Archive for July, 2010

“Lord, give me a word!”

Friday, July 30th, 2010

I have to confess that I have been running around today like a wild woman. I’ve been in many different directions, praying I complete just one thing on my plate! I may not completely clean my plate today but I’ll be close! As I rushed out of Office Depot with copies in hand for Monday night, I remembered I had not posted my devotional. So I prayed aloud, “Lord, give me a word!” It was as if I heard Him say, “Slow down and I will!” And that was my word.

bible3Day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, we long to hear from the Lord – or so we say. But do we really listen for His voice? Every time I ask to hear from Him, I hear from Him. That must mean when I’m in a dry spell and He seems to be mute, I’m running around like a wild woman not asking, therefore not hearing. Feel like you’re in a desert? Haven’t heard from the Lord lately? When’s the last time you asked Him to speak to you? Try this today, “Lord, give me a word!” and then stop and listen. Works every time!

“May my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word” (Psalm 119:169).

I pray you all have a great weekend. Much love to you!

Hope

The voice of the Lord is…

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Today’s Psalm, chapter 29 is a great reminder of Who is really in control here. So many folks, even Christians, fret over the current condition of the world, the economy, the national debt. We have no reason to fret! Our God is mighty and His glory reigns over all the earth! Psalm 29 reminds us that the voice of the Lord is. Is what? Is powerful and majestic and reigns over the floods and thunder and lightning, both literally and figuratively. There are no floods that rise in our lives that the voice of the Lord does not control. The chapter starts out wide open, proclaiming Who God is and how powerful He is. An oak tree is solid, not much brings it down. But the power of the Lord twists it like a bread tie! He is so powerful! The Psalmist David gets us so fired up about the God’s mighty power that you feel your heart racing as you work your way through this chapter! Then he brings it home to us in the last verse.

“The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace” (Psalm 29:11).

Amen! The voice of the Lord is powerful enough to control every act of nature, after all He created it all! And that same powerful God is the One who gives strength to His people and blesses us with peace. The voice of the Lord is what calms our doubts and fears. The voice of the Lord is our de-fretter. The voice of the Lord is speaking peace to you today. Listen to His voice.

Hope

Nothing without cause…

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

“Yet there will be some survivors—sons and daughters who will be brought out of it. They will come to you, and when you see their conduct and their actions, you will be consoled regarding…every disaster I have brought upon it. You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions, for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause, declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 14:22 & 23).

Yesterday morning I turned to Ezekiel 14 to read the verse that I posted in my devotional and as I began reading I asked the Lord to show me something in this chapter that I’d never seen. Boy did He! The above verses are pretty amazing. This is the Lord talking about Jerusalem, His people, His chosen ones. He had allowed a lot of heartache to come on them, many disasters. And I’m sure there were a lot of “Whyyyy?”s popping up. God was very clear in His explanation of why this was happening. Those who survive will correct their conduct and their actions. In other words, they’ll stop turning to other idols, other things for pleasure, and will turn back to God as the only Lord of their lives. He says that when others witness the change in their hearts and lives, they’ll understand that God does nothing without cause. He has a purpose, and that purpose is to draw them back to Himself.

Wow! I have never noticed this particular passage! Why in the world would God allow bad things to happen? Why would He allow a young, beautiful, vibrant, solid-in-her-faith teenage girl to get an ugly sarcoma that would eventually take her life? When we see others grow in their faith, turn from the idols that they have placed in their own lives, give up actions that have distanced them from their Lord, and renew their relationship with Him, their Creator, their Master, their Redeemer, we understand that He does nothing without cause. When will we ever trust that He knows what He’s doing?

Hope

Whyyyy?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Probably the most commonly asked question is, “Why?”! As soon as our toddlers begin to talk, they want to know why. And most of the time, once the frustration has peaked, we end with, “Because I said so.” One of Clay’s favorite songs that our quartet sings is, “Such A Time As This.” The message is right on the mark with our ministry, and every time we are working on a performance schedule, this is the first song Clay wants to sing. Todd, on the other hand, is quick to make another suggestion; after all, Todd has a solo in that song and he is eager to default to someone else. He is, hands down, our best soloist, so I guess it’s good that he’s humble. The song starts with, “Why did I walk through the valley?” The note for the word, “Why” is held for one and a half beats, and the joke every time any of us mention this song is one of us will break out in our best over-exaggerated Todd-voice, “Whyyyyy…” Todd cocks a tude, Clay bows his head, closes his eyes, and rubs his thumb and forefinger across his brow, Todd then does his priceless Clay impersonation, and Carmela and I just shake our heads. The “moment” always ends in a much needed laugh.

dark-valleyRegardless of the humor that surrounds it, the message behind the song is very powerful. Why do we walk through valleys? Why do we, on an evening that we thought was going to be low-key yet productive around the house, have a friend whom we’ve discipled along in their Christian walk, stop by broken due to marital problems? Why are we forced to our knees out of desperation and helplessness? Why does life stink? Because God is preparing us to minister to others, and He can only do that by bringing us into a deeper understanding of Who He is. He has a plan and purpose for everything we go through. We can choose to look for the lesson in our trials, or we can choose to grow bitter from them. My prayer is that we will not miss one lesson that God is longing to teach us. May we be constantly on our toes ready to pass our test. The only way we can do that is to stay in God’s Word and on our knees in prayer. Then when we’re asked to minister to others we can say with confidence, “God prepared me for such a time as this.”

“I will do this to recapture the hearts of my people” (Ezekiel 14:5).’

Hope

I’m such a cheer bear!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

As I walked into my office after a hot, sweltering lunch hour, I chuckled at myself and said, “I am such a cheer bear today!” It was then that I spotted this quote from The Purpose Driven Life on my calendar…

God did not need to create you, but He chose to create you for His own enjoyment. You exist for His benefit, His glory,  His purpose, and His delight.

cheer-bear1I can’t imagine God delighting in me, especially on days when I’m a bear! Not at all delightful! I can’t stand to be hot – that’s one of the reasons I accepted Christ! Hell is real and I have no desire to get anywhere close to that lake of fire. When I get hot, I get ill. I try really hard not to be a prima donna. And I try not to be ill, but it just happens. So you can imagine in this now 3-week heat wave, what a challenge it has been for me to be chipper and happy if I’m outside for longer than 2 or 3 minutes.

This morning I backed out of the garage with Caleb in tow. I was taking him to the church to go on his last trip as a member of the “youth group.” Going forward he’ll be a member of the College & Career group. I think it hit him as hard as it did me. He loves the youth group and enjoys going to the camps throughout the year. So my mood was already a tad sober – without adding sweat. I stopped in the driveway, jumped out of the car to take the garbage can to the road while Caleb gobbled down a McGriddle, and noticed a wide black tire print where I’d backed up. I glanced back at my car and sure enough, my back rear passenger tire was as flat as a pancake (pardon the pun on the McGriddle). By the time I pushed the trashcan to the road and moved my laptop and a couple of files from my car to Caleb’s, I was dripping with sweat. The disadvantage to living only 3 minutes from our church is that it’s only 3 minutes away; therefore the car doesn’t have time to cool off before you get there. I got out at the church and walked to the van where kids and chaperones were loading all the luggage, chatted to a couple of ladies, and in less than 10 minutes I was back in the car – absolutely drenched! I needed another shower! I called Clay to “share my heart” about my flat tire and to let him know that the air compressor which had been inappropriately placed in the corner of the garage for months, was not in the garage with all of the other many, many tools and gadgets that need to be moved to his shop, and that even if it had been I would not have used it as my makeup and hair had already been “undone,” so I was going to drive Caleb’s car for the day. He picked up quickly that I was not a happy camper at 9:00 a.m. in 89 degree temps, and sweetly assured me, “I’ll take care of the tire.”

I can’t stand to be hot. Have I mentioned that already? Saturday we went to Mt. Airy, NC, also known as Mayberry, to see friends and family of Clay’s dad’s, a very, very nice group of people. But it was 99 degrees, heat index was 107, and the activities were outside in a covered shelter. I can’t stand to be hot. Clay tried to give me the ole guilt “pep talk” of how back in the day people didn’t have air conditioner and they somehow survived. And I gave him the jolt into reality that back in the day they didn’t drive cars but rather rode camels, yet somehow he didn’t have a problem enjoying the luxury of driving our Mazda CX-7 rather than renting a camel for the ride to Mayberry RFD! I get grumpy when I get hot, have I mentioned that?

Yet in spite of my cheer bear self, God delights in me. He enjoys me! Sometimes I find that a little hard to believe. He didn’t need me on this earth. But He chose to create me for His pleasure. I am so thankful that He considers me a benefit even when I am miserably hot and grumpy! Oh how He loves me. For that reason, I promise to work on being nice should you run into me during this heat wave.

“Is that joyous choir I hear? No, it is the Lord Himself exulting over you in happy song” (Zephaniah 3:17 TLB).

Hope

Treasuring and Pondering these Things!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19

 

You know, Lord, there were many things that Mary knew in her heart of hearts that no one else knew! She must have gone back many times to the day the angel Gabriel came to her and said, “Greetings, . . .the Lord is with you.” The scripture says, that “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.”

 

And I suppose there were hundreds of times during the life of Jesus that Mary went back to Gabriel’s next statement, “Do not be afraid!” Boy, there’s a statement to hang your hat on when your life seems to be unraveling before your very eyes and you find yourself in a place of being completely out of control!

 

And then Gabriel says, “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.”

 

And in all the human understanding she could muster, she replied, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

 

Gabriel continues his dialogue with her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. For nothing is impossible with God.”

 

And once again, not really understanding, Mary replies, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”

 

Mary then travels to her cousin Elizabeth’s home and is greeted in a loud voice, “Blessed are you and blessed is the child you will bear! Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” 

 

At this point, Mary, still not understanding in her humanness, Mary breaks out in praise to the Lord!! “I don’t understand all this Lord, but I am going to bless You anyway!!”

 

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

 

Mary was choosing to accept by faith that which she could not possibly understand!

 

You know, Lord, Mary’s faith was present all through the story, wasn’t it? Mary believed – even though she didn’t understand – she believed!!  She believed that what You said to her through Gabriel was truth and that she could stand on it and take it to the bank!! So, before it became “fleshed out” from her human perspective, she operated in faith and blessed Your name for what she knew You were going to accomplish!  Because Mary understood that this idea – this plan – had not come from her!  This plan had been in Your heart from before the foundation of the world . . . and now it was just Mary’s time to enter the stage for the little part she was to play in Your eternal drama!!

 

And then, just like had been foretold through the prophets, Mary found herself in Bethlehem registering and paying taxes with Joseph. If this had not been part of Your “divine plan,” Mary could have just opted to stay in the comforts of home and let Joseph pay the taxes! But once again, we see that the prophecies were fulfilled just as they were written down!

 

And Wow, what must Mary have thought when the shepherds showed up to see her new baby, telling her that a host of angels had appeared to them? “This is really getting weird!”

 

And then the wise men from the East – the star watches – that followed the star to where the baby was! And they brought gifts to her baby! I wonder if she ever thought, “This is my baby, why don’t you just leave us alone?” No, the scripture never says that – Mary knew there was a bigger plan!! She was just watching it unfold!!

 

And then the day they went into the temple and there was Simeon – he had spent his entire lifetime looking for this baby and when Jesus was brought into the temple, Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised the Sovereign Lord!

 

And then there was Anna – a widow after only seven years of marriage – who had spent years in the temple worshiping God day and night, fasting and praying for many years! What must Mary have thought when Anna came up to her speaking about baby Jesus?

 

Wow, when Mary got back home to Galilee she had a lot to process!

 

And speaking of Mary, the scripture says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

 

This wasn’t the plan she would have chosen but from the beginning she understood that this was God’s plan – this was God’s idea – this wasn’t her plan! She was being given the blessing of participating with God for her little part in the plan! But the plan was much bigger than she was and she would watch it all unfold before her eyes – and just treasure and ponder it!

 

Oh, Jesus, help me follow me You in simple, believing faith – believing You and trusting You to accomplish Your eternal purpose in the place I find myself! Bring glory to Your Name and bring good as You promise and don’t let me get in Your way!!  In the Name of Jesus I ask and pray, with thanksgiving, Amen and Amen!! 

Daily, Habitual Obedience!

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Father, the importance and necessity of daily, habitual obedience to You is becoming clearer and clearer to me! Many times I have pondered the truth that “the choices we make today, determine the choices we can make tomorrow.” But Father, I am just coming to understand that more fully in relationship to our spiritual journeys on this earth. You are teaching me that through Noah’s life. The scripture says that “Noah did all that God commanded him.” It says that “Noah walked with God” – it was Noah’s DAILY habit to walk with You and be obedient to what You said to him.

 

That is the only way to victory, isn’t it Lord? Following You in daily obedience!  Jesus said in Luke 9:23 “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me.” We will never get over the “dailyness,” the “moment by momentness” of following You.

 

Some of the ways I am watching this truth unfold in Noah’s life are that:

 

1.     Noah was obedient to build the ark for 120 years when You came to him and told him Your plan.

2.     As a result of that obedience, Noah was able to board the ark when it was time for the flood to come.

3.     Noah took the clean animals on board the ark with him just as You instructed him.

4.     And as a result of that obedience, he was able to sacrifice clean animals when he got off the ark and have food to eat.

 

Noah’s provision for today came from his obedience to do what You had instructed him to do yesterday!

 

I am no different! My obedience today is huge and will affect what I am able to do tomorrow! If I take off “in my own understanding” and “do it my way,” today then tomorrow I won’t be able to do “the next thing” You have for me!

 

You give me opportunity to choose this “daily obedience!” But if I don’t choose Your way today, I won’t be able to take advantage of the opportunity and door You open tomorrow!

 

I can’t operate my life on “what I am feeling” when I get “up against it!” I have to walk in obedience to the light You have given me today!!

 

So even as I am seeking You for the fall and the “next thing” You have for me, I must be so very careful to stay in tune with You so that I don’t burn tomorrow’s bridge – tomorrow’s opportunity!

 

This “daily stuff” doesn’t “compute easily” from our “flesh” perspective! We would really like to see the whole picture laid out!  Then it wouldn’t be so hard to follow!!  But then, Lord, it would be a “sight walk” and not a “faith walk,” wouldn’t it?

 

So, Dear Jesus, just help me “let go” of “my understanding” and follow You in obedience and submission TODAY to that which You have placed before me!! In Your Name I ask and pray, with anticipation, Amen!!

 

 

 

 

Pack it down!

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I promise to be short today. I know I’ve been rather lengthy this week in details so today I’ll be quick and to the point. Let’s look at the second verse that I referenced yesterday which is the benefit of treating others as you want to be treated, or what we commonly call “The Golden Rule.”

lots-of-gifts1“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

I get the mental picture of God continuing to give us so many blessings, so much “goodness” if we give it to others that when it seems we can’t stand any more, in His infinite love and mercy He packs the blessings in, presses them down, shakes it around to be sure that every ounce of our being is basking in His goodness. And then when we’ve had all we can stand, He’ll continue to lavish us with gifts until His love and goodness and mercies and blessings are pouring over into our lap. Doesn’t that sound great?! This is a promise from our Creator Himself! All we have to do is treat others with the same love and understanding and forgiveness and patience and goodness that we want to be treated. That’s it!

I pray that when He measures my treatment of others, He’ll find that He can pack it in! Give me all you got, Lord, cause I sure do need it!

Hope

Dodge the boomerang!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Love this scripture that jumped off the page in an email this morning…

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).

The verse before it says…

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

Here it is from The Message…

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity” (Luke 6:37 & 38 The Msg).

baccalaureate-caleb-me-smallIt is so easy for us “long-time Christians” to get to the place where we believe we have arrived. We’ve got it all together, we’ve been doing this thing a long time. The danger of this attitude is that we sit in judgment over those who don’t do it the way we do, who don’t have it all together, who make poor decisions and reap sad consequences. As The Message says, we jump on their faults and criticize their failures. “That hardness can boomerang.” Therein lies the danger! We throw out haughty judgmental attitudes and turn our backs on those who are “less of a Christian,” and like a boomerang that treatment comes back at us. It will hit us unexpectedly and we’ll be blindsided by the pain of being judged and shunned by others. Dodge the boomerang by not throwing out the mistreatment in the first place! Love others and other’s children just like you want you and your children to be loved. That’s a good word.

I can preach to you because the finger I point is at me. Yesterday Caleb’s room assignment was posted for college. He will room with his buddy from Boiling Springs and two others. Right now only one other boy has been assigned. I decided I’d see if this boy has a Facebook page, you know doing a little private investigation to see what I can find out about the young man who will spend time with my son. I didn’t like what I found. His language is gutter, his photos are promiscuous, his list of “Likes” are offensive. So I had a talk with Caleb to see if he and his buddy wanted me to request that they get another roommate. My reasoning was, “If he hangs with those who talk and act like he does and he decides his quad, which is your quad, will be the hangout, you’ll be outnumbered.” I don’t want my son to be exposed to such filth. Oh did the Lord whip me good with that! And He used my son, the one whom I have worked hard to train up in the way he should go so that when he is old he won’t depart from it, to whip me! Caleb responded, “Mom, when I did mission work with M-Fuge a few weeks ago I worked with small children from that culture. Their parents don’t teach them that those type words are bad. Those young kids use really bad four letter words like it’s no big deal. This guy may have never been taught any better.” I don’t think I need to add anything else. Thanks to Caleb, maybe I’ll dodge the boomerang of judging someone else’s child.

Hope

Trust me on this one…

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

We’ve talked many times before that the only way we can truly trust God with all aspects of our lives is to know Him personally and intimately. We must know His character, the way He works, in order to trust Him with the details of our lives. The Lord gave me another picture of that type of trust again this morning.

Yesterday Jax had a “calicified growth” removed from his right front paw. Post surgical instructions include but are not limited to, “Restrict Jax’s activity until we can remove the sutures in 10 days. Do not allow him to run full speed at all, like chase squirrels or anything. He needs to remain as calm as possible. He can play for 5 minute increments but not anything excitably. He cannot use the paw to dig until the sutures are out.” And the list goes on. I confirmed that yes, I have a “lampshade” to use around his neck so that he doesn’t chew the bandage off before the first 24 hours are up, and then continue to wear until the sutures are removed.

All of this sounds good, but have you ever seen a beagle that didn’t scratch, dig or sniff at everything in the yard, and then take off in a wide open sprint on a scent of who ever knows what? Last night wasn’t that much of a challenge as the anesthesia kept him in la-la land. But this morning he pounced out of his crate on three paws and headed for the door, on a mission! I put him on a leash (that went over like a lead balloon) and walked him to the yard. His nose went to the ground and he started pulling me with everything he had trying to take off on a scent. I didn’t have the lampshade on him because I had him on a leash! I finally gave up, took him back in the house, attached the plastic awkward thingy around his neck and set him free outside. He stepped onto the porch, looked back at me with the saddest puppy dog eyes I’ve ever seen, and then stood paralyzed in place. He looked back over his shoulder several times, and each time the sadness intensified. I walked onto the porch and picked him up, assured him that this was only for a few days, and I said, “You’re gonna have to trust me on this one, Jax.” He laid his head, lampshade and all, on my shoulder. It was so pitiful! But then he roamed around the yard for about 15 minutes, not sprinting on a scent because each time he lowered his head the lampshade hit the ground. It was a tad funny.

jax-smaller1Jax trusts me. He wasn’t mad at me. He didn’t snap at me. He didn’t avoid me when I reached to pick him up. He simply laid his head on my shoulder as if to say, “I don’t like this but I know you luff me so I guess I’ll do what you say.” He’s been living with me, the “not a dog person” that I was for the first 44 years of my life, and he knows I take care of him. I’ve never done anything to harm him. I feed him, give him a bath, play with him, sing to him, laugh at him, correct him when he needs it which is rare because he’s the perfect dog, give him treats, I make sure that his every need is met. And because he knows me that well, I can take him to the vet, leave him for the day while they poke him with something long and very sharp that quickly puts him fast to sleep, only to wake and find a front paw wrapped with purple (purple?? he’s a boy!) bandage, bring him home, put a hard plastic lampshade around his neck, restrict his play time with Muggsy, and he still loves me. He trusts me. Even when life just plain ole stinks.

I read in Jesus Calling later this morning…

Trust is a rich word, laden with meaning and direction for your life. I want you to lean on, trust, and be confident in Me.

Laden with meaning and direction for your life. Everything that happens to us, good and bad, has meaning. We must believe that God is directing our life to a purpose that is best for us. He doesn’t allow bad things to happen to us just to have something to do! He created us for His pleasure. He loves us! And if we’ve spent quality time with Him, we can hear Him saying, “You’re gonna have to trust me on this one,” even when life just plain ole stinks.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

“…in quietness and trust is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

My life must be going to the dogs. I’ve used Jax and/or Muggsy way too many times lately! Caleb who?

Hope