Monday, August 31, 2009

Carrying My Blue Bag

“Get ready; be prepared!…A long time from now you will be called into action.” Ezekiel 38:7,8

When I was in Public School, my mom encouraged my sister and I to study every night. We would complain and argue. We weren’t having a test the next day, probably not even the next week, but that never detoured her demand. We would study. We would be prepared. When the test was announced, and it inevitably would be, we would have already started to commit the work to memory.

Although this concept of being ready in advance was drilled into me as a young person, it’s still not something I embrace in every area of my life. I can’t say that about my mom. In a moment’s notice she could be prepared to host anyone for a visit or go anywhere because she lives in a state of “just in case”.

“Just in case” the doorbell rings and someone stops by for tea, her fridge is holding cookies, pies and sweets. Her dining room table is always set with cups, saucers and pretty serviettes. “Just in case” a call comes inviting her out, she has already cleaned her house, allowing her to get away without feeling guilty about jobs needing to be accomplished at home. “Just in case” an opportunity is offered to minister to someone, she is ready, having daily spent time in God’s Word and prayer. Even though her husband has now been in the hospital for six months, she has visited him every single day. Each day she carries a blue, canvas bag, which my sisters and I lovingly call her “hope bag”. “Just in case” a bed should become available at a long term care facility, mom is prepared for that move with extra clean clothes for dad and the supplies he would need. She is a woman prepared.

Maybe you feel that way about a dream right now. God has put a desire in your heart, but without the certainty of knowing it’s fulfillment you think, why bother? What if I put all my time and effort into following it and in the end I fail? If God has placed a longing so great in your heart, that has continued over time, pursue it. Be prepared. When you are called into action you’ll be ready.

I remember sharing with a speaker friend of mine about a three-part message God had planted inside me years ago. She encouraged me to work at it and write it down. Even though I’ve only ever spoken at events where I have shared in one session, she told me to be prepared. If I wrote it in obedience to God calling, some day that opportunity would come.

God’s Word commands us to be ready in any season to tell of the hope within us. Should the door open for you to witness for Him today, could you share your testimony freely?

Let’s be ready to be used by God at a moment’s notice. I'm carrying my "blue bag".

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Living the Name

…they brought shame on my holy name.” Ezekiel 36:20

A couple of weeks ago I heard a powerful story. It was told of Alexander the Great, one of the greatest military generals the world has ever known. Apparently one night he couldn’t sleep, so he went for a walk among the tents on the campground.

He came across a solider who was sleeping while on duty. This was a very serious offence, with the penalty most often being death. As Alexander the Great came closer, his footsteps aroused the sleeping solider. Recognizing who was before him, the solider feared for his life.

Alexander the Great asked him, “Soldier, do you know the penalty for falling asleep on guard duty?”

“Yes sir”, the soldier responded in a quivering voice.

In a demanding tone, Alexander the Great inquired, “Soldier, what is your name?”

“Alexander, sir”

Alexander the Great repeated this question three times, and each time the same response came.

Alexander the Great, looking directly at the soldier, said with intensity, “either change your name or change your life.”

As Christ-followers, we too must live up to a name. Is my life reflective of the name I carry? If I call myself a Christian, am I bringing honour or shame to His name? God guards His name. James 2:7 warns us not to blaspheme the fair name by which we have been called. 1 Peter 4: 16 encourages us to glorify God in His name. 2 Timothy 2:19 says that the Lord knows who are His and everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wicked behaviour.

Today, do you need to change your name or change your life?

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Want To's

“We will do whatever we want.” Jeremiah 44:17

Arriving home from the Beth Moore Simulcast, I wrote on my Facebook Status: “I’m asking God to make His want to, my want to. As Beth Moore prayed: Lord, mess with my heart.”

Finding the above verse in my reading today reminded me of something else Beth said over and over, “At the end of the day, people do what they want to.”

Basing her teaching this weekend on Psalm 37, with focus on verse 4, Beth shared that nothing dictates our lives like our desires.

Tonight I am asking myself, what do I want in life and from life? For what am I yearning? Beth said that sometimes we are so fixated on what we want that we never do what it takes to get there.

Christ’s first words in the book of John are found in chapter one, verse 38. Jesus asks, “What is it you want?”

I am joining with the people in the book of Jeremiah and praying that the LORD my God will show me what to do and where to go (42:3). Father I desperately long to desire You more than anything else. Lord, make Your want to, my want to.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

But LORD...

"But LORD, you remain the same forever!" Lamentations 5:19

This morning phrases from Lamentations echo my heart cries.

"...we are exhausted but are given no rest." 5:5

"Joy has left our hearts..." 5:15

"Our hearts are sick and weary, and our eyes grow dim with tears." 5:17

Circumstances and situations are tearing my heart apart.

I am falling into God's arms and placing the names of loved ones in His hands.

Yet, despite the evil I see there is a "But LORD..."

Father, thank You that you remain the same forever.

What does that mean to me?

That means You see...You know...You understand...You are working...You can be trusted...You are just...You do care...You will not abandon us...You are able...You are holding us...You love us with unfailing love.

Thank You today for a sentence that brings hope and begins with the promise of a 'but', followed by the power of Your Name.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fresh Mercies

“Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!’ The LORD is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him. So it is good to wait quietly for the salvation from the LORD….For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.” Lamentations 3:21-26, 31-32

Today I saw God’s mercy, compassion, faithfulness and unfailing love.

As many of you know, my family has had a long six months. My dad was hospitalized on March 3rd after an error was made by the hospital where he had been admitted for day surgery. The journey continues on and the way has been rough and hard.

Today my mom, sister and I met with hospital staff. We didn’t call the meeting. They did. They wanted to hear our journey. For the first time in six months, someone listened. Not only did they listen, but they took ownership and responsibility for the mistakes that were made. They admitted error and negligence on their part. They humbly apologized for all that has happened. They have asked what they can do to assist better in dad’s care.

The Chief Nursing Executive and VP Professional Affairs, along with the Chief of Doctors and Physicians considered us. As we waited quietly on the Lord through all this time, today we saw again that He has not abandoned us.

Father thank You. Thank You for mercies that begin afresh each morning. Though my heart is still drowned in grief, I have tasted Your unfailing love.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Saving Traps

“He has placed a trap in my path and turned me back.” Lamentations 1:13

The sign said “Road Closed”, yet the car ahead of me drove on. A barricade had been erected for a reason, but the warning wasn’t heeded. The result might have been a hole in the muffler and a repair bill that could have been avoided.

Lamentations speaks of traps. We usually think of traps as either catching, confining or killing. Traps are generally set for the purpose of holding or hindering. They prevent or stifle movement.

As I read the verse above, my heart rejoiced for the times the Lord has set a trap in my path, not for the purpose of death, but detour. In His love He sets up a roadblock to get me to turn back. Heading away from Him, He sets a saving trap of love.

In Acts 16 the Holy Spirit blocked Paul and Silas twice in their journey. He blocked Balaam and his donkey in their travels. Sometimes a trap isn’t to be overcome, but for us to succumb. It’s for our protection. Heading the wrong way, God is keeping us from unknown pain.

Traps should be welcomed, if God sets them before us. They should serve as a big neon light that warns of danger ahead should we keep pursuing this path.

Today I am praying that God will set a trap in the path of a very dear soul, and that they will heed it and turn back. Specifically, I pray the plans this one had for today will be thwarted. Lord, I need to see a miracle. Please set a saving trap.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Humble Pie

“Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor.” Ezekiel 28:17

“Little Jack Horner, sat in the corner, eating his pumpkin pie.
He stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said, ‘What a good boy am I.’”

Do you ever stop and think much about the contents of nursery rhymes? For example, I wonder, did Jack just like sitting in the corner or was he there as a form of punishment? Why was he sitting all alone? If he was placed there as reprimand, why on earth did he get a treat? Then, what did he do next? Sticks his thumb in his food! Any illustrations I have seen of this childhood chant depicts Jack as old enough not to be playing with his food. And, assuming his location is the result of unfavourable behaviour, he displays no remorse as he arrogantly announces, “What a good boy am I.”

How many of us are little Jack Horners, proud of our corners and in them. Proud of appearances, appointments, accomplishments, accumulations and accolades. Our wisdom has been corrupted by our love for splendor.

C. S. Lewis has said that “Pride…is the complete anti-God state of mind.”
Nancy Leigh DeMoss says it is the roadblock to revival. “Pride blinds us to our true spiritual condition…”
John Flavel writes, “They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud.”
C. H. Spurgeon says, “Oh! Man, hate pride, flee from it, abhor it, do not let it dwell with you!”
The prophet Obadiah says, pride deceives you so that you think you are invincible and untouchable ((Obadiah 1:3).
Solomon says pride leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18), and God hates pride (Proverbs 8:13).
The Psalmist tells us that there are consequences for proud actions (Psalm 31:23) and that pride keeps us from seeking God (Psalm 10:4).
James tells us that God opposes the proud (James 4:6).

Maybe that nursery rhyme should have gone like this:

Little Jack Horner, chose to sit in the corner, after serving the pumpkin pie.
He then bowed his head, and quietly said, “Lord, You are greater than I.”

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Life of Worship

"...and I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever..." Jeremiah 32:39

Father, I desire passionate worship. Not just on Sundays. Not just when I'm singing or praying. Lord, my heart longs for my life to be my worship.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Self Almighty

“Then you will know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 25:5

“Then” moments.

I underlined that phrase, or one almost identical to it, nine times in my reading this morning. Each time it followed a list of horrific consequences for sin. Punishment for choices made as the people wandered down paths, abandoning God.

Unable to see their own godlessness, the Lord needed to get their attention. Repeated disobedience had toughened their skin making them callus to the gentle nudge of His Spirit inviting them to repent and return. Forgiveness was not appreciated. It was taken for granted. God’s grace was expected and so sin continued to abound. Pride and arrogance were a double blindfold over their mind, keeping them from understanding the error of their ways. There was no reverent fear of the Lord. They were serving the almighty. Self almighty.

Someone so dear to me is walking destruction’s path. Convinced completely that God is guiding them to act in ways so contrary to His Word, they have fooled themselves into believing their relationship with God is tight and close. They are crediting God for opening doors that He would never open. In fact, He’d place a huge barricade before them, warning that choosing these paths were sin. They are living a life in total abandonment of God and His Word and pursing dishonest gain, lust, adultery, materialism, manipulation, blackmail and lies, all the while claiming God is directing them. It frightens me.

Look at the ways the Lord got the peoples attention in this passage today. Children killed. Loneliness. Abandonment. Loss of livelihood. Judgment. Destruction. Removal of strength and power. War. Famine. Disease. It scares me to think how the Lord will get a hold of this person’s heart, and bring them back so they again will recognize that He is LORD. At the same time, it scares me even more that satan has them so bound that they will continue to turn a deaf ear to God’s warnings.

I would love to pray that God would bring a quiet “then” moment into their life. A gentle awakening to the depth of His love and the power of the cross. A sudden awareness and awakening that what they call “happiness” God calls sin. Yet, there are consequences for blatantly defying the Lord. Father, break this dear one. Move in their life in such a way that they will know that You are the LORD.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Standing In The Gap

“I searched for someone to stand in the gap…but I found no one.” Ezekiel 22:30

“Lord, what should my answer be?”

Another job opportunity had been presented to him. An opportunity he had desired all his life. Finally he could leave the job he had always tolerated and follow his dream of becoming a Pastor. He could resign from his current vocation, go back to school and embrace his passion. Still, he sought confirmation from God. Everything seemed to be pointing down this path, but he could not take one step without God’s affirmation.

Turning again to His Word as he had been doing daily now for so many years, he implored the Lord to speak clearly as an answer must be given today. Opening his Bible he began to read. Although all of God’s Word has power to speak into life’s situations, nothing in today’s scripture reading was resounding in his heart. He was approaching the final two verses, confused, uncertain and seeking. Suddenly God shouted.

“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap...but I found none." KJV

God was looking for someone to stand in the gap!

With uncontainable excitement, he raced up the stairs two at a time. Finding his wife and children in the kitchen he exclaimed, “God wants me to keep filling the gap!”

For years now the Lord had been using this man’s ministry and gift of teaching when Pastors were on vacation or suddenly not well. Similar to a supply teacher who is “on call” when instructors become ill or unable to lead their class, he could receive a phone message at any time asking him to respond to a church in sudden need of a speaker. In a moments notice he would be on his way. As he had never taken official membership at any church, doors opened in every denomination, yet his message never changed. He shared the truth of the Gospel with power and assurance.

That morning, God confirmed his vocation. He would continue working in the office where he was employed. He would stay at a job that offered little pleasure and fulfillment, yet it enabled his weekend ministry. Receiving a pay-cheque from this employer made it easier for him to “fill the gap” freely, without causing additional expense to a church already in need. With renewed enthusiasm he rejoiced in the certainty of knowing the Lord had found a man to fill the gap.

Later that day, in his office at work, a broken searching soul wandered in. Right there, in the place he had longed to leave, he had the honour of leading a co-worker to the Lord. It wasn’t time to resign yet. His life was being used to share the message of the cross. The cross that bridged the gap between our sin and Christ’s salvation. Yes, he was in the gap filling business.

(This story is true. It’s one of the many stories of my Dad’s walk with the Lord. I’m so thankful for my godly heritage.)

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Friday, August 21, 2009


“They sat down…to wait for his reply.” Ezekiel 20:1

My husband is not a man of many words. It takes him a good deal of time to formulate an answer and respond in any conversation. I remember meal time when our son was young. I would ask my husband a question, then quickly turn to our son and ask him to remain silent until Daddy answered. I knew from experience that any interruption would delay receiving a reply.

Waiting for a response. Sometimes an invitation is extended and we long with eager anticipation for the R.S.V.P. We wait to see what the weather forecast will hold, hoping the day at the beach will proceed as planned. We wait anxiously before a blank sheet of paper, knowing the exam will begin in a few minutes. The Dr’s office said they would call with results and we wait with hope and hesitation until the phone call comes. We send an e-mail or letter containing words that were difficult to write and we wait and pray the recipient received our caring confrontation in the loving way it was intended. There are countless examples of waiting. But…what about waiting for God to speak?

Recently I was sharing with a friend how I was seeking God’s guidance for the Fall. After withdrawing from so many areas of ministry and service back in March, for the purpose of being available to help my Mom when my Dad was hospitalized, I’m asking the Lord what He wants me involved in now as I have felt directionless over the past six months. My friend, a believer, couldn’t understand my waiting on God to reveal His plan. I explained I didn’t want to just be ‘doing’ anything. I wanted to be in the center of God’s will for me. Again I felt her response to me almost condemning. She was busy. Her life was full. She was making plans and pursuing a new path. All was good. But, that’s just the thing. I don’t want to settle for ‘good‘. I don’t want to just be busy doing something, regardless of how ‘good’ it appears. I want to embrace God’s assignment for me. I don’t want my time committed to ‘good’ when ‘best’ comes along.

Having felt ‘shelved’ over the past few months, a schedule has now been put in place to assist my parents as their continued care will be long term. Slowly life is being breathed back into empty lungs. I’m asking the Lord to reveal His plan for me, and like the leaders of Israel, I’m sitting down and waiting for His reply.

The physical act of sitting down implies the expected answer will not be delivered in haste. I’m not standing here, expecting an immediate, quick reply. An answer will come, but it will most likely take time. I’m not moving until He speaks to me.

We live in a world today of instant response. Phone, e-mails, fax, texting, microwaves, drive-thru lines, courier companies that promise same day delivery, digital imaging, frozen prepared dinners, express check-out lines, Go-buses, even “Fast-Passes” at amusement parks…places that advertise rest and relaxation. We’re spinning and running faster and faster and the art of cultivating patience is completely lost.

Sitting down. Waiting on God’s reply. Does five minutes in silence before Him seem like an eternity?

Oh Lord, I want to enjoy the sitting…not so much for the reply…but because I’m sitting in Your presence…with You. Help me wait. When others criticize my waiting and don’t understand, give me courage to keep waiting. Your reply will come…and then I will stand and follow.

Lord, here I am.

Sitting down.

Prepared and purposed to wait.

Oh the pleasure of looking into Your face as You sit with me and enjoy my waiting on You. You will R.S.V.P. at the perfect time.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Turn, Turn, Turn

“‘Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? Says the Sovereign LORD. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.’” “‘And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die.’” “‘Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.’” Ezekiel 18:23, 27-28, 30-32

Watching someone dear to me pursue a lifestyle of sin, I long for them to hear these words and find a new heart and spirit. Sadly they are blind to any error in their ways and continue to justify and excuse their behaviour. Actions in complete rebellion of God’s Word speak of their current heart condition, yet they say the Lord is guiding them. One thing I know for sure, God will never, never instruct us to do anything contrary to His Word.

Like John in the wilderness, I long to be that voice that calls for repentance. Repentance is so much more than recognizing that what you are doing is wrong. It’s acknowledging sin as sin. Confessing. Asking for forgiveness. Surrendering. Turning completely around. True repentance is evidenced in a new heart and spirit.

In my own life I think of the many times I have told the Lord how sorry I am for carrying so much fear. True repentance would result in a new heart of trust and a spirit of confidence.

Father, before I am so quick to preach repentance to another, convict my heart and help me remove the log in my own eye.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hope Fully Devoted

“They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin.” Ezekiel 14:3

It seemed harmless at the time. After all, it was a good thing. No once could fault me for pursuing it. Didn’t the Lord provide it in the first place? I mean, I’m innocent. Yet, just as God rebuked His people in Ezekiel 16:17, He says to me, you’ve taken the very beautiful things I have given you and worshiped them. “This is adultery against me!”

I know I have fallen into this trap. A friend becomes the center of my life, taking pre-eminence. A job becomes too important. An area of ministry receives my passion. A dream desired is my only focus. Accolades and people pleasing get all my attention. Blogging, Facebook, Internet are life-lines and to miss a day at my computer would induce hyperventilating. Would a day missed in His Word invoke a similar response? Something is seriously wrong.

My heart has embraced a wrong love.

What truly has my heart’s devotion?

What do I pursue with the intensity and commitment that should be reserved for God alone?

Oh Lord, recapture my heart. May nothing…NOTHING replace or weaken my allegiance to You. Captivate me. Father I long to be hope fully devoted to You.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Flimsy Walls

“It’s as if the people have built a flimsy wall, and these prophets are trying to reinforce it by covering it with whitewash!” Ezekiel 13:10

Noticing too late that the hem of my skirt was falling, and despising mending, I grabbed a roll of tape and began sticking instead of stitching. Surely this would hold well enough. Unfortunately, before the day was over, more than my hem was falling down, and now I was trying to hide two wardrobe malfunctions.

Short cuts. A quick fix. Masterpiece replaced by mediocre. Flimsy instead of firm.

Where else in my life am I trying to reinforce and brace “flimsy walls” that should be torn down? Not because the building isn’t needed, but because the construction is careless and the foundation weak.

Too often we try and paint over a poor effort, trusting in appearance. We think if everything looks good on the outside, the “hem line” in place, superficiality will pass scrutiny. Maybe we’ll fool some, but those walls will fall in time, and certainly God recognizes the “whitewash”.

We build our lives on straw and twigs instead of brick. Brick building takes time. It’s hard work. It requires great effort. With God as our Cornerstone, we dig into His Word and apply the mortar of prayer. These two elements ground any building project so that a heavy rainstorm will not undermine it and great hailstones and mighty winds will not knock it down (Ezekiel 13:11).

Flimsy walls, no matter how beautifully decorated, won’t last. They will fail and fall. Being daily dedicated and devoted to the teaching of God’s Word and prayer will make for solid, stable walls that will succeed and stand.

When the storm comes, will your walls stand?

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Still Held

“…the Sovereign LORD took hold of me.” Ezekiel 8:1

I remember clearly the day the Sovereign LORD took hold of me.

Although I can’t write the date and time, I was about eight years old when it happened. I was reading a little story entitled, “Joy Sparton of Parsonage Hill”. The main character, “Joy”, was the daughter of a Pastor. Sharing her name and family life, it was easy to identify with the heroine as her life so closely mirrored my home situation. When the fictional character in this book realized that she would not go to heaven when she died based on her parent’s commitment, and that she needed to have a personal relationship with the Lord, I suddenly understood that I too had to make my own decision to invite Jesus into my heart. Getting down on my knees beside my bed, I confessed my sins and asked Jesus to come into my life. It was a quiet moment.

My testimony isn’t filled with captivating before and after illustrations. As an eight year old, I hadn’t walked a path of drugs or alcohol. I hadn’t left home, lived on the streets, been a victim of abuse, surrendered to passion, or committed a crime. Yet when God “took hold” the result was the same. My conversion was just as exciting. Just as many angels rejoiced. I am so thankful for all God saved me from. For all the experiences missed. For all the opportunities lost.

God took hold of a little girls heart 39 years ago and continues to hold it now and forevermore.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Yokes on You

“‘This is what the LORD says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but you have replaced it with a yoke of iron.’” Jeremiah 28:13

Replacing a wooden yoke for an iron yoke. Have you ever made that exchange?

You think you’re going to make things better, but in the end the burden is greater. What you thought couldn’t possibly become any more complicated worsens, and the sad things is, it’s because of choices you made. The iron yoke lies heavier and binds harder.

In a moment of desperation we throw off the comparatively easier yoke for one more severe. Oh, if only we’d kept the lighter cross, submitting to it’s humbling, than to invite the heavier burden. Rejecting Christ’s yoke, we will bow to something far worse and with the greater coupling comes a harsher judgment.

Our necks were made for yoke bearing. Galatians 5:1 instructs us not to be burdened by a yoke of slavery, an “iron yoke”, but to surrender to Christ’s “wooden yoke”, an easier yoke of righteousness, for a heart redeemed rejoices in it.

Christ is not asking us to do anything that He hasn’t submitted to already. Christ carried this yoke Himself. “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” Matthew 11:29

Which yoke are you carrying today?

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Struggle of Surrender

“‘But I am afraid to surrender…’” Jeremiah 38:19

Surrender. Not a popular word. It implies giving up. Letting go. Losing.

Why am I so often afraid to surrender?

In a song Steven Curtis Chapman sings, “The Sake of the Call”, there’s a line that expresses the heart of surrender: “Simply because it is Jesus who called, And if we believe we’ll obey.”

Believe what?
That the way will be easy? No.
That God can be trusted? Yes.

It’s not so much believe what, but Who.

Another matter of trust.

Do I trust the Lord with my life?

Surrender means relinquishing control and desiring God’s plans above my own. In surrendering I am allowing God to embrace me fully.

If I really know God, placing my life in His hands should be easy because no-one loves me more. Maybe it's so hard, and I'm so fearful, because in any other relationship with surrender, love and trust have been accompanied with great risk and at times resulted in deep pain.

Surrender to God is not confining, but defining. It is not debilitating but liberating.

“We are must fully alive when we are most fully surrendered to God.”

"For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."

I long to be "completely His."

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Friday, August 14, 2009

My Creator

"But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including his people, his own special possession. The LORD of Heaven's Armies is his name!" Jeremiah 51:19

Today I am rejoicing in God creating me!

When I was a little girl I would often climb up on my Daddy’s lap and ask him to tell me the story of the “Dale Twins”. Dad would cuddle my sister and I in close and begin a familiar tale of two babies who were spared life by the divine hand of God.

It all started one day when the families only daughter noticed two pink hyacinths in bloom in their front garden. She confidently announced that her Mom, who was expecting a child at the time, was going to give birth to twin girls. This daughter was 18 years old and there had been no siblings in all these years. One baby was going to be a change…but twins? Impossible! Besides, twins didn’t run in the family. Her Father however was hopeful. He declared he would love twins. In fun, he put in his order for identical twin girls with curly, red hair.

It wasn’t long after this that the Mom did go into labour, at 25 weeks, and two precious, little one-pound baby girls with curly red hair were born. No-one had been anticipating twins, and definitely not this early. The Doctor didn’t even know that twins were arriving until he saw the second head coming. Can you imagine the surprise? Upon hearing the news, the teenage daughter was quick to exclaim, “The hyacinths were right!“ The Doctor’s gave absolutely no hope for either babies survival. Born with undeveloped lungs, diseases and other concerns characteristic of preemies, these little ones were just too small to beat the odds.

Feeling the babies were too fragile to be transported to a specialized facility, they were put in incubators and basically left on their own. Their parents made 101 trips to the hospital before they could even touch one of them. My Dad related how the Father would stand by the nursery window, watching their little chests rise and fall, and wonder, would that be their last breath? The agony of each moment. The pain of watching, yet too afraid to tear his eyes away, as if his very presence brought an unseen strength, willing these babies to fight for life.

And fight they did. Surpassing all probability, day after day these little girls clung to life. There were people praying for them all around the world. They became known as the “Miracle Babies”. Each day brought increased hope. Daily miracles were evident. After weeks and months of agonizing uncertainty, these precious little ones finally came home. The journey still wasn’t without challenges, but the prayers of many had been answered.

(I’m on the right!)

That story began 47 years ago today. Those two little babies were my twin sister and I. She and I have been constant companions all these years. She has been my insurance policy against loneliness. Although we have developed very strong characteristics of our own, those who don’t know us well still get us confused and can’t tell us apart. The joke in our family is that I’m the cute one - something I began saying years and years ago, and it just stuck. As babies we were so identical that our parents had to paint the toenails on one of us red just so they could tell us apart and know which baby they had fed.

To my Dad I’m “Peanut” or "Bells" and my sister is “Pumpkin”. Our personalities are very individual. I enjoy…no…NEED…alone time. I’m more quiet and reflective. My sister is very social and needs constant interaction with others on a daily basis. She is a “butterfly”, gracefully involved in the lives of many. Where she struggles with saying ‘no’ to any request presented to her, I need major confirmation from God to say ‘yes’. She has about an inch on me in height, yet still, annoyingly, weighs less. She is very excitable and her voice carries great distances, while I tend to hold more inside and speak quietly. Her son describes “Auntie Joy” as the ‘peaceful one’.

My sister loves to cook and doesn’t seem to mind a mess. I avoid the kitchen like the plague and believe there’s a place for everything and it should be in it’s place. Without a doubt my sister has a very giving, very soft heart. She is the first to respond to a friends need…usually with some baking. Whenever I hear that she has reached out and shown God’s love in a situation, my response is always, “Of course she did!” Sharing Jesus in this way comes naturally to her and she does it willingly, joyfully and without any hesitation. Her Christmas list with names of people she remembers each year is literally pages long. I thought my list was pretty inclusive, but her list puts mine to shame.

We were named after my older sister’s two best friends - Japhia and Joy. “Joy” seemed appropriate, as my parents were delighted to have twin girls. “Japhia” is an Old Testament Bible name that means “shining light”. Can you believe that Japhia was in a wedding as a flower girl when we were about 6 years old, and the Bride and every attendant was named, “Japhia”. It’s the truth!

We have experienced many ‘twin moments‘, feeling each other’s pain and an uncanny knowing when the other needs prayer. Have we always been this close? Yes and no. We’ve had our moments like any siblings. Being the same age, in the same class, dressing the same until High School, there have definitely been periods of rivalry and competition, yet we also always had an instant, available study companion, champion and best friend.

Not only do we share the same birthday, but we were married on the same day, six years apart. We both have only had one child. Both have a son. Our husbands share similar features - dark hair, moustache, glasses. Our tastes in clothes are similar and when we go shopping for clothes, I’ll sometimes try on items that Japhia is considering purchasing so she can see what she will look like in them! We act as a mirror for one another. We both are heavily involved in Women’s Ministry and leading Bible study. We both love dark, orange chocolates, reading, writing letters and Christmas.

Today we are celebrating 47 years. It's a different celebration this year. Traditionally Mom and Dad take us out for breakfast, but this year a cloud is threatening overhead. I will spend part of my day at the hospital with my Dad, and then wait for my husband to come with the news of whether his job has been spared. Each night as I have surrendered to sleep I've been praying that as my days, so shall my strength be. The Lord gave life and strength 47 years ago, and He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Thanking God for the gift of years that Dr’s said would never happen. Nothing is impossible with God. Today I am thankful for each breath and pray that my life has been worth the gift bestowed on me by my Lord and Saviour. Celebrating and rejoicing in the blessings that surround and fill my life.

Happy Birthday Japhia. And Happy Birthday to me!

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Unwrapping Rest and Joy

“For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” Jeremiah 31:25

No short supply here.

Weary and sorrowing are in abundance. It’s the rest and joy whose commodity are lacking. Like His commitment to goodness and mercy, He promises rest and joy. These gifts were delivered to me this week and I found great pleasure in their unwrapping.

Throughout these days of chaos, concern, uncertainty and challenge, God is delivering His calm.

This week “rest” and “joy” were delivered through the mail.

‘Rest’ came through the peaceful lyrics of a Cheri Keaggy CD. Music that soothed and blessed.

‘Joy’ came through a “She Speaks” tote bag. Oh the happiness and excitement of receiving such an unexpected treasure.

Wrapped in a floral bouquet of delight, God gave tangible evidence of His love for me.

Yes, my heart is weary and sorrowing, but His giving knows perfect timing. He knows when my weary is in want and when my season of sorrowing is sufficient.

The Lord provided a breath of fresh air through refreshing gifts from a friend, sending reminders of peace, hope and love.

His presence continues to be my dearest present.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Freedom Calling

"'If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,' says the LORD. 'I will end your captivity...'" Jeremiah 29:13-14

Beneath the shadow of the cross I placed my list of fears and doubts. I didn't want to be just going through motions. I wanted to be free once and for all. This couldn't just be a walk to the front for momentary reprieve, but a sincere surrender and letting go.

As I turned to walk back to my seat, the P31 Speaker Team was standing at the front handing out verse cards to each lady who came forward. These cards had received much prayer, believing that God would orchestrate each pairing of scripture verse and recipient. I saw my friend Melissa close by, so headed in her direction. As I got within a couple of feet of her, Rachel Olsen stepped forward and handed me a card.

Now, you must understand, I have nothing against Rachel. I'm sure she's a lovely gal; I have just never had any contact with her. I had wanted to receive my verse from a friend, so I have to admit, I experienced a moment of disappointment. Melissa saw me however, grabbed me into a hug and I walked back to my seat.

I sat down almost too nervous to look at the promise I held in my hands. What if it had no particular significance? Yet, it must be God's choice. Look at how He had interfered with my plans and arranged my receiving it. I practically had this card thrust into my hands - it wasn't of my choosing.

The lighting was dim, but I was able to read the words I held in shaking hands. It was from Jeremiah 29. "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you" declares the Lord..."

I stopped reading right there for a moment, thanking the Lord for this beautiful promise. Beginning in January of that year I had worked through a Bible study by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, "Seeking Him". More than anything I want to know God. Not just know about Him, but really KNOW Him. I want an intimate friendship with Him. I want Him to be the very air I breathe. I want to experience Him as my all in all. What a precious verse this was to me.

I glanced back at the card and continued reading. "...and will bring you back from captivity." My breath caught in my throat. Tears swelled in my eyes. My friend Lorie leaned over and inquired about my verse. With awe I said, "Lorie, God is going to bring me back from captivity".

I have been bound by shackles of fear and doubt for too long. The prison doors are going to open. Chains are going to be released. I had laid my burdens down and God was promising to unlock restraints that have kept me from experiencing the freedom for which He had already given His only Son to secure. My life has been nullifying the work already accomplished by Jesus on a hill called Golgotha. I have been living deprived of the effectiveness of the cross and denying its power. Christ's last words - "It is finished" resounded through my soul. My bondage is self-imposed, as freedom is mine in Christ.

In awe I read those words again. God is going to bring me back from captivity. This was the exact promise I needed to hear. Again God had spoken. Across thousands of miles He had placed me here at this moment to receive His Word. As I listened closely, my heart heard freedom calling. I recognized it immediately, because it truly had been there all along.

(For the record, I still carry the verse I received in 2005 in my wallet along now with this one from 2008. I pray P31 never stops doing this - God makes it new and personal every year.)

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An Untroubled Heart

"Their hearts are troubled like a wild sea in a raging storm." Jeremiah 49:23

Ominous clouds were approaching. The meteorologist had warned of severe weather all day. My heart beat faster. I'm not a storm girl. I have friends who love to watch them, but I'd rather be in a room without windows.

Driving home in the car Sunday night, I was claiming every "Don't fear" verse I could remember and desperately trying to place my trust in God, while my husband took the wheel and my son slept. To me that is the ultimate victory and demonstration of faith in God. Sleeping through a storm. Having so much confidence and hope in God that although storm clouds threaten the way, peace is your companion. My heart was experiencing the same turmoil as the nature around me.

For me, the only thing worse than a raging storm, is being on a wild sea during a raging storm.

I remember someone else who found themself in this situation and slept through the wild weather as well. Matthew 8:24 says, "Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping." Jesus was sleeping. The disciples woke Jesus as they were certain they were going to drown. Jesus replies, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?"

I'm sure Christ asks that question of me often as I battle my constant enemy of fear. Joy, why are you so afraid? Why is your heart so troubled? "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me." John 14:1

Lord, I don't want to be so anxious. I long to have the trust in You that banishes all fear. Your Word says, "I will make peace flow to her like a river". (Isaiah 66:12) Lord, I want to experience that peace. A peace that isn't boring and dull like a stagnant pond, but like a river. Beth Moore writes that "Few bodies of water are more exciting than rivers! When God used the analogy of a river, He described a peace that can be retained while life twists and turns and rolls over boulders. It means to have security and tranquility while meeting many bumps and unexpected turns on life's journey."

Thank You Father for bringing me safely home. Thank You for each opportunity that calls me to trust You.

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed."
Psalm 57:1

While the storms rage around and about, our hearts can rest in the stillness of knowing that God is in control. Praying the Lord will take my tumultuous, anxious heart and calm the "wild sea" and "raging storm" in me.

"When I think I'm going under, part the waters, Lord
When I feel the waves around me, calm the sea
When I cry for help, oh, hear me, Lord and hold out Your hand
Touch my life still the raging storm in me."
(Part the Water's - Words and Music by Charles Brown)

Until the storms pass...

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Monday, August 10, 2009

To Know Me is to Trust Me

“…blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.” Jeremiah 49:23

Today my trust is being tested. My world is feeling the impact of four devastating blows. Within the course of a couple of days I’ve been dealing with news of further serious physical concerns in regards to my Dad; the very real possibility of my husband's job termination at the end of this week; the unbearable heartache of a marriage ending; and sudden health challenges for another family member.

As my mind has been processing each, I’m surprised at the peace that is flooding my soul. Although my heart is breaking and concerned, the Lord keeps reminding me that He is in control.

“Blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence.”

I know that I am not the only one on this path. Circumstances arise that continually call us to make the hard decision to trust God. When our human nature wants to argue, complain, throw up our hands in defeat and host a pity party, the Lord calls us to trust. It’s not easy.

Lord, if we could only see You. Father if You would just show us how things will work out then we could hold on with hope and confidence. Blind trust is difficult. It’s called “faith”.

However, only the outcome of these difficulties is unknown to me. My God is not! It’s because I know Him that I can trust Him.

The hope and confidence I can claim are not feelings I have to conjure up in my spirit. The Lord IS my hope and confidence. They are names of God, aspects of His character that cannot be separated from His presence.

It’s not easy and there’s a choice involved. The verse says, “…blessed are those who…have made…” It’s work. The word ‘made’ implies effort. To make anything requires work. What is that work? To keep trusting.

Whatever you’re going through, God has not abandoned you. Ask Him to give you strength to trust Him through the concerns weighing heavy on your heart today. I’m claiming Him as my hope and confidence and standing on my Solid Rock.

Do I Trust You Lord - lyrics (Twila Paris)

Sometimes my little heart can't understand.
What's in Your will? What's in Your plan?
So many times I'm tempted to ask You why.
But I can never forget it for long,
Lord, what You do could not be wrong,
So I believe You, even when I must cry.

Do I trust You Lord? Does the river flow?
Do I trust You Lord? Does the north wind blow?
You can see my heart, You can read my mind
And You've got to know I would rather die
Than to lose my faith in the One I love.
Do I trust You Lord? Do I trust You?

I know the answers, I've given them all.
But suddenly now, I feel so small.
Shaken down to the cavity in my soul.
I know the doctrine and theology,
But right now they don't mean much to me.
This time there's only one thing I've got to know.

Do I trust You, Lord? Does the robin sing?
Do I trust You, Lord? Does it rain in spring?
You can see my heart, You can read my mind,
And You got to know I would rather die
Than to lose my faith in the One I love.
Do I trust You, Lord? Do I trust You?

I will trust You, Lord, when I don't know why.
I will trust You, Lord, till the day I die.
I will trust You, Lord, when I'm blind with pain!
You were God before, and You'll never change.
I will trust You.
I will trust You.
I will trust You, Lord.
I will trust You.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

First Time Obedience

“I am tired of always giving you another chance.” Jeremiah 15: 6

When our son was a toddler my husband and I took a parenting course that included training in first-time obedience. Methods of instruction were given to encourage our children to obey as soon as a request was asked of them. No spoken repetition of the task was to be given. The child was to comply immediately without argument. I don’t know how those lessons played out in other homes, but our outcome wasn’t always as favourable and the odd time second and third chances were given.

I wonder if the Lord ever gets tired of always giving me another chance. I wonder if there are some opportunities, that because of either my hesitation or negative reaction, He decides not to present before me again and I lose out on experiencing all God has for me. Are there some situations where He has thrown up His hands concerning an area of my life and said, “No more. I am tired of always giving you another chance”?

His Word says that His Spirit will not always strive with our spirit (Gen 6:3). There comes a point where we must suffer the consequences of our choices, whether that comes in the form of discipline or missed/lost opportunities.

Maybe God has asked you over and over again to join Him in some area of service, and today is the last time you’ll hear Him present this exact request before you. If you knew you’d never be offered this opportunity again, would it make a difference? Would your response be different? Don’t live with regrets. Seek the Lord. We need to heed the ‘firsts’ as much as the ‘lasts’. Many times we just think we’ll do it later, or next time, but eventually we live in a place that never was. The Lord is waiting for our obedience in a certain area, knowing how our obedience will open doors of fulfillment, but with each ‘no’ the opportunity passes and we become numbered with the less courageous. The time for that specific opportunity has come and gone and the Lord presents the request to someone else. He becomes tired of our rejection and our choice to remain in a cycle of rebellion.

Oh Lord, how I pray it’s not too late. Please don’t give up on me. I don’t want to live a life that is shy of Your best for me. Please forgive me for the many times I have said ‘no’ to You. I can’t go back, but I can move forward. Help me become someone You can turn to and say, “I’ll ask Joy. She embraces My plans for her, trusts Me and steps out in faith.” May I respond with first-time obedience.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

My Little Lamb

“I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter.” Jeremiah 11:19

This verse still brings back memories.

Sitting at the kitchen table, my heart felt heavy. After enjoying two years at a Christian preschool, my precious little boy was ready to begin kindergarten, but the choice of schooling still hadn’t been decided. Although I longed to home-school, God was not leading in this direction. A Christian school in a neighbouring town offered excellent training, yet there was a new Public School almost around the corner. Visiting both of these locations I had managed to secure curriculum in order to help make an informed decision. The piece of paper in front of me displayed my findings.

With a line drawn down the middle of the page, I had written all the pro’s and con’s as I understood them. Studying the results now, only one thing stood out in favour of the Christian school. I assumed my son would be safer in the private school setting. Safety was a huge issue for me.

I remember dropping my head in my hands, surrendering my son again to the Lord, and asking Him to please show me where He wanted Christopher to gain further education.

Almost immediately I heard a question in my head.

“Do you not trust Me to keep him safe?”

That was it. A question of trust. Relinquishing control of this child I had dedicated to the Lord. With tears streaming down my face, I said, ‘Yes Lord. Yes. I do trust You with Christopher. As a step of faith and obedience I will register Chris at the public school.”

I must admit, walking him to his first day of kindergarten, I still felt like I was leading my little lamb to the slaughter, but through tears, I placed him in God’s Hands. It was not an easy surrender.

That was twelve years ago. This year he completes his senior year of High School. We have seen evidence over and over that God’s desire for our family included the Public School system. The friendships made. The opportunities to witness. The Bible studies and Kid’s Clubs that invited the un-churched to hear God’s plan of salvation. The teacher’s the Lord provided. The excellent training that has been received. The growth in my son’s walk with the Lord when he was called to take a stand for Christ. W e have been blessed beyond measure by being obedient to God’s call to trust Him.

A Lamb was slaughtered so that my little lamb could enjoy the freedom and protection granted.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Three Men and a God

“I see four men…” Daniel 3:25

Every time I read this account in Daniel and come to this line I get goose bumps. “I see four men…” Three were thrown into the fiery furnace, but four were viewed standing among the flames. Not only that, but king Nebuchadnezzar immediately recognized the fourth as looking “like a god.”

Makes me wonder. When people look at me do they ever see anyone else? Is God’s presence visible? Being an identical twin, people often think there are two of me, but that’s not the double vision I am referring to here. What I want to know, does anyone ever see the Lord walking with me, sitting with me, shopping with me, accompanying me as I go about my daily tasks?

I’ve heard thrilling missionary stories of when the angel of the Lord appeared, offering protection in dangerous situations.

His Word tells me that His angel encamps around about those who fear Him and He delivers them, Psalm 34:7.

God tells me, “Lo, I am with you always.” Matthew 28:20

Is His presence in me obvious to others? Does anyone ever see Jesus when they look at me?

God stands with us when life gets “hot”. Our furnace may not involve physical flames. Our fiery furnace could be unemployment, health issues, loss, relationship struggles, financial setbacks, fear, a prodigal child, loneliness, depression, aging, deep hurt, failure, feelings of unworthiness, or any circumstance beyond our control.

Be confident in the reality of God’s power, presence and passion for you when in the ’furnace.’

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.' Isaiah 43:2

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Force is With Me!

“…the LORD stands beside me like a great warrior.” Jeremiah 20:11

I am absolutely enjoying the visual this verse has provided for me. Struggling with fear and insecurity as I do, imagine with me for a moment, living with this truth as a reality.

Having a son, I am well acquainted with the Star War movies. How often I have heard the expression, many times in jest, “May the force be with you.” An invisible presence that supposedly brought good luck.

A timid little girl facing the “bullies” of emotions that terrify, reaches down for the hand of the One who’s presence empowers and diminishes apprehensions, sending her accusers running. This isn’t a make believe Hollywood cliché, but a Heavenly Companion who promises to never leave me or forsake me. He is “Jehovah-Shammah”, the Lord is there, the Lord my Companion.

I don’t have to question or doubt. The Force IS with me.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Desperately Seeking God

“Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it!” Jeremiah 45:5

WOW! That’s quite the question. Am I seeking great things for myself?

I can’t deny there are times I would like to receive accolades for some amazing accomplishment. I probably erroneously associate acceptance with approval, position with popularity, friendship with fame, and respect with recognition. I confess desiring to do something great. I want my life to be pleasing to the Lord, but what is my motivation? What is my purpose for longing for bigger dreams and larger visions? God cares so much more about who I am than what I do. If given the choice, He will always choose character over competency. I tend to measure “great” and “small” by the world’s standards, falling short of expectations…not God’s…mine.

Do I desperately seek great things, not so much for my own success, but so others can see God as great? Whose name will be remembered in the end?

Lord, I look at others who have achieved “greatness” in my eyes and I feel so insignificant. Remind me again that my worth is not found in what I do. Help me obey with greatness regardless the task, without seeking greatness. May I not qualify and rate opportunities You place before me, ranking them in order according to human understanding.

That card written…great.
That e-mail sent…great.
The meal delivered…great.
The surprise gift mailed…great.
The word of encouragement spoken…great.
The prayer offered…great.
The tear shared…great.
The forgiveness extended…great.
The misunderstanding forgotten…great.
The hug given…great.
The time in His Word…great.

A cold cup of water humbly given in Your name has lasting value for eternity. May the only great thing I seek be You, for You alone are great.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gold or God?

“…a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!” Jeremiah 22:15

Jehoiakim may have inherited his father Josiah’s wealth, but he did not and could not inherit his faith. A magnificent castle doesn’t guarantee moral character. Greatness cannot be achieved by the accumulation of great things. As the title of Chip Ingram’s book suggests we go from “Good to Great in God’s Eyes" through obedience and a personal relationship with the Lord.

The world tries to achieve greatness through position, power, possessions, people, promotion and pride. These are empty investments.

1 Timothy 6:18 instructs us to “be rich”, not get rich. Everyone wants a piece of the rock. We need to invest in the Rock. We can’t buy faith, but we can invest in our faith.

God’s Word reminds me in Luke 12:15, “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” We may have earthly wealth, but our security for future wealth comes from taking “hold of that which is life indeed.” (1 Tim.6:19)

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6) Therein lies life indeed.

Our castles here present a false security, but building on Christ as our foundation will ensure a mansion for eternity.

Is your life being built on gold or God?

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Texts

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savoir. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Pollyanna”, the expression “happy texts” will not be foreign to you. I am certain the verse above would be included in the list of positive scripture passages.

Imagine the Lord delighting in you with gladness, calming you with His love and rejoicing over you with singing. Just thinking of God singing over me makes me want to burst forth in song.

Our gladness comes from knowing God is with us. God is our source of happiness. In our delighting in Him, He delights in us. God finds pleasure in, and rejoices over, me.

This verse doesn’t say God takes delight in what I do, plan or say…He simply takes delight in me…and sings!

I wonder what song He’s singing today? Is it’s melody catchy and it’s rhythm upbeat? Would it invite some dancing? Does He hum a tune or has He written lyrics? As I listen for the sound of His voice, my heart is captivated by His love song. My Lord is singing over me!

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Yet Moments

“Even though the fig tree has no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19

For years now, whenever I read these verses, scenes from the movie, “Facing the Giants” come to mind. A young couple, serving God, knew about barrenness and loss. The wife appeared unable to conceive a child they so desperately wanted, and the husband’s job was in jeopardy of termination. Outwardly both situations looked hopeless.

One of the visuals that has etched itself forever on my mind is the moment of decision the wife makes after hearing the results of another pregnancy test. She enters the doctor’s office with such hope and excitement, only to hear the nurse confirm again the negative outcome. She is now standing in the parking lot beside her truck, tears streaming down her face, unable to face this bitter disappointment again. Through her heartbreak and in her grief she says, “Lord, I will still love You.” Her world as been devastated again…yet…she will hold on the Lord. She chooses to continue to love Him, even though she doesn’t comprehend why He isn’t answering the deepest longing of her heart.

Yet moments.

I’m sure all our lives are filled with them. Events are speaking opposite to what our prayers have requested. God’s hand is nowhere to be seen. Nothing is making sense at all. We don’t understand what on earth God is doing…or not doing. Our hearts are starving, our lives are barren, we’re experiencing loss and we feel forgotten and empty. We question God’s timing, purpose and presence. But, from somewhere deep within a calm assurance begins to rise. We remember truth. We grab hold of promises. Faith trumps feelings and from some hidden place inside we offer a sacrifice of praise exclaiming, “yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Look at those exclamation marks! It’s spoken with determination, commitment and assurance!

I have some “yet moments” in my life right now. I’m praying for my dad’s health to be restored, as I’ve watched him suffer for five months now in the hospital and still see him in pain. I’m praying for the Lord to intervene and move dad to a location closer to home and just hearing how it could be another eight months before this can be arranged. I’m living in the uncertainty of my husband’s job and the announcement coming in a couple of weeks as to whether he’ll be one of the many engineers who will be let go and knowing this is a real possibility. I’m praying for God to reveal His plans for me, longing to be following a vision that He reminds me today is coming at an appointed time and won’t delay, (Hab.2:3), but feeling so lost not hearing God speak. I’m praying to be free of fear and experience living in that victory, while still walking much of life as little much-afraid. I’m needing confirmation concerning where our son will attend University in another year and not sensing any direction.

Yet, I will rejoice in the Lord! I choose to rejoice. Not in my circumstances. Definitely not in my feelings or how things appear. But in my Lord! My Lord “is my strength! He makes me surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” (Hab.3:19)

I took the picture above just a couple of weeks ago while visiting a zoo. Doesn’t it just amaze you? How’d that little guy get up there? God says that can be me. He is going to enable me to rise above. Not tentatively and hesitantly, but with certainty.

We need to take our eyes off our limitations and focus on God’s unlimited power. He is alive and in control. God gives us strength and confidence when we cannot see all He is doing, nor all that He will do. Our faith shines in the yet moments when we choose to love and praise God for who He is, especially when we can’t trace His hand.

"You Are Still God" - Scott Krippayne

I've prayed but still don't have answers
At least none I'm able to see
I've tried to rest in not knowing
But not knowing's a hard place to be
But as I return to Your pages
The words breathe new life to my soul
I see You at work through the ages
And know that You're still in control

You are still God
You have created the land and the sea
May we applaud
And sing to the wonder of Your majesty
The wind will still blow
We won't always know
Why seasons of life are so hard
But You are still God

Help me have faith in the knowledge
That You're greater than what we go through
And when I reside in the valleys
Help me keep trusting in You
The how and the when You are moving
Were not meant for me to decide
Again and again You are proving
You're there at just the right time

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Outside the Box

“It was a place where people…walked freely and without fear.” Nahum 2:11

Walked freely? Without fear? Really? Where is this place? I’d move there in a heartbeat. Yet, it’s not the location that brings liberty. My fears flow like a blood disease through my veins. They’d unfortunately be going with me. If only a change of address was enough. If only it could be that simple.

This place is a place of trust. It’s believing in my heart what I know in my head. It’s living by faith.

Question: Do I believe God can free me from all fear? You see, we can never live beyond what we believe. I can say I believe God is bigger than my biggest fears, but my actions give me away.

I had a friend share with me yesterday that she sees me living in a box of fear.

I want to respond defensively. I want to qualify and justify my fears. Yet, the reality is, she’s right. Fear dictates my choices and keeps me living so much less than all God created for me. I sit, curled up in a corner, of a dark, cardboard box.

I honestly don’t know what makes the breakthrough. How do I embrace with my heart and begin to live what my head tells me is true?

Will this enemy ever be defeated? The battle is so tiring and too often I wave a white flag of surrender.

I’m not down…I have hope…I’m just thinking out loud and dreaming of living outside the box.

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