Thursday, December 24, 2009

Silent, Holy Night

I love this silent, holy night. The presents are under the tree. The children are asleep. It's quiet and the hush somehow seems holy to me. I always stay up a little bit longer to savour this moment.

What makes it so special? It's just another winter night. The lights and the music are nice. But there's something more. It's the "something" that changes everything.

Two thousand years ago there were ordinary shepherds on a hillside doing an ordinary job. There was an ordinary girl expecting a baby. An ordinary stable full of, you know, the things you would ordinarily expect to find in a stable. Well, it would have been ordinary...but everything was infused with the presence of God and that makes all the difference. Ordinary people, things, and events become extraordinary in the hands of God.

An angel of the Lord came and told Mary some pretty unbelievable stuff and she asked, "How can this be?" The angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." That's it. She didn't have to try to get it all right, she simply said, "Be it unto me according to your word." And nothing has ever been the same. Everything was changed because an ordinary girl said, "Okay, you can use me. I trust you."

So, this ordinary night is not so ordinary. There is a holy hush because we've been focusing on a miracle and we've been filled with praise. We've come to adore Him. When we worship the "Holy Spirit comes upon us" and nothing is the same. Ordinary people become extraordinary. They can forgive the unforgivable, love the unlovable, laugh through tears, and have peace in the middle of a storm--all because the power of the Most High is overshadowing.

God always uses ordinary people who surrender to Him in trust. There's stuff we simply cannot accomplish on our own, but when we say, "Be it unto me according to your word," extraordinary things happen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hope's all about hope.

This morning my prayers are filled with "biggies". Prayers for two families celebrating their first Christmas without a father, for a family whose Christmas joy is diluted with the sadness of an empty chair belonging to an estranged son, for a dear friend sitting by her newborn baby in the NICU, for my dad's worsening and undiagnosed health problems...bigger stuff than what to get Aunt Bertha for Christmas. And, yet, I have this hope!

Paradise was, indeed, lost. God created this perfect earth, lavishly filling it with every good thing. He created people because He wanted friends. But sin came...and we've all suffered the pain of it one way or another. But the very God who was rejected couldn't bear the separation! So He sent His Son.

His Son.

For you.

For me.

All because the great God of the universe, the God who is so huge we can't even begin to comprehend how vast and how great He is, wants to be connected to us. Just stop and think about that for a minute.

A stinky stable. A mother who was most likely gossiped about. A humble father from nowhere. Fleabitten shepherds. And a sky filled with glorious angels declaring, "Peace on earth, good will toward men!!"

Peace on earth? But what about _________ ? What about that big list of heavy duty prayer requests? People often ask, "If there's a good God, how come so many bad things happen?" And yet, of all the gods in the history of mankind, this is the only God who lavishes love on a world that rejected Him and continues to reject Him. I say, wow, what a God! That's an irresistible love.

Yes, I'm grieving with those who grieve. I'm also celebrating with them the good fruit that will continue for generations because of the faith of their fathers. I ache when I see that little baby in NICU, and I'm filled with gratitude because her little life is already a story of miracles. I long for sons to be reconciled to their families, and I believe because I know so many stories of reconciliations that could only have happened by the grace of God.

We continue to see the consequences of sin and separation from God. And we have a promise for a day when there will be no more pain, tears, sorrow and dying. (Revelation 21:4)

On this sparkly, Christmasy morning I bring my requests to God with thanksgiving and hope because I've seen His Love born in a manger, crucified on a cross, resurrected from the dead, redeeming in the present, and promising to come back and make all things new.

"Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!

His mercies never cease.

Great is his faithfulness;

His mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself,

The Lord is my inheritance;

therefore I will hope in Him!

The Lord is good to those who depend on Him

to those who search for Him.

So it is good to wait

quietly for salvation from the Lord."

Lamentations 3:21-26

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Need to See Him

"And so this is Christmas..." Strains of one of my favorite Christmas CD's wafted through the house as we decorated--almost drowned out by the squabbling of my children setting up the nativity scene. Good times!!

For years I didn't have a nativity set because I wanted just the right one. It had to be a bit rustic and kind of authentic looking. About six years ago a friend gave one to me and it's perfect. Perfect because it reminds us of our good
friends every year and perfect because the stable is made out of barn wood and all the little characters are country and homey. Everyone wants to be part of setting it up, but this year somehow two of my kids started on it without the rest of the family. I waited to see how they would negotiate the process without my intervention. Things went okay for a while, but then got a little heated. Seems the problem was that one child wanted to arrange everything nicely, like a picture so you could see each figure. I understood her point completely. I like things to be esthetically pleasing. However, her brother was adamant--they came to see Jesus!! They couldn't see Him if they were all standing around looking nice.


I had to think on that for a while.

I like to think I've come a long way in this area. I'm pretty unconcerned about what the general public
thinks of me. However, I've recently been reminded of how uncomfortable I am when someone I respect doesn't think much of something I value. I am uncomfortable with disappointing my friends and family. And you know what? It is difficult to see Him when I'm focused looking nice.

A lot of the stresses that come with C
hristmas have to do with this whole business of "looking nice"... The process of buying gifts that feel more like an obligation than a gift. Making decisions about how we celebrate so as not to disappoint anyone. Our kids may helpfully point out that their friends get more presents or cooler presents. We may feel pressures and expectations from our extended families. The list goes on.

The angels declared to the shepherds that Christ had come to bring peace. Ironically, the squabbling of my children helped to bring that peace back to my heart. There's no peace in trying to look nice to everyone. You can't please all the people all of the time. But there's a tremendous amount of peace when you go "see Jesus".

Attempts have been made to rearrange the nativity scene so that it looks nicer, but it doesn't take long before all those little shepherds an
d wisemen are crowded around the manager once again and I smile.

Come, let us adore Him.

"You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, whose thoughts are fixed on You!" Isaiah26:3

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Strong Tower

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;

the righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

I'm a very visual person. This can be a blessing or a curse. If I'm trying to picture how I want something to look, it's great. If you give me "too much information", well, I could be scarred for life! My Papa knows this about me so sometimes He answers my questions in wonderful visual ways.

Just this week I was remembering one of these answers He gave to me in July of 2007. We were living in a camping trailer as we tried to finish the house we were building. It was pretty stressful. I don’t like moving even when I’m looking forward to it. Nothing was convenient. No shower, no laundry, no stove, no privacy. It had to have been the windiest July on record. I couldn’t even barbeque because the flame would blow out. I had tried really hard to be organized so things would run smoothly in this transition time and yet it seemed like I was daily rummaging through boxes looking for the one thing that we absolutely needed. My husband was under a lot of pressure to get the house completed and get back to work.

I was playing a favorite CD and trying to encourage myself. I found myself singing enthusiastically to a song based on Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run to it and are safe.” I prayed, “Lord, how do I run to your name? How is your name a ‘strong tower’? I really want to be safe right now from so many different things. Discouragement. Frustration. Impatience. Anger.”

No sooner had that prayer formulated in my heart than one of my girls came running toward me yelling, “Mom!! He’s trying to hit me!” As soon as she called out, “Mom!” her little tormentor slowed down and by the time she reached me he was actually off and running in the other direction.

I laughed out loud! Probably not the reaction the kids were looking for, but God had answered my prayer. I saw in living colour that when I call on His name and I’m running toward Him the enemy knows he’s already been defeated.

I think I often call for help, all the while cringing and huddling with my hands over my head as though I'm still expecting the enemy to strike. It helps me to visualize myself running with confidence toward my Papa while my enemy backs off because he knows he has no chance of succeeding. Seeing with the eyes of faith what is really happening in a difficult time makes all the difference in our posture.

The trailer didn’t get any bigger and it was weeks before things got a little more convenient, but I found myself a little more peaceful as I “ran into the strong tower” calling out, “Father! Abba! I need you!”

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ow, Charlie, That Really Hurt!

So, it's been three weeks since I've written a post. Did I start with a bang and then abandon my reader? No. I stepped in a landmine and was injured. I was beginning to heal when I stepped into another one! The pieces are starting to mend. Just barely. But I'm risking communication. You see, one of my biggest fears in life is being misunderstood. It's something I think about every time I make a post. Chances are good that someone won't understand my point as I intended it. Risk.

Does my writing do anyone any good if I'm not vulnerable? Given enough time, my hunger for more of God and His life bubbles to the surface and I can't resist the call and so I risk again. His call is for me to encourage His followers. Like fresh water there has to be something coming in and going out. I've got to be vulnerable and give in order to be alive. Ironically, my last post was about trusting and leaping and soaring. Sometimes when we leap it feels like we crash rather than soar. I'm hoping that this recent crash will just be an opportunity for the Divine Physician to put me back together in a better way. I want to say with Joseph, "What you meant for evil, God meant for good." (Gen. 50:20) He takes all of our pain, if we'll give it to Him, and makes something beautiful and strong out of it, something that reveals His glory.

As for the landmine, it was of the verbal sort. Someone had built a case on a misunderstanding and let me have it. I was shaken! Doesn't happen to me very often, I guess. I tried to look for the value and learn something from it. It definitely made me grateful for my grace-filled friends whose love covers a multitude of my flaws and give me the benefit of the doubt until proven guilty.

The second landmine was someone who meant well and may have been speaking the truth, but the effect was lost in the lack of apparent love. Condemnation and accusation are a poor substitute for a word "fitly spoken." (Proverbs 25:11) What could have been a neat and helpful touch of the scalpel became more like carnage.

Communication is tough. Most of us fit into two categories: Forget it, too Risky or I Don't Mind Saying it Like it Is! Healthy communication is such an important part of relationships. The book of Proverbs is full of good advice on communication. I'm not about to write a grand dissertation on communication, but I'll mention a few tidbits I've picked up along the way.

My friend Jody always says, "If you're looking forward to saying it, you're not the person meant to carry the message." That one's caught me a few times!

Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. Honestly, when someone or something bothers me, love isn't the primary emotion. "Speak the truth in irritation" doesn't accomplish the same thing at all! Often when we want to change people it's because they bug us not because we love them! In all the "one another's" of scripture not once does it say "fix one another". There are a few verses about correcting one another but they come with lots of caveats to be humble and loving. There are far more verses about loving and praying for one another. There's a place for healthy communication and there's also a place for trusting that God is at work in that person's life too, just like He is in ours. Sometimes we're a really slow work in progress.

I heard Francis Chan talk about how we're all parts of the Body of Christ, but we don't want to be the appendix: it doesn't do much and it has the potential to blow up and make us sick! I really like that analogy. However appendices can and do blow. When we suffer from the fallout Christ said we're supposed to forgive them AND pray for their happiness and blessing (Luke 6:28).

"Some people make cutting remarks,
but the words of the wise bring healing
Prov 12:18

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I want to soar!

There's a video that's been going around on Facebook--maybe you've seen it? It's some guys jumping off cliffs in Norway, wearing wingsuits and flying through the air. I've watched it over and over and over again and I get the queerest feeling inside. I long to soar. I'm hungry to soar. I don't want to limited by gravity or weighed down by baggage. I want to fly.

If you haven't seen it, you can check it out here:

wingsuit base jumping from Ali on Vimeo.

It makes me think of some of the first verses I ever memorized:

"Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:28-31
If that verse has a "same old, same old" familiarity to you, try reading it again. Out loud. Perhaps really loudly like you're cheering someone on who's strength is failing. Not so "same old," is it?

Have you heard? Maybe you've heard but didn't understand? The Lord is so great and powerful that He was able to create the universe! He never grows weak or tired! There's no limit to His understanding! He gives power and strength to--whom? To the powerless. Are you feeling powerless in a situation? Without strength or understanding? Trust Him.

What does trust look like? You could get a different analogy from every person you ask, each one as unique as the individual. (I'd love it if you posted a comment telling me what it looks like to you.) It can be that calm and peaceful quality of a baby sleeping through a storm. I think it can also be like a warrior that won't back down because he knows Who's side he's on.

In any case, those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. It's a promise. Trust Him. Declare your confidence in Him by praising Him when there are no "obvious" reasons to rejoice. Your strength will be renewed so much that you will be able to put one foot in front of the other even when "young men will fall in exhaustion". Were you expecting me to put the "soaring" part in there? I'd like to and you can! I love those soaring moments, in fact, I tend to be hard on myself and feel like a failure when I'm not soaring. Why is that? Why is it so hard to recognize that it's a miracle of God's supernatural intervention when we can "walk and not faint" or "run and not grow weary" at times when it would be normal to become "weak and tired and...fall in exhaustion"? I want to encourage myself and you to be really excited and to praise God for his strength and power that enables us not quit, but to keep on walking, running and soaring.

Like the men in this video, most of my soaring times have been after a leap of faith. Some leaps are huge, like when you move across the country or take a new job. Some of them are perhaps less dramatic, but feel huge in the moment when you take a deep breath and share your faith or give a word of encouragement when you weren't sure how it would be received. But what a rush!!

Trust. Leap. Soar!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Got Crap?

Shocking title for a post, isn't it? Especially one that is meant to encourage you in your faith! Not really--"it" happens.

There's a story I love to tell (I have no idea who is the original author so I make my apologies to them) which goes like this: There once was a little girl who was really optimistic. She never had a care and was always sure that everything would turn out wonderfully. This really concerned her parents as they felt that, sooner or later, life was likely to deal her a crushing blow of "reality". They became so concerned that they felt the only responsible thing to do would be to help cure her. When the little girl asked for a horse for Christmas and then began telling everyone she knew that she was so excited because she just knew she was getting a horse for Christmas they felt their opportunity had arrived. On Christmas morning the little girl's excitement could hardly be contained. She began opening gifts, anticipating the moment when she would get her horse. Her parents looked on with heavy hearts as she opened the gift that would teach the lesson. The little girl pulled back the wrapping and revealed...a box of horse poop. "Horse poop!!" she shouted joyfully. "There's got to be a horse around here somewhere!!"

"There's gotta be a horse around here somewhere..."

I really believe that as children of God we can live as this little girl. After all, His promise is that His plans for us are good. (Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:28) Sometimes it's really hard for us to believe there's a good plan when we encounter
difficulty/pain/challenges in life. These moments are really about faith. Is this "poop" the end of the story, or is it just evidence that there's got to be a horse around here somewhere?

I had one of those "Oh, crap!" moments today. Things didn't work out the way they should and it should have been really simple. Resolving the problem meant going out at nine in the evening--and I'm almost dysfunctional after 8 p.m. on a good day. As I headed out, I had this stirring in my spirit that God had a plan. I began to pray for a Divine Appointment, specifically asking Him to give me an opportunity to encourage someone tonight. And He did!! In retrospect, it's all so obvious that the silly glitch of the afternoon was just a setup to put me in the right place at the right time tonight.

Looking for the "horse" is key to living with a peace that passes all understanding--something that should characterize a child of God. So, if you're encountering some poop in life, I'd like to encourage you to look for the horse--it's got to be around here somewhere! God has promised and He always keeps His word.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.
God what you need, and thank
Him for all He has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, October 12, 2009

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

This is one of my favorite holidays and it's not about the food. Something really special happens whenever we pause and give thanks. It's not because our lives are trouble-free or because we just cheer ourselves with positive thinking.

Psalms 22:3 says, "You are holy, O you who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel." This word enthroned is translated from a Hebrew word that means "dwell, remain, abide, inhabit". God lives in, His presence abides in, our praises to Him!

My parents established a great tradition in our family of inviting anyone who might otherwise be alone to join us at our table. My husband and I have added a tradition of pausing between the main course and dessert to let our food settle and have each person (including the little people) share something about the past year for which they are particularly thankful. These two traditions combine in a way that means we're gathered with people who may be suffering from a particular loss or sadness and yet we are expressing gratitude. It always seems to me that in those moments when we are saying our "thankful things" a holy hush enters the room. God's presence abides in our praises.

This is the glorious message of the hope of the gospel, the Good News, of Jesus Christ. We live in a world at war, an earth in which there is pain, sorrow, tears, and dying. But that's not what defines our story. In the midst of the challenges we have Jesus and He brings us hope in the place of despair, joy in the place of mourning, a "garment of praise" in the place of the "spirit of heaviness"! (Isaiah 61:3)

If you're feeling the weight of disappointment and loss today or simply the blues because the skies have been grey for too many days, I'd like to encourage you to begin to give praise to God. This is far more powerful than positive thinking! The presence of God dwells in praises offered to Him. Declare the truth of who He is, praise Him, exalt Him, worship Him and the joy of His presence will begin to fill you!

May your day of giving thanks be filled with the joy of His presence.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I believe, but...

If you're like me, you know you believe, but you sometimes feel guilty because you're pretty sure you don't believe enough. However much "enough" is, we think this must be the problem because we haven't seen the answer yet that we're looking for. I think God made sure the following story got included in the gospels for people like us:

One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, "Teacher, I brought my son for you to heal him. He can't speak because he is possessed by an evil spirit that won't let him talk. And whenever this evil spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground and makes him foam at the mouth and grind his teeth and become rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn't do it."
Jesus said to them, "You faithless people! How long must I be with you until you believe? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."

So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. "How long has this been happening?" Jesus asked the boy's father. He replied, "Since he was very small. The evil spirit often makes him fall into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us. Do something if you can."
"What do you mean, 'If I can'?" Jesus asked. "Anything is possible if a person believes."
The father instantly replied, "I do believe, but help me not to doubt!"
When Jesus saw that the crowd of onlookers was growing, he rebuked the evil spirit. "Spirit of deafness and muteness," he said, "I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!" Then the spirit screamed and threw the boy into another violent convulsion and left him. The boy lay there motionless, and he appeared to be dead. A murmur ran through the crowd, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and helped him to his feet, and he stood up. (Mark 9:17-27)
"I do believe, but help me not to doubt."

And that was enough. Jesus healed the boy.

There's a lot more that can be taken from this passage, but for now I just want you to be encouraged by this one aspect of it. The man knew that Jesus was his only hope and even then he knew that there were shadows of doubt in his heart. Jesus knows your heart. He knows you believe and He knows when you try to squelch down those twinges of doubt. Acknowledging it is good for us--we're not tricking Him anyway.

Offer your needs and your inadequacies up to Him. "I me not to doubt." He alone is the answer for that long-awaited healing, that broken relationship, that dead-end street, that sin that so easily besets you. Give it all to Him with the seed of faith that you have and ask Him to increase your faith. I'm convinced that He cannot resist such an honest and genuinely longing heart. He loves you so much.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's your story?

"And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony." (Rev. 12:11)
I've been thinking about this verse a lot lately and wondering why on earth the second part of it never made a bigger impression on me before. The "they" in this verse is "our brothers and sisters" and the "him" is "the one who accuses them". Who doesn't want to defeat him?? According to this verse he is defeated by "the blood of the Lamb", that's the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, and "by their testimony", that's what we say about Him (Jesus). I checked it out to make sure that "testimony" means what I think it does and it means a testifying, a recounting of what's happened, a witness, what one says before a judge.

So, what's your testimony? What are you saying about the power of God in your life? Are you saying anything? What you
say has the power to defeat the enemy! And I'm finding it to be true! As I'm asking people to tell me their stories of what God has done in their lives and they tell me, I get really excited. My faith gets a boost. I'm encouraged to believe that God can do the same things in my life. I'm inspired to believe for more!! The power of the enemy to discourage me is lessened. It's amazing!

Psalm 78 starts off with instructions to tell our children about the "glorious deeds of the Lord" and they will tell their children so that each generation should "set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious commands" and then they won't be " stubborn, rebellious and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God." That's pretty powerful stuff!! Who doesn't want that for their kids? The Psalm then tells about the warriors of Ephraim:

"...though armed with bows, turned their backs and fled on the day of battle. They didn't keep God's covenant and refused to live by his instructions. They forgot what he had done--the great wonders he had shown them."

The next sixty verses recount a testimony of what God had done up until then--amazing miracles. These guys from Ephraim, these warriors who were fully armed, fled when confronted by the enemy because they forgot what God had done. If they had remembered, they wouldn't have been afraid, and the would have defeated their enemy

A few weeks ago our youth pastor talked about being aware that we are part of
God's Story. Our focus has to be on Him. We need to be aware of Him. He does lots of stuff that goes unnoticed unless you're looking for Him to show up in your situation. The important part of a testimony is in the hearing of what God has done! It's about HIM not us.

Everybody loves hearing stories of conversions and healings--we need to hear of God's great power. But don't think your testimony isn't worth sharing because it's not that dramatic. Were you discouraged, weary, afraid, or lonely and then you received an awareness of God's love and care for you?? That's a story you need to tell! I've heard it said that lots of people believe there is a God, they just don't know if He cares. Your story has the power to encourage others that God is not only powerful, but incredibly intimate.

I'd like to encourage you to be bold and to take the leap to change the conversation from the weather to what God has done. Ask your friends and your family about their awareness of God's presence in their day. Share about your "little moments" around the dinner table when your children can hear. It has the power to overcome and defeat the accuser. Let's do it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Raise Your Hands If...

Raising or lifting of hands is pretty much universally accepted as a form of worship. It can signify surrender to or exaltation of the one to whom the hands are raised. Remote and uncivilized tribes do it. People of every religion known to man do it. It's a little less common in North America where things that can't be measured scientifically are regarded with a bit of skepticism. It's pretty abstract and mystical to raise your hands to someone or something that can't be seen.

The Bible mentions lifting hands to God seven times. In all but one, it's mentioned as, "I will," or "Let us lift...". Only once is it stated in the imperative: "Lift your hands in holiness, and bless the Lord." (Ps. 134:2) Now, I'm not about to make a doctrine of raising hands: Thou shalt raise thy hands lest thou be considered carnal. No way! I just want to tell you a story.

I like raising my hands to God. In the same way that bursting out laughing feels better than choking it down, raising my hands in worship feels like a release. Somehow having the posture of my body reflect the attitude of my heart is a feeling of alignment. I do try to control this impulse when it might make people uncomfortable. Like, you know, when you're in the bank and you find out you have more money than you thought you did. I've been known to forget a time or two when I'm out for a walk (a really good time for conversations with God), but the men in white jackets haven't come for me yet, so perhaps it just looked like I was waving at someone?

I also love discovering what I call the "mysteries of God". Nature reflects God in a million different ways. From simple things like the way a caterpillar turns into a butterfly to really complex things that I'm not smart enough to explain, we find demonstrations of who God is. The story of His love is reflected in a thousand different facets. Every time I encounter another one of these treasures I get so excited!

So, one day I was listening to the radio and they were doing a talk show about breast cancer (in men and women, just in case any of you guys were about to stop reading). According to the doctor they were interviewing, maintaining healthy lymph glands in your underarm area is a really important part of prevention. It seems that the ones in the underarm area don't drain very well on their own, but there are two things we can do to help. The first mentioned was the action of jumping up and down--thus the rebounder craze. The second?? Lifting your arms. I didn't hear the rest of the program. All I could think was, "Wow, God!! You mean when I lift my hands in praise to You, not only is my spirit lifted, but my body is made healthier too? Body, soul, and spirit, I'm detoxified by the act of praising You? Wow! Wow! Wow!!" And I feel like my Daddy is chuckling because He's made those little surprises for us and He's delighted when we discover them.

Why are thou cast down, O my soul?
And why art thou disquieted within me?
Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him,
Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
(Psalm 43:5 KJV)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hungry Mommy??

Funny name, eh? Dreaming up user names and passwords for every different site and remembering them all is the bane of my internet existence! When I had to pick one for blogging this one popped into my head without any effort. However, explaining all the subtleties of the subconscious to someone else can be tricky...

The "Mommy" part is pretty self-explanatory, but it's not like that's what totally defines my existence. Being a mom has certainly propelled my pursuit of God to deeper levels! I can't imagine managing such a difficult role without His strength and wisdom. Also, there's nothing like the love you have for your kids to make you want to be free of those traits that hinder healthy relationships. He
is the answer for that--self-help didn't get me nearly far enough!

The "Hungry" part... Those of you who know me well are probably thinking it refers to my need to eat every three hours, or four after one of those big Thanksgiving dinner-type meals! It's actually something altogether different. I've been pondering an interesting paradox. In order for my physical body to become hungry, I need to go without eating for a while. However, when it comes to feeding myself spiritually, the less I "eat" the less hungry I get. The more I "eat", the more I discover of His incredible truth and amazingness, and the hungrier I become! I want more and more of Him.

Now, before you sigh and say to yourself that, yes, you wish you had more interest in reading the Bible, stop! God's Spirit is
never condemning. His conviction is clean and motivates us to change, so quit "shouldn'" on yourself and simply get out your Bible and read a favorite passage! Ponder it. Read it out loud. Of course it's difficult. We're busy. And you know what? There's a struggle going on to prevent you from getting hungrier. (Eph 6:12) On really busy days I appreciate a great devotional book where I can just read a page while I'm eating my breakfast. It gives me something to go on for the day. Filling ourselves with the Truth is really important because our culture shouts a million lies at us every day. Unless, we know the Truth, we believe the lies and our hearts are filled with darkness and discouragement.

Reading the Bible regularly is only one facet of this relationship though. Worshiping, praising, petitioning, delighting, and talking to other people about how great He is make a wonderful soundtrack for our lives. When I'm feeling blah or downright wretched I need praise. I put on some music that lifts me. Praise puts everything in it's proper perspective and rightful place. God is above all else and greater than our greatest trouble. When our whole posture is turned toward Him our concerns become petitions and our delights become an offering of worship. Pleasure in a sunrise or a cup of coffee or a good visit becomes worship because our focus is such that we know all those good gifts are from a God who loves us! Consciously choosing to focus on Him becomes a habit --a relationship--and we begin to see and know that His presence is constantly affecting our lives!

You know what?? He's longing for this kind of a relationship with us. Not a "God will you zap me out of this trouble," or "Lord, I wish you'd straighten out that annoying person," sort of a relationship, but a "God, you are so amazing and I want You more than anything else" sort of a relationship. If you don't feel that way, that's okay. Seek to know Him better as an act of faith that He is what He says He is and you will! The God of the universe, the mountain maker, the one who hung the stars and designed a belly button wants a relationship with you! That's why He created you. Makes you kind of hungry, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog

I've thought of starting a blog many times. I love to write. My kids give me lots of material. Life is pretty funny. It might be entertaining. It might feel like a huge responsibility. Maybe I'd feel guilty because I hadn't updated for a long time. Maybe no one but my mom would read it (Hi, Mom!).

I love God. I'm constantly longing to know Him better. It seems like every day I discover new and exciting things about Him. Nothing makes me happier than when I get to share those things with another person and they're encouraged. I long to share. I want to spread hope and encouragement. I want to tell people that God is longing for a relationship with them, that Jesus
is real and He makes a difference, and that the Holy Spirit does transform our lives. It's like an ache inside. Sometimes, I wish I was a pastor so that at least once a week I could unload! In fact, sometimes I think if I don't share, I'll burst!!

My husband is wonderful and listens interestedly. My kids--well, do they have a choice? Sometimes they're interested and sometimes they tell me I use too many words. (Gotta love their honesty!) I have really great friends that listen, but sometimes too many days go by and a lot of things build up. The other day I was pondering this and thinking that surely God has put this desire in me to share. How, though, how? I thought I heard a whisper, "Start a blog." Could this be God? It would be an outlet. What if once in a while someone stumbled upon it and was encouraged? It might keep me from bursting! (This would be good. Sometimes that bursting thing is overwhelming judging by the expressions on the faces of those present when it happens!)

I'm pretty sure it's a calling, this urge to encourage. Romans 12:8 says, "If your gift is to encourage others, do it!" So that's what I want to do, not in a Pollyanna-don't-worry-be-happy sort of way, but in a based-on-the-Solid-Rock sort of way. The apostle Peter says it best:
My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens.
(I Peter 5:12)

If you're taking the time to read this, thank you so much! May the Spirit of God bless you and encourage you!