Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Mommy's Peek into our Father's Heart

I guess in a way I am being blessed. At least, I'm trying to see the good in the situation. Last night and this morning our Little Man has been having difficulty in the area of obedience. And boy have I been praying for wisdom! Although it hasn't been easy, I'm thankful that he is fighting some of these battles now AND that I can appreciate more all that God has done for me.

Around seven this morning we were getting juice to go along with our gingerbread waffles that were in the waffle iron. Little Man did not like the choice of cups I gave him and threw them on the floor. This means that he must pick them up and in the past has been the beginning of a battle. He choose the battle again. It's a hard battle. Maybe it's hard because he's strong willed or a toddler. Maybe it's hard because we as parents aren't doing something right. I don't know. But I do know that Little Man needs to learn to obey what God says to do, and right now God has given his parents the job to train him in obedience. Righting a wrong and following the way he is told to do it is important training. So, we press on.

But as we press on I get a peek into our Father's Heart. Life is SO much happier and simpler when we obey, isn't it? We know that, but seeing a two year old not get to enjoy breakfast, cuddle with his stuffed animals, or watch a NEW episode of a favorite show on television brings the point home to me. I want to bless my son. I want to pour out good things on his life. I want him to enjoy life. But because of his choices, that didn't happen. He missed out. The waffles got cold, the boy fell asleep alone, and the episode on TV played without him.

How much do I miss out on what God so very much wants to bless me with? How much do I miss because I want to hold out to control the situation, or I want to do it my way? I miss out. I know I do. And what I miss out on most is the closeness of my relationship with God. Little Man and I didn't get to play much last night or this morning because we were dealing with disobedience. We didn't get to laugh and imagine and learn together. The spark was gone. Even more than the other blessings, the relationship is the most important thing.

How wonderful God is to wait for us to return to Him. To give us opportunity after opportunity to turn around and obey. And then the joy that is felt when the relationship is restored. Last night when Little Man did what was required and then came running to me, what joy was in my heart to have him back, doing what was good, and showing his love by obedience. This has to be a shadow of what God feels. How I want to fill his heart when he sees me turn and obey! Don't you?

Aren't you glad our Father loves us so? I am. And I love my Little Man so, and pray that when we awakes, he will choose to turn and obey. And if he doesn't, like My Father, I will wait for Him and love Him while I wait.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ah ha moment

Funny how sometimes you can be reading God's Word and you know you've read it before, but you just NEVER saw it. I had one of those AH HA moments the other day. During my reading time I was reading through Ezekiel 34. God was raking the leaders (or shepherds) of Israel over the coals. He wasn't pleased about they way they are leading His people. They are allowing them to preyed on, to wander around lost, and to starve. He tells them that they are his enemies and that he will hold them responsible for what happens to them. He is removing them from their positions as shepherd. (Some weighty words for those of us who lead others!)

But then came the ah-ha moment. Keep reading Ezekiel 34:11-24. He tells us that He himself will their shepherd. He tells them that he will search for the sheep and find them. He will rescue them and bring them back. He will feed them and give them pleasant places to lie down. He tell us he will be all the things that the shepherd in Psalm 23 is. But I've read some where else that Jesus is a Good Shepherd, haven't you? In John 10:10-21 when Jesus equates himself to being a Good Shepherd he wasn't just paining a word picture that people could understand. He was using the picture from Ezekiel to further confirm His role and mission. Don't you love when you find a buried treasure in Scripture and realize God has made his message so obvious if we will but look and listen!

The rest of the passage in Ezekiel also says that this good shepherd will judge between the fat and scrawny sheep and the sheep and goats. He will judge those that trample on others, that squash others down, that let them remain in their poor conditions. That reminds me of something else Jesus talked about in Matthew 25:31-46.

Have you had any ah-ha moments lately? I hope so!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where are you standing?

My blogging here has been infrequent, but that doesn't mean I haven't had things I've wanted to share. It's just been harder balancing everything this day, and unfortunately this is the place where I often let things go.

A while I go I was reading Ezekiel and Ezekiel 22:30-31 grabbed my attention. It says, "I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap of the wall so I shouldn't have to destroy the land, but I found no one." WOW.

The wall of righteousness that guarded the land had been torn down. Unrighteousness could easily creep in and take hold of the inhabitants. When I thought about this in my life I applied it to my family. God has built a wall of righteousness around my family by his grace. I don't want that wall to be torn down. I want to set on its watchtowers and be sure it is not compromised. I want to care for it and maintain it.

I also thought of our nation. On some days it certainly does seem like the wall has crumbled. When you look in the news and at the things being considered in legislature and issues in the next election, and you see many areas where righteousness has fallen.

God continues in this verse, "I looked for someone to stand in the gap of the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land..." There is a breech and God was looking for someone to enter that broken space and stand for truth. Am I ready to do that for my nation? Am I ready to stand up and be counted for righteousness?

Sadly in Ezekiel, God doesn't find someone ready to stand in the gap, and so the consequence is that the land is destroyed. I don't want that to happened to my land. I don't want to face the wrath of God in order to have us repent and bow to Him. I want to learn the lesson now without the dire consequences. Judgement I believe has already started, but will increase as we continue to let the wall be broken. I am challenged to take action.

Now I'm not someone who is very politically active. I'm not someone who likes to get in people's faces with truth. But I do need to take a stand. I need to know what God says is right and live by it. I need to be active and in the gap, and not hiding out in a church pew. I need to know what is happening in my world and speak with a respectful, knowledgeable, voice. I need to love the people around me and show that love through actions. I need to pray for my nation and be humble before God, interceding for the sin of me and my people.

I hope you are encouraged to stand in the gap as well!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Invitation

Although my reading has taken me elsewhere in the Bible, my heart is still stuck back in Isaiah. A new Bible study I've started brought me back to chew on a few verses in Isaiah 55. I couldn't be satisfied with just those few verses and now the chapter has given me much to think about.

I love what I've found here. Isaiah 55:1-3 is the best invitation we could receive. God asks if we're hungry or thirsty. He offers us more than wine or milk or fine food. And he offers it freely. We are to come ready to hear with our ears wide open and he will give us life as we listen. Am I ready to come to him with a listening heart? Do I hunger and thirst for him?

So what will we hear when we come? Vs 3 says we will hear about a never ending covenant. We will hear about unfailing love. We will hear of how he will work in our lives so that He is displayed in power and glory.

Isaiah tells us that God is near and we are to call on him while this offer is good. We are to change our ways. He will forgive us.

So why would God offer this incredible invitation to ones that need to repent, to ones that need to come close to him again? Because Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds that God's ways are not our ways. He doesn't look for the righteous, because there are none! He doesn't look for those that are closest and give them some pointers as to how they can strive better. He offers a way of forgiveness so that He can give what he so greatly desires. So He can give what will bring glory to him.

He reminds us that God's Word is powerful and will accomplish what he desires. (Isaiah 55:10-11) He sends out His Word and it always produces fruit. People will take him up on his offer. People will turn to Him and walk with Him, and they will live in joy and peace.

He reminds us that what was once barren and ruined will be filled with life. What was once sinful and full of death, will by the power of His Word in a heart seeking Him become full of life and fruitful.

That's some invitation! Why would God offer it? Vs 13 gives us a clue to the Invitor's heart. "These events will bring great honor to the Lord's name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love." God does this because of who He is. He offers us this because He is powerful and can do it and because He is love. The result is then honor to His name. Have you taken a look at this invitation recently? Draw near to the Invitor and find life in Him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fearing God's Name

The idea of fearing God's name, his character and reputation, has been buzzing around in my head for awhile. When my ladies' Sunday School class was working through the book of Malachi, we were constantly reading how they had contempt for God's name and did not fear His name. I guess the buzzing began there. I want to understand more of what it means to fear His name and live in a way that demonstrate this understanding.

I haven't had much time to study this area, but the phrases keeps jumping out at me in Scripture, so I know I'll learn more.

These passages for example:
Psalm 25:14 (NLT) The Lord is a friend to those who fear him.
He teaches them his covenant.

Proverbs 1:7 (NLT) Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

Isaiah 33:6 (NLT) In that day he will be your sure foundation,providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge.The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

I do know that to fear His name is not just to respect what I call God, but to revere his character and essence. But the Hebrew and Greek words that are translated fear mean just that....terror and dread of God. So, it's more than just honor and respect. It means to be aware of His awesomeness, His power, His holiness, and to treat him as set apart because of this awareness. It is to not take Him or my relationship with Him lightly. It is also to recognize how much he hates sin and the right he has to be judge.

A believer balances terror and dread of God with God's love which takes away fear. God's love doesn't change that He is still to be feared, but it allows us to approach Him and have confidence in His presence. I've noticed though that most frequently when somoene is in the presence of God, fear is the first response. Over and over again, God has had to say, "Fear not."

But what about the name part of the phrase? A name is what represents someone to the world. It's their history, their personality, their feelings and thoughts represented in a piece of language. I am to fear the totality of God.

So how do I keep a fearful perspective of God? The answer is found in God's Word. Over and over he commands us to fear Him and demonstrates who he is to us. When we meditate on His power, His awesomeness, His beyond us, then we will have fear.

And what does this mean for my day to day life? As I fear God I will obey what he commands. I won't do it because I'm just afraid of being punished, but rather because I recognize His authority, His power, and His rightness.

One more thing, spend some time with Psalm 103. May you be blessed as you fear His name!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Faithful or not?

Judging from the date on my last post I've not been very faithful to blogging. But don't let that make you think that God hasn't been speaking and things haven't been happening. God is oh so faithful, and I'm praying that one of the reasons I haven't been posting is that I've been being faithful to doing what He wants me to do and being faithful to who He wants me to be.

It's also intimidating to start posting when your heart has been on a long journey. How do you share the great depths? Words can't capture it all.

Let me try to start with two areas. First, God has been working in my heart to change an area I'm ministering in. It's so amazing to see how God plants seeds and nurtures them. In the beginning of the summer I was working with some wonderful teenage girls from our church to help them prepare for their roles in teaching Vacation Bible School. I was blown away by their hearts and filled with a great love for them. This love continued to grow when several of them were with me at Girl's camp later this summer. Part of me was really sad though at each time because I rarely have time to visit with them, let alone have deep meaningful conversations. I can't say that I really prayed much about this, except to praise God for the opportunity and question if there could be more. Well, God does have more.

A year or so back some ladies in our church began searching for a way to have a high school girl's Sunday School class. Since then, nothing really seemed to have been happening. Guess, God had other plans, because suddenly I was asked what I thought about teaching such a class. I was so excited by the possibility and after praying, I said I would but only if my existing ministry, the women's Sunday School class had a leader.

At this point, God was also working and preparing another woman's heart. I think he's actually been working on a few hearts, so there wasn't a shortage of willing leaders. It's been so amazing to witness God's hand at work. And encouraging, because as I beginning to launch this class I am humbled by the responsibility and uplifted that God is keenly aware of what needs to happen.

So, pray with me for my girls and our new adventure. I am VERY excited about the opportunity to disciple and learn from these beautiful daughters of God. Also pray for my ladies. I will miss them. God has been very kind to increase our class lately and saturate it with His presence. May they thrive under new leadership and more ladies also join them so that they too can walk in the ways of God and bring Him glory.

Another thing has also been happening that is related to this first area. Remember the posts on my 40 days of prayer? God is continuing to be my patient teacher. Several events have had me flat on my face before Him and have kept my knees trembling so that I had to be in prayer. I love this reminder of dependency on Him. I love the communion and fellowship I've had with Him. And He's challenging me with a relationship with someone who is also needing to experience their own prayer relationship.

I know this is a long post, but let me leave you with this. My morning reading was Habakkuk. It's been my heart's desire to do a deeper study on this, and I will at some point. But this is what I found for now. Habakkuk knows that God's judgement is coming to Judah in the form of the Babylonians. He questions why God would use even more unrighteous people to judge His people. But then comes to the conclusion that God is mighty and glorious. God will use the Babylonians to bring His people back to Him, but the Babylonians will not escape judgement. It's Habakkuk 3:16-19 that held my treasure today. Habakkuk says he will wait patiently for God's judgement on these people. He knows that hard times will befall Judah. Things will not be easy. The consequences of sin are weighty and hard to deal with. But Habakkuk says he will still rejoice in God. God is the God of his salvation and God will enable him to stand in these precarious times, even as a deer is able to scramble on the mountain heights. Even when we're facing consequences to sin, if we honor God in his place as Lord, he will help us endure the consequences. These were some sweet words for me today as I've been walking with someone through a time of hard consequences.

Praise to our God who is faithful, unchanging, gracious, and merciful. May He enable you to stand firm today!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A good reminder

God is god. I am not. God deserves our richest praise and our deepest worship. I'm reminded of this as I continue to read through Isaiah. Hear the words of Isaiah 40 and 43.

Is 40:12-31
Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed out the mountains and the hills?
Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to be his teacher or counselor?
Has the LORD ever needed anyone's advice? Does he need instruction about what is good or what is best?
No, for all the nations of the world are nothing in comparison with him. They are but a drop in the bucket, dust on the scales. He picks up the islands as though they had no weight at all.
All Lebanon's forests do not contain sufficient fuel to consume a sacrifice large enough to honor him. All Lebanon's sacrificial animals would not make an offering worthy of our God.
The nations of the world are as nothing to him. In his eyes they are less than nothing ? mere emptiness and froth.
To whom, then, can we compare God? What image might we find to resemble him?
Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold, overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains?
Or is a poor person's wooden idol better? Can God be compared to an idol that must be placed on a stand so it won't fall down?
Have you never heard or understood? Are you deaf to the words of God, the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant?
It is God who sits above the circle of the earth. The people below must seem to him like grasshoppers! He is the one who spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them.
He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing.
They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and their work withers. The wind carries them off like straw.
"To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?" asks the Holy One.
Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out one after another, calling each by its name. And he counts them to see that none are lost or have strayed away.
O Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case?
Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak.
Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up.
But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

43 Vs. 10 "But you are my witnesses, O Israel!" says the Lord. "You are my servant. You have been chosen to know me, beliee in me and understand that I alone am God. There is not other God- there never has been, and there never will be."
Vs.11 "I, yes I , amd the Lord and there is no other Savior."

43 Vs 13. "From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snactch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done."

May your hearts overflow with love, wonder, and awe at our God.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What highway are you on?

I love the book of Isaiah. Those of you who know me are smiling right now. Yes, she does!

Isaiah 35:8-10 reads,
"And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
fools will never walk there.
Lions will not lurk along its course,
nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.
Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness."

At first when I read verses 8-10 I thought, "I sure like that Highway to Holiness. Where's the nearest on ramp? It sounds like an expressway without any chance of going the wrong way. Sure sounds better than the winding country back roads I sometimes find myself on as I try to make the right decisions and do the right thing. In fact, it sounds like a super easy way to travel."

But then I did some rereading and thinking. I know this road already. The road he's talking about is Christ! Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." AND this is what He was talking about. He is our way to holiness. I know that in ancient times a highway was a wonderful thing. It lifted a traveler out of the rough terrain and gave him a smooth path. Jesus does the same for me. He lifts me up and sets my feet on a smooth place. It's a path only for those that are pure in heart. Those that have decided to pursue righteousness. It's only for those that have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. And those traveling this highway do not have to worry about dangers. I have The Way. I don't need an easier way. What blessing! What joy!

Did you see where this road takes us? It's a celebration like no other! A worship celebration I believe. Those who travel this road will come to worship the One who redeemed them. These verses are prefaced with a chapter in which Isaiah shares how God will pour his wrath out on the nations. But the chapter that these verses are found in speaks of hope for the nation of Israel. God will provide deliverance! Those that are weak will be made strong. Those that are blind will see. Those that are deaf will hear. Those that are lame will walk. He will restore. And don't you just smile as you see that Jesus is the ultimate reality of this restoration! We'll be worshipping Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life! All that was before, will be replaced with joy and gladness.

So, what about you. What highway are you on? Are your pursuing holiness? Are you walking with the Holy one? Praise the One who leads us to holiness and may we proclaim Him afresh in the lives of those we pass on our earthly byways and highways.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The journey, the silence, and the return

It sure is hard to restart the blog when one has been gone for so long. I even find myself thinking, "Why should I start writing again? Does what I have to say matter to anyone?" I'm not sure about the answer to that question, but I do know that God challenges me through the writing of this blog, so I'm sitting down and starting to type. I hope you're glad to sit with me.

A month has passed since my last post. Two and a half months or so ago I began a journey to pray and to learn more about prayer. The journey was filled with "interruptions", and I felt much more like a wandering Israelite than a woman with a purpose. Then came more interruptions as God took me to girl's camp and then to time with family. Those times were filled with stumbling, with learning, and growth.

For one, I learned that I'm not the answer to every problem. Imagine that! I began to see that lesson in an experience with a tent on the first day of precamp. A group of people that I'd never worked with before and who I thought seemed to have clicked in some way I'd missed and I were to put up screen tents. The challenge...no instructions and not sure if we have all the parts. I wanted to get in an act, but I quickly discovered I didn't know what to do. Finally someone took charge. I wonder why it was finally....was I the stumbling block? By the time the tent was up I was aware that I was going to be learning some big lessons at camp this year. There's a reason we're part of a body. And over the rest of camp I was aware of that more and more! Aren't you glad you're part of a body of believers, each with the talents and gifts that we need to support each other?

Secondly, I've learned (been reminded) that I have a wonderful family. I love my husband and look forward to time with him. With all the busyness we've had good times and not so good. But I love him and seek God to continue to mold me to be the wife he needs me to be. I also have been reminded that I have a great mother-in-law. Mom came and watched Ethan during the week of camp. And then we spent another week or so with Mom and Dad at their home. All that time to visit was a treat. I love seeing her with Little Man. And it filled a longing I have to chat with a mom over coffee on the front porch. I am blessed. May you also be reminded that those we so easily take for granted are dear treasures.

Third, I was made aware how easily I can fall away and mess things up. I learned the truth of Psalm 14:2-3, hence why I'm now memorizing it. "The Lord looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one." I was really hit by the part that says..."No one seeks God". Without my built in safe guards and habits, I really struggled to have quality time with God and to live in Him. I don't like who I am without God having control. AND I pondered what I'd be like if I didn't know Him at all. Thank you for your amazing grace, Lord. I am so unworthy!

So, now I'm back. I still may find blogging a challenge for this season, but I'm looking forward to seeing where God takes us.

Oh, and while away, I stumbled on a blog that I've really enjoyed visiting.
holy experience
I've still been learning about prayer, this post in particular spoke to me. May we all take time to tear down the idols in our lives and worship our God.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 42....

I know I thought this was a 40 day journey. Seems like I have much more to learn about prayer. The purpose of this block of time was to focus in prayer and study Scripture to learn more about prayer. I must confess life has been happening all around me and interupting the process quite a bit. It's not bad stuff. In fact much of it is ministry in one shape or another, but still, it's been hard to go deeper in this area. So, I'm going to continue on. There's more I want to learn.

But these are some of the highlights, so far:

I've captured some wonderful Scripture in my heart. I love Psalm 27:8, "My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” What a wonderful sweet invitation God gives us!

Prayer occurs in so many ways and on so many levels. I do pray! I may not sit alone for hours or have a perfect process, but that's okay. I'm learning. I'm growing. Prayer is about me and God dealing with Him, my life, those I know, and those I don't know. It's about worship, adoration, communication, trust, supplication, and intercession.

Prayer is a mystery. Somehow my talking with God matters! It makes a difference. God's ways are perfect and holy, but somehow he leaves space for me to join Him in things as I pray.

So, I will stop counting down the days, but I will continue to be praying. The next month will continue to be a "little" busy. I'm currently preparing to help with a week long girls camp. Then there's the actual week of camp, followed by a visit with family. I'm looking forward to some regular posts and sharing more deeply from the my heart. But until then....I'll be praying.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 32-Wandering

I've ended up wandering in the wilderness. I came here to pray, but somehow I've been wandering. I came here with a destination in mind, but that's not where I seem to be heading. But that doesn't meant this wandering doesn't have purpose. I just want God to work out His perfect purpose in me.

These days are busy. It's hard to find time to quiet myself. This week is our church's VBS program. Not having the morning really eats into my day. I also seem to have the "I can't say No" disease. So, I end up doing more.

These days are rainy. I know much of the country has had severe heat, but in these parts we're living in a cloudy, gray soup. The "solar powered" me is really struggling. It affects my attitude, my motivation, my perceptions. Every day I wake up and feel the humidity and see the gray. I know we are to give thanks in all things, but this is hard. It's hard, because I really prayed in faith that we would have nice weather this week. God seems quiet on the issue. I keep looking for the why behind the rain and clouds, but I don't see it. Guess that's were faith continues to kick in and I trust the Sovereign hand of my God.

So, all that to say, that I haven't been taking as much time to study about prayer in His Word. I have some thoughts and some things I want to mull on, but I need more quiet time and less of a mushy brain. (You know it's bad when you ask your husband how someone was using a lap top outside at VBS, because there wasn't any electricity. Duh.....battery???)

I have been doing some reading, though from other books. Some challenging reading at times. I want to process more of this.

I have been praying some. Prayers for the weather. Prayers for the kids at VBS. Prayers for the team at VBS. Prayers for the great group of girls I'm working with. Prayers for me to respond well to things at home. Prayers to love my husband more and show it more. Prayers to lead Ethan. Prayers that God would speak to me and encourage me. Prayers for guidance and wisdom. But all these prayers seem more like noise and static.

I know God is working. I know His work is good. So, I claim the words of Jeremiah 29:12-14. "In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you," says the Lord." I'm looking for you, God. Please show yourself to me.

How are you seeing God at work? I want to hear how God is working in your life. It would do my heart good to have somethings to rejoice over!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Words I can identify with....

From Prayer:Finding the Heart's True Home by Richard Foster.

My Lord and my God, listning is hard for me. I do not exactly mean hard, for I understand that this is a matter of receiving rather than trying. What I mean is that I am so action orientied, so product driven, that doing is easier for me than being. I need your help if I am to be still and listen. I would like to try. I would like to learn how to sink down into the light of your presence until I can become comfortable in that posture. Help me to try now. Thank you. Amen.

Day 23-Discipline and Stumblings

It's day 23 of my 40 Days of Prayer Journey, which is designed to be a time to pray and learn more about prayer. This journey hasn't been easy, but that doesn't mean I'm not learning. I understand even more why they call prayer a discipline. It doesn't just happen. It takes discipline, which is an interesting tension. It takes discipline to sit down and stop rushing. It takes discipline to put aside the to do list and the facade. It takes discipline to stop yapping and listen to God. BUT the actual communion of prayer is not something I can control nor create. I must prepare myself, but only God can really open the door and let me into His fellowship. I can seek, but only He can reveal.

The journey isn't going as I expected it would. I thought I'd be getting better at praying. I thought I'd be able to set myself apart from distractions, be all excited about meeting with God, and hear His voice in new and fresh ways. That isn't happening. I'm stumbling. I'm seeing more and more of my shortcomings. The to do list keeps calling me. I keep turning away from quiet time to almost anything else. I mumble my requests to God, but don't pursue Him with them like I know I can. I hurry through the motions. I easily turn from praying to read about praying. I'm not participating like I thought I would want to. Why is that?

I feel like I'm knocking at the door, but I don't really have any clue what I'm asking. Like the disciples who wanted to sit at Jesus' right hand, I want to "commune and fellowship" with God because well, it sounds exactly like something I should be doing, but do I really know what that's about? I come to Him so casually, and I can because He has welcomed me through His Son's sacrifice, but do I realize who He really is? And if I did, would I be doing this all differently?

Instead of having questions answered and being closer to God, I feel like I'm finding more questions and stumbling in my approach to Him. What can you share with me about prayer? How do you set aside distractions or use them to help you? How do you get real with God? How do you discipline yourself to pray?

Lord, I want to fellowship with you. Really, I do. Forgive me for not giving this my all, like I know I should do. Forgive me for filling my time with you with doing things for you. Change my heart. Help me to put aside these things for the treasure of finding you. You are God. You decide what to share with me and what to keep secret. Show me how to pray. Show me how to live. Thank you for putting a desire in my heart to know you and to pray, because I know that desire is of you. Let it grow and become stronger. Help me to overcome the distractions or to pass through them to find you in them. Show me the way. Thank you for hearing me, for loving me, for inviting me to you. I am unworthy, but oh so grateful. I love you, God.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Dad

I love my Dad.

Do you ever struggle though to really communicate what you feel to those you love most? I do. I tell my Dad I love him, but that doesn't seem to really communicate the scope of what that means.

I love him. I respect him. I think he's the greatest. I'm so glad God gave him to ME. I cherish him, and probably more so because of not having Mom here anymore. I'm proud to be his daughter. I appreciate the memories he gave me, the values he taught me, and the model he is for me.

No gift I can purchase seems to say all that. So, in a small way, I write this for you, Dad. May you truly see my heart and know what I mean when I say I love you.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 18- The need for solitude

It's day 18 of my 40 Days. The goal of these 40 days is for me pray and learn more about prayer. I so desire this to be a time of growth and change! Old habits though are hard to change and good things have been happening around here. Birthday celebrations and time with my husband have been wonderful, but I haven't been focusing as I'd like to.

I knew when I began this that I wasn't going to withdraw into the "wilderness" for these 40 days, but I have a good idea why Jesus did. I'm reminded by this as I look at the Gospels and see Jesus often withdrawing to pray. I see him getting up very early. I never see Him hurrying so that He has time to pray. I never see Him trying to wash his clothes and pray. I never see Him chasing someone away so that He can pray. He just makes it happen. And I'm thinking it's because of that prayer time that other things fall into place.

I'm pondering what I need to do to find that same solitude. Do I need to get up earlier? Do I need to just stick to priorities and say no. I'm reminded by Richard J. Foster that prayer is all about relationship. It's not the fruit of my efforts. That won't be very lasting or good. I want God to look in my heart and show me what to do. I know I have committed to things and seem to take on more committments so easily. These things are good, but they take up time. And they draw me away from the solitude I also need to try to find.

I feel a lot like I'm trying to meet with God, but I've brought along the Verizon network as seen in TV commercials. It's hard to have intimate time with God with so many lurking around!

SO, Lord, show me toay what I need to change. Help me. I can't do this in my own strength. Reach down and declutter my heart. Quiet me. Show me how to draw away and meet with you. It truly is the desire of my heart.

What about you? Are you being still? Are you finding the quiet places to meet with Him? I pray you are. And if you have some suggestions for making solitude in a busy world, please share!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Day 12- Psalm 27

I'm learning things on this 40 day journey.

I'm realizing again and again how difficult it is for me to be still. I'd so much rather being doing. Which also reflects my attitude toward God...It's easier to "do things" than to be in relationship with Him. ARGH!

This is probably why Psalm 27 spoke loud and clear to me when I came across it. David's Psalm has a familiar beginning, "The Lord is my light and my salvation- so why should I be afraid. The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?" David makes a request a few verses later that I find my heart also wanting to make. "The one thing I ask of the Lord- the think I seek most- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfection and meditating in his Temple." Now we know from what David has written in the surrounding verses that he's not exactly in a peaceful place in life. People are attacking him. He's facing trouble. He desires to be very close to God, but probably circumstances are making it difficult. He would love to have endless time to focus on God and know Him. It's that feeling that I can identify with. Instead of the endless interruptions or demands on time, I long to be in a place of solitude, God's home, where it can just be the two of us.

I think it may be the very think God's inviting us to in verse 8. "My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me." And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming." That's a great picture of prayer. God wants us to come and talk with Him. To BE with Him. To share our hearts with Him.

How often though I find that I'm the one that lets that time be interrupted. I'm the one that is my own worst enemy. My prayer today is found in part of verse 11. "Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path..."

May He be leading you also!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 9- Solomon's Prayer

Even though I wasn't totally focused on prayer while we were away, I did sneak in a little study time and found a few nuggets in Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple. It's found in 1 Kings 8:22-53 and 2 Chronicles 6:12-42.

There are two things that stuck out in my mind in this prayer. One is that Solomon was very concerned about God hearing the people. He seemed to take it for granted that God's people would mess up. He wanted to be sure that IF the people turned their hearts to God, God would listen to them. I love his words in 1 Kings 8:30, "May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive." Sometimes prayer is all about our hearts returning to God. Sin gets in the way and keeps us from knowing God. Sin breaks fellowship. Prayer reconnects us. But it's not just the words we say, it's our attitude. Our humbleness and our earnestness are important. When I come to God, how do I come? Do I seek forgiveness and restore the connection with Him? Do I come humbly and earnestly? Do I take into account the majesty of God- His holiness, His grandeur?

The second thing that struck me is connected to that last question. The prayers of the people are directed to the temple. Why is that? Surely the temple was a visual reminder to the people of God's holiness and awesomeness. Praying toward the temple was a reminder of the wonder of a God who would stoop down to a spot on earth and listen to His people. And that very same God is the One who bends down to hear me when I pray. God is truly amazing! May He find my heart humble, earnest, and reverent as I seek Him in prayer.

Hills and Valleys

The wilderness isn't flat is it?

I knew when I began this 40 day journey that it would have challenges, especiallly since our family would be taking a trip to visit other family. It's hard to take time away when you're trying to catch up with everyone in a limited amount of time. We had a wonderful visit and were greatly blessed, but as for time to really focus on prayer, well, let's just say, I'm really thankful for the solitude today as I begin this day back home.

But there was a hill in my time away. Normally I really stress out about traveling. I want to leave early and arrive early. It used to be an 8 hour trip before Little Man arrived, and now it's more like 9 or 10 hours. I am impatient and not so nice as I try to get everything done so we can leave early. I knew Dear Husband was working hard and would probably have work to complete before we could leave on Thursday. Sure, enough that happened. We didn't get away until almost lunch time. Normally that would have been a huge curve ball for me to take. But God was so gracious and adjusted my heart and mind so that it really wasn't an issue. I am grateful for His power which allows me to do things that aren't typical of my nature. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect, I blew it in the patience area at another time, but for one instance, I saw His work on my heart and was happy about the progress! Prayer changes us. I want to be changed even more!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 3- Hannah's Prayer

If you are stopping by for the first time, let me welcome you on my adventure with God and 40 Days of Prayer. I've dedicated this time to pray (asking God to help me understand more about prayer and to lift up my local church body) and to study prayer in His Word.

It has been good to focus these past 3 days. I rejoice in the time. And there has been plenty to talk to God about and listen for! I am grateful for this season of prayer as well as the budding summer season outdoors. I've learned that it's much easier for me to still myself when I'm feeling the breeze and watching the trees dance. Why is it so much easier for me to talk to God when I'm outside and looking at this creation? Do you find there's a "prayer" place that works best for you?

Besides learning about things that help me to focus, I'm starting to explore God's Word for what He says on the matter. Of course, a study on prayer has to include looking at Hannah and her prayer found in 1 Samuel 1.


Prayer can be emotional. Hannah was pouring her heart out to God. I love that description. In this case the pouring out wasn't a dribble and drop, it was a flood. God can handle my emotions. Prayer won't always be emotional, but when it is, I don't have to be afraid or ashamed.

Prayer and faith go hand in hand. Eli told Hannah to go in peace and gave her the blessing of "May the GOd of Israel grant you the request you have asked of him." It wasn't exactly a promise, but Hannah reached out in faith and walked in a changed way. After thanking Eli, she returned to her husband, ate, and was no longer sad. When I pray, do I leave it with God and walk in faith...not by my feelings or by the rules of the situations, but do I go with confidence that God hears my prayer and is sustaining me?

God bless you on your journey.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day One

There's a sense of adventure in the air and a renewed enthusiasm in my soul. What will the next 40 days bring? I hope I am different from who I am today and more like Jesus when I look back to this day 40 days from now.

This afternoon I put Little Man down for his nap and then went out to the deck for some time to pray. After days of not really seeing the sun, it was nice to sit there and bask in it, just as I'm seeking to bask in His presence. It was a good time. A focused time. Of course, the "to do" list wasn't far from my brain, but at least I remembered a key thing. For these 40 days I must be intentional about putting Little Man down for a nap and not rushing in on the "to do" list. Yes, there is plenty to do, but I need to have some time to be still, to listen, to share with God first. I certainly feel my "to do" list is more ordered having had that time today.

I also began setting up things to explore prayer in the Scripture. The organizer in me needs to get a graphic organizer set up to record what I find. I'll hopefully share some nuggets with you in the days ahead.

I do have one quote for you to welcome you on your journey:

"Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of the spiritual life. It is orginial reserach in an unexplored territory." Richard Foster

And one more thought:

God bless!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Getting Serious and Getting On My Knees

I don't want this to be a post based on emotions. I don't want to respond to a whim and do something just for the sake of doing it. I cringe at this. I'm wrestling even with sharing the ideas in this post, because I'm not sure what will happen in the days ahead.

But I do want to obey and I do want to be closer to my God. And so I think it's time to get serious. For a long time I've known that prayer is a weakness in me. It's something I don't really understand. It's a part of my relationship with God that I do, but not as I think it's meant to be done. I think I'm missing the depth and richness that should be there and settling for something less. I don't want that. In John Tadlock's book, When It's Rush Hour All Day Long, he relates a story about a boy who goes to see a circus. He's never seen one before, and is very excited by the parade of animals and clowns. In fact, he's elated and estatic. After the traditional circus parade, he hands the last clown the money his father gave him for the circus and leaves. He went home thinking he'd seen the circus when he'd only seen the parade. Hmmm...how often do I leave God's presence thinking I've prayed, when I've only had a taste of what he means for me to experience?

So, what will I do? I don't want to start a program or walk through a bunch of legalistic steps without meaning. I don't want to add more to my plate or make an artificial schedule. But I do want prayer to be a focus in my life. I want to pursue God in this area and ask Him to relentlessly pursue me. (Even if that really scares me!) I know it's all got to be about relationship.

This morning during church something struck me on this topic. Our pastor preached a great sermon based on Mark 4:35-41. And God was speaking to me about the points Pastor was making, but you know how it is. Your mind drifts a bit to other things and somehow God might also speak to you about those things. Sure enough, in the midst of thinking about storms, the people who make up our church, and prayer, God seemed to suggest that I get serious about prayer by taking some time away. Suddenly out of nowhere, the idea came that I should focus on prayer for the next 40 days. Just as Jesus withdrew to the wilderness for 40 days, just as God sustained Elijah for 40 days, just as Noah was in the ark 40 days, He seemed to invite me to spend 40 days with Him and prayer. I get the sense that I'm to study about prayer and also pray during this time.

Now I'm not going off to the wilderness, and life with Little Man and Dear Husband isn't going to change and allow me to have HOURS of quiet time. So, I'm not sure how things will change. BUT I do know that I am going to be investigating prayer. I'm going to search Scripture and seek to hear what God has to say to me about prayer. I'm going to pray for two things during this time. One, I'm going to pray that God would change my relationship with Him and teach me about relating to Him by being and not by doing. Second, I'm going to be praying for my church family.

I didn't get the sense though that I was to be totally alone in this venture. So, I invite you to also begin a 40 day journey with God. Is there something you need to focus on in prayer for a season? Do you also struggle with prayer and want to learn more? I hope sharing about our 40 days will be a source of accountability and encouragement.

Well, I better start packing for the next 40 days. Do you think I should bring along some knee-pads?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Where did she go?

I'm still here. I'm still pondering. I'm still following. Just been a bit too busy to sit and blog. I've missed the processing that happens when I sit down and write. Some rainy days and moving blogging up to a higher priority on the "to do" list has brought me here this afternoon.

So what's all the "busy"ness been about? Mostly good things. Working on things for Vacation Bible School,
getting ready for a visit from family,
and putting together a new garden area.
Plus, making time for relationships, being wtih Dear Husband, caring for Little Man, and keeping our home in order. Needless to say I think I'll be tackling spring cleaning clear up to winter, but that's okay. I've enjoyed having things to do, especially the physical work of breaking sod and hauling dirt. (Yeah, I've got my farmer's daughter muscles again!)

During this stretch of "busy"ness though, I have had some things gnawing at me. First of all, I've found it harder to sit with God when quiet time seems to be needed to fill by many demands. I've not looked forward to meeting with Him the same way, and I want to rekindle that feeling. I've not taken as much time to listen, and wonder what joys I've missed. I've not savored His Word and counted all the richness that is there. I still wrestle greatly with taking time to focus in prayer. And so I know I need to make some adjustments before my whole world is out of alignment.

Second, God's been trying to speak to me about something. Our Women's Ministry group gave all the moms at church a book called "When It's Rush Hour All Day Long" for Mother's Day. The book ended up falling out of my bag and hiding in a door pocket in our car. It wasn't until a friend of Little Man's found it one day that I realized what had happened. I carried it into the house and opened it up one night after a busy day. I was struck by the topic of hurry-sickness that is addressed by this book and am working my way through it's pages with that peculiar feeling that someone is writing about someone I know very well.

The book, along with Psalm 39:6, a verse I encountered this morning, has made me pause a bit to ask some questions. "We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing." So, what am I so busy doing? AND more importantly why am I doing it? I'm not sure I like the answers. I'm busy often doing things that seem to be fine. Taking care of my family. Helping others in my church. But the why that I'm doing some of it doesn't make those things look as good. I'm often busy doing because I want approval. My dad's recent visit was an eye-opener in this area. My dad is a wonderful dad. (I'm sure you'll read more about him come Father's Day.) I've always had his approval. But I've also always wanted it and worked to get it. This past year my husband and I moved and this was the first time my Dad would be coming to see our new home. I was busy doing for days, trying to get things extra special. Why did I push myself so hard? Why did I sacrifice time with important things for this? I wanted approval. And I see that in a lot of things recently.

The thing that gets me, is that I know what I need most is God's approval. AND I know I have that. I know it in my head. I know that I'm loved. I know that I'm loved not for what I do, or how I act, or anything else. I'm loved because that's God's nature. I'm loved because He is love. But I'm struggling to really understand that somewhere in my heart and then to live from that. Maybe that's why I've been also struggling to memorize Ephesians 3:18-19, my memory verse challenge verses for this half of the month. "And may you have the power to understand as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is to great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God." And after writing that down for you all, I guess I'm seeing that what I'm seeking to understand really isn't that easy to understand, at least not without God's power.

So now that you've caugt up on things with me, how are you? What have you been busy doing? Is busyness a battle in your life? And do you REALLY understand how much you are loved? Keep pressing on!

Friday, May 8, 2009

She Taught Me That

As I've walked another year down the path of motherhood, I 've realized so much more the valuable lessons that my Mom modeled for me.

I get up before Little Man and begin to order the day. She taught me that.

I make time to read God's Word and talk to my Father before much else happens in the day. She taught me that.

I make breakfast for Dear Husband and Little Man and serve them with a heart of love. She taught me that.

If Dear Husband is going to work in the morning, Little Man and I send him off with hugs and kisses and go to the window to wave him a sendoff. I whisper a prayer for his day. She taught me that.

I work on a daily task to manage the home, whether it be doing a load of wash on a certain day of the week, dusting on Wednesdays, or quickly mopping the floor during a seemingly "free" moment. She taught me that.

I take time to talk and play with Little Man and value the time we have together, because we're not always sure what tomorrow may hold. She taught me that.

I make lunch and serve it and try my best to keep what we eat interesting and use our money in a responsible way. She taught me that.

I take a break in the afternoon (on most days) while Little Man is sleeping, because although my job is to serve my family, I won't be very good at it over a long time if I don't take time to renew myself. She taught me that.

I putter around at tasks like gardening and working in flower beds, or doing other projects during the winter months when I can't be outside, because these things can be a blessing in many ways. It may produce food for the table, an atmosphere of well-being, or a gift that encourages and shares love. She taught me that.

I bake special things for family, friends, and needs because there's nothing like home-cooked food. She taught me that.

I serve my church family in ways that I sense God is leading. Whether it be cleaning the church, teaching children, or walking alongside other women in the church, I try to be faithful. She taught me that.

I wrap up a day with bath time, snack time, and bed time books, songs, and prayers. I put my Little Man to bed with love and prayer. She taught me that.

I clean up the house before going to bed. I do what I may not want to most do, but should do. She taught me that.

My Mom taught me this and much more. She taught by example. There are things in her example that I am not good at yet and want to learn. I want to learn more how to respect and support Dear Husband and the challenges he faces and dreams he has. I want to have more of an attitude of gentleness and quietness and contentment. I want to give with a selfless love. I want to control my emotions. I want to pray faithfully. I want to see what I have as it truly is, God's, and give liberally. I want to mother my children so that they can stand firm in the Lord. I want to walk in obedience and trust that God will use me if I'm following Him.

How thankful I am for my Mom and how much I miss her. My mom passed away almost 5 years ago. For some reason this Mother's Day the loss seems fresher and the sorrow stronger. I know very well that she is in glory, but that doesn't stop wanting to have her share in my experiences here. I'm grateful for all that God gave us while we were together. It's just that I want more.

So, hug your Mom today. Tell her now how much she means to you. And if you are a Mom keep striving to be a woman after God's own heart. (Remember there are many who have never experienced physical labor and yet are working on true labors of love in their spiritual daughters!) I know that I'm counting on God to make me the Mom my Little Man needs.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

National Day of Prayer

My heart strings have been tug a lot recently, even though I've not been posting anything. Maybe it's because I'm now a Mom with a little one that will be making his way through this world, or maybe I'm just at a different place in my walk with the Lord, but today National Day of Prayer is tugging at my heart. I'd like to share a clip that I found over at Your Word Is Life, a thoughtful blog that I keep an eye turned to often.

May we all find time today, privately and coorporately, to lift our hearts and our nation in prayer before our great, awesome, gracious, and merciful King.

Friday, May 1, 2009

To everything there is a season...

A time to blog and a time not to blog.

I guess that's not really how Scripture reads, but it's still in the spirit of truth. Seasons have definitely changed in our household this week, hence the lack of time on the computer. There are so many wonderful things to do in a world that is waking up to spring!

Actually, I'm feeling a big stretch in my life. I'm trying to get the "normal" household things done, plus add in some spring cleaning. (Just what I love to do in my spare time!) Of course all of that is punctuated with interruptions from Little Man who thinks he can be my best helper or wants me to play outside with him. Then there's the book things, like trying to keep up with Bible Study, prepare for Wednesday night activities with the kids, and prepare for Sunday School. It's all good and exciting, but most of it requires time when Little Man isn't around, so that's saved for precious nap/sleep moments. Then there's planning for VBS decorations which had to hit a priority this week since we're having a work session on Sunday. AND like I alluded to in the opening of this post, there's also the wonderful thoughts of what to do in the flowerbeds and garden and the casting glances at the quickly growing lawn and wondering when I need to start mowing. Oh...and did I mention spending any time with Dear Husband? Yes, that's the problem, too. It always seems to go to the bottom of the list, which isn't where it should be at all!

So, after praying and pondering, I know that things need to fall into place and have to give. That means that although I'd love to grow this blog and develop it more, that's not what will happen at this season. That's okay. The purpose of the blog is for God to use it, but the temptation of the blog is to make it all about me and to satisfy my desire for attention. Maybe this "busy"ness is divine intervention---a way to keep me from getting priorities out of whack and raising up idols that have no business to be.

I share all this to simply say that my posting may not increase in amount or quality, but that I'll still be seeking to follow after Him and will be sharing as I can along the way. I pray that you will be doing the same!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When it's all been said and done

Lord, you have so richly blessed me. My cup is overflowing. I am so unworthy. From the magnitude of what you've done to me, to the daily provisions and care for my needs, it overwhelms me. Thank you especially for the sweetness of loved ones in my life. Thank you for my dear husband, who 9 years ago today took a risk and asked me to be his wife. Thank you for his patience, for his love, for his commitment.

Thank you for Little Man, who daily brings joy and new lessons. How wonderful to have special Happy Birthday kisses today and feel his little arms wrapped around my neck. What a joy to see him smile and thrive under the loving attention of so many dear ones in our life!

Thank you for family, for those that are miles away, but close in heart. Thank you for their words and for the times that we have to savor our company with each other. Thank you for the example they give of lives well lived.

Thank you for friends who are family living here with us. Thank you for their open hearts and acceptance. Thank you for the layers of our friendship, for work, for study, and for play, which all seem to keep us bound close together.

Thank you for a church body to worship with and serve with. Thank you for them being real and letting me be real, too.

Thank you for a day filled with simple things...good things. Thank you, dearest Lord for the contentment of this season. And may my heart sing your praises when I'm feeling sunshine like today or when I'm feeling the biting rain of a storm tomorrow. May my life testify to your goodness!

Heard this song today and thought it expressed my birthday wish perfectly!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's it all about?

Sometimes I think life is all about me. I mean God redeemed me. God saved me. God loves me. You have similar thoughts don't you? Like any good parent, God is focused on his children, right?

God has been revealing a bit more to me of what it's all about. Recently I'd been working on memorizing Ephesians 2:6-7. (Been slow going since life seems to be full of LIFE and not a lot of down time!) In the NLT it reads, "For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus." Isn't that a cool picture? God wants to point to us and say, "You want to know about me. Well, here, take a look at them. Just look at how rich I am in grace and kindness. Look at what I've done for them. This is who I AM.

I am reminded me of another passage that I love. Isaiah 61:3 tells us that "In their rightousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory." I actually like the wording in the NIV best, "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.."

Doesn't that make you stand up straighter and dust the dirt off your pants (or straigthen your skirt)? I am a display of God's grace, kindness, and splendor. That doesn't mean I'm wonderful and worthy of it, but it means instead that because of it I am wonderful and found worthy!

As God points to you, what are you revealing about Him? Is His work evident in you? Are you living daily knowing that you are a display of who He is to those around you? God wants to point to you and say, "Yep. This is an example of the kind of work I do. If I do say so myself, it's the best there is around." (And God really can boast that, can't He?)

Be sure to check out other posts or join the reading at DeeDee's I Have No Greater Joy.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Sweet Moments

After writing the previous post, I've been doing a lot of thinking about Little Man and raising him to be a man after God's own heart. Even though he's young, two months shy of two years old, I know there are things we can do to help soften his heart and prepare it to receive God's work in his life. For several months he has joined us in praying at meal time by holding our hands. I've noticed recently that he often bows his head. May our time to thank God for what He has given us and remind ourselves that ALL we have is His already mold his heart!

Then, I began to think about my quiet time and how possibly Ethan could have a time of study as well. We've had three quiet times this week, and oh how sweet they have been to this mother's soul. There are tears in my eyes as I write this. I LOVE teaching, and I LOVE my son, but the two together well...it's pretty close to heaven as I can imgaine on this side of things!

So, what does quiet time with an almost two year old look like for us? Ethan and I go to the window seat where I actually have my own quiet time. When we bought our house last August, I knew right away that this was going to be a special place for me! Ethan loves sitting up on the seat on a pillow. We've put his baby Bible and a small index card box in a basket nearby.

Today we started with a prayer that God would help us hear what He wants to say to us. Then we read from about Daniel in his Bible and talked about the story. Little Man liked roaring like the lion! I have chosen Daniel 6:26 as memory verse that we'll probably use for a month, and I read it to him and we talked about God being a living God. Then we thanked God for being a live and strong God. We closed our time by singing "What a Mighty God We Serve". Little Man is a good clapper! These moments truly were sweet moments!

Twice a week I would like for us to pray for people in Little Man's life. I've collected pictures and yesterday we went through the pictures and I said a sentence prayer for each picture. Eventually I want him to make up the sentences.

I'm so excited about this special time we've had. My prayer is that this time lays a foundation for what Little Man can later do independently and that God will also use this to prepare his little heart.

Thanks to those of you who shared what you do to train up your own children. May you be encouraged as you keep on this path!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The next generation

I've just begun reading the book of Judges. As I began today, there was something waiting for me to think on.

In chapter 2 we read again of the death of Joshua, which is also recorded at the end of the book of Joshua. The land has been divided, but not all of it is conquered fully. There's still work to be done! And in chapter 1 we read that the Israelites are settling down. Some of the tribes are choosing to make the inhabitants slaves, but others are settling down with the people they should be driving out. in.

Judges 2:10-23 is what really caught my eye. Verse 10 says, "After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel." Now my thinking mind wants to spend some time digging. A generation? What does that mean? You mean to say that in ONE generation, they forgot? They didn't feel the impact of what God had done to deliver them and give them victory at such places as Jericho and Ai? (I'll be digging and let you know what I find.) But then I thought more. Hmmmm...think about the lessons my grandparents learned during the experiences of the Great Depression and World War II? They were life changing. But, did my parents, the next generation, have the same mindset? No. They were affected by what the previous generation experienced, but it didn't burn deep in their hearts the same way. So, it is possible to have the distance of one generation already cool the flames of devotion.

It's verses 11-12 that make me sad though. "The Israelites did evil in the Lord's sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshipping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord." Already, they turned away. They worshipped others.

I thought for a bit about why they worshipped other gods. The answer is found in the passage. They worshipped the gods of the people around them. Because one generation hadn't fully obeyed God, the next generation found a stumbling block. God had told the first generation to completely wipe out the inhabitants. He didn't let Joshua, his faithful servant, do all the work, but rather gave the people the choice to follow on their own. In vs 22 it says that God did this as a test. He wanted to see if they would follow Him in complete obedience. And because they didn't, because they chose their own ways, sin crept in, and a generation abandoned God.

Speaks to us, doesn't it? Little things are important. Am I seeking to obey FULLY? Am I following in complete obedience? Knowing that future generations are affected by those little things certainly helps me want to obey. How are you in the in the area of obedience?

I also find myself thinking a lot about Little Man and his generation. How do I ingrain faith in our life to help him make it his own in his generation? I'm praying for him. I'm trying to weave godly habits into his day so that it's easier for him. I'm developing a real and vibrant relationship with God that I know will shine in our household. I'm seeking to live in obedience to God. What are you doing to testify to future generations so that they remember the God who has delivered you? (I'd love to have people comment and share the answer to that question.)

God bless you as you follow him in obedience and then raise up the next generation! (AND we all are raising up the next generation whether we have children of our own or not!)

For further looking:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

Since I was thinking of memorable hymns, this also came to mind.

As a child I attended a small country church. Sometimes we had a sunrise service to celebrate Resurrection Sunday. I loved those services! (The breakfast we had afterwards was also a reason to love those services!) My favorite part though was the last hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today- and not because I was eager to wrap up the service, but rather because of the victory it proclaimed. There were only a few of us in those pews, but we sang those verses with great passion and love. I couldn't wait to go see Jesus... and I still can't wait! But until then, I'll be watching, at work doing what I think He's asking me to do, and longing for that day. Oh sweet victory that Christ has brought us! Oh what a wonderful Savior! Oh, what an amazing God!

May your hearts ring with the anthem this Easter day!

Christ the Lord is risen today Alleluia
Sons of men and angels say Alleluia
Raise your joys and triumphs high Alleluia
Sing ye heavens and earth reply Alleluia

Lives again our glorious king Alleluia
Where o death is now thy sting Alleluia
Dying once He all doth save Alleluia
Where thy victory oh grave Alleluia

Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia

Love’s redeeming work is done Alleluia
Fought the fight the battle won Alleluia
Death in vain forbids him rise Alleluia
Christ has opened paradise Alleluia

Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia

Soar we now where Christ has led Alleluia
Following our exalted head Alleluia
Made like Him like Him we rise
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies Alleluia

Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia

Friday, April 10, 2009

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

I've always loved the words to this hymn.

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

I'm so grateful that God uses the arts to help us focus on Him. Whether music, photos, or film, ALL can be used for His glory and to bring attention to Him. May these clips from the Visual Bible also give you cause to worship.

A Holy Hush

This morning I finally had quiet time before the rest of the household was up. What a wonderful time! Even though I may not have had the morning to myself for a while, God has been faithful to meet with me when I have drawn near. I have been so blessed as I’ve been preparing for a special Sunday School lesson this Sunday. As I posted earlier about celebrations, God planted seeds that I should continue to dig deeper and share with my Sunday School class what He has been teaching me. The time studying has made the Easter season so very sweet to me. And so this morning, this Good Friday morning, there’s been a holy hush. I can’t explain why, but the emotions have poured over me this year and worship has just welled from my heart as I’ve contemplated God’s plan of redemption.

As part of my quiet time I thought on Isaiah 52:13- Isaiah 53:12. Isaiah 52:14 tells us, “His face was so disfigured that he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” The description continues in 53:2 by saying that there wasn’t much there that would attract us or make us think that he was the one for us. In fact, he was despised and rejected. The words in vs 3 really got me, “We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care.” Isaiah refers to Jesus as “a man of sorrows”. He also writes that it was our sorrows that weighted him down.

The description of what Jesus encountered for us grieves me and draws out such love for this God of mine. Notice:
He was pierced for our rebellion.
He was crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
He was oppressed and treated harshly.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
He was led away unjustly condemned.
He was struck down.
He was buried like a criminal.

What a price God paid to redeem us! And how willingly he paid that price! Verse 10 and 11 tell us that after Jesus life was made an offering for sin, he would have many descendants and enjoy a long life. He would be satisfied after seeing all that is accomplished.

Our God is amazing and His love so beyond my understanding. I hope you too will take some time for a holy hush to come over you as you think on Jesus’s sacrifice for us.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Chris Tomlin- I Will Rise

A few weeks ago I heard Chris Tomlin's song, "I Will Rise" for the very first time. It struck something deep in my heart. As we prepare to celebrate our Savior's death and resurrection, it seems to be a wonderful anthem for the heart.

There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes

Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise
I will rise

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Don't forget Him...

As I was reading Deuteronomy chapter eight a while back I was struck by something in verse 11. To give you the context, Moses is preparing the people to enter the Promised Land. They've wandered and been disciplined, and now it's time to take what God has long promised. Moses reminds the people that this is a wonderful land; A land that overflows with abundance, and a place where they will be filled. In verse 11 he warns the people, "But that is the time to be careful! (Meaning when they've entered the land and been filled) Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today."

When we feel we've arrived, it's time to get on our knees and remember the One who's delivered us. It's then that we must humble ourselves and remember who we are and who He is. I found myself identifying with this. Life for me right now is in a good place. We're experiencing God's blessing in our life. He's providing in abundance for our physical needs. He's giving us good health in our immediate family and caring for those in the extended family. He's allowing us to enjoy a wonderful home and to fill it with happy memories of our Little Man. He's giving us times with good friends who bring great joy to life. Yes, we have much that could make us forget Him. So, I want to fight desperately to remember and keep things in perspective. Life isn't about me being comfortable or successful, it's about God receiving the glory that is due to His Name. I want to remember and obey.

Where are you in your journey?

Are you back in Egypt, under the control of one who does not own you? Do you need to turn to your Deliverer and follow Him?

Are you wandering in the wilderness? Is God supplying for your needs, building your character, and working to show Himself to you?

Or are you in the promised land? Is God giving you a time of peace and rest with abundance in your life? Do things seem easy and you find yourself assuming that this is the way life always was and always will be?

Regardless of where we are in life, the principle found in verse 11 is important. We must remember who God is and obey Him. We must pursue knowing him and follow him.

Don't forget Him...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesdays Together- Deuteronomy 17:18-20

Sorry for those of you who read this post earlier with its MANY typos....too much in a rush. Ahhh....what a bad example from a former teacher!

While enjoying the Ultimate Blog Party I came across DeeDee's, I Have No Greater Joy Blog. Weekly she hosts a gathering place for us to share "nuggets" from God's Word. What a joy to teach each other and hear the Word. Today I felt led to join in. If you'd like to see her post or others simply click on the button above!

My nugget:

My reading today was in Deuteronomy, and while there I found this.

"When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy these laws on a scroll for himself in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep this copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of this law. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. This will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel." Deuteronomy 17:18-20

These were guidelines for Israel's future king:
The king was to copy the laws in the presence of the priests. He wasn't supposed to have someone make him a copy, or even use the ancient xerox machine. No, he was to write the copy himself. Do you get why? Don't you learn better when you need to copy it by hand? Doesn't it seem to get your attention more? How much of God's Word have I copied? How much do I pay personal attention to what God has given me?

The king must keep this copy with him and read it daily. The Law wasn't supposed to be hidden somewhere or kept in a place where the king had to consult someone else in order to know what it said. He was supposed to have a personal copy and USE it. It wasn't to be kept in a fancy shrine, but rather where the king would have daily access to it. He was supposed to keep it in his mind and on his heart with daily doses. Where's my copy of God's Word? How often do I turn to it?

If the king writes a copy of the Law, keeps it with him and reads it regularly, what will be the result?
He will learn to fear God. God's Word reveals God to us. When we see God as He is, we will be in awe and have a proper respect for him. What's my view of God?

He will obey God.
Obedience isn't because one is afraid of being punished by God, but rather that one loves God and wants to show that He deserves to be Lord and Master. If I have the right view of God I will know that His ways are far better than mine and I should walk in His path. Why do I obey God? Am I obeying Him?

He will have humility. Yes, he is the king and in a place of leadership, but reading God's Law will allow him to keep things in proper perspective. He is who he is because of God's work and not because of any merit he has on his own. How do I view myself in relation to others? Do I keep in mind that I am blessed not because of anything I have done, but rather because God choose to bless me? Do I remember that God loves each and every person with a real and personal love? Do I remember that I am called to serve?

He will keep to the right path. Keeping God's Word in his heart will keep him from taking steps off the path. Even in little ways he will remain on the path. God's Word works in our hearts and produces holiness. The more we are with God, the more we bear His image. The more I know God, the more senstive I am to ways my heart strays from Him. Am I pursuing God's holiness and allowing His Word to change my heart?

If the king was supposed to follow these guidelines, surely they are words that do my heart good as well? May you enjoy time in His Word on a daily basis!

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Wedding- Part 2

Now that we know more about weddings in Jesus day, let's look more at what John 2 has to say. There was a problem at this wedding. They were out of wine. That wasn't good! They were lacking and in great need, because you didn't want to be known as the family that didn't throw a good party! Our pastor used this to make the great connection that we are also in need and have to admit that need. We need Jesus to fix the problem.

What I love is how Jesus goes about fixing the problem!(I have some questions about his response in vs 3, but that's probably just something to investigate another time!) Jesus tells the servants to fill the jars with water. Those jars were used to contain the water for purification. The Old Covenant or Law required that things be purified by washing them in water. It's these jars, that Jesus has filled with water that is then turned to wine. The servants obeyed, but God's power transformed what was there into what was needed. We needed reconciliation to God. We were separated because of sin. AND God provided the way to be reconciled through Jesus blood. Is it really a coincidence that the miracle is water becoming wine, if wine is a symbol of blood? Jesus offered us the New Covenant, and even from his very first miracle he was announcing it!

When the wine is tasted by the master of ceremonies he comments that usually people share the best wine first and then slip in wine of lesser quality. However, at this wedding, the best wine was now being offered. Isn't that just like our God. He gives us good things, like His Law and his teachings, but then He gives us even better things in His Son!

I have one last little nugget to share. In vs 11 it says that the miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. Turning water into wine was a miracle. It would surely get some attention and make us think that this man wasn't like all the others. But if what I've been thinking and writing about has any truth, than Jesus revealed a whole lot more of who he was than just a miracle worker. He truly did reveal his glory as our Groom and our Bride Price.

Don't you love a good wedding?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wedding Thoughts- Part One

On Sunday I had the privilege of witnessing a wedding ceremony during our worship service. (Congratulations Steve and Victoria! May God bless both of you in this covenant!) Our pastor has been preaching a series about Jesus called “One Extraordinary Life”. Our text was John 2, which tells us about a wedding that Jesus attended as a guest. Besides the things I learned from our Pastor, some other things jumped out at me in the text.

The first of these was the phrase, “On the third day.” I've heard those words before. Is there significance here? What else has happened on the third day? When Jesus was telling his disciples about the events that would soon be occurring, he told them that he would be killed and on the third day raised to life (Mt. 16:21). Is there a reason that Jesus first miracle and the beginning of his public ministry also occurs on a third day?

Then I pondered why his first miracle was at a wedding. Was this important? As I thought more, tears formed in my eyes. A wedding? Isn’t Jesus whole ministry really about a wedding? Didn’t Jesus come to find his beloved and bring her to Him? Isn’t a wedding a natural place to start? (I still have questions regarding Jesus’s words in vs. 3, but I think I’ll save that for a little later.)

I wanted to know more about weddings in Jesus’s time, so I did a little digging. (I’m beginning to love digging!) At this time when a man found his beloved, he wrote a marriage covenant. He proposed the Ketubah, or marriage covenant, to his beloved and her father. Included in this proposal was a “bride price”, which was intended to cover the cost of raising his beloved. It also spoke of his love for her. Our Savior paid for us with His own blood. Surely we are precious to Him!

Next, the young man poured a cup of wine. If the beloved accepted the offer, she would drink this cup. The covenant was thought of as a blood covenant. The couple was now betrothed and bound by a covenant that can only be broken by divorce. Jesus has offered us a cup of wine. We find this cup being offered at the Last Supper in Mt. 26:27-28. Jesus said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people.” When Jesus offered this cup he was saying, “Will you marry me?”

At this time the young man gave his beloved gifts and left her. The beloved waited for him to return for her. During this time she prepared herself for that day. The young man was also making preparations. He went to his father’s house and prepared a room in it for his bride. He could only return for his bride when the father approved of his preparations. If someone asked him what day he would be bringing her home, he replied, “Only the father knows.” Are there some tingles in your toes as you read this? Our groom has gone to prepare a place for us. He told us so in John 14:2. Jesus has gone to His Father’s house and is busy preparing a place for us. Can you imagine what He’s up to? And he will return for us. He’ll return when the place is approved by his father. Only the Father knows when that will be, but we can be sure it will happen!

Finally the day came for the groom to bring his bride to his father’s house. The bride and groom went to their room for a honeymoon that lasted seven days. It was at this time that the covenant was consummated. The guests in the house celebrated for those seven days. Talk about a party! At the end of the seven days, the husband and wife would join the guests for a wedding supper. What a time it will be when Jesus returns for His bride!

We'll return back to John 2 and the wedding Jesus was attending in the next post.