Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wait a minute!!!

Ever have one of those "thoughts" that make you go "Heyyyyyy, wait a minute"? Yep, had one of those today.

This morning in one of my email devotionals, I read about Josiah. I've always loved the story of Josiah. He became king at the age of 8, tore down all the idols of foreign gods at age 16 (sounds just like the radical move of a 16 year old!) and was known during his 31 year reign as one of Judah's greatest kings. He did everything he could to bring Judah back to God and His Word....but when he died, things went back to bad - worse even!

I did a little more reading and discovered that when Josiah died, his sons took over the throne. One only ruled 3 months before an Egyptian king overthrew him and put another of Josiah's sons on the throne instead. From what I could tell, that son was little more than a puppet king. Judah pretty much went back to its "pre-Josiah" days and started back up with the idols and pagan practices. 

All this got me to thinking about Josiah's sons. Why didn't they have the same strength of character and purpose that Josiah had? Why were they so easily overthrown and used by the enemy? Could it be because they did not have the same personal relationship with God that Josiah had?

That's when my thoughts, of course, traveled to my own two children. I want so much for them, but mostly I want them to know and love the Lord. I want their faith to be stronger than my own...that's when I could almost hear the Lord start talking to my heart.

"How did your faith become strong?"
"Through trials, Lord. You've carried us through so much."

Okay, by now you're probably already ahead of me here. Just a two line conversation with God, but through it I learned so much. 

I want so much for my children to have a faith that can stand....but I also want so much to protect them from pain, heartache, difficulty, you name it. But those very things are what can cause their faith to grow. I want them to hold on to God for all they are worth, yet I want to hand them so much they have no need of anything else. 

As a parent, it's natural to try and save your child from hurt. I ran alongside their bicycle as they learned to ride so that they wouldn't fall....they eventually fell anyway. I helped them study for tests...which they sometimes failed anyway. I warned them of friends that might do them harm or of the dangers of lying - yep, you guessed it. It seemed they had to learn the hard way.

I think what I need is a new mindset. While my heart breaks watching my daughter sit at home on a Friday night with seemingly no friends to hang out with, instead I should see it as a time when she has to rely on God as her friend and comfort. When I see my son struggle with rejection or failure, instead of trying to rescue him I need to see it as God showing Him that only through His strength can he truly become great. Those trials - let's call them what they often are, huge mistakes that my children often make, are something God is allowing in answer to prayer...the prayer that their faith might be greater than my own. I wish they would learn from my mistakes...but my mistakes are what made my faith grow. 

I wonder if Josiah protected his children like I WANT to protect my own. The difference is, Josiah was a man of wealth and power. He could MAKE things happen. I often feel like all I can do is sit and WATCH things happen. That's not true...I can watch and PRAY when things happen so that my children can grow strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 

I always thought I wanted to be like Josiah; instead, now I think I'd rather be like Timothy's mother and grandmother. Yep, my kids may have a rocky road ahead, but I have confidence that He who began a good work in them will be faithful to complete it...no matter what trials lie ahead. 

Wow...God can show you a lot in a minute! 

2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Romans 5 (Message)

 1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

 3-5There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Monday, May 28, 2012

The dream...

A few years ago...well, I guess it was actually about 20 years ago...I had a dream. It was one of those that causes your heart to pump and when you wake up you immediately know what it means. For some reason, that dream came to mind again this morning so I thought I'd share.

Many years ago, our church used to do a New Year's Eve celebration at the local college in the old gym. It was one of those gyms where you pulled out the bleachers to sit on - the old rickety wooden kind. It was always my "job" to decorate - obviously we were desperate to use me to decorate since I have NO sense of that sort of thing. Since I have a fear of heights, I especially hated the part that required me to climb to the very top bleacher and reach as high as I could (at 5 feet 2 inches, that wasn't all that high) and tape up the streamers or balloons. Still, I would obediently climb up there and try to still my heart and nerves as I added color to an otherwise boring dull gym. I was "doing it for the Lord!"

In my dream, I was smack dab in the middle of decorating for one of our New Year's celebrations and as usual, I was climbing to the top of those bleachers. For some reason they seemed even more rickety than before! Just as I climbed to the very top and reached to start decorating, the entire bleacher folded flat. It just collapsed! I sort of "rode" the boards down and I wasn't hurt, but you can imagine my heart was pounding like the lead drum in a marching band! Then I woke up.

Immediately I felt the Lord speak to my heart what it all meant. All my "works" that I had done to try and please Him were like those bleachers...rickety and scary and bound to come tumbling down. Instead He gave me a picture of what He really wanted from me. I could see my feet - and His - on a path. The path wasn't huge and I really couldn't see farther than a few steps ahead. Let's be honest - I could only see the path for the next step I would take, and sometimes only where I was currently standing! 

The path wasn't wide or steep, but there was a slight incline. I knew it would take me higher, but it wasn't like the climb I took on those weak wooden bleachers. This path was steady and sure. For some reason, I completely understood what I was seeing again.

God wasn't calling me to try and build some great, high, rickety structure...He was simply calling me to walk with Him one step at a time. Most of the time I couldn't see farther than the next step I was to take and I certainly had no idea where we were headed - but it wasn't scary. I didn't have to be afraid. All I had to do was follow Him, one step at a time.

I look back on where that "path" has taken me over the past 20 years and I am amazed. Some places I probably would have chosen not to go; but on the other side, I can see why we traveled through that area. 

I am not where I ever imagined I'd be...that's not a bad thing, by the way. I'm just now starting to do some of the things I dreamed of doing all those years ago - this blog being one of them. Some things I have yet to see. I almost never get to see very far ahead on the path. I wish I could say I'm always patient with that part, but I'm learning. I do know that He has never left me alone on the path.

Not sure why that dream came to mind today...maybe someone reading this needed to hear again that God has a plan for their life. He will walk you through it one step at a time. Maybe it was simply to remind me not to be afraid as I stand on this path and can't really see the next step for me and my family. For whatever reason this dream came back to mind, I do know this one thing. We never walk alone....and I don't have to make things happen myself by "climbing" some ladder, or bleacher, of success. Those things collapse, but Jesus never fails.
(For those who read original post and caught the typo, I apologize!!! I'm guessing you caught my intended meaning because only my husband pointed out my mistake!!)

Psalm 32:8 
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Isaiah 48:17
And now, the Master, God, sends me and his Spirit
   with this Message from God,
   your Redeemer, The Holy of Israel:
"I am God, your God,
   who teaches you how to live right and well.
   I show you what to do, where to go.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What if...

Today I was looking at facebook and seeing everyone brag on their children and their end of the year accomplishments. I love looking at these, but it got me wondering...what if?

What if we bragged on our spouses like we do our kids?

What if we cheered for our husbands like we do our favorite teams?

What if we prayed for our husbands like we do for our friends?

What if we kept up the little details about our husbands like we do the contestants on idol?

What if we honored them as Christ tells us to, loving them as our own body?

What if we spent some time thinking about why we fell in love with them in the first place?

Just thought I'd pose these questions today that I am asking myself....what if.

Ephesians 5:22
Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Your gift and purpose

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. End of school sort of does that to you. 

Today, however, I've had something on my mind that came from Bible study last night at church. Let me begin by saying I have the most wonderful group of ladies to meet with! We are currently going through The Power of a Praying Life by Stormie Omartian, and it every week is a new level of revelation! We are seeing lives changed and prayers answered and we're being challenged to trust God more.

Last night, in the midst of the lesson on recognizing your purpose, one of my friends said something along the line of not having any talent. She, like many others, felt like that since she didn't really have any special talent or gift. She doesn't sing, or speak, or excel in sports, or any of the things that seem to get you noticed. Of course we discussed how each of us has a gift, even if it's not one of the more "spot-lighted" ones that the world seems to recognize....that's when one of those "random thoughts" hit me. 

All of has a gift and a purpose - the gift we have is Jesus and our purpose is to share Him with everyone we meet.

I don't mean we all have to become Ray Comfort or Billy Graham or Kirk Cameron, but what if we could recognize that no matter where we go, we take Jesus. We have been given the gift of life! That should shine out from us in such a way that everyone who comes in contact with us feels at least a little of that light.

It also hit me that while I'd love to have some special gift that gets me attention, it's really not about me. This gift was given to me first of all to save me, but second so I could share it with others. So what if God chooses to place me in a classroom, or behind a burger counter, or at the end of a shovel digging a ditch - something I'm pretty sure I'd be lousy at - no matter where He chooses to lead me, I have a purpose. I am supposed to share Jesus' light and love wherever I go for as long as He has me there. 

Even if no one else sees what I do as special - God does....and there's someone there who needs Him. "But everyone at my work is a Christian already." Really? Well, then maybe they need you to stand with them in prayer in some way or help them make it through another day! Or maybe someone is going to cross your path that day that needs encouraging. Who knows what adventure He has in store for you each day when you realize your gift and purpose?

All of us want to feel talented or gifted or somehow special - and we are. It may be a talent that gets us attention, or it may be those gifts that no one considers all that special. We know they aren't considered special because no one is paying us big bucks to use them! They are special all the same. 

That smile you share with a child or a co-worker on a day when honestly you feel kind of blue yourself; or that listening ear you lend when someone just needs to vent, (not really very good with this one I'm afraid); or the way you show up for work on time simply because it's the right thing to do; or the way you return the shopping carts to the correct spot and save the poor bag boy extra steps; or the way you sit and listen to an older woman's stories about when she was just a bride; or the way you wipe up yet another spill made by your toddler; or the hundreds of little things you do everyday. You are sharing your gift....your purpose. You are sharing Jesus to those around you. The world may not notice, but God does. He sees you using your gift. He sees you living with a purpose.

You have a gift and a purpose, and it is far greater than you imagined. Now get out there and live that purpose....because the world needs you sharing what you've got.

1 Peter 4

The Message (MSG)
 7-11Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

1 Corinthians 12 (MSG)

4-11God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:
   wise counsel
   clear understanding
   simple trust
   healing the sick
   miraculous acts
   distinguishing between spirits
   interpretation of tongues.
   All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.
 12-13You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.
 14-18I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn't just a single part blown up into something huge. It's all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, "I'm not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don't belong to this body," would that make it so? If Ear said, "I'm not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don't deserve a place on the head," would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
 19-24But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn't be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, "Get lost; I don't need you"? Or, Head telling Foot, "You're fired; your job has been phased out"? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the "lower" the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it's a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn't you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
 25-26The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don't, the parts we see and the parts we don't. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.
 27-31You are Christ's body—that's who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your "part" mean anything. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

I have a confession...

I have a confession to make - I don't like Mother's Day.

Don't get me wrong - I absolutely LOVE being a mother, I just have always hated this day. (Yes, I know I'm not supposed to "hate" anything, but the feeling I have for this day is pretty darn close!) Mother's Day for me seems to always be filled with regrets and should have beens.

My own mother has been gone for quite a few years now, and in the weeks leading up to Mother's Day I am constantly reminded of how I did not honor her in the way she deserved. I could make a lot of excuses, but I guess it really boils down to I just didn't understand. I had no clue as to what she really wanted or needed as a mom....to be noticed and told thank you.

I also never really appreciated who she was. I have always taken a bit of pride that I was "just like my daddy" and never really understood how to appreciate how opposite my own mom was. Her strengths were very different from his and at the time I just didn't see it. Honestly, I still don't understand her but at least now I can understand that different isn't necessarily wrong.

Mother's Day reminds me of all the last minute gifts I gave her due to obligation or guilt. It reminds me of how I never really did enough. 

Mother's Day also is a slap in the face when it comes to my own children. For years this day  was so difficult because I had no children, and now that I do have them...well, it's still tough. I look at my growing children and realized I am so blessed to be allowed to be their mom, and so unworthy. They really do deserve better. I am not fishing for compliments here, just expressing what I think a lot of moms feel sometimes. I have blown it so many times....Why is it so difficult to remember anything I did RIGHT, but so easy to remember all the times I absolutely did it wrong?

Mother's Day is the day when all the wonderful things are said about "Mom's" and gifts are given and (hopefully) lunch is served - and cleaned up after - by someone other than her. But if you are a mom, I wonder if you, like me, hear all the words and feel woefully inadequate. I am not that Proverbs 31 woman. I am not the mom who cooks the wonderful meals that one day my son will compare his own wife's cooking to. I am not crafty or good at cleaning or in a thousand other things. I simply am not....

But I am thankful. Thankful for my own mom who, bless her heart, believed in me far more than I believed in myself. Who loved me despite my lack of "display" on Mother's Day. Who, even now, probably looks down from heaven and understands that I don't make the 3 hours trip to her graveside to  give her a Mother's Day bouquet because I'll be spending the afternoon with my own daughter trying desperately to find a dress for graduation and make last minute prep for the next step of her journey.

I am thankful - that God in His infinite mercy and grace allowed me to parent two beautiful children that are both so like, and so different, from me. I am thankful when I fail, and I do that a lot, He has already made a way because He loves them so much more than even me. I am still amazed that God allowed me to play even a small part in raising His precious babies, even though He knew just how often I would mess things up.

I really just don't like Mother's Day. It's a made up holiday to get us to do what we should be doing all year long - thanking God for giving us the family He did - no matter how messed up I think they may be.... Now that I'm older with kids of my own, I can truly say, "Thank you Mama." I think I'm starting to understand. I guess your grandkids took up where you left off in raising me and teaching me what life is all about.

With apologies to all the women like me who look at this verse and only feel more inadequate, I'm adding Proverbs 31. The good news is - God sees us as we are and loves us anyway....and so do our kids.

Proverbs 31:10-31 (Msg) 
A good woman is hard to find,
   and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
   and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
   all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
   and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She's like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
   and brings back exotic surprises.
She's up before dawn, preparing breakfast
   for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
   then, with money she's put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
   rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
   is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She's skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
   diligent in homemaking.
She's quick to assist anyone in need,
   reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn't worry about her family when it snows;
   their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
   and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
   when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
   brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
   and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
   and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
   and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
   her husband joins in with words of praise:
"Many women have done wonderful things,
   but you've outclassed them all!"
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
   The woman to be admired and praised
   is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-
Give her everything she deserves!
   Festoon her life with praises!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Never once....

Those who know me know there are two things I usually don't do. I don't get mushy and I don't cry. Oh, I may tear up at the occasional Folger's commercial, but real crying just isn't me. Until today.

Today was the day when they honored the graduates at church. No problem. I haven't really been overly emotional about my daughter graduating - except maybe in frustration of trying to "get it all done." This has not been a sad time - maybe because I simply haven't had the time. Oh, I had moments of thinking the time has passed too quickly, but no real moments of sadness or tears. Then today, before they even got to the "honor the graduates" part, they played a song by Matt Redmon and before I knew it I was sobbing. Not sweet little dab your eyes tears....nope, it was more of that shaking kind of a sob that comes from way down deep. Not sadness - not at all. Deep, deep tears of thankfulness for how faithful God has been.

The rest of today's random thought flowed from that song and is dedicated to my daughter, Samantha, and I guess to all the other moms out there who share in this overwhelming feeling of gratitude as they watch their child graduate. This is not the end, but a new beginning. Forgive us for our tears...we are just overwhelmed by the goodness of our God and His love for you.

Seventeen plus years ago, God looked down and saw a heart that cried out for one to love and in His mercy and grace - He sent you. I am not, nor will I ever be worthy of the name "mom" - it is only by His grace that I can know this joy. We've had hard times and I'm sure plenty of those times you have wished God would have chosen a different family for you...but never once have I wished for anyone other than you. I know that I can trust God with your future because you've always belonged, not to me, but to Him. He has allowed us to be a part of His great plan for you and I will forever be grateful for His love. I feel a lot like the mom in the movie The Blindside when someone told her she'd changed that boy's life and she replied, "No. He's changing mine." Samantha - you've changed my life. Thank you. I look forward to watching you begin a new phase of your life in His will. I love the saying you have in your room, "I may not know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future." You always have been and always will be, an answer to prayer. Never once, will you ever walk alone.

Here's the song that started the waterworks...Samantha - I dedicate this to you.

Never Once - Matt Redmon

Standing on this mountaintop 
Looking just how far we've come 
Knowing that for every step 
You were with us 

Kneeling on this battle ground 
Seeing just how much You've done 
Knowing every victory 
Is Your power in us 

Scars and struggles on the way 
But with joy our hearts can say 
Yes, our hearts can say 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 

Scars and struggles on the way 
But with joy our hearts can say 
Never once did we ever walk alone 
Carried by Your constant grace 
Held within Your perfect peace 
Never once, no, we never walk alone 

Never once did we ever walk alone 
Never once did You leave us on our own 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 

Every step we are breathing in Your grace 
Evermore we'll be breathing out Your praise 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful 
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

(Click on link below to view video of this song.)

Just sharing...

Sometimes you just have to "share" what you've heard. No, I don't mean gossip. I mean those words that build you, and others, up! So, enjoy some of the things I've seen in the past couple of days about God's Word. I just had to "share" so that others might be blessed!

We cannot defeat Goliath with our mouths shut. When David was preparing to do battle with the giant Goliath, he ran toward him, confessing out loud what he believed the end result of the battle would be: "This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand... "(1 Sam. 17:46 AMP).
Jeremiah 23:29 (Message) "Isn't my Message like fire?" God's Decree. "Isn't it like a sledgehammer busting a rock? (This one was from a Joyce Meyer devotional.)

There are those times when we have to choose to believe, or be crushed under the weight of despair. And there are times when we can't just think it or hope it...we have to hear ourselves say it. Lisa Crum
"But the Lord God keeps me from being disgraced. So I refuse to give up, because I know God will never let me down." Isaiah 50:7 (CEV)

"Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God." Romans 10:17 > I find that as I read aloud and speak truths from the Lord aloud, I am more encouraged and convinced in strong confidence of His promises, no matter the circumstances around me. Jennie Heberg

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
~ James 1:2-3, NLT

Now this is cool!
“It’s believing the word of God—and the Holy Spirit at work—that transforms us. It’s not just knowing the Word of God—you have to believe it. But before you believe it, you have to know it…you can’t believe that which you do not know.”

One of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that I don't ever get up in the morning and wonder if what I do matters. I live every day to the fullest because I can live it through Christ and I know no matter what I do today, I'm going to do something to advance the Kingdom of God. - Charles Colson

"If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best!" 2 Cor. 4:7-12
Though we are weak and imperfect, when we fill our vessels (ourselves) with the Word of God, we become containers of His blessing, ready to be poured out for His use. All of us are valuable to the Lord, God can even use cracked pots! Sometimes I think He likes those best - because they leak the blessings He gives on everyone they come in contact with!!!

God's loyal love couldn't have run out, His merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great Your faithfulness! I'm sticking with God, (I say it over and over.) He's all I've got left.
Lamentations 3:22-24 (Message)

And that's the Random thought and encouragement for today. Pass it on to someone who needs it! It'll be the best gossip you ever shared - plus it leaves no bitter aftertaste when you're through!

Friday, May 4, 2012

What kind of moon are you?

Tomorrow night we're supposed to experience a SUPER full moon...well, that explains a lot of the behavior we're seeing all around us - but that's another blog for another day.

According to NASA, this Saturday the moon will be up to 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the other full moons of 2012; and it should catch a lot of attention. Now 14% doesn't seem like that much to me - I mean, I don't even get excited about a sale that's less than 20%, but when it comes to the moon, 14% is a big deal!
I first heard about the "super moon" when I was listening to K-Love this morning, and they mentioned that a moon really doesn't have any light of its own - it only reflects the sun. Of course that tied into a conversation of how we are to be like the moon - reflecting the Son! My first thought of was of the story of Moses coming down from the mountain after meeting with God. 

In Exodus 34, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, it says his face glowed! "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai carrying the two Tablets of The Testimony, he didn't know that the skin of his face glowed because he had been speaking with God. Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, saw his radiant face, and held back, afraid to get close to him." 

Something about being in the presence of God caused Moses to glow! I often wonder if people can tell whether or not WE have been with God. Oh, we may not glow like Moses...he must have been WAY more than 14% closer to God during his visit, but there should be something that is at least a little different about us. If they can't, maybe it's because we're not getting close enough, spending enough time with God for it to make a difference. 

Then I started to wonder, what kind of moon I might be. Full? Half? New? Waning?
It's important to remember that half of the moon is always illuminated by the sun, but what we can see varies according to its position. Am I like the new moon - when the light of the Son shines on me but it is not yet evident to anyone around me because it's all so new? 

Am I like a half-moon, with half of me holding on to the world and half holding on to God? In a waxing moon, the light is increasing. I wouldn't mind being thought of as "waxing" if it means I am growing in Christ. What I DON'T want to be is a waning moon - in which I am reflecting less and less of the light of the Son. 

What I REALLY want to be is to be a FULL moon. No, I want to be a SUPER-FULL moon! I want to be like Moses, getting closer to God so that no matter where I go, my life GLOWS because it is reflecting the love of God to all those around me. One way to make sure I am spending time with God is to spend time in His Word! I wonder if I spent just a little more time (like maybe 14% more) what kind of difference it might make in my life and those around me. I want to FULL-y reflect the glory of God to a hurting world. 

What kind of moon do you want to be?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

I didn't get the message

I love my cell phone....but it can be so darn selective sometimes when it comes to giving me my messages. 

Take last week, for example. I was on my way home when I looked down and saw that I had a new voice message from my friend. I figured it was about something that was going on at church or maybe one of our self-defense classes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a message from the previous Saturday right after he had completed the Warrior Dash! He was letting me know he'd survived (since I'd called checking to see how he'd done.) He also had some really good advice on how I could get over that first wall - you know...the one that I didn't make it over. Gee, I sure wish I'd gotten that message BEFORE I ran the race instead of a week later! But, as always, my phone decided to keep that message and just give it to me later...much later!

That got me to thinking about how thankful I am that God doesn't have to rely on voicemail to get His message to me! When I am worried about hearing from God, I have to remind myself that God not only knows the last thing He told you; He knows the last thing you HEARD and UNDERSTOOD.

As a teacher, I have had days when I was teaching and I could tell that while my students LOOKED like they were listening, they just weren't getting it. I didn't just throw up my hands and say, "Well, I told them. I sure hope they understood." No, I kept telling them again and again in different ways until I saw that "light" go on in their eyes.

If I, a flawed human, can tell when my students need me to repeat something, how much more does God see and know when we need something repeated? He loves us and guides us when we seek Him! He knows when we understand and when we to hear it again. 

With my cell phone, something kept the message from getting through. The same thing can happen when we pray. There's even a story in the Bible about a time when God sent a message to someone but it was delayed by the "enemy." Daniel 10 tells the story. 

Daniel 10:12-14 "'Relax, Daniel,' he continued, 'don't be afraid. From the moment you decided to humble yourself to receive understanding, your prayer was heard, and I set out to come to you. But I was waylaid by the angel-prince of the kingdom of Persia and was delayed for a good three weeks. But then Michael, one of the chief angel-princes, intervened to help me. I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia. And now I'm here to help you understand what will eventually happen to your people. The vision has to do with what's ahead.'

I have to be honest; I just figured my friend hadn't gotten my message, or he was simply too busy to answer. I often assume that of God as well. Yet, like my friend, God DOES respond - even if I don't "get it" right away. God also knows when I didn't get the message because I didn't understand, or because it was delayed by the enemy or simply not heard because of how loud life can be sometimes.

Just like with my messed up cell phone, even though messages from God can be delayed....the message is still on its way. Unlike my phone message, the messages from God won't come "too late" to be of any help! God knows what you need and when you need it. The message will be right on time. Now to figure out how to get over that wall.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Today my daughter told me about a show she'd seen on tv...some sort of animal rescue reality show. In this particular episode, there was a Chihuahua that had been hit by a car and was "hold up" in the corner of an apartment entrance striking out at everyone who came near. That little bundle of fur was becoming more and more ferocious with every passing minute. Finally, the dog was rescued and taken to the shelter for medical help and to see if perhaps this dog would be suitable to be put up for adoption. 

It wasn't looking good - the little dog was not responding well to the handlers and it looked as if this dog was destined to be "put down" since he seemed unable to bond with humans....that is until the man who rescued the dog came to the window and looked in. Immediately the dog began to perk up and spring around the room. He was so excited to see his "Rescuer"! This dog could be adopted after all.

Tonight in our Bible study we were looking at the subject of fear, and I thought about this little dog and how he compares to the people I see around me every day. You probably have seen it too - parents, co-workers, and friends under so much stress and fear. Life has definitely been handing them a rough time for the past few years, and the stress is starting to really show. They are realizing they are losing control and that's a really scary place to be....so they strike out in fear just like that little dog was doing. They blame everyone around them for their pain...well, maybe not consciously, but they are in pain and anyone who comes near is fair game for their attack. 

What we need to do is get our eyes back on our "Rescuer," then we will find peace. When we get our eyes back on the One who saves us, we are no longer focused on our fears. The joy can return to our lives - we can love and be loved. No longer will we be controlled by our fears and frustration - all because we can see our Rescuer and know it's going to be okay. No, better than okay...it's going to be good again. We have hope.

Those days when we find ourselves striking out at everyone around us, consider that maybe we've taken our eyes off the Rescuer. Maybe fear has become our focus. To be honest, I've been feeling a bit like that scared little dog lately, but I'm making an effort to shift my focus back to where it should be...on the only One who can rescue me.

Isaiah 41:10 
Don't panic. I'm with you. 
   There's no need to fear for I'm your God.
I'll give you strength. I'll help you. 
   I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.

Romans 8:15

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again;rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

We can reject the spirit of fear. We can choose to live in His love and power.

Psalm 112:1-3

Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.

(I've got to be honest....never noticed that "Wealth and riches are in their houses" part before. That means somewhere in all this mess, there are some riches to be found! Looks like I've got some house cleaning to do!)