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 www.desiringgod.org & 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: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Conference

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?