Saturday, December 5, 2009
Mmmmm. Personally challenging. Am I satisfied staying in my area of influence telling what God has done for me? Am I as concerned for people as Jesus was?
Kursi is located at the foot of the Golan Heights. We visited the ruins of a Byzantine church, built at the command of Helena, mother of Constantine in around 326AD. Helena toured the Holy Land and built churches on sites important to Christianity. Because of her, we know the location of many of the Biblical accounts.
At Kursi, we were cautioned to stay on the path that ran between the church and the open field. The open field contained buried land mines left behind by the Syrians after the Six Day War. Our tour guide fought for the very land we were standing on while he served in the army. He told us the story of Israeli spy Eli Cohen, whose information was crucial in the Six Day War. Here's a link to read more about his story if you're interested. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eli_Cohen
Israel is such a fascinating place.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Our stop was at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation built over the well where many believe the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing that she would be the mother of Jesus.
Lon reminded us that NOTHING is impossible with God and challenged us to think about how we might be limiting Him. Do we fail to pray with boldness and faith? Do we stop praying when a situation looks hopeless -- when that could be the exact time God is waiting to act -- when all human hope is gone?
We were all challenged to pray big, to pray with right motives, to pray without giving up, and to pray with expectation. That was personally challenging to me. I have several people I've spent years praying for. Sometimes I'm tempted to give up. But standing in the holy land and reflecting on the God who continually did the "impossible" I found renewed hope and perseverance to continue. How about you?
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Lon talked about how record numbers of Jewish people are coming to Christ. It is estimated there are 60,000 Jewish believers or Messianic Jews. We can't say for sure how close we are to the battle of Armageddon described in the Bible, but we are seeing signs of things that must first happen. One thing we do know, each day draws us closer to the second coming of Christ.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Elijah issued a challenge to the prophets of Baal to see whose God would light the sacrifice -- Baal (who is really no god at all) -- or the God of Israel, the One True God of the Universe!
Of course Baal could not light the sacrifice prepared by his prophets, because he is a man-made god with no real power.
However, Elijah prayed that God would light the sacrifice he had prepared, ". . . so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." God answered in such a dramatic fashion that there was no doubt He is God!
Lon Solomon challenged us to examine our own motives when we pray.
- Is my main concern that my life be easier?
- Or is my main motive to bring glory to God?
However, what if I prayed like Elijah? What if the cry of MY heart was ". . . so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Would I see fire from heaven or feel the earth shake? God is still able.
Lord, search my heart and purify my motives. Make the desires of my heart in tune with Yours.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Woke up early on Day 3 to this view. Several young men and women from our tour group were already outside waiting for the sun to rise. I heard their voices worshiping God and just could not resist joining in. Praising God is contagious.
And so there we were -- singing praises to God at sunrise on the Sea of Galilee!
You know, the great thing about praising God is we can do that anywhere -- in front of the Sea of Galilee or in front of a computer screen. How about praising Him together right now with this Chris Tomlin song.
The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in light, and darkness tries to hide
it trembles at his voice, trembles at his voice
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, How great is our God
Monday, November 16, 2009
We stood in the Jordan -- that same river where Jesus was baptized. Matt 3:16-17 tells us, As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well please."
I hope it's ok to use God's own words and say, I am well pleased with His Son too!
Friday, November 13, 2009
I almost can't believe we sailed on the Sea of Galilee -- the same sea where Jesus walked on water. We took the more traditional method of transportation -- a boat!
The Sea of Galilee is really a lake. Our tour guide said something like this: "Israel is such a small country, you might call this a lake, but we call it a sea." The sea is about 15 miles long and 8 miles wide. Not very big at all. You can easily see to the other side. The water was silky smooth the day we sailed. No waves, no wind. But we read about a different night on the sea -- a rough one. Lon Solomon read the account of Peter walking on water from Matthew 14. Lon reminded us that when our circumstances get tough, our focus must be on Christ.
I love that Lon chose Matt 14 for his teaching lesson. You see, I would speak at a women's retreat for Shelter Rock Church on Long Island when I returned from Israel. The retreat theme was BOTH FEET IN, and I would teach from the life of Peter and this exact story. God allowed me the privilege of sailing where Jesus once walked and then teaching the truths of that ancient account.
Do you ever have days that are almost too good to be true?
This day was one. But it was about to get even better!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I told the women that my trip to Israel in October was such an incredible spiritual experience -- kind of like the CAKE. Sharing at their retreat was another spiritual high for me -- kind of like the ICING ON THE CAKE.
God renewed and refreshed my heart just when I needed it most. I am thankful.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
After Capernaum we drove the short distance to the beautiful Mount of Beatitudes. It was here that Jesus gave the famous message to the crowds. Jesus would have stood near the shore of the Sea of Galilee so the wind off the lake could carried His voice to the people on the hillside.
"Blessed are the . . ."
Jesus closed the sermon with the story of the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house on sand. Both men heard the words of Jesus; they did not need more knowledge. They needed to obey. Yet the foolish man failed to put Jesus' words into practice.
On that famous mount, Lon challenged us to live lives of obedience -- to set the bar at nothing less than complete obedience to God's Word. We bowed our heads and asked God to examine our lives to reveal changes we needed to make in how we live, who we see, what we say . . .
And finally we sang the simple children's song "The wise man built his house upon the rock" complete with hand motions! Grown ups singing a children's song.
Life gets complicated and obedience becomes hard. Can I keep it simple -- obey -- build my house upon the rock of Jesus Christ? When I hear that song in the future, I'll picture myself on the Mount of Beatitudes looking down to the Sea of Galilee, imaging my Savior speaking to my heart. A simple message -- a powerful truth.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Gethsemane means "oil press."
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Is 53:5
We will visit Gethsemane while in Jerusalem, and I'll remember this olive press in Capernaum. The Bible is coming alive.
How do I describe Capernaum? I loved it. I loved being where Jesus based His earthly ministry. I stood in the synagogue where Jesus taught -- the exact place. We know because the black stones at the base of the building date from the time of Christ.
Luke 7 tells the story of Jesus healing the Centurion's servant. The Centurion understood the power and authority of Jesus like no one else. Do I? Do I really understand who God is?
The size of my faith will grow as the size of my God grows. Of course you know that God does not grow, but my understanding of Him does. Lord, give me a greater understanding of who you are. Open my eyes, astound me, amaze me!
Monday, November 2, 2009
Day 2 began with an unexpected visit to a site on the shore of the Sea of Galilee -- The Church of St. Peter's Primacy. This is the location where Jesus appeared to the disciples after the resurrection as told in John 21. Jesus asks Peter 3 times, "Do you love me?" Then Jesus instructs him to "feed my sheep." I love that Jesus asks Peter 3 times. Remember that Peter had denied Jesus 3 times on the night of His arrest. It's like Jesus gave him a "do-over" and Peter is able to declare his love for his Savior as many times as he had denied even knowing Him.
By asking Peter to care for His sheep, Jesus let Peter know he is still of service in the kingdom of God. He did not blow it beyond repair. He did not out-sin the power of God to forgive. He did not flee so far away that God could not reach him.
Lon's message here was powerful. God's love in unconditional. His love is more healing that any pill, therapist or scalpel. And God always initiates. He sought Peter out where He'd first found him -- fishing on the Sea of Galilee. God always seeks us. Aren't you glad?
On that ancient shore we contemplated such love and sang . . .
He gave His life, what more could He give;
Oh, how He loves you, Oh, how He loves me,
Oh, how He loves you and me.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
One more comment from Day 1. A stone with Pontius Pilate's name was discovered in Caesarea in 1961. This is the only archaeological evidence for the existence of Pontius Pilate. One of Lon's favorite phrases was -- the more they dig, the more the Bible proves to be true.
I didn't need archaeological evidence to believe the accuracy and the perfection of the Bible. But it's still fascinating to learn about discoveries like this one. The original stone can be seen in the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem. The pictured stone is a replica.
Today I'm so thankful for God's Holy word that comes alive before our very eyes.
Friday, October 30, 2009
On day 1 our flight arrived midday, and we went straight to Caesarea. We sat in the ancient theatre while gazing across at the Mediterranean Sea. In Caesarea Paul testified before Agrippa as recorded in Acts 26. From the scripture we conclude that Agrippa had all the facts necessary to believe in Jesus. Verse 26 says that these things were not "done in a corner." He knew the miracles of Jesus, he knew of his death, he heard of his resurrection. Yet, he did not believe.
Lon shared with us that the same is true today. Many people have enough facts to believe. So many times we think we need just the right words, a persuasive argument, more facts, or the right book or tape in order to "convince" our loved ones of the truth of Jesus Christ. However, the problem is not the mind, but the heart. The Holy Spirit softens and prepares the heart. Our part is prayer -- prayer for soft and receptive hearts.
Lon shared that one woman prayed for his salvation for 21 long years -- 21 years! He knows of no one else, no other person who prayed for him -- just her.
Would you pray that long -- would you wait that long -- even with no signs of hope? Would I?
On that sacred ground I sat and prayed for those I love who don't love Christ -- name by name -- prayer by prayer. And I committed to faithfully pray, to persevere, to wait, to hope. I can still hear the echo of our voices as we sang the words to "People Need the Lord."
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize, people need the Lord?
Saturday, October 17, 2009
You see, from time to time I struggle with my thoughts. I can live in a fantasy world inside my own head -- making up stories -- all with happy endings. Unfortunately my stories aren't always so, so, mmmmmmm, how do I say this .................. my stories are not so pure. My thoughts would embarrass me if you knew about them. I don't want you to know about them. I'd rather you not even know I struggle with them.
But, I've come to realize anew that these thoughts are too powerful for me to battle on my own. I pray and try my best to control my thoughts. Trouble is I'm just not strong enough. My secret thoughts have too much power over me.
I have discovered a solution. It's simple really, doesn't require a lot of time or effort.
I just need to tell someone and ask them to pray for me. Simple, right?
Right. Somehow admitting my struggle out loud lessons its hold on me. And the power of prayer is incredible.
The only problem is the part about swallowing my pride, risking my reputation, and suffering a bit of embarrassment. Why is that so hard? Everyone already knows I'm less than perfect -- far from it. In fact, anything good you see in me is a gift from God. I claim no credit, take no glory.
Still, my inner self says keep quiet, while my spirit cries out for help. I am reminded of the scripture I keep running across -- Gal 5:17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Anyone else struggle with this? Anyone else prone to keep secrets?
You're not alone. Me too.
Just glad God nudges and prods and won't leave me alone until I come clean once again. Coming clean sure feels good -- much better than keeping secrets.
Monday, October 5, 2009
I don't like that. It's living life in the future instead of the here-and-now. Looking too far ahead takes the joy out of life today. I want to embrace the good days and celebrate the victories. This day is good -- even if tomorrow brings turmoil. This day is good.
Thank you Lord, for peaceful days. I even thank you for the tough days that make today seem even better.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I'm really happy to have young friends. The point is that I feel like I'm one of them -- not this much older woman. I don't necessarily feel older and wiser and full of advice. I feel like I'm journeying through life just like they are. I still stumble, still make mistakes, still get up and try again. Life is just like that -- whatever the age.
So, if you're one of my young friends, thank you for being part of my life. You make me happy. You keep me young. You teach me life lessons that I never want to forget. You help me relate to my own children. You bring me much delight. You even pray for me! You are indeed a gift from God to help me navigate LifeTremors.
I'm thankful for you.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
But just last week I felt a little tension creeping into our relationship. Nothing major. Just annoyance. The man I loved AND liked all summer, became the man I was not liking quite as much. How did that happen? When did that happen?
Little by little! That's how most marriages start to suffer -- little by little -- step by step. I'm glad I noticed. I'm taking action! You see, I'm pretty protective over my marriage. I think we all should be that way. My marriage is too valuable and I've worked too hard on it over the years to let it slip into decline.
I'm taking a class on understanding men called "For Women Only." This week's challenge is to say nothing negative to or about your husband. Ummmm! I've been doing ok on cutting out the negative talk, but lately I've been thinking some negative thoughts. And I know it's not a long trip between my mind and my tongue.
I'd best be focusing on what's TRUE, NOBLE, RIGHT, PURE, LOVELY, ADMIRABLE, EXCELLENT, AND PRAISEWORTHY about my husband. (If you didn't notice, I borrowed those words from Philippians 4:8)
Have I mentioned some of my husband's good qualities? He's generous, kind, constant, a great golfer, and he's trustworthy.
Mmmmmm. I'm feeling better already.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Last night I fought hard not to worry. I kept giving my loved one over to the only One who can really make a difference -- God Himself. And then I fell back asleep, trusting and resting.
I want to make that choice consistently. I want to trust my God completely.
Friday, September 4, 2009
"What do I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart. The living work of God in the hearts of those I love. The ability to roll back the tide of evil. Essentially, I lose my kingdom and get his. I move from being an independent player to a dependent lover. I move from being an orphan to a child of God."
Makes me want to pray more. What strength and hope when I pray. What lost opportunities when I do not. I want to be a woman of prayer. What stands in my way? Only me. I am my greatest hindrance to prayer -- me -- with my hurriedness, my forgetfulness, my distraction, my selfishness . . .
Lord, teach me once again to pray!
Monday, August 31, 2009
But life happens. Hard times come -- Jesus warned us they would.
We can't control the emotions that sweep over us like a giant wave. Feelings are real and need to be acknowledged. But, we can control how we act. And that's the hard part.
You know what my friend is doing? She's talking to good friends, and she's seeking help from godly people. Is she handling her LifeTremor perfectly? Of course not. But she's getting through one day at a time, one hour at a time, and I'm proud of her.
Friday, August 21, 2009
When God repeats a message or a challenge I know He wants me to pay attention. He's trying to teach me something profound OR He's trying to prepare me for what I will face in the future. God always has a purpose.
Choosing faith in the small challenges prepares me to choose faith in the larger ones. I'm practicing making the right choice. I'm practicing choosing faith. I'm practicing faith.
Fear or faith? Which will you choose today?
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
So, what do we do?
We cry out to God. We cry aloud for wisdom. After all, that's what God tells us to do.
James 1:5-6 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
So, this morning my husband and I asked God for wisdom. And then I asked God for the faith to believe and not doubt that He will grant us wisdom. Now we wait -- expectantly, hopefully, even with excitement -- we wait to see the invisible footprints of our wise and loving God.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Ever gone through a tough time when you doubted God was even there?
Or maybe you've just been experiencing a trial for so long that you think God has forgotten you. I think the Israelites might have felt the same way when they were hemmed in between the Red Sea and Pharoah's army. Where was God anyway? Nowhere to be seen!
But God parted that sea and led them right through the mights waters -- even though they couldn't see Him. Psalm 77:19 tells us that God's "footprints were not seen."
I wonder how many times in my life I've thought God was distant, aloof, or that He'd forgotten me when He was actually right beside me -- but His "footprints were not seen." I wonder.
God, would You grant me eyes that see the unseen? I want to see your footprints all over my life. I KNOW they are there, because I KNOW You are there. Open my eyes. Or better yet, strengthen my faith so I trust in the unseen footprints of my loving Father.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I know the reason I'm feeling that way -- it's summertime. During the summer many of our ongoing programs and studies don't meet, and I'm just not as connected as I usually am. And I can start to feel lukewarm.
So, I told God how I felt this morning. Yep, just blurted it right out when I was talking to Him this morning. Even said it outloud. Of course I knew He already knew how I felt. But, I needed to admit it. And you know what God did in response?
He gave me the sweetest day.
You see, I had to drop off something at church today for my husband. It was a simple errand that didn't have to take very long. But, as I walked back into the church office, I had one conversation after another with the church staff.
Here's a sampling of what we spoke about:
helping with ministry
a son's wedding
Facebook and Twitter and websites and such
new hair styles
a much anticipated first grandchild
phone calls from grown children
a visit with a niece
All that in about 30 minutes and with at least 7 or 8 different people. Whew! These friends on our church staff loved on me for awhile and reminded me that church isn't a building. Church isn't even Sunday morning service. Church is the body of Christ comprised of people just like me, who sometimes grow lukewarm about important things like church.
I had the sweetest day. And I don't feel lukewarm anymore.
Thanks again God!
Friday, August 7, 2009
My wise-beyond-her-years friend Becca reminded me there is a difference in studying about God and just enjoying being with Him. Sometimes we get so caught up in studying to know Him that we forget to simply enjoy His Presence. She thought summer provided that time -- to become more aware of God in our everyday tasks, to experience His creation outdoors, to treasure His perfect timing in providing a change in life's flow. God has a reason for creating the seasons. Becca reminded me that change is good and taking a break from structured study can bring a clarity of mind that will lead to a richer study time later.
I am blessed. I am thankful to God for the summer. I'm thankful for the simple Bible reading plan and shorter study I'm doing to stay close to God. It's not taking time off from God; it's just experiencing Him in a different way. And that can be a very good thing.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
When the earth and all its people quake,
it is I who hold its pillars firm.
The earth might be quaking and ALL its people too -- that includes you and me. Does life ever feel like that to you? It's felt that way to me most of the summer-- like one big LifeTremor.
The scripture does not say that God quakes -- just the earth and all its people. God doesn't quake; He is constant and sure. That knowledge comforts me.
In fact, God is so still and so strong that He is able to hold the earth's pillars firm. And if God can hold the earth's pillars firm, don't you think He can quiet the shaking ground under your feet?
I'm thankful today that I love and serve such a God. He's standing firm, and I will be too as long as I'm clinging to Him.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I ask Him to teach me to:
Today, as I prayed through that list, I noticed that it overlapped with a list of women I pray for on Tuesdays. They are 3 women who have been instrumental in launching my ministry. I noticed that their names were written next to my long list of things I was asking God for.
My friend "S" was listed next to "memorize" and I know that she desires to memorize scripture. So, I prayed for God's Word to stick in her mind so she could remember and quote it to others. She has such a tender heart for those in need, and scripture off her tongue can be such an encouragement to those she serves.
My friend "L" was listed next to "study." Recently she told me how she loves to study God's Word and desires that she find the right scripture to use as she prays for others. So, I prayed for her study time to be rich and for God to lead her to verses she can turn into prayer.
My friend "S" is younger than all of us. Her name was written next to "rest." I thought of how busy she is and how she needs time to just rest. So I prayed for God to reveal when it is time to work and when it's time to rest. I prayed for her to find refreshment and peace as she rests in God.
Coincidence that these names were written next to those particular words? Coincidence that I saw the connection between these women and "memorize, study and rest?" I've read that page in my prayer journal over and over for months, but I never noticed the connection until today.
I'm thinking that God wanted my friends prayed for TODAY and in this particular way. I can't wait to hear what God is up to . . .
Coincidence? I think not!
God has a plan and He knows exactly what He's up to!
Monday, August 3, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
We don't struggle alone. Our lives are so intertwined that we feel each others pain. And that's the way it should be. We think we don't want others to hurt when our lives become unsettled. But the truth is -- I want to be close enough to others that they feel the shaking of my LifeTremors, and I feel theirs. That means I'm connected and being loved -- just the way God intends.
Oh, and by the way, don't think for a moment that God is unaffected by your LifeTremor. He knows, He cares, He feels the tremors too.
Friday, July 24, 2009
But, don't take my word for it. Search God's Word. What does He have to say about depression? Look at the Psalms for evidence of depression in King David, the one God called a man after His own heart. David obviously struggled with his feelings AND was honest and transparent enough to write about it. I'm so glad. Reading his Psalms lets me know I'm not alone.
Psalm 13 -- David writes, "How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and everyday have sorrow in my heart?"
Psalm 22 -- David begins with these words, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Psalm 42 -- Another author asks, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?"
The prophet Elijah was depressed after his great victory on Mount Carmel. Read about it in 1 Kings 19.
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. He penned these words in Jer 4:19.
"Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me . . . "
Perhaps you've been told that if your faith was strong enough you wouldn't be depressed. Those words are hard to hear. (And you won't be hearing them from me.) When others question your faith, remember that great men of faith struggled with their emotions too. Sometimes we can work through depression with God's help. At other times we also need help from others. I'm thankful for the counselors, doctors and friends who have come alongside me in the past when I've needed their aid. I believe they've been part of God's provision for me during some of my weakest moments.
Can God bring glory out of the depression of a Christian? Absolutely! Watch for His hand -- even in the midst of your deepest sorrow. He is there.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Today I can say that belief is so much healthier, so much better, so freeing. Choosing to believe that God has the situation under control, choosing to remember He is all-powerful, choosing to trust Him -- that's the way to live.
God just brought me a tiny glimmer of hope in the midst of a confusing situation -- a reminder that He is at work. It's like He just said to me -- keep on believing! Do not fear!
Monday, July 13, 2009
Fear is an emotional outburst of unbelief.
OUCH! That one hurt. Have my fears and worries really been me not believing God could handle my lifequake? I don't want to think so, but I wonder if that's true.
When I worry, I'm projecting the negative on the future. I question "What if ........" and imagine the worst. When I exercise belief I'm projecting the positive on the future -- believing God will indeed work ALL things together for good. If I truly believe that, is there room for worry?
Seems I have a choice: fear and worry OR belief. I'm tired of being fearful; I'm tired of worry. I'm ready to believe in the One who knows how my lifequake will end.
I'm ready to believe God!
Thursday, July 9, 2009
However, I was struck by her aloneness. For years she took care of a husband and 3 children. Then gradually her children married and moved away. Her husband, my dad, suffered from Alzheimer's, and she cared for him. But now he is gone, and she is alone. It struck me that it's just her and God.
But, isn't that true for all of us? It's really just you and God. Even though you might be surrounded by a houseful of children, a loving husband and lots of friends, when you get down to the core -- it's just you and God.
That fact saddened me for awhile, until I really thought about it. It's just me and God. When everyone else is gone, it's just me and God. Always has been. Always will be. God will never leave me. He will never forsake me. He will always be there. And what better companion could I ever find? He knows me completely. What stronger defender could I have? He is all-powerful and all-knowing and all-seeing. What greater love? None! He loves me unconditionally.
Just me and God!
I am privileged. I am blessed. I am filled with joy. Thank you God for sticking with me. You are more than enough. You are God.
Just me and God!
Monday, June 29, 2009
Imagine that. Telling Jesus our problem and that's it. No suggested solutions. Can I do that? Can I stop at just telling Jesus my problem.
Jesus, I have no more ______________.
That's how I prayed this morning. I just told Jesus what I was out of. And then I stopped. I didn't tell him how to solve my need. So now I wait to see how he chooses to answer.
What are YOU out of? You fill in the blank.
Jesus, I have no more _______________
Here are some of the things you might have written:
hunger for the Word
Or you just might have written, "Jesus, I have no more to give."
Whatever you wrote, the story of John 2 tells us that Jesus can fill us -- and fill us to overflowing. That was his first miracle, and he continues to perform it.
Tell him what you need today. And let Jesus determine how to supply exactly what you need.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
"Memories, like fire, can both bless with warmth and burn with searing heat. As you look back over the first half of this year, do your memories give you more pleasure or pain?
Probably you experienced a bit of both sensations. As the psalmist reviewed Israel's history, he delighted in the faithfulness of God, who never failed his people, and despaired over the faithlessness of Israel, who repeatedly disobeyed God. The nation's history speaks eloquently of the pain of waywardness and the persistence of God in guiding his people down the path of righteousness and blessing.
If you were asked to write The History of My Life: Part 1, would it read like Psalm 106? Would it include pleasant memories of God's provision and painful memories of your rebellious moments? Have you thanked God for the former? Have you experienced God's forgiveness for the latter (1 John 1:9)? And have you learned a lesson in the process? Or are you -- like the Israelites in Psalm 106 -- repeating your errors and forfeiting God's blessing?"
I can't always control my circumstances -- some will be painful, and life will quake. But I can choose how I respond -- with despair or with faith -- with waywardness or with righteousness.
I am reminded of the words of Deuteronomy. Those Israelites had a choice, just like we do. God said to them through the prophet Moses:
Deut 30:19-20 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him . . .
Today I choose life, I choose obedience, I choose FAITH!
OUR HOPE ENDURES by Natalie Grant
You would think only so much can go wrong
Calamity only strikes once
And you assume this one has suffered her share
Life will be kinder from here
Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?
But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged
How do we comprehend peace within pain?
Or joy at a good man's wake?
Walk a mile with the woman whose body is torn
With illness, but she marches on
Oh, 'cause sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear?
But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged
Emmanuel, God is with us
El Shaddai, all sufficient
We never walk alone
And this is our hope
But our Hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our Hope is unchanged
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Inertia snuck up on me. I think it followed an intense period of time when I had to think, feel, and problem-solve. My mind must have needed a rest. And so, my mind sits at rest. And I just sit. I don't like inertia.
When my mind is idle it tends to fill up with bad thoughts. I'm not safe with an idle mind. I need focus, I need purpose, I need direction. God gives me all of that. I've just been ignoring Him. I know He's there. I know He's ready to speak to me. I know He's ready to listen to me. His Word sits on my kitchen counter beckoning me to come sit and read and soak up some truth. I'm glad I've been treasuring His Word lately. Because even when inertia sets in, I can still recall the rich pleasure I receive when I go to God's Word. And even when I have a bad case of inertia, He still beckons me to come.
I think I will.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I received emails from 2 friends telling me they had prayed for me on Tuesday -- my bad day. One friend knew it was to be a difficult day for me, so she prayed.
The other friend sent me this email -- I am still praying for you, your ministry, and your family on Mondays. Except this week it ended up being Tuesday. Mostly I am praying for peace for you. I believe that God orchestrated it so that she prayed on Tuesday -- my bad day -- even though she had no clue what I was going through. And she prayed for peace -- which is exactly what I needed and what I experienced.
God was at work -- even when I could not see Him. And He graciously revealed this truth to me -- just so I'd remember next time. When I cannot see Him -- He is at work.
My daily Bible reading took me to Psalm 77:19 which talked about God leading the Israelites through the Red Sea. "Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen."
I did not see God's footprints on my very bad day.
Nevertheless, God was at work!
Friday, June 12, 2009
But, even on my worst days, God is at His best. I asked for help, and He arranged for a dear friend to come pray with me. This is a friend I prayed with for 8 years in a weekly prayer group. She knows me well, so she understood my hurting heart and helped me turn over my burdens to God.
Then another friend called and prayed with me over the phone. She knew what I was facing and didn't want me to face it until she'd brought my situation before the throne of grace.
So I faced my worst day with prayer support, and I saw the words from Phil 4:6-7 come alive.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I had peace when I had every reason to be anxious. The God of the universe heard the prayers of three women -- prayers for peace in the midst of a storm -- and I experienced the calm that comes when God says "Peace be with you."
If I hadn't had the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Iwouldn't have asked for help.
If I hadn't experienced the worry, I wouldn't have known the peace.
Lord, thank you for that day and the worry for they resulted in your peace.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
How do I know God is very interested in you?
I received an email from a dear friend. She told me about being awakened in the middle of the night to pray. Being sensitive to the Spirit of God, she felt the need to pray for several people, including MY loved one. Did you understand the significance of what I just wrote? God -- the God who created the universe -- the Only True God -- nudged her to pray for my loved one -- the one who is uninterested in God. I love knowing that no matter how indifferent to God we might be, God always cares about us. God cannot be indifferent. God cannot be uninterested. That would go against His very nature.
Through His Word:
God's Word tells us that He loves His people with an "everlasting love." (Jer 31:3)
But that's the Old Testament.
What does the New Testament say?
Rom 3:11 says there is "no one who seeks God"
1 John 4:19 says "We love because he first loved us."
Basically God's Word is saying even when you are totally uninterested in God, He loves you. There can be no mistake -- God is most interested in YOU.
Such knowledge is astounding and comforting.
Such knowledge helps me to persevere in prayer for my loved one.
What about YOU?
Are you interested in God?
I am certain of this: He's interested in YOU.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
However, the thought of speaking without prayer support scared me so much that I reached out and asked a couple friends to pray for me. They've been meeting together monthly for one year now to pray for me and the ministry God has given. They are committed, they take this responsibility seriously and consider it a privilege. I am humbled.
Next I began to ask others to pray for specific events, and an email prayer team was formed. Now a number of women receive prayer requests before and during each speaking opportunity I have. Afterwards, they receive a praise report that shares how God touched lives and hearts. I am blessed.
I've come to believe that my praying friends are the most vital human part of this speaking ministry -- even more necessary than me. After all, God spoke out of a burning bush, through the lips of a stutterer, and from the mouth of a donkey. God can use any means to speak a message. So I ask you -- who is more vital, the speaker or the pray-er? The speaker needs God's power, and God's power is unleashed through prayer. That's God's plan -- that's His way.
So, I am thankful for praying friends.
- lift me up when I am down
- ask for courage when I have none
- ask for peace and calm when my stomach is in knots
- cry out for wisdom when I don't know what to say
- plead for love for a roomful of strangers
- pray for women they might never meet
All because they are my friends
All because they love God
All because they are obedient
All because they know the power unleashed by prayer
My friends, I thank you.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I need to focus on the fact that God CAN, and quit obsessing over whether or not He will. God CAN work in my present LifeTremor. I want the hurting to end, the puzzle pieces to fit and the ending to be happy. I know that GOD CAN bring all that to pass. But, will He? Or maybe I should ask, what's His will?
That's basically what Daniel's 3 buddies said when they were about to be tossed into the fiery furnace -- God CAN! They acknowledged that they did not know whether or not He would. That was ok with them. They knew that God could -- and that was enough. Scripture tells us:
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
Today I choose to praise the God who CAN -- whether or not He does.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Do you have some trouble and grief today? Something just not going your way? Are you feeling oppressed or depressed? Are you feeling like no one notices -- not even God? Well, take heart! Ps 10:14 reassures us that God sees our trouble and grief. But not only does He see, He also pays attention to it and is able to take it all into His amazing hand. God's hand is strong and powerful. God's hand is able to contain any trouble or grief we face. He can get His fingers around our problems. Our trials aren't too hard, too big or too persistent for our God.
Today I am thankful for my friend who led me to God's word which revealed God's mighty hand.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
I spent some precious time in God's Word, thinking about the fact that we are God's workmanship. (For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:10 NIV) What an amazing thought -- to be God's workmanship. Can't wait to explore this more. Thank you God for Your kindness to me today and tomorrow and tomorrow and . . .
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Margena is the kind of friend who is there in a LifeTremor. She's someone I email or call right away for prayer support. I know she will pray; her heart will hurt when mine hurts. She's that kind of friend. Today I told her about my latest LifeTremor, and she listened and felt my pain. Then she shared her LifeTremors, and I listened and felt her pain. I know we will pray for one another. I also know it was a gift of God that she was in town right now. I needed her. I needed that long walk with someone who would understand, offer encouragement, and pray.
Don't we all need friends like that? My friendship with Margena was founded on prayer. What a way to bond! We spent years meeting together and praying for one another. Nothing solidifies a friendship like prayer. Throw in some LifeTremors, mix in some tears and laughter. Now you have a friendship that lasts through time and distance.
I'm thankful for my friends!
Friday, May 22, 2009
Through all this quaking, one constant has remained -- the steadfast presence of God. I haven't always felt His presence, but I've trusted that He is there. After all, He promised He would be. Why would I quit believing that promise now? Now's the time I need my Rock the most -- when life is quakin'.
God has continued to pour His Word into my mind even when I could not sit still. I'm so thankful for my IPOD, my walking shoes, and some great messages from Godly women. The amazing part has been God's perfect timing. He sent a message of hope when I despaired, a message of comfort when sadness gripped me, and a gentle rebuke when I needed correction. God sent just what I needed. How did He know? He knew because He's God, and He knows me inside and out. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that He still loves me. No the most amazing thing is that He loved me in the first place.
I sure am glad that when life is quakin' my God is standing firm.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Today I read the context of my scripture memory verse. Hab 3:17-18 says this:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Don't you just love how God's Word can penetrate straight to the heart? His Word broke through my self-pity to expose the truth. I had a choice. I have one each day. I can choose to rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God my Savior OR I can let my circumstances dictate my mood.
This day I choose JOY. This day I choose to rejoice in God my Savior. Let me tell you why I can rejoice.
R = My God is Real and He is my Redeemer
E = My God is Eternal and Everlasting
J = My God is Just; His name is Jesus
O = My God is Omnipotent and Over all
I = My God is the Great I AM. He Inspires me
C = My God is Caring and Compassionate
E = My God is Emmanuel (God with us)
He is reason enough to choose Joy this day!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
It's so easy to become tired and discouraged. That's why I love this verse so much. Hab 3:19 begins "The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army . . . I don't have to try hard to be brave; I can rely on my God to supply every bit of courage and bravery required. I'm so thankful.
Friday, May 8, 2009
The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet, and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering or responsibility]!
These are precious words I needed to hear this day. Now to commit them to memory so I'll have them with me all the days of my life!
Want to join me? You'll never regret putting God's Word in your heart.
I feel like this might be happening right now in my life. Seeing God’s hand in my LifeTremor is difficult. My judgment is clouded by the pain. My mind cries out for relief. But, God just might be up to something incredible. Will I let Him complete His work, or will I simply want the pain to end? Am I so concerned about the end result that I miss what He's doing right now?
Oh how I want lives to be transformed -- including mine. I want this LifeTremor to have purpose – to result in something so good that one day I will say “It was worth it!” Will I be still enough and wait for that to happen?
I listened to music on my IPOD yesterday as I went for another long walk. The cd was by a husband/wife group called Providence (http://www.providencelive.org/). The song was called “In the Waiting” by Dave Clark, Don Koch, Gregory Long.
Here are the lyrics; I can’t say it any better . . .
It seems the hardest part is waiting on You
I want a peace beyond my understanding
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Bible teacher Beth Moore and I went for a long walk together. Well, Beth wasn't exactly with me, but her voice was -- through my IPOD. God used her voice and the mechanics of an IPOD to send me a Word I desparately needed to hear. And I want to share it with YOU.
Beth taught from the Bible passage in Acts 16:16-34 when Paul and Silas were in prison. In the midst of their struggle, they did something incredible -- they sang and praised God! Having been severely beaten and put in prison, they praised.
I knew this lesson -- to praise God in the midst of trouble. I had even taught that to women at a weekend retreat. But LifeTremors seem to sneak up on us, don't they? We're in them before we realize it. And then it's hard to remember to praise God. In fact, it's the opposite of what we want to do. I didn't even want to open my mouth to speak with anyone, much less open my mouth to praise my God.
But, that's exactly what Paul and Silas did, it's what Beth Moore suggested we do, and it's finally what I did -- I opened my mouth and praised my GOD! And do you know what happened? My circumstances did not change, the trial did not disappear, life did not suddenly get easy. But I changed. My spirit lifted, my attitude changed and hope returned. My focus shifted off my LifeTremor and onto my God, who is mightier than anything life can bring.
Perhaps you're experiencing a LifeTremor yourself. Here's a link to Beth's message (called LifeQuakes) so you can hear it yourself. I'll share more of what God's teaching me soon . . .