Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Disturb us, Lord

Great poem to ponder as we enter a New Year.

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

[Sir Francis Drake]

Monday, December 28, 2009

Order of Importance

I suppose reflection is a good thing. There are times that we need to step back and evaluate where we have been, and what we have accomplished. The end of a year always seems to put me in a reflective mood. The start of a new year is like a beautiful new journal with crisp blank pages poised to receive the story of our lives.
Last year went by at warp speed and it truly seems to me that it was only six months ago that I broke my ankle. In reality that happened the first week of January 2009. I'd never broken a bone, never been seriously sidelined by any health issue. It reminds me that I can plan, but not always forsee or control what comes into my life. What I can count on is a God who is so faithful and kind. What seemed bad turned into something very good in His hands. My husband was wonderful, our friends supportive and helpful. The time to "be still and know that He is God" brought forth some valuable things within and without as He worked it together for my good and His glory.
So as we sit poised to enter a new year I know that foremost in my heart and mind is to keep Him first. I want to show Him with every choice, every thought, and every action that He is the most important person in my life. With that in mind, I went back and read something I wrote eight months ago.
Why would I go to other wells when He is the fountain of Living Water. Why would I read about the vapid lives of self-seeking people when I will never be able to plumb the depths of all that He is and wants to be to me? I want to be done with lesser things and truly allow Him to be Lord of the years left to me.
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33 NASB
'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation
I asked the Lord today what He wanted to say to me and what He would want me to convey to any who would stop by my blog. The above verse from Matthew came to mind. How simple and basic. After I became a new Christian, I believe the first song I was taught came from this verse and I sang it with a fervent desire for it to be true of me and my husband. We would seek His kingdom and His righteousness. He would be first in importance to me, first in my thoughts and first in my time. I would trust Him to add to us the things He was well aware that we needed.

I have thought about this a lot throughout the day. I reflected on the way I very often get up and go check my email, peruse the headlines, and then have my quiet time. I don’t know about you, but I can get into reading and answering emails and half an hour has gone by and I don’t know how that happened. I believe His Spirit is asking, “Consistently put me first in the order of your day again.” He really does deserve that from me. We never know what a day will bring. Those precious early times before the household stirs and the phone rings, allow my spirit to be still and know that He is God. I open the door and He comes in and we dine together in His word and prayer. If something is going to be left undone, I don’t want it to be our special time together. Sometimes we get thrown a curve and we are catapulted into our day, I’m not talking about that. When we have a choice, put Him first. I can’t wait to honor Him in that way.

MY PRAYER: Lord, I hear your voice calling to me to open my heart first to you each morning. I am so sorry that I have let other things intrude. Thank you for your gracious presence in my life. Restore that first love inclination of my heart, in Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: I will listen for your knock; I will hear your voice and open the door to you. You promise that you will come in and that we will dine together. I stand on your Word!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Final Word

Reminded tonight of how much I love the words to Michael Card's song The Final Word. It seems to touch the deepest chord of what Christmas is truly about. His final word to us was, "Jesus, He needed no other one."

The Final Word by Michael Card

You and me we use so very many clumsy words.
The noise of what we often say is not worth being heard.
When the Father's Wisdom wanted to communicate His love,
He spoke it in one final perfect Word.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Father�s fondest thought took on flesh and bone.
He spoke the living luminous Word, at once His will was done.
And so the transformation that in man had been unheard
Took place in God the Father as He spoke that final Word.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

And so the Light became alive
And manna became Man.
Eternity stepped into time
So we could understand.

He spoke the Incarnation and then so was born the Son.
His final word was Jesus, He needed no other one.
Spoke flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way Divine.
And so was born the baby who would die to make it mine.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Days-Casting Crowns

Take Words and Return

As we approach this Christmas season with all the joy and celebration that it brings....can we be honest about the challenges that sometimes occur within our closest relationships? The more our hearts are invested, the greater can be the opportunity for offense. Let's be alert to be tenderhearted and quick to forgive. If we offend others, let's take words of humility and peace and try for restoration. If you will be with someone who is extremely difficult and self-centered, ask God to be a shield for you to deflect their barbs. If we run into the shelter of His love for us, we will find the acceptance and understanding that we will find no other place. May the Prince of Peace guide you in this and every season.

Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips. Hosea 14:1-2 NASB

In April of this year I wrote these words from Hosea down in my journal. I was arrested by God’s desire that Israel return (which is an action) to Him with words of repentance and words of sacrifice. I am a person who typically thinks before I speak and evaluates what I read or hear. I pay attention to words as well as actions. If they had just said they were sorry and yet did not return to Him their words would have been shallow and meaninglessness. And yet God wasn’t satisfied merely with their return. He wanted words of repentance, restoration, (receive us) and the worship He was due.

The prodigal son comes to mind as a beautiful picture of what repentance looks like. Not only did he return but he took with him words, “I have sinned against heaven, and against you.” His father ran with great joy to meet him and the relationship was graciously restored.

Forgiveness can be given with or without an acknowledgement on the other person’s part, but true restoration on a human level takes work. I have wrestled with this because of a broken relationship in my life that was superficially restored. The only way I knew they were sorry was because someone else told me they regretted their actions. There were no words of repentance or request for forgiveness. We just picked up and went on. It wasn’t healthy, and the result of a superficial restoration has been a superficial relationship that lacks depth, honesty, and real intimacy.

This morning as I walked and prayed, I asked God to help me to come to Him with words of repentance, and praise. I ask Him to help me to humble myself before others and ask their forgiveness when I have acted badly or thoughtlessly. I don’t want to stroll back presuming that all is well and all is forgiven. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it. I don’t want to live on the surface with the Lord or others.

Do you need to take with you words and restore a relationship with your Father or others? Pray about it. Take action and take words.

MY PRAYER: Father, I have been the Prodigal and walked into your gracious arms. Help me not to be superficial with you or others to protect my pride. Help me to be real and biblical in my interactions with You and others. Help me to know when I need to take with me words. In Jesus’ name, amen.

MY CONFESSION: You have taken away our iniquity, You have received us graciously, we present to You the fruit of our lips. I stand on Your Word!

Friday, December 18, 2009

God With Us

I want to wish each and every person who stops by a wonderful and meaningful Christmas. I pray that the Son of God will become the One in whom you live and breathe and have your being. Matthew 1:23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD, AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."

He is Immanuel, God with us. He is the "With" of God and we are never alone. Please listen to the video below and allow the wonder of it all to refresh and restore your spirit.

Mary Did You Know?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Take My Life (and let it be) Chris Tomlin

Small Acts in Big Hands

I wrote this earlier this year but think that it would be appropriate to post it again. The Christmas season is unusually ripe with opportunities to reach out with His love. Remember little is much in His hands.
Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread on the surface of the waters, for you will find it after many days.
Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

I have been a Christian many years and I have never really been called upon to do anything grand or heroic. I’ve tried to be faithful to who God called me to be. I have endeavored to use whatever resources or gifts that I have to serve Him. Sometimes resources were very slim, but God let me know that He can use small gestures in a big way. We have the example of the young lad who gave Jesus his lunch. Five loaves and two fish weren’t much, but when Jesus added his blessing and touch it went further than the little boy could have dreamed.

Recently, at a restaurant, a woman came to our table to let me know that my name had come up in a Bible study. The conversation involved a time I took a plate of cookies to someone who had moved to my neighborhood. The woman had expressed how much it meant to her that someone would do that. She was in a dark place in her life and God had used it to encourage her. This event had taken place twenty years before. I couldn’t believe someone would remember such a small thing that had taken place so long ago.

Engage in acts of kindness and thoughtfulness no matter how small they may seem to you. If his Spirit lives in you there is such power in simple things. Jesus said even a cup of water offered in His name would have a reward. Don’t wait for some “big” assignment. Be faithful in the little things. I am sure one day we will be amazed to find out what He did with them.

MY PRAYER: Lord, it says in your Word that You went about doing good. We are your hands and feet. Direct our path and help us to know that whatever is done in your name will bear fruit.

MY CONFESSION: I will not lose heart in doing the right thing. Your Word promises there will be a harvest. I stand on Your Word!

Monday, December 14, 2009

1 Corinthians 13 - A Christmas VersionHi

Received this in an email this morning from a good friend. I don't know who the author is, but wanted to include it.
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Glory Revealed Tour

The Word Comes in the Wilderness

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene,Luke 3:2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness. Luke 3:1-2 NASB

Luke gives the political and religious backdrop that surrounded the ministry of John and it was not a happy or encouraging picture. Both realms were filled with corruption and men of odious character. Nevertheless, the word of God came to John in the wilderness. That should bring us encouragement and hope in the middle of our own circumstances.

Wherever you are and whatever your circumstances….don’t despair. We cannot sit around thinking we are totally at the mercy of the times or situations we find ourselves living in. Get your eyes off the circumstances and get your eyes fixed firmly on, to quote Roy Hessions, the “Bread who is always looking for the hungry.” The word of God came to John in the wilderness and He will come to us as well.

I have found myself at times in my life making excuses for my lack of progress and growth in my faith because of my circumstances. I know now that I am as close to the Lord as I really want to be period. God makes a way for the hungry and honest heart. He always has and He always will no matter what.

If you are reading this on the internet and you aren’t really being fed in your church and don’t have a good alternative, there are wonderful sermon resources you can access. We do benefit from those who can speak deeply into our lives. Find those messages that build you up and challenge you in your faith.

Open your Bible and ask God to speak to you and teach you. Stand on His promise from Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.”

Bring a hunger for Him, and open your mouth wide; He will fill it.

Psalm 81:10 “I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” We stand on your word, Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holy Spirit Rain Down

Pull in the Oars, Put up the Sails

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Galations 5:16-18
I have been reading Neil Anderson's excellent book Victory Over the Darkness (Realizing the Power of Your Identity in Christ). I just had to share a quote that gave me a strong mental picture and encouragement for today.
  • The process of walking in accordance with your true identity in Christ is called walking in the Spirit. How do we walk in the Spirit? This is probably one of the most difficult topics to get a handle on. There's a sense of mystery here that we will probably never fully understand. The apostle John said (quoting Jesus): "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8). Trying to reduce life in the Spirit to a formula is like trying to capture the wind. Perhaps we will do best just to, as one man said, "pull in the oars and put up the sail." Instead of trying so hard to nail down all the details of the spiritual life, let's focus on trusting Christ and let Him move us along in the right direction. page 89

It may be you need a reminder like I did this morning, "Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10 I needed to stop trying to figure everything out and reduce it to a formula I can wrap my mind around. If we need wisdom He encourages us with a promise from James that He will give it. I don't know about you but I am ready to pull in the oars and put up the sail.

MY PRAYER: Come Holy Spirit and blow upon my life today. I have pulled in my oars of self-effort and raised my sail in anticipation of your leading presence. In the name above all names.

MY CONFESSION: I will stop my striving and know that you are God, You will be exalted among the nations, You will be exalted in the earth as well. I stand on Your Word!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances.
Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold Is a wise reprover to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:11-12

Monday, December 7, 2009

Love Isn't Jealous and Does Not Brag

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2 Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27:4

Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 1 Corinthians 13:4 NASB

Jealousy is a strong, demeaning, and powerfully destructive force. I don’t want to feel or harbor that ugly emotion in any way, shape, or form. I also want to walk in wisdom so that I do not have a hand in becoming the object of someone’s jealousy. The most vivid examples in O.T. Scriptures are Joseph with his brothers and David with Saul. In both cases the people who felt that emotion and did not deal with it, wanted to kill the object of their jealousy. In Joseph’s case two factors worked together to develop the perfect storm....his father’s partiality towards him and his own unwise sharing of his dreams. With David and Saul the people attributed greater deeds to David than Saul and Saul’s ego couldn’t deal with it. There was no excuse for Joseph’s brothers or Saul’s behavior, but wisdom sees the danger and avoids walking into a trap. I am in no way suggesting that if someone is jealous of us it is our fault. I am saying that we can walk with greater insight and discernment. In the New Testament we are told that Pilate was aware that the chief priests had delivered Jesus up to be killed because of envy. Mark 15:10 Jesus was absolutely sinless and couldn’t avoid their venom. I hope these examples will help us to consider the seriousness of this subject as either the victim or the perpetrator.

I don’t think it would come as a news flash to anyone that the body of Jesus Christ needs help in learning to walk in love. We are told in John 13:35 that we will be identified as Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another. We read in 1 Corinthians 13:4 that love is not jealous and love does not brag. As I have slowly and at times painfully matured in my walk with the Lord, I have learned to be very careful about what I share about “ministry opportunities.” Most of us want God to work through us and delight in sharing these opportunities with others when He does. Sometimes this is unwise and comes across as bragging. I believe we need to ask God to show us how to walk in wisdom in this. Without falling into condemnation ask Him to show you if your motivation is ever to build yourself up in eyes of others or to assure yourself of your own importance. Friends, we need to be careful and not give the enemy an opportunity.

When you find yourself reacting to anyone with feelings and thoughts of a jealous nature, turn your face up to the Father. If you can get alone, then get alone and say it out loud. “I am jealous of __________ because ________. I ask You Lord God to forgive me and according to your word cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Show me the root. Pull it up by the root Lord. I do not want to harbor this dangerous emotion.” Do this as many times and as often as necessary. Don’t let it slide. Don’t pretend it isn’t there. Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance. Pray that the person you have been jealous of will continue to grow and bear fruit for His glory. Maybe the person doesn't even know the Lord and yet they "seem" to have everything they want. Pray that they will come to know the only One who can truly satisfy.

Let’s be proactive for His sake and so "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

Video from Matt

I became aware of and blessed by the ministry of Matt Chandler a week before the discovery of his tumor.
He has since undergone a 7 hour procedure to remove it and has responded well. The nature of the
tumor won't be available for another day or two. Please pray for him and his family. I hope this
video from Matt will be an encouragement to you. Just click on the Matt Video under my signature and you will be able to watch it.
Video from Matt

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Images Without Substance

I wrote this two years ago and thought it might be a good reminder in this season.

We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:19-21 (NASB)

I was watching a television program recently that was spotlighting people who go to extremes decorating their homes for Christmas. One man had filled his lawn and adorned his roof with every conceivable plastic and inflatable Santa, snowmen, reindeer, and thousands of lights. When he was asked where he stored it all he showed them his storage shed behind his house. Oddly enough the only thing that was in the emptied out shed was Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. I’m not making this up.

I know that I am not the only one who has realized that the greatest symbols of God’s covenant love for us are always trivialized and set aside by our world system. The apostle John sheds light on this and encourages New Testament believers in the scripture shared above.

Let’s define idol:

1. an image of a deity other than God

2. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance

3. a figment of the mind; a fantasy

The world replaces the true and profound with semblances removed of substance. We seem to prefer fantasy and figments of our imaginations to the true. Look what has happened to the rainbow. To children in our world rainbows are more associated with CareBears, leprechauns and cartoons than a covenant promise of Almighty God. Prior to the flood, "A mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground." (Gen 2:6) Often we read Scriptures and we don't allow our humanity to really interact and think about what the biblical characters were experiencing. They would not be so different from us. Think "Katrina" or tsunami for a moment. Noah's family experienced the destruction of their world on every level. The earth was no longer watered by a gentle mist. Now they would experience the gathering of ominous dark clouds, thunder, lightning, and at times torrential downpours. Can you imagine the fear, the flashbacks, and the gnawing dread they would experience if God in His mercy had not made this covenant with them and sealed it with a beautiful display above their heads? We've lost the meaning of the rainbow to leprechauns with pots of gold and glittery children's stamps. To the survivors it was a constant reminder of His holiness and His mercy.

We are in the Christmas season and the emphasis in our world is on Santa and not a Savior. Santa appears once a year, makes a list and checks it twice trying to find out who is naughty or nice. The Savior is God with us 365 days of the year. He knows we are beyond naughty and has come to save His people from their sins. Jesus is God’s indescribable Gift to us. His grace lavished on us. His life lived to show us the way and empower us to learn and to change.Then there is the cross. God's holiness and mercy displayed for all to see.

I don’t remember where I heard or read this, but the cross was not originally a symbol of Christianity, not at least for the first few centuries. They said not until all those who actually knew first hand of its barbarity and cruelty were dead did it replace the ichthus or fish that seems to have made a comeback as a car bumper sticker. There was a shop in south London which stocked crosses as a fashion item. Punk rockers, Brittney and Madonna and fashion icons have used it that way. The Evening Standard reported that one of their readers had gone into a shop to ask for one. "Sure," said the assistant, reaching for the crucifixes. "Do you want it with the little man on, or without?"

We all know what has happened to our celebration of His resurrection. The Easter bunny and his promise of sweets and dyed eggs take front and center.We can't expect those who don’t know Him to grasp the meaning and significance of God's covenant reminders to us. It is up to us not to lose the meaning of these sacred things. Beloved, guard yourselves from idols. They have no substance or power to deliver. Go tell God’s amazing story in every creative way you can think of during this and every season. Do it with joy, grace, and a heart of love for those who only know the world’s cheap substitute.

MY PRAYER: Father, we bow before You and thank You that you are a covenant-keeping God. Help us to never lose our wonder and awe when we see Your covenant reminders. Amen.

MY CONFESSION: Lord, you are the true and living God. We will guard ourselves from idols. We will worship you alone.