Friday, January 6, 2012

Instruments of Your Grace

Revive us O Lord...
Wake us up from our slumber.
Let us not be content in our comfort.
Nor be consumed with the pleasures of this world.
Let us spend less on entertainment and more on eternal attainment.
Let us see past our own noses into the depth of the eyes of others... Let us be willing to step into their hurts and see past their defences and introduce them to Jehovah-rapha, the LORD our Healer...  Let us be willing to stop and listen... Let us be purposeful to smile through even our own pain and bad days and not take our own frustrations out on others...
Let us, O LORD, be instruments of Your grace.

Revive us O Lord.
Teach us in Your ways.
Let us not continue to wander in our wilderness...
Nor grumble and complain.
Let us be renewed in our commitments and focused on Your face.
Let us see past our own selfish desires and submit our hearts unto Your lead... Let us be willing to die to ourselves and take up our own cross.
Let us follow You alone and not the ideas and philosophies and traditions of man... Let us be reminded of our blessing of the forgiveness of our sin and let us be willing to forgive as we have been forgiven...
Let us, O LORD, be instruments of Your grace

Revive us O Lord...
Let us, O LORD, be instruments of Your grace

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Fast Accountability (2)

It is 7:40pm and I have been successful in my fast today as in the not caving part... However, I still ponder the point of the fast... and why God has called me to it.

I am at the point now where I am having to fight little irritations that normally would not bother me. In all honesty I know I am far from starving. But at the same time I know that I could easily open the refrigerator door and consume every leftover that I know is in there.

So it seems that what God is teaching me is self-control and patience. Sometimes and opportunity is right there, easy and ready for the taking. But maybe I shouldn't dive into old leftovers when quite possibly my God has something new and fresh for me if I will just be patient and wait on Him. Maybe what God is teaching me with this fast is the crucifixion of my flesh. Maybe He is simply strengthening me in my prayer to be kind and to love and to respond with grace. I still am not sure if the fast is over... or if it continues into tomorrow... my God will let me know.

I still am searching and seeking His face as I wait on answers to questions that have entered my head and heart during this day of fasting. Questions that pertain to future opportunities and directions of ministry. Life is about to kick back into full gear and the full gear comes with new studies, new speaking engagements, and new ministry opportunities. It comes with decisions regarding our home and family. I must trust God to open doors and close them and not barge through demanding my way... when it might not be His plan at all. 

I have stopped to write this post and my girls have interrupted me at least three times each... once to describe the jelly on their sandwhich, once to ask me if I knew that their pj's were fireproof, once to ask if I would play a game, and etc... so I am saying goodnight to the blog and am heading into the living room to participate in a hardcore game of Phase 10 played our way before I send my youngens off to bed and then pour my eyes over and over the wisdom of the Word of my God.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fast Accountability

Okay so it's after midnight and I have been searching my blog posts for a post I am pretty sure I did on the subject of fasting while studying Isaiah... although that could be one that was a draft then deleted or something I posted somewhere else or could be something I wrote in a journal with actual pen and paper...

The reason I was searching for it was to back up my reasons for this post and also to see where I was in my thought process concerning fasting when I wrote it. I feel the Lord has called me to a fast. However I do not have a set reason... other than the desire to be completely and totally in His will and walking in it with full confidence. There are several areas in my life where I go "well I don't know... maybe this... or maybe that..." There are some areas that I need solid assurance not wishy washy maybes... because I know my God is a solid Rock... He is not wishy or washy... and He has a plan... I need to be still and see if He is willing to give me the heads up on what that plan might be.

However when I even think "fast" my stomach starts growling and my head starts hurting... and the excuses begin and the compromises come. So this is my accountability. I usually try a secret fast. The don't-let-the-right-hand-know-what-the-left-hand-is-doing fast, but for me it makes it too easy to compromise and take a big ole bite of whatever.

Here's the thing.
I will be teaching on love from 1 Corinthians 13 this coming Sunday morning as I finish up a study on spiritual gifts and then I will be leading an adult small group study from the book of Job beginning the next Sunday.
This Sunday, after my small group, I will immediately go to teach our children at church on Bible prophecy through the book of Revelation. 
On Monday I will be back to teaching during our homeschool co-op chapel time on the names of God and I also teach a Zoology class.
I also am involved in a prayer wall ministry and will be speaking at a ladies retreat in March.
Then of course their is my writing.
And being a wife to my wonderful husband.
And motherhood and homeschooling my girls.
And all the other stuff in between...

So many times people ask me how I have the time for all that I do... and I immediately begin to try to make excuses and justify and defend and basicly apologize for my service... I have no clue why I do that.

The simple truth is that as long as I am doing what He alone has called me to do, my God, the Author and Finisher, the I AM, the Beginning and the End, the One not bound by time, space, or matter, He always manages to make enough time for me to accomplish whatever He has called me to do. It's all Him. And I have no clue how He does it... He just does.

So my fast...
My fast is to make sure that I am serving on His time, in His time, for His time, with His time, so that I always have time. In His strength not my own. Not my will but His will be done. No wishy-washy maybe but only a sold rock of assurance. I like my face set like flint, fully focused on the prize of my Christ. Obeying His Word, His Way, His will.

F aith
A mplifies
S urrendered
T ime

Accountability: to help me keep my mouth closed and my heart open

It's 1am now...
I'll let you know how well this fast goes.
Hopefully I will not be defeated with breakfast...

Names of God - Jehovah-jireh

It's time for another post in the Names of God series. We have done a little study on the names Elohim, El Elyon, El Roi, El ShaddaiEl OlamAdonia, and Jehovah. Today we will discover more about the character of our God as we take a look at His name, Jehovah-jireh.

We first see this name of God in Genesis. To discover the meaning of this name of our God we go again to Abraham. We go to the day that an old man of great faith is asked by his God to do the unthinkable. We go to Genesis 22:1-14.

In Genesis 22, we go to the day that God calls out to Abraham to take his son... his son that he loves... and sacrifice him to Him. This is the first time the word love is used in Scripture. I think that has to be for a reason... don't you? God has always tried to show us, to teach us, that love is about sacrifice.

 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering
and laid it on Isaac his son,
and he took in his hand the fire and the knife.
So the two of them walked on together.
Genesis 22:6

What a beautiful picture this was of our Savior. A small foreshadowing of what was to come. Abraham walked with his son, ready to be wholly surrendered in absolute committed obedience to his God. He walked on in faith. He walked on trusting in the promises of his God. His God who had given His Word that through Isaac he would become a great nation and all the nations would be blessed in him. So somehow he knew that his God would provide life for his son and life for those who were to come through the seed of his son... even though now He asked for his death.  

They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out,
bearing His own cross,
to the place called the Place of a Skull,
which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha.
John 19:17

Jesus walked to the place of His sacrifice and He carried the wood on His back and it was His Father that walked with Him, His Father who carried the fire and the knife... The difference in the story is found in this name we are looking at today... Jehovah-jireh, the LORD Will Provide.

Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked,
and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns;
and Abraham went and took the ram
and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. 
Abraham called the name of that place
The LORD Will Provide,
as it is said to this day,
“In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:13-14

Abraham's son was spared. God's Son was not. The ram that spared Isaac... was a picture of the Lamb that would not be spared in order to not only spare Isaac, but to spare you and I. The Lord would provide the sacrifice that was needed. It would be God who would take His Son, His Only Begotten Son, His Son Whom He loved, and sacrifice Him... for us. 

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

For God so loved the world,
that He gave His only begotten Son,
 that whoever believes in Him shall not perish,
but have eternal life. 
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world,
but that the world might be saved through Him.  
John 3:16-17

It would be God who would provide the sacrifice for our sin. However the sacrifice for our sin is not the only necessity that our God has promised to provide.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11

And my God will supply all your needs
according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:19

Our God promises to supply our daily needs. He knows what we need. He has promised to meet those needs according to His riches... according to His will... according to His way. He always provides what is best when it is best.

Last year I found myself clinging to a particular Psalm all year... over and over I would come back to the promises of my God and would hold on to them for dear life. That Psalm was Psalm 34. As I read threw this Psalm I noticed the repeating of the word "all". It was this word that I clung to as I held on to this Word of my God, my God whose name is Jehovah-jireh.

 I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul will make its boast in the LORD;
The humble will hear it and rejoice.
O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
I sought the LORD, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.
 O taste and see that the LORD is good;
How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the LORD, you His saints;
For to those who fear Him there is no want.
The young lions do lack and suffer hunger;
But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing.
Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Who is the man who desires life
And loves length of days that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
And His ears are open to their cry. 
 The face of the LORD is against evildoers,
To cut off the memory of them from the earth.
The righteous cry, and the LORD hears
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones,
Not one of them is broken.
Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.

Fierce Beauty Book Review

I have finished reading Fierce Beauty by Kim Meeder. There were so many moments in this book where my heart caught in my throat as I read words of strength and encouragement, words of confirmation, that this path that I am on is indeed the path that the Lord has set before me. (My ten year old daughter is currently reading it now.)

If you follow my FB page you would find quote after quote from this book. Kim shared stories of such courage and depth that I could not help but share a little from them along the way as I read through the book.

The book is centered on getting your focus off of you. We live in a day where outward beauty is worshiped and it doesn't matter how ugly the inside is. All around us are young girls killing themselves to be beautiful before a fickle world and while they smile on the outside their insides are crumbling within them dying slowly and painfully. Then we older girls are so focused on maintaining our own youthful beauty that we completely miss the young girls around us following our lead into a pointless battle.

By God's grace and mercy might we stop and look into the mirror of our God and judge our reflection by His eyes and not our own. Might we stop and look into the souls of the women around us and pull out the mirror of the Word and say look, Are you beautiful before your King because His opinion is the only one that matters?  

As you pour through the pages of Fierce Beauty you will gain renewed determination and purpose. If you are currently in a place of stumbling, a place of hopelessness, a place of frustration... if you will pick up this book and press on through it... I guarantee you that by the end you will have a face set like flint to get up and stand on the solid Rock of your God and take Him by His outstretched hand and walk on knowing that He is with you every step of the way. 

It is such a breathe of sweet air to me to know that my sufferings are never in vain. Kim shares her own times of suffering as well as the sufferings of others and she shows how God took these ashes and turned them into something beautiful and how in His hands our sorrow becomes gladness.

Kim shares toward the end of the book and says, "Friends, no matter how difficult this race of life gets and how lonely we might feel, we are not alone in our struggles."

Here is what some others had to say about Fierce Beauty and you can also read an excerpt from the book to get a closer look inside the pages. I recommend this book for young ladies all the way up to not-so-young ladies. We all need reminded that true beauty begins on the inside and our focus should not be the condition of our outward appearance but the condition of our hearts.

Are we beautiful before our King?
Let us not fight a pointless battle, but let us fight the good fight of faith.
Let us never forget that our sufferings are not in vain nor are we alone in them.
May we all become fierce beauties.

FTC disclaimer: "I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review" 

My Own Little World

Yesterday was an "ick" day.
It was just one of those "Ugh" days.
This morning I wake up to realize it was because I got caught up in my own little world.

I know now that it was an attack.
You see it is time for changes.
It's time for new commitments.
So it's time for the enemy of my soul to make me feel unworthy and unable.

It almost worked.
Doubts began to fill my head.
Discouragement was creeping up my back.

... “Get behind Me, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to Me;
for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Matthew 16:23

How easy it is to find myself wrapped up and tripping all over me.
I so get in my way!
I so get in the way of what God is trying to do in and through me...
I have to remember daily, to die daily.
So today I die and live to Him.

Today I say goodbye to my own little world...
I don't like it here anyway. It always makes me frustrated and aggravated and hopeless and just plain old unlikable. I can't even stand myself in my own little world... how on earth could anyone else stand me here. Today I choose to remember that I am of another world. His world. His kingdom. I like it much better in the BIG OF HIM than the little of me!   

Monday, January 2, 2012

Beginning 2012 With Innocence Lost

New Years day was spent first at home getting ready for church... which we managed to do without any yelling or meltdowns and we only pulled into the parking lot 5 minutes late...
Then at church the last gifts to be studied in my spiritual gifts class were discussed and we left small group to head to "big church" to listen to one of the cutest couples I have ever seen share about their missions adventures in Guatemala.
Then we were off to spend the rest of the day at my in-laws.

My momma-in-law had a copy of The Help, a movie I had not seen but had wanted to, so we popped it in. PG-13 should be fine with the kids running around... right?
I cringed with the first "gd" and hoped there would not be another... there was, but they never fell when the children were in the room (whew).

Then Bekah, tired and not feeling all too wonderful yesterday crawled up in my lap while the movie was playing... in closed-caption I mind you...

Her first question came.
"Momma why can't she go to the bathroom?"   

So the explanation of the civil rights movement began and as I spoke my child's beautiful innocent eyes looked at me with utter befuddled confusion. The fact that someone could be treated so horrible simply because of the color of her skin was completely foreign and insane to her. Proof that racism is taught, not natural.

Her next question came.
"But why Momma?" 

My only answer.
"Foolish ignorance and human self-righteousness"

The next lesson my youngest child learned from The Help was just as upsetting to her... and me.

While watching the movie, the time of Minny's revenge came, and at this time my little one decided to enter the room once again... and at the exact time that (in closed caption) Minny says, "Eat my s**t". To which I look in horror to my child who is watching (and reading) and then turns to me and says "Momma what's s**t?" 


So I have to take my young beautiful innocent child to another room and explain to her what s**t is. I laugh in uncomfortable situations. So now I am trying to explain the seriousness of why we do not use this word without my uncomfortable situation laughter, because in truth my heart is breaking, and I feel like I have failed my child.

She asked, "Momma if it is just another word that people use for poo-poo what's so bad about it?"
I then have to explain about profanity and what God says in His Word about speaking with these words and how this is not a word we are to use.

 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk,
or coarse jesting, which are not fitting,
but rather giving of thanks.
Ephesians 5:4

Then she erupts in tears.
It hits her that she has just said a bad word and she is horrified.
Her heart is broken and my heart is broken because it was my job to protect her...

I hold her close in my arms and cuddle her up and close and explain to her that it was not her fault and she did not know it was a bad word and that it was going to be okay. Then she says, "I'll forget it Momma! I forget things I read and hear all the time" 

Then we pray that God would help her forget it and replace it with good words... and though this may seem an insignificant moment to some... it was heart wrenching for her and for me as well... to watch her heart break and to see innocence leaving her before my very eyes.

Oh that all our hearts would break with such horror at the thought and realization of "bad words" coming out of our mouths. That all of us would be so confused and befuddled at the cruelty that comes from the foolish ignorance of self-righteous human beings.

I learn so very much from my children...

Church Adolescence

I have one lesson left to complete a Precept Upon Precept study on Spiritual Gifts. I have loved this study. If you are interested in discovering your spiritual gift (and if you are a believer, you really should be) and understanding exactly how it Biblically is to be put into action I highly recommend this study.

This is not a question/answer survey. It will require time and effort to get through it, but when you finish the race what you will discover is freedom, purpose, and understanding... trust me... it's worth it.

Now concerning spiritual gifts,
brethren, I do not want you to be unaware.
1 Corinthians 12:1

God doesn't want you to be unaware, Paul does not want you to be unaware, and I do not want you to be unaware... so become aware. However, do not let your awareness come through the opinions and interpretations of man...

You know that when you were pagans,
you were led astray to the mute idols,
however you were led.
1 Corinthians 12:2

Go straight to Scripture.

There are plenty of ideas and imaginations of man attempting to explain and define spiritual gifts according to what fits in their own man made traditions and doctrines... be brave my friend... and be willing to go against the grain if need be... do not continue to be led astray... become aware.

In this study the first three weeks are an overview study of the subject of spiritual gifts and then the next nine weeks you will dig into each individual gift, the last week is a study on love.

 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
but do not have love,
I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
 If I have the gift of prophecy,
and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing. 
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor,
and if I surrender my body to be burned,
but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

As I was studying in the overview section of this study the Lord opened my eyes to something that I was surprised that I had not seen before. He has a way of doing that... and I adore Him for it.

As God begins to make us aware of spiritual gifts He uses the human body as an analogy to help us understand. As I was studying this illustration of the body in light of Ephesians 4 and pondering what it means to become to maturity, to go from children to a mature man... my thoughts went to that time period in between that we in our day have termed as "adolescence". 

You know that time.
If you have lived it, you know it.
You don't recognize it when you are in it... only when it is behind you and you look back... with utter humiliation and head shaking good-griefs...

It's that time when your father and mother become the most outdated and stupid and old-fashioned people you have ever met. It's that time when what your friends say and do matters more than what your parents have taught you. It's that time when you begin to question and rebel against every authority figure around you. It's that time when you begin test life in a not so good way... more challenge life and those who have given you life and gotten you safely thus far.

As I pondered this and did a little research on adolescence and considered my own days in that dreaded fog of disillusionion it hit me that this is where the body of Christ is at today.

We live in a day when those in the church are questioning the Word of God. We have been questioning and challenging the authority of our Heavenly Father. We have put down His Book and have picked up the books of our peers. We have decided to listen to what our "friends" say and have consider the Word of our Heavenly Father out-dated and old-fashioned and for a different generation.

We have become immature little brats. 

It's time to grow up.
It's time to get to the point that when we hear the word and advice of our "friends" we go and ask our Heavenly Father what He thinks about it before we follow it.
It's time for us to hit that point that we look back and say... "you know what maybe Momma and Daddy ain't as stupid as I thought they were, I might should listen to what they say, and follow what they have already taught me... my way ain't turned out so good." 

I had to ask myself what is one of the biggest signs of beginning to reach maturity?
My answer: When we realize that the world does not revolve around me and realize that we have a responsibility in this life and we get busy meeting it.

Church it's time to grow up.

As a result, we are no longer to be children,
tossed here and there by waves
and carried about by every wind of doctrine,
by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 
but speaking the truth in love,
we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head,
even Christ, from whom the whole body,
being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies,
according to the proper working of each individual part,
causes the growth of the body
for the building up of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:14-16