Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Donkey & Dirt...Huh?

I'm sure (or rather hope) you've all read the forward email about the donkey who fell into the hole. His owner, a farmer, called all his neighbors to help him get the donkey out of the hole. They tried and tried to no avail. So the farmer decided to fill in the hole with dirt. Shovel by shovel, the dirt would fall into the hole. As it hit the donkey, he shook it off his back. This continued day after day. He was hit with dirt and he shook it off. The dirt he shook off would land under his feet and it would provide elevation for him to rise higher and higher within the hole. Before he knew it, the donkey had shook off the dirt and raised himself out of the hole with the same dirt that seemed to be burying him.

Let's look at what is being said here. First, the farmer and his neighbor's could not see past the impossibility of not being able to get the donkey out. In their human mind set they saw it as hopeless and futile to try any further. What they saw as impossible, God saw as an opportunity. They gave up because their mind could not comprehend a possible solution, a way out of the hole for the donkey. They lacked a vision to see a way to save the donkey. They lacked faith and trust. But even still God used the impossible situation for the good of the donkey. You know I like to quote my pastor with his words "impossible odds lead to amazing miracles."

What is impossible with men is possible with God. Luke 18:27

For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matt. 19:26

With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God. Mark 10:27

We can look further and see that the dirt represents the attacks that Satan (and life) throws at us. We must be willing to shake off the the dirt like the donkey did and use that dirt to elevate ourselves out of the hole, the pit. What Satan means for our harm (the dirt) God uses for our good (getting us out of the hole). But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." Mark 8:33 Did you see WHO Jesus called Satan? Yes, indeed, Satan does use God's own people, our people. Peter was one of His own, of course we know the road Peter traveled. have Jesus rebuke one of His own. Notice in the above scripture that Peter's mind frame was of this world, of flesh, and of men. It was not on things of GOD! That goes right back to the perspective that men (people) can fall trap to having no vision, no vision of God and what God can do but rather we can be focused on this world and what seems possible in this world.

There are attacks of Satan and of this world that are not that easy to shake off. Satan disguises himself and we are in a spiritual warfare. It is not a matter of shake 1-2, 1-2 and it's gone. Sometimes the dirt is thrown on us and then water (more junk) may be add. It is much harder to shake off "mud" than dirt. We may have to allow that mud to dry back to the form of dirt. We may even be knocked around a couple times but again this is good because it will crack that hardened mud. By no means do I believe life is as easy as just shaking it off. It's not always as easy as telling my little niece who falls and bumps her knees to "shake it off, shake it off." And she so sweetly shakes her little body. Some things, yes, but not all things. Sometimes it takes more effort, more shakes to remove that dirt. In the end, with our God, we will have the same result...He will use the bad Satan intended for us to elevate us and raise us out of the hole.

It may seem as though I am saying we pull ourselves out of the pit. No, indeed, God allows the dirt so that we can be raised out of the pit. I do not believe that everything that happens in this life is God's will nor do I believe that He expects us to sit waiting for Him to wave His magic wand. Yes, many times in life we are called to be silent and wait upon Him. Yet, if we continually live our life just waiting on God and not being "in tune" with Him, we WILL miss opportunities He's calling us to act. There are indeed times, that He calls us to be silent and wait and there are times He calls us to move and act. We must always be open and listening to God so that we don't miss that window of opportunity He provides. A friend recently shared that God laid before her a child not breathing. Had she not been "in tune" to hearing God, had she not been ready to act, that little girl would've died. It is a false misconception that do nothing and wait upon the Lord. He is not a puppeteer. We are to follow and act. When He says go, we go. The key is being in constant fellowship with God so that we clearly know when He gives the green light and when He gives the red. Our lives are not filled with red lights.

Do you see pattern with the donkey and our God? Whatever bad hits us is turned to good for those who love Jesus (Romans 8:28). We get dirt thrown on us. God uses that as our elevation. We get mud on us and we get knocked around. God uses that to crack off the mud. We get thrown in the pit, the hole, God raises us up!

This is the glorious and shall I say it - awesome - God we serve. I am reserved in when I use that word. I restrict my use of the word awesome to ONLY reference God or His acts. Nothing else deserves the reverence of being called awesome except for Him. I guess that's something a friend told me long ago and it has forever stuck with a pet peeve.

To God be all the glory for it is only through Him and Him alone that He can and DOES turn our impossible situations into amazing miracles. It is with Him that all things ARE possible. All things are possible with God." Mark 10:27

Having felt the attacks of this world and Satan, I too, am determined just like that donkey, to do my part and shake off what Satan throws at me. I am not out of the hole, but boy, I know Who is enabling me to stand on the dirt Satan and the world throws and I know what waits for me on the top of the hole.

Jesus is awesome! Absolutely awesome. I had no idea that I would be able to write a post so full of praise so recent of feeling like I was once again thrown into the hole with the donkey and not shovels but barrels of dirt just pounding on me. I wondered how many days before I took a breath of fresh air. Do the events of recent days still bother me? Yeah, they tug at my heart with a twinge of pain but I must remain focused on my Lord and that He IS sufficient for me. I KNOW that wonderful things are in store for me and my future. I trust Him and I believe in Him but I also believe Him and what He's placed on my heart.

Be Blessed Dear Ones,

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Confident Expectation

I struggled with the title of the post. So many options...Why Are We Surprised? Where's Your Confidence? Filled With Anticipation. Are You Expecting? I'm Expecting. (Now that would've perked up your eyes, huh?) Why are we surprised when God answers? Maybe you aren't...maybe we aren't. Let me explain. I was mowing on the Lord's Day...I know some say that would be a sin but I guess it's a matter of definition of "work". I see it as therapeutic and not work. Do I wish I didn't have to impose on my schedule to do it...yeah!! But oh the sense of accomplishment when it's done.

I was almost takes about 60 minutes and I had about 15 minutes remaining. I know, if you saw my yard, you'd think I was a speed-demon! I was mowing the front and I felt something hit my head. Of course, my natural reaction was to wipe my head. As I did this and then looked at my hand, I thought 'oh, wouldn't you know I'm gonna look and have bird doo-doo on my hand." Nope. I turned the corner, facing the drive, I saw it....rain drops on the driveway. Oh no! I only have 15 minutes left. If I had only not stopped to get a drink of water and pull a few weeds, I would be done! Oh I can't have a partial yard mowed! It was almost like I held my shoulders up and said, "Lord, please let me finish this yard." I then affirmatively thought, "it is not going to rain until I'm finished." It was almost like I claimed it from the Lord. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 Isn't that exactly what He did...provided grace to help me finish my task at hand. Without realizing what I did...I approached His throne with confident expectation.

Well, do you know that I didn't realize I had asked this favor of the Lord until late Sunday night as I laid my head on my pillow. Of course, I got so distracted after mowing that I didn't realize it had NEVER rained. I lay in bed pondering on this and thus thanking my Lord for that. Feeling a little sheepish that I did not thank Him earlier but knowing He understood it was not out of ungratefulness but rather just busyness...or rather maybe out of confidence and expectation that He was going to answer and supply my need. I was absolutely sure it would not rain on Sunday. I can't explain the confidence and assurance I had. So much that I totally forgot about the request I made to my Lord. Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 why at times do I waiver in my confident expectation of Him answering in other areas? If He cares about whether it rains and I finish mowing, doesn't He care about larger things like the condition my heart, the plans for my future, how to minister/serve, etc.?

I tell you all this to acknowledge that God IS present in all aspects of our lives. He DOES care about the small things. What if I hadn't been able to finish...well, I really wouldn't have minded. It'd have to wait for another day. But instead, my Lord wanted me to be able to accomplish that for whatever reason. Maybe just so I'd write a blog on it. Maybe just so I'd "see" that He is in every aspect of my life. Maybe so I could feel His deep love in the small things so that I'd be assured He is working in the large areas of my life. Maybe so someone out there in blog world would be assured that their Lord loves her/him like no other does.

Bible teacher, Henry Blackaby says, “After we pray, whatever happens next is God’s answer.” Wow. So, then we should conclude if we pray and earnestly seek God for answers, then we should expect Him to answer. We should be looking for His answer. Maybe we miss His answer because we are consumed with the answer we want and if we don't see "that" answer then we think He's just not answered. (I have a great song to post sometime that addresses exactly this.)

I see confident expectation or anticipation as really a way to define faith. We have faith, confidence, anticipation of what God will do for us, in us, and with us. I have a positive anticipation of what God is going to do in my life. What is the point in asking for things if we don't hope for or anticipate God providing. What I believe will occur seems impossible to the human eye but we serve a God who's specialty is in the Department of Impossibilities and He hold the title of Chief Miracle Worker. Will this confident expectation be with me and as strong tomorrow, next week, or next month? I don't know but for now God has provided me with the peace of assurance that He will do this. I feel like little Johnny who has asked for the big red fire engine truck for his birthday and he just knows he will get it. Little Johnny is excitedly anticipating the arrival of this truck. He just can't wait to get his hands on it. That is much what I feel. Confident expectation means we anticipate God will answer, perform, provide, deliver but we have to wait on His timing and continue to trust for that to come. I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:23-24 That's power, I tell ya straight from Jesus' mouth and I'm not gonna argue it with God.

May we reflect today on the magnificent love and ever-residing presence of our Lord and Savior. Nothing is too great for Him to accomplish just as nothing is to small to be concerned by Him! But we must do our part and have faith in our Lord, trusting and anticipating that He will provide. Capture that. Relish that.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:21-22

I believe I shared this scripture in my post called "Busy Signal". It is such a beautiful scripture and great reminder to go to God with confidence. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

Be Blessed in Him,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's Not Just a Kid's Story

Most of us have heard of the story of Jonah and the "whale". My pastor began a four-week series on the book of Jonah last Sunday. As I read the short book in preparation of the coming Sundays, I reflected how I and probably many of you feel like Jonah. We all have times where we have either ran from God or slowly drifted from Him. My slow drift from God in previous years combined with other things has caused me to feel like I'm in a fish...or rather I was in a fish prior to this last year.

Are you running from God? Do you remember a time when you did? Is God telling you to do something and you're ignoring Him by running in the opposite direction? Jonah took a boat in the exact opposite direction of what God told him to do (Jonah 1:3). The longer we run, the worse it will be for us in the long term. Turn, follow what God is telling you and receive His blessing and know His pleasure in your obedience. I have discovered myself the joy of obedience and being awakened to my drifting from God. I now relish in the pleasure, purpose, and plan of my Father. Oh to have the pleasure of our Father!!!!

Jonah ran from God and God loved him (and us) too much to let him just "get away". God will never let His children stray too long or too far. God does not tell us to do things and be obedient to Him out of dictatorship but rather out of ever-so-deep love and concern for us. He knows the big picture and He knows why it's so important for us to follow what He is telling us. We must heed to His commands. If we continue to refuse to listen, He will send a storm to get our attention. Then the Lord sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:4. Even then, Jonah was having a pity party. He didn't "catch on" to God's awakening. Rather he told his sailors to throw him into the sea.

Is that what you do when God sends great winds and storms into your life? Do you feel like dying and giving up since things can't get any worse? I can honestly say that I have been there but the Lord has truly restored me!!! Don't give up but rather refocus your mind, heart, and soul. Plant your eyes upon the Lord and let Him guide you through the storm! Respond to God's attempt to wake you and turn your path toward obeying His call. God gave me a "wake up" moment. He changed my life forever but I am still waiting for the "final" outcome. Unfortunately, it took an extremely painful and heartbreaking event for me to see the Light and understand my actions regarding another person and most importantly what I had done to God by slowly drifting from Him.

As terrible as the winds and storms can be, allow them to be an wonderful awakening for you. Don't opt for jumping overboard and giving up. God has great things in store for us but we must be obedient to Him and follow what He is telling us. When in doubt, always consult His Word.

Jonah was prideful and he thought he knew better than God. He professed to worship God yet he willing went on his own. He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land." Jonah 1:9 Have you ever done this? Let me guess it didn't end well and it never will. We can deceive ourselves for a time that it will be okay or that it IS okay, but it's not. I've been there and pray I'll never be there to the degree I was in the past. We must be aware that this can happen without intently running from God but slowly drifting to the point of waking one moment and seeing the devastation of how far we've drifted.

But the Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah and Jonah was in the fish for three days and three nights. Jonah 1:17 Can you imagine being in that fish with the muck, bile, and other carcasses of fish? I too have been in that great fish at a point in my life when I was covered in muck, never felt I could get 'fresh air', and totally consumed and surrounded by negative things pulling me down further. The dangers of slowly drifting from God: it's so slow we don't even know it's happening, it's so hard to hear God's voice, and we can't imagine God could or would change us. It is in the belly of the fish that Jonah prayed out to God. He said: "In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. Jonah 2:2-3 That is indeed what I did but it wasn't while in the belly of my fish (my muck) but afterwards during Gods' awakening. I challenge you to do the same. Do it before the storm gets so fierce the you beg to be thrown over because that would be better.

Jonah 2:4-6a I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.' The engulfing waters threatened me,the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. That described me. I felt I had disappointed God and was banished from His sight. The engulfing waters consumed me, seaweed choked me, and I sank ever so deep. But we see in verse 6b that God brought up Jonah's life. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. He brought up my life also and He can/will bring up yours also. Jonah 2:7 "When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple." How sweet those words. My sentiments exactly. My life was "ebbing away", God awakened me, and I turned my eyes to Him.

Let me say that all I describe concerning my experience was not a pre-Christ experience but rather it is something I endured during my walk with Christ. I tell you this because as Christians we are not exempt from during such things even in our walk with God.

At some point in your life you have, are, or will disobey God. You will turn a deaf's ear to what you know He is telling you. As Christians I believe we know when we are ignoring God but may be so deep into our flesh that we can convince ourselves it's okay or not that bad. You may turn a deaf's ear to His gentle knock but be assured if His knock is not answered He will allow winds and storms to get your attention so that you'll open that door and follow His instructions. Our God is good and extremely loving and forgiving. Put aside your pride and seek Him and you'll be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. Been there, done that, and He spewed me out of my fish only to see Him change me and bless me.

Be Blessed in Him,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pity Party

Have you ever had a pity party? Oh, come on, sure you have. They are pretty depressing and lonely, huh? Unfortunately, no one gets the invitation except for you. Of course there are many activities at the party: depression, worry, sadness, gloom, loneliness, poor attitude. It's not the ideal party in which to attend but it is indeed a real party with real feelings. We stuff ourselves with negative feelings and thoughts that nothing could be worse and nothing is going right. However, we know that not to be true. Anyone who has Jesus as his/her Savior has everything he/she needs!! Isn't that right?!

What causes a pity party to start? Is it not focus on ourselves? It is not from comparing what we have in regards to what others have? Is it not focus on what we don't have instead of what we DO have? Is it a symptom of being in the pit, in the valley, in the trial of your life? I do not belittle times of deep depression, fear, worry, sense of hopelessness. Trust me, these are true and real feelings and our God knows these are not frivolous and selfish feelings but rather it is what the depths of our hearts feel. Life is hard and we will suffer trials. You know me, I can't say the word trial without referencing what my beautiful James tells us in 1:2...consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters :-)] when you face trials of many kinds. I tend to misquote James by saying "suffer" instead of "face". I guess my mind and heart sees the trials as very painful and hard; therefore, it is suffering. But really we should face them head on and not consider it suffering because we know we are growing more like Christ through each one.

Back to the pity I reflect on the pity party I wanted to throw for myself today, I pondered how selfish is that? What is that saying about my Lord? A pity party is looking down on what we don't have or what terrible things we are enduring. That is not the attitude of Christ. That is not a cheerful and thankful heart. I cannot escape the feelings I have as they are real. Just as you can't escape the feelings you may have whether it be financial troubles, heartache, loss, depression, loneliness, worry, fear, physical pains. Those are real and we must recognize their existence but we must also put them in their proper place....and that is at the feet of Jesus! Our precious Redeemer, Healer, Comforter, Provider, Physician, Teacher, Lover, Friend, Counselor, Father, King. He is our everything.

I do not want to take anything away from Him so I want to throw away my pity party hat and put on my praise hat...praising Jesus for what He has done, is doing, and WILL do. He has provided abundantly more than all we ask or imagine. Ephesians 3:20. And He will continue to do that. He will knock our socks off if we only give Him a chance to do so. We must also take off our pity party hat so that we can SEE when He's blessing us. The pity party hat is a hindrance to fully see Jesus in our lives as He rightfully should be seen. I am amazed at what/how my Lord has spoken to me today. He has used three of His children to remind lonely ol' me, that HE is there. Who knows what else He might do during the rest of this day. I can attest that the pity party hat I wore this morning is gone as He has shown me His love by His servants contacting me. We have to look for His blessings and I indeed do see these three acts as blessings God provided to lift my spirits, refocus my mind, and give me the perspective to toss that pity hat aside. Does that mean I'll never attempt to put it back on? Absolutely not. Ya know, I AM human and do fail in my thoughts (and actions) but I always strive to give God honor and one way is to toss that hat right off my head! (I'm thinking of a song...but can't place it...can you? Help me. Actually, I think it's an old commercial...maybe shampoo. Let me know.)

So, won't you leave your pity party (if you are attending one) and join me in my praise party...praising Jesus for His ever-present, undying love and compassion for us. It is because of that love that I want to not focus on the suffering, the trials, the dips and turns of life, and honor Him with my attention, devotion, and love. That is the whole purpose for my being...for all of us! Every breath I take is for HIS purpose, whatever that may be, for my life and I must realize the life serving Jesus will NOT be without trials and even deep suffering. Serving Jesus is not a carefree life; it is a sacrificing life which dies to self and endures many crosses for the sake of His call on our lives.

Is my heartache gone? Is my depression gone? Is my pain gone? Is my worry gone? Is my fear gone? No, of course not but Jesus presides over all that and I will decide to focus on HIM and what I can do for Him as though this is my last day. Tossing your pity party hat doesn't mean all your feelings magically disappear (like Lucky Charms are magically delicious) but it means the joy and love of the Lord reigns and overpowers those feelings.

I was surprised when I searched pity on to find 43 hits. Webster's defines pity as: "sympathetic sorrow for one suffering, distressed, or unhappy." I do not want to live this day distressed, unhappy, and sorrowful, even though I'm in a season of trial and suffering. Regardless, I want to be pleasing to my Lord and I do not believe that entails being doom and gloom.

Philippians 4:4-7 is one of my faves but I find it appropriate to emphasize verses 4 and 5. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Your Lord is NEAR you. Now doesn't that provide such peace and comfort? Imagine the face of Jesus looking right over you and saying: "I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20
Be Blessed in Him,

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Do You: Trust or Worry?

Do you have a hard time trusting God? Do you worry a lot? If you trust God, do you really need to worry? If you are worrying, then are you really trusting God? Trust doesn't equal worry. It is a hard to balance trust and worry and to keep everything in the right perspective. It takes effort to transform from a worry wart to trust tot. They say one who worries doesn't trust God and one who trusts God doesn't worry. I wish it were that easy. I understand the concept of whoever created that cliche. However, it's not really accurate to say because we do worry about an issue that we don't trust God or that because we are trusting God we don't have worries. If we take it a step further, and not in a broad sense, then this would apply if we say that from issue to issue. It would be fair to say that if we are worrying over our income or job loss, then we are not trusting God in that “area” of our life yet we are trusting Him in other areas.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

I can clearly say that I am not worried about the selling of my house. It is an emotional roller coaster but after ten months on the market, I know that God will sell it in His time and His way. I know this. At times I wonder what He is waiting for but I trust He knows what He's doing and has reasons (besides the slow market!). He may also be working in the potential buyer’s life. He may need to further prepare me for the move. He may need to prepare a new place to live. So I fully trust Him even though at times I get anxious just to know the plan. Now, take a more personal issue that deals with other people, then I cannot say I fully leave my worry at His Feet all the time. Though in the last week I feel the weight has lifted. It's not a matter of not trusting Him but realizing He doesn't force His Hand on anyone and it is fear of the other people involved will not see the true path God wants to be traveled. Yet, I do trust Him with the results regardless of the actions of others. I know that He has me in His care. If my heart’s desires aren't fulfilled because He cannot force others to follow His plan, then I do know He'll make the best out of my life.

I say this to express that there are some areas of our lives that we can much more easily give to the Lord and fully trust in Him. I have found that the areas that are closest to our heart’s, our deepest heart’s desires, can be hard to release into His Hands. Those issues that involve the hearts and emotions of others and are based on their decisions are also difficult to leave at His Feet. This is because we know God will not infringe on a person’s free will. So, even though God’s desires and our desires line up, He may very well be waiting on another person to open his/her heart fully to God’s desires. We don’t know why your son has gone a year without a job offer. We don’t know why your sister hasn’t become pregnant. We don’t know why your friend hasn’t found sufficient housing. We don’t know why your co-worker hasn’t found a mate. We don't know why your brother lost his job. We don't know why Christian marriages end. All these situations involve more than just one person. So, when we are seeking the Lord for answers in our lives, He very well may be waiting on another piece of the puzzle. Maybe He needs to teach us something about patience. Maybe He wants to teach us about trusting Him fully.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

We need to continually examine our hearts. When we begin to worry over things, we must recognize that is occurring. At that time, we must stop our way of thinking and replace those thoughts with God being in control and taking care of things the best way He sees fit (without forcing His will). I've written on trust in the past and we've examined and know that God is very much worthy of our trust. We need to do our part to recognize the thoughts of worry and transform them into trust. Replace worry with trust so that we can say we fully have trust in God; therefore, we do not have worry in our heart. There is power in our thinking. We must take control of our thought life. If we continually worry, God will see that as a lack of trust. He may continue to allow unstable situations in our lives until we let go and trust Him fully. Think on this, if we have no problems then there is no opportunity for us to show God that we will not succomb to worry but rather trust Him completely. If we have not exemplified our trust in Him, He very well may continue to allow those unstable situations, so that we come to a point of letting it all go and realizing worrying will not change anything but rather trusting God will change things. Trusting God is an act of showing God we acknowledge His control and His role in our life.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Be Blessed in Him,

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fire A Blazin'

God works in mysterious ways. It's been a few days and I feel I want/need to write a blog piece. I've not had time to even consider what it would be with the last two days being a whirl wind. I was emailing a wonderful new friend and as I typed a couple particular sentences, I thought "this is it". This is somehow wrapped into my next piece. Bear with me as I allow God's Spirit to speak through me and lead this writing. I want to share about fires...the dangers of fires and the benefits of fires.

When we encounter a fire in our life, it is so important to deal with it head on and make sure it is fully extinguished before we go on with life. If not, the risk could be very high as it could cause fatal repercussions in our future. I don't mean fatal necessarily in the sense of life ending with death. It could cause so many more fires to pop up--that could have been prevented--and the next thing we realize we have a massive forest fire in our lives and hearts. If we don't deal with the fire at hand but rather move on, we will find when another fire comes, it will be added to the current. You see the pattern? Fire added to fire added to fire equals a massive consuming fire. That's right, multiple fires in our lives that aren't extinguished will end up consuming us and it could take precious time from our lives spent trying to put out a huge fire instead of little ones along the way.

What happens is when we've not dealt with the fire of our pain, we face another fire and we run from it. We fear the fire in front of us will hurt us like the last one. So, we run from that fire and leave it still burning. That fire spreads to the past fire we've left burning and that is how you get the forest fire in your heart and life. If we would not run from the fire but rather stop and look, we would realize this fire is very small...that of a candle maybe...extinguishable by God's power.

Our best answer is to first face any past fires we have not fully extinguished. Then, when another fire comes, and believe me it WILL, we need to halt, face it with God, and stomp it out. Do not run from the fire! You cannot out run the fire! It will catch up with you so either deal with it now or deal with it when it has quadrupled and ran into other areas of your life.

Even if we feel we are enduring a fire because of someone else's actions, we still must deal with that.

So, I mentioned the dangers and benefits at the beginning and you want to know the benefits. The benefit is that if we are seeking the Lord, God can make good out of any fire. He is the Man! He is the one with the Almighty Fire Extinguisher!! Even with those fires stomped out, with God, you will see new life sprout up in your heart and life. God is everything: the Fire Extinguisher, the Life Giver, the Healer, EVERYTHING!

I'm sure you have all heard of the Refiner's Fire. Now that is one fire you do want to be in and I would even suggest pursuing. The refiner's fire is the fire of God. Malachi 3:3a says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

Bear with me as I'd like to share that story with you. If you've read it before, read it again. It IS my all time favorite email story circulating.

This verse (Malachi 3:3) puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Does that give you Holy bumps or what? Take this to heart.

God will not leave you in the fire one moment too long.
God will not take His eyes off of you the entire time.
God will pull you out when He sees His image in you!!!

Now is your fire worth that? I say Amen. Anything to make us more like Christ!

There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. Exodus 3:2

Be Blessed in Him,

Sunday, May 4, 2008

His Day

I hopped onto the rail of my deck, someplace I've never "sat". I look down onto my two ornamental ponds. The most gorgeous creeping phlox in colors of pink, purple, and white. I look at all the other greenery popping up: the hostas that I know by end of summer will be gigantous and full of buds, the hot pink flowers that will adorn the greenery sprouting up, the rose bush that will have gorgeous hot pink flowers soon. I listen to the beautiful sound of the water falls from the top pond and watch the water flow down to the larger pond. I look at each detail of this gorgeous treasure of Heaven and then allow my eyes to focus on the scenery as a whole. The warm 70 degree sun with the ever cool and gentle breeze blows my hair. The birds are chirping the most beautiful sounds in my ears. How I treasure their songs to the Lord.

I have bore a lot of sweat and money into the spring maintenance of these ponds. I sit and take it all in as I ponder on what I knew I would be writing today. I rejoice in the Lord because of the most beautiful view I examined today. I wondered how much longer I would have this view. It will be a bitter sweet departure but I too will rejoice in whatever God's plan for me and this place are.

Today is His day, Sabbath day, but every day we have is a day He gives us. We should rejoice over every breath and every moment. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24. God wants us to rejoice in today as it may be the only day we have. Something about the human nature can make us live as though we are invinsible and those things only happen to others. I won't get cancer. I won't be in a fatal car accident. I won't fall from the roof. I won't have a heart attack.

Life is precious and we should honor God by rejoicing over each day He gives us. When we rejoice today we are saying thank you to the Lord. Though this world may weigh us down, we shall not fret because Christ has overcome the world. "But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33b. God tells us also that "everyone born of God overcomes the world." 1 John 5:4.

God finds pleasure in us when we rejoice in all His blessings. Today is one of them. I won't begin to name all the blessings in my life and guess the ones in yours. Let us pause on this Lord's day and thank Him for this day and the abundance of His blessings with which He alone has graced us. Salvation being the greatest of all. Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! Revelation 19:7a.

He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through waters on foot - come, let us rejoice in Him! Psalm 66:6. What is your sea that God has turned into dry land? What waters have you passed on foot because of God's grace? Small or large, we all have seas that He parts for us each day. He makes a way where there seems to be no way. Rejoice in Him and what He has done, is doing, and will do in your beautiful life.

I leave you with one of my favorite verses. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4. Quite frankly I memorized this to heart because it is attached to the famous and precious verses of 5-7.

May you feel His love and presence with you this day, regardless of what your circumstances bring or what life entails for you. God loves you! So do I. YOU are one of the reasons for this blog!!!

Be Blessed In Him,

Friday, May 2, 2008

Busy Signal?

Do you ever feel like you get a busy signal with God? Do you feel like He’s just not answering you? Rest assured that God’s line is NEVER busy and He never screens your calls. He ALWAYS answers you and He always has time for you. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him. Psalm 91:15a

However, we must be able to understand His language and be willing to listen for His answer. We need to understand that He always answers us but it may not be the answer we expected or in the manner we expected. You will receive an answer. His answer may unfortunately be “no”. We need to trust this because He does know what is best for us. His answer may be “not yet”. Oh how sweet that can be…we need to relish His answer of not yet because that answer is full of hope and promise. We know He is doing something grand before He gives us the “yes” we are so longing to hear. And then His answer may be “yes”. We know we’ve hit the mark when we get that answer because we know He would never answer yes unless He knew it was best for us. And if we know He answers yes, then we must’ve been on the same page as Him.
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12

He desires conversation with all of us. He not only wants to hear from us but He wants to speak to us also. He predominantly speaks to us through His Word. However, He will use other Christians and even non-believers to speak to us. He uses His church and the sermons spoken through His leaders. He sends “angels” to us with messages of warning or hope. Everyone who professes Jesus as their Lord has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. So God speaks to us through His Spirit within us. Sometimes His ring may be the sound of a painful trial that “wakes us up”. He may use that to get our attention to say “This is God…I’m talking to you! I'm calling, pick up the phone.”

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. Psalm 34:17

He indeed does deliver us but it just may not be in the manner we hope it to be. He has many different delivery methods. It doesn’t always come in the form of the million dollar lottery, or prince charming, or your womb opening, or a huge mansion. He can deliver us from our troubles in many fashions, sizes, and timelines. Quite honestly, He usually delivers us in the most unexpected ways. It’s usually not as speedy as email or a fax. Rather, His deliverance usually comes by boat or sometimes by horse carriage it feels like. Can you imagine waiting a month to receive a letter from a loved one? Being a fan of Little House on the Prairie, I could never fathom how Caroline Ingalls and the girls would wait that long for Pa to write a letter when he was across country working in the mines for money just to pay for Mary’s surgery.

Our God does not rush anything. He is never second late nor a minute early.

Remember the phone line to God is always open. You’ll never get a busy signal. May you also remember that the line is also two way. God not only wants us to call upon Him but He wants to call upon us. We must be open to listening for His call. Make sure you set your phone to a special ring so you know when it’s GOD calling you. Now, that’s a call you NEVER want to miss. Never be too busy with life and the things of this world that you miss the call from the Almighty.

Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
Don't you want to know those things He has to tell you. Call today. Don't delay. The phone lines are open....

Be Blessed in Him,