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April 2007
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June 2007

Intentional Imagining

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NASB)

Have you ever been stuck in a situation where you were crying out to God over and over about it but felt that God was nowhere to be found?  Never, right? :) If you've never been in that situation, I want to know your secret!   What do you do when you can't seem to hear or see God when you so desparately need him?

The psalms are filled with examples of how to purposefully choose to turn our focus upward to God instead of dwelling on our circumstances here on earth.  Psalm 77 is one such example.  Now to my "unpacking" of Psalm 77 ...

Seeking God (1-9) - In our distress, we should cry out to God.  No doubt about it.  We can question, we can doubt and we can dump all of our feelings and concerns out on the table.  We may lose sleep like our psalmist did as we try to figure out where God is and why He is waiting so long to help us.  However, no matter how hard we try, we won't ever be able to understand all of God's workings in the world and in our lives. 

"Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?  Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?" Selah. (Psalm 77:7-9 NIV)

Remembering God (10-12) - At some point in our despair we have to make a choice.  We have to decide to think on positive things, the things we know to be true, rather than to continue in our circular musings of why things are and what ought to be.  This moment of truth - truth, because we turn our focus to the truth - is the turning point in dealing with our problems.  Remembering God's character and past works in our own lives will give us hope.

Then I thought, "To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High." I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.  I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. (Psalm 77:10-12 NIV)

Praising God (13-20) - How refreshing it is to get to the point where even in our deepest sorrows we can praise God for who He is and for past miracles in our lives!  After reflecting on our own victories through God in the past and after taking a look at God's word to remind us of the many incredible feats He performed for His people, we will have no choice to praise God for who He is, what He has done and what He has yet to do.  We will be reminded that there is nothing too hard for God...ever.

Your ways, O God, are holy.  What god is so great as our God?  You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.  (Psalm 77: 13-14 NIV)

What can you choose to praise God for today?  What can you choose to intentionally imagine?  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that taking our minds off of sad circumstances is easy by any means.  But we must and we can choose the things we think about.  If we choose the right focus, we'll spend much more time in better moods.  That is a promise from God.

Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! ... (Phil 4:4 NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4:6-7 NIV)

Memorable Milestones

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Okay, dear readers, you are in for a unique experience in this post, if you choose to participate.  As I mentioned in my post a few days ago entitled "May God Equip You", I was working on my latest Toastmasters' Speech last week, among other things.  Not only was it just my latest, but it was my 10th speech and the final in the first level of awards given by Toastmasters.   Even though it has taken me more than two years to complete my ten speeches, I kept at it and finished.  Your unique experience today is that I actually recorded this speech, figured out how to download it to my computer, convert it to a wave file and upload it here.  :)

This is the first time I've recorded myself speaking and I thought I'd share it because of its inspirational nature and the fact that all of you who read this blog are in a way part of my journey as I attempt to follow God's leading in my life.  In it I share more of my life's passion: to encourage and equip others to live their lives to their fullest potential.

Click here to listen/download: If You Can Change Your Life, You Can Change Your World

Our Sufficiency in God

You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.  Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:35 NIV)

God is awesome.  It is not possible to understand His ways because He is so "off the charts" when it comes to His wisdom and His power.  We can though, understand His character and other attributes as much as they are depicted in scripture.  I can't wait until that day in heaven when I'll finally be able to see Him in all of His glory.

Until that day I can search the pages of my bible to learn all that I can about Him.  I am able to see His glory as David the psalmist sings praises of God's deliverance and provision.  I can also reflect on God's glory when I think about the things He has done for me in my life.  The more we seek to know God, the more He will reveal Himself to us and the more we will love Him.

Psalm 68 illustrates the triumphant rule of the God of Israel.  David speaks of God's conquests over Israel's enemies and the final submission of all kingdoms to God's rule over the earth.  But in this Psalm I also see the suffiency of God's provision to all that rely on Him.  He provides for His people community, care, and the capacity to live their lives for Him. Let's take a look.

COMMUNITY - No matter how lonely or destitute we are, God cares for us and provides us a place to live out our lives with others.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God is his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. (Psalm 68: 5-6 NIV)

CARE - God goes before His people to provide for them.  For Israel, He cleared the way for them so that they could live in the land He had prepared for them.  He will do the same for us if we will only live for His glory.

You gave abundant showers, O God; you refreshed your weary inheritance.  Your people settled in it, and from your bounty, O God, you provided for the poor. (Psalm 68:9-10 NIV)

CAPACITY - God will be our strength when we need it.  He promises that to us time and time again.  He will give us the capacity to do what He has asked us to do, even if that means taking some of our loads and carrying them for us.

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. (Psalm 68:19 NIV)

You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.  Praise be to God.  (Psalm 68:35 NIV)

Have you told God how awesome He is today?  Have you allowed Him to be your community, care and capacity?  If you haven't because you are too self-sufficient, you are definitely missing out on some great blessings.  Let Him be there for you today.

Lord, I thank you so much for your power, your strength, your glory and your majesty.  Show me this day how to rely on your strength rather than my own.  Help me to live out your will in full confidence that you will be going before me and paving the way ahead of me.  Amen.

Give Thanks

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)

I had another post partially drafted for today but decided after being inspired by reading comments from some dear readers about my last post that I would also post the thing I "assigned" yesterday.  I will post about 25 things I am thankful for today.  Note: If you notice that a lot of the things I mention are about rain, I'm trying to be thankful about all of the rain and storms we've had this past week and in particular this weekend's storms that rained out my golf game today.  :)  After all, I've said before that I only pass on to my readers what God is teaching me in my own life.  Here goes:

25 things I'm thankful for as I type this post (in no particular order):

I'm thankful for...

1.  The rain. Rain is a good thing.  Without it, much of the pretty things I so love about nature would not be.

2.  My safety.  I am thankful that while we've had numerous storms here, I remain dry and safe inside my home.  I'm deeply saddened by the destruction in Greensburg, KS, a town that I've visited which is the place where a friend of mine's parents met many years ago.  Please pray for the 1600 people who have lost their homes and hometown.

3.  My hard of hearing old doggie.  Praise be to God that she no longer hears the thunder and lightening.  She used to drive us crazy with her freaking out.

4.  My other two dogs whom the storms don't phase one bit.

5.  Not being a dog.  How would you feel if you were thrust outside to go "potty" in the rain real quick so your owners could get to church?

6.  My former church for "growing me up".  The people and my pastor there will always have a special place in my heart.

7.  My new church for new opportunities and new growth.

8.  My current job.  Even though I complain about it, it is providing me the flexibility and opportunity to pursue new possibilities.

9.  My husband.  Who is patient with me and who is also my "boss" at my current job.

10. A dear friend who challenges me, motivates me, and takes liberties in giving suggestions with my speech writing endeavors.

11.  Laptop computers.

12.  My Blackberry.

13.  Email.  (I just had to get all "techie" here for these last 3 items, but I bet that if you are reading this you know what I mean.) :)

14.  Music that draws me nearer to God and inspires me to love Him more.

15.  My house on a hill.  With all of the rain we've had there has also been flash flooding around the area.  For water to reach our house, it would have to be a biblical type flood.

16.  The thunder.  I just heard the sound just now.  It never fails to remind me of God's majestic power and His control over all things. Nothing is too big for God to handle.

17.  The sunny days that always come after the rain...eventually.  They remind me of how the storms in our lives eventually pass away.

18.  Commenters on my blog who not only inspire me but encourage me as well. 

19.  The blogging community and the people whom I feel I've connected with.  You all are awesome!  :)

20.  My family.

21.  Community Bible Study.  I am still thankful to my bible study group this year that provided some stability throughout my church change.

22.  God's Word, God, Jesus.  Can I possibly say enough about what/Who has become the most important thing in my life? 

23.  God's patience with me.  Thank You, Lord, for having patience with sinner as You continue to mold me into the woman You want me to be.

24.  New friends that God has brought into my life over the last year.

25.  Being able to share what I'm learning in my spiritual walk with the "world". 

That's my list.  Now I'm going to be thankful that we have leftovers from the other night to eat so I don't have to make dinner for us tonight! :)  Have a good evening!

Praise Be To God

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation amoung all nations.  May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.  (Psalm 67:1-3 NIV)

Is God's face shining upon you?  Have you been able to recognize God's lovingkindnesses in your life this past day, week or year?  If you haven't seen God's blessing upon you then I would bet that you haven't looked very hard.  I would bet that you might be to focused inward at your problems rather than looking outward and upward to see the light of God all around you. 

I think that God blesses His children more than we realize.  When things are going bad, things could always be worse.  When things are going well, we oftentimes take the credit for ourselves.  And when our lives are just rolling along at an even keel we probably don't recognize all of the dangers God from which God has protected us.  Let's sing praise to God every day for who His, knowing that we cannot possibly know all of His workings in our lives.

Today's Task:

Take out your journal or a piece of paper and write down at least 25 things in your life that you are thankful for.  God has provided them for you!  Remember, you can be thankful in all things.  (i.e. even if you hate your job, you can be thankful that you have a job to pay the bills).   :)  Then say a prayer of thanks to God for all of your blessings.

May God Equip You

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Hebrews 13:20-21 NASB)

I've been a bit in a "funk" lately with this blog and with my journaling in general.  I think it is because there is just so much to write about and say that I don't know where to begin.  My daily reading has been through the Psalms; we all know how packed they are with inspiration.  My life has been full of good things.  God is continuing to move me on the path of His choosing, and I'm just trying to keep up with His pace.  It is an interesting place to be.  Can anyone else relate?

In a few weeks it will be almost a year since the seed was planted in me to attend CLASS.  I continue to follow the cloud of God's direction one step at a time, pressing on toward the land I "spied out" in June of last year.  Since that time I have become a Stonecroft speaker & enrolled in a class to learn how to be a life coach.  I've gotten involved in my new church.  And finally, within the past month, God has brought to my plate 8 speaking engagements for Stonecroft Ministries.  God is good, and God has been busy.

So as I reflect on all that God has done and is doing and try not to stress over creating my coaching/speaking website, figuring out a name for my "business", writing my latest Toastmasters' speech which I'm presenting this coming Tuesday, and just life in general, I smile.  I smile because through all of this - and I'm leaving a few things out - I know that God will get me through it because God got me into it.  :)  I'm just going to keep moving ahead one step at a time following the path that He is placing before me.

The verse above in Hebrews is an incredible promise to those of us who are stepping out in faith to do the things that God has planned for us.  He is the God of peace who can give us peace in our hearts even though they are pounding with anticipation for what lies ahead.  He is the God of power who has demonstrated His majesty through all of history, culminating with the biggest miracle of all - raising His Son Jesus from the dead so that He could provide us with eternal life.  This is our God who will equip us to do the things He has put in our hearts to do.  What a promise.

Friends, what has God put on your heart to do for Him?  Are you ignoring His call?  If you know what you are to do but are hesitating to act, what are you waiting for?  My challenge to you today is to take one small step forward in faith toward His call in your life.  Make a connection. Tell someone about your dream.  After the first step is taken, the next ones will get easier.  Remember, God will equip You for service for His glory.