In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Hidden Problem

Do you struggle with pride?

If you'd asked me that questions 2 days ago I would have said no. But that would have been before the sermon at church this morning.

The pastor started out referencing Isaiah 66:2 (NIV):

Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

He made the point that God values those who are humble. Then he went on to quote the well loved verses in James 4:6-7 (NLT):

But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,
“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.”c]">]
7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Well I was feeling fine. But I was trying to be open minded and think back through my week if I'd been haughty. My husband even leaned over and whispered that he knows he doesn't have issues with this one.

But at one point during the sermon the pastor put a list of symptoms of pride up on the overhead. Then he went though the list and talked about each symptom. Uh-oh, that's where it got me!

There were these 4 that I wrote down that I know apply to me: Impatient, critical, controlling, need to be right, and not easily corrected - yuck! There were also things on that list like: difficulty forgiving others, judgmental, getting your feelings easily hurt, praise seeking, angry (plus there were more I can't remember).

I'm grateful for my brothers and sisters in Christ in our church; what sweet spirits. Afterward I heard several of them commenting on that list and how they had stuff on it. Even my 16 year old son admitted to having issues with several of the symptoms. Amusingly enough this was the very same son who did not want to go to church this morning and I reminded him of the household church attendance requirement so he came (but as we walked into church I looked over at him and found that he'd worn his gym shorts and bedroom slippers to church to get back at me. Fortunately for once I took the wise road and said nothing). My husband announced to the car while driving home, as he laughed at himself, that he saw bits of the entire list in his life.

Gee who realized it was such a pervasive problem?!

The pastor went on to list some ways to combat this issue in our lives:

  • Acknowledge our dependency on God
  • Thank the Lord for everything
  • Have a lifestyle of choosing to serve those around you
  • Invite those in your life to speak truth and provide correction
  • Quit worrying and trust God
  • When you get compliments say thank you and then, if possible, give glory to God in it
  • Accept the gift of sleep
  • Laugh at yourself, often

The one on that list that really hit me was the one about sleep. Both my son and husband looked at me when he said it. I aim to seek God in this area this week. I even started today by actually taking a nap.

Is there any area on this list that you want to work on?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Politically correct or Gracious?

Do you ever tire of all this political correctness in our society lately?

I do.

Sometimes it drives me crazy how no one can just come out and say something is wrong anymore. Everything is relative.

But, it's like everything else in life, there's got to be balance. I want to be straight forward, but I want to work together with people, not against them. I want to be honest, but do it in a gracious manner. I've also learned that sometimes it is best to be silent. I do not have to state that I think something or someone is wrong, nor do I have to affirm and make it OK, I can just remain silent.

I adore the apostle Paul's encouragement in Philippians 4:4-5 (MSG):

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

One of the conclusions this verse causes me to draw is that having that balance needs to start with God. If He's the focus of my life, and I'm enjoying and celebrating Him, then my mind is clear to be able to deal rightly with the people in my life.

I believe that one of the ways I can celebrate God is to appreciate His creation; and part of his creation is people. If I sincerely appreciate who people are, they can feel it. I never want to have an agenda when dealing with people, to pretend to be someone's friend so I can "sell him the gospel". I think that sometimes as Christians we fail to just be friends with people and see them as potential converts instead. I want to befriend someone because I like him, can appreciate him. Then, because of both that sincere feeling as well as the fact that God is real in my life, of course I'll share good news as a natural part of life.

Recently John, my husband, and I have had some opportunities to reach out to new people who've come into our lives. Since I really like to cook and have people over, we've invited these new people to a BBQ at our house. Once it was a new couple and the other time it was the guys (and their significant others, kids, etc.) who worked on our house. Both times the people seemed wary at first, but then by the end of our time together they were relaxed and happy, they came to realize that all we wanted to do was hang out and enjoy their company and give them a good meal.

What are ways that you let people you come in contact with daily know that you're on their side?

Are you willing to deal with discomfort?


A few days ago I read a post on Seth's Blog. Seth made the point that Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.

That comment alone made me uncomfortable.

It made me uncomfortable because there are so many common, daily situations where leadership is necessary. Like in the family; someone has to take the lead. As parents it's up to us to lead out and ensure that the focus that we believe is important is the direction in which we are all heading. We've got to be OK with our kids not liking what we are doing all the time - trust me I have two teen age sons so I know of which I am speaking! But if no one leads in a home, chaos and stifled growth will be the result.

I'm reminded of what Jesus had to say about leadership in Matthew 20:25-28 (MSG):

So Jesus got them together to settle things down. He said, "You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage."

In Kingdom economy comfort is not a thing to be sought; so in Kingdom economy we can be uncomfortable and still go forward. I think Jesus was letting his disciples know in this passage that the reason you can lead (deal with the uncomfortable) is because you've already made the decision that it is not about you - it is about those you lead.

Leadership means caring enough about the people whom you are leading to do what it takes.

What are you learning about leadership these days?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Live Gladly

"The greatest honor we can give Amighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of His love."
- Julian of Norwich

Fruit instead of works

It's always been difficult for me to hit that balance between grace and works.

I know that it is a fact that God gave me the faith, the ability, to trust in Jesus' work on the cross on my behalf. I know that because Jesus died on the cross in my place, and intercedes for me before God the Father, I am acceptable in God's sight. I did nothing to earn this great salvation that is mine. It was totally a gift to me; all I had to do was accept it. Ignatius of Loyola said it so well:
"The direct experience of God is grace indeed, and basically there is no one to whom it is refused."

Yet, if my faith in God is real, there will be resulting actions. Real faith, a real choice to follow after Christ, leads to a different way of life.

That's where the whole debate comes in.

Recently I was commenting on the fact that James even says that faith without corresponding works isn't real. John, my husband, cautioned me that I need to be sure to differentiate between works and fruit. His comments have been ruminating around in the back of my mind for a few days now.

Fruit in my life is as a result of my connection to God. I can not produce fruit. Works are something I have produced on my own.

Jesus clarified it in John 15:3-5 (NKJV):

3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

I know that I need to be changed from the inside out. Ways that I can alter myself on the outside to look good, are not genuine. It's only as I spend time in God's presence and in His Word, only as I choose to open myself up to Him, only as I submit to what He is telling me to do - only then does real change happen.

What have you been learning about grace and works?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let God be the judge


This morning during my time with God I was reading in Genesis 50. It's the well known and loved story of Joseph. After his brothers had sold him into slavery and all the terrible things that happened to him over many years he ended up being reunited with his brothers. That went well but then his father dies and his brothers are afraid so they send a message saying that their dad had directed Joseph to forgive them. Something in Joseph's response caught my attention today:

But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, to judge and punish you? As far as I am concerned God turned into good what you meant for evil.
Genesis 50:19-20A (NLT)

Typically as I read these words, I delight in the fact that God took what was meant for evil and turned it into good. Today Joseph's phrase asking if he is God to judge caught my attention.

Recently I had a really bad situation at work. I'd worked for a company for 9yrs and they had been extremely happy with me. I tend to be focused and results driven, good to my staff, and give a lot to my work. I'd turned one of the company's facilities around that had been losing money. The company was liking me. Then some situations and key people changed and two of those key people do business very differently than me. I have some ethical issues with their manner of doing things. One of them set out to harm me and my reputation, and the other was supportive of it. My boss who I've worked with for 5yrs, who had always been appreciative of me in the past, is very close with both these people. The bottom line of it all was that, for the first time ever in my entire life, I was terminated from my job. It was devastating.

Perhaps this event is what turned my attention to Joseph's words about how it is for God to judge and punish, not him. Joseph was very clear and very aware of who had what job.

I too want to live my life leaving God's part to Him and focusing on what is mine to do.

I want to remain free of judgment and live in today. I want to live in today loving God; praising Him for His greatness, noticing and thanking Him for all He's given me, enjoying the beauty around me. I want to love the people around me; go out of my way to do good things for them, be sensitive to what is going on with the people in my life, loving those in my life in ways that are real and meaningful.

Do you have any situations where you need to let go and let God be judge? How would this change your life?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Incompetence can be the beginning of freedom

I never really understood that whole thing about us needing to have faith like a child.

I know that in Luke 18:16 (NASV) Jesus makes the statement about the kingdom belonging to those who are like children:

But Jesus called for them, saying, "Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

In answer to why the children get the Kingdom, I've always heard it explained that children have a simple faith. That children just believe what they are told, and we, too, need to have that simple faith. That may be nice, but somehow this explanation of Jesus' words regarding this has never satisfied me. I've always felt like there is more there.

Today as I was reading from a book by Brennan Manning I came across another explanation of Jesus' words. Manning explained that he doesn't think it is by mistake that we have the story of the rich young man immediately following the account of Jesus telling his disciples to let the children come to Him. Manning said:

"Children contrast with the rich young man simply because there is no question of their having yet been able to merit anything. Jesus' point is, there is nothing any of us can do to inherit the kingdom. We must simply receive it like little children. And little children haven't done anything. The New Testament was not sentimental about children and had no illusion about any pretended innate goodness in them. Jesus is not suggesting that heaven is a huge playground for Cajun infants. Children are our model because they have no claim on heaven. If they are close to God, it is because they are incompetent, not because they are innocent. If they receive anything, it can only be as a gift."

Wow!

This kind of talking about the Kingdom of God does not make it about piety or having it all together. This way of thinking challenges my frustration with myself for the fact that I still struggle with selfishness an impatience, that I still sometimes try to fill the hollow parts of me with food or relationships. This kind of talking about the Kingdom of God is for those who feel their lives are a grave disappointment to God - people like me.

The reason the gospel is the good news is because it's all about God's goodness.

Because of the good news I can be free from having to live in self deception - it's not about me being good anyway. I can leave off judging others because it doesn't matter. I can bask in, and be grateful for, God's gift to me. God's gift of faith that I can believe in the work of Jesus on the cross.

How can deepening your understanding that our salvation is a gift change the way you treat yourself and others?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Reckless abandoment to God



Here's an awesome prayer by Brennan Manning that I pray as my own today:

"Oh, God, my Father, thank You for Your mercies--innumerable, measureless, fathomless . . . Thank You! Be present with me now on each step of this ragamuffin journey. Grow me up in my inner being to receive and share abroad more and more of Your love. Let me be your hands and face and words to all I meet. Set me free to serve You--free from anxiety, fear, self-pity, self-hatred, cynicism, or skepticism. Save me from every crippling sin and any darkness of unbelief. Lord Jesus Christ, anoint my life and my spiritual community with deep faith and reckless abandonment to Your enduring goodness. Give us truly listening hearts, that we may hear Your Word and courageously act upon it, to the praise of Your name and joy of your heart. I ask this in the name of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

Grateful


Today I find myself grateful once again for God's perfect timing.

Last night my 21-yr old son emailed me that during this past weekend he'd asked his girlfriend to marry him. Now, I'd known this was coming. They are both students who are in their last year at West Point. She'd came to our home for part of the last Christmas break, he'd shown me a picture of the ring he was buying her...but somehow it being DONE is different. I experienced intense emotions last night. I thought about how they are so young, they are so busy they barely have time to pull off a wedding that they are planning to have right after graduation - much less learn about marriage, they both come from poor backgrounds with regard to learning about healthy marriage and family life...

Then this morning, during my Bible study time, I come upon my memory verse in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see

The companion book I've been reading encourages me that I can have faith in God because of what scripture tells me of His character. There are so many accounts in the old testament that portray God's trustworthiness and faithfulness. Hebrews 10:23 (NLT) tells me:

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

What is my hope? That God is good and has good plans for our lives; that includes both my son and his intended. Many times God made promises to His children Israel in the Old Testament; those promises that are indicative of Who God is, how He works in relationship, can apply to us as His followers today too. I hope in the words from Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I am grateful that I can rest in the truth that God has good plans, a good future for my son and his wife to be.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I'm not destined for popularity

To the right is an oft quoted alleged GoodHousekeeping article from May 1955. To enlarge it, just click on the article.

A good friend of mine sent this to me with the comment about how she came across this and thought it could provide a good laugh. Out of curiosity I went onto Google and found lots that many people had to say about this same article - all of it negative.

I know I'm not destined for popularity because I don't have a problem with the article.

Considering that women were home full time in those days, it made sense.

Recently I lost my job so I'm now home full time. Because of that I actually believe it's reasonable for me to focus on the needs of others in the family because I have more time to meet them and it makes all of their lives easier. I am an independent person but realize that in a family I have the blessing and opportunity to fight my sin nature that always wants to think of me first. Our culture would tell me that it's all about following my dreams and getting my needs met but the Bible says that my goal is to learn to be the servant of all.

Honestly, if both partners put forth as much thought and effort into pleasing the other as this article discusses, there would be less divorces. As far as the specifics such as have the children clean; I can not personally relate since my sons are teens. But if a woman is a stay at home mom of small children it might be a great idea to have a time before dinner and dad's homecoming to get the kids cleaned up. How nice for the guy to come home to a picked up house; I don't see that as a problem - it's orderly for everybody.

I guess the part about "his topics of conversation are more important than yours" could be considered bad. Then again, if both a husband and wife put the other person as more important than him/her self than it will make life so much better for each.

I don't agree with the "you have no right to question him" but the greater part of wisdom, forbearance and kindness is to be rather diplomatic when questioning another person's integrity, motives or judgment.

I actually adore the stated goal here to try to make your home a place of peace, order and tranquility where your, they say husband but I would say where each member of the family, can renew himself in body and spirit.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Moving forward



Saw the movie Pelham 123 with John today. I enjoyed it. It's difficult not to enjoy a movie that includes both Travolta and Denzel; they're both so charismatic.

There was a line in the movie that hit me.

I don't want to give too much away so I'll be vague in setting up the quote. Denzel is walking into a very bad situation where the odds are great he may not end up living through it and the cop with whom he is walking asks him: "Who'd you f_ _ _ to get this assignment?" to which Denzel replies "myself", and the cop comes back wtih "that's easy to do".

I respected Denzel's character because so often it's easy to put the blame on someone else, but he accepted responsibility. Every day I watch people who put the responsibility for their actions on everyone else.

The comeback was so true - we can mess ourselves up more than anyone else. There's that old adage about sometimes we're our own worst enemy.

I do not think a leader is someone who is so great that he avoids this human propensity. I just think a leader realizes when he is wrong, takes responsiblity, and chooses to do the right thing going forward.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Praying differently


I've been learning how to pray the Word lately.

As I come across passages in the bible the Holy Spirit will stir my heart to turn them into prayer for a specific person. Or I'll find out about a challenge someone is experiencing and look up scripture concerning that situation and pray from the specific scripture(s) as I feel led to for that person.

The bible illustrates for me in Hebrews 4:12 (KJV) that His Word is powerful:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Then in Matthew 21:22 (NLT), when Jesus is teaching about having faith He says:

You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.


James cautions us in
James 4:2-4 (MSG) that we don't get what we ask for from God because we are asking from our selfishness:

You wouldn't think of just asking God for it, would you? And why not? Because you know you'd be asking for what you have no right to. You're spoiled children, each wanting your own way. You're cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way.

I want my prayers to be effective. I want to live a life filled with faith. So, I figure if I spent time in the Word and let my prayers flow out of that, that this is a good method. I'm by no means saying this is the only way I'm praying, just that this is another, new way for me.

I found that book I mentioned in another entry, Bible Prayers for all your needs , among our stuff that has printed prayers from the Word and started reading and using some of those. As I read Dillow's book Calm my Anxious Heart I found where she speaks of doing this and even provided specific examples when sharing a story. Now I've started doing it for myself (For some examples: My Bible Prayers").

I'm grateful for the example of other Believers that I learn from, and hope that I can be a help in the same way to other people.

Set on Fire

This is an old Gallican Sacramentary that I'm meditating on. May this be so in my life:

"Grant Thy servants, O God, to be set on fire with Thy Spirit, strengthened by Thy power, illuminated by Thy splendour, filled with Thy grace, and to go forward by Thine aid. Give them, O Lord, a right faith, perfect love, true humility. Grant, O Lord, that there may be in us simple affection, brave patience, persevering obedience, perpetual peace, a pure mind, a right and honest heart, a good will, a holy conscience, spiritual strength, a life unspotted and unblamable; and after having . . . finished our course, may we be enabled happily to enter into Thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A good book if you're Hungry


Do you struggle with discontentment?

Do you long to be a woman characterized by the peace of God?

Then the book, Calm my Anxious Heart, may be for you. When I thought about why I enjoyed the book so much the phrase soul feeding came to my mind. It's a book I had to stop myself from reading more than one chapter of at a time because I wanted to keep reading.

But I forced myself to take it slowly so I could muse on the ways it applied to my life, ponder ways to utilize the ideas, and complete the bible study portion at the back of the book that's available for each chapter. I've also been enjoying getting back into scripture memorization since there's a memory verse with each chapter.

Reading this book, for me, has been as if my soul was hungry for something, only I didn't know what, and this book satisfies that hunger.

Friday, August 14, 2009

God made us who we are



Just finished watching a good movie entitled Faith Like Potatoes.

It's based on a true story. I like the part where it shows the man, Angus, talking with the pastor right after he's chosen to follow Christ. Angus is telling the pastor about himself; he's explaining that he's a wild Scotsman. The pastor tells him that God made him wild because he loves him so much.

God made each of us how we are because He loves us so much.

May I remember that when someone's eccentricities annoy me.

His Love and Grace are Enough


Here's a prayer that creates the same desire in me as that of the writer; taken from The Spiritual Exercises Of St. Ignatius:


"Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will--all that I have and call my own. You have given it all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will. Give me only your love and your grace. That is enough for me."

Do you have a prayer that you've read that helps encourage your faith?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Learning to lead my heart



Constantly I'm hearing messages around me to "follow your heart".

I disagree.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 (MSG) tells me:

"The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful,
a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart
and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human.
I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are,
not as they pretend to be."

My heart isn't good. God is good and He can change my heart as I look to, abide in and submit to Him.

Nowhere is this so important to remember as in marriage.

My heart, my emotions, will want what I want; my heart is selfish. I must choose to lead my heart. I must choose to protect and guide my heart in my marriage. I must chose to lead my heart toward what is good in the long run instead of what feels good in the moment.

Wandering for too long in the misty lowland




I've come to adore reading prayers of other Believers. Their words of adoration, consecration, faith and hope encourage my own.

These prayers have become so valuable to me that I'm going to start sharing them here.

The following prayer by A.W. Tozer is one that states so well my own longing to want God more:

O God, I have tasted your goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want you; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me your glory, I pray, so that I may know you indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, 'Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.' Then give me grace to rise and follow you up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Greek Salad


I've always enjoyed Greek salad at restaurants but never been able to create a good version at home. That's until I recently discovered a bottled dressing: Girards Greek Vinaigrette. Once I found that, the following recipe was a huge success. I've served it at a few parties I've had lately and there's never any leftover.

Ingredients
Grape tomatoes
Small red onion, separated into rings
Black olives
Feta cheese, crumbled
Sliced cucumber
Torn romaine leaves (or any other greens mix)
Girards Greek Vinaigrette

Mix the above together. You can leave out the lettuce if you like, but due to expense, I add it in when making this for a group.

Broken before God


Repeatedly I find that my heart needs breaking.

To stay as I am naturally just doesn't work.

This morning I woke up and started to get some little things done around the house. My mind kept turning to how many things others in my family had not done that they should. I was a shrew toward my 16yr old son when I tried to get him to do some things around the house. I was thinking about how I really needed to "talk with" my husband about some things.

That's when I started to force myself to start softly singing praises as I continued to do a few little tasks. Then I took time for prayer and scripture reading.

My whole perspective changed.

Suddenly I was grateful for all the blessings around me. Ashamed for my attitude and my rudeness to my son. I apologized to him. I realized that, at least on this issue, I need to pray for my husband and let God deal with him concerning the situation; to extend to him from the vast supply of grace being given to me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Musing on Anointing

I've seen people who speak out for God and have something special about them, have blessed results. I've always assumed that was because God's anointing was on them.

Just the other day I was watching a videotape of a teacher named Beth Moore who said something with regard to being anointed that's had me thinking.

Moore was talking about how we receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again but that we can choose, each day, each moment, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she went on to say that we talk about the anointing of God as if it's something that comes on us, but she sees "anointed" as being so filled with the Holy Spirit that He splashes over the top. She showed a large glass measuring cup that she filled a little way with red liquid and said that if that was us, we'd be looking for something else to fill us up the rest of the way (relationships, food, shopping, busyness, etc.). Then she poured the red liquid all the way up to the top and said that's like when we are filled with the Spirit. Then she continued to pour and it overflowed; she said she thinks this is what we are perceiving when we say someone is anointed of God - the person is so yielded to God, so depleted of self and filled with God, that God overflows from that person.

I looked in the scriptures, specifically the New Testament, and see where Luke 4:18 shows us where Jesus says the Spirit of God has anointed Him to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed. Then there's that anointing by the woman with expensive perfume that's symbolic of Jesus being prepared for His upcoming death (Matthew 26:5-7). We also have various passages where people are anointed with oil prior to prayer for them (Mark 6:12-13, James 5:14). I see in Acts 10:38 & 2 Corinthians 1:21 where it is similar to when Jesus said the Spirit of God had anointed Him; it's a naming someone for a job and equipping that person(s) with the Holy Spirit to do it.

So I still think the word "Anointing" means God coming on someone to set them apart for service (just like we see the prophets doing periodically in the Old Testament); definitely something on (verses from inside of) someone.

But I think Moore is correct in that what we commonly refer to when we say a specific pastor or ministry team or whomever is "anointed", is really someone who is so yielded to God and depleted of self that he/she is filled and overflowing with the Holy Spirit. I think Moore was trying to help us understand the fact that when we accept Jesus as our Savior and choose to follow after Him as our Lord and He gives us His Holy Spirit that comes and lives inside us - we get it ALL. There's not some new "more" we need to seek after. We just need to learn how to live abiding in Him (John 15:3-5).

This leads me to want to ponder more on ways I can be more depleted of myself and filled with God's Spirit.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Frost on my soul

Today a friend shared this prayer with me from Norman Shawchuck's book "A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God" that totally captured my heart:

"O God, I surrender to you the habits and sins that, like frost, chill my soul and cause your life-giving energy to cease its flow in me. Uproot me from the weed patches of evil wherein I have chosen to sink my roots. Plant me instead in your field of righteousness.

Direct the searchlight of your love into every crevice of my life that I may seek to journey from this long winter of sin, to once again flourish in the summer of your goodness and love.

Send the gracious showers of your forgiveness to break the long drought of spiritual aridness that has shriveled my soul, and grant, my Lord, that I may become more like you and less like my shadowy self.

This day I pledge to you and to myself that I will begin even now to pursue right thinking and right living, but my God, I need your help. Amen."

Holding our Dreams in an open hand

I adore the Word from God spoken through Jeremiah the prophet found in Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I am so grateful to know that God's Word is true.

Recently I was terminated from a company where I'd worked for the past 9 yrs. A company that is one of the largest nursing home chains in the country (I'm a licensed nursing home administrator), and has all but 2 psych facilities in southern CA (I've always worked in and ran mental health facilities). I've never been terminated from any job and for the past 25yrs have never gone out and applied for a job; my employers have always been happy with me and, though my work, I've met people in compatible businesses who have hired me. So, well, it's definitely an uncomfortable situation.

I've certainly been re-thinking what I'd thought were my dreams.

One thing I've learned through the years is that when times are tough I've got to make sure I'm thoroughly drenched in God's Word. I've got to make sure to apply the direction in Philippians 4:8 about the need to keep my mind set on whatever is right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.

To that end I've been making time to read inspirational words. I've also been listening to sermons or bible teaching while I'm cooking, cleaning or doing other necessary mindless tasks.

Today I was encouraged by these words penned by a pastor named Joel Osteen:
"Today many of you are limiting God because your eyes are on your current situation. You are overwhelmed by the pressures of life. Nobody enjoys going through tough times. But with God, through trials and adversity we realize the vastness of how much He loves and cares for us. When you live without limits, you can see your future much clearer. God has a plan for your future and it involves greatness."

While I was cooking today I listened to a sermon by Pastor Jay Pancratz about fireproofing your dreams (Attachment: aug_2_09.mp3). A few things really spoke to me in that. One of the things Pastor Jay said caused me to remember that God wants to use us at any age. As a 49 yr old woman, our culture would say that I'm on the downside of the slope. But God reminded me that Abraham was 75 when God told him he was to leave his home and go into a new land and that God was going to make him the father of a great nation. Moses was 80 when he led the Israelites out of Exile in Egypt. Pastor Jay also emphasized how our dreams need to be held in an open hand so that we're always open to God if He wants to make changes. We may very well not end up experiencing life the way we had it all figured out; but God's ways are so much better! I'm reminded of a favorite bible priase to God found in Ephesians 3:20-21 that says:

20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!

I am convinced that if I'll cooperate, God will do way more than my dreams for myself. God will do beyond what I ask, beyond what I can imagine, though His power at work in me.
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