Monday, July 30, 2012

Answered Prayer

In the Bible, we are told to bring our concerns and heartache to the Lord.

Philippians 4:6 -7 says,
Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God,
which surpasses all comprehension,
shall guard your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I love those verses, it seems comforting.
I go to them often for myself and for others.
What is striking to me is that there are no promises
that your requests will be answered,
at least not in the way you may think.
Read it again....

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God,
which surpasses all comprehension,
shall guard your hearts
and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we thankfully bring our requests to God...
we will receive the peace of God
And when we receive the peace of God...
it will in turn guard our heart and keep our minds on Jesus.  

If I was going to be truly honest, I want my prayer request answered.
And not just answered, but in the way I want it answered. 
I think I have a pretty good idea what the best answer should be,
I just want God to grant it for me.
I trust that He is powerful enough to do it.....
I just want to help Him on the details.
Sounds harmless.
In fact it sounds perfect!

I pray for an answer, my answer.
I wonder why He can't hear me.
I complain when it doesn't happen.
Then I am anxious.

Okay I will try again.
I say to myself, "I am not anxious, I'm just in a hurry for an answer."
I say, "Of coarse I am thankful, but I need something else."
I say, "Here is my request God, I am right here waiting for you to grant my request."

Woo! Talk about reinterpreting scripture!!

The fact is, we are to pray when we are anxious with thanksgiving.
That means needing to get your heart and mind in the right place!

How can I do that when I can't even breathe?

One of the things that I do is start by making a list of all that I am thankful for.
It reminds me, gives me perspective and sets me up for my time with God.

I go to Him with a thankful heart and lay my requests at His feet.
What I get in return is peace that makes no sense, considering the circumstances.
That type of peace is like a bullet proof vest surrounding my heart
protecting me from absorbing any emotional blows that come.
That type of peace is like a helmet on my head
protecting my thoughts from absorbing any outside noise
that might distract me from thinking on Jesus.

What else could I really want or need?

Prayer request are often answered in ways we could not imagine.
But, there is one thing I know for sure,
that I love ...
He wants to grant me peace
He wants to guard my heart
He wants to fill my mind with Christ. 

it is the perfect answer 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Good Cry

Don't you hate it when you cry in front of a stranger?
Actually I hate when I cry in front of anyone.
But today it happened to me....
there I am,
totally cool,
handling it,
I got it,
no big whoop
and then

Bam!

Someone who does not even know me
asks me a deep question about my heart condition
and not only am I speechless,
but I completely melt.

I have managed all this time to keep it together
and someone who knows nothing about me
manages to find the chink in the armor.

Have you ever been there?
Can I get a witness?
Anyone?  

I have said these words many times to others, but today it applies to me:

God can and will use anything
to get your attention and to get you back on the right path.

I know this.
Today I felt it.
It rattled me because I did not see it coming.

This person,
who I believe God used for my benefit today, 
is a stranger, okay an acquaintance.
He is a person of science, charts and graphs.

But today,
He said the right thing
at the right time
to get my attention
and to point me to where the right path was.

God is so cool like that

For He can not speak to me when my defenses are up.
I can not hear Him there.  
My way must be less, stripped away
so I can fully hear His voice.

Can you hear it?
He says....
This is the way, walk in it
Isaiah 30:21

Although it took a good cry, out of the blue, in front of a stranger to get me to see...

I pray I don't forget
that I don't get lost again

But if I do,
may I be humble enough
still enough
willing to hear Him in the midst of the noise of my life. 

And Yes,
sometimes that means crying in front of a stranger
who managed to see right through me.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Standing up to Giants

I love nature.
I love how it reminds me how big God is and how detailed He is.
Right now here on the back porch of my parents cabin,
I have been enjoying a tiny example
of how God created an instinct in every living thing
to not only survive, but to protect.
Meet my new little friend...

 Let's call her Mamasita
Isn't she cute! She is so tiny.
When I first met Mamasita I thought she might be tame,
or use to human contact.
She had no problem sitting close to where I was.
She would just flit around chirping and sitting.
I really thought she might just come right up to me. 
I told Wes, either she is someones lost pet or there is a nest very near.
We looked all over the porch,
trying to figure out where there could possibly be a nest.
There are no holes in the eves, no places to perch.
Then I saw it,
Of coarse!
It is the most perfect place for a little mama to nest.
Away from the elements,
quiet,
up and out of the way of predators.
My mom has this hanging fake pot of geraniums.
Usually it is hanging out on the beams, but she moved it in closer to the house.    
Little Mamsita found it and has a little family brewing in there.
She had no problem standing up to Wes and me
when we entered the front yard of her home.
She flew right up to us and gave us a piece of her mind!

She was protecting her nest
and it did not matter how big the the threat seemed.
We were giants in her world. 
She was going to do what she had to do
to protect what was most precious to her.

Isn't God awesome?

I have so much to learn...

I definitely have my own giants right now. 
Things that seem so big that they could crush me.
To consider standing up to them at times seems impossible.
They are big and I am small.

I have to remind myself 
to remember what is precious to me,
what is worth fighting for.

I believe God has planted in me 
the knowledge to know what is worth fighting for.
I believe He has planted that in you as well.

I have to remember and act on that fact,
even when I am scared and it feels impossible.  

I have to remember that He is backing me up. Romans 8:31

1 Samuel 17 tells a story of a young boy who took on a Giant.
It is worth reading, even if you think you already know the story.

We can never read God's Word enough.

There is always more to learn,
more to remember,
more to apply,
more

We learn how to stand, to fight, to be brave by feasting on God's Word.

I plan to continue to study God's Word
and to study His creation,
so that I can Stand up to the Giants that are in my life,
with the confidence that God is with me
 and will give me what I need to overcome.  
 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Loud and Proud

So, here we are in a large hotel with windows that face an interior atrium.
We were minding our own business when we realized that
practically every room's window in the place
had some sort of sports shirt hanging for everyone to see.
It seems that there was a softball tournament in town
and several teams were staying here.
The shirts in the windows were their way of pointing out
that they were there and proud of their affiliation.

Here I am trying to lay low, minding my own business.
Here they are living out loud,
desiring everyone that walks by to know who they are!

Shame on me

Now, I am not saying I should carry some sort of sign
or shirt around to hang up where ever I am to let everyone know 
I am the child of God. 

But what should I do?

My usual way is to just blend in,
get things done,
and don't cause a scene, when I am out and about.

You may occasionally see me with a Christian T-shirt on,
or wearing a cross necklace.
But that is about as loud and proud as I get. 

I have been reading through the Gospels again
and Jesus and his gang show me
how I should be showing my team colors when I am out in the world. 

There is a way that speaks volumes without saying a word.
(Like the shirts hanging in the windows)

I have to live it out,
unashamed without a care of what others say or think.

Jesus went about speaking about God,
living in community with the disciples
and then he took it a step further
and lived his faith in the midst of the lost.
He ate with them,
He walked with them,
He never stopped telling them what He believed
and what His Father had sent Him to do.

He lived with purpose.

Loud and Proud

Not Loud in volume,
but out loud in action.

Not Proud in himself,
but displaying the dignity and honor of being God's Son. 

For me, this looks like walking in the spirit

Galatians 5 has several verses that addresses this.
I suggest you read the whole chapter.
I am to keep standing firm  (vs1)
I am called to freedom, not for selfish reasons, but in order to serve others (vs13)
I am to love my neighbor (vs14)
I am to be led by the spirit (vs18)
I am to be filled by the fruits of the spirit and act them out, (vs22)
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control

"If we live by the Spirit,
let us also walk by the Spirit.
Let us not become boastful,
challenging one another,
envying one another." (vs25 and 26)

Learning to live Loud and Proud on behalf of the kingdom
looks different than the worlds version of "representing".

It is better and longer lasting in influence.

So the question remains...
how am I doing in representing that I am a child of God?
How are you doing with this?


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Now get out there and live Loud and Proud for Jesus' sake! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Big Move


Living in this fallen world is hard.
Being a Christian gives us a reason to live.

Our journeys of faith are personal.

Some days are harder than others.
It is on those days that if feels like it would be easier to give in to the darkness.
The thing is, it is a lonely path.
The further down the path of self focus, self pity, fear
and "it's not fair" anyone travels,
the darker and lonelier it becomes.
The harder it is to get back on track.

Hope becomes just a word.
Trust in God becomes just a phrase on a billboard.
The Bible becomes just a book.

God has not moved , you have.

you know who you are...

Yes, I am talking to you...

You wonder
why you feel so lonely,
why you can't find joy,
why your day to day life seems empty, meaningless,
why you feel angry or get your feelings hurt so often.

God has not moved, you have.

The more a believer wanders away
from being steeped in God's Word,
from having confidence in His ways,
from having an intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father
through prayer,
real worship
and studying who He is...

The more distant He appears to be

but

God has not moved, you have.

When did it happen?
How did it happen?

Did you get so comfortable in your identify as His child
that you stopped the pursuit of being the best child of God you could be?

It is a scary and lonely place....being far from Our Savior.

You know, the one who took on your sin, before you were born.
Who bore it all, so that you would be saved,
So that you would have peace and hope,
So that you would not suffer,
So that you would have the Holy Spirit to guide you,
So that you would have eternal life.

Must He completely break your heart to get your attention?

Yes.

He longs for you to be a beautiful masterpiece
that He may display to a fallen world.
This is impossible when you choose to live life in your own understanding.

How is that working out for you?

Come closer.
Move toward the One who
can wipe away your tears,
take away your fear,
fill you with hope,
answer your prayers...

You need to move closer, so you can hear His voice
above the noise in your head and out in the world.

Have you forgotten how?
Or is it that you think you know all you need to know?

There is only one way...
Ask God to forgive you.
Lay down all that stuff you have been carrying around,
the things that have distracted you and separated you from God,
Fear,
self-focus,
control,
seeking peace of mind from other sources outside of God's Word
(Internet, TV, self-help books, others' opinions),
holding on to history (things from the past).
I could go on.
Ask God to give you the strength to not take it up again.
It is heavy and impossible to move closer to Him when you continue to carry it all.

I know it is a Big Move
But I know you can do it.

He has already given you everything you need.

Don't you want to feel free?
Aren't you tired of feeling the way you feel?

I know you have read it before, but do it again. You can never read it enough.
Read through the Gospels, 
Study your Savior.
Fall in love with Him all over again.

You will find that the rest of the world looks very different
through the lens of Christ.

That thing you thought you needed to be in control of... not so important.
Those people that you need to point out their faults to...that is His job.
The fear you feel of stepping out in order to display how big God is...
He says, "Do not fear", He is with you.

Move closer,
Move into the arms of the one who knows what is best for you.

He loves you.