Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Trust and obey

I've had the pleasure recently to be studying and teaching my high school girls class the stories of Genesis. What a rich and wonderful time it's been! Scripture has the danger of becoming dull when we become too familiar with the text and glance over it, but when the Holy Spirit fans it into flame in our hearts, how warm and satisfying the glow. I'm blown away by how much is found in just the first four chapters of Genesis. Take a look for yourself and then ask these questions: What does this teach me about God? What does this teach me about man? What does this teach me about sin? How does this apply to me? The rest of the Bible builds and develops the teachings found here. It's all right there in the beginning.

And one of the big things I've been thinking about is the issue of trusting and obeying. God desired that man would trust Him and obey Him. It didn't matter if it made sense or not. God said to eat of all the trees in the garden, but not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We didn't have to know more than that. He asked us to trust and obey.

That same theme keeps popping up in Genesis. Noah is asked to build an ark because God's going to cause it to rain and rain and rain. Doesn't matter that it's not raining now, that it never has rained before, and that Noah doesn't know what rain is. God said to do it. Trust and obey.

Abraham is told to leave his country and go to the country God would give him. Doesn't matter that he doesn't know where this final destination is when he packs up the tents and loads up the camels. God said to do it. Trust and obey.

Abraham is told that God will make him into a great nation and that all the peoples on the earth will be blessed. Doesn't matter that Abraham isn't a spring chicken and he doesn't have an heir. God said it would happen. Trust and obey.

So, what does this mean in your life? What has God told you or not told you that you need to trust and obey Him on? For me, it's that waiting thing from a few posts back. When the answers, "No, not yet." I need to trust and obey. I need to trust His timing. I need to trust His plan. I need to trust that a no IS the best He has planned for me. I need to obey and use the strength of His truth to quiet the doubts and buzz of voices that say it's because I'm not good enough. I need to thank Him for what I do have, not focus on what I don't.

Funny, but also kind of sad, how life for us is still very much dealing with the same issues from in the beginning. May you trust and obey, my friends.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Winter Crud and Spring Cleaning

For those of you who live in the north, you know what March means. Here in Maine we're usually still experiencing snow cover, but it's tired and dreary, the bland white of a pair of sneakers that's seen many miles. This year the snow is losing the fight early, but the crud of winter is still here. The lawn is brown and blah, the trees are bare and dreary, and everywhere there is the remnant of grit. It really gets to me.

Seems like my spiritual life can have the same feel, if I allow it. I can feel blah and bleak. I can feel crummy and dirty. I've been challenged to allow God to do some Spring Cleaning in my soul. I want Him to open up the windows and doors of my heart and let His fresh Spirit stir me anew. I want Him to wash away the layers of crud that build up by being insensitive and selfish. I desire Him to sweep up the debris from brokenness and hardness.

He's doing that. As I spend time in His Word, pray, and rub shoulders with God's people He's at work. There's hope in this spring cleaning and newness of life. I hope you will allow Him to do some seasonal work on your soul as well.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Lessons in the Waiting

How patient are you? What do you do while you are waiting?

Overall, I'm not very good at waiting. I'm patient in some areas. For instance, I'll take a slow cooked homemade recipe any day over a fast food variety. But in other ways, I'm terrible. I think that's why I've always treasured the words of Isaiah 40:31. God knows I'm not good at waiting on Him, but He's so good to work on me in this area and encourage me with His Word.

So recently I've been waiting. And it's obvious that I'm terrible at it. I hate how I deal with this time. My first response is to get frustrated. Then I try to figure out ways to work through the waiting. Then I begin to take it out on others. Of course, somewhere in there I probably shed some tears, too. Much of what I do though is focused on my own strengths and reveal my weaknesses.

So how are we supposed to respond to waiting? God's Word gives us instruction to turn our hearts toward God at this time. Psalm 27:14 encourages to be strong and wait on the Lord. I believe His Word also encourages us to be strong for a reason. Waiting isn't twiddling our thumbs. Instead it's digging hard into the disciplines we may not feel like doing as we wait. We are to continue praying, reading His Word, spending time with Him, serving others in love. These are things, I know, but still find hard to apply.

Recently God slowed me down to examine my heart as I wait. I actually find this time around I am thankful for this time of waiting. I'm thankful, because first, the answer to my prayer has been wait and not no. I guess it's selfish, but it's dear to me that the door isn't slammed shut on my hopes. Then as I thought on this more, God helped lead to me to be thankful for the lessons I might learn while I wait, because you see, the answer could still be no. And if the answer is no, I may gain far more than the if the answer is yes and I don't learn some lessons in the waiting. So, I'm rejoicing that God knows best and is going to do a good work through this time. May I come through this time of waiting being more in the image of my Lord!

And may you also rejoice in what God is teaching you whether through the yeses, nos, or waits of life!

I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Mighty Whisper

This morning as I was reading through my devotions, I was drawn to these words in Job 26:14 (CEV). "We only hear a whisper of him." Job was recounting to his three friends how mighty and awesome God is. Job recognized that God was God. He is the only one who can do things like, "stretch the northern sky over empty space" and "hang the earth on nothing". He is the one "draws the horizon like a circle on the water at the place where light and darkness meet" and makes the "heaven's foundations shake when he thunders at them." And yet at the end of this description of tremendous power Job shares that this is only a small part of God's works. That we only hear a whisper of him. We can't truly comprehend his great power.

We only hear a whisper. God is so vast. So mighty. It just doesn't sink in. Recently I've studied the account of creation and been brought to my knees by the awesomeness of our God. He spoke and things came into being. He created from nothing. He ordered and designed in intricate detail and yet stretched his creation over great heights and distances. Here when I read Job I'm challenged to remember that all this is just a whisper of God. What mighty Holiness is in His depths! Do you want to know this God more? I do. I want to tune in to the whisper and then hear even more. That's quite a challenge when the noise of the world is loud. I think that's another reason why I'm called to be still and know God. It's only in being still that we can hear the whisper and what is beyond the whisper. Come and be still with me today. Listen and worship!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Romans 11:29

As I was studying yesterday, I came across this verse. I thought hmm...I want to ponder that one some more and made a mental sticky note to come back to this. Now, sometimes when I make mental sticky notes they get lost far easer than the real Post-it variety, but this time, I remembered and took some time to look at the verse again.

Wow. Let those words sink in. In the NCV it reads, "God never changes his mind about the poopole he calls and the things he gives them."

The context of the verse is Paul reminding Gentile Roman Christians that God has chosen the Jewish people and still has a special plan for them even though Christ made a way for ALL people to be saved. It's an important thing to remember. As I've been reading through Genesis again I've been struck by how much these people are like me. God says do this. It's good. I don't do it. God says don't do this. It's bad. I do it. I make things and want people to look at me and not God. God gives a promise and I try to have it happen in my own way and in my time. God says don't go there, and I try to negotiate with Him, but end up needing to flee and go where he told me to anyway. These are just a few of the simliarities. But as I review the lives of these people and their relationship with God, I'm so grateful for their scenes in God' story. Because when I read Romans 11:29 and remember these lives, I'm reminded again that God knows what he's doing. He's not surprised by my failings and He will use me if I will turn to Him and allow Him. He has chosen me. He has gifted me.

The same is true with you if you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. You have been chosen. You have been gifted. You will stumble, but neither of those things will be taken from you. God will still chose you. God has still given you tasks that require the gifts He has given you. So, if you've tripped up recently, dust yourself off, remind yourself of God's truth and keep doing what He's told you to do!

Friday, January 29, 2010


Sometimes silence on a blog is due to business.

Somtimes silence on a blog is due to not having much to say.

Sometimes silence on a blog is due to not knowing what to say.

But sometimes the silence is caused by not being sure you want people to really read what you say! During the month I've had some still moments and during those times God has been showing me some things. He's shown me some things that are hard to see in me and even harder to know how to write about. It seems though that one of those things needs to be shared now. My hope is that it will encourage or spur others on and also help me to allow God to change my heart on the matter.

I often call Jesus, "Lord". Do you? When I pray I often address him as Lord. "Lord, I would like this. Lord, I'd like this to happen at this time. Lord, I don't want this to happen, could you fix it? Lord, please heal this person. Lord, please help this situation." I call Him Lord, but am I treating Him as Lord?

I've been struck by that especially this week. I wanted news of something this week. I was hoping for something. It didn't happen. Not having this thing happen throws off other plans and dreams. My plans and dreams. My initial reaction was very emotional. My words were, "Lord, what are you doing?" That's when He showed my problem to me. If He's Lord, then He gets to do things His way and in His time. Right?

Then I started digging deeper in my heart and let him shine the light there. There's a difference between making plans with the Lord still being Lord of them and making plans and expecting the Lord to put His blessing on them. I've been falling way to often into the later category. It's not where I want to be. But when I am honest with what I see in the light, I'm more than just a little afraid of what it means to let Jesus be Lord of those plans. Any one else feel like that?

I am afraid. Afraid of what it means to change and treat Him really as Lord. Afraid of how far reaching the roots of the problem may be and how entwined my Lordship issue is into other things. But I also am afraid of what it means to NOT have him be Lord. I think this fear is stronger than the first. And so I pray. "LORD, I want you to be LORD of all in my heart, in my life, in my mind, in my dreams. Show me where you're not and help me bring this area of my heart to submission. I want no other to be ruler. Drive out the fear that causes me to cling to my idols, my plans, my gods of judgement and order. Let me see as you see...see what is not like you and then see how the blood of Jesus covers me to make me acceptable to you. Let me not stay the same. Let me plan and dream, but only with you having authority to fulfill in your ways and times. You are Lord." Amen.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year and Returning

The silence has been long. It's been caused by life and time splintered into many directions. What time I have to fling words into cyberspace has been taken by other outlets. I've wondered if the silence should be permanent. This isn't the space I had hoped it would be. I don't like not keeping up with something or making it what my dreams are. And my time is torn between wanting to craft a place in this computer world community and ministering to the real world people around me.

But today I return. I return to share the kindness of my God. New years always produce a need to reflect, to account, to recount, to look ahead and try to align once again my reality and my dreams. Usually I desire my year to have some kind of theme. I look back and then want to label the year. I want to name it in some fashion, to summarize it with a word. 2009 was the year of settling. It was settling in good ways. It was finding my place as a mom. It was settling into roles of service in my local church. It was wrapping roots around friends and claiming them as mine in even deeper and truer ways. It was nesting in our home and finding joy in keeper of this haven. It was solidly knowing my husband and appreciating this one that is walking beside me. But the danger with settling is that you can become too comfortable. And that has been what has been scratching at the door of my heart the past few weeks. Have I become too comfortable that I'm more interested in settling than following the one who promises the greatest adventure ever in life? By nature I'm more timid and love routines and sameness. But my heart longs to follow my God on the path He has for me and not one of my own making.

So as I look to 2010 my mind has been turning with questions and wonderings. What is this year to hold and what must I do to be where God wants be to be? What attitudes must I strive to develop? What things must I cease doing in my own energies? I've been praying and asking God to give me something of Him to start this new year.

And I'm humbled to see that He has. Yesterday as I walked with Little Man in the newly fallen snow, he spoke in soft whispers. In the delicate flakes caught in my hair I found what my soul was looking for. I forgot the beauty in those tiny cold crystals. The flakes were small, but large enough that you could see incredible details in each one. The intricacy was amazing. And I was reminded that I don't pause to contemplate things like this enough. God has much to share, but I rush around trying to do things and the dust can hardly settle in all my striving. So in the quiet snow I was reminded, "Be still and know that I am God. I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world." Psalm 46:10. And that's what I desire of this year. I want to be still. I want to cease thinking I have to be it all and do it all. I want to take time to look for Him and know Him. I want to know God. Not the God that I try to keep in my comfortable box, but know what He will share of His Wild Holiness. I want to know His heart and tune my own to it. I want to unsettle my notions and have Him shake me up with His crazy divine love. I want to know God not as my little God in suburbia postmodern America, but rather as the true God of the nations. The Holder and Keeper of the World that desires to have us all draw close and be in relationship with Him.

These sound like mighty ideas for this year. I'm not sure what will happen. I know He invites me to this. I know that He will reveal as He sees fit and as I allow my heart to be still for Him to do so. Like my uncertainties about this blog, I don't know if I'll live up to all that I hope I can. But I am willing to try today and benefit from what I learn today and return once again if I depart.

What about you? What is God desiring to share with you this year? Have you sought His point of view on the matter? Are you willing to be unsettled...maybe even unsettled from the typical new year's resolutions and goals? I hope you'll share what you've heard so that others can be encouraged and encourage you, too!