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December 2006
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February 2007

Paternal Protection

"Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.  He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life will I satisy him and show him my salvation." (Psalm 91:14-16 NIV)

My final assignment, should I choose to accept it (sorry, couldn't resist the MI movie quote), for my Community Bible Study homework this week was the following:

Set aside at least fifteen minutes to meditate on Psalm 91, which speaks of the confidence that belongs to a person who trusts in the Lord.  In what specific areas do you need to trust Him?  How is your "confidence level"?  Personalize this week's memory work (the passage I've posted above, Ps 91:14-16) by placing your name in the appropriate places, and say it aloud. Do you believe it? Are you doing your part? God is totally trustworthy.  He will do His part!

Obviously you can see that I'm doing my homework here rather than post about some more of the geneaologies I'm reading about in 1 Chronicles! :)  I liked this Psalm.  I liked the mental picture I get of resting in God's shadow from Psalm 91:1.  God is so big and powerful, yet we can have rest in His "shadow" because He is also wholly good.  Sigh.    If we love God, we are promised His protection and care, all because He loves us us.   Take some time today and meditate on God's words of Psalm 91 with me.  You can do my homework too!

Have a blessed day in His shadow...

Janna


What is Your Legacy?

As usual, I've thought of many things I could write about today.  I could expand on my last post about contentment, I could get on a soapbox (although I don't like to do that here), or I could write chronogolically through my daily bible reading.    If you remember anything about the first few chapters of 1 Chronicles, you will see my dilemma. There is little doctrine or application to write about - at least through my little eyes - except for the prayer of Jabez nestled into 1 Chronicles 4 amongst all the genealogy.  But I started thinking about all of the lineages of Kings presented and I thought of my recent readings through 1 and 2 Kings, and the light came on.

What do all of the people's names here represent?  They represent the results of time.  Time invested positively or negatively in the lives of others.  As I connect the dots of scripture, I think about how many times I read the words  "he did that which was evil" in association with the legacy of Jeroboam, the first king of Israel in the divided kingdom.  Seven times in scripture we see this phrase combined with the phrase who or which "made Israel to sin".  (2 Kings 13:2, 2 Kings 13:11, 2 Kings 14:24, 2 Kings 15:9, 2 Kings 15:18, 2 Kings 15:24, 2 Kings 15:28).  Jeroboams legacy, immortalized in pages of scripture, was that he made Israel to sin.  I don't know about you, but I don't want that kind of legacy.

As Christians we have a bigger responsibility than just to not cause people to sin.  Jesus commands us to teach others what we've learned.  Paul elaborates on this truth even more in his letter to Timothy, his own disciple:

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  And the things thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.  2 Timothy 2:1-2

This commandment takes shape in many different ways throughout the seasons of our lives.  For some of us, our current situations may dictate that we spend the time training up our children.  For others, adults are our calling.  Who, dear reader, are you training up so that they too can be training up others?  Have you ever had the words and teachings committed to you?  If you have, get started on your eternal legacy.  If you haven't, find someone who can walk beside you and guide you in your journal of spiritual growth.  If anyone has more questions about what I'm talking about here, please feel free to contact me.   I'd love to help.  One of the biggest blessings I can experience in my life is to help someone else grow closer to God.  I challenge you to do the same.  So, are you ready to get going?


Finding Contentment

Not that I speak in respect of want for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  - Paul, Philippians 4:11

Being content is a wonderful place to be.  To me it implies perfect inner peace, a state of mind where "It's all good".   But are we really ever there?   For a Type A personality such as myself, I think this state of mind is even harder to attain than for others because our very nature is to strive to achieve - to make things better.  But, I've also found that even dogs are not as content as they sometimes appear.  Come into my home for a bit and let me illustrate.

There was a meltdown taking place in the Rust household on Thursday late evening that all centered around discontentment.  Two of the five of us were not very pleased with their places in life and were making some noise about it. 

  • Meltdown #1 - Brandy, our 3 year old Shihtzu kept barking at Ozzie, our 8 year old big dog mix, because he wanted the bone that Ozzie had rather than the one he had.  Brandy was not content.
  • Meltdown #2 - At the same time Brandy was melting down, Jessie, our 14 year old Shihtzu was barking upstairs because she wanted to get up on the bed.  Rather than lay in her own soft bed that she did have adequate access to, she wanted to go elsewhere.  Jessie was not content.
  • Synchronized meltdowns - Imagine if you will, #1 going on in our hearth room on the main floor next to us every 10 seconds and #2 taking place upstairs every 10 seconds. Should you have been here, you would have heard a dog bark every 5 seconds for about 10 minutes with my husband and I laughing and getting frustrated while we tried to talk over the noise.  We let this go on because we were trying to ignore the little idiots and Troy broke down first because he couldn't take it any more.

Yes, even children of the canine persuasion have temper tantrums because they aren't getting what they want.  Let me ask the question though, "Are we humans really any different?".  The fits we throw are more subtle, the problems we have are more complex, but the principle remains the same.  We all, to some degree, long for something that we do not have.

Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that he had learned to be content.  (see above, Philippians 4:11).  Keep in mind that Paul was writing this letter from a Roman prison.  Paul says that he is not speaking "in respect of want".   Does it cross anyone else's mind that if Paul can be content while being in a physical prison that we can be content in whatever "prison" we find ourselves?

Friends, what is the "prison" that contains you and makes you struggle to find contentment?  Is it your job, your marriage, your family or your health, or your ___________?   We all have something, but we can all learn, just as Paul did, to be content where we are.  It is through Christ that gave Paul the strength (Phil 4:13) to be content.   We must keep our focus on the things of God and the future He has planned for us as Christians in heaven with him.  We must keep an eternal perspective to make it through this life.

2 Cor 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (NKJV)

Our afflictions will make us better people if we allow God to work in us through them.  I'm not saying it is easy, as I've got a pretty big mountain of discontent to climb in my own life.  But it can be done with a little discipline over our thoughts and a lot of prayer.  God is in the heart changing business.  He can help us to be content by giving us new hearts:

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. (NKJV)

I'm so glad that God has not left us here to work out our problems alone.  He has left us His word, His Holy Spirit and other godly Christians to help guide us and pick us up along the way.  We can learn, to be content, but we must realize it doesn't happen overnight.

Lord, I thank You so much for who You are to me, my Comforter, my Guide, my Strength.  Please show me how to be content in whatever state I am in.  Soften my heart so I can learn the lessons you want me to learn from my trials and so I can be content with my life.  Help me to keep You and the life-giving truth of Your word always in the forefront of my mind, knowing that there is nothing impossible for You and that through everything You allow to come into my life, You have my best interests at heart.  Amen.


Double Minded

They would not listen, however, but persisted in their former practices.  Even while these people were worshiping the LORD, they were serving their idols.  To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.   - 2 Kings 17:40-41 (NIV)

Who says the Old Testament of our bibles isn't relevant today? If I hadn't put the bible verse references after the quote above any one of us might have thought that this was being spoken about our own families, churches, or cities.  I was overcome with emotion as I did my bible reading this morning through a few chapters of 2 Kings.  I read about king after evil king who led the nation of Israel.  And then I read again about how a longsuffering, loving but righteous God originally delivered His people...His people...out of Egypt to be set apart from the rest of the world to show off His glory. (2 Kings 17:36-39)  Despite the blessings God provided them, despite the promise of protection and prosperity God made them, the people would not listen.  How does this make you feel?  It makes me sad for God, who gave and gave and waited and waited, all to see the people still do as they pleased.    It makes me sad that things got so bad that God finally had no choice but to let the nation of Israel fall captive to the Assyrians. (2 Kings 17:23).

Read the verse at the top again in the context of our culture today.  I believe that today even though we worship God, we still serve other idols.   We are double-minded, dual-focused. Is it any wonder that most of us practice a weak form of Christianity not really knowing what we believe and why we believe it?  In our personal lives we spend more time focusing on ourselves than on learning about who God is and what we can do to serve Him better. 

It is no wonder that we are misguided in our focus as our churches - not all, but an increasing number of them - have also become models for being "double-minded".   Some of them are not practicing what the bible says to preach.  Does your church preach from the whole bible or just the parts of it that relate to felt needs of the people walking through the doors on Sunday morning?  When was the last time you heard a sermon out of 2 Kings? out of Romans 1, touching on some of the tougher issues of life?  The bible says that we are  to live our lives to please God and not other people, so why are we doing "church" with an emphasis on giving the "people" what they want?

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  (James 1:8)

Double mindedness is a danger, isn't it? Trying to please someone else other than God will always get us into trouble.  Trying to have both our way and God's way will too.  The Israelites lost their nation because of their ways.  What are we losing because of ours?


The Blog Meme

Okay Carol.  Mark this down that I'm participating in a meme!  :)  Friends, I've been tagged by Carol and I'm finally getting to this 10 days after the fact.  I don't do many of these, and therefore I don't get tagged very often, but I'll indulge and play because I was so kindly thought of.  Here goes:

1.  Do you like the look and contents of your blog?

I like the content, not because I'm writing it, but because I'm writing about what God speaks to me through His word and I hope that what He teaches me can help someone else in some small way.  As for the look of my blog, I think it is pretty boring.  However, I'm taking steps to get some help for a major design change.

2.  Does your family know about your blog?

Yes they do.  However, I don't think they read it.   That used to bum me out a little, but I'm not writing for them anyway.

3.  Can you tell your friends about your blog?

I suppose if I was a teenager writing about my little life's secrets I might not be able to tell my friends about my blog. But I'm not, so I can.  My answer is "Yes, I can tell my friends about my blog."  I've even written about some of them as "a friend" from time to time.  I don't know how many of them read it though because if they do stop by they rarely leave comments.

4.  Do you just read the blogs of those who comment on your blog?

No.  I don't get a ton of comments so if I only read those blogs whose authors commented I wouldn't read many blogs at all.  But...I read more extensively those blogs whose authors I feel I know through their comments.

5.  Did your blog positively affect your mind?

I think so, but again because of the nature of what I write about.  God's word is life changing.  My writing here the last year and a half has brought me closer to God through teaching His Word to others. By putting my thoughts down on my blog I remember the things I learn better and think about them more.

6.  What does the number of visitors to your blog mean?

To me, this means a number of lives God has used my blog to touch in some way, even if they may have just visited by accident.

7.  Do you imagine what other bloggers look like?

Not really.  Most of the blogs I read have a picture of themselves on their blog so I don't have to imagine! :)

8.  Do you think blogging has any real benefit?

Like any activity, I think that blogging has its benefits and its curses.  As for the benefits, I think that the community of bloggers is very cool.  I like to learn from other people and I think I learn a lot from the blogs I regularly read.  In addition, I've benefited from blogging because it is helping me to practice writing and teaching and plus I've been able to use many of my blog posts to assist in various bible studies I have taught or facilitated.

9.  Do you think that the blogosphere is a stand alone community separated from the real world?

I can't quite process this question.  How can you separate real live people writing real live blogs from the real world? 

10.  Do some political blogs scare you? Do you avoid them?

I would say that I pretty much avoid political blogs.  Not because I'm scared of them but because I really don't have that much to say regarding politics.  Too much rhetoric over things we can't really do much about. 

11. Do you think that criticizing your blog is useful?

I think that constructive criticism is always helpful if done with sensitivity and the right motive.   Any time I can improve in any area because of something someone else notices I will try to implement the change.

12.  Have you ever thought about what would happen to your blog in case you died?

In a word, "no".  Should I give someone instructions to post my obituary here in case I die?

13.  Which blogger had the greatest impression on you?

I can't really answer this question.  I read a lot of blogs and most of the blogs I've listed on my sidebar have made an impression on my life in one way or another.  Thank you all.

14.  Which blogger do you think is the most similar to you? 

This is another tough question.  I've "met" several "kindred spirits" in blogland since I've been blogging.  If you have a sense of humor, have a silly/playful/ornery side, are a deep thinker and love long meaningful conversations, then you might be similar to me.  I'll let others figure this one out.

15.  Name a song you want to listen to?

My most played song of late is the song "Glory" off of the newest Selah album.  I can't stop listening to it.  If you want, you can read about my reflections on it here.  The CD is currently in my car in my cold garage and I'm not going to go out and get it now. 

Well, that is it with the questions.  I suppose now I'm supposed to tag someone with this. Who can I tag?  How about Sara, Sissy and Vicki.  I don't think they do many meme's either.  Come on gals, try this one.  :)

 


Perfect Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. - Isaiah 26:3

"Oh nooooooooooooo...." she exclaimed as her perfect post disappeared into the thin air of a Typepad malfunction.  Well, at least I didn't curse.  :)  Regrettably, I must get on with my day at the office and I will not be able to recreate a post I wrote on the above verse and how it tied in with 2 Kings 14.  I am really bummed about this. 

At any rate, take some time today and think about the promises God has to offer us if we just keep our thoughts focused or "stayed" on Him.  I know I will be.

Until next time!

Janna


Surrender

Is it too late to post about my life's theme for the year?  I suppose since I'm the sole author and boss of this blog, I can if I want to, even though it is already January 21st of the new year.  In case I didn't say it before, I'm not a New Year's Resolution type of gal, and I don't always have a "theme" that I have purposely stated to start the year.  However, I have on occasion (actually I did this just last year too) decided upon a focus or "theme" for my life and relationship with God to work on in the "new year".

I believe that God is directing me to "surrender" this year - to raise the white flag and give up my will for His in a particular area of my life.  He is making helpling me to understand that I cannot manufacture a heart change on my own and that I am powerless.  Therefore I surrender in prayer.  I just told a friend a couple of weeks ago about my theme of surrender as she and I discussed resolutions.  On Wednesday this past week, at the first meeting of my CBS bible study this year the one song we sang to prepare our hearts for the lecture was the old hymn "I Surrender All" by Judson VanDeVenter & Winfield Weeden.  I laughed  aloud as I started singing this song, knowing it was just for me. 

All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.

All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow,
Worldly pleasures all forsaken,
Take me, Jesus, take me now.

I surrender all, I surrender all.
All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.

This is a hard song to sing with sincerity, isn't it?  Surrendering all is no easy task, especially for independent people like myself.  I am humbled once again at the concept of surrender as I think of the example of Jesus surrendering His will for the will of His Father in dying so that I might live. 

Jesus died so that we might live in the power of His resurrection should we choose to surrender our lives to Him.  With that in mind, I want to direct you to this post written by Janice over at 5 Minutes for Mom that I found yesterday entitled "White Funeral".  Much to my "surprise" that this post was about surrender.  As I read it, I thought it was just perfect for my week...and my year's theme. Yes, I think God is trying to tell me something. 

To Think About:

1) What am I holding on to that if I gave it over to God completely would change my life?

2) What is holding me back from complete surrender?


The Truth In Love

13 And his (Naaman) servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet (Elisha) had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it?   how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

2 Kings 5:13-14

Confession time.  How many of you out there watched the season premiere of American Idol this week?  I'm not an "Idol" addict, although I like watching the show when I'm home and it is on, but I watched parts of the two shows this week and was once again amazed and appalled.  It was painful to watch some of the lack of talent of some of the poor souls embarrassing themselves on national TV.  It was maddening to see how the judges made fun of some of the people trying to do their best and coming up short.  I don't think anyone who tries to achieve their dream should be made fun of.  With that said, I also believe that a lot of the "Idol" hopefuls should never have auditioned and probably wouldn't have, had they had a friend tell them the truth in love about their abilities.  Pers0nally, I have a number of friends who I have told before that before I attempt something that could possibly embarrass myself because of my lack of talent, that they should tell me before I do! 

Believe it or not, my ramblings about American Idol tryouts do relate to the continuation of our saga in 2 Kings 5.   Remember from my last post, Naaman was all in a huff because Elisha's method of a cure for his leprosy didn't seem good enough for Naaman.   Enter Naaman's servants.  Thank goodness for them, or Naaman might have ended his life a leper.  His servants, seeing Naaman all "in a rage" set Naaman straight as shown in 2 Kings 5:13-14 above.  Naaman listened to them, calmed down, did as the prophet said and was healed.  End of story. 

So what can we personally learn from this passage?

1) Never underestimate the value of a trusted friend.  Wise, godly friends are priceless.  Yes, we need to ask God for guidance before we ask any person, but we must also consult our wise, godly, praying friends with decision making.  The bible says in Proverbs 11:14 that

Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Can you think of a time when a friend last gave you some good advice?  Did you take it?

2) Friends don't let friends embarrass themselves on national television.  Okay.  I apparently need to get my recent "Idol" experience of of my mind.  Somebody tell somebody the truth in love....please!  Our duty as a friend is sometimes a difficult one, especially if our friend is doing something wrong.  Is there someone in your life today that needs a friend's wise counsel?  Are you that friend?


My Way or God's Way

A couple of posts ago, before I got sidetracked by my personal humility lesson and the latest winter storm, we left off in 2 Kings 5:7 with Naaman the army commander and leper waiting to hear if the king of Israel via their prophet Elisha could heal him from leprousy.  If you remember, the king of Israel thought Naaman's king was just picking a fight by his request. 

We'll pick up in 2 King 5:8.  The king of Aram was not picking a fight.  Elisha found out about his king's anger and had the king send Naaman to him.  Why should I tell it?   Here's what happened according to God's word:

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message:  "Why have you torn your robes?  Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel."  9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha's house.  10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed." (2 Kings 5:8-10 NIV)

So far, so good.  Elisha once again saves the day.  But wait!  Enter human pride.  Naaman basically says "If God's ways are higher than my ways, why is the "cure" so simple?'  Well, he doesn't actually say that, but look at his reaction before we relate this story to our own bad selves.

But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.  Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of the Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel?  Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?"  So he turned and went off in a rage.  (2 Kings 5:11-12 NIV)

This passage is so rich in personal applications.  I bet a good preacher could write a couple of sermons on it!  I'll stick to keeping this short and sweet.  Here are my gleanings from vs. 11-12 to personally apply:

1.  Put the pride aside. Naaman first of all was irritated because he thought he wasn't getting the treatment he deserved.   He wanted a personally showing from Elisha, complete with all the trimmings of laying on of hands and calling out to God.   How often do I think more highly of myself than I ought to think?

2.  Just do it.  Naaman walked off in a huff because he didn't understand how God's plan could be so simple.  Apparently, Naaman had the cure for his leprosy already figured out.  Did he stop to think that he, Naaman, was the one begging for face time in front of the prophet so he could be cured?  We all are like Naaman at times, blinded by our own ideas of what should take place for a chain of events to get started.  We forget that although sometimes more simple in appearance than our own concocted schemes, God's ways are indeed better.  When was the last time I questioned God's solution to my problem because I "knew better"?

Until next time...


Softened by the Sun

Icy_view_01152006Well, I have finally included a picture in a blog post.  What is the world coming to?  :)  I'm not sure how to make it bigger or to move it around, and I'm surely not going to try to figure it out now because I have other important things to do like watch my Missouri Tigers tonight try to compete with Kansas Jayhawks in basketball.   The game is 3 hours from now.   :D

There is a reason I included this picture other than to write about how I am trying to get more up to speed with the workings of my blog template.  This view is a view from my front porch this afternoon.  It is currently 15.6 degrees outside (like the decimal point?) and the white on the ground you see is a hardened mixture of sleet, snow and ice pellets accumulated over the past few days.  As I looked out my window at the sight, I started thinking about the appearance of the ground cover versus the feel of it. It looks like soft fluffy snow, but upon closer examination it is quite different.  Appearances are deceiving aren't they? The only thing that will change the hard icy mix into a softer version of the same would be the warmth of the sun's rays either through direct sunlight or through the general warming of the earth caused by the sun's warm rays somewhere else.

I think that the condition of our hearts is no different.  We can pretend that things are okay and we can have the outward appearance that things are fine when in reality our hearts are hardened like ice on a cold day.  Only the warmth of the Son - Jesus - directly through prayer and reading of God's Word or indirectly through others acting as Jesus in our lives, can soften them.

For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  - Hebrews 4:12 NIV

We can hide the truth from our family, our friends and even ourselves, but we can't hide ourselves from God.  However, we can keep Him from having access to our hearts in any number of ways.   We can stay busy.  We can shut Him out.  We can even just say "No" in ways that we don't realize.   God will do the work if we just get with Him and cooperate.   What are waiting for?  I'm ready to do some thawing out!

Thoughts to "chill" on:

  • What you really escaping from?
  • Why do you really do the things you do?
  • What keeps you from allowing God's word to get inside you and work its magic in you, softening you up to be who He intended you to be?