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January 2006
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Food For Life

I've never participated in a blog "carnival" before, but when I saw the topic for this week's Carnival of Beauty, I had this feeling in my heart that I had to participate.  The topic this week is the Bible.   Can you imagine why I would want to participate?  Hmm....  Well, I better get started so I can make my tee time!! :)

The Splendor of the Bible

I love to read.  I love to get engrossed in the lives of the characters in a book and in the scenery presented on a page.  I like reading books containing prose and poetry, suspense, mystery and romance, self-help, comedy and deep thoughts that stir my soul.  Did I mention that I like books that are written to me?  There is no other piece of literature that can provide all of these things except for the Bible.  It is no wonder that God is my favorite Author!

Between the Garden of Eden in Genesis to the Crystal Sea in Revelation, the pages of the Bible, inspired by God Himself provide hope for the hopeless, healing for the broken, and strength for the weak at heart.  We find companionship and love, more than we ever can imagine, as we read about a tenderhearted but jealous God who sent His only Son so that we could spend eternity with Him if we choose.  As a bonus, we can even build a relationship with its Author and His Son as we spend deliberate time in its pages day after day.  And...if we look carefully enough around us, we can also find God's autograph on our lives.  Whoa.

How can I say enough about a "book" that has changed my very life and being?  The Bible is all of these things and more.  Can we really call the bible a book?  The Lover of my soul wrote a letter to me and to you as well ...

  • to inspire
  • to comfort
  • to encourage
  • to strengthen
  • to challenge, and
  • to change

... each of us for the furtherance of His kingdom and so we would all have fuller lives.

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12).   "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (John 1:1)

And the Word was God.  We have the very mind of the Creator of the universe in our hands when we read our bibles. That, to me, is unimagineable splendor.


Rejoice in the Lord

This is just a side comment, but then I have a lot of those, but I just noticed that my last post was my 200th post on this blog.  My first post was on June 30, 2005!  I have to say as well, that when I was in high school or college English class and being forced to write papers, I never would have imagined I'd be writing for fun.  :) My how things change.  But, there are other things I've experienced since that I never would have thought possible either. 

So now for my thoughts on today.  "Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4).  Rejoice always.  Have joy always.  Can we have joy at a funeral?  Can we have joy in the hospital?  through a difficult work experience?  You bet we can. 

When I first met my best friend over 15 years ago, she told me that it was irritating to her that I always seemed like I was in a good mood.  We worked together, I am a morning person by nature, and am normally pretty upbeat no matter what is going on.  Heeheee.  Thinking about her saying that brings a smile to my face even now because she is so dear to me.  So why do I bring this up?  Because being joyful and being able to "rejoice in the Lord always" requires more than just a sunny disposition.   To rejoice when our world is upside down takes a deep relationship with God.

Paul knew what it was like to be down and out.  After all, he probably wrote the book of Philippians from prison.   He knew what it was like to suffer yet he kept a good attitude in spite of it.  So, how can we maintain a spirit of joy all of the time?  Practice, my friends...and discipline to walk with God each and every day.  Following is Paul's advice:

1) Pray often and God will give you peace for your soul and guard your hearts and minds. (Phil 4:6-7)

2) Think about the good things that God has done for you and is doing for you.  (Phil 4:8)

3) Learn to be content with the things you have. (Phil 4:11-12)

4) Get familiar with God's promises to you by reading the bible daily.  We can do all things through Christ, even being happy deep within (joy), if we just tap into His awesome power. (Phil 4:13).

I pray that you find joy today where you didn't think it was possible.  We can all rejoice in spite of our outward circumstances.  It is then that we become salt and light in this world.


Redeem the Time

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. - Colossians 4:5

*******

I'm attending the funeral of my aunt tomorrow.  Her passing was expected, yet unexpected, if that makes sense.  She had been ill and I knew that she was deteriorating, but always there was that thought in my mind of "I'll just go next weekend" to visit her in the nursing home.  I said that to myself last weekend.  Now, the opportunity is gone.  I think about the last time I saw her around the holidays and I am thankful for one thing, that I did tell her I loved her. 

Did I redeem the time?  Do I redeem the time?  I sure found enough time to watch TV last weekend, didn't I?  In Paul's letter to the Colossians, he tells them to redeem the time - to be there for those without God, and in my opinion, to be there for those who have God, but have temporarily forgotton He was there.  Because God's word was written to us too, He is also telling us to redeem the time.

How can we redeem the time? 

1) Remember that life is not all about us so we can be there for others in need.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

2) Spend daily time with God and His word so we can know what God has to offer.

2 Tim 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

3) Look for opportunities to intentionally share God's hope and love to those in need in our worlds.

1 Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Time is the only thing that we can never get back.  We can earn back trust, love & money, but there is nothing we can do to bring back a minute that we have lost.  What are you doing to redeem your time?


Ungrateful

Tonight, I'm going to eat dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.  One of my favorite meals is a medium/medium-rare filet mignon accompanied by salad & baked potato.  Mmmm.....I can just smell it now and can't wait until I get to taste it.  Needless to say that I can relate to the poor Israelites who had been wandering around in the desert living off of manna without any meat as we find them in Numbers 11.  (I'm not sure without doing the research as to how long they had been eating the manna at this point, but I can safely say that it had been the situation for quite some time).  I wonder what I'd be saying had I not been able to eat any form of meat for even a month?  Would I be like the Israelites saying that my soul was dried away?

But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna before our eyes. (Nu 11:6)

There is such a huge lesson to be learned from the rest of this chapter in Numbers.  Have you ever been in a situation where God was present and supplying all of your needs but yet you still wanted the one thing that you didn't have?  What do you think that God felt when his children complained about the very thing that had been keeping them alive?  When we reject God's provision for our lives we are in effect rejecting God himself.  We have lost our faith in the One who has it all under control.  Embarrassingly, but humanly so, I have been at that place.

The people's complaining once again drew Moses to prayer.  Maybe, in God's sovereignty, He was using the burden of the people to draw Moses closer to Him.  Remember, God will use everything for His greater glory (Ro 8:28), including whiners.  I smile uneasily at God's response because I know that I've probably behaved like the Israelites at one time or other and am convicted for the future.   God told Moses to tell the people that because they were desiring the meat they formerly had in Egypt, that He would give it to them...in abundance.  (Moral: Watch what you pray for.  God might just answer your prayer to teach you a lesson!)  Try to imagine what emotions were behind God's message:

Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days; But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt? (Num 11:19-20)

Right now I'm thinking, "Steak is good, but I surely wouldn't want it every day for a month!" I don't know about you, but I'm feeling guilty for the children of Israel.  God has delivered me out of my own Egypt, and whenever I am unthankful for the deliverance by wanting something else, I know I'm not pleasing God.  We should always strive to remember where we came from - that we were delivered from an old life into a better one.   We just need to give the time to work things out as He, not we, have planned.


Have I conceived all these people?

I'm laughing inside as I write this because I'm remembering how much this past summer I was looking forward to reading in the New Testament for a change because I was "stuck" in the prophets.  Overall, I had a good time with the Old Testament prophets, but I couldn't wait for the rich doctrine of the New Testament.  Well, now, as I'm immersed in Philippians, I am longing to get back to the stories of the Old Testament.  Apparently, I'm hard to please.  Kind of like the followers of Moses.

Do you like Moses?  He had such a personal relationship with God that God spoke to him face to face as a friend.  We might not be able to relate to that closeness, but we can all relate to the emotions we see throughout Moses' life.  I think that is what I like about him the most.   Poor Moses.  He was leading thousands of the most ungrateful people on earth at the time.  They complained all of the time - for good reason (I would be tired of wandering around, wouldn't you?) and for bad reasons.  Let's take a look at one of Moses' not so good days.

In Numbers 11 we find the nation of Israel complaining because they were tired of the manna, provided freely by God, and wanted meat. (Nu 11:4-6).  I can't help but laughing at this story, because it is just so like us, isn't it?  Because of their complaining, God was ticked off and Moses was displeased (Nu 11:10).  Here's what Moses had to say to God about it:

...Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?  Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?  (Nu 11:11-12)

So Moses felt like a nursing father, huh?  Now that would be a sight to behold.  I won't go any further down that path.  Apparently, Moses was feeling a little overwhelmed.  At least he went to God with his frustrations.  Leaders (remember, everyone is a leader in some capacity), do you feel overwhelmed with all of the people God has placed under your care?  Its okay to get frustrated.  All of us are only human after all.  But, don't let your emotions get the best of you and take over your lives.  Take your frustrations directly to God, as Moses did, and who knows what may happen next! 

Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of the story of the hungry Israelites ...    :)


What Are You Sowing?

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)

How many times have you heard, or even said yourself the following: "You reap what you sow."?  With what tone have you heard the phrase said?  Most likely, the tone was condescending or judgmental, I would bet.  I would also bet that most people don't know that this "saying" comes straight from the bible.

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Okay, so I think that most people take this verse as the "I told you so" verse of the bible.  But what about looking the passage from a different point of view - the positive side.  If we reap what we sow, not only will we suffer the consequences of poor decisions and actions, but we will also reap the benefits of a life lived for God.  When we help someone in need, when we lend a sincere listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, or when we encourage someone through God's word that God promises a victorious life we are also sowing for future consequences - the good ones!

God's plan is so long-term and many times we don't see the benefits of our work in others lives until years later, if they choose to let us know that we, somehow, helped them to get on or back on the right path. It can get frustrating when we don't see immediate fruit from our efforts, but friends, be assured that you are doing some good even when you can't see it.  God promises that when we send out His Words of life, they will not disappoint. 

For as the rain cometh down , and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater:  So shall my rod be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me vod, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  (Isaiah 55:10-11)

Fellow soldiers, we are in this together, and one day, we will see what we've been waiting for.  "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not." (Gal 6:9)  Keep up the good work!


What Muppet Are you?

My faithful readers, you know that I don't usually post much fluff on my blog, but I've been so serious this past week that when I saw this on another blog today I couldn't resist posting it. I like the muppets, I guess they are still around but I'm not sure since I don't watch much children's TV. I am quite pleased that according to the few questions asked to determine my type, that I was deemed to be like Kermie, my favorite muppet. After all, one of my favorite songs of all time to play and sing is "The Rainbow Connection"! :) Have a great day, everyone.

You Are Kermit
Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Keys for Mission Possible

I've been doing a lot of cleaning house this past weekend, physically, mentally and spiritually.  I folded my laundry with Jesus and my Selah CD, prayed as I sang, spent a lot of time in God's Word and let God organize my thoughts.  Wow.  I think the biggest blessing has been going to my "Hiding Place" with Selah's CD so named.  Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of that CD! I feel cleansed!

As I've tried to get my home office reorganized this afternoon, I came across a devotion I prepared for one of the first meetings I held last fall for my women's ministry lead team.  I've decided to share a form of it here - in a better written form than my original chicken scratch - because its premise is so foundational for all of our success in ministry and in life.


Three Keys to Accomplishing the Mission

God has called each of us to achieve His purpose of spreading the gospel and helping others to grow spiritually, either by us directly doing the teaching or contributing in some fashion to get others plugged into some form of teaching.  The end result of our work for God should be the multiplication of doctrinally sound believers, able to feed themselves the Word of God, so that more of God's work may be accomplished.   Below I will outline three keys necessary to accomplishing what God has set out for us to do.

I. Key #1 - We can only reproduce in others what we are ourselves.  Paul says in 1 Cor 11:1 that the Corinthians were to follow him as he followed Christ.  The same applies to all of us.  However, in order to become like Christ, so that others will be rightly following us, we have to get to know Him on an intimate level.  The better we know Him, the better we can acquaint others to Him through our lives.

  • The woman at the well in John 4:10 didn't recognize who Jesus was until He told her!  If we don't recognize who Jesus is, how can we tap into all of the power He has to offer us.
  • God wants us to know and understand Him.  Jeremiah 9:23 says that the only thing we should be glory in is how much we understand and know Him.  How did Jesus serve, love and teach? How could He be so powerful yet so gentle? What was Jesus' motivation to serve?

II.  Key #2 - We need to let God be in and stay in control.  We have to humble ourselves and let God be in control so that God can bless us and change us.

  • God requires us to be humble - Micah 6:8 says "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
  • God's ways are better than ours anyway.  Our way, will not cut it (Ecc 9:11), but through God's way, our weakness allow Him to be strong.  (2 Cor 12:9-11)

Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when they let God be in charge!

III.  Key #3 - We need to give God our best effort.  Only we know what our best effort is and I guarantee that no one gives 120% all of the time.  Remember not to be discouraged with this one.  God wants us to do the best that we can do.  Rest is okay, we aren't robots, after all.

Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.


You Raise Me Up

I almost wasn't going to post today because I was just feeling overwhelmed with life and didn't want to take the time to blog. But, as you see, I am here, not out of obligation, but out of a love for sharing what God is doing in my life in hopes that someone else may benefit from the good, the bad, and the ugly (the bad and ugly reminds me of the MU-KU basketball game yesterday.  MU basketball =Ugly). 

Today I got home from church with the same thoughts I've had for awhile now: my desk is a mess, my house is a mess, my laundry is piled up, my desk at work is a mess, what am I going to do with __________ (fill in the blank - new small group study, MOPS, ladies' retreat, leadership training, etc.), my home office is a mess, hmm...at least my dog just had a bath.  Lots of thoughts.  Lots of things going on, most of them good, but just a lot of things going on. 

Now, I want to make sure you know that I'm not complaining.  I do love to live my life on the verge of being out of control, after all, and I love all that I am doing.  Let's just say that in this season of my life I am learning to lean on God more than ever before.  I am needing that time with Him more and more. That is a good thing.

My quiet time today started in Galatians and led me to the following verses that God knew I needed:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Strangely, I wonder "Lord, can you fold and put away the 4 loads of laundry I did today?"  As I write this post on my break from folding, I wait for the answer.  He may not give me folded clothes, but He will give me peace as I listen to Selah's "Hiding Place" as I do my housework.  God gave me the song "You Raise Me Up" from their CD today. God will raise me up and make me strong on His shoulders...as I glimpse eternity in His presence.  Come and "listen" awhile with me...

You Raise Me Up -by Rolf Lovland & Brendan Graham

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence
Until You come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong, when I am on Your shoulders
You raise me up...to more than I can be.

There is no life - no life without its hunger
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly
But when You come and I am filled with wonder
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong, when I am on Your shoulders
You raise me up...to more than I can be.

As I often like to do, I'm going to pose some final things to think about.  As always, I've been "smacked" with them before I share them here:

1) When was the last time I just sat awhile with God in silence?
2) Whose power am I trusting in? Mine or God's?


Blessed to Be a Blessing

Galatians is packed with complexities.  It is easy to skim over the deep doctrinal concepts presented and settle for just the general idea.  I have found with this blog, I am constantly torn with how much information to present and how long to make my posts. I wrestle with how long to dwell on a particular passage as well. God's Word is so complex at times, but that is what makes it so wonderful, isn't it?  God wants us to diligently study it to get to know Him, (2 Tim 2:15) and we are rewarded with such sweet treasure when we take the time to do it. 

So, here I go again, trying to present here what I believe God wants me to say. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, did you realize that you were a participant in the blessings that God gave to Abraham so many years ago?  Abraham was told that through him all nations would be blessed (Ge 12:3, Ga 3:8).  And we see in the following verse how we are also to be partakers of Abraham's blessing:

And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.  So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.  (Galatians 3:8-9)

Do you realize the impact of verse 9?  We, as believers in Christ through faith alone, like Abraham, will be blessed.  We will be blessed.  Did you hear that?  God has so many promises for us and such big plans for each of us.  Think about this for a minute.  If we are to be blessed with "faithful Abraham", then through us, all nations will be blessed as well.  We are blessed by God to be a blessing to others.   

We've all heard before that we may be the only Jesus that the people in our lives may ever see.  Our lives, all of our lives, no matter our income level, our education, our sizes or shape or personalities, matter deeply to God because we are all a part of His big plan.  I bet that we are blessings to some people around us and don't even know it.  Are you doing your part?  If not, what is keeping you from doing it?  Don't be discouraged friends, if you are struggling.  God wants to help, and so do your fellow Christian brothers and sisters.   Start today being a blessing.