week, I was about to cross the Tennessee River on my way home from work when an unknown object crashed into my windshield. It left quite the crack, as well as sent my heart racing. I was a bit frustrated wondering what else could possibly happen this week as I called my husband. He is so good for me bkz he just said, "no problem . . . we'll get it taken care of. The Lord isn't surprised by it." My heartrate quickly slowed, as I realized he was right. As I'm driving home though, I'm wondering, "Why didn't He just stop it from happening?" But in all reality, I wouldn't have known to be thankful if it hadn't happened. He proceeded to give me a brand new windshield for $0. No deductible? Is that even possible in today's world? Who cares if it is possible in today's world! The Lord is an expert in the impossible.

Why did the item come crashing into my windshield? Hard to tell, but it looks like the Lord received glory from it. It seems selfish for Him to put us through the whole process just for Him to get the glory; I understand why my friend's 5 year old asked the question. But we are here for His glory, and I'm never happier than I watch the Lord work. He can do exceeding abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine . . . and it is all for His glory.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cease Striving

One of my favorite verses has always been "Be still and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10). I've read it in the NASB many times before, but for some reason the translation struck me today.

The last 2 weeks have been way too crazy. I'm absolutely exhausted from fighting the anxiety and stress. This morning when I came across Ps. 46:10 in the NASB, I read "Cease striving and know that I am God." I have been working so hard to make things work out like I want them to work out. Surely God needs my help, right? Wrong! So this morning as I sat on my porch swing and looked out at the foggy morning (which is how my brain felt as well), I surrendered it all to Him again. I have to do that daily or I'll just pick it all up again!

So stop striving . . . trust the Lord . . . He is God; we aren't!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Smile God Loves You

I really don't like the cliche bumper stickers: Trust God. Let go & let God. Jesus Loves You. Just have faith. They really tend to get on my nerves, not bkz they are false, but bkz they are cliche. People say them without really understanding the depth of what they are saying. So when I'm talking with someone (whether myself :) or someone else) and I say "You have to trust Him." I can feel the roll of the eyes if I can't see it. I can hear their thoughts, "Yes, yes . . . trust God. I know. I know. Such a church answer. Give me some real help." The reality is these things are true, and they are difficult to believe.

I didn't really begin to understand God's love for me until I met the man that I married. I always felt (I didn't say it was true, I said I felt) that love was based on what I did. I had to earn it. But God freely loves us (Romans 5:8). He loves us more than we could ever imagine. Miles just loved me as unconditionally as humanly possible, and that helped me begin to understand how much the Lord loves me . . . and you!

So now, I pay attention to the little ways as well as the big ways that God loves me. His ultimate act of love was sending His only Son to pay the price for my sin. He reminds me every day that He loves me with things like the fog rising among the mountains, the ocean, a fall day, the rain, the stars in a vast dark sky, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, a field of sunflowers, etc. Two of my favorites are watching the full moon rise over the ocean or watching the sun rise over the Tennessee River on my way to work. God could have made the world boring, but He loves us.

On my way to work the other day, I saw another similar pet peeve of mine . . . cliches on a church marquee. It said, "Smile God Loves You", but this time I actually smiled . . . knowing the depth of that statement.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Hate Religion

Jesus spoke out often against religion. Religion is one of those things that Satan did. He took something true & twisted it. He capitalized on our pride, and we have religion. The Pharisees were the people that Jesus condemned the most, yet they were the most religious people of the day. I love this quote from Tim Keller.

“Religion is, ‘I obey, therefore I’m accepted’. The Gospel is, ‘I’m accepted through what Jesus Christ has done for me, therefore I obey’. Religion gives you control, that’s why its so popular…If I am saved by what I can do, then there’s a limit to what God can ask of me. I still have some control. But if I am saved by sheer grace, then there’s nothing He cannot ask of me”.

It is always about me. What can I do? How can God use me? What will people think of me if I don't ... (you fill in the blank: go to church, am around those people, etc.)? Jesus obviously didn't care what people thought. They thought He was a drunkard & a glutton bkz He was around sinners. We as Christians isolate ourselves from the lost afraid of being contaminated or something. But how are we to reach the lost if we aren't around them? Jesus came to seek and save the lost not the people who thought they were good enough or the people who didn't see their need for the Savior (Matt. 9:9-13). Do you see your need for the Savior or are you doing everything you can?

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Problem of Me

I've been learning over the last couple of years how incredibly self-centered I am, and how God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (I Pt. 5:5). God is teaching me new & exciting ways that I can be prideful. It isn't being cocky like I thought. It is being focused on myself.

Since I'm a college counselor, all the students go home for the summer, and I have no one to counsel. So I'm blessed to have my summers off from work. I love the summer because we can all use the break. But I found that it wasn't all that exciting. I didn't have much to do. Each day consisted of, "What time shall I work out or go to the pool?" As nice as that sounds, I had no one to worry about but myself which creates a very self-centered mindset. My best days were days that I was doing something for someone else. I found that my mood was down many days, and I couldn't figure out why. Towards the end of the summer, and again this morning, the Lord reminded me that it isn't about me. It is about loving Him & loving others (Mk 12:28-34).

So this morning when I woke up feeling blah and unmotivated, I was again reminded that it is about Him not me. I've been trying to praise the Lord in many different ways this morning, and it began with Psalm 34. I won't write it all out here, but I encourage you to go read it.

I'll leave you with these verses: Ps. 34:1-5
I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces will never be ashamed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Roller Coaster Ride

I must be under some serious attack because this week has been an emotional roller coaster. I fight hard to stay with truth against anxiety, then I'm hit with sadness, depression, happiness, or frustration. It is very tiring to stand firm in what is true especially when the ups and downs come rapidly. No, I'm not bipolar, I promise! It has just been an eventful week.

God ministered to me today in spite of the elephant sitting on my chest this morning. Psalm 19:7 (CEV) "The Law of the LORD is perfect; it gives us new life. His teachings last forever, and they give wisdom to ordinary people." The NASB says "it restores the soul." The NIV says "it revives the soul." And the ever entertaining MSG says "it pulls our lives together." This is what the Word of God does. Why aren't we all reading it like it is our lifeline? It is our lifeline to the Savior! I love the second half of the verse as well. Knowing Scripture makes simple, ordinary people wise . . . even people like me and you.

On my way to work I listened to Chris Tomlin's version of "It is Well with My Soul" the whole way, and the Lord again reminded me, that He is the reason that peace is within my grasp regardless of what is going on around me. Praise Him for what He has done!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Key to Close Relationships

Today I want to talk about one of the keys to staying close in relationships. Once you see that someone is worthy of trust, you choose to trust and love them. So whether this is a parent, spouse, friend, sibling, whoever . . . you need to choose to trust and love them.

Occasionally, I will say or do something to my husband or vice versa that comes across mean, unloving, or rude. We have learned to trust and love the person regardless, knowing that our intentions to the other person is never to hurt the other one. We always assume that we are loved by the other one because we chose to do that about 5 years ago. I know that Miles loves me, so if I interpret something that he does as hurtful to me, I have to reassure myself of truth: that he loves me. Love has a lot of great characteristics that are somedays very difficult to carry out. It isn't self-seeking or arrogant. It doesn't keep a record of wrongs (I Cor. 13). So I live in the truth that I know Miles loves me.

It is the same way with the Lord. If you have surrendered to his lordship in your life, He tells you that you are His child (Jn. 1:12). He tells you that you are complete in Him (Col.2:10). He tells you that He loves you (Rom. 8:35). He tells you that you are being perfected (Phil. 1:6). He tells you that you are His temple (I Cor. 3:16). He tells you that you can find grace & mercy in time of need (Heb.4:16). Those of you who know me well, know I could harp on this point for a long time, but I'll stop here. Some days it feels like He is out to get us, but love doesn't do that. Love has our best interest at heart. So live in the truth . . . you are loved.

And look . . . when you speak truth in your heart, you may abide with the Lord!

Psalm 15:1-2 O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.

P.S. I know that alot of you have experienced alot of pain due to imperfect human beings trying to love in a self-seeking way. Remember that the Lord loves you perfectly, and only He can do that. So trust Him always.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Choosing to Believe Truth

In the book of Psalms, David is a great example of how to shift perspectives. He expresses his frustration, fear, anger, depression, etc to God, but then he shifts his perspective to the Lord. He reminds himself of what is true in spite of how he feels. I think this is one of the keys to shifting of perspective. We allow our feelings to determine how we are, when your feelings are only a reflection of how you believe. Sure, we all feel down or frustrated or angry or whatever, and we need to acknowledge that. But don't dwell there . . . remind yourself what is true. Here is one (there are many) of David's Psalms that exemplifies what I'm talking about . . .

How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall. {Here is where the shift takes place from focusing on his circumstances to focusing on the truth} But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13, NIV)

David chose to believe that the Lord loves him, that he is saved by the Lord, & that the Lord has been good to him in spite of the fact that he felt like the Lord had forgotten him. Why? Probably some experience, probably some Scripture. So today . . . what is true? Shift your perspective there.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Shifting my Perspective

Life is a constant battle of shifting my perspective. Things happen everyday that can destroy me or make me stronger. If my perspective is on the Lord, it makes me stronger. If it is on me, I get depressed, or angry, or frustrated, or sad, or bitter, or whatever emotion is appropriate, you fill in the blank.

I noticed this morning as I was doing my quiet time on my porch enjoying the warmth of the early day, that I was feeling pretty good. I asked myself, "why am I feeling so good this morning?" The realization that I came to is that things are going pretty smoothly (or at least in my perspective). Things aren't always going smoothly. Do I still feel good when they aren't going so smoothly? My husband quoted the elusive "someone" yesterday when he was telling me that God is more interested in our character than our comfort. That rang in my head all day. It is why James says in chapter 1:2-4 . . . "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way." (MSG)

So as I grow, I'm able to get to this point more quickly, but I'm far from perfect. I still don't jump for joy when the HVAC unit crashes in the middle of summer or my step-brother dies in a motorcycle accident leaving 3 kids under the age of 16 or once again there are a lot more bills than money to pay them . . . but I can start to see another perspective. What does God want to teach me . . . bkz I'll be stronger for it.