Pages

Monday, December 31, 2007

How Will You Spend 2008?

Everybody makes New Year's resolutions. Whether we admit it out loud or not, we all have things that we would like to change each year. It's not a bad thing to want to lose weight or eat healthier. It is actually Biblical to be more organized and have your house in order. And everyone could use a little more time in the Word! All of these are resolutions that I have made in years past, and I know for a fact that my family and friends have done the same.



So what about 2008?



(ok, exuse this interruption, but my 6 year old just asked me if it was ok for her to just leave the t.v. off. "There's just nothing good to see," she said. WHO has kidnapped my child?? What in the WORLD is going on here?? Ok, back to 2008!)



This past weekend at church our pastor preached on being real about our vision, our walk and our service to the Lord. Then in Sunday school our teacher challenged us to really look at what God is calling us to and His abilities to fulfill His purposes instead of our inabilities to do what He calls us to. I have to say it was quite a challenging and thought provoking day!



You know, I do not want to be known as the woman that God called but chickened out. When I look at the people in the Bible and how God called plain old people to lead others, defeat His enemies, heal, teach and prophesy I think about the fact that they didn't chicken out!!



How easy would it have been for Moses to convince himself that he just COULD NOT do it and refuse to go where God lead? And Jonah. The poor man tried to run, but God pursued Him and decided that he really WAS the man to speak to the people of Ninevah. These men, and others, tried to say no, but God's plan was most important and they followed through becoming great men of God.



Let's suppose we are the ONLY person that God could use to do the job that He is calling us to. Now, while this is unlikely that we are the ONLY person out of the billions on earth that could teach a Bible study or lead a women's prayer time or teach a kid's SS class, let's just suppose. Then let's suppose that we say no. "No, I just can't. I am busy. I have plans. I am not your girl. Sorry, God." (You know when we do that we have an "I" problem, right? That is for another day.)



Now let's suppose that we were Jesus. (Ok, This one is HIGHLY IMPROBABLE... actually, don't count on it. EVER!) Let's suppose that as Jesus God tells us that we are to go to earth and die for the sins of His people and the world, but we decide to tell God no. "Father, they are SO wicked. It's just not worth it. They do not obey Your commands and they are so hard headed! Please, Father, figure out another way. I am not doing it."

Well, what a fix we would be in. Every one of us would go straight to hell. Every one of us.

So all of this supposin' brings me to my point. In 2008 why not have a resolution that we will LISTEN and OBEY?

You know, it is one thing when our kids hear us. I mean, how many times to I say, "DID YOU HEAR ME?" and she says, "Yes." but then she has done nothing to act on my commands. OH! That is frustrating! But it is an entirely different thing for them to hear AND obey!

Deuteronomy 28 has a list of blessings for God's people IF they obeyed. Verse 13b says, "If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom."

I don't know what God is calling you to, but I DO know what He is calling me to. If I say no, not only will I disobey, but I will also miss out on the blessing that He has for me. I REALLY WANT A BLESSING!!

So, I want to challenge you to resolve to listen and obey in 2008. I would love to hear what God is calling you to, how you obey and what His blessing is in your life. What an encouragement it would be to me and others!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR my sisters! Our God reigns and He is on His throne!! PRAISE HIM! LIFT HIS NAME ON HIGH!! Come before Him surrendered, daily, in 2008! Palms up girls!!
Saturday, December 29, 2007

He loves me, He loves me... not?


This Christmas my sweet husband took me purse shopping. I was SO thrilled to get something really nice. I was certain that would be my only gift from him, but when we went to bed on Christmas night, we turned off the lights and as soon as I shut my eyes I felt a gift land on my stomach! "What in the world?" I asked with delight! Well, he had done it again! There on my stomach was a box wrapped in Christmas paper and inside was a new, soft pair of PJ's!


See, through our eleven years of marriage my husband has kidnapped me twice, (once he packed my luggage and took me to a bed and breakfast in the mountains after a long year of teaching school, and the other time he planned for his mom to keep our daughter, bought concert tickets in another town, and picked me up from a doctor's appointment unexpectedly then drove me to dinner and a concert an hour away.) he danced with me in the lobby of the hospital as the sweet little man played on the lobby piano after our daughter was born, and he has given me many gifts including a car for my first mother's day! (we were planning to buy it all along, but I had no idea it would be in the garage that day... with classical music playing on the radio as I climbed in.)


Now what you need to know about my husband is that he does not look like the most romantic type. Actually, he is a structural engineer. You know, they sometimes carry pocket protectors. Yea, those guys! The brainy sort. The ones that are smarter than any one person should be. That's him. My sweet husband.
Sometimes in our lives we question whether or not our Heavenly Father really loves us. We go through difficult times, we do not feel Him near us or we just feel lonely and are in need of a touch from Him. Sometimes we get caught up in the feelings that we feel or do not feel and we question whether or not He is really here with us or whether or not He really cares.
You know, my husband, as sweet as he is, has to work hard at being creative. He has to really think and plan things out in order to pull off those surprises, but he does it!! He is just a man, but he shows me that he loves me in so many ways. Yes, there are times that I feel far from him, but overall, I know that he has committed to me and will always love me.
Our Lord, however, does not have to try at all!! He does not have to work to be creative. He does not have to really think things through or plan things to show us His love. Every morning the sun comes up. Every time we breathe He provides the exact amount of oxygen and the exact heart beat to keep us alive. He is the same.. yesterday, today and tomorrow... and He is ALWAYS here.
If we sense that He isn't here or near maybe it is because WE have moved away from Him and we need to reevaluate OUR walk with Him. Perhaps we need to evaluate WHO we are listening to and if it is not Jesus... well, let's put our noses right in His Word and turn up the volume!!
Oh, sister! He loves you so much! He is here every single day to remind you that you are a Daughter of the King!! Those leaves that changed and fell to the ground... that was for you! That sweet little bird that flew to your window... that was for you! Those rain drops that touched your nose today... that was just for you! That beautiful sunset... well, just for you.. a painting painted by the Father's hand just to remind you that He IS here! And He loves you very much.
Psalm 145:9 "The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made."
Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Truth That You Probably Already Thought Of...

The other night at our church our pastor was talking about a photo that he and his wife had given their son when he accepted Christ and was baptized. I won't be able to explain it like he did, but he described a picture of a Joseph as a carpenter and Jesus as a boy near by. Jesus was holding three nails in His hands and sun shining through a window. The sun cast a shadow on a wall that depicted a cross behind Jesus.

I got to thinkin' about that.

As a boy Jesus worked with wood and nails. As He grew He knew how hard a nail must be hit to penetrate the wood and then if He made something He knew the angle at which a nail must be driven. He became very comfortable with wood. The splinters. The roughness. The feel of the hammer and nails. His very father, well, the earthly one, taught Him to use wood and nails to make something useful... something with purpose.

It's interesting that Jesus wasn't a fisherman or a shepherd. Both were common jobs of the time. Both had purpose.

No, He was born in a feed box. Made of wood. Hammered with nails.
He was a man that worked with wood. And His hands hammered the nails.
He died on a cross. Of wood. His hands and feet hammered with nails.
His entire human life was embedded in His purpose and as He came in human form that purpose would be, literally, before Him. In the form of wood. And nails. And yet neither of the materials were unfamiliar to Him. He was at home with the wood and the nails.

Maybe you had put all of those together before. I hadn't.

He came at Christmas so that we could know the incredible gift of love.
He lived His life so that we could know the example of life lived in humility and purpose. And He never stopped it. He knew His fate.

He knew why His Father had sent Him and He lived among the very items that would take His life. He worked with them. He knew the way they felt, the way they worked and the way they could be used to build something worth while.

He lived among the very people that would take His life, and He never stopped it. He lived ...so that He could die ...so that we could live... and be worth something worth while.

I just wonder if my life is showing that I was worth all of that? Am I pointing others to Jesus so that He can be real in the lives of others the way that He is real to me?

Maybe you already thought of all of this... I was just thinkin'.
Friday, December 21, 2007

Isn't There Another Way?

I just need to know... isn't there another way to make a gift look presentable without spending hours standing or kneeling with rolls of uncooperative wrapping paper, tape you can NEVER find and scissors that poke you as you are trying to wrap? I know you are going to say what my mother says," Just get tissue and gift bags and slap it in there!' WELLL... that is what my mother does and I don't want to do that. So there. I don't know. I was just wondering. Thanks for reading.
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Funny stuff, people!


Well, friends, my kid has been out of school for a whoping 6.5 days and she is seriously cracking me up. Kindergarden humor is really, well, funny!


She goes to a Christian school and they learned the scripture in Luke 2 about the angel appearing to the shepherds. Every time my husband and I read it from our Bibles it says, "Do not be afraid." To which she responds, in a LOUD voice, "NO! It is FEAR NOT! Ibringyougoodtidingsofgreatjoywhichwillbetoallpeople! Mom! Get it right!"


Charlie Brownesque, wouldn't you say? She runs the entire sentence together and she does not breathe. It is so funny.


Another thing that is really cracking me up is while shopping she is noticing other kids being disciplined by their moms. Yesterday she saw a little guy running from his mom. She stopped, watched the maddness unfold and then turned to me and said, "ohhhh! If she calls his daddy! Spankin'! " ALL seriouslike.


Perhaps she IS realizing that these moms (and dads!) mean business! I was starting to have my doubts.


Another thing about the holiday stuff is that she has been so busy and as a consequence she has been really tired and one day I had just had it! After staying up late and getting up early several days in a row I decided that we were both going to take a nap. To my surprise she did not put up a fight! As a matter of fact, she said, "Ok mom. I am going to lay down my sweet little head... just like Jesus."


What am I going to do with this kid? I guess I will just love her. She is such a gift and such a funny and happy part of my life. She IS my life.


Monday, December 17, 2007

I Can Do ALL Things...

This week's study in our Sunday school curriculum has already gotten my attention and it is only Monday! We are studying Joseph in Genesis 40 and the fact that he was Pharaoh's lead man until he was framed by Potiphar's wife and put in prison.

Two principles have really made me sit up and take notice:

1) Joseph practiced greatness in the pit before he practiced greatness publicly
2) Joseph never complained in his circumstance

The story is probably very familiar. Joseph was at the top of the food chain in many ways. He was the favorite of twelve brothers. He recieved a special coat and favor from their father, Israel, but was despised by the brothers and sold into slavery. Once a slave he became the top slave and was over the king's household. He was tricked by Potiphar's wife, who wanted to sleep with him, and was thrown into prison once the woman lied about his intent to harm her. Once in prison he became the head of the prison. Once out of prison he was placed over Pharoah's household and kingdom and eventually the world came to Joseph for help through a worldwide famine.

It seemed that no matter what the circumstance Joseph was destined for greatness. Over and over again the Bible says that the Lord was with Joseph.

Now, not everyone is destined for greatness. The Lord has a different plan for every person on this earth. Most times we are called to live "back stage". After all, not everyone can handle the fame. The question is how do we respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves?

I must admit that I do not handle things so well at times. Sometimes I face things that I think are just unsurvivable, and then I will encounter someone who is dealing with MUCH more than I. Their attitude and faith in check. They are in the pit, but not living like it. They have risen above and depending on the Lord for their very breath, and I am put to shame!

The same God that lived and sustained Joseph is the very God that we know today. He is the same God who had a plan for Joseph's life and who brought Joseph out of that pit into a world power. Joseph's example of living his best, no matter what the circumstance, and not complaining in the mean time is something that challenges me to live above this life.

We do go through difficult seasons in our lives. Things do not go the way we planned. Our lives become complicated with relationships and job situations. Our health fails. Others fail us. We suffer disappointments and hard times seem that they will never end.

How do we CHOOSE to handle those seasons? It truly is a choice. We can choose to wallow in our difficulty or we can choose to trust that the Lord really does have a plan to work all things together for good. If we are walking with Him we must choose to believe that He can and will work in our lives to bring glory to His name. We may never understand His purpose or His plan, but trusting Him is not an option if we claim to know Christ.

A few years ago a precious friend of our family lost her daughter in a horrible car accident. A year later she lost her husband of over 25 years to a massive stroke. Their family had been very close and she was devistated. At her husband's funeral she stood at the door as we left the church. Obviously heartbroken and confused she said through her tears, "I am not angry at God. My family is gone, but He has a plan and I will praise Him. His purpose is higher than what I can understand." I was amazed at her strength.

Just last night my parents had dinner with her... and her new husband! The Lord brought a precious man who had lost his wife of 30 years to cancer. He, too, had been devistated. The Lord knew that these two could handle each other's grief because they had been there. They understand each other's emotions and He has used each of them to bring healing into the other's life. While this is NOT what either of them would have chosen for their lives and while each of them hurt everyday for their loss, they chose to trust the Lord and to walk with Him through their circumstance. What a testimony!

Lord, in my pursuit of You help me to see that You really do have my best in mind. Help me to see the situations that I face as lessons that need to be learned. Lord, sustain me. Help me to trust you with all that I have and all that I am. My situations seem unbearable sometimes, but I know that with You I can do all things. Thank you for the life of Joseph and for the example that he set to live an excellent life in private first! Before we can live it in front of others we must live it in front of YOU!
Sunday, December 9, 2007

IT IS FINISHED!

Oh my word I am so tired! We just finished the 4th performance of our choir Christmas program at church. If one woman said it, a hundred did..."My feet are KILLING ME!" Standing for a solid hour in a long black skirt, a bright red sparkly top and black shoes really does set a girl on her fanny for a while. The last time, I just wore socks! No one was looking at my feet anyway. I am thinkin' next year... that is THE way to go!

Ok, that entire paragraph was one solid complaint! Do you think for one minute that Jesus cares how much my feet hurt for one hour? He came so that I could know salvation, and I am complaining about hurting feet. This is my biggest problem right now... I have noticed that I am one BIG complainer!! WHO LIKES A COMPLAINER?? Well, I for one, do not!

Last week I heard a pastor on the radio praying for his congregation. He asked the Lord to help them to not have a complaining spirit. I began to pay attention to my own mouth and determined that THIS is the same prayer that I need to pray on my own behalf! I noticed that I was complaining about serving, complaining about my kid, complaining about my weight, complain, complain, complain! Well... here's the thing... NONE of it honors God and I am sounding like a person who does not know that she is a child of God!! IT must stop!! NOW!

So many times I hear people complain and I think, "Do they know how good they really have it?"

I believe that if I am going to complain about something that two things needs to happen. First, I need to recognize my complaining spirit and ask for forgiveness, and second, I need to be willing to do something about it instead of just complaining all of the time! It does NOT show a heart of gratitude and it certainly does not change anything to just spout off about things in a negative way!

This time of year is a busy time, but it is also a sweet time of celebration. Our children learn things like Christmas carols and how to bake cookies at this time of year. Yes, it can be stressful, but people hear about our Savior through songs and church programs and children's musicals. I do not want to get caught up in "my feet hurting" and lose the joy that this time of year brings. What an honor to celebrate our Savior's birth!! No complaints came from His mouth as He lay down His deity to become a baby lying in a manger. He came willingly and humbly.

His birth challenges me to see the world in a different light. His Light! One of grace, mercy and goodness. With a spirit of love and honor for our King.

Funny, I do not remember "complaining" listed in the list of Fruit of the Spirit! So what fruit AM I bearing?? And what am I telling others in my complaining about my faith?

Jesus! Please forgive me for having a complaining spirit! You are so worthy of any effort that I can put forth to praise Your name! Forgive me for being ungrateful and help me to see the blessings of each day instead of the negative things. Help my life to reflect You to others and may they see Your gift of Jesus at Christmas and all through the year! Jesus, please help me to lay down my own agenda and to take up Your plan for me everyday! In Your will is where I long to dwell and in Your presence is where I find rest. I love you Jesus!
Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lonely Christmas

This time of year is a lonely time for many people. My dad has always struggled with Christmas. It seems to make him sad and I know several others who begin to experience times of sadness and loneliness just about the time the first Christmas songs begin to play. It is really ironic to me that the time of year that is so exciting to so many people can actually make others feel a sense of depression.

When I ask my dad about his feelings he usually replies with the fact that the songs and the smells and the sights remind him of his own father and the relationship that they had. My grandfather was not the most patient man with his four children. He had a short fuse and my dad was always trying to impress him, but usually to no avail. My grandfather died suddenly of a massive heart attack shortly after I was born. We have one picture of him holding me with my mom, dad and grandmother near by. My dad always felt the disappointment of a disapproving father, and sadly, it continues today even into his mid sixties!

The good news is that we have a Heavenly Father that greatly approves of our lives when they are lived for Him. He is a loving Father who sent His only Son at Christmas so that one day we could live with Him in Heaven! The emptiness left by the relationships of this earth can be avoided when we allow Christ to fill us completely.

In her book, Whispers of Hope, Beth Moore says, "Nothing destroys life like emptiness. Hollow places deep inside of us never sit dormant. They are vacuums attempting to inhale anything within reach."

If we are not first filled by Christ, His love, His forgiveness, His compassion and His goodness, then we are looking for something else to fill those empty places. Human beings do not have the capacity to give what Christ can give. It is unfair for us to expect a husband, friend or our children to bring peace into our lives. Our disappointment is really wrongly placed when we expect others to fill us. They can not! Our disappointment in this case should be in ourselves for not seeking Christ first.

Read John 2:1-11. It is the account of Jesus turning water into wine.

Moore says, "Christ fills empty vessels." "He is the only one who will never be frightened by the depth of our need."

If you are lonely this Christmas let me encourage you to stop. Stop shopping, stop decorating, stop baking... just stop and sit down with God's Word. Let Him know about all of the empty places that you are trying to fill. Tell Him about ALL of the people who have disappointed you and why. TRULY... the shopping, baking and decorating is NOT what Christmas is about! It is about knowing Jesus in a more intimate way and realizing that He came to earth to save us and to fill us... completely!

Oh, Lord! Fill us! Help us to allow You to fill our emptiness. Give us hearts that cry out to You first. Help us to set our friends and family free of the responsibility to fill us with something that will not last. Give us the ability to see You for who You are.. the God that sent His Son so that we could know deliverance! We love you Lord! Amen!!
Sunday, December 2, 2007

NO GIFTS!?

Tonight at church (during choir practice) I asked the lady beside me if she had finished her Christmas shopping. "I don't Christmas shop," she said "It's too stressful, we buy things just to buy them and it just drains me. I just don't shop for Christmas gifts."

Well, you can imagine my reaction. "Oh! Okay!" I said.

She could tell I was at a loss so she kindly explained that their family decided about 3 years ago to not buy each other gifts. She said that it got too hard, and they really do not need anything. They decided that instead of buying gifts they would use that time to be together more around the holidays and that would be their gift to one another... time!

She said it is wonderful!! No one stresses over not being able to afford things if it has been a hard year. No one has to get in the hussle of the mall and all of the traffic. No one waits in lines. They spend that time together!! The time they would have spent waiting with complete strangers is now spent with those that they love.

Isn't that interesting? I think that when we take a stand... go against the flow... it makes QUITE a statement about what is most important to us. I have to say.. she's got me thinkin'! I don't know if we will stop buying gifts because I enjoy giving them, but I must say I might rethink some of the time that I spend shopping, waiting, spending money, etc. and consider calling my family more or inviting friends over more.

Just food for thought... and I hope this season... this wonderful season of Christ's birth will make all of us think about things a little differently. He came for us. He came for relationship with us and as a gift to us. He didn't do things the way others did and He continues to surprise me everyday with His gifts. Gifts are not always the things that we unwrap on a certain day. What gifts can you give that might help you take a stand?