Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pressed But Not Crushed

I spent much of this last week feeling completely and utterly defeated. I felt like a failure as a mom, a wife and as a believer. I was discouraged at every turn and I was quickly sinking into despair. I cried out to the Lord. I told Him exactly how I felt. I even told Him that I didn't want to feel this way. Still it persisted... Now I am free once again and the Lord showed me what had happened. Just in case you want to learn this lesson with me...

The enemy cannot read our minds but he has spent thousands of years studying the human race and a life time spying on me. He knows my fears better than I do and he does everything within his power to convince me that my worst fears are becoming a reality. Everything that happens to me must first pass through the Lord's hands, however, He wants me to grow in knowledge and strength so He allows certain tests to come my way so that I can overcome them. "When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing... God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:2-4, 12)

So how do we pass the testing of our faith? How do we patiently endure without falling into despair? Beth Moore, in "Believing God", suggests that our shield of faith has five points. When we are tested, which key of faith is being tried?

  1. God IS who He says He is!
  2. God CAN DO what He says He can do!
  3. I AM who God says that I am!
  4. I can do ALL things through Christ!
  5. God's Word is alive and active in me!

I seem to believe statements 1 and 2 readily, however, I struggle with statements 3 and 4. Somehow, I seem to buy into the lie that I am the exception to God's rules. I am the project that is too big for God. The devil whispers lies to me and instead of instantly rejecting them, I let them rule my feelings. Once my emotions are involved, the battle is harder BUT I CAN STILL BE VICTORIOUS!

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 says, "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed." The Greek word translated as crushed can also be translated as to be cramped in distress or a narrow space. Now this caught my attention! You'll notice my theme verse for this blog is found in Psalm 18:19. The Lord brought me out into a spacious place and I am not willing to surrender that!

2 Corinthians 4 continues to say that we experience constant opportunities to die to our self nature so that we can experience Christ's resurrection power. My feelings were telling me that I was being wronged. Robbed of something I deserved. Who am I to tell the God of the Universe that I know better than He does what I need? It's hard to set aside pride - to acknowledge that He knows best when what's best is learning a lesson. Verses such as Psalm 84:11, Matthew 7:11 and Luke 11:13 tell us that God loves to give us what's best! If He's withholding something good from me, I must be supposed to learn something better in the midst of it.

2 Corinthians 4:13 says, "I have believed and therefore have I spoken. We too believe, and therefore we speak." For reasons that I don't understand, spoken words have power. I was speaking the content of my emotions rather than what I believed as my rights as a child of God. I was telling myself, others and even God how I felt rather than putting my feelings aside and telling myself the Truth of God's Word - outloud!! Put the key verses on cue cards! Read them out loud. Ask friends to pray these verses for you. Pray them for yourself! Lift that shield of faith up high! The devil recognizes the authority of God's Word and he must flee! If Christ responded to him by quoting scripture, how much more should we!

"For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18)

"For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

So, instead of being rash and complaining against the Lord my God as the people of Israel did in the book of Habakkuk, I desire to face troubles, suffering and testing by proclaiming aloud the words of Habakkuk 3:18-19 "Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation! The Lord is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!" And guess what! It works! "Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God!" (Romans 10:17) Once again, I'm free!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Pair of Pants

Did you know that the God of the Universe concerns Himself with my details? No detail of my life - no need, no desire - is too small that it escapes His notice!

The other day, we were out finishing the Christmas shopping. I was tired and on the verge of a cold. Despite our frugalness, money seemed to be going out hand over fist, with all of the Christmas activities... a $5 gift here, a $10 one there... Carter had just informed us that he needed a brown sweater and a pair of brown pants for his reindeer costume in the school pageant. We had managed to find a beautiful brown sweater for a reasonable price but the brown pants had illuded us. By the time we were in our third store looking, I had had enough. I had seen a few pairs for $35 but the way Carter is growing, I didn't want to spend that much for him to wear for the Christmas celebrations - never to be worn again!

In wearied desperation, I asked the Lord to supply a suitable pair of pants. I literally turned and spotted a clearance rack in the boys' section of a department store. I walked right up to the rack where I spotted ONE pair of brown boy's pants! I looked at the color... perfect match! The size... "Oh, Lord, it's a 12. That's a tight fit for my son." I held it up. I wondered where we could have him try it on. The Lord said to me, "you asked me for a pair of pants. Are you going to trust me on this?" I quietly decided to trust Him. "Yes, Lord."

The pants fit perfect! They look like they could have been custom made for Carter. Usually, if the waist fits, the legs need shortening or if they length fits, he complains they are too tight. Not these pants! The perfect color, the perfect size, the perfect price! $7.99! And go figure... we got up to the check out and they were 20% off the sale price! Praise You, Lord!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Playing With Daddy

"Teach me to play, Abba!"

I don't know about you but I am a perfectionist. If I can't do something well - by my standards - then I don't want to try it at all. This spills over into my relationship with God. As you can see from my last entry, God is really working on me in this area. He wants to free me up from my striving - the constant rule following - so that I learn to have fun with Him! So this morning, while I sat there, He gave me a little insight into Karrie, one of His precious children.

Karrie is a very conscientious child. She trusts cautiously. She is fiercely loyal. She comes into her Father's house quietly. She doesn't want to bother Him. Karrie tries very hard to not bring messes into His house. After all, she doesn't want to make more work for her Father. Her Father is always glad to see her but often she misses His hearty "Come on in, Babe!" because she is preoccuppied with entering carefully and respectfully. She's a quietly happy child but so serious! She's in such a hurry to grow up that she's missing out on the joys of the journey. She sees others playing but hesitates to join in the fun. What if she got sidetracked from her responsibilities?

So, this morning, Karrie sat down with the Father and they opened His Great Book. She wanted to read one complete story this morning. She was eager to really learn. To hear a "word". He asked her if she wanted to crawl up on His lap to read the Book rather than sit at His feet. That sounded like a comfortable place to sit! The story came from Galatians. How Christ came to atone for her sins and to save her and make her more like Him. It said that He did this to deliver Karrie from this present wicked age. It said that there were enemies who slipped in to spy on our freedom in Christ so that they could again subject us to the bondage of rules. The Father told her that He loved all of His children equally. He didn't love the older ones more. He didn't love the boisterous ones less than the quiet ones. He finds great delight in each and every one of His kids. He even assured Karrie that just like He had done for Peter and Paul, He would always motivate her and fit her for her life's mission. He would ensure she worked efficiently because His Firstborn, Christ, would be working through her.

Then Father did something unexpected... He put the Book down. What was He doing? They weren't finished reading the "story". He asked Karrie if she wanted to play now. Play? Now? Weren't they going to finish reading? He told her that they could put a bookmark in where they had left off. He knew exactly where to pick up from later. Wouldn't it be fun to be tossed up in the air by her Daddy and spun around? There may not seem to be some deep, intellectual lesson in it, but even He delights in playing sometimes. He delights in hearing, "again, Daddy! Do it again! Again!"

Karrie, she - I slowly hopped down off His knee and took hold of His Hand. I followed in the edge of His shadow as He led me away from our "spot" to a place with room to play. "So, what do you want to play?" How could I answer that? I really don't know how to "play". But, I love to sing! I love to dance - but it's been a long time since I've done that. Wouldn't you know it? The Father God of all the Universe loves to dance too! We turned the Ipod up really loud! And what started as cautious steps soon became wild, exuberant dancing! There was no thought to what might be "right" steps. I spun around in circles until I was dizzy! I sang along to the songs not worrying about words as Daddy clapped and kept time. It was such fun!

Suddenly, I realized that my son was standing there watching his mommy - spinning and dancing - babbling! I told him that everyone enjoys a little praise dancing now and then! I didn't even stop at that point. It had been so long since I had really played! Besides, I delight in watching my own kids play. I want them to know by experience that life with God is full of play and fun! I want them to know no greater delight than to be sitting on His knee one minute and tossed up into the air the next! To be caught by His strong arms only to say, "Again, Daddy! Do it again!" Perhaps, my son thinks I'm strange - probably not. He knows what it is to play. He may even start to see me as a fun parent - if I play often enough :)!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Account Has Been Settled!

Well, I learned something in my heart this morning that my head has professed to know for years. It's all about faith...

I was reading in Romans 4 when the illustration Paul was using started to come alive in my heart. Verse 3 says, "For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed in (trusted in) God, and it was credited to his account as righteousness (right living and right standing with God.)" Now if you had eavesdropped on the conversation the Lord and I had just had, you would have heard me confessing that I made some choices yesterday I wish I had made differently. They weren't "right living" choices. I asked the Lord to enable me to live today differently. I believed He was willing and able to do it. I was trusting Him to help me choose the most important things. Then it started to truly register...

It's not my right living that makes deposits into my account with God. Nor do my wrong choices make withdrawals or cause my account balance to fall. Somehow, somewhere along the line, I started living with a desperate passion to get "it" right and a gnawing fear of getting it if I could somehow earn more love (or credit) with the Lord. Verse 8 says, "Blessed and happy and to be envied is the person of whose sin the Lord will take no account nor reckon it against him." When by faith, I accepted Christ as my Lord - my Savior - He credited my account with a never-ending balance of His righteousness. He SETTLED THE ACCOUNT! Then He closed the books! My Lord will take no account of my sin ever again! For Jesus "was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal), (making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God)." (verse 25)

I can't tell you how freeing it is to have this Truth resonate in every fibre of my being! I made some wrong choices yesterday but you know what? He still loves me! The balance in His account of love for me reads just the same! I'm rich! He loves me with such an incredibly rich love! I desire to make better choices today but guess what - He's God! My best living is still worthless currency! He chose to underwrite my account and I choose to let Him! What kind of interest is there on an account like this? Romans 5:1 tells us that this account of faith yields peace! Romans 5:2 says we can rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God!

Friends, I have a new perspective on experiencing and enjoying the glory of God! His generosity knows no limits! His love far surpasses mere knowledge! You have to experience it! It's more than you can ask for! It's greater than all you could hope or dare to dream of! (see Ephesians 3:14-21) So I ask you...

Have you let Him settle your account?

(quotations taken from the Amplified Bible)

Friday, November 2, 2007

My Daddy's Watch

The Lord never ceases to amaze me! He is interested in our lives and has a plan for us right down to the smallest detail. He reminded me of this recently...

I was visiting my sister in Texas and we were getting ready to go to church. I put on the "finishing touches" and reached for my dress watch to wear. The choice was between that watch and my Dad's old, everyday watch that had been on his arm for years. I prefer my Dad's. It means a lot to me since he passed away a little over two years ago. But since it's big and obviously for a man, I elected to wear the smaller, more feminine watch. While picking it up, I felt the Lord say, "take your Daddy with you." The phrasing struck me as a little odd but since there was no time to analyze my thoughts, I simply put that watch down and strapped on my Dad's. No one knew me here. What difference did it make if I wore a man's watch?

We joined the other women from Becky's Sunday School class as they visited around breakfast tables. One young woman caught our attention. She was having a difficult time. I learned that her father had recently passed away. I recognized the lost look in her eyes. I remember, all too well, the desperate ache in the pit of my stomach and those days when you seem to have to remind yourself to breathe.

My heart ached for her. I wanted to let her know that I understood how she felt, but how do you initiate that conversation? What do you say to a complete stranger? Do you just walk up to her and say "I understand?" What if she doesn't want to talk about it? I wrestled with what to do for the majority of the morning. Finally, I felt that I just had to approach her. It had helped me to know that someone else understood how I felt - to know that someone understood what I couldn't explain.

I walked up to her. She was wearing a man's green athletic jacket. I reached out my arm and pointed to my watch. "It belonged to my Dad," I said. "He passed away two years ago." I'm not even sure if I told her my name. Her arms flew around me and she began to sob. I cried too. She explained that the jacket she was wearing had belonged to her father and she had lost him two short months ago. We clung to each other for awhile. It was as if we knew each other. We didn't, but the Lord knew both of us.

Our Sovereign God knew that the only introduction I would need to help a hurting stranger was an old, worn, man's watch. The Lord had a plan and it mattered what I wore on my arm that day. Not only was it the beginning of a friendship but it was a profound lesson for me - The Lord cares about the "little" things - because nothing is little to God.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Irrepressible Joy!

The Lord never ceases to amaze me. He is so faithful to His Word! I wonder sometimes why I have such a struggle to trust Him with every aspect of my life. He's never failed me. Time and time again, He has proved Himself so faithful!

I struggled with my emotions a fair amount this past week and a half as it was the 2nd anniversary of Dad's death, his funeral and another birthday of mine without him. I know that it's natural to grieve what we miss. It's healthy even. But all too often, what starts out as grieving my Dad turns into giving into a bunch of lies... "I'm all by myself now", "life is too hard", "no one understands"... the list goes on. The problem with a pity party is that I don't really want to tell myself the Truth and from there, each little, petty annoyance adds to my misery. This is where I found myself this past weekend. I was hurting.

Now, I know where to go when I'm hurting. I even wrote about it. The thing that took me awhile to figure out is that the Lord is much more patient than I am. He's the calm Father that waits for His child to finish her rant and finish shaking her fist at Him. I ran to the right place but with the wrong heart. Finally, I feel like the Lord said "are you finished?" Praise Him I was close enough to being done that I could listen to what He had to say.

He took me to Psalm 97. His timing is always perfect! It was the very next Psalm that I was due to read and it begins with the bold truth THE LORD REIGNS! I was reminded that He really does reign. It might be feeling like everything in the world is going wrong but the Truth is is that God IS on the throne and He IS in control. Everything that happens has to first be passed through His hands. He promises to work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him. He's got a purpose for us that is infinitely higher than we can imagine. The verse goes on to say that this is reason enough to rejoice and be glad! Okay, He had the attention of my head but what was He going to do with my heart?

In verse 11 there was the most irresistible promise... irrepressible joy! Now tell me one person who would not love to have irrepressible joy. I thought, "alright, Lord. What's the condition?" Here's what it said... there's "irrepressible joy which comes from consciousness of His favor and protection." (Amplified Bible) I started to consider the favor of the Lord. I asked Him for eyes to see His blessings all around me. It would take me an hour to tell you the favor that I witnessed yesterday alone!

When we lift up our eyes to the Lord "from whence cometh my help" it will astonish You what He is up to all around you. If you don't believe me, just start keeping a list. Start with the obvious blessings and they will multiply from there - no matter what you're going through.

What was the result of my new and improved vision? Irrepressible joy! And praise the Lord - He's doing it again today!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Where Do You Go When You're Hurting?

I don't know what circumstances are surrounding you today. As I think of the circumstances of those around me, perhaps you have a child in hospital whose life has been hanging in the balance. Perhaps you have a crisis in your relationships. Maybe you have found yourself victimized by circumstances beyond your control. Perhaps you are grieving. Whatever the situation may be, if you are not the one hurting, I can guarantee you know someone who is. Where do you go when you're hurting?

It occurs to me that I have spent my entire life surrounded by a belief in God. He has just always "been" for me. I take for granted in much of the things that I write that God has "been" for you too. But it is not enough to simply believe that God exists. The Bible says that even the demons believe and shudder. There came a point for me when I realized that despite the fact that I believed God existed, there was a separation between us. Something was missing and I needed it to be made right.

God says, "Come to Me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) "But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in Him; and before they can believe in Him, they must hear about Him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them... So faith comes from hearing the Good News, and people hear the Good News when someone tells them about Christ." (Romans 10:14, 17)

Here's the really Good News...

"The Good News shows how God makes people right with Himself - that it begins and ends with faith..." (Romans 1:17)

"As the Scriptures say: 'There is no one who always does what is right, not even one." (Romans 3:10)

"no one can be made right with God by following the law. The law only shows us our sin. But God has a way to make people right with Him without the law, and He has now shown us that way... God makes people right with Himself through their faith in Jesus Christ... Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God's glorious standard, and all need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ. God sent Him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus' death..." (Romans 3:20-25)

"The payment for sin is death. But God gives us the free gift of life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)

"When we were unable to help ourselves, at the right time, Christ died for us, although we were living against God... But God shows His great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners." (Romans 5:6, 8)

"That is the teaching of faith that we are telling. If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved. As the Scripture says, 'Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disappointed.'" (Romans 10:8-11)

"Christ carried our sins in His body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of His wounds. You were like sheep that wandered away, but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:24, 25)

So what do you say then? Are you tired? Is your burden heavy? Are you hurting? Is something missing? Are you ready to reach out in faith? Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it." God asks each of us to begin our journey with a single step of faith. An acceptance of the gift that He is extending. What do you choose?

Dear Lord,

Thank You that You hear and answer everyone who calls out to You. You know the intention of those who are praying these words with me. Lord Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God. You died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. No matter how hard I try, Jesus, I can't fix my separation from God - but You can. Thank You that right now, You are alive and sitting at the Father's right hand, claiming me as Your own. I'm choosing to take a step of faith now, Jesus. I accept Your gift of life - real life. Be my Lord.

"Show me Your ways, O LORD, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long. Remember, O LORD, Your great mercy and love, for they are from old. Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your love remember me, for You are good, O LORD." (Psalm 25:4-7)


If you have just joined me in the journey of a lifetime, I welcome you. Jesus said, "there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10) May I rejoice with you too? Please leave me a comment and we'll be praising His Name together!

Friday, August 17, 2007

My Savior, My God

I've had this song playing over and over again in my heart these last few days. It is so true. I thought I would share...

I am not skilled to understand
what God has willed, what God has planned.
I only know at His right hand
stands One who is my Savior.
I take Him at His Word and see...
Christ died to save me, this I read,
and in my heart I find the need
of Him to be my Savior.
That He would leave His place on high
and come for sinful man to die.
You got estranged? So once did I...
before I knew my Savior.

My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be.
My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be!

Yes, living, dying let me drink
my strength, my solace from the spring...
That He who lives to be my King
once died to be my Savior.
That He would leave His place on high
and come for sinful man to die.
You got estranged? So once did I
before I knew my Savior.

My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be...
My Savior loves, my Savior lives, my Savior's always there for me.
My God - He was, my God - He is, my God is always gonna be!
My Savior loves!
My Savior lives!
My Savior loves!
My Savior lives!

by Aaron Shust (WOW Hits 2007)

How wonderful, hard to imagine, that the God who formed the universe would give His one and only Son to die for me... but He did! I can't explain the freedom there is in Christ. I can't believe the transformation He has made in me. But I am so very thankful! Lord Jesus, I am in awe of You and Your priceless gift! May I live and breathe to praise Your Name!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Are You Ready?

Today is August 12th. It was two years ago today that my Dad died. As I sat in my spot this morning, I felt like the Lord asked me if I was ready... Ready to die, Lord? Ready to go Home... My Dad's physical body died on August 12th, 2005 but he is more alive today than he has ever been! Dad was ready! Dad was a good man but the facts are that you can never be good enough to enter heaven on your own merit. We all fall so desperately short. But Dad also knew that God sent His only Son to remedy that. Jesus lived the sinless life we could never live. He laid down His life to pay the penalty for our sins. He rose to life again as Victor over death and Dad welcomed that pardon.

So how did I answer the Lord this morning? Am I ready? Yes. I'm ready. There were a number of sins that I laid before the Lord this morning... and there will undoubtedly be a number more tomorrow but He forgives me! I've admitted my own insufficiency and accepted His merciful pardon! From my gratitude, I will try my best to honor the One who pardoned me but the pressure is off! He knows I am but a child and He's adopted me as His own.

Dad went home that day! To his "mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we'll never grow old". Someday, I will too. And I know I will be received in. Am I worthy? No way, but I've embraced the One who is and someday I'm going HOME.

What about you? Are you ready?

In My Father's house there are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you: for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And where I am going, you know the way. Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me."

John 14:2-6

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Prayer of Moses (Psalm 90)

LORD, may I learn from the prayer of Moses this morning (Psalm 90). You allow him to be known as the man of God. O, how I want to be recognized as one who belongs to You - one with whom You fellowship. You really are the place of refuge for Your people throughout all generations, LORD. No matter what goes on around me, when my heart and mind dwell in You I am saved. Thank You that You always were and You always will be. You are unchanging and so with You I will always have a place of refuge.

I consider the years that I spent wandering in the wilderness. I was troubled, overwhelmed and frightened. LORD, that's what comes when we allow the circumstances of life to become giants and fail to remember the awesome faithfulness of our Almighty God. You have to discipline us - it's the loving thing to do. How will I ever learn if I don't feel the consequences of my sin? When I am troubled, overwhelmed or frightened, O LORD, please cause me to stop and listen to Your voice so that You can reveal where I've allowed sin a foothold.

LORD, I am so thankful that You know our "secret heart" and its sins. You know my folly, O God. My guilt is not hidden from You (Ps. 69:5). You have declared that even when I was lost in my sin, You loved me so much that You sent Your only Son to die for me so that I could live reconciled to You. So I know I can be completely honest with You for nothing I confess comes as a shock to You. Search me thoroughly, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Ps. 139:23-24) because though I might struggle to let go, no pattern of thought or desire of the heart is worth roaming the wilderness for. I have tasted the sweet abundance of Your Promised Land and I don't want to roam anymore.

LORD, teach me to number my days. Help me to remember that life is short so that I don't waste them. I want to seek out Your heart of Wisdom. LORD, You do satisfy me in the mornings with Your mercy and loving-kindness. You make my heart rejoice and be glad! What a tremendous gift! Please LORD, may I never be content to sit outside Your Presence and learn "about" You. May I always allow You full access and spend time "with" You.

LORD, Moses asked that You would make them glad in proportion to the days in which You had afflicted them and the years that they had suffered evil. As I consider that this morning, I want way more days of gladness than those that I was afflicted. Although when in the midst of the turmoil and trial it looked like it was endless, it really was light and momentary when compared to the suffering Christ went through for me. Praise You, O LORD, that it was short-lived and that You have redeemed me from that oppression and You have set me free.

Let Your work, the signs of Your power, be revealed in me and Your glorious majesty to my children. And let Your beauty and delightfulness and favor be upon us. Even confirm and establish the work of our hands for I desire to bear much fruit. May it never be in pride and only to bring You glory.

So be it. Amen.

Monday, July 23, 2007


"I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice." Psalm 34:1, 2

"I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

Have you ever noticed how afraid we are to confess our fears? For some reason, we are all too eager to boast our confidences but when it comes to our fears we hold them inside. It's as if we're scared that by voicing our fears they are going to get bigger - or come true - but the exact opposite is true. When we confess our fears, and bring them out into the light, they lose their power.

That's what happened to me today. I was fearful. The "of what" doesn't matter. I was listening to the same old lies that have haunted me before. I know that the LORD says to trust Him and I wanted to. I tried to - but some of those old lies run deep. You think they're gone and you're skipping along pretty well, then all of the sudden - WHAMMO! I asked the LORD for help. I brought my prayers and petitions before Him. The problem is that I didn't lay them down there. Instead, I shook them in His face and hollered "fix it"!

Oh, what a gracious God we have. All day long, He reminded me of verses... do not fret... trust in the LORD and do good...delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart...Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him... (Psalm 37) When I finally reached the end of my own ideas, He sent help. I am so blessed to have a faithful friend that I can confess my fears and shortcomings to. Sometimes the LORD uses the ears of a friend as His own. Just listening to myself confess my fears aloud made me begin to realize how off-base they were. When I was reminded of the Truth of God's Word, the fears quickly began to dissipate. Now they are gone! You see the enemy wants us isolated. He tries his best to convince us that no one would understand or that we should be able to cope alone. PRIDE.

Thank You, LORD, for the Truth of Your Word. Thank You that I can know the Truth and the Truth sets me free. (John 8:32) You, O LORD, are The Way, the Truth and Life to the full! Thank You for setting me free!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


In October of 2006, in Round Top, Texas, the Lord started asking me to pick up garbage. I remember it very clearly. It was the first afternoon at a week long spiritual retreat which would become a significant mile marker in my spiritual life. The conference center was beautiful! The gardens were breath-taking and I was spending that first afternoon just talking with the Lord. A small piece of white paper had been carelessly discarded. The Lord told me to "pick it up". Now you might think that it wasn't the Lord but merely common sense but I heard Him. I bent down to pick up the paper and it blew away. I was tempted to just let it blow but the Lord was persistent and reluctantly I obeyed. Since then, I have been asked to pick up garbage many times. I even made a new friend (that very week) that also gets asked to pick up garbage. Go figure. Sometimes it's just a piece or two that the Lord calls to my attention and sometimes He gets serious with me and puts me to work. I'm not sure what the reason is. My friend believes that it's a tool to chip away at our pride. I have plenty of pride but I have to wonder if it is more of a lesson in obedience for me. Far more often than I would like to admit, the Lord's tender voice to "pick that up" is met with "Oh, Lord, I don't want to...the next trash can is so far away...that's gross...". A myriad of excuses fall from my lips, but He's persistent. I'm reminded of the words that I say to my children, "if you don't obey right away, you're not obeying at all". I hate that, but it's true.

So, this week, I returned to work after a wonderful, fun-filled holiday. I was having some trouble settling in and knowing which ministries needed to have the highest priority. The Lord has given me a heart for the lost and everywhere I look, people are lost! How do I reach out to them? What should this ministry look like? What do I do with that one? As I write this, I see my own lack of trust in the Lord and that tendency again to lean on my own understanding. I wanted to see the whole path, didn't I, Lord? Over holidays, the Lord had been really impressing the words of Jude 23 on my heart..."Strive to save others, snatching them out of the fire..." Oh Lord, may I be able to do that! Once again, the Lord is teaching me while I write. He IS ABLE to keep me from stumbling! Even with such a calling as that! Anyways, back to my story... I had asked the Lord, "show me how... show me what to do... how do I snatch them for You, Lord?" The question hung unanswered in the air throughout my quiet time. I threw on my runners and headed out the door. The sun was rising and the Lord was declaring His glory! It was a remarkable time of praise to the Lord for Who He is and what He's done! Then I saw it. A bag. "Oh, no, Lord. Not a bag." For when the Lord sends a bag, I know that there will be a bunch of garbage around the corner and He's providing all that I need to gather it. (Lord, the lessons in garbage are still coming! You will always provide all that I need to gather it - praise God!) Sure enough, I was suddenly in a sea of garbage! Everywhere I looked there was something to be picked up. I went left, then right, forward, then back. I felt almost frantic as I grabbed at everything and didn't seem to be making a dent in the collection of refuse. My cry to the Lord was probably audible, "Lord, I can't get it all! I'm grabbing right and left and I'm supposed to be running." Praise God, His reply was too! "I don't ask you to. Just SNATCH the ones I place along your path!"

I knew without a doubt that we weren't just talking about garbage anymore. We were talking about those people around me who were lost and seemingly discarded by life. I'm running in the race of life and I'm called to run in such a way as to get the prize. I'm to press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. I'm to fix my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfector of my faith. I'm to run with perseverance and by Christ's call and in His strength, I'm to snatch others out of the fire that have fallen along the path He takes me. And He will supply everything I need to do this - all the while keeping my feet from falling.

Will you join me?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Made By The Master

Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. Psalm 95:6

In our First Place study last week, we spent some time looking at God as our Maker. We looked at scriptures such as those in Psalm 139 where we're told that He knit us together in our mother's wombs and that we were woven together in the depths. I knew these verses. I knew that God was my Maker but I really let myself meditate on these words. I thought about a master weaver at the loom. It's a picture that my generation has nearly forgotten. I thought about how it's the intricacy of one color woven together with the next that makes a masterpiece. How the more contrasting the colors - the more beautiful the finished work. That's what the Lord was wanting to talk to me about. When it comes to Him weaving me, I want the bright colors! Golds and yellows, even reds and pinks but not black or deep greys. Whether through prayer or complaining, I tend to ask my Maker if He knows what He's doing when the dark days come. In the words of Isaiah, I strive against my Maker. How often do I rebel against the tension as one color is tied into the next? Why do I not wholeheartedly trust the Master? He has the wisdom to know what is best, the power to accomplish it, and is dedicated to working all things together for my good.

Lord God Almighty, my Maker, I trust you. Teach me to trust in You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding. I don't want to come unravelled, so go ahead and use the tension that You deem best as You change colors of thread. As for those colors, Lord... You know the pattern that will yield the most beautiful design. O that I would be grateful that You are at the loom and that I don't have to figure it out. Please teach me to rest in Your hands. Teach me, Lord, to live everyday, whether gold or black, with the sweet anticipation that I am becoming more and more beautiful. A priceless work in the hands of the Master. Remind me, Lord, that I've been purchased in advance by Your Son. The price has been paid. The deal is done. May I be joyfilled each day as I say "so be it"...

I received an e-mail yesterday from a friend of mine. She isn't part of my First Place class and she had no idea of what the Lord had been teaching me through this illustration. She simply heard the Lord when He told her to send this poem on to Karrie...

My Life is but a Weaving

My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not 'til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
in the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares,
nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
who leave the choice with Him.
~Author Unknown

Friday, May 11, 2007

He Delights In Me!

Sometimes it takes Truth a long time to travel from the head to the heart. Today, the knowledge that the God of the universe delights in me finally settled into my heart. I was reading in my old Bible, from a time when life was harder, and I came to the verse that this blog is named for... Psalm 18:19. I saw the question mark that I had placed behind the words "spacious place". I remembered the doubt that used to assail me when nothing seemed spacious and instead my world seemed to be crashing in on me. I had highlighted the phrase "delighted in me" and written in the margin the question of my soul do I bring You delight, Lord? From the midst of the battle - when the foe appeared to be gaining ground - it was nearly impossible to believe that anyone, let alone God, could find delight in me. But praise God - He does!!

When I look back upon those years of my life, I can see the Mighty Hand of God reaching down. "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters." Why? Because I'm His child. Why? Because He chose me. Why? Because He has assumed full responsibility for me. And yes, His Word says that "He rescued me because He delighted in me"! I have been rescued - there is no doubt! Praise the Lord! I choose to stand on the Truth of His Word and praise God I sing a new song!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

A Time of Refreshing...

"For the Mighty One has done great things for me - holy is His Name."
Luke 1:49

God amazes me! The more that I take the time to look for and acknowledge His Sovereign Hand in all of life's circumstances, the more I realize that He's been working all things together for my good - even years before I turned from my rebellion...

LORD, I thank You that You are so faithful to Your Word. Every promise is yes and amen! You are constantly at work in my life and the lives of those around me (even afar off) to accomplish that which concerns us... to prosper us, to give us a hope and a future. LORD, I thank You for faithful servants. Each simple act of obedience to You has far reaching rewards... many of which we will never know until eternity. I thank You for Cindy's obedience to ask Becky to go camping nearly 15 years ago. How could anyone (but You) ever know that this simple obedience would change my life hundreds of miles away. LORD, thank You for Sandra, Ann and Betty who joined with Cindy to show Christ's love to Becky. Thank You for the wealth of experiences and teachings that I now benefit from. Thank You for uprooting Becky and planting her in the rich soil of Houston First Baptist. I praise You that You don't waste a single heartache. Thank You for Carole! I praise You that she was anchored in You when tragedy struck. That she didn't hesitate to testify to Your amazing grace in the midst of her grief. I praise You that You had me in the right place at the right time - at the end of me! Only then was I able to acknowledge my need. Thank You for stripping me bare of all the horses and chariots that I had placed my trust in. If You had left even one I wouldn't know You as my true King. I can thank You now for the death of my Dad. He is at peace with You and I know You more. Thank You for the barren land that I was in at Thanksgiving 2005, for the e-mail from Gospel Light that gave me a taste of Carole's new book and for the link on the website that made it possible to contact Carole. Thank You for the new friend that Carole had made in Becky and that the e-mail was timed just when Carole needed it. Thank You that You prompted her to share it with Becky. Thank You for leading me to check out the website and giving me a deep desire to go to FOCUS week. Thank You for starting a new work on me there. Thank You that this new work has extended past me to my family. Thank You for the friendship of friendships with my "sister" Becky. Thank You that despite the fact that we don't look a thing alike, people see Your glory resembled in us. Thank You for wonderful acts too numerous to mention but O LORD, You know! Thank You for Kent who is so generous with me! Thank You for these past days of refreshing! Thank You for fun & fellowship, great food & good books. Thank You for the most amazing times of worship! How awesome that You don't fit in any box or any mold. Thank You for allowing me to be a servant of Yours. Thank You for arranging the class on consecration, for prison worship, for Jewish marriage customs... Thank You for technology so that I can "sit" under such awesome teaching. Thank You for a husband who is extravagant with me and purchased me an i-pod. Thank You for allowing me to be in Houston with my sister and for the 20 minutes that were so important to me before I boarded the plane. LORD, may I never complain in hardship or trial. As You have proved over and over before - they are just steps to the next mountain top! I praise You, LORD! Amen and amen...