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July 2006

You Keep Givin' Me

God is good.  All the time.  I've been in a really thankful mood lately.  Thankful for all of the things and people God has blessed me with.  Undeserving, I definitely am, but God is good and He keeps on giving.  He gives gifts to all of us every day and if we would just stop and look around, we would see His blessings on our lives in abundance, no matter how small they may appear.

I just bought the Brian Littrell CD, "Welcome Home", and am really enjoying it so far.  The song in my heart hasn't been his most popular, in fact, I'm not so sure it has been released as a single.  But I tend to love the obscure songs.  Here are the lyrics:

You Keep Givin' Me

So many reasons to be thankful
So many blessings that I can't repay
And I never would've made it here without You
Sending angels to guide me on my way

You keep givin' me joy
You keep givin' me happiness
You keep givin' me hope
You keep givin' me everything I wish
You keep holding me up
When I'm about to fall
And if even all of that was not enough
You keep givin' me love

I know that I'm not always easy
And I know I put You through some trying days
But in spite of all the worries that I gave You
No, You never let my Angels get away

You keep givin' me joy
You keep givin' me happiness
You keep givin' me hope
You keep givin' me everything I wish
You keep holding me up
When I'm about to fall
And if even all of that was not enough
You keep givin' me love

Have I told You lately
How Your love has saved me
It takes me to a place I've only dreamed
I'm so thankful, Lord, for sending me angels
You send me angels to guide me from up above

How can I thank You?
How can I thank You, Lord?
All the things You've done
How can I thank You, Lord?
You're the One who's blessed me with everything
You keep givin' me love!

Oh, Father.  I do thank You so much for the precious gifts You have given me along life's way.  I'm undeserving but very appreciative of Your kindness, mercy and grace.  I thank You for even placing some "treasure" in the dark times of my life so that I can see You.  Please help me this day, a beautiful day, to see Your face and on those days that are not so bright, I thank you for bringing me through.  Amen.


Practical Corporate Worship

I've been reading through the classic book "Celebration of Discipline - The Path to Spiritual Growth" by Richard J. Foster this month as part of a leadership group I'm participating in with 10 other women from my church.  It is the second of 12 books we will be reading over a year-long period and I have found it to be very interesting as it deals with the spiritual disciplines.  Today, I've read about corporate worship and have found the following excerpt to be quite interesting from Chapter 11:

When more than one or two come into public worship with a holy expectancy, it can change the atmosphere of a room.  People who enter harried and distracted are drawn quickly into a sense of the silent Presence.  Hearts and minds are lifted upward.  The air becomes charged with expectancy.

Here is a practical handle to put on this idea.  Live throughout the week as an heir of the kingdom, listening for his voice, obeying his word.  Since you have heard his voice throughout the week, you know that you will hear his voice as you gather for public worship.  Enter the service ten minutes early.  Lift your heart in adoration to the King of glory.  Contemplate his majesty, glory, and tenderness as revealed in Jesus Christ.  Picture the marvelous vision that Isaiah had of the Lord "high and lifted up" or the magnificent revelation that John had of Christ with eyes "like a flame of fire" and voice "like the sound of many waters" (Isa. 6; Rev. 1).  Invite the real Presence to be manifest.

Next, lift into the light of Christ the pastor and other worship leaders.  Picture the Shekinah of God's radiance surrounding them.  Inwardly release them to speak the truth boldly in the power of the Lord.

When people begin to enter the room, glance around until you see someone who needs your intercessory work.  Perhaps their shoulders are drooped, or they seem a bit sad.  Lift them into the glorious, refreshing light of his Presence.  See the burden tumbling from their shoulders as it did from Pilgrim's in the service.  If only a few in any given congregation will do this, it will deepen the worship experience of all.

I wonder what it would be like if everyone attending a church service on a given morning would arrive early and sit in their seats in silence as they prepare their hearts for what God is going to say to them instead of rushing around all of the time.  I think that too often we don't take the time to clear our minds of the distractions of our day so that God can fill us up with what He wants us to hear.

Secondly, the practice of observing the individuals in the room and then praying for those who God places on our hearts due to what He has let us see in their countenance, is enticing.  Admittedly, I don't do this enough.  If we would only get our thoughts of ourselves long enough to see how we can have a positive impact on others, the world would be such a better place.  Our churches would be more healing as well. 

So won't you join me this week in adding to your corporate worship experience by preparing ahead of time and being observant so as to pray for others that are down during your own service.  I'm sure going to try!  May our experiences this week be as no other we've had before.


Don't Stop the Light

I love it when God redirects me to write something I wasn't planning on.  This morning I happened by a post at Paula's blog that really made me think.  The basic premise of her post was this: Light dispels darkness.  Small sentence.  Powerful concept.

Think about that for a minute.  When you are sitting in a dark room and flip a light switch, what happens?  Doesn't the room suddenly appear light? Barring the fact that your lamp's bulb was burnt out or was unplugged, the light from the lamp appeared and pierced through the darkness with no effort at all, didn't it?  In fact, now that I think about it, isn't it harder to make a room TOTALLY pitch black dark by keeping light out of a room than to put light into a room?  Oooo.  This could be a deep thought!!

Physical darkness cannot overcome light of its own accord no matter how hard it tries. Do you know the Chris Tomlin song "How Great is Our God"? There is a phrase that says:

"He wraps Himself in light, and darkness tries to hide..."

I love thinking about those words. Darkness cannot stop light. The only reason God's light in us is hidden sometimes is because we have too much of ourselves covering it up.   My dear readers, as Christians, we are the lights of the world.  Jesus said it, not me.

You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  (Matthew 5: 14-16 NKJV)

As you know, I must now leave with a question.  How bright is your light? What wattage is your "bulb"?  Are you at 50 watts because you don't spend enough time time with THE power source or are you burning at 100 watts because you spend daily time with Him and His Word?  Is your light hidden behind the lampshade of "self"?  Deep thoughts for early morning.   Gotta love it! Let's get going and get our lights shining!   Remember, a city on a hill cannot be hidden. 

Thanks again, Paula, for your inspiration!

Dear Heavenly Father, help me to be light for you in this world today. I thank you for directing me to Paula's blog post today and making me reflect on what my purpose is here on earth...to let the glory of Your Son shine through me.  Help me to keep "clean" today so that none of Your light is hindered. Keep me plugged in to Your power throughout the day today and every day.  You are awesome. Amen.


Active Ways to Praise God

Last night I attended our church's special worship night, "Ignite".  I always love it when I can just relax, enjoy some good praise music and sing to God.  It is even more special when the band is "family". Okay, my brother is our drummer, but my church family is just as much family to me as my physical family.  Needless to say, I was blessed by the time together. Thanks, Ben, for putting this together!

But did you know that worshipping and praising God encompasses your whole life and is not confined to the time we are listening to praise & worship music?  When I directed our choir a few years ago I did a lot of reading regarding what it really was to praise God and I thought I'd take some time to share some of the ways we can actively praise and worship God throughout our daily routines.  Below I've given some points taken in some fashion from C.H. Spurgeon's "The Practice of Praise" and "The Power in Praising God".    Take a look and try one of these ideas this week or even today.  I've tried all of them and really enjoyed the results.

  • Do everything as if you were doing it for Jesus and carry on a conversation with Him as you do it.  (1 Cor 10:31)
  • Pray short conversational prayers continually throughout the day, rather than long sessions of complex prayers. (1 Thess 5:17)
  • Reconnect with God throughout the day by pausing and being silent for a few seconds. Listen in silence for God to speak to you. (Ps 46:10)
  • Make a habit of thanking God for who he is each morning and thanking Him for what He has done for you that day in the evening.
  • During the day, see how many times you can remember that God is with you. Set a starting goal to remember Him once every hour and increase the frequency as the habit develops.
  • Place post-it notes in convenient places to remind you of God's presence and/or verses you are trying to apply.

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Janna Rust is a Life Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.


Approaching God

How would you feel about approaching God if your sons were killed by God for approaching Him irreverantly?  I bet you would make sure that you came with the right attitude.  I sure would.  This was the situation back in Moses day.  They were really just learning about God and there were so many rules!!!!  Remember that Aaron and his family were charged from here on out (the tribe of Levi, the Levitical priesthood) to be the ones who interceded on the people's behalf by offering sacrifices at the temple.  I know I'm oversimplifying this, but there were many, many rules.   

Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the Lord, and died; and the Lord said to moses:  "Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat." (Lev 16:1-2 NKJV)

Like the priests back in biblical times, we must take our time with God seriously.  Now, we won't die physically as Aaron's sons did (Lev 10:1) if we come to God carelessly or with sin in our lives.   Jesus in His death was the sacrifice that allows us to come to God.  However, we will never be able to be close to God without cleaning ourselves up a bit and taking our relationship with Him seriously.  (Psalm 66:18, Isaiah 59:1-2).  Just like a relationship with our earthly friends and loved ones, to make sure we have good conversation and fellowship we must make sure there is nothing between us to hinder that relationship.  It is the same with God. 

It is a sweet time with God when we can enter into His "inner courts".  Because of time constraints (no excuses, here - just the facts) I don't always feel that I approach God that intimately every time that I pray and spend time with Him.  Regarding prayer, I've heard one of my favorite preachers say before that we need to "pray until we've prayed".   Think about that one.  We need to take the time to put away all of life's distractions and come clean before God.  Then we will get to His "inner courts".    I'll leave you with an acronymn that has really helped me in my prayer life.  It is a way to pray that will get us in the right frame of mind so that we can really get to praying.  The next time you pray, pray in this order and see if you notice a difference in your prayer time.

P - Praise.   Start off your prayer time by thanking God for all that He is.  This gets our minds off of ourselves and our current circumstances and into a state of worship.

R - Repent.  Ask God to forgive you for the sins you have committed, both those you can and can't remember.  We don't have to be perfect to come to God, but we need to recognize where we have strayed, confess these things to God, and turn from our old ways.

A - Ask.  This is where we can ask our heart's desire.  Now that we've got ourselves into a worshipful, clean state of mind, we can come before God with our requests.

Y - Yield.  Thy will be done.  Commit your requests to God's sovereign will in this closing of your prayer.

Happy praying!!  If you tried this and noticed a difference, please comment and let us know how it worked for you!!


Of Golf and God

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?  (Micah 6:8)

Golf is good.  We should play fairly and honestly, be merciful to those playing partners who don't bring out the best in us, and be thankful when we get the chance to be humiliated by a bad day at the course.  How's that for my "interpretation" of the above verse?  Please don't take that too seriously, I've played a lot of golf in the past week  (some of it good, some of it bad), and it has skewed some of my perspective.   Let's just say that I'm thankful that my self-esteem is not determined by how well I play the game.  Is anyone catching on to the fact that today wasn't my best performance?  I thought I'd blog about it so I could at least pretend that I became a better person as a result. 

As I reflect on my first day  of a 2-day golf tournament,   I think of so many lessons that can be learned through the game of golf.  Perseverance, patience, longsuffering, humility and adaptability and hope, are some to name a few.  I was tested today in all of these.  Of all the sports I've played, I've never quite encountered a sport that can be so rewarding one minute and so humiliating the next.     Pride does cometh before the fall.  :)  Well, at least I'm laughing about it!   I better get back to those character qualities:

Perseverance - Our experiences, good, bad or ugly, make us better people for it.  We must keep pressing on through a bad golf round... through life's experiences, so that we may obtain the prize of becoming who God intended us to be. 

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting knothing. 

Patience - Face it, friends.  Sometimes, things just take time.   Let's just say that a 5 hour golf round is enough to try anyone's patience.  But, then again, aren't we told to be patient with others? (NOTE: This long round was due to both slow and bad play at times by all of us in our foursome today.  This is a lesson to me to remember that others did wait on me too today)

1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

Humility - I think I've had enough of humility for one day.  As I said earlier in this post, pride does come before the "fall"!  (Proverbs 16:18)  The game of golf - and life - is humbling, isn't it?  Just when we think we've got some things figured out, we are reminded by circumstance that we really don't have it all together after all.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.

I'll end with this.  I'm glad that tomorrow is another day.  Another chance for redemption, another chance to do better than the day before.  God gives us that chance too.  Every day...every hour...every minute. 

Lord, I thank You so much that I have more to live for than a golf score or a perfect golf shot.  You have given me a purpose...you have given all of us a purpose.  We just need to reach for it.  Thank You for each second chance You give me.  Show me how to live my life with humility, grace, and love for my fellow man so that I can show your love and live for Your glory.  You are my life.  Amen.


Don't Ask Why

There are times when we will never fully understand what some of the passages in the bible really mean.   I was reading through Leviticus 10-12 tonight and couldn't resist posting on the following regarding God's instruction for some rituals regarding women after childbirth:

  • If a woman has conceived and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean 7 days.  Purification = 33 days.
  • If a woman has conceived and borne a female child, then she shall be unclean 14 days. Purification = 66 days.

Huh?  Could someone please tell me what difference it could possibly make to anyone whether or not she had a baby boy or baby girl?  I bet you can't.  If you can, we should come up with a prize for you.   However, on this one, I bet the Vegas odds would favor ignorance.  Matthew Henry of "Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Complete and Unabridged", can't tell us either.  To quote:

Why the time of both those was double for a female to what it was for a male I can assign no reason but the will of the Law-maker; in Christ Jesus no difference is made of male and female, Gal 3:28; Col 3:11.

Well, Matthew Henry did not know the answer, so how could I?  I like the principles here though:

1) When studying the bible, don't allow an obscure passage (one that is hard to understand, and may not be possible to understand given the information we are given) to confuse you on doctrine where there are numerous clear verses to support the doctrine. 

2) Sometimes, we just have to trust God for what He says and does rather than always trying to understand everything.  Remember, that God's ways and thoughts are higher than ours.

Lord, help me to always remember that  you have the best for me in mind no matter if I can't always understand your processes.  Give me wisdom to understand your will for my life and the patience to trust your love through any circumstance.  Amen.


LBY Week 10-Self Control

"The Holy Spirit is looking for a place where He can be comfortable in your skin." --Beth Moore

Self control. It can apply to anything can't it? Excess in eating, blogging, recreation, time spent with others (including our children, spouses, friends) rather than God, TV, etc.  Satan wants us to be so consumed with anything but God, doesn't he?   Without self-control, we cannot possess fully the entire  fruit of the Spirit.  I liked what Beth said in Day One about self control:

The quality of self-control is that which secures our freedom to love, to experience joy, to know peace, to respond with patience, to act out of goodness, to step out in faithfulness, and to agree with gentleness.  Howe?  Because self-control is the ability to make choices which invite and enhance the authority and filling of the Holy Spirit.  Self-control is the decision to remain within the boundaries of victory!

God is so cool.  I know, you might be wondering where this came from, other than that He is.  But in a leadership group I'm facilitating, we have just started reading the book "Celebration of Discipline".  God has sure intertwined all of my bible studies and ministry endeavors as of late.  Just had to throw this one in.   

As we wrap up our study of the fruit of the Spirit in our Living Beyond Ourselves study, I think about the quote above from this week's video on self control.  We've been talking about the Holy Spirit and the way it empowers us to be able to know and do things that we ordinarily would not be able to know and do...because He is living inside us as Christians.  I guess that is the bottom line, is it not?  That God is inside us and wants to empower us if we would just plug in to Him, THE Power Supply?  Lord, help me to not live in my own power and let Your grace and power be sufficient for me.

1 Cor 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God's. (NKJV)

So our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, His "home" upon this earth. How is everyone's "temple" these days?  I must say that about 3 weeks ago I started trying to eat better and exercise more so I had to laugh when the video spoke of the fact that should strive a balance between neglect and obsession with our body's fitness.  Thankfully, I haven't been obsessed this time around. After all, the last thing I need is more stress about a diet.  (FYI-I have though lost 4 pounds just by cutting out the junk I eat and reducing portions a little bit - pretty painless, really).

You know, I could write on and one tonight, but before I end this post, I want to discuss what our lesson said in Day 5 about living victoriously.  Ladies, and gentlemen who stop by, I will devote my life to helping people catch the vision that anyone can have a victorious life through the power of Christ in them if they just exercise a little discipline to get them started and keep them going.  I totally agree with Beth's position (and I believe the bible supports it too) that to have a victorious day, we have to start it with God in the morning.  Jesus did it (Mark 1:35).  David endorsed it and did it (Psalm 5:3).

From Beth, "As often as you are completely cleansed and yielded, you will possess a power that is completely beyond you...".  We all can do it with a little discipline over our lives, including the activities of our households.  Making our lives a sacrifice, not only glories God, but benefits us as well.  Let's all be victorious and let God conform and renew us.  It's time to take our positions in God's service.

Ro 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

FINAL NOTE:  To all of the ladies participating in this study, I have so enjoyed getting to know you through your blogs. It has been a real blessing to me. I pray that you may grow in His grace and that you may be forever changed by this study. It has come at what I believe has been a pivotal year in my life and service to God. God bless each of you and I will continue to "stop by" and see what y'all are up to.  On ya!


Fire from God

Sometimes I just have to keep reading and reading until something pops out at me. Can anyone else relate?  One of these days I'm going to be "spiritual" enough to have patience through the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and some of the other chapters of monotonous laws and sacrifice.  I'm better than I used to be - at least I can find something good out of it most of the time now - but nowhere where I want to be.   

Leviticus 7-9 tells about some more rules for the various sacrifices needed for the people of Israel & the priest to be able to come near to God.  God never leaves them in the dark as to how to have fellowship with them, nor does He leave us in the dark.  They were given the laws of blood sacrifices; we were given the blood of God's son, Jesus.   The passage ends with Moses' brother Aaron, donning all of the priestly garb spelled out by God - who else could come up with all of the details - in previous chapters of the law.    After all of the offerings were made for the first time EVER, the glory of the Lord appeared in a fire..

Leviticus 9:22-24 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings.  And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting , and came out and blessed all the people.  Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar.  When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.  (NKJV)

That must have been some sight to behold.  Pile of dead animals on the altar one minute.  Pile of burning in flames dead animals the next.  I wonder if they saw a huge flame coming down to the sky arriving at the altar or if it was just a big "poof" into flames.   At any rate, I probably would have fallen on my face too.

Because of the people's diligence in obeying God's commandments (mainly Moses & Aaron, the priests), God accepted their sacrifices.  His glory came down among the people, and the people went face down.  I ask myself "Am I obeying God so well that my sacrifices to Him are accepted?" Are my motives pure for the good that I do so that they are a sweet smelling savour on the "altar"? 

Father in heaven, show me how I can daily be an acceptable sacrifice to You.   I want to see Your glory and know You more and more each day that I live.  Amen.